Earlier evenings and lower temperatures combine for optimal reading weather. Tucked inside walk ups and brownstones, lining the snowy streets of Park Slope, are toppling bookshelves. They boast buzzy new novels with stunning covers, forgotten required reading from undergrad, and beloved favorites with turned in pages. Even the most seasoned of readers can feel the all too familiar uncertainty of what to read next. There’s nothing like the perfect recommendation to get you out of the decision slump. That’s where local bookstores come in. Chris Molnar from powerHouse on 8th was happy to share his thoughts on what’s to come and where to begin your winter reading adventure.
What new novels are you most excited about carrying this winter?
I can't wait for Tessa Hadley's Late In The Day. In my opinion she's without peer in the New Yorker-approved mainstream of literary fiction. Her short stories have always been marvels of concision, depth, and atmosphere, but lately has her longer work gotten just as good. With a book club ready plot (two couples that are old friends; one dies and secrets emerge) and coming off 2015's career-best The Past, I think this has the potential to be a real breakout for her.
Darius James' Negrophobia isn't technically new, but the upcoming NYRB re-release will be a high profile event, reintroducing a brilliant satire on racism that casts a long shadow over everything from The Sellout to Atlanta to Sorry to Bother You.
Are there new authors you think would have special appeal to the Brooklyn reader?
Like a garage rock revival band, Andrew Martin's debut novel Early Work is a book out of time, a total throwback despite all the current references to Kanye West or Only Lovers Left Alive. The obvious heir to Philip Roth or David Gates and their cosmopolitan antiheroes, not to mention dishy literary world rom-coms like The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., it's the kind of book that used to be omnipresent in Brooklyn, but which now has the field to itself. It is so blithely against the topical trend that it somehow feels bold despite being a breezy, almost guilty pleasure. Not to mention that beautiful, Balthus-featuring, Rodrigo Corral-designed cover.
Classically, is there a type of novel you find Park Slope residents are drawn to? An all-time favorite author of the neighborhood?
Ferrante's Neapolitan novels and Knausgaard's My Struggle series are both standards, and it makes sense - their mix of epic sweep and quotidian warmth is perfect for such an iconic yet family-oriented neighborhood. It's no contest, though; the all-time favorite is Haruki Murakami. No matter the month, he's always in the top ten bestselling authors here. I'm not completely sure why that is, but I can definitely see something about those vanishing cats and women fitting in perfectly with the neighborhood, the mystery you feel looking down a row of beautiful, secretive brownstones at dusk.
Along with new novels, are there any classics you can recommend readers revisit in the winter months?
You can never go wrong with Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. It's so short that you can read it in one sitting, but his mastery of late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century American history is so complete that you feel transported to another time, the action so liquid, so organically strange, so true-to-life in a way that historical fiction rarely is.
Between that and Robert Caro's riveting (and much, much longer) biography of master builder Robert Moses, The Power Broker, you can pretty much get a full curriculum in the development of America's wilds, even if it's just through the eyes of a fictional character and an unelected parks official.
For more recommendations, stop in the store located at 1111 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215 (718-666-3049) or www.powerhouseon8th.com online. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your literary inclined friends. I’m excited for The Au Pair, a debut by Emma Rous and The Care and Feeding of of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray. Perennial winter favorites I find myself returning to include Fates and Furies by Lauren Gross and Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard.
Lastly, don’t forget to check Instagram or as the book inclined community using the app refers to it as, #bookstagram. Follow @powerhouseon8th for booksellers’ most recent loves.
(This article originally appeared in the winter issue of The Park Slope Reader)