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Keep the Heart of Literature Beating



53410Blow-Up and Other Stories
Julio Cortazar
One of my favorite writers, Julio Cortazar’s stories present you with impossible things – the narrator becoming an axolotl, or a man vomiting rabbits – and makes them real and extraordinary. “Continuity of Parks” is one of my favorite stories and it’s only three pages long. This whole collection is outstanding.

Recommended by Dan Schwartz – Managing Editor





collected storiesCollected Stories
Lydia Davis (2009)
Davis’ work contains the DNA of prose poetry, flash memoir, and flash fiction — and it doesn’t just cross genres, it transcends them. Best of all, every time I read her I find myself compelled and inspired to write.

Recommended by Rosemarie Dombrowski – Editor






17235026The Girl with All the Gifts
M.R. Carey
Although the genre is trendy and can be trite, zombie apocalyptic novels can be good too. Here, a fungus is the zombifying culprit, though the standard features of genre are present: secret government labs, zombies who don’t act like zombies, ambushes of the undead, broken down cars and tense nights hiding in abandoned buildings. However, none of the people here are simply zombie fodder. Like Justin Cronin’s The Passage, this book’s tension is genuine because each character is thoroughly fleshed out and sympathetic. Also, no spoilers here, but the ending is the best combination of surprising yet inevitable.

Recommended by Mark Broeske – Associate Editor



The FacadesThe Facades
Eric Lundgren

Lundgren’s first novel The Facades came out in Fall of 2013, and swiftly earned his writing comparisons to Franz Kafka, David Lynch, and Haruki Murakami. The Facades tells the tale of one man’s quest for his missing wife within the ghostly framework of the once-thriving Midwestern city of Trude. Through the eyes of Lundgren’s hapless legal clerk Sven Norberg, readers explore the post-modernist back alleys and crumbling buildings of Trude, and encounter with him the shifty and subversive characters tied to his wife’s disappearance. His search becomes a dark but quirky mystery, and expertly balances elements of dystopia and Americana. The Facades is a quick but fulfilling read.

Recommended by Mackenzie Brennan – Associate Editor




Life on the MississippiLife on the Mississippi
Mark Twain

If you like comprehensive books, this is one of them. Twain’s instantly recognizable voice with its undertone of amusement. Facts, experiences, history, tales, sights and sounds, how to steer a riverboat in two feet of water at night when you can’t see where you’re going – what more could you want?

Recommended by Charles Brownson – Associate Editor




the city in whichThe City in Which I Love You
Li-Young Lee

A lyric remembrance of the poet’s father and their family’s exile and migration to the United States. The work displays both a command of language and an emotional amplitude not often sustained through an entire collection. I return decade after decade to a particular poem in the book, “Arise, Go Down,” in which the father’s rose garden embodies all the beauty and thorniness of the human experience. Lee’s work deserves a revisit, not only for its craft, but also for its lens on the immigrant experience in our increasingly mosaic culture.

Recommended by Elyse Arring – Editor



You like reading? We do too!

cover_bad_feministBad Feminist
Roxane Gaye (2014)

Gaye’s writing is intelligent, funny, and sharp. These essays are filled with wry observations written in accessible and smart prose. Contemporary thinkers like Gaye have their finger on the pulse of current feminist ideas and how they intersect with race, literature, popular culture, and myriad other dynamics. It’s a pleasure to read.

Recommended by Katie Hae Leo – Associate Editor




leaves of grassLeaves of Grass
Walt Whitman (1855)

First, “Song of Myself” is the undisputed gateway to the 20th C American lyric, but more importantly, Whitman articulates a spiritual philosophy that is anti-institutional and a social vision that calls for the communal celebration of equality (and homosexual expressions of love, if one is so inclined). If only the poets (of this variety) had replaced the priests and politicians like he predicted, maybe America would be a better place.

Recommended by Rosemarie Dombrowski – Editor




getting evenGetting Even
Woody Allen (1855)

Woody Allen’s prose is often, and I think unfairly, overlooked. This is one of those go-to books for when I need a really good laugh–I’m talking the snorting, clutching your sides, gasping for breath variety. In my opinion, this collection and two others (Without Feathers and Side Effects) are argument enough for Allen’s inclusion in the pantheon of Great American Humorists such as James Thurber and S.J. Perelman.

Recommended by Jared Duran – Editor



It’s Wednesday – the best day!

Need more reading material? Check out what Four Chambers thinks you might like.


Geek LoveGeek Love
Katherine Dunn

Katherine Dunn’s prose is eloquent and witty, and often packed with meaning and emotion that is far deeper than just the words on the page. She’s brilliant, and the thing about her words is that they make you feel brilliant too. She draws you into her world in such an inviting and gentle way. Geek Love sounds humorous and silly in its summary – a Carnival owner and his wife decide to create their own carni-family, do whatever they can to produce children with fins, extra limbs, extraordinary talents, etc. and raise them as stars of the circus. The novel is told from the perspective of one of the children, Olli, as she retells the life of the family on the road, their opinions of “norms”, and the complicated relationships between them. It’s an entertaining idea for a story, but Dunn goes far deeper into the human psyche in a way that will make you question what “normal” is, why we feel the need to identify as such, and how strongly people desire to be connected to one another.

Recommended by Kelsey Pinckney – Assistant Director




book of hoursBook of Hours
Kevin Young

Award-winning poet Kevin Young’s eighth book, The Book of Hours, is an emotionally impactful examination of life’s vicissitudes divided into thematic collections—ranging from Young’s loss of his father to anticipation of his son’s birth. Young’s simple eloquence is both universally relatable and freshly presented, and in the treading the oft-tread territory of basic human emotions and experience Young maintains the difficult balance between deep emotion and lighthearted wit. The Book of Hours is nearly impossible to put down.

Recommended by Mackenzie Brennan – Associate Editor




51fNP0fo4CL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Tabloid Dreams
Robert Olen Butler

Each story began as a Weekly World News headline (i.e.Titanic Victim Speaks Through Waterbed, Jealous Husband Return in Form of Parrot) and Butler takes it from there. Each is told from the POV of the titular character and while you might think they would stay in the comedic landscape of those titles, Butler always manages to turn the corner to true pathos. The humanity of these people rises above their absurd circumstances every single time.

Recommended by Mark Broeske – Associate Editor