No one spins a humorous, self-deprecating short story quite like Augusten Burroughs. The acclaimed author of such international bestsellers as Running with Scissors (made into a hit movie starring Annette Bening) has a knack for taking the most potentially embarrassing confessions and turning them into literary gold. This 2006 collection is replete with the kind of witty, keenly observed first-person narrative that will either have you laughing out loud or painfully embarrassed for the writer. Whether he’s recalling his fling with an undertaker in the same room where Rose Kennedy’s wake took place, drowning a rat/thing in the bathtub or getting cut from the Tang commercial he filmed as a child, Burroughs knows how to entertain his reader with the recollections of his warped and wonderful mind.
> WHAT WE’RE BUZZING ABOUT: New Worlds, Old Stories – Speculative Tales from the Caribbean (Peekash Press)
Editor Karen Lord must have had the time of her life working on the pieces that made it into this buzzworthy collection of stories, which take an unorthodox approach to fictional narrative. These are brand-new stories from such relative newcomers as Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brad Franklin and H.K. Williams that, according to the publishers, speak to the modern-day challenges of Caribbean society but also its “beautiful resilience.” Due out this month from Peekash Press, the anthology also examines universal themes and ideas ranging from crime and corruption to family, love and hate, history and memory. But, as its title suggests, it makes a point of fusing the past and the present while acutely focused on the region’s fascinating people and places.
> WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON: New Generation African Poets (Akashic Books)
It’s always a welcome experience to see the literary spotlight turned on the Motherland. Thanks to an African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) project, this 11-piece limited-edition box set will highlight the work of 10 new African poets. Due out next April via Akashic, the project seeks to identify the best poetry written by African poets working today but is especially interested in featuring poets who haven’t yet produced their first full-length collection. Among the lyrical voices featured are Yasmin Belkhyr, Mary-Alice Daniel, Ejiofor Ugwu, Chimwemwe Undi, Ashley Makue and Victoria Adukwei Bulley. Editors Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani have come in for high praise from such tough critics/reviewers as The New York Times for their groundbreaking efforts. Says the Times, “Dawes and Abani have taken on a vital project of publishing work by contemporary poets from Africa, packaged together in beautiful box sets.”