Word’s pick: “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson reflects on race and femininity in her haunting, lyrical meditation on a specific time and place: 1970s Brooklyn. After the death of her father, cultural anthropologist August looks back on her teenage friendships with Sylvia, Gigi, and Angela — a circle she broke into, and which remade and protected her, and which urged her to ignore her mother’s ringing advice against growing her nails long. The girls became a refuge, unstoppable together — until they weren’t anymore. Evocative and beautiful, Woodson gave me the ache in August’s heart, but it was all worth it.
— Ashanti Wallace-White, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Event Factory” by Renee Gladman
An ambient meditation on language and place, absence and understanding, the first installment of Renee Gladman’s Ravicka cycle is a science-fiction prose poem and travelogue. It follows a traveling linguist navigating the ailing urban sprawl of Ravicka, and the mystery of its fleeing inhabitants. In Ravicka, every gesture becomes a sound, and every noise constitutes a language; to immerse oneself in the language is to become immersed in the city itself. Imbued with the inherent otherness of travel, Gladman’s sparse and atmospheric prose unfolds a surreal, disorienting narrative that is inhabited as much as it is read.
— Jarrod Annis, 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: “The Driver’s Seat” by Muriel Spark
This vicious little novel has lost none of its force while passing into the canon of British weirdness. Spark’s favorite among all of her works, it tells the story of a woman’s holiday and her descent into madness and eventual murder. Spark sneakily spoils the outcome early on, dumping the fateful finale on the reader as an introductory aside, and leaving the rest of the story to play out as detailing on some terrible edifice. The novel’s formal daring is also proof in some circles that Spark was a fellow traveler of the nouveau roman.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].