This Week’s Reviews

The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Memoir
Bett Williams | Dottir Press | 9781948340311 | September 2020
“You don’t need to be interested in doing psychedelic drugs to find yourself in deep with Williams’ chronicle of finding meaning and healing through mycelium. You might start by merely appreciating the book’s colorfully shroomy cover and compact, ride-along size before you dip a toe into the pleasant warmth of the free-flowing narrative. But soon you’re swimming with abandon. You can’t see the shoreline anymore, and you don’t care. You’re out there in the wild kindness a reader receives from any great writer of psychedelia.”—Sante Fe Reporter

A hot lesbian living in the American Southwest decides to grow her own psychoactive mushrooms. ‘You’ll never guess what happens next!’ I was in the mood for a real YARN when I came across this memoir and it satisfied all of my yarn needs. The author, Bett Williams, has a life of sparkling singularity—one minute she’s recreationally analyzing the works of Willa Cather, the next she’s puking in a juniper tree, or getting accused of felony burglary, or tripping on a straw mattress in rural Mexico, or or or . . . if you’re curious about DIY magic mushrooms, or the psychedelic experience in general, this is a balm. It is the polar opposite of that Michael Pollan book.”—Gossamer

Dispatches from the Race War
Tim Wise | City Lights Publishers | 9780872868090 | December 2020
“A trenchant assessment of our nation’s ills.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Every Day We Get More Illegal
Juan Felipe Herrera | City Lights Publishers | 9780872868281 | September 2020
“Herrera’s formal versatility lends subtlety and nuance to essential political considerations.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Snoozie, Sunny, and So-So
Dafna Ben-Zvi, illus. Ofra Amit, trans. Annette Appel | Enchanted Lion Books | 9781592702824 | October 2020
“Whimsically surreal . . . unfolds with a delicate sweetness that never tips into the saccharine.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

We Want It All
edit. Andrea Abi-Karam, Kay Gabriel | Nightboat Books | 9781643620336 | November 2020
“[A] stunner of an anthology. . . . With creativity and insight, the poems in this collection are truly a rich tapestry that belongs on the shelf next to editor Christopher Soto’s Nepantla: Queer Poets of Color (which was also released by Nightboat, thank you Nightboat!)”—Literary Hub

Taylor Johnson | Alice James Books Press | 9781948579131 | November 2020
“There’s a unique kind of rhythm to this debut collection’s poems, a kind of pulsing thrum that makes them feel alive and fiery. Johnson seems to have tapped into a vital force that jolts the reader, gently and not gently, into a new corporeal space.”—Literary Hub

How to Carry Water
Lucille Clifton, edit. Aracelis Girmay | BOA Editions | 9781950774142 | September 2020
“Keenly edited and with a foreword by Girmay, the collection is a love letter to Black womanhood and motherhood, a historical record of violence and injustice against Black lives, and a reckoning with illness and abuse.”—Publishers Weekly

Srikanth Reddy | Wave Books | 9781940696935 | August 2020
“Sardonic (until it’s tender), funny (until it’s sad), and surreal (yet strikingly real) prose poetry collection/fantasy tale/auto-eulogy.”—Chicago Review

Hotel Almighty
Sarah J. Sloat | Sarabande Books | 9781946448644 | September 2020
“Sarah J. Sloat’s debut poetry collection, Hotel Almighty, is a visual feast. This assemblage of erasure poems and full-color collages is a fantastical, Rubik’s Cube of a delight.”—New York Journal of Books

A Little More Red Sun on the Human
Gillian Conoley | Nightboat Books | 9781643620114 | October 2019
“There are many innovative poets writing now, as Conoley does, freed in varying degrees from continuous discourse, description, argument, etc., but very few of them deliver her sensual impact, cogency, her vivid language, her downright human importance: among today’s innovators she flies virtually soul-o. Poem after poem, there’s intuitive rightness to her words that yields something of the wonder of flocks of birds, schools of fish, veering in their mysterious unisons. Across her career, too, her subjects range widely, from the ambience of her small-town Texas youth, through astronomy, Einsteinian physics, Gandhi, the politics of peace, love poems, and more, all seen in their various lights, sumptuously imagined.”—Poetry Flash

Sports is Hell
Ben Passmore | Koyama Press | 9781927668757 | February 2020
“Set in the aftermath of a Super Bowl victory, Ben Passmore’s Sports Is Hell spotlights human folly, displaying the US at its worst and most ridiculous.”—Hyperallergic

Cyrée Jarelle Johnson | Nightboat Books | 9781643620091 | September 2019
“The book is an incredibly tight, powerful work. The first time I read it, I had to take a walk around the block in the rain. When I say this book does something new, I do not mean that Cyrée Jarelle Johnson is one of those new voices or poets to watch. What I mean is that even if you’ve read thousands of books of poetry, you will be compelled to reread this one. It is unlike whatever you’re reading. This is a debut collection, but this is not an immature work.”—Public Books

Aditi Machado | Nightboat Books | 9781643620299 | November 2020
“[Machado’s] is an expansive lyric, one that exists as a sequence of sections broken into postcard collage, lyric fragment, prose exploration, billboard phrases and doctor’s notes. . . . Emporium is a story told through the collage, the accumulation-collage of fragments, lyrics and prose-structures, one with not even a narrative centre or even the character of the merchant woman, but a seeking, searching, lyric heart.”—rob mclennan’s blog

Outside the Lines
Ameera Patel | Catalyst Press | 9781946395351 | June 2020
“A deftly crafted novel that blends family drama with crime and black comedy, Outside the Lines is a unique and extraordinary novel by an author with an impressive flair for the kind of narrative storytelling that grips the reader’s full attention and invests them in the characters and events portrayed. A riveting read from first page to last.”—Midwest Book Review

The Readers’ Room
Antoine Laurain, trans. Emily Boyce, Jane Aitken, and Polly Mackintosh | Gallic Books | 9781910477977 | September 2020
“Certain to have immense appeal to mystery buffs and bibliophiles alike.”—Midwest Book Review

Villa of Delirium
Adrian Goetz, trans. Natasha Lehrer | New Vessel Press | 9781939931801 | August 2020

“The novel is a relatively quick, pleasurable read—a testament to the skill of the author and translator. . . . The depictions are rich and clear . . . vividly painted. . . . Put yourself in a world of sun and sea, of marble and mosaics, of books and learning for learning’s sake.”—Reading in Translation

American Madness
Tea Krulos | Feral House | 9781627310963 | August 2020
“Where Krulos is most successful is in disentangling conspiracy theorists from the complicated webs they spin. He’s able to situate Richard in a much longer (and sadder) lineage of American madness and the madmen who beget it. The book becomes truly compelling reading when Krulos connects Richard’s life to a broader social history of conspiracism in America.”—Diabolique Magazine

Special Delivery
Elliot Kruszynski | Cicada Books | 9781908714794 | September 2020
“Charming and boldly drawn illustrations add humour to the situation. A perfect book for sharing with young readers who will appreciate the arrival of favourite animals! A lovely book to share with children in an expecting family waiting for their own new arrival.”—My Shelves are Full

Alice Bowsher | Cicada Books | 9781908714787 | October 2020
Scruff by storyteller and artist Alice Bowsher is a charmingly funny and unique picture book story for children ages 3-7 that is sure to charm dog-mad little ones and their parents — making it highly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”

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