Talia's Texts - 2023
The most cinematic, immersive reading experience you'll have this year - one of those books that's absolutely impossible to put down once you've begun. Kapoor turns a wide lens on 2000s India to showcase, with striking brutality, a world of massive disparity and almost unfathomable corruption. Through the stories of Ajay, Sunny, and Neda - desperate-to-please servant, idealistic heir to a mob empire, and naive journalist, respectively - Age of Vice unravels expectations in a searingly human portrait of society on the brink. First in a planned trilogy.
An absolute master class in voice and atmosphere, Kala is dark, twisty, and gorgeous. The story unfolds through the eyes of three narrators--Helen, Joe, and Mush--who spent the summer of their fifteenth year moving as a pack, a whirlwind of angst and love and longing sweeping through their small Irish hometown, until one of their number disappeared. Now in their early 30s, the three reflect on that tumultuous season of life, during which they came into & out of themselves and everything changed. Melancholic, human, gritty and tender and lovely.
After a chemistry-filled but ultimately cringeworthy hookup with a guy she met at the bookstore bar, ghostwriter Chandler is mortified to learn that her next client, struggling actor Finn Walsh, is the very man who made her knees weak and then fully failed to understand her anatomy. So naturally, she offers to give him sex lessons. Y'all, this book SIZZLES. It's a magical experience to watch these two incredibly likeable characters connect (emotionally AND physically), and beyond gratifying to see open conversations about consent, sexual fantasy, and mutual pleasure on the page.
The rumors are true! This book is juicy and warm and silly and bitter and moving and crunchy and charming. You must read it!!
Romantic in every sense. Will make you long for fields of cherry trees in Northern Michigan; feel the pang of heartbreak and the sweetness of stable, familial love; relax into the simple joy of a story well-told.
After Amber gets cast on MarsNow - a satirical take on Elon Musk's SpaceX by way of The Bachelor - her boyfriend Kevin withdraws into a weed-fueled hibernation at home. Kevin wants to escape his life. Amber wants to escape the whole planet--and maybe also just escape Kevin??
What starts as a punchy, laugh-out-loud romp through the land of reality tv gradually evolves into a stirring hit of climate fiction you'll feel deep in the pit of your stomach.
While no sane individual would call this a pure romance, it's terribly romantic, in a gorgeous, gristly way. Filled with blood and gore and stomach-turning, sharply visceral language.
"This book is my panoramic assault on nihilism. I wrote it it in an effort to be helpful, but toward the end, I felt I was writing it to save my life...the largest gesture of hope I could muster."
In a world of mounting time pressure—one in which we dutifully recite "rest is productive" so that we don't feel guilty for taking a break—it's become clear that a paradigm reset is in order. Saving Time is an evisceration and a balm: a thorough, necessary breakdown of our current state of affairs, and a primer for how to begin thinking differently if we hope to save ourselves from the ticking capitalist clock.
Through the lens of a problematic relationship (which will spike your blood pressure and keep it high, I promise), Rabess interrogates identity--both individual and in-group--in a really brilliant, intensely readable, morally complex way. The big question here is: can someone's care for you as an individual outweigh their lack of understanding/care for you as a member of an identity group? How does complicity in systems of power play a role in that determination? It's extremely tangled, and Rabess doesn't provide answers. Just really adept storytelling.
A breathless, racing novel of friendship, love, lust, and that tumultuous early-20s moment where you're simultaneously thrusting yourself into grown-up life, clinging to the vestiges of childhood carelessness, and realizing that there's no magical moment where everything will just *click*. The Rachel Incident can be read in a single day (and you'll struggle to put it down), but it deserves to be lingered over.
One has only to walk the hyper-gastronomized streets of Paris to realize that national food culture--a longstanding pride of the French--has been largely supplanted by a global diaspora of taste. This is both relatable to Anya von Bremzen, herself a Soviet emigree, and a somewhat destabilizing revelation to make right as she's embarking on a global tour of place-based meals. As she uncovers the origins and permutations of iconic dishes, von Bremzen contextualizes the seeming immutability of these foods within a larger framework of cultural change across time. A sumptuous, layered treat of a book.