Truth is stranger than fiction, as Alexis Coe's Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis proves. It's the 100 percent true story, sourced from hundreds of original letters and documents, of 19-year-old Alice Mitchell, who planned to pass as a man to marry her girlfriend, 17-year-old Freda Ward, in 1890s Memphis.
When it comes to tales of transgender people, we often hear stories of transwomen (from Jeffrey Tambor on the new Amazon series Transparent to Laverne Cox in Orange Is the New Black), but the stories of transmen are much more rare. Local writer Thomas Page McBee, who was born female, offers an intriguing reverse perspective in his memoir about becoming a man, appropriately titled Man Alive.
Australian novelist Richard Flanagan is generally considered to be one of the greatest fiction writers working, and his novel Gould's Book of Fish is one of my all-time favorites. So I'm eagerly anticipating getting my hands on his new The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which took him over 12 years to write.
Somehow, I had never heard of Diana Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander series until the Starz debut of its recent TV adaptation. A friend who's a longtime fan of the books encouraged me to read the first one, and it's a pretty ripping yarn, full of adventure, and with a relatable heroine who's neither a Katniss Everdeen-style badass nor an underwritten pushover.
Haruki Murakami is one of the most cultishly beloved authors in the States— despite the fact that all of his work is translated from Japanese. His "latest," Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, is about an engineer cut off from a group of beloved friends. It's been out in Japan for over a year, and now makes its debut Stateside.
What would you do if you couldn't look in a mirror for an entire year? Kjerstin Gruys did exactly that, covering every pane of glass in her house, avoiding windows, and learning to put on makeup sans mirror in order to reform her troubled relationship with her body.
In dealing with a difficult dog that suffered extreme separation anxiety, local writer Laurel Braitman became intrigued by the idea that animals can suffer from mental illness every bit as varied and complex as ours.
Any teenager who feels connected to The Catcher in the Rye (which is a lot) can certainly identify with the impulse to write a letter to its author, J.D. Salinger. But anyone who's studied Salinger knows that he was famously reclusive, in his correspondence as well as his life.
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