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Holiday Gift Guide: Locally Authored Books

by Erin Pihlaja on December 12, 2013

It’s that time of year again. The malls are chock full of specialty-item kiosks—puppy calendars, pillow pets, the weird As-Seen-on-TV gadgets. The mall is chaos. The other night I even watched a dogfight in the seemingly never ending line leading up to Santa’s winter wonderland. Side note: Guys, that’s not the real Santa, it’s a stand-in who was totally flirting with the girl at the counter of Kay’s Jewelry. Awkward.

If you’re feeling like I am, I haven’t finished my shopping yet and I’m burned out already. So, how about this? We avoid the mall scene, save ourselves some trauma, and do something good for ourselves and the people we love (or sort of get along with). Buy a book as a gift. Yes, a real-life book. Made of paper.

And while you’re at it, why not support someone you might run into at the farmers market?

I won’t hide it, I’m a huge Shane Jones fan. I read his first novel, Lightboxes, and his second, Daniel Fights A Hurricane. I’ve also read his poetry, but if you want to get into that, do your own digging. I’m super ready for his third release, Crystal Eaters. It’s being released by Two Dollar Radio, whose tagline is: Books too loud to ignore. Jones’ writing is fantastical but tight, but I’ll use his own words to describe the new work: “It’s a family drama all twisted up, told in a poetic sci-fi way, very wild, very fucked up. The most ambitious thing I’ve ever done.” Buy his earlier works for instant gratification, or pre-order Crystal Eaters for $16 on twodollarradio.com and wait giddily until the released in June of 2014.

So that I don’t overwhelm our fair readers with all of my own personal opinions, I took to the Internet to find locals to see what was on their literary wish lists. Here’s what I got (and check out your local book stores for these, even though I’ve listed the Internet prices):

Author, professor, and Queen lover Daniel Nester had a lot to say on the subject. He told me that Hollis Seamon’s book, Somebody Up There Hates You, “totally blew up this year.” It’s a touching love story that will probably make you laugh and cry. You can get it on Amazon.com for $10.95.

Another one of his recommendations that intrigued me was Bernadette Mayer’s The Helens of Troy. Using poems and images, Mayer profiles all of the Helens living in Troy, N.Y. Seriously, this sounds like a fun one for anybody on your list. Amazon.com has it for $9.75.

Nester plugged a lot of local authors, so I’ll plug him: Check out his available works on DanielNester.com.

I liked our own John Rodat’s recommendations too, and I daresay one in particular really caught my eye: Jess Fink’s graphic-novel erotica. I’m keen on the work Chester 5000 xyv, because I have a thing for robots and the description about the book reads: “An erotic comic set in the Victorian/Edwardian age about a woman and the robot who loves her.” The AV Club’s snippet was, “Both sexy and charming. This is pornography with a heart.” What’s not to love?

Metroland’s Shawn Stone recommends Carl Strock’s From D’burg to Jerusalem: The Unlikely Rise and Awful Fall of a Small-Town Newsman, worth a read for the title alone. It sells for around $17, and info on how to buy it is on his website carlstrock.com.

Regular Metroland columnist Miriam Axel-Lute likes Barbara Chepaitis’ works available at wildreads.com. Axel-Lute also has some works for sale at mjoy.org. If you enjoy her writing in Metroland, this is a sure bet.

If you’re in the mood to read and drink, which might be all of us by the end of this season, try Bill Dowd’s Barrels & Dram: The History of Whisk(e)y in Jiggers and Shots. Amazon.com’s got it for under $15.

The good news is that there are so many local authors to choose from, the bad news is that I’ve just run out of time and space. Get out there and get hunting.