3 good books
All This Could Be Different | The Rabbit Hutch | Liberation Day
All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (2022)
All This Could Be Different is a typical bildungsroman in that it’s a tale of inexperience in love and lust, and the friendships that outlast both. But it’s also a tale of the immigrant experience and the expectations that come with opportunity.
Sneha is a queer recent college grad in her first corporate job. She’s navigating demanding clients, a sadistic property manager, and the hurdles of dating and making friends in a new city. Everything is fine until it isn’t. Past trauma surfaces, depression looms, and bills come past due. As her romantic prospects implode, her community of friends, if they’ll still have her, is the only thing that can soften the landing.
The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty (2022)
Blandine Watkins lives in a dilapidated complex in a decaying midwestern town with 3 other young people who have also recently aged out of foster care. All her life, she’s dreamed of leaving her body, and the book opens with intimations of an act that might finally help her achieve it.
Over the week preceding this out-of-body experience, we meet other residents of “The Rabbit Hutch” — a moderator for an online obituary service, a mother struggling to bond with her newborn, a widower obsessed with his rating on a dating website. The town itself becomes a character as everyone around Blandine sinks further into its depressed grasp and it becomes clear that the only way out is through something truly shocking.
Liberation Day by George Saunders (2022)
George is back to what he does best. If you’re interested in the mechanics of the form, do yourself a favor and pick up his college course in a book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. Liberation Day’s nine stories explore the tension between doing what’s right and doing what’s in the best interest of the individual. In “Love Letter,” a grandfather writes to his grandson to help him decide what to do after his beloved is detained for politically-motivated reasons. In “Ghoul,” an actor in an abandoned underground amusement park must report those who aren’t going along with the charade of performance or risk punishment himself. In “Mother’s Day,” two women who loved the same man struggle to put their differences aside during an emergency. The stories are funny and absurd, but most of all, they’re generous to the imperfect characters navigating them.
Thanks for this, I’ve been looking for some new reads!