“Oreo” is not the easiest read, but it is a book that is, in many ways, written against ease.
B-Sides celebrates great books that time forgot.
Editor: John Plotz
B-Sides: Juan José Saer’s “The Investigation”
How to catch a killer who only exists in a parallel world?
B-Sides: J. G. Farrell’s “Troubles”
His characters—in 1919 Ireland, 1857 India, and 1940 Singapore—intuit that the world is about to collapse. But they can do nothing to save it.
B-Sides: Agatha Christie’s “At Bertram’s Hotel”
Agatha Christie’s “At Bertram’s Hotel” allows us to have our nostalgic cake and read it too.
B-Sides: Jesmyn Ward’s “Where the Line Bleeds”
Novelist Jesmyn Ward is known for historical grandiosity, but her long-overlooked book “Sing, Unburied, Sing” turns away from realism into the realm of generic strangeness.
B-Sides: Lucy R. Lippard’s “I See/You Mean”
“Few libraries list it among their holdings, and sometimes I have wondered if the book in my possession actually exists.”
B-Sides: Agnes Smedley’s “Daughter of Earth”
Very much against the grain of most standard leftist work, “Daughter of Earth” remains unsettled and unsettling throughout.
B-Sides: Janet Frame’s “Living in the Maniototo”
Few novels are so crammed with invention. Yet the interlocking richness of her ideas does not derail your reading.
B-Sides: John Keene’s “Annotations”
Annotations isn’t a book you read for the plot. It’s more of a “Notes toward...” that remains just that: always towards, never quite arriving.
B-Sides: Bessie Head’s “The Collector of Treasures”
South African literature has long struggled to become drought-resistant: its plotlines, and even its paper production, presuppose abundant water.
B-Sides: Elinor Wylie’s “Atavism”
Caesuras do things to stories—and to readers, even readers too young to know the term.
B-Sides: Helen DeWitt’s “The Last Samurai”
Impossible to summarize, The Last Samurai is deeply political—anti-capitalist and thoroughly feminist—without ever becoming preachy or moralizing.
B-Sides: Gary Indiana’s “Horse Crazy”
For Indiana, disaster is both imminent and ambient, both apocalyptic and manifested in everyday ordinariness.
B-Sides: Geoff Park’s “Nga Uruora: The Groves of Life”
Environmental wisdom can arise from being a better reader.
B-Sides: Virginia Woolf’s “Flush”
Woolf’s spin on the genre of children’s fiction about animals is valuable because of its comedy, not despite it.
B-Sides: Jessica Anderson’s “The Impersonators”
A 1980 novel brilliantly anatomizes the Australian settler-colonial roots of the late 20th century’s crass materialist complacency.
B-Sides: Latife Tekin’s “Berji Kristin”
As in mythology, the characters in a 1984 Turkish novel are acted upon by forces distant and uncaring.
B-Sides: Daisy Ashford’s “The Young Visiters”
A child’s novel can be funny by revealing how much a child does know, after all.
B-Sides: Carmen Laforet’s “Nada”
When freedom will not arrive to us, can we get nearer to it?
B-Sides: Mary Butts’s “Armed with Madness”
The author’s pagan obsessions, like her chatty metacritiques of other modernist writers, set her apart from her contemporaries.