With cascading imagery and compact plotting, Lauren Groff unravels a dazzling, dangerous world in this collection of short stories. She employs an uncanny sort of realism replete with floundering parents, kids left to fend for themselves, luckless travelers, and desperate people on the brink, driven mad by the buzzing, subtropical environment, which becomes its own unpredictable character. This combination makes for a variety of heroes fighting insurmountable odds; a racing heartbeat runs throughout as Groff’s characters strive for moments of calm while the world breaks and storms around them.
— Ben Hoffman, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
Xiomara discovers poetry when she is 16. That is also the year she discovers her voice. In this novel, written entirely in verse, we get a chance to fall in love with a character that reminded me a lot of who I was at 16 — a loud Latina who spoke up, but never felt heard, unless she wrote her words down.
— Yadira Aguiar, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbo
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Comemadre” by Roque Larraquy
Larraquy’s novel is a body-horror satire where transgression is the only law. Set at the turn of the last century, in a sanatorium on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, a group of doctors engage in merciless experiments on their patients to establish the line between life and death. Decades later, a conceptual artist known for extreme high-endurance performances pushes his body in ways strangely reminiscent of the sanatorium. Larraquy’s clever, surreal novel blends institutional critique with subtle observations on vulnerability and our fumbling attempts at transcendence. A unique work.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun