Someone asked me recently why Dorothy Barker hasn’t been posing next to my book club picks the last few months and the truth is that she has developed an occasional uncanny suspicion of books. Why? No fucking idea. The vet seems to think she may have early-onset doggie dementia (she’s getting a little nuts, seeing thing that aren’t there, etc) and maybe this is just part of that or that maybe she’s just neurotic (join the club, dog). I tried to take a picture of her with this month’s Fantastic Strangelings book and she gave me a look like she was going to barf and then started slowly backing out of the room.
And I thought that maybe she was just self-conscious because she hadn’t had a bath in awhile, because she’s also become afraid of water and bites the shit out of me whenever I put her in the bath (Thank God for tiny teeth) so I gave her snuggles and snacks and tried again.
Have you ever seen a dog give a book the nervous side-eye? Well, now you have. I almost got a good picture and then Rolly was like, “CAN I HELP?” and Dottie used that distraction to slunk off and growl at the non-existent thing in the corner.
Anyway, I don’t have a good picture and I’m starting to worry that our house is haunted and our dog is psychic but please know that this month’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick is fantastic and not possessed in the slightest.
It’s Shoot the Moon by Isa Arsén, a page-turning, genre-bending novel. Time is fractured in this story of a woman’s life set against the development of the atomic bomb and efforts to land the first man on the moon. It’s about love, science, grief, family, the space-time continuum, curiosity, exploration and more. AND it’s by a local San Antonio author so she’s going to sign yours personally before we mail it to you. Whoop!
And if you’re in our Nightmares from Nowhere horror book club we’re sending you Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror edited by Jordan Peele. (Yes, the Jordan Peele who has redefined modern horror movies.) Haunting new short stories by some of the best black authors out there.
Need more than one book to get you through the month? I GOT YOU, FRIEND.
Here are few new October releases that I read and enjoyed:
Lay Them to Rest: On the Road with the Cold Case Investigators Who Identify the Nameless by Laurah Norton – A fascinating deep dive into the dark world of forensic science as experts team up to solve the identity of an unknown woman named “Ina Jane Doe,” exploring the rapidly evolving techniques scientists are using to break the most notorious cold cases. If you like true crime, I highly recommend it.
A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand – The first-ever authorized novel to return to the world of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House: a suspenseful, contemporary, and terrifying story of longing and isolation all its own.
HERC by Phoenicia Rogerson – A queer retelling of the story of Hercules from the perspective of his friends, enemies, wives, children, lovers and victims.
The Night House by Jo Nesbø – A very strange Norwegian psychological horror. I realize this list a bit horror heavy but it’s October so it’s to be expected, right?
Radiant Rebellion: Reclaim Aging, Practice Joy, and Raise a Little Hell by Karen Walrond – What if aging is something to aspire to, not to dread? A deep-dive reexamining our thoughts on getting older. PS. I’m doing a conversation with Karen at Nowhere on Nov. 2nd. Check it out if you want to come.
The Reformatory by Tananarive Due – This one is not for the faint of heart. A haunting novel set in Jim Crow Florida that follows a young child as he’s sent to a segregated reform school that is a chamber of terrors where he sees the horrors of racism and injustice, for the living, and the dead.
The League of Lady Poisoners: Illustrated True Stories of Dangerous Women by Lisa Perrin – This book is gorgeous on the outside and fascinating on the inside. (Technically this came out two weeks ago but I missed it until now so I’m including it here.)
Happy reading and thank you for supporting your local indie bookshop! Me and my weirdo do love you.