Nathan Sellyn is an integral part of Flax Sleep's co-working community, Werklab. But he is much more than that - he is a writer, a bon vivant, an avid reader and a long time friend. When we first put out a call for our community's favourite books of 2018, it was clear from Nathan's detailed response that he needed a post all of his own. So, as many of you are hopefully gearing up for a March break of sorts here are some excellent recommendations for you to enjoy.
You Know You Want This: "Cat Person" and Other Stories ~ Kristen Roupenian
Cat Person was probably the biggest 'literary moment' of 2018, and certainly fiction's biggest contribution to the #metoo movement. I'm excited to discover if was a one-hit wonder or the beginning of a great career. Short stories have been somewhat overlooked in the renaissance that contemporary fiction has enjoyed over the past few years. But if You Know You Want This lives up to its promise, it could build upon the momentum sparked by (cover blurber) Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties and thrust the short stuff into the spotlight.
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories ~ Denis Johnson
Just because short stories aren't 'hot' doesn't mean they ever went away. Denis Johnson died in 2017, and this collection was published posthumously last year. It doesn't quite match the heights he achieved twenty-five years ago with Jesus' Son, which is one of my ATFs (just thinking about the last paragraph of 'Work' gives me chills), but the titular story is one of the best I've ever read. Also, it made me cry on a plane. That was embarrassing. HOT HACKER TIP FOR FRUGAL READERS: You can actually read that whole story through Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature, because it's the first one in the book.
The Plague ~ Kevin Chong
Full disclosure that Kevin Chong (@metaquiche) is a friend of mine. But I would have loved his Vancouver-based retelling of The Plague (the best Camus, don't let nerds tell you otherwise) even if I didn't like him, because there can be value in separating the art from the artist - that's why K-PAX is still my favourite movie. Our city has issues with both racial tension and class disparity that we often overlook, and Kevin does a beautiful job at subtle examining those within the context of the book's engaging narrative. Plus there's a certain joy in reading a book set where you live, that same feeling you get from pointing out landmarks when you watch pretty much any show on SyFy.