Welcome to the tale of the antihero who lacks the “hero” while raising the “anti”. Ignatius lives with his mother, loves hot dogs, and loathes every moment he spends dealing with the general public. Anyone with a pulse will read this and find Ignatius to be the most reprehensible protagonist they’ve ever encountered. And yet, what a joy it is to leave a book with a lot of laughs and the knowledge that at least you aren’t as terrible as that guy.
What if VH1 gave the public what we really wanted and aired an episode of “Where Are They Now?” with Prince Charming, Rose Red, and the Big Bad Wolf? The answer is Fables. After being chased from their fantastical homelands, your favorite fairytale characters struggle to adapt to life among the mundane humans (mundies) in a magical community hidden somewhere in New York City. The series begins with a whodunit murder mystery led by detective Bigsby Wolf. You’ll want to stick around, however, just to find out who the mysterious “Adversary” is and why they want every fable eradicated.
Samanta Schweblin treats every story in this collection as an opportunity to prove the urban myth about boiling water and frogs. Nothing in these tales seems off-kilter or otherworldly at first: an abandoned bride, school children on picture day, Santa’s Christmas visit. But if you give Schweblin an inch, she’ll see to it you don’t stop digging for some semblance of sanity. This book is part Aimee Bender, part acupuncture, and will delight the weird in you that’s been hiding all this time.
Here sits a book of poems that has so much heart, forgiveness, and grace that it makes me feel actually loved. The risks Agodon takes with her honesty and vulnerability in these pages is something to be admired. Let’s not even get started on her control of the line or the absence of any ‘brushstrokes’. Every moment in this book is natural. It manages to check every box on the “Is this a good poem?” list: musicality, sincerity, craft, hopefulness, and a touch of divinity. It’s the best book of poetry I’ve read in 2021.