Six Walks

Ben Shattuck

On an autumn morning in 1849, Henry David Thoreau stepped out his front door to walk the beaches of Cape Cod. Over a century and a half later, Ben Shattuck does the same. With little more than a loaf of bread, brick of cheese, and a notebook, Shattuck sets out to retrace Thoreau’s path through the Cape’s outer beaches, from the elbow to Provincetown’s fingertip.

This is the first of six journeys taken by Shattuck, each one inspired by a walk once taken by Henry David Thoreau. After the Cape, Shattuck goes up Mount Katahdin and Mount Wachusett, down the coastline of his hometown, and then through the Allagash. Along the way, Shattuck encounters unexpected characters, landscapes, and stories, seeing for himself the restorative effects that walking can have on a dampened spirit. Over years of following Thoreau, Shattuck finds himself uncovering new insights about family, love, friendship, and fatherhood, and understanding more deeply the lessons walking can offer through life’s changing seasons.

Intimate, entertaining, and beautifully crafted, Six Walks is a resounding tribute to the ways walking in nature can inspire us all.

 

The Night Flowers

Sara Herchenroether

In 1983, deep in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, the bodies of a young woman and two children were found. Who were they? How did they get there?

Thirty years later, two women find themselves drawn to the cold case. Librarian Laura MacDonald begins her own investigation as a way to distract herself from breast cancer treatments and becomes consumed by her search for answers. Jean Martinez is a veteran detective determined to keep working cold cases for the Sierra County police force even as her family begs her to retire. With only fragments from dusty case files and a witness who doesn’t want to remember, this unlikely duo is determined—no matter the cost—to uncover the truth behind the murders. And with their help, the woman in the woods is finally able to tell her story on her own terms and summon the power to be found.

The Night Flowers
—a haunting debut thriller written with pulse-pounding precision and a deep understanding of the psychology of violence and the tenacity of those who combat it—announces the arrival of Sara Herchenroether as an exciting new voice.

Smothermoss

Alisa Alering

In 1980s Appalachia, sisters Sheila and Angie couldn’t be more different. While their mother works long shifts at the nearby asylum, Sheila does her best to care for their home and keeps to herself, even when enduring relentless bullying from classmates. Her rambunctious, fearless younger sister, Angie, is more focused on fighting imaginary zombies, and creating tarot-like cards that seem to have a mind of their own.

When the brutal murder of two female hikers on the nearby Appalachian Trail stuns their small community, the sisters find themselves tangled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Angie discovers a ripped shirt, soaked in blood; money Sheila’s been stashing away disappears; and a strange man shows up at a local store, trying to barter with a woman’s watch. As the threat of violence looms larger, the mysterious, ancient mountain they live on—and their willingness to trust each other—might be the only things that can save them from the darkness consuming their home.

In turns both terrifying and otherworldly, author Alisa Alering opens the door to the hidden world of Smothermoss—a mountain that sighs, monsters made of ink, rabbits both dead and alive, and ropes that just won’t come undone. Unsettling, propulsive, and wonderfully atmospheric, Alering’s stunning debut novel renegotiates what is seen and unseen, what is real and what is haunted.

Misinterpretation

Ledia Xhoga

In present-day New York City, an Albanian interpreter reluctantly agrees to work with Alfred, a Kosovar torture survivor, during his therapy sessions. Despite her husband’s cautions, she soon becomes entangled in her clients’ struggles: Alfred’s nightmares stir up her own buried memories, and an impulsive attempt to help a Kurdish poet leads to a risky encounter and a reckless plan. 

 As ill-fated decisions stack up, jeopardizing the nameless narrator’s marriage and mental health, she takes a spontaneous trip to reunite with her mother in Albania, where her life in the United States is put into stark relief. When she returns to face the consequences of her actions, she must question what is real and what is not. Ruminative and propulsive, Ledia Xhoga’s debut novel Misinterpretation interrogates the darker legacies of family and country, and the boundary between compassion and self-preservation.

Signs, Music

Raymond Antrobus

Structured as a two-part sequence poem, Signs, Music explores the before and after of becoming a father with tenderness and care—the cognitive and emotional dissonances between the “hypothetical” and the “real” of fatherhood, the ways our own parents shape the parents we become, and how fraught with emotion, curiosity, and recollection this irreversible transition to fatherhood makes one’s inner landscape. 

At once searching and bright, deeply rooted and buoyant, Raymond Antrobus’s Signs, Music is a moving record of  the changes and challenges encompassing new parenthood and the inevitable cycles of life, death, birth, renewal and legacy—a testament to the joy, uncertainty, and incredible love that come with bringing new life into the world.

The Flitting

Ben Masters

Flitting also means transformation from one state of being to another. It evokes in my mind a butterfly, whose movement is of course a flitting—flittering and fluttering—and whose very condition is a flitting, programmed to fundamental change.

 The Flitting: A Memoir of Fathers, Sons, and Butterflies is a masterful and touching memoir blending natural history, pop culture, and literary biography—delivering a richly layered and nuanced portrait of a son’s attempt, after years of stubborn resistance, to take on his dying father’s love of the natural world. With his father unable to leave the house and follow the butterfly cycle for the first time since he was a child, Masters endeavors to become his connection to the outdoors and his treasured butterflies, reporting back with stories of beloved species—Purple Emperors, Lulworth Skippers, Wood Whites and Silver-studded Blues—and with stories of the woods and meadows that are their habitats and once were his. Structured around a series of exchanges and remembrances, butterflies become a way of talking about masculinity, memory, generational differences, and ultimately loss and continuation. Masters takes readers on an unlikely journey where Luther Vandross and The Sopranos rub shoulders with the likes of Angela Carter and Virginia Woolf on butterflies and gender; the metamorphoses of Prince; Zadie Smith on Joni Mitchell and how sensibilities evolve; and the lives and works of Vladimir Nabokov and other literary lepidopterists. 

 In this beautiful debut memoir, Ben Masters offers an intensely authentic, unforgettable portrait of a father and son sharing passions, lessons, and regrets before they run out of time.  

 

Good Dress

Brittany Rogers

In her debut poetry collection, Brittany Rogers explores the audacity of Black Detroit, Black womanhood, class, luxury and materialism, and matrilineage. A nontraditional coming-of-age, Good Dress witnesses a speaker coming into her own autonomy and selfhood as a young adult, reflecting on formative experiences.

With care and incandescent energy, the poems engage with memory, time, interiority, and community. The collection also nudges tenderly toward curiosity: What does it mean to belong to a person, to a city? Can intimacy and romance be found outside the heteronormative confines of partnership? And in what ways can the pursuit of pleasure be an anchor that returns us to ourselves?

Masquerade

Mike Fu

Set between New York and Shanghai, Masquerade is a queer coming-of-age mystery about a lovelorn bartender and his complex friendship with a volatile artist.

Newly single Meadow Liu is house-sitting for his friend, artist Selma Shimizu, when he stumbles upon The Masquerade, a translated novel about a masked ball in 1930s Shanghai. The author’s name is the same as Meadow’s own in Chinese, Liu Tiana coincidence that proves to be the first of many strange happenings. Over the course of a single summer, Meadow must contend with a possibly haunted apartment, a mirror that plays tricks, a stranger speaking in riddles at the bar where he works, as well as a startling revelation about a former lover. And when Selma vanishes from her artist residency, Meadow is forced to question everything he knows as the boundaries between real and imagined begin to blur.

Exploring social, cultural, and sexual identities in New York, Shanghai, and beyond, Mike Fu’s Masquerade is a skillfully layered, brilliantly interwoven debut novel of friendship, queer longing, and worlds on the brink, asking how we can find ourselves among ghosts of all kinds, and who we can trust when nothing—and no one—is as it seems.

The Burrow

Melanie Cheng

The Burrow follows members of the Lee family as they navigate grief and hope in their quiet Australian suburb: Jin, an emergency physician and father; Amy, a published author and mother; Lucie, their bookish and introverted ten-year-old; and Pauline, Amy’s mother who’s trying to make amends. Racked with grief for Ruby—Lucie’s baby sister who died in a shocking accident—the family adopts a rabbit in the hopes of bringing much-needed cheer to their home. At first, each family member benefits from the distraction of a new and needy creature, but when a violent home invasion breaks their fragile sense of peace, the family is forced to confront the terrible circumstances surrounding Ruby’s death.

Atmospheric and tautly lyrical, Melanie Cheng’s slim novel brings together four distinct perspectives—and one wide-eyed rabbit—to reveal the enormity of loss, long-buried family secrets, and how to survive in a newfound world after the ultimate tragedy.

The World With Its Mouth Open

Zahid Rafiq

In eleven stories, The World With Its Mouth Open follows the inner lives of people in Kashmir as they walk the uncertain terrain of their days, fractured from years of war. From a shopkeeper’s encounter with a mannequin, to an expectant mother walking on a precarious road, to a young boy wavering between dreams and reality, to two dogs wandering the city, these stories weave in larger, devastating themes of loss, grief, violence, longing, and injustice with the threads of smaller, everyday realities that confront the characters’ lives in profound ways. Although the stories circle the darker aspects of life, they are—at the same time—an attempt to run into life, into humor, into beauty, into another person who can offer refuge, if momentarily.

Zahid Rafiq’s The World With Its Mouth Open is an original and powerful debut collection announcing the arrival of a new voice that bears witness to the human condition with nuance, heart, humor, and incredible insight.