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Friday, July 12th 2024

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New This Week:

 

This Great Hemisphere is an inventive and immersive epic that follows its brave invisible protagonist as she navigates a futuristic new world that often mirrors our own. A thrilling page-turner.

—Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half

 

Medici Florence meets Tony Soprano’s New Jersey—with a delicious dash of high fantasy and a heavy splattering of blood. Navola is a grand feat of imagination by a storyteller at the peak of his powers.

—Dan Jones, author of Essex Dogs

A dazzling tale of lovers on the run in Montana . . . Barry has written us a love story that never seems false or cheap, and an adventure where the violence is never gloating or desensitised. It’s a wedding of Cormac McCarthy with Flann O’Brien; a western but also the most Irish of novels; a tragedy written as farce . . . inspiring joy with every incident, every concept, every sentence.

 The Guardian

Another tale of modern neuroses, told with bombastic appeal . . . Brodesser-Akner’s sweep and verve is masterful; there are echoes of Philip Roth here in her examination of American Jewish identity, the promise of America, the thrill of reinvention, the prison of privilege. I can’t think of another living writer better at crafting tales of acute and searing pathos, all while pleasing readers in the process.

Vogue

 

In Anyone's Ghost, August Thompson has given us a devastating, heart-cracking, richly imagined love story for the ages. I read hungrily, relishing Thompson's poetic eye and deep respect for the complexities of life, loss, sexuality, and love.

—Sarah Thankam Mathews,

author of All This Could Be Different

 

I loved this bonkers novel. I was hooked by the voice, and mesmerized by the glamorous and sordid hijinks. I have never read such a strange and recognizable representation of post-2016 New York City, its luxury and squalor. Zaher is a writer to watch.

—Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or and The Idiot

Now in Paperback!

Featured Books for July!

July Fiction Book of the Month:

The Heart in Winter

by Kevin Barry

 

A quintessential American western with a refreshing Irish twist, The Heart in Winter is Kevin Barry’s rip-roaring, fun, picaresque new novel set in the mining town of Butte, Montana, in the 1890’s (the author’s first novel set in America!), the love story of two tragicomic characters with rocky pasts. When Tom Rourke, would-be poet and balladeer, with a penchant for dope, drink and prostitutes, meets Polly Gillespie, newly arrived mail-order bride with a past of her own, romance blooms, sparks fly, the plot thickens, and a chase ensues, with the new lovers on-the-lam with a satchel full of stolen money! Phew! As a western it’s all here: bars, brothels, opium dens, a burned down boardinghouse, a stolen horse, outlaw-lovers with a posse in hot pursuit. But the true enjoyment of the book is in the telling; Barry is a master wordsmith and storyteller—his dialogue and descriptions sparkle with wit and humor, and his vocabulary of playful Irish brogue (including made-up words!), exuberant word play, and use of a wild array of over-the-top adjectives, adverbs and similes make The Heart in Winter rollicking good fun and a delight to read. Ed loved and highly recommends!

 

“A wedding of Cormac McCarthy with Flann O’Brien, an Irish story that’s also a western, a tragedy written as farce, made to attract superlatives. I doubt that anyone will publish a novel this year that is at once so beautiful, so lovable and so much fun.” -The Guardian

July Nonfiction Book of the Month:

Democracy or Else

by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor

 

Democracy or Else, by Jon Favreau (not that one), Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, is a wonderful and light-hearted primer for democratic engagement from three former Obama administration staffers and hosts of the Pod Save America podcast. Presented as a step-by-step illustrated guide to participating in the political process – from the voting booth to running for President for the third time to avoid jail for trying to insurrect your way out of losing the previous election – this is a witty, informative, and incisive book that cuts through the “They’re all the same and nothing changes” cynicism that right-wing forces are so skillfully instilling in all of us. Perfect for both younger readers and adults feeling overwhelmed by the dystopian state of U.S. politics, Democracy or Else comes at just the right time to save us all. In ten easy steps! Simeon recommends!

July Nonfiction Book of the Month:

The Garden

Against Time

by Olivia Laing

 

Inspired by the restoration of her own walled garden in Suffolk, England, The Garden Against Time is Olivia Laing's rapturous celebration of the garden. Her lush, beguiling, luxuriously detailed descriptions of gardens as places of refuge and rapture, retreat and contemplation, of "reckless aliveness," and her own garden, with all its pleasures and possibilities, "wild and abundant with colour and scent," are a pleasure to read. This praise song for the garden, erudite and chatty, is an elegantly written hybrid of garden writing and personal memoir, but what I loved most is that her scope here is even wider than that -- The Garden Against Time is teeming with ideas and overflows with asides on the garden as metaphor, the Garden of Eden, the contradictory narratives of paradise (and, most brilliantly, on John Milton's Paradise Lost!), utopian socialism, writer/filmmaker (and gardener) Derek Jarman, poet (and gardener) John Clare, and the interconnectedness of gardens with history, including the dark connection between gardens and slavery. What a joy to luxuriate in Laing's words and musings and stories, reminding me of the same satisfaction and delight I experienced when reading H is for Hawk, narrative nonfiction at its very best! Ed loved and highly recommends!

Staff Recommendations!

The Price of Salt

by Patricia Highsmith

 

Patricia Highsmith, who is known primarily for her work in the mystery genre, published The Price of Salt in 1952 under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan. At the time, Highsmith had only one other published work, Strangers on a Train, and was working at a department store in New York to support herself. One day while working with a fever, Highsmith encountered a “stunning blonde woman in a mink coat” at the toy counter where she worked. The brief, yet meaningful encounter combined with Highsmith’s loneliness, repressed sexuality, and fever, sent her into a state. She went home that night and completed the outline for The Price of Salt in 2 hours. If you’ve seen the movie Carol (perhaps many times like me), reading this book is like hours of bonus content. Highsmith’s writing is purposefully mundane and solemn, while still managing to be completely enthralling. It’s also the first lesbian romance novel ever published where the characters have a happy ending! Mayzie continues to cherish The Price of Salt and hopes you will give it a read!

Human Acts

by Han Kang

 

Soundlessly, and without fuss, some tender thing deep inside me broke. Something that, until then, I hadn’t realized was there.

This is a gruesome, brutal, and beautiful book. Kang’s writing is visceral, wielding the violence of the story in only the most purposeful way. I was completely absorbed by the use of the second person for Dong-Ho, a boy killed in the Gwanju Uprising in South Korea in 1980. Perfectly titled, Human Acts takes an uncompromising look at the capability of cruelty within humanity. It is a gut-wrenching novel memorializing an important part of history; this is a book I won’t soon forget. One of my favorite novels ever. Caroline recommends!

My Friends

by Hisham Matar

 

A life in exile is a life lived waiting, paused at the isthmus between this and the next life.

 

My Friends by Hisham Matar is a big, expansive novel, a poignant story so gracefully and effortlessly told, in simple yet elegant prose, I was riveted throughout. It revolves around an actual true account: on a fateful day in April 1984, during the dark days of Muammar Khaddafi’s dictatorship, someone opened fire from inside the Libyan embassy in London on demonstrators outside in St. James Square, killing 1 and injuring dozens. Injured in the melee, fictional narrator Khaled becomes unmoored, adrift in a country not his own, and the story follows his decades-long friendship with fellow exiles Hosam and Mustafa. The novel masterfully explores themes such as friendship and family, tyranny and resistance, the connections that tie us to a homeland, and how exile can cast a long shadow on a life. My Friends is also an ode to reading and writing, beautifully spotlighting how literature can sustain us, giving us hope even in the darkest of times. Winner of the 2024 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the judges called My Friends “a warm and extraordinarily clear-sighted novel, reading like the most exquisite memoir.” Ed loved and highly recommends!

Thin Skin

by Jenn Shapland,

Now in Paperback!

 

Why is private property, accumulation, our only way to see the relationship with the world?

 

In this thoughtful, compassionate, and illuminating essay collection, Shapland has given us a multifaceted consideration of the fragility of human bodies, and how these vulnerabilities are informed by consumerism and capitalism, boundaries and interconnectedness, gender, and childlessness. Weaving personal anecdotes with historical research, interviews, and musings on everyday life in New Mexico, Shapland explores the ways in which the world shapes us and we shape the world, while striving to find if a truly meaningful life is possible under capitalism. There are no easy answers, but the journey is wondrous and vital. Shane recommends!

Bury Your Gays

by Chuck Tingle

 

Bury Your Gays by Chuck Tingle is a stylish queer thriller set amidst the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Misha Byrne is a gay scriptwriter who has just been nominated for his first Oscar. But at what seems to be the peak of his career, he is informed by the studio he works with that the algorithms have determined that the two female leads of his show can either be revealed as straight in the upcoming season finale, or he can pay off on years of setup by having them come out as gay, only to be killed off. As Misha struggles with a decision that feels mostly out of his hands, creepiness starts to accumulate around him. It's almost as if the monsters he's written for past movies have jumped out of the screen and are trying to kill him. Soon the fight for gay representation has become a full-blown struggle for survival. Bury Your Gays is fast-paced, expertly written, simultaneously entertaining and poignant as it tackles themes of homophobia, bullying, and repression on one hand, while also being a slashery romp for the entire family! Simeon recommends!

This Week's Bestsellers:

Upcoming Book Clubs!

Introducing our newest reading group: The Horror Book Club - reader beware, and enter at your own risk! Join us for the first meeting of the Horror Book Club on Tuesday, July 23rd at 7:30pm!

Word Are Deeds

By Rebecca Solnit,

read at Lithub

Our 21 Most-Anticipated Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Books for the Rest of 2024

By Drew Broussard,

read at LitHub

If You’re Going to Platform Extremists You Should At Least Check Their Facts

By Maris Kreizman,

read at Lithub

The NYT Book Review Is Everything Book Criticism Shouldn't Be

By Yasmin Nair,

read at Current Affairs

Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024, Part Two

By Emily Temple,

read at Lithub

To help support their fight for racial and economic justice in America, we at Unabridged have chosen to support the Equal Justice Initiative. Each month we will be making a donation and ask that you join us in supporting their work.

 

In light of recent book banning and censorship attempts in America, in 2024 we at Unabridged have chosen to support the Gerber/Hart Library & Archives in their work to collect, preserve, and make accessible the diverse history and culture of LGBTQ+ communities in Chicago and the Midwest. Each month we will be making a donation and we ask that you join us in supporting their work.



In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights are at risk across the United States. In 2024, we at Unabridged have chosen to support 2 local organizations in the fight to protect a person’s right to choose. Each month we will be making a donation to The Chicago Abortion Fund and Midwest Access Coalition and ask that you join us in supporting their work.

In 2024 we’re committing to continue this support, and adding another monthly contribution to help address the needs of new migrant arrivals in Chicago by supporting Project AMOR of the Instituto del Progreso Latino! We hope you will consider joining us to support the important work these organizations are doing for our community and across the country!

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