Each issue in Nat. Brut Book Club, an author or critic we love recommends and discusses some of their favorite books.
Amina Cain is the author of the acclaimed short story collection I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues Press, 2009) and the forthcoming Creature (Dorothy, a publishing project, 2013). She is also a curator, most recently for Both SIdes and The Center (with Teresa Carmody) at the MAK Center/Schindler House. She lives in Los Angeles.
Not Blessed by Harold Abramowitz
This novel has stayed with me for a while now and I think I’ve carried around its sense of great openness and insistence—on narrative, on drilling deeper into the same territory instead of moving quickly across it—since I first read it three years ago, wanting—through writing—to be in conversation with it.
Unexplained Presence by Tisa Bryant
By writing into films, novels, and paintings, Bryant brings to light a beautiful “continuum” of characters and figures from history, calling out to one another across time. Like Abramowitz’s, I’ve really never let this book go, and still feel called and profoundly influenced by its continuum.
The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras
This is probably my favorite book of all time. The character of Lol Stein is violently rejected as a young woman and then finds a way to enter the space of that rejection again. But space is always new, sometimes exhilarating and sometimes sickening.
The Obscene Madame D by Hilda Hilst
I recently discovered Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst when A Bolha Editora and Nightboat Books issued the English translation of this amazing novel/anti-novel. Translated from the Portuguese by Nathanaël and Rachel Gontijo Araujo, here everything disintegrates and comes back together and disintegrates again, under the stairs of a basement and “two brown paper fish.”
Promising Young Women by Suzanne Scanlon
Published in 2012, Scanlon’s first novel travels the mind and the heart in ways that feel relieving to me as a person and as a fellow fiction writer. The narrative voice—Lizzie herself—is also quite addictive. I could listen without end.