I just finished Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey, and I love her frank, feminine words, tackling the hardest of subjects. The short poems paired with lots of white space and line drawings leave the reader fully impacted, I love the poems, and they really resonate with me. I have endless admiration for Kaur's work, and she serves as some great artistic inspiration.
I've actually had the privilege of Christopher Torockio as a professor, so when I learned he was releasing another book, I was pumped. Torockio's previous titles include 'Floating Holidays,' 'The Truth at Daybreak,' and 'Presence,' but he's also been published in a plethora of journals, including Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, The Iowa Review, The Antioch Review, Willow Springs, Colorado Review, New Orleans Review, and plenty more. Just after The Soul Hunters was released this spring, I attended a reading of the first chapter, and I knew it was gonna be great. According to Amazon:
Fiction. "THE SOUL HUNTERS is rich with character, incident, and humanity. This nuanced, multi-layered, and multi-generational novel is utterly engrossing, and all the characters, from the three brothers who have recently lost their father, the wives of these brothers, to the father himself (who we meet in flashback), are so movingly and skillfully drawn. There's also a lot of humor and mischief in these pages. What a damn fine novel Chris Torockio has given us."—Christine Sneed
Torockio's dark humor is evident, but sprinkled carefully through the novel, He moves us through a layered story well, and I found the novel not to lag or speed too quickly. We're lead through the plot masterfully, and in a way that makes us care. The depths and character differences between sons, and voices draws us in, and we feel as though we're privy to the inner-family-psychology that only provides more insight and interest.
Finally, I love the cover art. The knotted wood feels like a metaphor, and aesthetically, the clear open window and natural light are super appealing. It's a great novel, and I'd highly suggest picking up a copy. Also check out Torockio's other books, as his storytelling is always killer.
As you can probably tell from the past two book reviews, fall brings out the voracious reader in me, and I'm back with another review. Black Lawrence Press, a favorite, published Nominal Cases this year in March, and I've been hanging on to it since the summer waiting for a chance to read/write about it. I love reading more than I probably should, but being in school full time, and running Bruised Knuckles really fills my dance card. But enough excuses, we're here now!
According to Amazon:
Fiction. "Like his literary antecedents—John Barth and Jorge Luis Borges both haunt these pages—Thomas Cotsonas takes (and offers) great pleasure in the revelation that the central (though often occult) subject of fiction is always inevitably fictiveness itself. But clever and self-aware as these fictions are, they are also fully alive to the cathartic power of narrative, and the potential for a well-drawn character to show us something human, true, and surprising. NOMINAL CASES thrills both mind and heart—a rare delight."—Joel Brouwer
Nominal Cases is incredibly weird but also incredibly magnetic. The text is heady and smart, but still relatively accessible. Cotsonas draws frequently on a shared cultural knowledge, much like Billy Collins, but in much more heavily experimental way. The chapters are relatively individual short stories, but they compile into a fuller wholistic piece with over arching thematic significance. I think one of my favorite stories was 'The City's Father' but each of the stories stand on their own as individual works.
Nominal Cases won the 2014 St. Lawrence Book Award, and Cotsonas has been published in a multitude of journals ant lit magazines, including Web Conjunctions, 751 Magazine, Construction, Western Humanities Review, and even Ochreville.
Buy Nominal Cases here.
Danny Mullen is insane in all the right ways. His new book, Home, holds true to his distinctly, uniquely, fucked style, but showing growth in all the right areas. Mullen provides insight into the human condition through short stories about his antics after moving back home. You’re either going to love him (in which case, totally sign up for his newsletter- it’s just as funny) or leave three pages in totally revolted. According to Amazon:
Some college graduates go to market. Other college graduates stay home.
Mullen’s work is not for the faint of heart and is probably the exact opposite of what you’d expect as a recommendation from Bruised Knuckles, but he’s good. He’s really good. Mullen is able to effortlessly capture the disillusioned listlessness of hometown life. With the careful crafting of each character, Mullen draws readers in with killer dialogue and true to life interactions. Mullen is able to write the most incredibly bizarre situations with complete ease with a masterful use of language. In the least PC way he could possibly go about it, Mullen brings readers into his weird twisted world of vandalism, the eternal chase of girls, and loads more. Though Mullen’s content and storylines are borderline unbelievable (don’t worry there are proof pictures) I’m totally on board. He’s that good. Also, check out these reviews:
PRAISE FOR HOME:
Buy Mullen’s book here and leave a review. I gave it 5 stars.
I’d like to thank Danny for the copy of the book, but I maintain that all opinions are very much my own and I promise I’d tell him (and you guys) if I didn’t like it.
ALSO, all photos are from Robert Jennex and are not at all from us. don't fucking sue me Danny..
Adam J. Kurtz is one of the coolest humans around. Author of 1 Page AT A TIME, Kurtz already has a new interactive book out. Pick Me Up, according to Kurtz, ‘A Pep Talk For Now & Later.’ The book is a journal, not meant to be written in page by page, but more at random, allowing you to go back and reflect, as well as move forward and grow. Quotes on the backs of books are usually bullshit, but Tavi Gevinson, editor in chief of Rookie refers to Kurtz as their favorite therapist, and I have to agree. I’ve been in a a creative rut for a while, due to endless work, and I’ve held off on posting about Pick Me Up for a few weeks because I’ve actually been using the book. When I’m in need of creative direction, or fulfillment, or reassurance, or a pick me up, the book brings me into an introspective place, and I’m able to go from there. Pages like Emotional Bingo, Midnight Thoughts, and places to break down your emotional status allow you to unpack your mind and close the book in a better place than you opened it.
Pick Me Up encourages users to engage digitally as well- with the #pickmeupbook, but then again that’s to be expected from Kurtz, who is widely known online as @adamjk for illustrations, graphic design, and loads more. He’s collaborated with Urban Outfitters, Strand Bookstore, and the Brooklyn Public Library and his work has been in ArtReport, Cool Hunting, Design Sponge, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Time Out New York, AdWeek, Paper, and loads more. I know Bruised Knuckles has covered his work before, and he had some really interesting insight during the ‘Zara steals indie artists’ designs situation.’
Pick up a copy of Pick Me Up soon. I know sometimes books that claim to promote self-help feel like bullshit, but Pick Me Up is a good book and has really been helping me. I highly suggest you check it out. Stalk Kurtz here, or find him at @adamjk.
Also, check out some of these adorable goodies they sent over along with the book! The pin looks great on my backpack, and I love the pencil.