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NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book is playful, psychogeographically rich, sometimes messy, dark, and has a wicked stiletto of an ending. Most of all, its subtleties hold up under the mulling over after you've finished reading it. A smart look at the complexities...
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Debt
The First 5,000 Years
David Graeber
An history of debt written by an anarchist-sympathizing anthropologist (and a respected one, mind you)—who better to dig beneath the assumptions taken for granted by the Western science of Economics? From blood debts in moneyless societies...
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House of Prayer No. 2
A Writer's Journey Home
Mark Richard
Based on its subject matter and jacket copy, this might have been an inspirational memoir. But in Mark Richard's hands, the story of his own life is weird and unsettling and haunting and very much like an ocean hiding outlandish fauna somewhere beneath...
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West of the West
Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State
Mark Arax
With his reportage and essays, Arax is mining territory somewhere between Rebecca Solnit and James Ellroy—here you'll find both thoughtful musings on geography and intense crime investigations. Written with real vitality and engagement, this book makes...
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Soul
And Other Stories
Andrey Platonov
A Soviet author heavily censored in his time, Platonov writes about work, progress, war and love with incredible earnestness, dreamlike strangeness, and a uniquely animistic sense of the universe. The title story here is unforgettable: at once truly...
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Troia
Mexican Memoirs
Bonnie Bremser
For those who are interested in the Beats and want to dig a bit deeper beyond the usual suspects, this long-neglected memoir of hard life in Mexico is raw, naked, honest, full of feeling, and sometimes barely in control. While avoiding statements about...
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Christ Stopped at Eboli
The Story of a Year
Carlo Levi
A genuinely wonderful portrait of a place (southern Italy) and its people: vividly rendered, humane, and surprising. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Crow with No Mouth
Ikkyū
A 15th century Zen monk-poet, one of my very favorites, who does his tradition proud: so lusty, so stark. Stephen Berg's translations in run-on lines capture a charming voice. —Recommended by Matt, City Lights Books
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Suttree
Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy's last book set in the South before he moved his focus to the West, this is an emotionally opaque but terribly powerful portrait of a damaged man. This book teaches by a sort of unrelenting immersion; plunging you into a world of vivid squalor...