Word’s pick: “Calamities” by Renee Gladman
This collection of essays — or possibly prose poems — gives shape to the act of creation for the artist-as-writer or writer-as-artist. Always experimental, but never exclusionary, Renee Gladman’s writing is open, reflective, and sublime. I wanted to read “Calamities” as soon as I woke up and I wanted it to sing me to sleep at the end of the day. Gladman is my dream writer.
— Mary Thompson, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Waves” by Virginia Woolf
“The Waves” may be Woolf’s strangest work, but I intend that as a compliment. Woolf called the book a play-poem, and the story within is told in prose poem soliloquies by six characters who we follow from childhood to adulthood. The soliloquies are distinct, but they build towards a gestalt of a silent, central consciousness. Breaking up the soliloquies are nine short scenes that describe the seaside at different times of a single day, beginning at dawn and ending at dusk. Six lifetimes set so close to a day can’t help but show just how tethered we are to time — and how untethered it is from us. This experimental novel is a joy to experience.
— Melissa Hohl, 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: “Craeft” by Alexander Langlands
In his new book, subtitled “An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts,” archaeologist Alexander Langlands explores the material culture of medieval Europe and the domestic labor that was required to create it. From weaving and beekeeping to pottery and thatching, Langlands traces traditions which exist today as hobbies or quaint pastimes back to their origins, creating a compelling picture of our changing relationship with labor and technology, and of domestic and public space. The book is impressive in its ability to use historical examples to give us a fuller picture of our own time.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].