Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Life of the Party,” by Olivia Gatwood
I devoured this collection of poems by Olivia Gatwood in one giant gulp. I am familiar with Gatwood’s work from her spoken word performances, but performance poets’ work rarely translates to the page. It is clear to me, however, that Gatwood takes craft seriously, and these poems hold up. This collection has been discussed as a poet’s take on true crime, but I think it is more of a reflection on what happens when a girl consumes and internalizes the hundreds of stories about violent death dealt to young girls at the hands of men. Gatwood’s obsession with (and, evidently, fear of) death seeps into every poem. I appreciated that she makes explicit the prejudice that allows missing girls to be on the cover of a magazine (white, often blonde girls), while others are forgotten or even blamed for their death (women of color, trans women, indigenous women). This book feels like the shadow side of the teenage coming-of-age story; behind the clumsy, sensual, confusing, and obsessive nature of girlhood is fear.
— Lucy Hayes, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Ghosts of Birds,” by Eliot Weinberger
In this collection of essays, short fiction, and poetry, Eliot Weinberger extends his multi-generational literary project to encompass the creation myths of India and China, Old Testament apocrypha, Gaelic legend, a journey down the Colorado river, and a history of dreams. It is a polymath’s erudite reverie, and a joy to read.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Word’s picks: “Disoriental,” by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina Kover
A coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of political resistance, “Disoriental” moves forward and backward in time as the protagonist reflects on her life in Iran and Paris. There is a lot going on in this book, and at times I wondered where the author was taking me, but the evocative writing and twisty structure eventually swept me up and left me feeling unsettled and changed in the best of ways.
— Amanda Toronto, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].