Recommendations from the staff at Seven Stories Press
Just when you thought we had forgotten, when you had given up hope, when all seemed lost--who could that be, cresting the hill on the horizon? It is! Our staff recommendations for September, 2022!
This latest installment of Seven Stories Staff Picks, all of our book recommendations link directly to our friends at Third Place Books, a bookstore with three locations throughout Seattle.
Philosophy in a Time of Terror by Giovanna Borradori
I'm reading a book called Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida by Giovanna Borradori published by Chicago. Okay, I know it sounds dreadful. But here's my pitch: it's the perfect book for people who kinda want to read Habermas and Derrida but don't really have the time right now. (You get their very immediate personal reflections on how they see the events of 9/11—the interviews were conducted weeks after 9/11 in New York City—against the entire backdrop of modern political history and thought all the way back to Hegel, and they come to it from very different and even antagonistic strains of contemporary thought, Habermas keeping the faith of the Enlightenment and Derrida suspicious of the abuse of language that entails.)
Enjoy me among my ruins by Juniper Fitzgerald
A short, sharp, experimental manifesto about motherhood, sex work, and addiction, plus diary entries to Gillian Anderson. I picked this one up at Boswell Books in Milwaukee and read it in a sitting. Also, I think this is my favorite cover for a 2022 book.
I recently played a video game called Superliminal, which has been on my mind pretty regularly since I finished it. It’s a series of puzzles wherein you use perspective and optical illusions to advance to the next area. It’s a short, focused experience that you can complete in a single sitting. Strange, unique, and really wonderful.
I’ve linked the trailer up above, because the best pitch is just to see it in action.
I highly recommend the 1970 film Ice, directed by Robert Kramer, about an underground revolutionary group in a near-future US that's controlled by a fascist regime and at war with Mexico. It's ambitious (maybe overly so), and sometimes hard to follow, but totally compelling in its depiction of idealistic but flawed people trying and failing to work together.
Iceland's Bell by Halldór Laxness
There are some books you must read in a certain season. During the summer, there is nothing like the story of a torrid affair, something hot, sticky, frenetic, or maybe a stuffy social drama. But as soon as there is a faint hint of a chill in the air, I find myself looking for something drawn out, sweeping in scope, boring even.
I think the end of September is a perfect time to pick up Halldor Laxness’ Iceland’s Bell, a three part saga set in Iceland and Denmark at the end of the 17th Century. It’s a sharp social satire, a biting yet tender portrait of impoverishment and depravity, a plodding historical novel, a picaresque, a love story, and an updating of the Icelandic Saga. It’s epic in scale, long, filled with rich sentences, and also quite funny. This was my first Laxness. Certainly not my last.
I’ve also been watching a lot of Hitchcock lately and have been particularly enjoying his earlier films, from before he moved to Hollywood. These films are quick, packed with dialogue, and they insist on making sure you clock every clue—very different in feel from the elusive, lingering shots in his later work. From 1938, The Lady Vanishes is perhaps the perfect film.
Paul Takes The Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor
I finally got around to reading Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, which is just as smutty, tortured, and riotous as expected. Trans lit has existed for centuries— even if it hasn’t been identified as such— but this 2017 novel (one of the first by a trans or non-binary author to make it out of the small press circuit in the US) has been heralded as partly responsible for ushering in a new wave of trans lit. There’s no linear transition story here (“Heterosexuality = marriage = death,” says our protagonist Paul, aka Polly). Instead, shape-shifting happens moment to moment— both in Paul/Polly’s day to day, and at the level of literary genre itself.