Believe the hype! A few new things I’ve experienced lately that deserve their buzz:
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
I can’t decide whether to call the scope of this novel epic or intimate, which I suppose means that it’s both. Groff deals with one marriage, and two complete lifetimes. Fates and Furies is a split narrative with split points of view and split voices—two stories that share space and time, rather than two perspectives on the same story. Although it doesn’t feel particularly like a formal experiment as you read, it is—and like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, the novel teaches you how to read it as you go, with a model of the book hidden in the narrative like a legend. This is a new kind of marriage story, a new kind of novel—how long has it been since you’ve read one of those?
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell has long been established as a great crossover YA author, someone who writes stories about teenagers (and adults) that are universally compelling. Her newest novel is a full-length expansion of the book-within-a-book from Fangirl. Carry On is a dizzying meta-work—you could see it as a standalone fantasy novel, or any of several riffs on Fangirl (with an implied author being Cath, or Gemma T. Leslie, or…); you could call it a love letter to the Harry Potter series, and/or a fix-it footnote, with more diverse representation and stereotype-busting. My main takeaway is Carry On will help legitimize many different versions of the adolescent experience, among them obsessive fandom and its creative expression, questioning sexuality, and anxiety about meeting expectations and feeling like an outsider. I’m filing it mentally with Steven Universe as a work that will help many different types of young people accept themselves earlier than they might have without it.
New York Comic Con
Okay, this one was only new to me. I headed to NYCC for one lovely, overwhelming (in a good way) day last Saturday. I’m wary of crowds, and the much smaller AWP conference is already a lot for me to take in every year, so I was a little apprehensive before heading to the Javits Center. But there is something anxiety-diffusing about a crowd of people coming together in a joyous and playful spirit, with a common purpose. It was great to see active fandom in full force so shortly after reading Carry On. More than anything, it was inspiring to see artists at work, and people enjoying their creations in real time.