Saturday, December 17, 2011

Best of the Small Press 2011: Day 6

Today's small press picks are from me. These are the Top Three 2011 Small Press Novels I Can't Wait To Read.

My favorite sub-genre of fiction is the female novella, or short novels (by women writers) which read like novellas. The ones I'm most interested in are from the point of view of one female character and are often written in first person. I'm especially fond of books where a strong and original voice propels the story from beginning to end. This year I read numerous books that fit this category: I loved the bitter and paranoid voice of the narrator in The Appointment by Herta Muller (Metropolitan Books, 2001) and the obsession of Breathe by Anne-Sophie Brasme (St Martin's Griffin, 2001). Lucker and Tiffany Peel Out by Eroica Mildmay (Serpent's Tail, 1993) used a biting, sardonic voice to skillfully combine an uneasy domestic fiction and wide-eyed road trip novel in one, while It Was Gonna Be Like Paris by Emily Listfield (Dial Press, 1984) uses a young artist narrator to create an edgy domestic fiction set in the bohemian New York '80s. I also fell in love with short novels by Anne Roiphe and Dawn Powell and revisited some of my favorites by Jean Rhys.

The books I can't wait to read from 2011 are these three:

1. Zipper Mouth, Laurie Weeks (Feminist Press, 2011)
I saw Laurie Weeks read in 2000 with Michelle Tea's Sister Spit and adored her writing. She had a compelling, nervous energy onstage and her story (about Vivien Leigh, among other subjects) went unexpected places. I've been waiting 11 years for this debut novel to come out; so have many others, and they say it's worth every minute of the wait. More at Feminist Press:

2. Green Girl, Kate Zambreno (Emergency Press, 2011)
Everything I've read about Green Girl makes me want to read it. For starters, Kate Durbin has described the protagonist as "literature's lost girl," comparing her to a Jean Rhys character, a Sylvia Plath character, and a Clarice LiSpector character. Sign me up. More (including links to reviews) at Emergency Press:

3. Zazen, Vanessa Veselka (Red Lemonade, 2011)
I just started reading this novel and already I'm in love with the smart and jaded tone of the narrator. As with Kathy Acker novels, I keep throwing the book across the room every few paragraphs because the sentences are so good I'm jealous. In case that sounds like a statement on the "craft" of writing, I don't mean it as such; the subtle power of the narrator's thoughts and voice are what blow me away. In other words, I like what she dares to say, and I like how directly she dares to say it. More at Red Lemonade:

Recommended by Karen Lillis
Author of The Second Elizabeth (Six Gallery Press) and i, scorpion (Words Like Kudzu Press)

No comments: