Front Table Newsletter 4/22

April 22nd, 2024

On This Week's Front Table, pursue obsessions on paths to glory and destruction while the world twists and warps; witness a major uprising in a long history of women who have wanted to affirm their rights; reimagine the canonical literature on walking and consider a new interpretation of the impact of class and race on our physical and political mobility; and gain an insight into the artist's way of thinking, his everyday life, and the corpus, circumstances, and personality of a monumental artist. Find these titles and more at

Pay Dirt: A.V.I Warshawski Novel
(William Morrow) 
Sarah Paretsky 

V .I. Warshawski is famous for her cool under fire, her intelligence, her humor, her unflinching courage, and her love of good coffee. Sabrina, one of Angela's roommates, disappears and V.I. agrees to try to find her. Finding a missing person in a city where she knows few people and doesn't have her trusted contacts is hard, but not as hard as the brutally negative reaction to the detective from some of the locals. When V.I. finds Sabrina close to death in a remote house, she lands herself in the FBI's crosshairs and faces a violent online backlash. Discovering a dead body in the same house a few days later, V.I. is pitched headlong into a local land-use battle with roots going back to the Civil War. She finds that today's combatants are just as willing as opponents in the 1860s to kill to settle their differences. V.I.'s survival depends on keeping one step ahead of players in a game she never intended to play, before the clock runs down.

Weird Black Girls: Stories
Eliwin Cotman 

A rural town finds itself under the authoritarian sway of a tree that punishes children. A pair of old friends navigate their fraught history as strange happenings escalate in a Mexican restaurant. An aloof young man finds himself living through his lover's memories. In each of the seven stories in this collection, characters pursue their obsessions on paths to glory and destruction while around them their worlds twist and warp, oscillating between reality and impossibility. On display throughout is Cotman's ability to reveal truths about the human experience--about friendship, love, betrayal, bitterness--through whimsy, horror, and fantasy. Elegiac in tone, imaginative and humorous in their execution, the character-driven stories in Weird Black Girls challenge, incite, and entertain.

Woman, Life, Freedom
(Seven Stories Press)
Marjane Satrapi, tr. Una Dimitrijevic

On September 13th 2022, a young Iranian student, Mahsa Amini, was arrested by the morality police in Tehran. Her only crime was that she wasn't properly wearing the headscarf required for women by the Islamic Republic. At the police station, she was beaten so badly she had to be taken to the hospital, where she fell into a deep coma. She died three days later.A wave of protests soon spread through the whole country, and crowds adopted the slogan "Woman, Life, Freedom"--words that have been chanted around the world during solidarity rallies. In order to tell the story of this major revolution happening in her homeland, Marjane Satrapi has gathered together an array of journalists, activists, academics, artists, and writers from around the world to create this powerful collection of full-color, graphic-novel-style essays and perspectives that bear witness. Woman, Life, Freedom demonstrates that this is not an unexpected movement, but a major uprising in a long history of women who have wanted to affirm their rights. It will continue.

How We Walk: Frantz Fanon and the Politics of the Body
Matthew Beaumont

You can tell a lot about people by how they walk. Matthew Beaumont argues that our standing, walking body holds the social traumas of history and its racialized inequalities. Our posture and gait reflect our social and political experiences as we navigate the city under capitalism. Through a series of dialogues with thinkers and walkers, his book explores the relationship between freedom and the human body. How We Walk foregrounds the work of Frantz Fanon, psychiatrist and leading thinker of liberation, who was one of the first people to think about the politics of 'walking while black'. It also introduces us to the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who wrote that one could discern the truth about a person through their posture and gait. For Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch, the ability to walk upright and with ease is a sign of personal and social freedom. Through these excursions, Beaumont reimagines the canonical literature on walking and presents a new interpretation of the impact of class and race on our physical and political mobility, raising important questions about the politics of the body.

Kandinksy: A Life in Letters 1889-1944
(Hirmer Publishers) 
Edited by Jelena Hahl-Fontaine, Kate Kangaslahti 

Wassily Kandinsky was not only the inventor of abstract painting but its gifted advocate. His letters reveal an artist who thought, communicated, and organized incessantly. He was also straightforward and warm-hearted, so it is especially surprising that a significant portion of his correspondence has remained unpublished until now. Through astute--and at times witty and polemical--letters that Kandinsky wrote to his colleagues and friends, readers gain an insight into the artist's way of thinking and his everyday life. His correspondence also reflects the dramatic times in which he worked; Kandinsky lived through two revolutions, two world wars, the Nazi regime, four emigrations, and transformative events within the art world. Wassily Kandinsky: A Life in Letters provides rich context into the corpus, circumstances, and personality of a monumental artist.

Travels Over Feelings: Arthur Russell, A Life
(Anthology Editions) 
Richard King 

The music of Arthur Russell defies classification. From his pioneering compositions as part of New York's vibrant avant-garde scene (alongside artists including Philip Glass, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, and Allen Ginsberg) to his genre-expanding disco productions, from his new wave and art pop to his posthumously released folk songs, Russell crafted timeless and foundationally influential work until his premature death in 1992 from AIDS-related illnesses. Now, in a landmark publication assembled by critically-acclaimed writer Richard King, Travels Over Feeling collects the extensive ephemera found in Russell's New York Public Library archive, along with pieces from the personal collections of those who were closest to him. Combining unseen visual material--handwritten scores, lyrics, photos, letters, and drawings--with new texts by King and extensive original interviews with Arthur's collaborators, contemporaries, family, and friends, Travels Over Feeling paints a portrait of Arthur Russell unlike any which has come before, revealing a true picture of one of the most distinctive artists of the last fifty years.

Promises of Gold
(Holt Paperbacks) 
José Olivarez, tr. David Ruano González

In this groundbreaking collection of poems, José Olivarez explores every kind of love--self, brotherly, romantic, familial, cultural. Grappling with the contradictions of the American Dream with unflinching humanity, he lays bare the ways in which "love is complicated by forces larger than our hearts." Whether readers enter this collection in English or via the Spanish translation by poet David Ruano González, these extraordinary poems are sure to become beloved for their illuminations of life--and love.