Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber Counterpoint, May
The characters in Joan Silber’s big-hearted new novel find happiness in mostly small and incremental ways that feel entirely true and resonate with the quiet power of relationship. I was immediately invested in the lives of this extended family-of-sorts, starting and ending with Ethan, a gay lawyer whose father is discovered to have a second family, acquired during his business travels to Asia. In between we meet people whose lives loosely intersect as they travel, figuratively and literally, towards their own versions of joy. Silber’s craft in linking her characters and her themes—connection, openheartedness, money—is seamless, but it’s her great gift for empathy that is sure to make this one of my favorite reads of this year.
This book isn’t insightful, it is affirmative. This book isn’t an echo, it is a cave. It is an experience. Damn near the true story of every queer romance. Casey McQuinston somehow finds a way to once again tell a dauntingly fierce, honest story! With so much detail, presence, and inertia, McQuinston gives us such a fun and crucial experience of love in the queer communities of NYC. A spot on, pleasurable book!
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (List Price: $16.99, St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250244499, 6/1/2021)
Reviewed by Amya Franklin, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
Every season one or two books seem to come out of nowhere to become the books that everyone is talking about. Except, they don’t really come out of nowhere. In the weeks and months before a book is published, reviewers and booksellers with an early peak start posting their opinions and reviews. That early swell of chatter and excitement is an indication of good things to come for a book.
Among Southern booksellers, the early chatter about Bryan Washington’s new novel, Memorial, was enthusiastic — marking it as one of the books not to be missed this Fall.
What booksellers are saying about Memorial
Washington has achieved something beautiful: a chill novel you want to hang out with. Like a good friend, this novel invites you in, cooks up a great meal, and opens up its heart. –Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA
Washington’s exploration of the bonds between family and lovers (and between one’s lover’s family) is incredible — super relatable, often hilarious, and deeply touching. I wanted this book to last forever. –Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
With razor-sharp humor, heartbreaking truths, and multi-dimensional characters that fly off the page, Bryan Washington’s novel is a virtuosic triumph. As I cried through the last pages, I only wished I could live within his story for as long as possible. — Greg Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
I couldn’t put this book down. This world that Bryan Washington created felt so deeply personal that I felt like I was the one living with my boyfriend’s mother without said boyfriend being around. –Aimee Rankin, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS
About Bryan Washington
Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner’s top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, GQ, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.