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OMEGA | Metatron Authors Share Their Favorite Books Of 2014
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Metatron Authors Share Their Favorite Books Of 2014

19 Dec Metatron Authors Share Their Favorite Books Of 2014

WE ASKED METATRON AUTHORS TO TELL US ABOUT THEIR FAVORITE BOOK THEY READ THIS YEAR. READ BELOW TO FIND OUT WHAT THESE TITLES ARE AND WHY THESE TITLES CAPTIVATED OUR WRITERS.

 

ROLAND PEMBERTON: WHITE GIRLS BY HILTON ALS

Hilton Als utilizes pop culture references like keys on a piano, deftly stringing together notes of racial and sexual discovery in this unique series of personal essays. This abstract analysis of his competition with white girls, his experience as a “white girl” and the backgrounds of “white girls” throughout history vibrates with elegantly descriptive detail. At a movie theatre, Als describes his emotional twin as someone whose “eyes would open and close slowly, like the folds in an accordion.”

OLIVIA WOOD: MXT BY SINA QUEYRAS

I ran, late, to Sina’s book launch this spring. My initial reading (and what would become a continuous re-reading) of this book was a marked departure from what I had been doing before I started to treat my loss like a research project—which was slogging through self help books. These books were nice because I could hold myself at a casual distance, as a person who supposedly doesn’t really engage with that kind of literature, but then also furtively allow myself to be very moved by them. Off-hand section headings which usually feel like random clumps of buzzwords (like ‘Be what You want and Want what You Are: Or Else’) would bring me to tears. But what Sina is doing in Memory x Time felt freeing in terms of being able to look at loss in a way that doesn’t require either disavowal or total honesty. The work is remarkable. What is most notable for me is the reflexive space the text generates. Queyras opens up a thinking and breathing tactile plane for the mourner—for the reader—wherein they can be caught off guard, be caught resting, to be in research, be finished with labor. The language and juxtaposition is off-point but contains. The lyric space of air and ghost and flotsam and machine, it jars and commands. It is a joy to inhabit this tenderly wrought space, which enters knowingly into a tradition of grief poetics, especially after those subject headers.

LAURA BROADBENT: LAST WORDS FROM MONTMARTRE BY QIU MIAOJIN

Last Words from Montmartre is a series of wrenching love letters from a 26 year old woman to the woman she loves who left her. The book blurs art and life because the author committed suicide after the book was written, the book being itself a suicide note and this predictably but unfortunately is part of the draw for a lot of readers. But besides the romance, the book is far more an extended meditation and treatise on the power of art in all its forms from an extremely gifted, inspired, and knowledgeable mind. The overwrought premise of the book seemed to me doomed to fail but I quickly found myself so transfixed by her writing in a way I have not experienced in a (distressingly) long time, as in I couldn’t read it fast enough but also couldn’t read it slow enough because I didn’t want it to end. All of the standard expressions ring true: I was glued to it, completely absorbed, and transported. She is so completely emotionally intense and unbearably raw but she is precisely articulate about it, and renders it completely artful and worthy of attention and meditation. The book inadvertently works as a warning to those predisposed to passionate intensity – you may find yourself in her and be both redeemed and afraid. The book was so personal and intimate yet to me did not have the sticky feel of overly “confessional” writing simply because her style is so beautiful, the sort of style which turns the most painful and ugliest of human suffering into something stunning. This will happen to me when I experience particularly charged music or dance and it happened while readingLast Words from Montmartre – I was speechless due to an effect I can only describe as spiritual, and it was a lasting effect because its power changed me.

JAY WINSTON RITCHIE: RED DOC> BY ANNE CARSON

Anne Carson’s Red Doc> taught me what a high-quality split-second decision in poetry looks like. The form, a result of a split-second decision, revealed much about her process and added another layer to the experience of reading. I didn’t just read the text—I read her process (or, what Carson wants me to think is her process). The imagery is precise, haunting, and personal. Carson does that thing where the work feels like it has been written just for you. Red Doc> is funny and tragic, sophisticated and uncannily familiar. Oh, and there are ice bats.

ALI PINKNEY: TOUGH BEAUTY BY LUKE GOEBEL

Despite this being the year I read Anne Carson’sAutobiography of Red—which stunned me on a sharp pebble rock drop-off in a secluded nook a stone’s throw from an old folks’ home called Princess Gardens on the Otonabee beside this horrifying giant dead woman tree that crawled with ants and was stuffed in where the genitalia would be with empty beer cans on that sweltering day that she lay across (still lays) what was that sweltering day a blinding sun mirror of a river—the thing that I liked best was a short story published in Vol. 2, No. 2 of The American Reader called “Tough Beauty” by a guy named Luke Goebel. I read Roland Barthe’s The Pleasure of a Text at a hair salon while getting bleached and that was amazing too.

ASHLEY OPHEIM: THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS CLIMATE CHANGE BY NAOMI KLEIN

This Changes Everything details the war between our ecological and economic systems. According to Klein, we’ve traded our sacred connection to the earth with destructive, extractive, consumerist lifestyles.  Coining climate change the issue of our time, this book demonstrates that the perils of climate change can not and will not be saved by capitalism, but rather our willingness to abandon it.

What is necessary for meaningful change is the end of the ‘extractivist’ mindset—“of taking without caretaking, of treating land and people as resources to deplete rather than as complex entities with rights to a dignified existence based on renewal and regeneration.” Fundamentally, our task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.

As Klein puts it, what we need is a worldview based on regeneration and renewal rather than domination and depletion.

And what does it all come down to, really? Water. ”In Cheyenne, the word for water is the same as the word for life,” Klein writes.

We the human race will win by asserting that capitalism is “morally monstrous, since it implies that there is an acceptable price for allowing entire countries to disappear, for leaving untold millions to die on parched land, for depriving today’s children of their right to live in a world teeming with the wonders and beauties of creation.”

JULIAN FLAVIN: MY STRUGGLE PART 2 (THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS) BY KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD

When you’re down and troubled
and you need some love and care

And nothin, nothin is goin right
Close your eyes and think of me
and soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come runnin to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds
And that ol north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together
and call my name out loud
Soon youll hear me knockin at your door

You just call out my name
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come runnin to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
Yes I will

Now ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend
When people can be so cold
They’ll hurt you yes, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them
Oh, but don’t you let them

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come runnin to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
and I’ll be there
Yes I will
You’ve got a friend
You’ve got a friend
Ain’t it good to know, you’ve got a friend
Ain’t it good to know, ain’t it good to know, ain’t it good to know,
You’ve got a friend, oh yeah
You’ve got a friend, yeah baby
You’ve got a friend, oh yeah
You’ve got a friend.

MARIE DARSIGNY: LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE BY CARL WILSON

I read Let’s Talk About Love for a class last semester. Celine Dion being a complicated staple of Quebecois culture, I was intrigued to see how someone would succeed in pin-pointing exactly how/why she is so successful. Growing up in a French-Canadian family made me develop a strange love-hate relationship with Celine, and I think Wilson succeeds in exploring the reasons why that may be. More broadly, he reflects on the topic of the construction of taste, and how we come to collectively make sense of a work of art. He weaves in a bit of theory (mostly French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu) and it made me take the time to reflect on what we perceive as Big Lit/Western Canon/genre lit/alt lit, as well as why we put emphasis on these distinctions.

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