Look smart, give a book this holiday season. We all have readers in our lives. The following is a list of seven local books (meaning, local publishers or local authors) published in 2014 for every type of book-lover on your list.
For the Midwestern Mom and/or Witty Friend:
Best to Laugh by Lorna Landvik (University of Minnesota Press)
Landvik's trademark humor, spunk, and heart will win anyone over. Her latest novel follows a wannabe comedian, Candy, who moves from good ol' Minnesota to sunny California in hopes of a big break. Along the way she meets lots of interesting characters, and finds her way in the sunny, techni-colored universe so different from her Midwest roots.
For the Recent English Major Graduate:
Inappropriate Behavior by Murray Farrish (Milkweed Editions)
This debut short story collection from Murray Farrish is one that will make you ask, "Did he really just write a story from the perspective of Lee Harvey Oswald's roommate?" Yes, yes, he did. And he did it with great style, too. Any recent English major graduate looking for something with probing, dark curiosity and a penchant for rule-breaking will devour this one.
For the Hip, Lit-Magazine Loving Friend and/or Short-Story Contest Enterer:
Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors (published by local Graywolf Press and A Public Space)
You know that friend who is always discovering the next "it" literary magazine? They're probably the same ones twho submit to every flash fiction contest that comes out. For these trendy literary folks, Karate Chop is a no-brainer. Just translated to English for the first time, this collection of short stories takes a raw, unflinching, and occasionally disturbing look at everyday lives, and was penned by the celebrated Danish author Dorthe Nors.
For Your Dark & Brooding Bestie
Bone Map by Sarah Eliza Johnson (Milkweed)
This is a guttural, physical collection of poetry that seeps into, well... your bones. In this work, fairy tales are exposed for their raw underbelly, horses are dismantled, and rituals are full of blood. These beautifully dark poems will continue to haunt the reader after the final page.
For Your Socially Conscious Friend or Serious Literary Fiend
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Coffee House Press)
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing is a book that can be hard to digest, but it's worth the patience for those truly dedicated to the art form of writing. The work has already collected accolades, and has reviewers calling McBride a genius. In the book, the unnamed main character careens through a rough, throttling life. The narrator's direct voice seeps through the exploration of the weight of rampant sexuality, her brother's brain tumor, death, and a tumultuous upbringing. Some might call it a coming of age story, but that sells it short. For those wholike a rewarding challenge in a book, this is the one for you.
For the Environmentally Conscious Friend
Things That Are by Amy Leach (Milkweed Editions)
One of the many things Milkweed does well is publish compelling literature about nature. This essay is no different. Leach magnifies flora and fauna in an extremely well-written fashion that is also lyrically surprising. Juxtaposed with her examinations of our world's natural wonders is a message: Urban sprawl is taking over nature, species are going extinct, and our footprint on the world is at a critical point. All of these concepts are all thoughtfully highlighted throughout.
For the Sport Enthusiast or Social Commentator
The Devil's Snake Curve: An Essay by Josh Ostergaard (Coffee House Press)
This may be an essay about baseball, but The Devil's Snake Curve is much more than just that. It's an insightful, humorous social commentary on our nation. Drawing connections between the sport and capitalism, faith, and colonialism (just to name a few), Ostergaard draws the reader into his passionate perspective, and leaves us reflecting on the state of our country.