Signs of Spring: Book Club Round-Up

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Time to start April’s book club selection, The Convert, by Deborah Baker. Says Bookforum’s reviews editor Michael Miller: “I think Stephen Elliott has good taste, so I usually check out what he chooses for his reading group at The Rumpus. That’s how I heard about Deborah Baker’s The Convert.”

For May, book club editors just couldn’t make up their minds, so they’re trying something unusual: half of book club members will receive Daniel Orozco‘s story collection Orientation, while the other half will get Tayari Jones‘s Silver Sparrow. It’s a mystery flavor surprise!

Today marks the first day of National Poetry Month, and The Rumpus will feature a new poem every day. First on the queue: a poem by Shane Book, author of poetry club selection Ceiling of Sticks.

Jim Shepard‘s You Think That’s Bad is blowing up. The reviews published in the last week or two are too many to count, but here’s a selection of some of the more notable:

  • NPR shows how You Think That’s Bad orbits around the theme of disaster.
  • The Plain Dealer thinks the novel’s characters don’t harbor much emotion.
  • The Kansas City Star takes a look at peculiar professions within the novel.
  • “In Shepard’s hands the sense of doom is often transformed by the biting wit and his deep affection for his characters and their fates,” writes The Boston Globe.
  • The Daily Beast calls Shepard “the most ambitious story writer around.”
  • The Faster Times says Shepard is “author as moonwalker, bounding lightly across such varied terrain, effortless and graceful.”
  • “Mr. Shepard makes you forget his copious research as you’re pulled into his exotic imagination,” writes The Wall Street Journal, though it also warns: “pick and choose these Shepard stories over time. Despite its varied subject matter, You Think That’s Bad, when read all at once, feels oddly uniform

Book Club member Josh Anastasia reviews our March pickLydia Yuknavitch‘s The Chronology of Water.

Barbara King, from Science and Religion Today, writes about rock passages interlaced through Yuknavitch’s writing: “No animism-account, geological discourse, or close-schist encounter ever made me see rocks and feel rocks like Yuknavitch has.”

Adam Levin‘s The Instructions was chosen as a finalist for the NY Public Library’s 2011 Young Lions Fiction Award, along with John Brandon‘s Citrus County. Both books were published by McSweeney’s Press.


Maddie Oatman has interviewed musicians and writers for The Rumpus. She's the research editor at Mother Jones, where she also writes. A Boulder transplant, she can often be found on her bike, skis, or cooking with vegetables, and she wrote her English thesis on a gay red-winged monster and Billy the Kid. Follow her on Twitter or read occasional musings on her blog Oats. More from this author →