I Love You but I’ve Chosen Franzen: This Week in Books

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The first week of October was a bizarre time in which seemingly everyone in the literary world was caught up talking about something called a "Bad Art Friend" and kidneys. But the machinery of capitalism (and book publishing) continued—that is, if we ignore the supply chain issues. Here are four good new books I hope to find the time to read, starting with vaguely local author Claire Vaye Watkins.

New Books Published October 5, 2021

I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness

I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

The last I saw Claire Vaye Watkins, she was chasing her toddler around the Writer's Block bookstore on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas with her then-husband Derek Palacio. The events inspiring her new novel seem to have taken place shortly after that moment.

Here's Natalie Zutter of NPR:

"Claire takes a page from many a man in literature and leaves her husband and newborn — at first briefly, for a book reading in her hometown of Reno, Nevada. But then she takes an extended leave from her life, at first resisting the biological pull to go back east in favor of breaking the rules of her open marriage — but eventually allowing herself some familial closure by revisiting towns she once swore never to set foot in again. This surreal odyssey, propelled by maternal rage, may at times be alienating even to female readers, but it is unequivocally triumphant to witness Watkins writing for herself."

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Here's Frank Guan in Bookforum: "In playing to his strengths so inordinately he has unlocked a new, late style, distinct from the well-hewn blocks of prose poetry typical of his first three novels or the mashed-potatoes-and-gravy consistency of his last two. The Corrections was a masterpiece, but Crossroads is his finest novel yet. Unpolished and unsloppy, difficult to quote or fault, his free indirect style sticks to the contours of consciousness and attempts not one thing else. In a quiet and uncanny fashion it is entirely adequate: a prosaic causeway coursing through the swamp at night."

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Here's Chris Bachelder in the N.Y. Times: "Amor Towles’s third novel begins with a deceptively straightforward premise. Upon the death of his father from cancer, 18-year-old Emmett Watson is released early from a juvenile work farm in Kansas and driven home by a kind warden to a small town in Nebraska, where he is reunited with his precocious 8-year-old brother, Billy. Facing foreclosure on the family farm and violent retribution from the family of the bully he accidentally killed at the fairgrounds, Emmett has an immediate and stark choice — should he stay or should he go?"

Sankofa Chibundu Onuzo

Sankofa by Chibunu Onuzo

Someone named Reese Witherspoon likes this book. She said this about it:

“A beautiful exploration of the often complex parameters of freedom, prejudice, and individual sense of self. Chibundu Onuzo has written a captivating story about a mixed-race British woman who goes in search of the West African father she never knew . . . [A] beautiful book about a woman brave enough to discover her true identity.”

Links of the Week

Hey, did you read about the Bad Art Friend? It's a totally obscure topic, so you probably need some deep-underground info about it. I did some hardcore digging for you. (Actually I just Googled it. It's Friday and I have cake to eat.)  Here are three more stories about it:

Finally, in case you haven't thought enough about kidneys this week, here's a review of "kidney" from the National Cancer Institute:

"One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood (as urine) and help keep chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells."

Happy water removal! See you next week.

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