Buy Books

Here are some books by readers recently featured at Poison Pen:

The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia by Dave MacLean
Buy This Book Here!

“While studying in India on a Fulbright scholarship in 2002, Ohio native MacLean abruptly lost consciousness and came to his senses in a Hyderabad train station minus any memories of his name or reasons for being there. Luckily, a kindly station attendant took pity on the presumably drug-addled foreigner and found him refuge in a well-run mental hospital where he hallucinated his way back to reality as friends and parents were contacted… Contrary to the station agent’s assumption, however, MacLean’s amnesia was triggered by an allergic reaction to Lariam, a common antimalaria agent that receives a scathing critique here. In addition to short-circuiting his memories, the drug’s aftermath forced MacLean to get reacquainted with his parents, a girlfriend, and his rationale for coming to India in the first place. His work is both a sharply written autobiography and an insightful meditation on how much our memories define our identities.” – Booklist

Funny Once by Antonya Nelson
Buy This Book Here!

“Michael Chabon once said, “I scan the tables of contents of magazines, looking for Antonya Nelson’s name, hoping that she has decided to bless us again.” And now she has blessed us again, with a bounty of the stories for which she is so beloved. Her stories are clear-eyed, hard-edged, beautifully formed. In the title story, “Funny Once,” a couple held together by bad behavior fall into a lie with their more responsible friends. In “The Village,” a woman visits her father at a nursing home, recalling his equanimity at her teenage misdeeds and gaining a new understanding of his own past indiscretions. In another, when a troubled girl in the neighborhood goes missing, a mother worries increasingly about her teenage son’s relationship with a bad-news girlfriend. In the novella “Three Wishes,” siblings muddle through in the aftermath of their elder brother’s too-early departure from the world.”

I Have to Go Back to 1994 to Kill a Girl by Karyna McGlynn
Buy This Book Here!

I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl is film noir set in verse, each poem a miniature crime scene with its own set of clues—frosted eye-shadow, a pistol under a horse’s eye, dripping window units, an aneurysm opening its lethal trap. In otherworldly vignettes, 1994 pairs the unreliable narration of Jacob’s Ladder (with its questions of identity and shifting realities) with the microscopic compulsiveness of Einstein’s Dreams. The book’s sense of hypnotic premeditation brings Donnie Darko to mind as well, as poem after poem scatters the breadcrumbs of a murder mystery leading us further away from the present self and deeper into the past. I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl is an astounding debut collection that will crawl under your skin and stay there.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
Buy This Book Here!

In this shattering and iconic American novel, PEN prize-winning writer, Smith Henderson explores the complexities of freedom, community, grace, suspicion and anarchy, brilliantly depicting our nation’s disquieting and violent contradictions.

After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face to face with the boy’s profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.