Our monthly Best Books We Read This Month (Staff Picks) series is edited and published by Editor-in-Chief, Paris Close, and features contributions from the Paperback Paris team.
During the final week of every month, the staff comes together to share their thoughts on the best books they read the month before.
This month’s picks for November features only two works: the first a momentous collection of verse from an award-winning poet, the latter a highly-anticipated epic from a literary legend.
Paris Close’s November 2018 Pick: Wilder, Claire Wahmanholm
“Claire Wahmanholm’s Wilder blindsided me with its brilliance. Equal parts extraterrestrial and apocalyptic, Wahmanholm’s latest work is, in short, one of the best I’ve ever read of a poetry collection. Her verses are atmospheric, transcendent and easily subvert the rules of time and mortality. In less than 80 pages, Wahmanholm narrates her own afterlife in “Where I Went Afterward,” braces us for the end of days in “Advent,” uses letters to alliterate the perils of our own endangerment, and faces her darkest fears through a multitude of simulations (or “Relaxation Tapes”). And all for what? To see the world with brand new eyes. This is an incredible body of work that reminded me so much of Tracy K. Smith’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Life on Mars. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!”
Melissa Ratcliff’s November 2018 Pick: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
“Reading Haruki Murakami’s work is always a breath of fresh air, and his latest work in translation, Killing Commendatore is no exception. Although this massive first-person narrative shares a few similarities with his more recent publications, the sheer scope of the narrative and focus on an artist rather than an author was a welcome change. Written in his trademark style, complete with seemingly random tangents on the human body and sex, Killing Commendatore is packed full of history and Murakami’s own sense of surrealism. The near 700-page narrative resembles the works of not just Murakami’s favorites (Kafka and Fitzgerald), but is an ode to Edogawa Ranpo as well.”