Staff Picks: Hackers

Swedish poetry aficionado Taylor Jacob Pate recommends Aase Berg’s seventh collection, Hackers:

THERE IS A THREAT
THERE IS A FEMALE FREEDOM
THERE IS A WAR & THERE ARE WAR MACHINES
THERE IS A HYBRIDITY
        RABBIT
        HORSE
        MUD
        BLOOD
        BIRD
THERE IS A WAY IN
THERE IS A TRAP

Just lean back / and come along for the ride
The alternative ending / slits its own throat

A puzzling thrashing dance
Playful, perhaps, at moments
Not tangle, a direct spiral, like sutures
If: you have to ask/Then: who is the parasite

to hack: to chop: to cut: to hollow: to hew: to cleave: to cleft: to groove: to gap: to slice: to split: to sever: to bore: to notch: to gash: to crash: to assail: to breach: to invade: to incise: to infest: to impale: to crack: to drill: to puncture: to pierce: to ax: to jag: to open

to open
to open
    open

this book is piercing/quiet    this book is angry/music    this book is hyper/active    ANONYMITY IS NOT THE SAME AS NAMELESSNESS    this book is a survival/code now is the war of the worlds    now everything is electronic    this book is not/propaganda    this book is a mirror: you are an animal body      too              ARE YOU HOLLOW    this book is a dark/lamp    this book is biological/theater: the players are the bodies with & without names: the bodies are no longer empty: full of  full of    full    this book is a flood/body/belly/before before    this book is a ghost/algorithm     there are three ways of handling danger        Fight: playing dead is not the same thing as being dead

In Memory of Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth

We were very sad to learn of the passing last week of esteemed poet, translator, educator, and dear friend of Malvern Books, Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth. Born in Mexico City in 1926, Miguel was the son of an army officer of Spanish descent and a musician mother of German descent. In 1940 he left Mexico for Texas, making the United States his permanent home. He was Professor Emeritus of Spanish and Comparative Literature at UT Austin, where he taught for more than thirty years. And he published numerous collections of original poems in Spanish and English, including some of our very favorite books, Looking for the Horse Latitudes and Between Day and Night: New and Selected Poems, 1946-2010, as well as Natural Selection, his superb translation of the collected works of Uruguayan poet Enrique Fierro.

We celebrated his 90th birthday at Malvern Books last September, with music, cake, poetry, friends and readings, and Miguel, as always, delighted us with his warmth and insight. He is a great loss to our literary community, and we’ll miss him very much.

Staff Picks: The Babysitter at Rest

Fernando recommends The Babysitter at Rest by Jen George:

Jen George is as close to being a rock star as anybody who is not a musician can be. 

Her debut book is put out by the independent press Dorothy, a publishing project, which is one of the most daring, innovative presses out there. Every story in this collection pulsates with energy that is entirely original and fantastic.

Speaking as a person who never went to college, if I’m reading contemporary American fiction I’m foremost drawn to writers that didn’t attend an MFA program. Though I didn’t know Jen George was one of these rare specimens when I started reading this book, after the first story I felt right away that this author is something special and I rejoiced. I am grateful for the rarity of this collection.

I realize in a review you’re supposed to describe the characters and “plots” of some of the stories in the book being reviewed, but part of the fun of this collection is experiencing it on your own. Kinda like trying to tell somebody why the record Philosophy of the World by The Shaggs is a masterpiece. It can’t be done, you just have to experience it.

In South Texas the expression ‘throw you corner’ is used when somebody backs you up with something (example: You: “I gotta go tell that obnoxious guy to move his car.” Friend: “I’ll go, too, and throw you corner”). I can say that reading this book, you definitely feel Jen George is out there somewhere throwing you corner. And there’s not a lot of young fiction writers you can say that about these days. Unless, of course, they’re put out by the Dorothy project.

Choosing Wisely at Malvern Books

If you fancy treating yourself to a splendid new book but you’re not that familiar with indie press offerings—or you’re simply overwhelmed by choice—we’re here to help!

We feature information on a lot of our recent arrivals on our New Books page, so that’s a great place to start. And our In The Store page shows photos of our monthly displays, helpfully organized by theme (like our Short Novels display, pictured above). Our erudite and enthusiastic Malvernites also post their Staff Picks here on the blog.

And be sure to take note of our Shelf Talkers cards when you visit the store. They feature personal recommendations from our staff, often with a comparison to a writer you already know and love.

If you like Ursula K. Le Guin, progressive ideas, and innovative fiction, the Ravicka Trilogy by Renee Gladman is for you. (Start with Event Factory.)

If you like Kurt Vonnegut and the Wu-Tang Clan, you’ll love The Free-Lance Pallbearers by Ishmael Reed.

If you enjoy the films of Tarkovsky, grimness, and the fantastic, you’ll love the work of 20th Century Russian writer Andrey Platonov.

If you like the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Andrei Tarkovsky, then try the cinematic novel The Glacier by Jeff Wood.

And if you don’t follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@malvernbooks), you really should, as we post heaps of photos and info on new arrivals and old favorites, plus links to rave reviews that should help you pick the perfect new read(s)!

In The Store: May 2017

It’s hotting up, and we have just the ticket… short stories for shorts weather, including Deb Olin Unferth’s debut collection, Wait Till You See Me Dance.

And for Memorial Day, a display of books that focus on themes of war, conflict, and remembrance, including Tom Sleigh’s Army Cats, which the Kenyon Review described as “a dynamic book in which Sleigh sets down his own wrestling with identity, and we are captivated by the multiplicity of selves that emerges.”

And our new t-shirts have arrived, featuring a fiercely adorable leonine design.

Staff Picks: Fasting for Ramadan

Taylor recommends Fasting for Ramadan by Kazim Ali:

How do we define family? Traditions? Vacations? Shared Meals? Shared beliefs? How do we draw the line between faith & understanding? Food & body? The SuperNatural & anxiety? What makes words into poetry? Is it the not letting go? Is it the rain? Or lack thereof?

This book in its most simple form is a diary. OR> An exploration of exploration. OR> Experiencing an experience. OR> Can we be forgotten? OR> Once I met a man who I was sure was me myself but also him himself & that, though we had never met, had never seen one another, had always been separated, we had never been separate. OR> I never sleep because night is when I eat. OR> Maybe we have to be truly empty to understand emptiness?

PART 1: THE MIND’S REACHING OUT

One feels, at the end of a day of fasting, like a branch of a tree or a bone bleached in the sun…
Sometimes even your own language disappears…
Tell me the difference between entity & eternity…
How Small & tender the ego is…
I wonder if I will always be like this…
I’ve always thought of a poem as an open door…
But holiness is everywhere, in the ordinary days as well…

PART 2: GROUNDED IN THE BODY

White sunlight comes through the window…
What is cleaner than fire…
These are drugs I take…
Each morning I am up early enough to look at the moon…
The fast takes us from a self-oriented universe into creation…
My body is a transitional site, a holding pattern…
I dream to come back, to have it be really mine again, my lovely brother, my corpse, my shield…

Elegant & intimate; you won’t want this book to end.