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Notable Indie Books of 2022


Notable Indie Books of 2022

Our special “Indie” collection– that is, books from independent publishers and small presses– continued to grow in 2022. Here are some of the most notable titles we added to our shelves last year, which you can find on display by the adult seating area near our Circulation Desk.

(Note: Descriptions provided by the publishers)

Amnesia of June Bugs by Jackson Bliss (published by 7.13 Books)

Jackson Bliss’s brilliant and moving debut novel redefines what a novel can be. Hurricane Sandy has just smashed into the Eastern Seaboard, trapping four passengers on the C train: a Chinese American graffiti artist grieving his father’s death, a mixed-race graphic designer struggling to become a mom, a Moroccan French translator escaping his heartache in Paris, and an Indian American traveler leaving Chicago to regain control of her life. Amnesia of June Bugs is an ambitious, infatuated, and furious book about the time we lost and the people we could have loved.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Tommy Orange says “Amnesia of June Bugs is a lush, kaleidoscopic love song to the city. Jackson Bliss’s voice is original, and intricately wrought. It is cerebral and tender…this thrilling story keeps you gripped all the while, like a train underground in a storm, headed for what you can’t know but can’t stop reading to find out.”  

From the Lighthouse by Chad Musick (published by Cinnabar Moth Publishing)

Knot doesn’t remember how they came to live with Bigman, nor whether their name is actually Knot. Bigman calls, and Knot answers. Not a boy. Not a girl. Not getting any bigger over the past twenty years. John Bigman makes enough money selling good weather to those who believe his claims of magic to keep the bank from taking the unfinished lighthouse where he lives in an uneasy truce with Knot. Bigman still bleeds from where Knot bit him years ago, and they still sometimes try to stab him during arguments. Most of the time, the two get along. Knot watches tv in their room. Bigman plays video games in his library. They go fishing, with Knot catching most of the fish and Bigman dozing among the mangroves that have infested their beach. But Bigman is getting old. His control over Knot has been slipping. His strength was barely enough to foil Knot’s last attempt at running away. That was before Knot found allies, who have their own reasons for wanting Knot to escape from the lighthouse.

The Confidence and Resurrection of Wildflowers by Micalea Smeltzer (self-published)

“My future is a big ‘what if’ at the moment and I’m fine with that. For the most part. When Thayer Holmes moves in next door, the grumpy landscaper both fascinates and amuses me. When he asks me to nanny his kid, it’s a great way to make some extra money. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Thayer and his adorable son. There’s a big problem though. I’m eighteen. He’s thirty-one. Falling for someone almost fifteen years older than me wasn’t part of my plans, but sometimes things happen when you least expect them.”

Chasing Whispers by Eugen Bacon (published by Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Chasing Whispers is a unique Afro-irrealist collection of black speculative fiction in transformative stories of culture, longing, hybridity, unlimited futures, a collision of worlds and folklore. It contains 13 stories, 11 of which are original, with a commanding introduction by D. Harlan Wilson. The collection is aligned with the themes of Eugen Bacon’s other fiction, and her recognition in the honor list of the 2022 Otherwise Fellowships for “doing exciting work in gender and speculative fiction.”

A Study in Ugliness & Outras Historias by H. Pueyo (published by Lethe Press)

Ghosts and weird mourners, horrible teenagers and disgraceful instructors. Haunted prisoners and sea folk taken from the shore. H. Pueyo’s evocative writing takes notice that the dead, like memories, are often closer than we think, and the guilty are often ignorant of the damage done and astonished when they themselves suffer. This debut collection offers Pueyo’s stories in both English and Portuguese to celebrate the author’s heritage. Publishers Weekly says, “As haunting as it is thought-provoking, this impressive collection will especially appeal to fans of Carmen Maria Machado.”

How the Ə Got Producted by N.K. von S. (self-published)

A childhood trauma leaves N. emotionally stalled but yearning for connection. When she meets a seductive but damaged young attorney, she falls hard, overlooking his technology vendetta, fear of intimacy, and dark past. But their affair ends abruptly, sending N. on a quest to reinvent herself. She ascends the ranks of Washington DC’s influence sector, becoming a prominent lobbyist for the biomedicaltechnology industry; she then parlays her “special skill set” into a post at the top of the Bureau of Biomedicaltechnology, where the mysterious technology of an eccentric and dashing tech guru is stuck in the Bureau’s labyrinthine approval process. How the Ə Got Producted is a satirical fever dream, a citizen-consumer’s trippy meditation on gadgetry and the self, and a sly feminist wink at the Kafkaesque for the postmodern technocracy, all wound around the axle of a love story that isn’t. Kirkus Reviews says, “this intriguing foray into a labyrinth of sex, business, and government features a protagonist as delightfully unpredictable as her own career path.”

Please Be Advised by Christine Sneed (published by 7.13 Books)

Please Be Advised is award-winning author Christine Sneed’s bright, irreverent send-up of corporate America in the 21st century. Mixing cultural critique and formal inventiveness with wicked laughs and the sort of surrealistic mysteries only a novel about the corporate world could give us, Please Be Advised tracks the decline, fall, and possible resurrection of Quest Industries, one of the world’s foremost purveyors of collapsible, portable, and (occasionally) dangerous office machines. Featuring a rogue’s gallery of corporate cogs from drunk, womanizing, and often-delusional CEO Bryan Stokerly, Esq. to his executive secretary, the brainy, libidinous Hannah Louise Schmidt and his soon-to-be-rival, new office manager and disgraced former coroner, Dr. Ken Crickshaw, Jr., Please Be Advised will leave you laughing at a work world more like our own than most of us would care to admit. Booklist says “this is a timely, witty, and thoughtful satire of the absurdities of corporate existence, one with numerous memorable characters and absurd setpieces reminiscent of David Foster Wallace’s corporate lampoons.”

Shelterbelts by Jonathan Dyck (graphic novel; published by Conundrum Press)

When a non-denominational megachurch opens on the edges of a rural Mennonite community, a quiet―but longstanding―battle begins to reveal itself. For years, the traditionalists in the community have held fast to the values and beliefs they grew up with, while other community members have begun raising important questions about LGBTQ+ inclusion, Indigenous land rights, and the Mennonite legacy of pacifism. Through a series of vignettes, Shelterbelts explores the perspectives, experiences and limitations of a wide range of characters who find themselves increasingly at odds with their surroundings. A pastor and his queer daughter learn that a family has left their church because of the “LGBT issue.” Young activists butt heads with a farmer over the construction of a pipeline happening on his fields. A librarian leaves suggestive notes for readers inside popular library books. By pulling these threads together, artist Jonathan Dyck has woven a rich tapestry―one that depicts a close-knit community in the midst of defining its future as it reckons with its past.

Z is for Zapatazo by Ruben Rivera (published by Atmosphere Press)

In Z is for Zapatazo, Rivera’s poetry depicts family upheaval, social injustice, and suffering summarized by the Spanish word Zapatazo. But his writing also elaborates on the joys of love, family, faith, and hope for a better world. Experiences in the spaces between freedom and favoritism, ideals and reality, suffering and hope are rendered in a range of poetical forms with vivid imagery, deadly seriousness, and humor.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: Stories by Brandon Getz (published by Six Gallery Press)

A man’s midlife crisis unfolding in a taxidermy factory. A widower and his baby daughter visited by demons. A homunculus climbing out of the skull of a woman’s sick father. These stories exist in the borderlands between literary and genre, injecting strange and speculative elements into the mundane. Creatures, spirits, ghosts, robots, superheroes, and the Devil himself populate the pages, as elements of satire, horror, and science fiction enter the everyday tragedies of love, death, and loss. With odes to jazz and cyberpunk, spanning Pittsburgh to Argentina, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before is twelve tales of the weird, including a previously unpublished story and novelette.

Schlock Featuring Russia Cop by David R. Low (self-published)

Beginning in the streets of Tokyo and ending in the cosmos, Russia is at the center of SCHLOCK. These four stories center around an eclectic cast of characters in the 2010s – obsessed fanboys, Soviet rock stars, English teachers, expats trying to comprehend the Russian Soul, living sex dolls, Australian pub crawlers, and a genetically engineered law enforcement officer whose sole purpose is to enforce patriotism and Russian Soul in the Russian Federation. SCHLOCK!

The Black Maybe: Liminal Tales by Attila Veres (published by Valancourt Books)

Attila Veres, Hungary’s leading horror writer, makes his English debut at last in this groundbreaking new collection featuring ten of his finest tales. The volume opens with ‘To Bite a Dog’, in which a man’s budding relationship is jeopardized by his girlfriend’s bizarre and macabre habit involving dogs. ‘Fogtown’ tells of a legendary ’90s rock band whose music nobody has ever actually heard but which might nonetheless spell doom for a man obsessed with finding their recordings. ‘Multiplied by Zero’ is a wry travelogue in which a man recounts his hellish experiences on a holiday tour exploring Lovecraftian landscapes. And in the title story ‘The Black Maybe’, which Steve Rasnic Tem calls ‘one of the weirdest tales I’ve read in years’, a girl and her family escape the city bustle to experience farm life, only to discover with unimaginable horror the truth of what is really being harvested there. These tales showcase a range of genres and styles, from weird fiction to folk horror to cosmic horror, and reveal a dazzlingly original new writer whose stories are thrilling, frightening, often blackly humorous, and totally unlike anything you have read before. Publishers Weekly says, “These tales wear their resistance to conventional horror tropes and formulas as a badge of honor. Readers are sure to be impressed.”

Where You Linger & Other Stories by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (published by Vernacular Books)

Bones of extinct species wander a campground, stalking a group of friends in love with
the same woman. The object of their affection seeks solace with a couple in a world with rain that kills. A woman moves away from her repressed home town, only to transform into a man-eating monster when she returns. A robot assassin avenges women ruined by capitalism. Journey to the liminal space with acclaimed author Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam where interconnected stories span from past to future among the dead and the living. Kirkus Reviews writes, “These extraordinary tales prove to be both spine-chilling and profound.”

— Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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