I am a few days behind on telling you what books you should read and what authors you should come see (hello, David Sedaris and Samantha Irby) but my kid is graduating from high school in a few weeks and that means time is moving in fast-forward and I am utterly unprepared to handle this emotional transition which is both a bittersweet relief and absolute agony.
But if you are also going through it at the moment (whatever “it” is) I have the perfect distraction, in the form of this month’s Fantastic Strangelings book club pick…Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon.
Short description? I was going to say “Queer con-artist teams up with sex-workers and bad-ass Vegas misfits to fight serial killers in this psychological thriller…but also funny?” but I don’t think I’m doing it justice so in case you’re not already convinced, here’s the beginning: “She escaped a serial killer. Then things got weird.”
It’s quirky, funny, terrifying, heartening, thrilling, infuriating, inspiring. As soon as I finished the first chapter (pikachu serial killer…’nuff said) I was like, omg this is the book.
And our Nightmares from Nowhere Book Club selection is Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill.
A subversive, feminist, queer spin-off of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein set in the 1850s and narrated by Mary Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein’s great- niece. AND THAT COVER.
Need more to get you through the month? Some of the best May books I’ve read:
Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby – Literally the funniest lady I know has a new book coming out and it’s fried gold. Two words: Nun porn. Also, I’m doing a zoom event with her so click here for details and join us. Tickets include a copy of Quietly Hostile shipped to you. Hell yes.
The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry – When a woman discovers a rare book that has connections to her past, long-held secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II are revealed. It’ll keep you guessing.
The Enchanted Hacienda by J. C. Cervantes – Lovely magical realism and romance. Like Practical Magic and Encanto had a baby. Reminded me a little of The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina.
Ascension by Nicholas Binge – This novel freaked me right the hell out, but in a really good way. Creepy as hell. Like John Carpenter’s The Thing mixed with Stargate.
Super Bloom by Megan Tady – A heartfelt and warm novel that’s part rom-com but goes so much deeper. An excellent beach read on grief, healing, and the transformative power of writing.
Edison’s Ghosts: The Untold Weirdness of History’s Greatest Geniuses by Katie Spalding – Overturn everything you knew about history’s greatest minds in this irreverent book, where it turns out there’s a finer line between “genius” and “idiot” than we’ve guessed.
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer – Years ago, a reclusive mega-bestselling children’s author quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Suddenly he resurfaces with a brand-new book and a one-of-a-kind competition, offering a prize that will change the winner’s life in this absorbing and whimsical novel. Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but make it books.
Everything is Fine, Vol. 1 by Mike Birchall – Do you also read WEBTOONS like Lore Olympus or Heartstopper or is it just me? Well, this is volume one of the deeply unsettling dystopian horror webtoon that has been haunting me for years. And everyone has cat heads. So there’s that.
In other book news, David Sedaris is coming to do a reading at Nowhere(!) on June 12th.
We sold out of tickets to the reading in minutes of announcing it on our instagram but you can still get tickets to the priority book signing line after the event and a purchase of the ticket enters you in a chance to win a spot for the reading. Tickets include a paperback copy of Happy-Go-Lucky that you can have him sign. And after that the signing line will be free for anyone who wants to stop by and meet David. And yes, if you aren’t in San Antonio you can order any of David’s books from us here and he’ll personalize them for you and we’ll ship them. And no, we can’t show all of this over zoom because David doesn’t do pictures and frankly, I suspect it’s because he’s a vampire, which just makes him even more fascinating. Click here for all the details.
Thank you for supporting Nowhere. We literally would not be here without you. And a membership to one of our book clubs makes a fabulous Mother’s Day gift if you’re into that sort of thing. We do romance, horror, weirdness and picture books for little ones, so take your pick.
20 thoughts on “May books light your way”
Read comments below or add one.
Nun porn? Did I read that right?
(You did indeed. ~ Jenny)
My child is also graduating from high school in three weeks. They decided to graduate a year early. I’m struggling.
(It’s so much harder than you imagine, right? ~ Jenny)
I’m opening up the facebook discussion pages for last month’s books but just in case you don’t do facebook, here are my thoughts:
(HERE THERE BE SPOILERS)
My thoughts on The House is on Fire: I loved the idea of exploring a true story while not flinching from the darker aspects, including the terrible racism and misogyny of the time.
I don’t always like stories that are told from various perspectives, but I think it really works here as you see lives and details that are so unique. Cecily Patterson’s story in particular was really hard to read but I think in many ways one of the most important. Turning away from the horrors of our past do nothing to help us erase the horrors we still deal with today. It’s a fictionalized history, of course, but we don’t really have many details from the perspective of people like Sally, Cecily, Gilbert and Jack simply because their voices would have been ignored. The people in power write the history, after all, but I still loved the idea of exploring such a terrible event from the viewpoint of the people who made history while being erased from that very history.
My thoughts on Natural Beauty: This book had such a beautiful combination of terror, insight and humor, plus such smart and cutting prose. I found myself dogearing page after page (this is what I do when I find something that makes me go, “Whoa.”) for so many reasons.
A few of the things I loved the most:
The idea of beauty as homogeny…that everyone seems to strive for the same boring look…and how that beauty is often one of vulnerability and weakness. Like when the narrator realizes that her limbs are becoming longer and more fragile and her skin becoming delicate papyrus that could be easily pierced, which all sounds terrible but then the narrator says…”I am becoming my best self.” Ow.
The abuse of animals in beauty…in particular the remora, slugs and crabs that suck away at the clients…as if having more of you removed makes you better, implying that we are the toxins ourselves.
The idea of consumerism…from the dating app that puts people in a shopping cart, to vitals, information and identity being stolen by corporations…to the horrifying conclusion of stealing so much more but in such a subtle way that the horror sneaks up on you until it’s overwhelming.
The exploration of what it’s like to be different or other and how that shame can affect us…whether it be race or class or ability or so many other things, the things that make you unique are often things that we are taught to hide.
The ridiculous things we do for beauty. Venomous pit viper lip gloss and seizure-inducing jellyfish injections only seem slightly out of reach from where we are now…shoving jade eggs up our cooters, bleaching our buttholes and having our blood injected into our faces. It gets crazier as the book goes on but I think it works so well because there is a little bit of us saying, “Oh, but would that work?” before we realize how insane the idea of beauty culture and anti-aging has become.
The idea of westernization and colonization in beauty…with skin bleaches and blonde hair so that everyone is pressured to look like the same person. And the idea that since natural beauty doesn’t exist and can be overridden, the same should be allowed (or encouraged at Holistik) with ethnicity.
The idea of human trafficking made to look as if it were anything other than predatory. The concept of experimenting on people…which is sadly not a new idea…and exploring the ethical implications and finally the metamorphosis of the narrator who turns into a sort of monster but also a sort of wonder. I love the line about how beautiful she thinks her green skin is if she just forgets what her skin is supposed to look like and how free she feels in many ways.
The wrap-up is perfectly terrible in the way that reflects how cruelly the whole thing was planned, how predatory and how oblivious Saje is of her own evilness, and how alone she is.
I too have my child graduating high school in a few weeks … my first, oldest, and only girl. One boy two years behind her and one more boy three years after that. In one sentence you summed up all that I’ve been feeling for the past month. Thank you for words! I’m not crying you’re crying, and then some.
David Sedaris! Wish I were closer. Tried to do the signed book option but it doesn’t seem to ship to Canada. Are there other ways? Thank you!
Congratulations to your kid, soon to be spreading their wings in the real world. Don’t worry, your kid will always need you, even when they’re fully grown and on their own. We always need our mommies.
This will be a tough transition, but it’s worth it. And think of all the new free time you will have to explore yourself and your interests and your relationship with your spouse and rediscover in this new chapter of life.
Thank you for the book suggestions, I always love the new titles to check out.
I hear you. My oldest is graduating this year and I recognize those feelings. I want to cry and celebrate at the same time.
The conversation between you and Samantha Irby looks amazing! Great pairing. I have it on my calendar.
Can you please send me a new calendar? I’m positive your kid is 11 and still doing group shots with your relatives.
If not, congratulations on that pretty person graduating HS!
Wait a minute.
Hailey is GRADUATING?
From High School?
Like the 12th Grade?
HOW is this possible?
Hailey is only like 14 years old or something like that.
I’m pretty sure you’re being tricked into buying Graduation Gifts for someone who is MAYBE finishing 9th Grade.
Next you’re gonna be telling us Hailey’s off to college.
Wake up, Woman! You’re being conned.
OMG. They’ve conned the State of Texas into a Driver’s License too despite being waaaaay to young to drive. Right?
Does Victor know?
Congratulations on Graduating from High School waaaaaay ahead of schedule, Hailey! Wink-Wink. ;\
Our children graduated ages ago and I’m still trying to find out whose stupid idea it was for them to grow up and move away and lead useful, fulfilling, independent adult lives? So much of being a parent is a weird combination of congratulations and condolences. I send you both in buckets.
I’m not sure I want to read Our Hideous Progeny, but I do want a poster of that cover.
OMG, DAVID SEDARIS?!?!?!? I’ve been to three of his readings. He’s hilarious to the point where you will be in tears laughing. I just ordered Happy-Go-Lucky. Me at checkout: “Would I like to pick this order up at the store? I WISH!!!”
Congratulations on Hailey’s graduation! My niece is graduating this year too, and it seems unreal. I mean, wasn’t she just giving her Auntie Sue-Sue manicures yesterday?
There is NO WAY they can possibly be graduating already!!!
What a wild realization. I am not a parent, but I am an aunt to 4 and it boggles my mind when I do the math for their ages.
I sure wish I could afford either book event (or book).
I’m convinced that the only way to truly understand the word bittersweet is to have a high school graduate. First time for us too, hanging in there with you Jenny!
I want to leave my house and stop reading crummy ARCs. I need a Wolf Sihrter romance. Lol.
The House is on Fire seems like such a good creeping horror. Looking forward to catching up to it soon.
Congratulations on making it to graduation, Hailey!
You are loved and will be such an awesome adult!
Just keep swimming, Jenny. <3
I’m here for you in August, girl.
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