Between Nowhere and Happiness, by Daniel Kine:
The book reads like a drugged up Catcher In The Rye. The result of a sometimes hopeless disposition paired with some of the strongest and most poetic prose of the 2000’s, this novel is a small masterpiece. At only 25, Kine has written something that every member of his generation can learn from.
Teach the Free Man, by Peter Nathaniel Malae:
While the first story, "Turning Point," may strike readers as misogynistic, Malae typically shows great pathos and sensitivity in portraying human relationships. Stories such as "Before High Desert" require us to parse conversations as if we were overhearing them from a neighboring cell, paying attention to the feeling behind the words
Nice Big American Baby, by Judy Bunditz:
This is one of the best collections of short stories I've read in a while. The settings and themes vary, but each has at least some element of magical realism. Many of them are creepy, not in a blood-and-guts horrorshow kind of way, but more in a strange, unsettling way. Many of them are sad; "Elephant and Boy" especially touched me. But there is also quite a bit of sly humor, as in "Sales," in which traveling salesmen in some future time are captured by a family and kept penned, and still continue their salesmen-like ways. One of my favorite stories in this volume was "Preparedness," an ultimately rather hopeful tale featuring a world leader who seems quite familiar.
Budnitz writes beautifully. Her writing is filled with interesting images, and yet she never forgets her characters and plots. These stories are rich but not dense. I can strongly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more of Budnitz's work.
No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July:
It's a testament to July's artistry that the narrators of this arresting first collection elicit empathy rather than groans. "Making Love in 2003," for example, follows a young woman's dubious trajectory from being the passive, discarded object of her writing professor's attentions to seducing a 14-year-old boy in the special-needs class she teaches, while another young woman enters the sex industry when her girlfriend abandons her, with a surprising effect on the relationship. July's characters over these 16 stories get into similarly extreme situations in their quests to be loved and accepted, and often resort to their fantasy lives when the real world disappoints (which is often): the self-effacing narrator of "The Shared Patio" concocts a touching romance around her epilectic Korean neighbor; the aging single man of "The Sister" weaves an elaborate fantasy around his factory colleague Victor's teenage sister (who doesn't exist) to seduce someone else. July's single emotional register is familiar from her film Me and You and Everyone We Know, but it's a capacious one: wry, wistful, vulnerable, tough and tender, it fully accommodates moments of bleak human reversals. These stories are as immediate and distressing as confessionals.
And The Heart Says Whatever, by Emily Gould:
She set out to flout the traditions of many women's memoirs. Her book is the antithesis of personal growth narratives like Eat, Pray, Love — and she may like it that way.
Anthropology Of An American Girl, by Hilary Thayer Hamaan:
This Book is, among other things, a stern rebuke to chick lit everywhere. Coming in at some 600 pages, it reminds us that all human lives are potentially sacred; that no lives should be judged and dismissed out of hand; that young women, though seen for eons as primarily just attractive objects, actually possess soul and will and sentience. This novel follows one girl as she grows up in an Eden she takes for granted with the solipsism of youth. The actual place is the town of East Hampton on Long Island; the book's second half is set for four hectic years in Manhattan during the early '80s, with all its sex and cocaine and money and AIDS whirling in a merciless torrent of social change.