Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory—James Cagney

This book took my head off. I was lucky to meet Cagney at The Community of Writers where we spent a couple hours leaning against the same kitchen counter at a party; I was glad for the easy sense of camaraderie, and that translates to the book. Cagney interweaves the voices of his youth, his city, his disparate selves, and relations altogether in the most generous manner I have ever experienced. Conversational quotations live alongside the most gorgeous, studied language.

Skeleton of a Ruined Song—Bola Opaleke

This writing slices to the deep-rooted heart within seconds to reveal, in gorgeous but essential ways, how trauma can bore down inside and live in the viscera of the self. It is at once a call to action, and a soothing maneuver that questions how kingdoms can be named or created.

Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe—Beth Gordon

An invocation, a slow burn, an impending storm that is upon you before you realize it. This is writing so fast moving and at such depth that when you blink it is over and you have been changed.

Gravity—Lynne Schmidt

I picked up this book because the dedication is “For Peter, Thank you and fuck you.” The book that follows is just as cheeky, and just as filled with gratitude for the changes that bring about the self. This is a necessary break-up book.


Hokis is playful, kind, and inclusive, and this book reveals these pieces of personality, while directly interrogating the trauma of assault. It’s a balance that few people could hit, but Hokis deftly mends these divisions through her authenticity, and singular voice.

Kari Flickinger is the author of ‘The Gull and the Bell Tower’ (Femme Salvé Books, December 2020). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the SFPA Rhysling Award. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley and the Community of Writers.

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