Eileen Myles’s first new collection of poetry since 2011, Evolution (Grove, $25) is everything that could be expected from the brilliant, weird Eileen Myles, whose last book was the acclaimed prose Afterglow (a dog memoir). Irreverent and abundant, this is a book to cleanse you of your woes—a book in which Myles is elected president, considers Utopia and James Comey, writes about bodies, loneliness, and anything else that comes to mind. Eileen Myles defies expectations of art or language and in this newest book she continues an ongoing project of carving out the much-needed space in which her own particular, strange, wonderful vernacular can casually find purpose. Reading this book, there is the sense that no filter, or editing, or qualifying, stands between the page and Eileen Myles’ inner dialogue, and how lucky we are for that.
Rae DelBianco’s debut novel is an intense, violent, visceral, at times overwhelming odyssey where the land is as much a character as any human and even more likely to ruin you. Exchanging cowboy hats and six-shooters for cartels and TEC-9s, DelBianco’s rural thriller is an incredible modern Western that explores our changing understanding of that specifically American mythology, and through it, the violence that underlies everyday life. Earning comparisons to Denis Johnson and Cormac McCarthy (which should be reason enough to read it), this is a ferocious book, as unforgiving and destructive as it is transcendent.
My favorite book of 2018 (so far!), this is an intense and assured collection connected by a fictionalized version of the real-life takeover of the Malheur wildlife refuge by Oregon farmers. Loskutoff confronts mythologies of the West so deeply ingrained as to isolate beliefs that can’t be reconciled with modern ideas of governance and citizenship. A nuanced, funny, intimate consideration of an often forgotten region of America.