This week's picks come from Eric Obenauf, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Two Dollar Radio.
SEVEN DAYS IN RIO
This is the second novel we’re publishing by Francis Levy. His debut, Erotomania: A Romance, received pretty much my favorite reviews of any book we’ve published. I mean, it’s tough to compete with the subtitle that appeared with the Village Voice review, asking readers ‘Are golden showers the blowjobs of tomorrow?’ Erotomania earned Francis comparisons to Henry Miller, Jean Genet, Mary Gaitskill, and Nicholson Baker, and was placed amongst a couple year-end best-of lists. I think of his writing as Nicholson Baker catwalking on speed; it’s high octane.
Seven Days in Rio is about a Manhattanite, CPA, and sex tourist named Kenny Cantor, who becomes waylaid in an absurdist skewering of Rio de Janeiro, at a psychoanalytic conference. It’s hilarious, and features some real gems:
"Our parting had felt a little like the last scene of Casablanca. There was no plane waiting to take her away from me, there was no heroic resistance leader standing between us, no war, and I wasn’t a hardened American expatriate named Rick. Yet I felt I could hear the strains of “As Time Goes By” playing on the piano in some beat-up North African café."
Joshua Mohr has done nothing but impress me since I read the manuscript for his first novel, Some Things That Meant the World to Me, a couple years ago. With a first novel by a young writer, the work can be really brilliant, but you realize it’s a first novel and can’t help but daydream about the potential for what will follow. Damascus is Josh taking his writing to the next level. I’m just thankful that we got to be a part of that process.
Damascus takes place in the volatile year of 2003 – remember when the country was split rabidly for or against Iraq? It tracks a motley cast of characters who orbit a dive bar, seeking their own quiet redemption, as the bar agrees to host its first (and last) art show. Josh’s strength lies in crafting singular and beautiful characters with incredible economy. I love how this book opens:
"Let’s start this one when a cancer patient named No Eyebrows creeps into Damascus, a Mission District dive bar. For years the place’s floor, walls, and ceiling had been painted entirely black, but that afternoon the owner added a new element, smashing twenty mirrors and gluing the shards to the ceiling so the pieces shimmered like stars, transforming Damascus into a planetarium for drunkards: dejected men and women stargazing from barstools.
When the first customer of the day walked in and witnessed the bar’s broken-mirror constellations, he said to the owner, “There must be 10,000 years of bad luck hanging here.”
“That would certainly explain a few things,” Owen said, who had a heinous birthmark underneath his nose that looked like a Hitler moustache."
Eric Obenauf is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Two Dollar Radio, an outfit he founded with his wife and brother. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, Modern Fix, and The Huffington Post. He lives in central Ohio with his wife and two kids, enjoying the occasional competitive game of basketball.
First, can I just say that Joshua Mohr's was my absolute MUST HAVE galley from BEA 2011?! So psyched to see that it made Eric's buzz-worthy list!
So what do you think guys? See anything that catches your eye? Which of these books are you most excited to see release? Help TNBBC and Two Dollar Radio spread the buzz about these books by sharing this post with others!