And Now, Your New Philly Authors Summer Reading Roundup
BY ELIZABETH SCANLON
The phrase an embarrassment of riches comes to mind when reflecting on the number of books forthcoming from Philadelphia authors in the next few months, if you think that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We do not. It is good and right that this amount of awesome is being generated here and what’s more, it’s evidence of what’s going right in the world of small presses, as each of the following titles is coming out from an indie publisher. To wit:
Berry Grass, Hall of Waters (The Operating System, forthcoming August 2019; order here)
Our introduction to Berry Grass’s writing was her memoir of trans identity and the ritual power of custom denim, “Battle Vest,” in which she finds common ground between metalheads and trans people in the search for authenticity. That essay and more appears in Hall of Waters, an attempt to demythologize the rural American Midwest through the specific example of the author's hometown, Excelsior Springs, MO. The book seeks to “examine and undercut the inherent settler white supremacy of the Midwestern small-town and to think about what it was like growing up queer & trans in such a toxic environment.”
Jaime Fountaine, Manhunt (Mason Jar Press, July 2019; order here)
It feels important to tell you right off the bat that Jaime Fountaine is funny as well as being a master of the tender coming-of-age tale, because the description of her forthcoming book Manhunt, in which “a girl spends the summer she’s thirteen negotiating a place for herself in her body, her neighborhood, her family, and the world,” sounds a lot more maudlin than it is. We all remember being that incredibly awkward age, and her depiction of these characters is vivid, unsparing, and riveting. Jaime also writes the “Fountaine of Advice” column for Barrelhouse, and has been a regular at the GoodGood Comedy Theatre for years. You can read an excerpt published last month on Philebrity here.
Zach Blackwood, Sexy Unique Hollow Point (Glo Worm Press, July 2019; order here)
This chapbook of poems from multi-genre artist Zach Blackwood contains, in the words of the author, “my reflections on violence(s), both physical and metaphysical, and harm. I remain especially interested in violence done to and by queer bodies.” Blackwood creates a stylish tension between being flippant and dead serious, endangered and dangerous. For example:
what do you mean
i can’t call the rain
what do you mean
this isnt the most germinal sequel to your mouth
feeding the big gay sky with the heat of your skin
Sarah Rose Etter, The Book of X (Two Dollar Radio, July 2019; order here)
Motorcycle-riding, former Philadelphia Weekly columnist Sarah Rose Etter decamped to San Francisco last year, but we continue to claim her as our own. Her new novel, The Book of X, tells the tale of Cassie, a girl born with her stomach twisted in the shape of a knot. Etter brings the sensibilities of poetry to her fiction and is unparalleled as a maker of magical realism today. You will not forget her imagery, metaphor, and haunting characterizations.
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, The Many Names for Mother (Kent State, September 2019; order here)
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach came to the United States as a Jewish refugee in 1993, from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and from the looks of it, has been kicking ass ever since. She is a mother of two, working towards a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on contemporary poetry about the Holocaust, with a special focus on atrocity in former Soviet territories. Her new collection of poems, The Many Names for Mother, is an exploration of intergenerational motherhood. Many of the poems in this collection share the title “Other Women Don’t Tell You,” one of which you can read here.