WCSU

Gabino Iglesias

Making Michael Arceneaux's I Don't Want to Die Poor required reading in high schools across the country would help a lot of young people think twice about the promise that going to college at any cost is the only path to upward social mobility.

Arceneaux, also the author of I Can't Date Jesus, writes in his new book of essays:

"The student loan industry is a barely regulated, predatory system, and with Donald Trump in the White House and those equally useless people in Congress, oversight of the industry is becoming nonexistent."

Fernanda Melchor's Hurricane Season is so strange, wild, and foul-mouthed that I almost missed the sharp critiques embedded in the story. A mix of drugs, sex, mythology, small-town desperation, poverty, and superstition, this novel spreads like a fungus from the dark center of the literary space where crime fiction and horror meet.

When journalist Eduardo Porter moved to Los Angeles in the 90s and started writing about the city, he realized race was everywhere — and that it determined "where you go to school, church, or work; how you dress and talk; whom you marry; how you fare when you run into the cops."

That realization became the seed of his latest book, American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise.

James McBride's Deacon King Kong is a feverish love letter to New York City, people, and writing. The prose is relentless and McBride's storytelling skills shine as he drags readers at breakneck speed trough a plethora of lives, times, events, and conversations. The novel is 370 pages, but McBride has packed enough in there for a dozen novellas, and reading them all mashed together is a pleasure.

Andy Davidson probably wrote The Boatman's Daughter sitting at a table at home or at a coffee joint. But it reads as if he pulled it out of the wet earth of the Arkansas bayous with his bare hands on a moonless night while chanting an incantation he learned from a dying witch.

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