Word’s pick: “The Book of Joan” by Lidia Yuknavitch
In an innovative and moving retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, Lidia Yuknavitch portrays a future in which the essence of humanness is at stake. Forced to flee Earth, a portion of humanity lives on a space station, where they are condemned to lives without gender, sex, procreation, or old age. Hope exists only in the legend of Joan and rumors of rebellion and insurrection on the Earth’s surface far below. Yuknavitch beautifully examines the will and need to fight against tyranny and oppression even at the cost of one’s life.
— Alison Gore, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Exercises In Style” by Raymond Queneau
A peevish young man is jostled on a public bus, then receives unsolicited fashion advice from a friend. That’s the whole story. But Queneau tells it 179 different ways: backwards, in sonnet form, in cockney slang, in zoological metaphor, and on. This is a book for any adult who grew up loving “The Phantom Tollbooth,” and perhaps for some precocious kids too.
— Hannah Sheldon-Dean, 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: “Evening at the Talk House” by Wallace Shawn
You know Wallace Shawn — he was Vizzini in “The Princess Bride” and Rex in “Toy Story,” but Shawn is also a scathing political playwright. His newest work, now available in print, follows a production company gathered together for the anniversary of their hit play. What have they done in the decade since? Drone strikes, assassinations, and extra-judicial murder around the world, to name a few. It’s as hilarious and chilling as anything Shawn has done, and a hard slap to our bourgeois cultural scene.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].