“Large Animals” is a vital, visceral collection of beautifully told, provocative stories, each exploring the complexities of the human body and individual identity. Jess Arndt effortlessly strings together words and ideas to form striking, absolutely lovely sentences. As you read, you will find yourself shocked, delighted, and haunted by the lives, loves, and struggles of individuals who do not exist, but whose lives seem just as relevant as your own. This collection is decidedly for mature audiences, but it will appeal to anyone who marvels at human existence and is intrigued by the various forms of the human body.
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “MyOther Tongue” by Rosa Alcalá
This collection of poems explores both language and mother-daughter relationships, revealing the mother as the other in the poet. The daughter is as “jagged / as this poem.” The daughter is “the revision that rhymes,” one that “makes sense of time.” Rosa Alcalá bears witness to the transformations of home, language, land, trauma, and the archive, the structure of which is “spectral.” To compose poems in the voice of ghosts, “MyOther Tongue” must be more than one thing. It is, and it does.
In the first decades of the 20th century, Joe Gould, a Harvard dropout and self-proclaimed author of the longest book ever written “The Oral History Of Our Time,” roamed the streets, bars, flophouses, and asylums of New York City. He moved among the artists of the Harlem Renaissance and the bohemians of the downtown literary scene. Alice Neel painted him, Ezra Pound wrote him letters of recommendation, and a quack doctor in an upstate sanitarium pulled out all his teeth to treat his “mania.” In this strange, exhilarating story, Jill Lepore explores the many secrets swirling around this compelling figure and comes away with a moving meditation on humanity and a life devoted to one’s art, whatever that may be.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun