This week we shine the spotlight on some compelling new reads: All the Fierce Tethers by Lia Purpura and Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson are both on the non-fiction shelf. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first in a trilogy that is called an African Game of Thrones, by Marlon James .

I’ve carried All the Fierce Tethers in my purse for a week and have greatly enjoyed reading the essays like little desserts throughout the day.

All the Fierce Tethers

All the Fierce Tethers by Lia Purpura Publisher’s Summary: The subject matter of this essay collection is wonderfully varied, both low (muskrats, slugs, a stained quilt in a motel room) and lofty (shadows, prayer, the idea of beauty). In “Treatise Against Irony,” she counters this all-too modern affliction with ferocious optimism and intelligence: “The opposite of irony is nakedness.” In “My Eagles,” our nation’s symbol is viewed from all angles—nesting, flying, politicized, preserved. The essay in itself could be a small anthology.

And, in a fresh move, Purpura turns to her own, racially divided Baltimore neighborhood, where a blood stain appears on a street separating East (with its Value Village) and West (with its community garden). Finalist for the National Book Critics Award, winner of the Pushcart Prize, Lia Purpura returns with a collection both sustaining and challenging.

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson publisher’s summary: Jackson explores gangs and guns, near-death experiences, sex work, masculinity, composite fathers, the concept of “hustle,” and the destructive power of addiction — all framed within his own story, family, and community. The narrative is complemented by poems composed from historical American documents as well as survivor files, which feature photographs and short narratives of several of Jackson’s male relatives. He reflects on the exigencies over generations that have shaped the lives of many disenfranchised Americans.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, is right on time in case you find you need something to follow the George R.R. Martin’s TV series.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf Publisher’s Summary: In the stunning first novel in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that’s come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, B
Black Leopard, Red Wolf  is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.

Happy Reading, Susan C.

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