Mary Coin, Marisa Silver


Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother, left, is the jumping off point for Marisa Silver's novel examining the way images persist and interact with history.

Silver weaves three narratives---that of the photographer, the migrant mother, and a professor---together masterfully. But just as entrancing as the arc of the story itself is Silver's writing, reflective and revealing and beautifully strung together. She offers new ways of looking at history, emphasizing the importance of critically examining our world. Perhaps the inquisitiveness of the professor character best demonstrates this:

He doesn’t know what the project will ultimately yield. He doesn’t want to know. Not now. Because answers are inert things that stop inquiry. They make you think you have finished looking. But you are never finished. There are always discoveries that will turn everything you think you know on its head and that will make you ask all over again: Who are we?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

This short, fast-paced novel takes you into the world of "peculiar" children (a girl who can summon fire with her hands; another who floats like her blood courses with helium; a boy whose stomach is full of bees), lost to time and facing a group of "hollows" who want to upend their world. Ransom Riggs's book is inventive,  and I particularly admire the way she's used found photographs (see below) to inspire the narrative. Charming, quirky---just a lovely little piece.

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The Fifty Year Sword, Mark Z Danielewski

Danielewski's eerie tale, a ghost story of sorts, is not only an excellent, disarming novella but also a pleasure as a physical object: the text is interspersed with stitched illustrations from Atelier Z. The creepy pricks of so many needles serve to heighten the tension at an awkward dinner party, interrupted by a Story Teller who weaves through his narrative for a group of orphans in attendance.