The Coil dishes the best new books to read this month. Poetry for our times, story collections of place, & novels of faith & loss.
The Lost Country
The lost novel from the late master of Southern Gothic, resurrected through wonderful volumes from Dzanc, is sure to secure Gay’s place alongside Faulkner, O’Connor, and McCarthy as one of the greatest novelists in the Southern Gothic tradition. A hitchhiker sets out for his estranged home where his father is slowly dying, and he encounters scams, vigilantes, and unspeakable violence on the way.
The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy
This book is tremendous and thorough reportage on the Flint Water Crisis, including a dissection of lead in the environment and a look at Flint’s racist and segregated history. From beginning to end, this is everything you need to know about how this disaster happened and how it will keep happening.
Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of a Mountaintop Honky-Tonk
Memoir meets reportage of the author’s trek to find the early honky-tonk of Patsy Cline and other country legends, and in doing so, finding the last surviving homeplace of a bygone era tucked in the mountaintops alongside the urban tragedy of gentrification.
Pretend We Live Here: Stories
Short stories about home and identity and seeking. Characters navigating a strange landscapes to find what home means to them, in all its forms.
The modern-day comedy of manners meets manic contemporary storytelling with vivid characters who do all the unexpected, tragic, and hilariously wrong things while trying to feed their most basic of needs: desire and hunger.
R. O. Kwon
A novel that dissects the crossroads of violence and passion, faith and loss, fanaticism and fantasy, and follows a young woman at an elite American university who is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea.
New Poets of Native Nations
Heid E. Erdrich, editor
A gorgeous volume of poetry by Native American writers from all walks of life and all manner of urban and rural settings, with the common uniting thread being that their first major works were published after the year 2000. This is contemporary Native poetry that is happening now, and that you should be reading now.
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies
This is a fascinating story about a showman doctor who was able to save babies by putting them on display in incubators as a sideshow attraction. Existing on the cusp of the fantastical and scientific breakthrough, stories like this are the backbone of our American lore, legend, and history.
Some Die Nameless
This modern-day noir finds an ex-mercenary and an embattled journalist becoming unlikely allies against a corrupt defense contractor. Stroby is a master of his genre, and a must-read for lovers of thrillers, crime, and noir.
Give Me Your Hand
A psychological thriller revolving around a secret that tests the relationship of two unlikely friends and leads them into a dangerous game.
In a near-future New York City, people must choose between living for 300 years or clinging to their families or lives they once knew. When a “Lifer” spots her estranged father on the street, she begins to dabble in the idea of living and dying on her own terms and bucking the genetics that would give her immortality.
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman
Mary Jekyll and the daughters of literature’s mad scientists embark on a madcap adventure across Europe to rescue another girl and stop the Alchemical Society’s nefarious plans in the sequel to The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.
The Good Girl Is Always a Ghost
This poetry collection goes through politics and poetics, the history of tragic times into the tragic present, with persona poems that give voice to women who no longer have voices of their own.
Nobody Knows How It Got This Good
Amos Jasper Wright IV
A collection of short stories from the Deep South that tackles racial injustice, class, the Civil Rights Movement, environmental catastrophe, imprisonment, suburbanization, and the perennial themes of love, life, and loss. A collection for our times.
Roses Are Red, Violets Are Stealing Loose Change from My Pockets While I Sleep
David S. Atkinson
This absurdist story collection ponders modern life through surreal humorous flash fiction.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
A novel by one of literature’s freshest new voices about a young woman’s efforts to embark on an extended hibernation of rest and relaxation with the help of a terrible psychiatrist.
Love War Stories
A poignant, street-smart collection that addresses what it means to be a woman in love and the hell a woman goes through to find it, through the eyes of Puerto Rican protagonists.
How to Love a Jamaican: Stories
A story collection about Jamaica and its diaspora, fraught with tensions and lithe with wit and humor. A beautiful portrait of a people, a place, and a way of life.
Barons of the Sea: And Their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship
The sweeping narrative of the 19th-century American dynasties that battled for dominance of the tea and opium trades.
A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment
Stéphane Hénaut & Jeni Mitchell
Give me any history of France at all, but few histories are better told than the ones that follow the trail of food. From the cassoulet that won a war to the crêpe that doomed Napoleon to the rebellions sparked by bread and salt, the history of France is intimately entwined with its gastronomic pursuits. (This book actually came out in June, but I missed it, so I’m giving it some love here!)
Rad Girls Can
Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl
Part of the great Rad Women series, this new illustrated volume talks about inspiring and accomplished girls who have made positive impacts on the world before the age of 20.
I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé
A timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about LGBT+ and race issues, and making art in a world that constantly tries to belittle and dehumanize all of it.
The Detroit Project
Three necessary dramas collected about the sociopolitical history of Detroit, race and policing, labor and recession, and gentrification.
A gritty but affectionate portrayal of the new South, wherein a man suspects his missing brother of being the mysterious Nightwolf who tags local businesses and makes threats to news crews.
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
A darkly comic and surreal collection that finds misfit women scrambling for agency in unusual jobs that spread across time, space, and differing planes of reality.
LEAH ANGSTMAN serves as Editor-in-Chief for Alternating Current Press and The Coil magazine, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and a proofreader for Pacific Standard. Her work has appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, Tupelo Quarterly, Electric Literature, Slice Magazine, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. Find her at her website.