Often a given year’s publishing calendar is lopsided — the heavyweight books come out in September, after the literary mind has been thoroughly and evenly baked by the summer sun. But not this year! After a spirited April, we’re seeing a wise and hilarious May. One-of-a-kind acts of literary brilliance? Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Nell Zink’s Mislaid. Clear-eyed interventions in American life? Try Susan Neiman’s Why Grow Up? or n+1‘s City by City. There is even a potential science-fiction masterpiece in Neal Stephnenson’s Seveneves. If we project our minds to the end of 2015, my guess is that we’ll see many of these on those lists of “best” and “notable” books.
The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson (Graywolf, May 5)
A brief work of “autotheory” — it combines memoir, criticism, and, well, thought-in-motion — and one of the best books of 2015, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts considers pregnancy, gender fluidity, and romance in light of the limit-testing power of language.