Welcome to my new weekend feature: Bookends! There are a whole bunch of books I hear about that look amazing, but realistically I'm not going to read them all. That means they may never be mentioned on Outlandish Lit, which is so tragic. So every week I'm going to introduce you to a few books that caught my eye and interesting bookish links.
Furnace by Livia Llewellyn
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Horror fiction has long celebrated and explored the twin engines driving human existence. Call them what you like: Sex and Death, Love and Destruction, Temptation and Terror. While many may strive to reach the extremes, few authors manage to find the beauty that rests in the liminal space between these polar forces, the shuddering ecstasy encased within the shock. And then there’s Livia Llewellyn, an author praised for her dark, stirring, evocative prose and disturbing, personal narratives.
Lush, layered, multifaceted, and elegant, the thirteen tales comprising Furnace showcase why Livia Llewellyn has been lauded by scholars and fans of weird fiction alike, and why she has been nominated multiple times for the Shirley Jackson Award and included in year’s best anthologies. These are exquisite stories, of beauty and cruelty, of pleasure and pain, of hunger, and of sharp teeth sinking into tender flesh.
Books Not Out Yet:
Nicotine by Nell Zink
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Recent business school graduate Penny Baker has rebelled against her family her whole life—by being the conventional one. Her mother, Amalia, was a member of a South American tribe called the Kogi; her much older father, Norm, long ago attained cult-like deity status among a certain cohort of aging hippies while operating a psychedelic “healing center.” And she’s never felt particularly close to her much older half-brothers from Norm’s previous marriage—one wickedly charming and obscenely rich (but mostly just wicked), one a photographer on a distant tropical island.
But all that changes when her father dies, and Penny inherits his childhood home in New Jersey. She goes to investigate the property and finds it not overgrown and abandoned, but rather occupied by a group of friendly anarchist squatters whom she finds unexpectedly charming, and who have renamed the property “Nicotine.” The Nicotine residents (united in defense of smokers’ rights) possess the type of passion and fervor Penny feels she’s desperately lacking, and the other squatter houses in the neighborhood provide a sense of community she has never felt before. She soon moves into a nearby residence, becoming enmeshed in the political fervor and commitment of her fellow squatters.
The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga
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From the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award comes the story of Lindanathi, a young HIV+ man grappling with the death of his brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. He and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—work low-paying jobs and sell anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift through parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town where they observe the grave material disparities of their country.
A mysterious masked man appears seeking to buy their surplus of ARVs, an offer that would present the friends with the opportunity to escape their environs, while at the same time forcing Lindanathi to confront his path, and finally, his past.
MIND MELD: Sub-Genres We Love - Great speculative fiction writers talk about what sub-genres they're into. YAS.
That's actually all I have for links. WE'LL START SLOW.
What books did you hear about this week?