Word’s pick: “Chemistry” by Weike Wang
“Chemistry” just might be one of the best novels of the year. Wang has taken the typical struggling post-grad, coming-of-age novel and laughed in its face. The story of a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry navigating family, romance, depression, and dog ownership is briskly and boldly told. A wonderful debut that is as curious, scathing, and increasingly wise as its unnamed narrator.
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Boundless” by Jillian Tamaki
Award-winning cartoonist Jillian Tamaki collects nine short stories in “Boundless,” a book that takes us to the edge and strands us there. It introduces us to Jenny and 1.Jenny, her mirror-Facebook counterpart; to Helen, who dwindles until she is as small and light as a dust mote; and to a world where a science fiction B-movie is the metric used to measure relationships. Tamaki layers the multiplicity of the interior world with the turmoil of the outer; portraying virtual life as both menace and marvel; and using words and images in ways that are at turns tender and strange.
Community Bookstore’s pick: “The Sot-Weed Factor” by John Barth
John Barth’s 1960 novel is a post-modern farce masquerading as a baroque adventure novel in the style of Jonathan Swift. Very loosely based on the real-life poet Ebenezer Cooke, Barth’s cunning satire of class and American myth-making casts the young Ebenezer as a profligate social climber with a charmingly foolish bent, somewhere between Barry Lyndon and Don Quixote. His misadventures and speculations paint a vivid, absurdist tableaux of an inverted world uncannily similar to our own.
— Hannah Oliver Depp, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordb
— Stephanie Bartolome, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.green
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commu