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Sara A. Lewis’s Anticipated Books of 2017

Always Happy Hour, Mary Miller (Liveright, January)

happymillerThis book’s cover image is a woman in a bathtub eating Chinese takeout and drinking wine straight from the bottle. These are stories I can get behind. If all of them are even half as good as “Little Bear,” which was published earlier this year in the Mississippi Review, this will probably be my favorite book of the year.

 
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker (Tin House, February)

there-are-more-beautiful-things-than-beyonce-by-morgan-parkerParker’s Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night was selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize. Her new book has garnered praise from Roxane Gay, D.A. Powell, and Lena Dunham. These poems are timely and relevant; they engage and confront popular culture in ways that are both accessible and poignant. Tin House Books consistently puts out some of my favorite books each year, and I’m sure this one is no exception.

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (Deckle Edge, February)

saunderslincolnThe master of the short story has written a novel. While technically historical, Saunders claims this is mostly science-fiction. The novel centers around the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie during the Civil War, an historical fact, which when put through the Saunders machine results in a story about ghosts, the struggle for Willie’s soul, and the bardo (Tibetan purgatory). Sold.

The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch (Harper, April)

lidiajoanYuknavitch is the queen of corporeal writing. In addition to the release of The Misfit’s Manifesto, a book based on her TED Talk, I’m looking forward to reading The Book of Joan, Yuknavitch’s speculative retelling of Joan of Arc. With each project, Yuknavitch has continued to redefine what a narrative can do, pushing the boundaries of perspective and resisting the tidy (or even discernible) conclusion. This book promises more badassery from the most badass writer around.

Talking Pillow, Angela Ball (Pittsburgh UP, Fall)

Angela Ball is my hero in poetry and in life; I’m so looking forward to the publication of her next collection. These poems, written after the death of her longtime partner, will rip your guts out in one line and make you laugh with the next. As all good humorists do, Ball melds the tragic and comic masterfully, recognizing the necessity of both. These poems are at once a celebration of her love for her partner and an exploration of the unpredictable (and often paradoxical) human experience.

Other Notables:

Difficult Women, Roxane Gay (Grove, January)

O Fallen Angel (Rerelease), Kate Zambreno (Harper Perennial, January)

South and West, Joan Didion (Knopf, March)

The Mother of All Questions, Rebecca Solnit (Haymarket, March)

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay (Harper, June)

Sara A. Lewis is a doctoral candidate in fiction at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. She has been an Assistant Editor for the Mississippi Review, and is currently the Managing Editor of the Memorious blog and an editor for the magazine. 

For original poetry, fiction, art song, and more interviews, please visit our magazine at http://www.memorious.org.

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Wendy Oleson’s Anticipated Books of 2017

Writing this list reminds me, at a time I so need it, that there’s much to look forward to—particularly emerging voices from small, independent presses. There are many talented writers who coming to us with urgent messages, and we are desperate to hear them.

educationriveraThe Education of Margot Sanchez, Lilliam Rivera (Simon & Schuster, February)

Rivera’s debut, a YA coming-of-age novel described by the publisher as “Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx,” reminds us of the danger against blanket boycotts of publishers—even when they’ve recently made very dubious choices. Rivera, who won a Pushcart Prize in 2016 and has published work in Tin House, The Los Angeles Times, and Bellevue Literary Review has written about the “many Latinx voices being launched” in contemporary publishing, and the influence of her own coming of age in the Bronx.

thingsfreemanAmong Other Things: Essays, Robert Long Foreman (Pleiades Press, February)

Winner of the 2015 Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose, Robert Long Foreman’s essays disarm us with their honesty and directness. Contest judge, John D’Agata calls the collection “a delightful reminder of how satisfying it can be to watch a single mind roll over the folds of its own thinking.” I first read Robert Long Foreman in Copper Nickel 20; in his essay, “Why I Write Nonfiction,” Long Foreman’s voice is a mixture of vulnerability and irreverence. Then, I found his Weird Pig stories, which I’ll only describe as “Bojack Horseman meets factory farming.” Long Foreman’s strange and flexible mind is not to be missed.

Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf, October)
I found Carmen Maria Machado while lying on a pleather couch post dog walk, tired and sweaty, broken A/C unit heaving. My thighs fused to the pleather while Twitter buzzed about a short story in Granta called “The Husband Stitch.” I clicked the link and read that story on the couch on my cell phone in one unbroken breath. This, I thought. THIS. A Clarion alum, Machado twists horror genre conventions with literary prowess to spare. Experimental structures make for explosive originality, as in “Especially Heinous,” described by the publisher as the novella “in which Machado recaps every single episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, dropping Benson and Stabler into a phantasmagoria of doppelgängers and girls-with-bells-for-eyes.” I can’t wait for this collection. This collection. THIS.

Dead Girls, Emily Geminder (Dzanc Books, Fall)
Winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize, the title of Geminder’s debut collection nods to Kim Addonizio’s poem of the same name, a reminder of the dead girl’s narrative power: “a dead girl can kick a movie into gear…just by lying there.” I first read Geminder in American Short Fiction, her darkly comic short-short runner up in the 2015 fiction contest. I then found Geminder’s marvelous essay in Prairie Schooner 89.2 Coming To: A Lexicology of Fainting.” Just weeks ago, I spotted Geminder’s prose poem in the KR Online, “Interior with Ghost,” proving she’s talented, prolific, and a triple-genre threat.

Other Notables:
Common AncestorJenny Irish (Black Lawrence, January)
Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller (Tin House, February)
South and West, Joan Didion (Knopf, March)
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories, Lesley Nneka Ariman (Riverhead, April)
The Gift: A Novel, Barbara Browning (Coffee House Press, May)
The Worlds We Think We Know, Dalia Rosenfeld (Milkweed, May)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay (Harper, June)
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown & Co., June)
We Are All Shipwrecks: A Memoir, Kelly Grey Carlisle (Sourcebooks, Fall)
The Boat Runner: A Novel, Devin Murphy (HarperCollins, September)
The Impossible Fairytale, Han Yujoo, translated by Janet Hong, (Graywolf, October)

Looking to 2018:
Ponti: A Novel, Sharlene Teo (Picador/Simon)
The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays, Esme Weijun Wang (Graywolf)

Wendy Oleson’s forthcoming chapbook, Our Daughter and Other Stories, won Map Literary’s Rachel Wetzsteon Chapbook Award. In 2015, Wendy received the storySouth Million Writer’s Award and was a fiction fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. Her poetry, prose, and hybrid works appear/are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Normal School, the Journal, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction online for the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension.

For original poetry, fiction, art song, and more interviews, please visit our magazine at http://www.memorious.org.

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Barrett Bowlin’s Anticipated Books of 2017

Patty Yumi Cottrell, Sorry to Disrupt the Peace (McSweeney’s)
When you see Cottrell’s work in so many literary mags and online ’zines, and when every sentence of hers stands out to you like a sutured line of poetry, you’re waiting for her work to get its proper introduction. And that’s hopefully what will happen when her debut novel (which focuses on the return of a woman to Milwaukee after her adoptive brother’s suicide) comes out in March.

Keith Lesmeister, We Could’ve Been Happy Here (Midwestern Gothic)
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reading a brilliant short story by Lesmeister called “Blood Trail,” and then, last year, the same story that would serve as the title of his debut collection of short fiction. Both works were incredibly, sharply good, as have each of the other stories I’ve read of his, and I’m looking forward this spring to seeing how his Midwest collection connects and builds a narrative of place.

Sarah Manguso, 300 Arguments (Graywolf)
The poet and diarist extraordinaire returns this February with a collection of threaded and interwoven aphorisms. Hearkening back to some of her early, standalone pieces with McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the collection looks like it will function as a philosophical tapestry in miniature, with every sentence of hers serving as a thought worth repeating aloud.

Joe Oestreich, Partisans: Essays (Black Lawrence)
This is a collection that’s been on my wish list for a long time now, and I’m glad to see it’s finally coming to print in May. One of the genre’s most rocking-est authors, Oestreich is not only a frequent contributor to places like Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, and The Best American Essays “Notables” list, he’s also one of the founding members of the band Watershed, which is quite possibly the best thing to come out of Columbus, Ohio. Ever.

Ian Stansel, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Stansel’s debut story collection, Everybody’s Irish, was so deservedly excellent that I promised myself I would pick up whatever would come next from him. As it turns out, Stansel’s next book was to be a western, a novel that looks to put him up into the ranks of Larry McMurtry, Annie Proulx, and John Vernon. (Plus, as he’s Memorious’s former fiction editor, he can do no literary wrong in our proud, beaming eyes.)

Other Amazing Authors to Look out for in 2017
This January sees the publication of the unimaginably busy Roxane Gay’s second(-ish) collection of short stories, Difficult Women (Grove), along with her memoir, Hunger (Harper), which is slated for June. For the stacked month of February, I’m looking feverishly forward to John Darnielle’s second novel, Universal Harvester (FSG), along with Pulitzer-winning badass Viet Thanh Nguyen’s first collection of short stories, The Refugees (Grove), and then George Saunders’s (!) debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House). Later in the year comes Eleanor Henderson’s second novel, The Twelve-Mile Straight (Ecco), which is as hopefully punk as her first, and then Memorious contributor Benjamin Percy’s new novel, The Dark Net (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Barrett Bowlin is a contributing editor for Memorious. Recent stories and essays of his can be found in places like Ninth Letter, Hobart, The Rumpus, Mid-American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Bayou, which awarded him last year’s James Knudsen Prize in Fiction. He teaches film and literature classes at Binghamton University, and he writes inappropriate things on Twitter (@barrettbowlin).

For original poetry, fiction, art song, and more interviews, please visit our magazine at http://www.memorious.org.

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