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Indie Book Radar

With so many books coming out daily, it’s hard to know what to read. Here are some gems that Alternating Current staffers have read and loved lately, so go read ’em while they’re hot!

A Tree Born Crooked, by Steph Post, is a tale of family ties gone askew. James Hart, content for a while to outlive his checkered past, is called back home by the death of his father, but he remains there to sort out the trouble his brother, Rabbit, has gotten himself into. Fans of Daniel Woodrell and Elmore Leonard will recognize the grit and burn in this book full of trumped-up crooks, tough women, and wicked plans.

Evan Guilford-Blake’s story collection, American Blues, is a heavy, heady, smoky bar of a book. True to its name, there is an undercurrent of desperation and depression throughout these stories that often ends in violence, and Guilford-Blake does a careful dance that balances these darker elements with the inimitable, vibrant soul of the blues.

Beth Gilstrap’s debut collection of stories, I Am Barbarella, drives the reader down a number of crooked, winding roads. The characters in this book are long on complexity and short on solutions, and Gilstrap does a wonderful job of making it clear that we’re only allowed a brief glimpse into their world. Intriguingly, and refreshingly, the windows we’re given often aren’t of the tumult itself, but instead of the dead calm and clarity that comes on either side of upheaval.

With Where Monsters Lie & Other Tales, author Nick Mazmanian has created a number of disorienting, yet all-too-familiar worlds. These are stories in which evil is grand, but mankind crafty, and the battle between the two wild. Where Monsters Lie & Other Tales stands as an addition to the ranks of new Lovecraftian cyberpunk-noir pulpy sci-fi.

Jeannine Hall Gailey’s The Robot Scientist’s Daughter brings to life the secret town of Oak Ridge, a lesser-known Los Alamos critical to the Allied production of an atomic bomb, and the lives of the people there long after Oak Ridge lost its purpose. In poems full of flowers, deer, and nature, Gailey crosses our wires by exposing the truth below the Kentucky soil; radiation is ever-present, men tinker with better ways to bury their mistakes, and the animals themselves become harbingers. Timely and important, Gailey’s collection stands to teach us what it’s like to live in a poisoned world.

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