by Melissa Broder
The Pisces is a funny, insightful tale of love addiction taken to its extreme. In the thirteenth year of writing her dissertation, Lucy is struggling to keep it together after losing her boyfriend. While recovering at her sister’s beach house, she meets a man who shares her need for total romantic immersion.
by Sheila Heti
When we were kids, my mother decided not to tell us about Santa Clause. Yes, it’s a lovely fairy tale, but it’s also a lie, and a set-up for deep disappointment when we discover it’s nonsense. What she didn’t realize is that it didn’t matter whether she told us. The myth of Santa Clause so permeates our culture that we both knew about and believed anyway.
In Sheila Heti’s book, Motherhood is a lot like Santa Clause. You can decide you don’t want children but our entire culture is geared toward making you believe that you do. Making you doubt your own feelings and question your ability to make decisions at all. Our culture tells us there’s something fundamentally wrong with anyone who doesn’t want children. This actually quite simple decision (“I don’t want children”) is constantly challenged: You’ll change your mind; You’ll regret it; Children are the only reason for living.
Motherhood is one woman’s attempt to work through her choice not to parent in a culture that tells her she must. The book gets repetitive at times, much as the constant refrain of ‘oh, but you have to have children’ probably does for our protagonist, but it’s worth sticking through to the end. It’s a smart, funny and necessary book.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is an oddball. Quiet, unassuming, socially awkward. She moves through the world alone, but she’s perfectly fine! Her presence is either unnoticed or mocked, until the office IT man befriends her. Honeyman brings Eleanor’s lonely world to life with humor and a huge dose of compassion to show the power of simple kindness.
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
by Mallory Ortberg
As a librarian in New England, the exact demographic for Ortberg’s late, lamented blog The Toast, I loved their regular feature “Children’s Stories Made Horrific”. Like those, these creepy, gothic takes on classic stories are a little bit bonkers, and a lot of fun.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
What a month for new fiction. February has already brought two of the best books I’ve read in a while, Call Me Zebra and An American Marriage, and now another is added to the list. At some point, I’d like to write a more detailed review of this book, because I can’t stop thinking about it. Freshwater is stunningly original, dark and raw. Ada’s fractured self seems like a simple case of mental illness to the Western reader, but Emezi draws from (Nigerian) Igbo spirituality to create a portrait that is less easily classified. It’s an outsiders view of cultural borders, mental illness and life in liminal spaces.