February 2024

The Blackmail’s Books

Books Books Books Books Books Books Text: Kat Hartmann Images: Google

By way of preparing you for what’s shaping up to be a prolific year in independent publishing, we have put together a list of books you’re probably going to want to get your hands on this year, aka our Ones To Watch List. Thanks largely to our friends at Melville House and McSweeney’s. So, without further ado, may we present to you – in no particular order – The Blackmail’s Books for 2010.

1. Richard Yates by Tao Lin

A little while ago we chatted to Tao Lin about life, literature and his upcoming release. With the hype expanding and the release date growing ever closer – we’re currently looking at some time this September – this “tightly plotted page turner” centring around a girl and boy in a relationship – which, incidentally, has virtually nothing to do with Yates himself – is likely to be an indie hit.

2. The Beaufort Diaries by T Cooper

Just when it seemed that post-postmodernism had gone and taken all the fun out of originality, that new thought was dead and creative pastiche was the only, decidedly dull way forward, T Cooper had to go and publish a illustrated novella that’s is not only tough to explain, it also features a polar bear going green in Hollywood. Original thought – 1, post-postmodernism – 0.

3. The Clock Without a Face by Augustus Twintig, Eli Horowitz, Mac Burnett and Scott Teplin

Not since the Choose Your Own Adventure series has a book asked readers to become so actively involved in the reading process. 12 emerald-studded numerals have been buried across the USA (in real life, folks). They are destined to become the property of those who discover them (seriously, they’re actually out there somewhere). The secret of their location can only be found within the pages of this whodunit novel, set in the depths of Ternky Tower. Add ‘thirteen floors, twenty suspects, and over fifty mysteries’ to the real-life treasure hunt and you’ve got yourself one heck of an adventure.

4. The Instructions by Adam Levin

Lord only knows who on this wide earth has feet big enough to fill the literary shoes of the late David Foster Wallace, but author Adam Levin (not to be mistaken for the Maroon 5 singer, Adam Levine) seems determined to give it a try. And so, the comparisons are abounding. The Instructions houses a plot overflowing with religion, revolution, messianic tendencies, romance, violence and intellect. A rather epic 900-page work.

5. Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

After it was described to us as “a steampunk novel that takes place in a frozen version of Venice”, we decided we didn’t really need to find out anything else about this book to know we already love it. Steampunk? Seriously? Amazing. Call us sci-fi nerds, geeks, losers even. We care not; we love anything fantasy based and set in a time where things are powered by steam. For those of you who need to know more – those not as easily sold by compound words as we – Auroraoama is a novel drenched in history and combining elements of anticipation, sci-fi and adventure. Satisfied?

6. Eat When You Feel Sad by Zachary German

We like debut novels. They reaffirm our faith in the endlessness of the literary cycle. Being as steeped in the whole ‘new beginnings’ element as they are. Zachary German is a contemporary of Tao Lin so we suspect we could bury ourselves neck deep in supposition about his life and works – particularly this one, should the need strike. It does not. Here are a few things we know for certain about German: he’s been known to pen the odd book-event review for his publisher, he likes to write poems with seemingly superfluous names for 3:Am Magazine and, in the past, some people have published rather retarded reviews of his book. Eat When You Feel Sad is due out February 9.

7. Half a Life by Darin Strauss

Sometimes things happen that, even though they are out of your control, end up controlling your life. Darin Strauss’ life has been shaped by one such event; the death of a schoolmate whose bike was struck by his father’s Oldsmobile while he was behind the wheel. Strauss is now 36-years-old and, despite the fact that the event was ruled an accident the victim’s parents have chosen to sue him. The book explores what it is to have half a life completely changed in one tiny moment.

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