Hello everyone, it’s Gail and Willy! As the semester is coming to a close and our time as River Editors ends, we thought we’d take some of the time we have left to share with you some recommendations of books and other media that we think you would enjoy. We hope that one (or all) of these pique your interest and provide you with some new reading material for the summer!
Gail: The Voice Over Artist by Dave Reidy-I got the opportunity to read this book for one of my classes this semester and it was by far my favorite. It tells the tale of Simon Davies, a young aspiring voice over artist who just moved to Chicago to pursue his career. There’s only one problem, he has a stutter. Read his book and discover Simon’s story as well as the countless other characters he meets along the way.
Willy: An Elegy for Mathematics by Anne Valente – I was actually talked into buying this book along with another short collection, and I’m so glad that I did. Each of Valente’s thirteen small stories are beautifully and uniquely crafted, covering incredibly large questions in a very small and intimate way. I’m blurring the lines of genre a bit with this pick as (I believe) there are both fiction and nonfiction stories included, but I wouldn’t worry about trying to categorize them too much; these stories are fantastic, and that’s what matters.
Gail: Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates-Written as a letter to his teenaged son, Coates explains the realities he has faced as a black man in America. It is truthful, heartbreaking and incredibly timely.
Willy: They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib – I’ve only begun my forays into non-fiction (both as a reader and as a writer) this past year, but this collection of essays has cemented my love of the genre and is one of my favorite books that I have read in recent memory. Abdurraqib uses music as a means to examine and critique this country’s social climate, its cultural beliefs, and so much more. Honestly I’m not sure if I can really describe all my feelings towards this book, so I’ll turn to the words of Greil Marcus of the Village Voice: “Not a day has sounded the same since I read him (Abdurraqib).” I would have to agree.
Gail: Nothing is Okay by Rachel Wiley-I have yet to get my hands on a copy of the actual book, but after seeing a video of Wiley read her poem “The Fat Joke,” I could tell she has a strong and relatable voice that speaks to so many. I look forward to reading Wiley’s work and further discovering her as a poet.
Willy: River Hymns by Tyree Daye – This was the hardest category to select just one recommendation for, but Daye’s collection stands out whenever I think of the (many) poetry books I’ve read so far this year. Daye’s poetry floats in a space that is incredibly intimate and honest, exploring themes of family, race, home, the land, the past, and more. Once again I find myself at a loss to truly describe Daye’s work, and so I’ll just say this: go read River Hymns, you will not be disappointed.
Gail: Spies Are Forever by The Tin Can Brothers –You may recall me mentioning The Tin Can Brothers in a blog post a few weeks ago. This is their first play and it is available on Youtube for free. Spies Are Forever pokes fun at the tropes of the spy genre with witty jokes, clever and catchy musical numbers and masterful performances all wrapped around a surprisingly deep and intricate plot. I highly recommend giving it a view.
Willy: Lady Bird (written and directed by Greta Gerwig) – I’m a little late to this one, but I watched this film earlier this year and was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I was expecting the film to be well-crafted (as I’d heard a lot of good things), but what struck me was how closely I related with the film’s main character despite our different situations. Gerwig was able to capture not only a very specific character’s struggle but also the feelings of growing up and finding one’s place in the world.
We hope you enjoy these selections, and of course keep checking The River for even more fantastic content as we move into the summer!
It has been a pleasure to serve you as editors of The River. Thank you for your support!
Gail Bello and Willy Doehring
Spring 2018 River editors