1. Skin Shift by Matthew Hittinger
This is another excellent debut poetry collection from my press Sibling Rivalry. The book is beautiful and well worth the read. I've been familiar with Hittinger's work for quite some time now and he's a very talented poet and actually a very nice guy. This books varies in subject matter and style. The poems are rich with references, history, and observations. My two favorite sections of the book are Narcissus Resists and Platos de Sal. In a lot of ways, Hittinger and I are similar in what seems to inspire poems (history, pop culture, art, other poems), yet our approaches are very different. This is another important voice that I'm proud to promote and share a press with.
2. Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral
This book won the Yale Series of Younger Poets book contest selected by Carl Phillips and was published this year. I typically enjoy this book series and I'm a big fan of Carl Phillips, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this collection so much. The poems are beautiful and startling at the same time. I love how Corral is able to examine the complexity of borders in these poems. The borders are sometimes literal like the border between Mexico and the United States and sometimes these borders are mental, yet just as real. I highly recommend reading these poems. I could have done, however, without the snakes on the cover. I really hate snakes.
3. The Submission by Amy Waldman
Writing a novel about the aftermath of 9/ll is not an easy task, but Waldman pulls it off. The novel is set two years after the attack and is about a fictional jury deciding on a monument to go up at ground zero. The competition is anonymous and when the jury makes their final selection they discover the architect is a Muslim. The novel is about the aftermath of that decision and how much 9/11 changed our country. The book follows various characters including the Muslim-American architect and the 9/11 widow who was the main supporter of the design on the jury. The book isn't easy to read. It feels so real and makes you angry in one moment and empathetic in the next. It's an important book to read and shows how fiction can really get at issues from a different angle.