BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
*Editor's Note: This article has been republished from our old site.
Reading books in 2015 is not hard to do. We have plenty of options--public library, major & indie bookstores, e-readers, and book clubs. I'm pretty grateful, really, to live in this time. So many of us groan about how no one reads anymore and how the publishing industry sucks, but let's look on the bright side: there's a tremendous amount of indie publishers who are doing a great job. I don't need to name names or link to articles about how no one reads. We all know.
Below, I highlighted four books published by indie presses that I picked up this year. Some of them, as you may notice, may not have been published in 2015, but that doesn't matter. It's not like books have expiration dates, right? If they do, we're all out of luck.
Here's some love:
1. Don Dreams & I Dream by Leah Umansky (Kattywompus Press, 2014)
My heart broke as "Mad Men" ended. Luckily, though, Umansky wrote this "Mad Men" inspired chapbook, so Don will forever be in my heart. But really, this is not just about the hit AMC TV show. It's about the power dynamics between women and men, what it means to live in America, especially now. The collection starts with the line: "Advertising is based on happiness." Nothing is more true than that in America.
"[Here's a fact from Don: 45% of people see the color / blue as the same color ] / I want you to see what I see. My blue. See my blue. / I want to be the 55%. Be with. / Try one on with me."
2. This Must Be the Place by Sean H. Doyle (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2015)
This is seriously one of my favorite reads all year. I was anxiously anticipating the release of Doyle's first book--his memoir--for a long time. It was surely worth the wait--I literally read it within three hours. Which, let's be real, I don't normally do. The book is written through vignettes--illustrating the past selves, or ghosts, that Doyle used to inhabit. All of these pieces were like kaleidoscope images--they give us beautiful and heartbreaking snippets into a man's life.
"I tell him I don't have any money and go get him the rest of the pills and he suddenly has a bat in his hand and is threatening me and I start to laugh and ask him if beating me up over forty bucks is a good idea and then he just leaves. I was fucking terrified."
3. Honey & Bandages by Katie Longofono and Mary Stone (Folded Word, 2015)
It's not often you see a successful collaboration between poets, especially when it results in an actual chapbook. The collection results in a gorgeous conversation between two distinct voices--as if they are ghosts speaking across a huge landscape. It begins with the line: "No one imagines you have died here," which basically encapsulates the entire book--we all die little deaths everywhere--here is how and why.
"Maybe boulders will fall for us / smattering inside the mouth in shards / like pieces of hard candy, hot to touch."
4. Episodes and Commercial Interruptions by Joe DeLuca and Dolan Morgan (Papercut Press, 2015)
So, when you put a collaboration about "Mad Men" together, you get this. Which is kind of the best present you could buy yourself ever (because, as we know, America is built on advertising, so you may as well buy something that makes you feel like shit while also feeling fabulous.) DeLuca and Morgan create a hilarious and bizarre landscape, pointing out all of the idiosyncrasies of our lives, like actually feeling emotions while having sex or making money. The collection perfectly blends together the tragedy and humor of America, with a critical eye.
"You never say you love me. It's / completely automatic. I just leave it. Let me / ask you something. They wouldn't make it / up completely, right?"