I've never read a book quite like this one. Part memoir, part analysis of an 18th century Irish poem, and part biography of the poem's author, this book breaks down the space between past and present in revelatory ways. While dealing with the stress of her rapidly growing family, Ni Ghriofa became obsessed with the classic poem Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, composed orally as the poet's lament on the death of her husband. Ni Ghriofa notes that it's "a tiny miracle that it even exists...lifted to another consciousness by the ordinary wonder of type."
Melchor follows two acclaimed novels--Hurricane Season and Paradais--with an equally impressive collection of essays. Focusing on Veracruz and its outskirts, the volume chronicles the dark side of the city with pieces on crime and violence. In addition to diligent reporting, Melchor deploys ingenious language that digs below the surface; but the backbone of this work is the characters. As she does in her fiction, she gives us an empathetic view of lives whose inner workings we wouldn't otherwise know, in this case, those of various criminals and other disreputable figures--and the darkness that haunts them.
Anyone who loves mythology, fairytales, or even Star Wars has likely stumbled at some point across Joseph Campbell’s seminal Hero with 1,000 Faces, but for readers less than satisfied with Campbell’s male-centric theory of heroism, Tatar offers another route. Not so much a rebuttal as an expansion, Heroine with 1,001 Faces unthreads the many different ways in which female characters throughout the long history of storytelling have gone against the traditional tropes of what it means to be “heroic.” Using as foundational texts everything from Ovid to The Hunger Games to Sex and the City, Tatar offers a theory of heroism that includes compassion, empathy, and curiosity, and often prioritizes the fight for justice over the desire for glory. An incredibly fun and erudite reworking of familiar archetypes to create space for new stories and storytellers.