My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh:
Describing this book is proving to be nearly impossible, but I find books that can’t be easily summarized in a few sentences are often the ones most worth reading. You could say this book is about a woman who hibernates for a year in the hope of waking up with a new lease on life, but that doesn’t really cover it. Moshfegh amplifies the privileges of our narrator, constantly referring to her beauty and wealth in order to underscore the senseless and random nature of depression. Vapid and ridiculous characters flock to the narrator, only to be hilariously rejected with varying versions of “I don’t feel well,” giving me both a new catchphrase and an appreciation for Moshfegh’s dark writing. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is available for pre-order here.
Captive Audience by Lucas Mann:
I’m reading Captive Audience by Lucas Mann, which comes out in May. I’m finding it to be a wonderful, super smart, very charming mix of cultural analysis of reality television and memoir/love letter to his wife, with whom he watches these many shows. One of the things that makes him anxious about watching reality TV is that passively observing “real” people do “real” things only highlights how he, in that moment, is not doing anything with his life — but then he looks over and sees the realest part of his existence, his partner, sitting and reacting on the other side of the couch. As a reality TV fan with a lot to say about it myself, I am drawn to this book like a moth to a flame (or like Bethenny Frankel to a hot marketing opportunity). It’s surprising me at every turn. Captive Audience is available for pre-order here.
Little Reunions by Eileen Chang:
Chang’s 1974 novel is available in English for the first time. It’s a dark romance and a familial drama set during the Japanese invasion of China just before WWII. I’m only a single chapter into the novel, but Chang’s signature take on society’s shackles and loneliness are ever present right out of the gate. Purchase a copy of Little Reunions here.