Grief is the Thing with the Feathers by Max Porter (poetry/novel)
Not really a poetry collection or a novel, but more something in between – it is a novel fragmented as life is fragmented by grief. It doesn’t always make immediate sense, particularly some of Crow’s sections, but it’s one to read in few sittings and just let the meaning/emotion emerge. Genius and excellent. Full review here.
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit (non-fiction)
This short book is about hope as activism, and describes different examples of how activism has worked, though sometimes over a long period of time, because “we can change the world because we have many times before.” It’s a little repetitive in places and I don’t agree with everything she says, but I love her writing style (I underlined so many sentences) and I think its central message is an important one – remember to be hopeful, and that hope means action, and that action does make a difference, even if you don’t see the larger changes in your lifetime. Full review here.
Black Wave by Michelle Tea (novel)
This is definitely a novel of two halves. The first half is more of a fictionalised memoir, continuing on from Tea’s previous memoirs, but the second half is part apocalyptic fiction, part meta-discussion of memoir writing, part magical realism. I found it difficult to get into the first half, and didn’t click with the writing style at all, but I loved the second half. The writing flowed better and there were lots of interesting ideas which wove together really well. I can see the first half provides a kind of foundation and contrast, but I would have preferred a novel in just the second half’s style. I probably wont pick up her earlier memoir work, but if she writes anything else like the second half I would pick it up in a heartbeat.
The Old King in His Exile by Arno Geiger (non-fiction, German in translation)
Translated by Stefan Tobler. This is a memoir of Geiger’s father’s developing Alzheimer’s, his father’s life, and his relationship to him. It’s written incredibly warmly, and you can really feel the deep love Geiger feels for his father. It’s funny in parts and moving in others, and I liked that the final chapter was almost just a collection of thoughts and reflections. But despite this something about it didn’t quite work as a whole for me. I’m not quite sure what.