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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 5

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

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 4

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

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 3

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

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 2

We hope the list from Week 1 treated you well! Please email us at fourchamberspress@gmail.com and let us know what you think of our reading list! If you loved a book, if it made you cry, if you have a question, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Here’s a few more suggestions from Four Chambers staff. Enjoy!

 

BlissBliss
Peter Carey

This unique, brilliant novel by Australian writer Peter Carey can be very succinctly and tritely described as a post-death experience, and perhaps more cryptically so as a walk through the valley of the shadow of death. While I’m not a huge fan of citing others when describing someone’s style, an apt description of Carey’s work might be a distillation of Ian McEwan and Haruki Murukami, and yet somehow even darker than either one–maybe that’s an Australian thing. This is a great book for fans of either McEwan, or Murukami, and definitely for those who have exhausted the works of Vonnegut.

Recommended by Jared Duran – Editor

 

 

 

All New Stories Stories: All-New Tales
Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

This is a collection of short stories by various excellent authors. I highly recommend the audiobook version. It’s like a book of modern fairytales for adults. There’s magical realism, supernatural beings, a little bit of history, and an abundance of beautiful writing. The best part about short story collections is that you can sit for an hour and get an entire story. For those who don’t have time or attention for a long novel, short story collections like this are awesome.

Recommended by Nikita Boyer – Associate Editor

 

 

 

homage to mistressHomage to Mistress Bradstreet
John Berryman (1956)

If you know Anne Bradstreet — the first female poet to be published in the new world circa 1650 — then this is unbeatable. If you don’t know her, read a brief bio and some of her grandchildren elegies. Then, dive into the Berryman sequence, in which the 20th century speaker has a psychic love affair with Bradstreet. The syntax is the most lush landscape I’ve ever entered. It’s time-traveling poetic erotica at its best.

Recommended by Rosemarie Dombrowski – Editor

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SUGGESTED READING LIST – WEEK 1

It’s summer, when people have way more time to read than usual because they’re hiding inside from the sun, or out of school / work, on vacation, etc. The problem is, when you have all this time, sometimes it’s hard to know what to pick up first!
Starting today, we’ll post a list of three books that we think are great every Wednesday, in the hopes that one of them piques your interest, and takes you on that special journey that only a great book can. Our whole staff is participating, so enjoy the variety of voices and opinions, and may you find camaraderie among them!

 

Cien_a�os_de_soledad_(book_cover,_1967)One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez (1967)

Yes, this novel lives on the top book lists of many famous people, including Presidents Obama and Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. It almost seems redundant to list it here. But, it’s completely worth mentioning. This is a perfect novel for summer. Márquez’s dense magical realism may take a little while to get into in our hectic modern lives. But, if you give yourself time to unplug from social media and your phone and dive into the world of the Buendía family, you will be richly rewarded. Romantic, political, lush, sexy, funny, and unforgettable.

Recommended by Katie Hae Leo – Associate Editor

 

 

 

A Coat of VarnishA Coat of Varnish
C.P. Snow

A detective story, but a rather odd one, lacking a detective, or rather what passes for the detective is oddly lethargic. A mystery with, on the one hand, an excess of mystery, and on the other very little. Embedded in this book is a deep critique of how our obsession with facts and knowledge distorts our understanding of what is truly important, ideas not unexpected from the man who started the two cultures argument. Written in Snow’s limpid style, utterly readable. He did write another detective story in the early 30s, Death Under Sail, which is clever, but primitive in comparison to this one.

Recommended by Charles Brownson – Associate Editor

 

 

 

 

106243Atlantis
Mark Doty

A texturally gorgeous work of poetry, ornate and painterly in language and image while maintaining a strong narrative feel. In this collection, Doty echoes both the ecstasy of Walt Whitman and the precision of Elizabeth Bishop, a synergy of unexpected bedfellows. It details life with a dying partner (and friends) in a way that beautifully conveys both heartbreak and hope, starring a memorable cast of drag queens, marine life, migratory geese and a young man with a set of chairs trapped inside his chest.

Recommended by Elyse Arring – Editor