Mnmo’s summer reading recommendations. photo by Jeremy Nelson.
Now that the warm months are here again, it’s the best time of year to bring a book to the beach, or the cabin, or just out to the back porch. These new offerings from Minnesota authors will enhance that sunny-day bliss (with a couple of options for teens who might be tagging along).
The Geography of Madness
Bures is an accomplished magazine writer (and sometime Minnesota Monthly contributor) whose writing style combines readability and a wry sense of humor—which is a good thing, because his new book delves into some spine-tingling territory. Bures traveled the world to report on such oddities as men who are profoundly convinced that supernatural forces stole their penises, as well as voodoo and other supernatural terrain.
Art by E. Eero Johnson
This inventive Young Adult novel crackles with the angst and yearning of high school with an authentic edge of cool. Frankie, the alienated introvert in a family of outsized personalities (his sister wears a tutu and his mom’s a Sinatra impersonator), comes into his own when he’s invited to join a group of young people who work for a Banksy-inspired anonymous street artist. But things get out of control, and Frankie has to thread the needle between chaos controlled and otherwise.
This one grabs the reader from the start, with a deer-hunting tableaux that goes horribly wrong and ends up with the gunman killing the son of his closest friends. He opts to make retribution in the most painful way—by giving his own young son to the grieving parents to raise as their own. Erdrich weaves in Native American histories and a profound sense of the mythic in a contemporary heartbreaker.
This debut novel hinges on secrets, with a protagonist who started out keeping them as a high-school peer counselor and now recruits for a cutting edge and highly paranoid tech company. She’s planning to host the wedding of her childhood best friend when tragedy happens, and they’re thrown into circumstances amid blown trust dating back to their high-school days, when they were part of a small, crazily close-knit group of girls.
Here’s the kind of book—ironic but humane, erudite yet playful—that makes you want to read it in big chunks. It’s sort of a coming-of-age story for a group of young people living with the reduced expectations post-Great Recession, and it manages to be such without remotely bumming you out. Amid all kinds of long talks, weddings, and various escapes, an heir to a sex-toy fortune and a ghostwriter (among others) wend their way through love, jealousy, ambition, and that elusive thing we call growing up.
Nothing is ordinary in John Jodzio’s collection of short stories. There’s a bounty hunter for ex-roommates, a child who can predict death amid a family-owned power plant, a dead dog tied to floating balloons, and the world’s most over-protective mother. While the strangeness runs deep, Jodzio’s humor and sense of restless fun makes each scenario a true pleasure.
Dreamers Often Lie
This eerie romantic thriller for teens is inspired by the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A high school girl wakes up with a cracked skull after a skiing accident and tells everyone she’s fine—all the while slipping into hallucinations related to her starring role in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Soon enough she starts to notice things in her world taking on a remarkable similarity to events in Shakespeare’s plays, including a Romeo who steps out of her fantasies and into the desk next to her in class.