Happy 2023 (in books!)

Happy New Year! In something that’s becoming a bit of a tradition, below is a wrap up of books I’ve edited coming out in 2023. As always, there’s room for a surprise or two along the way, but I’m editing books for 2024 and buying for late 2024 and beyond, so my list should be pretty settled.

I’m organizing this by pub dates, which are subject to change due to various factors (supply chain delays, printing times, carton shortages, fun secret news—which one doesn’t fit here?), but shouldn’t change much. So here’s what I worked on in 2022 for your enjoyment in 2023!

January 2023

THE REUNION by Kayla Olson, January 17

To address the obvious joke—Kayla Olson is not my penname! Although we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that coincidence. Kayla’s rom-com debut is as delightful and effervescent as a glass of champagne. The story follows costars from a teen TV show who reunite years later for a reunion special and find that the romantic connection they ignored years ago is just as strong. The book has won over many fans pre-pub and is a Book of the Month selection for January and an Indie Next pick for February.

THE TWYFORD CODE by Janice Hallett, January 24

You may remember Janice from a couple of posts about her debut novel THE APPEAL last year. This year, she’s back with THE TWYFORD CODE (released in 2022 in the UK). Told entirely in voice memo transcriptions, this novel about an ex-con who goes back to investigate a possible code in a forgotten children’s books and his teacher’s disappearance more than forty years ago, has one of my favorite twists—both shocking and moving. It has racked up three starred trade reviews and was a major bestseller in the UK.

February 2023

ICEBREAKER by Hannah Grace, February 7

New year, new TikTok sensation! In what’s becoming something of an annual tradition, I’m kicking off February with a new edition of a self-published novel that blew up on TikTok. This one is Hannah Grace’s ICEBREAKER, which is about a competitive ice skater and a hockey team captain who are forced to share a rink (an obviously chemistry) after a college facilities mishap. Important note: this one is definitely 18+. Lots more from Hannah to come!

March 2023

ALL THE QUEEN’S SPIES by Oliver Clements, March 14

The third installment of Oliver Clements’ exhilarating and adventurous Agents of the Crown series, about John Dee and Elizabeth I’s team of spies. This latest volume takes place primarily in England and Prague, where John Dee infiltrates the court of Rudolf II with help from his wife Jane, a Polish count, and Christopher Marlowe.

April 2023

TO SWOON AND TO SPAR by Martha Waters, April 11

This is a year of continuing series and many returning authors for me! Martha Waters’s books have delighted me since her debut TO HAVE AND TO HOAX, which kicked off her Regency Vows series. And the madcap antics of a group of hysterical friends in Regency England are back here, with a little more bite (and haunting) than usual. This novel follows Penvale (Diana’s brother) and his new wife Jane, who stages a fake haunting as his Cornwall manor in the hopes that she can scare him back to London. Also a gentle send-up of Gothic novels, this is one of my favorites in the series.

May 2023

HAVE YOU SEEN HER by Catherine McKenzie, May 23

I have many memories of trips to Yosemite, and so I was delighted—and a little unnerved—to be editing a thriller set there. The awe-inspiring scenery only enhances the danger experienced by Cassie, who has returned after a ten-year absence on the Search and Rescue team, and two other women whose paths collide with hers, with terrifying consequences. If you follow true crime, this is one for you.

JUNE 2023

THE LONG WAY BACK by Nicole Baart, June 13

A fellow author called Nicole “the queen of the family thriller,” which I’m only mentioning here because I think it’s apt. Nicole’s novels center family in a really interesting way, and this mother-daughter story about an Instagram-famous teen who disappears while boating with her mother one afternoon blazes its own path. It’s timely, arresting, and thought-provoking for anyone who puts their life online.

JULY 2023

THICKER THAN WATER by Megan Collins, July 11

Speaking of writers who chronicle family drama well! Megan Collins’s last book tells the story of sisters-in-law—and best friends—whose tight bond is tested when the man that connects them is accused of a horrific crime. Megan gets better with every book, and I can’t wait to see the audience who came to THE FAMILY PLOT return for this next novel.

I was going to add a few lines about my Fall books, but titles/covers are still in the works for the majority, and I don’t want to say anything when pub dates aren’t yet final. For now, I’ll tell you that there are three in Fall 2023, and I’ll plan to pop in here in Summer/early Fall to share about them and my holiday books.

Happy Reading!

Some Holiday Reading

A few people asked if I’d update with information about my fall books to give as holiday gifts, which makes sense this year because I have so many of them! Because my list is heavy on commercial and upmarket fiction, I traditionally frontload books in the spring and summer seasons. In publishing, fall is typically the time to publish major literary fiction and newsworthy non-fiction in hardcover. But, paradoxically, because of that, it’s also a great time to publish paperbacks for holiday shoppers at Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, etc. So, in addition to Elena Armas’s The American Roommate Experiment—already a major New York Times bestseller—here’s what I’m concentrating on this fall.

KISS HER ONCE FOR ME by Alison Cochrun (out November 1)

In this queer holiday rom-com, a struggling animator (and current barista) agrees to a fake engagement to her shop’s landlord to collect an inheritance, only to fall for his sister, with whom she had a whirlwind one-day romance the previous Christmas. It has a family holiday chalet, a dog called Paul Hollywood, and a love trapezoid. Is this enough to pick it up?

THE APPEAL by Janice Hallett (out November 1 in paperback)

This paperback of Janice’s spectacular UK bestseller THE APPEAL comes out this November, and I can’t wait for it to take the US by storm. Janice is writing some of the most inventive crime fiction today, and THE APPEAL’s paperback leads right into our publication of her next novel THE TWYFORD CODE in January. Written entirely in emails and WhatsApp messages, THE APPEAL moves at breakneck pace between members of a theatre troupe (and a few young lawyers searching for clues) with one dead body, fifteen suspects, and a killer possibly still at large.

FLIGHT RISK by Cherie Priest (out November 15)

Cherie’s Booking Agents series is pure fun. I’m not often drawn to anything supernatural in my novels, but psychic Leda Foley was so charming I just couldn’t resist. In this sequel to GRAVE RESERVATIONS, Leda and her unofficial crime-solving partner Grady, a Seattle PD detective, once again team up to solve interconnected crimes about a missing wife and a severed leg retrieved by Grady’s lost dog on a mountain trail. Don’t worry, it’s not as gruesome as it sounds! (And zero dogs are harmed in the course of this book.)

Fall is in full swing here in New York. Submissions are rushing in. The city’s cultural centers are bustling. Publishing parties are back! We haven’t even hit Halloween yet, and I found holiday decorations out at Target this afternoon. And so in that spirit, a few favorites of mine to give for the holidays.

SALT FAT ACID HEAT by Samin Nosrat

I hoard copies of this cookbook to give as a gift. Birthdays, housewarmings, holidays: the occasion truly doesn’t matter. This one is really about the basics of good cooking. There are plenty of recipes, but actually sitting down and reading it has also made me a better cook. I have my rice-to-liquid ratios down pat, know what salt to use on what, and finally understand why heat matters. Any home cook, from beginner to expert, can benefit from it.


This is among my favorite novels read in the last five years (although it came out in 2011). Set over the course of a year in 1938, it follows a young secretary making her way through New York society who becomes wrapped up with a mysterious and charismatic young banker. But is really about choices–the ones we make, the ones we don’t, and who we become as a result. I’m fascinated by the concept of “right” choices, and this novel mirrored much of my own philosophy in its prologue and epilogue, both set at a gallery opening in 1966. This is my personal favorite of Amor Towles’s novels, and I think there’s something in it to appeal to a wide swath of people.


My dad and I loved watching Secrets of Great British Castles last year, which is hosted by historian Dan Jones. I picked up a copy of THE PLANTAGENETS for my dad last year, knowing that we both loved Dan Jones’s engaging and accessible style. And although I did give it to my dad for Christmas, I immediately proceeded to “borrow” it for the next week. There are plenty of history books aimed at very specific interests, but I thought this was a good overview (although I also happen to be fascinated by the Plantagenets).

Happy Reading! I am off to continue reading Beatriz Williams’s OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW and snack on a maple bacon biscuit with my dinner.

Happy 2022 (in books)!

Happy 2022! I’m welcoming the new year as I do most years—with a little hope, a little trepidation, and a wish for every year to be a little bit kinder than the last. Beyond that, I haven’t done much thinking about what the new year will bring, since longtime friends and readers know that I make resolutions for my birthday rather than January 1.

But while safely home for the holidays, I’ve had lots of questions about what my year in new books looks like, and while my mother’s email list is extensive, I thought it might be fun and easier to put them here in one place. So here’s what I worked on last year-—for you to read this year.

January 2022

THE APPEAL by Janice Hallett, January 25

The crime debut of the year in the UK (if you go by the Sunday Times, as I do), a very modern epistolary novel about an amateur theatre group who rallies to raise money for a family in need, but when one person turns up dead, everyone’s motives are in question. This is one of the most inventive novels I’ve read in years, and although it came out last year in the UK, Americans should fall in love, too! (Janice’s next book, THE TWYFORD CODE, will be out in 2023 here).

February 2022

THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION by Elena Armas, February 1

A breakout TikTok sensation in 2021, we’re publishing a new edition February 1, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Readers have continued to flock to this romance, which won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut Novel, and we have a sequel coming later in the year (find it below)!

March 2022

A GIRL DURING THE WAR by Anita Abriel, March 1

A heartfelt novel set during Italy in WWII about a young art student who flees to Florence and finds herself torn between a young partisan and her work, with hope for what her life will be after the war.

April 2022

TO MARRY AND TO MEDDLE by Martha Waters, April 5

Martha’s previous novels, TO HAVE AND TO HOAX and TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE, belong to the growing trend of Regency rom-coms—set in a historical context, but with the modernity of a contemporary rom-com—that has only grown since Bridgerton graced our screens. They are some of my favorite novels to edit, and with Emily and Belfry’s marriage of convenience, she’s turned what could be a very staid and traditional take on the trope on its head.


THE PATRON SAINT OF SECOND CHANCES was the funniest book I read in 2021. Set in a small town in Calabria, the self-appointed mayor (and vacuum repairman) of his village invents a rumor that a famous movie star will be filming his next role in town. Things spin wildly and hilariously out of control. A true delight about the power of community and connection.

May 2022

PLEASE JOIN US by Catherine McKenzie, May 24

Catherine has written a number of heart-pounding thrillers, but this one is truly exceptional. A lawyer on the cusp of 40 receives an invitation to join a women’s networking group at a pivotal time; her husband thinks there’s something fishy about it, but when she attends their retreat, she finds it’s all it promises to be. Until she’s called to a congresswoman’s apartment late one night and asked to help dispose of a body.

June 2022

MEANT TO BE MINE by Hannah Orenstein, June 7

Young women flock for Hannah’s books for tales of young professional women dating in New York, and this one is no exception—but with a twist. The protagonist’s grandmother predicts the day everyone in the family meets the love of their life, and on her predestined day, she finds herself seated next to a handsome musician on a plane. Can you really predict love?

Fall 2022


Remember THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION? Its sequel, THE AMERICAN ROOMMATE EXPERIMENT, about Lina’s best friend Rosie and her cousin Lucas will be out this fall. And that’s about all I’m allowed to tell you about it.

FLIGHT RISK by Cherie Priest, Fall 2022

Cherie Priest’s rollicking romp of a mystery GRAVE RESERVATIONS introduced us to Leda Foley, a travel agent and inconsistent psychic who teams up with Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt to solve a cold case. Leda, Grady, and the gang are back here in another PNW mystery featuring two cases—a husband and wife—that may or may not be connected. I predict it will thrill.

KISS HER ONCE FOR ME by Alison Cochrun, Fall 2022

Alison’s debut, THE CHARM OFFENSIVE, ended up on a number of “best of” lists, and KISS HER ONCE FOR ME delivers another great love story about a young barista who gets involved in a fake engagement scheme with her landlord—only to fall for his sister. Perfect for the holidays, and to end the year on a high note.

And now I’m off to edit for 2023! May 2022 be bright.

Weekend Reads-The Great Circle

Good morning!

It’s been a long year. But that probably goes without saying. And I’ve had a busy few weeks. I spent several days the first week of August at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, attending a law conference with my parents, doling out book recommendations (which inspired my return here!), and on a self-guided tour of reading spots.

Pictured here reading Nicole Baart’s gripping novel EVERYTHING WE DIDN’T SAY (out in November!) for work.

From West Virginia, I went almost directly to Cooperstown, NY with friends for Glimmerglass, an annual summer opera festival, where we spent a fabulous weekend watching two shows a day (minus a production of The Magic Flute unfortunately cancelled due to lightning risk). We can’t wait to go back next year!

All of which to say, despite vacation days used and travel time, I got suspiciously little reading done. My summer and winter vacations usually see me consume about five books a week. But this time, I finished only one! Mostly for work!

But I did manage to start Maggie Shipstead’s magnificent THE GREAT CIRCLE, which I’ve been eager to read since the spring. Charting the course of a woman circumnavigating the globe and an actress playing her in a present day biopic, the novel feels both epic and deeply personal. The way Shipstead moves between time is fascinating. It makes me want to grab a legal pad and map out the novel’s structure.

I’m not very far along, and I have a feeling it may take me the rest of the summer to finish, but I’m eager to complete it before fall submissions bury me. (Not that summer ones haven’t–why do you think it will take me until September?!)

I’ve been drawn to lengthy books of late, mostly by authors I love. Fall 2021 provides an embarrassment of riches in fiction–new Lauren Groff, Anthony Doerr, Colson Whitehead, Amor Towles, to name just a few–and it seems clear that some put pandemic productivity to good use. I had the chance to read Anthony Doerr’s spectacular CLOUD CUCKOO LAND earlier this summer, which is sure to remain one of my favorite books of the last few years. For the first couple hundred pages, I didn’t quite know how these disparate threads (1492 Constantinople; present day Idaho; a spaceship a century from now) came together, but when they did, wow, was it incredible. CLOUD CUCKOO LAND was the first book that I truly felt had to have been written during the pandemic (although has been in the works for eight years). The final twist blew me away. I can’t wait for other people to read it, to trust it, to see how inventive it truly feels.

On the breakfast side, this weekend I’m nibbling away at treats from the newly opened Maman near my house–a nutella beignet, strawberry rhubarb croissant bun, and chocolate pistachio croissant shared with my visiting parents.

Happy Reading!

Quick Fix: He Thinks, Therefore I Am

Before I launch into this edition of Quick Fix, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate this post’s title. I love a good pun, especially an obnoxious one.

One of my favorite parts of editing is learning how to write better and tighter prose. I’m interested in what every sentence accomplishes. In why we write the way we do. All of this applies in this example, which I see frequently in editing, especially in novels written in close third-person.

Close Third: He Thinks

Some writers have a tendency to add “he/she thinks” while in a certain character’s POV. Occasionally, this can be useful, especially when cycling quickly through multiple close third-person perspectives. In general, though, we don’t need the added “he thinks.” We are in his head, therefore every line is his thought and perspective. This is also true of “he hears” or “he sees” unless the actual act of hearing or seeing is the objective of the sentence.

Taking that a step further, we often see “he/she thinks” shortly before the writer moves into first person. Wait, what?

First person: Therefore I Am

The change from first to third can be effective, especially in showing a character speaking to herself. We all have an interior monologue. We do this in real life, albeit the other way around. For example, I think to myself, “you’ve got this, Kait.” I have moved from first-person (natural state), to second, to an address of name.

But, this should be used sparingly. “She thinks, I don’t know what to do,” for example. The move to first-person here takes you out of the POV and the character’s head without the necessary payoff. How does “she thinks, I don’t know what to do” improve upon “she doesn’t know what to do?”

Often, the second part of the phrase (“I don’t know what to do,” above) appears in italics. I’ve written about italics online before–and will likely do a “Quick Fix” post on them soon. If you’re moving from third- to first-person frequently, you should take a close look at your perspective. Maybe your writing would be more effective in first person. Maybe you should remain in third, but rephrase to keep POV consistent.

As always, writing and editing is subjective. But we should always consider why we’ve chosen to make a change like the one from third- to first-person, what it accomplishes, and if the emotional payoff of that accomplishment is enough to offset the disorientation of the reader.


Weekend Reads- Sex and Vanity

Good morning! And happy long weekend!


Here is my book: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

And here is my breakfast: Bagel and lox from my local café

What a strange Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. It is overcast and on the nippy end in New York today, after some glorious weather Friday and an upcoming week in the 70s. In an alternate version of 2020, I was supposed to be in Santa Barbara this weekend celebrating my cousin Joe’s wedding. I’d been looking forward to it for over a year. My plane ticket was booked, my outfits had been selected, and then the world halted. Compared to what many have gone through, this is nothing but a sad blip, and we’ll gather next year instead–same venue, same weekend, same outfits.

I’m very excited to settle into Kevin Kwan’s latest novel, given my well documented love of the Crazy Rich Asians series. (Thank you, Doubleday!) I logged into my long dormant NetGalley account this weekend and have had lots of fun browsing the options. Sex and Vanity is among my most anticipated of 2020 (out June 30) and given that I would very much like to attend a wedding on Capri right now, I think this will be a perfect pick-me-up. I’d tell you more about it, but I’ve barely started!

I have a new writing project I’m excited about, although it requires much more research than anything I’ve written previously, but I have a solid base knowledge to work with (why didn’t I think of this years ago?!). Everything is slow going in the early stages, but now that I’m nearly finished with the Italian course on Duolingo, I’m ready for a new quarantine hobby.

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!


Finds from My Closet: A Pandemic Story

A strange thing about quarantine is that the things I used to need daily now sit gathering dust. This applies to my purses, my more professional work outfits, my planner (RIP), shoes, my keys. On several occasions, I have forgotten my wallet for my weekly grocery run.

Instead, though, I’ve found a lot of never-used items in my closets, drawers, and storage areas that are suddenly getting more use than I ever envisioned. Listing some of the items I’d dug out of my closets on a work call, a colleague quipped “how large are your closets?” They are New York-sized, although one might be described my an ambitious real estate agent as a “walk-in,” but the truth is that they are well organized (not by me).

So here is an incomplete list of things I’ve found sudden uses for during this time:

  1. My crock pot. I have had this crock pot –an old hand-me-down from my grandmother–since I moved into this apartment. Last month, it was still bubble-wrapped. In four years, I had not once used it. I had an irrational fear of the electrical appliance burning down my apartment–and that was before This Is Us (I haven’t seen it, I just heard my fears were vindicated). Well, that has all changed. Now that I need to feed myself regularly and without a daily trip to the grocery store, I’ve begun making crock-pot meals that I then consume for days. I regret to inform you that after years of avoiding my crock pot, it is, in fact, extremely useful.


    Unfortunately, I am still not a neat cook.

  2. Pyrex containers. Making six servings at a time in a crock pot has required something to store said servings in. I owned only corningware, which doesn’t keep food tightly sealed, so I had to purchase these containers from Amazon.
  3. My shopping cart. I have one of those rolling bags described by one friend as “for grandmothers.” Mine is in a houndstooth pattern from the Container Store; I always found it quite cute. I bought it thinking that I would make weekly runs to the grocery store and because I have weak arms, I thought I would need help carrying my bags. It turns out my grocery routine was sporadic at best (see above), but now I cannot imagine having to go to the store without my rolling bag.
  4. My cocktail shaker. I bought a beautiful cocktail shaker from Anthropologie (criminally marked down!) for my bar cart two years ago and had never once used it. If I wanted a cocktail, I went to a bar, where they had all the various liqueurs and bitters I did not want to buy. My cocktail repertoire has expanded dramatically.
  5. Slippers. I did not own slippers. I was not a slipper person! I love fuzzy socks and bare feet. But after considering those $95 ones from Birdies, my dad found this very reasonable pair on Amazon, which I ordered in burgundy. I love them. I especially love not having paid $95 for them.


    Photo repurposed from my Instagram story.

  6. My indoor pants. So I have a pair of stretchy yoga pants, which are very long and pool at my feet. They are my “indoor pants” and are not allowed outside my apartment. They are not allowed in the building hallway. They are not allowed on the terrace. I wore them only occasionally because in my previous life, I enjoyed leaving my apartment on a whim and I did not want to be caught having to change. Well, now that I never leave the apartment, the pants are never far.
  7. A short-sleeved sweatshirt. I joke that the most LA thing about me is that I own a Marc Jacobs short-sleeved sweatshirt. I bought it roughly 15 years ago. What is the point of this? I honestly do not know. In LA, a short-sleeved sweatshirt seems kind of reasonable. In New York, it does not. But now that I am indoors all day, the short-sleeved sweatshirt is getting a lot of wear!
  8. A mask. I had some masks in my storage closet, left over from when I had work done on my apartment. I dream of the day I will no longer need to wear a mask.

Weekend Reads- Wow, No Thank You

Good morning!


Here is my book: Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

(Is this the first time someone has read Italo Calvino and Samantha Irby simultaneously?)

And here is my breakfast: A maple bacon biscuit (the last one of the batch!) and coffee

I haven’t read as I thought I would during quarantine. I have the attention span of a gnat. I have lots of submissions that don’t seem to catch my interest (but several that have!). I’ve been using this indeterminable time to read things that I’ve meant to get to—Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili. (Italians, apparently, since I’ve been learning Italian.) I’ve also read a few other things for fun: The Hotel Neversink, Sometimes I Lie, Watch Me Disappear, The Forbidden Kingdom, all of which were winners.

But Samantha Irby and Wow, No Thank You is honestly the most fun I’ve had reading in a long time. I laughed out loud at least every page and spat my drink out several times. It was exactly the balm I needed right now. Many have mourned the fact that books coming out during the pandemic may get less attention—which I don’t think is entirely true, given the resources that have popped up to support them—and author tours are certainly impossible, but I do think this humorous essay collection happened to come out at the perfect time. I admire the confessional style here, although it’s something I think I’d rarely attempt on my own. But I was inspired by it! So expect a less writing and editing-focused post about quarantine soon.

Honestly, aside from the laughs, my self-directed takeaway was that there’s no one right way to live a life, a comforting thought now more than ever.

Quick Fix: Conjunctions

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had Schoolhouse Rock’s “Conjunction Junction” stuck in my head since third grade. People have a tendency to overlook conjunctions; like prepositions, they’re the boring (song exempt!) building blocks of our language. We usually don’t pay a lot of attention to them in writing and editing. But conjunctions help to make ideas flow smoothly. When conjunctions and prepositions are used incorrectly or oddly, they often alert me to an issue with the writing on a syntax level. I’m going to focus on just two conjunctions—”and” and “but”—in today’s post.

Please enjoy my simple examples I obviously put a lot of thought into!

“And” joins two related things

“And” appears everywhere in our writing. On a stylistic level, I love a repeated “and” to increase emotional intensity (“beautiful and lovely and smart” in lieu of “beautiful, lovely, and smart”) or the inverse with “and” eliminated (“beautiful, lovely, smart”). But “and” also serves an important function, especially when combining two independent clauses. Those clauses need to be related. For example: “She sat at her desk and the dog went to get some water.” This would be better separated into two sentences. They have two different subjects. Her sitting down at her desk doesn’t affect whether the dog goes to get water. Consider another example: “She sat at her desk and her eye caught the mirror.” This could be better rephrased as “She sat at her desk and caught her reflection in the mirror.” (Or whatever it is her eye caught.) There are lots of additional options to replace “and.” A semi-colon can be remarkably effective in connecting two phrases that don’t appear related on first glance. For the most part, “and” functions perfectly well and doesn’t necessarily need a second look. But if you do a search and spot an unusual number of them on the page, consider whether they’re working to their full potential.

“But” requires conflict

How many times did I begin a sentence in the last paragraph with “But?” I have no issue starting a sentence with a conjunction. It can be remarkably effective in creative, stylized writing—don’t quote me on formal writing! You should remember, though, that “but” must appear in opposition to something. For example: “she wanted to sit at her desk, but thought better of it.” This is particularly important when discussing competing ideas. They have to be in conflict with each other. “She loved him, but she found him spectacular.” These two things are not in conflict. Now, this is not a complex example of competing ideas. I see issues with this more commonly spread out over several sentences or a paragraph. When using “but,” make sure you’ve clearly identified the antagonist, as it were, earlier in the sentence (or in a close preceding sentence). Again, most people have a firm grasp on the use of “but,” but it never hurts to remain vigilant when editing!

If you have questions about pesky issues like these, please feel to suggest topics for this series in the comments below or on Twitter.

Weekend Reads- In the Dream House

Here is my book: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Here is my breakfast: Eric Kayser baguette and coffee


I’ve been following Carmen Maria Machado’s career for a few years, ever since the submission for Her Body and Other Parties came around. The book went on to receive much deserved attention and awards. I’m drawn to fiction with an element of fabulism and folklore, which comes from a personal desire, I think, to understand how and why we tell stories as well as why certain stories transcend time. I believe, too, that sometimes an unreality–metaphors turned literal–can better illustrate a moment or emotion.

Parul Sehgal wrote a stunning review of this book in the New York Times, explaining the magic of this book in ways much more articulate than I can.

But this isn’t entirely fiction. This memoir, for lack of a better term for this genre-bending work, was one of the most hotly anticipated books of the year for me. Machado employs a number of different narrative forms, genres, and tropes as she unfurls the story of her abusive relationship. It is smart and witty; shocking and sad. A bundle of contradictions, just the way I love my books. I admiredthe way she integrates the archival silence of domestic abuse in queer relationship into the larger narrative, using her personal story as a way to explore how and why certain stories are told (a topic of great discussion in the literary world this week) and endure.

I’m a form nut, so seeing her manipulate her personal story into various literary genres, fascinated me. Form provides the lens through which we view the story, setting up our expectations, which Machado then subverts. It’s amazing to see this done so skillfully–because it takes incredible skill to pull off this stitching of forms.

But I also enjoy reading Carmen Maria Machado’s work for her language–the pure joy of reading. I’ll leave with the last paragraph of “Dream House as Folktale Taxonomy.”

“There is a Quichua riddle: El que me nombra, me rompe. Whatever names me, breaks me. The solution, of course, is ‘silence.’ But the truth it, anyone who knows your name can break you in two.”

Highly recommending this one for fans of literary fiction, fabulism, and anyone interested in narrative form.