Word’s picks: “Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick,” by Zora Neale Hurston
The title of this collection of “lost stories” from renowned Black writer and ethnographer Zora Neale Hurston encapsulates her very unique way of framing complex, subversive ideas about race, gender, and class within the assumed narrative confines of heterosexual and familial relationships. Balancing local folklore and highly specific dialect with delicate prose, Hurston uses her “crooked stick” to deliver hard truths about America’s troubled past that prove shockingly relevant as we enter 2020.
— Althea Meer, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Don’t Believe a Word,” by David Shariatmadari
This book, subtitled “The Surprising Truth about Language,” is a brain-twisting tour of a linguistic cabinet of curiosities from a renowned scholar of languages. With wit, clarity, and anecdotes drawn from around the globe, linguist David Shariatmadari reveals that, all too often, the very language that grounds our thoughts is actually quicksand.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Cleanness,” by Garth Greenwell
Garth Greenwell’s prose is remarkably elegant. On style alone, one might mistake “Cleanness,” for some lost classic novel, if it were not so contemporary in its frank exploration of desire and cruelty and the mixing of the two. It is already one of my favorite books of the year.
— Matt Stowe, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].