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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

November 24, 2019

Funny Ladies Observe Life Through Imaginative, Uncensored Filters  
 
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong. Thanks to two Netflix stand-up specials and a starring role in the romcom movie Always Be My Maybe, Wong is one of hottest comedians working to day. And she proves she can write more than one-liners in a new collection of essays presented as letters to her two young daughters. The words of wisdom she passes along reflect what she's learned from a life in comedy and include stories from her life off stage, reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, growing up as a wild child in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Throughout the book, Wong remains true to her comic self - blissfully unfiltered  and raunchy - while discussing life as working mom (in a male-dominated profession), the perils of dating, lessons learned from failure, and more. She's fierce and funny (although not for every taste), but Wong can also be reflective, as when writing about her Vietnamese/Chinese upbringing and her relationship with her mother. If you're fan, or would like to become one, Dear Girls is worth checking out.
 
 
Little Weirds by Jenny Slate. The multi-talented actress, stand-up comedian, and author of the children's book Marcel The Shell with Shoes On offers up a candid glimpse into her strange psyche with a collection of short essays and musings. As befits her comedy, her writings are not easily categorized - she writes about joy and heartbreak, lovelorn ghosts, male patriarchy, and more. What stays consistent throughout the book as it shifts in tone and style is Slate's imaginative use of language and her askew sense of humor.  
Independent booksellers have been among the volume's fans, making it a bestseller and a November Indie Next pick. Here's a review from one enthusiastic independent bookseller: " Little Weirds, a collection of essays by actress and comedian Jenny Slate, is pure magic -- a joyous, thoughtful, and deeply gorgeous peek into the soul of an extremely bright and unique individual. Jenny's mastery of the English language, the way she arranges words to tell a story, the vulnerability with which she does it, and the purity of her heart is so astounding at times that reading a paragraph once or twice is simply not enough. Little Weirds cuts deeply into what it means to be a woman here on this earth. It is about friendship and growth and learning to love ourselves in all of our tender and wild strangeness."
- Jenna Schenk, BookTowne, Manasquan, NJ  
November's #1 Indie Next Pick Is Groundbreaking Story of Abuse
 
 In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. Her short story collection Her Body and Other Parties was a finalist for the National Book Award, and now Machado has made another literary splash with a memoir about domestic abuse at the hands of her female partner. It's a story that's frank and chilling, enhanced by an imaginative narrative style that uses vignettes and essays to dissect her experience. Queer abuse is not a subject that has been greatly discussed or written about, and part of Machado's motivation for the book was to begin to fill that chasm. She was in a relationship that went from happiness to confusion to psychological torture, and she found herself searching for ways to respond to a subject with little recorded history to guide or inform her. That lack of knowledge and shared understanding was a challenge when she wrote In the Dream House as well. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Machado talked about wishing her ex had been a man because it would've been so much easier to explain. "Or I wish she'd hit me because we have narratives for that. I wish she was a man who'd hit me because that is a very exact scenario, very clear."
  
Here's the Indie Next review of this original and groundbreaking work: 
 
"Welcome to the Dream House in this daring new kind of memoir that defies boundaries and boldly discards the conventions of genre. Inside, Carmen Maria Machado bares her soul in all of its pain and beauty, offering an intimate and profoundly vulnerable look at her own life, love, and sexuality. Machado has a gift for exposing the raw nerves and small miracles lurking beneath the surface of our daily lives. Her words move with a strange kind of urgency, surreal and yet true, like late-night phone calls when the rest of the world is asleep. I didn't feel like I was reading a book so much as observing a person's innermost thoughts. In the Dream House is a unique and extraordinary book."
- Jason Foose, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ
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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

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