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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
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
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