Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Deacon King Kong,” by James McBride
Set in a housing project in Red Hook in the 1960s, this is a picaresque, almost Dickensian rollick that starts when the lovable but constantly drunk titular deacon shoots a young drug dealer at point blank range. The novel is a little over-the-top (especially the insanely happy ending), but is also compassionate and tender toward its characters, while also being open-eyed about their flaws and limitations. It is one of those satisfying novels that is a pleasure to recommend.
— Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].
Word’s picks: “The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories,” by Sam Pink
Sam Pink is the most compelling new poet of the growing American underclass, a broadly precarious crowd in perpetual service to the fat and happy. His stories of psyches bent by misfortune, twisted by repetitive work, and broken by social realities resonate with all of us who have worked in kitchens and food service, all of us who have watched the middle class collapse into the low-wage basement of the once-prosperous land of the free. He is the millennial heir to James Kelman and Charles Bukowski, and I cannot recommend this collection more highly than that.
— Jeff Waxman, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils,” by David Farrier
A meditation on the collapsing tempo of geologic time and the human lifespan, Farrier’s book reckons with the traces we leave behind, from ancient footprints to domestic artifacts to the “future fossils” we are creating right now. Ranging from the microscopic — the chemical composition of air, sea, and soil — to the unimaginably vast — mountaintop removal, strip mining, deep sea drilling — Farrier composes a litany of human gestures that mark, now permanently, the surface and the depths of our planet.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].