Whoa! Jackie Ess's DARRYL is phenomenally daring in its honesty. This is the first encounter I've had in contemporary fiction with ... uhh, cuckolding as it's actually practiced? Like the relatively new BDSM kind of cuckolding that's social media-accelerated and weirdly evolutionary-psychology-informed and stunningly sad but troublingly hot in its brutality -- these are not your eighteenth century love triangles -- a big open secret of modern society. So yes, this book is legitimately filthy, for want of a better word; ex: the opening page finds our narrator fantasizing about Lebron James's rings resting on the nightstand beside his wife's wedding ring while his enormous hands ... Well, you get it. But wait. As admirable as I believe it is for Jackie Ess to sabotage the silence around this subject among literary writers -- who might never have caught up to Redditors et al. without her example -- there's a lot more to DARRYL than the forthright fetish stuff. The latter half is differently inspired and unexpectedly moving. Altogether a startling and quite hilarious debut.
Oh my f*#@^ng god, The Gift. I love this book and admire Barbara Browning tremendously. Her unapologetic preoccupation in this novel is with "LOVE SPAMMING." (Get into it!) Perhaps I should begin again: Barbara Browning narrates variations on her own very interesting life (there's an A word I don't want here) with fearless candor, and it's hilarious - it's also ethically radical. If this is sounding bizarre, well, okay, it is. But it's held together with writing of such honesty and thoughtfulness that one feels luminously befriended even as this book gets very weird indeed. See also: Occupy Wall Street and catfishing.
The brilliant Argentine novelist Pola Oloixarac returns with MONA, a ferocious satire of the globalized professionalized literary elite. "Part 2666, part Outline trilogy" would be one way to describe it, though in its glibness that would sell short the uniqueness of Oloixarac's humor (savage!!) and the daring of her methods of pushing the story far beyond realism. Nothing short of a horror novel, ultimately, though it's also a superbly controlled mystery. Very funny, with a slim length disguising epic breadth.