Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Barbarian Days” by William Finnegan
An accomplished war journalist, Finnegan recently said that he was reluctant to come out the closet as a surfer. But big waves are everywhere in Finnegan’s life. In “Barbarian Days,” he describes his childhood in California and Hawaii and his adventures in Polynesia and Fiji — each told with a quicksilver glint rich in detail. All of it pivots around surfing, of course. Without shame or “lame cats,” as he prescribed diminutive swells, Finnegan illustrates the thrills of the sport and a lifetime of surfing.
— Frankie Caracciolo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].
Word’s pick: “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara
I have not yet found one person who didn’t want to talk endlessly about this book with anyone else who has read it. It is the kind of
book that requires a support group. It packs such a powerful emotional punch that you’re not quite the same when it’s over. Centering on
four male college friends and following them into their fifties, “A Little Life” is anything but little — in length, in breadth, or in impact.
It is not for the weak of heart — you will be reduced to tears at several points, but don’t let that deter you. It is quite literally a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
— Christine Onorati, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Beauty Is a Wound,” by Eka Kurniawan
At the opening of “Beauty Is a Wound,” a prostitute rises from her grave, kicking off a story about love, murder, and monstrosity in the Indonesian 20th century. Translated for the first time into English, Eka Kurniawan’s glorious novel folds local lore, folk tales, and magic together to tell a story as rich and profound as “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” But more than Marquez, Kurniawan wants us to feel the tangible, material history coursing through his country’s past, which makes for a narrative as terrifying as it is moving. Read it alongside Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2012 documentary “The Act of Killing,” and be warned.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].