14 New Books for September

This month, we’ve got our eyes on Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo, Inter State: Essays from California by José Vadi, How to Wrestle a Girl by Venita Blackburn, and 11 other titles by writers from the West.

alta september book picks
Alta
1 BLOOD ON THE FOG: POCKET POETS SERIES NO. 62, BY TONGO EISEN-MARTIN
blood on the fog, tongo eisen martin
City Lights Books

The poems in Blood on the Fog confront race, inequity, and hope with vivid and transcendent language that inspires liberation. Eisen-Martin writes of fury and love and freedom, recalling his experiences traveling through the varied landscapes of America. City Lights Books, September 21

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2 THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS, BY RUTH OZEKI
the book of form and emptiness, ruth ozeki
Viking

Mourning the loss of his father, teenager Benny Oh starts to hear voices emanating from inanimate objects. He is overwhelmed by noise until he enters a public library, where objects only whisper and Benny finds momentary calm. With the help of a street artist and a homeless philosopher-poet, Benny seeks to discover his own voice. Viking, September 21

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3 EIGHT HOMES: CLEMENTS DESIGN, BY KATHLEEN CLEMENTS AND TOMMY CLEMENTS
eight homes, kathleen clements, tommy clements
Rizzoli International Publications

The mother-and-son founders of the Los Angeles firm Clements Design invite readers to wander through eight residences that embody their philosophy: that luxury should feel both intimate and effortless. From gray-blue living rooms to stone libraries accented with Persian rugs and Prouvé chairs, the textures that make a Clements home are captured in stunning detail. Rizzoli International Publications, September 28

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4 FREEDOM TO DISCRIMINATE: HOW REALTORS CONSPIRED TO SEGREGATE HOUSING AND DIVIDE AMERICA, BY GENE SLATER
freedom to discriminate, gene slater
Heyday

Slater’s exposé examines the sinister role of the real estate industry in shaping American society, especially as a lynchpin of segregation. Focusing specifically on housing discrimination in California, Freedom to Discriminate unpacks the circumstances that led to Proposition 14, which upheld explicit housing discrimination after it was passed in 1964, and its consequences in our politics today. Heyday, September 21

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5 FUZZ: WHEN NATURE BREAKS THE LAW, BY MARY ROACH
fuzz, mary roach
W.W. Norton & Company

Roach addresses an unlikely conundrum in this book: that it’s easier to put a human on trial for breaking a law than, say, to punish a trespassing squirrel or a murderous tree. She interweaves narrative components with the details of forensic science and studies of animal behavior, concluding that sometimes animal antics can be provoked or precipitated by their human neighbors. W. W. Norton, September 14

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6 HARROW, BY JOY WILLIAMS
harrow, joy williams
Knopf

Pulitzer Prize finalist Williams introduces readers to a postapocalyptic world through the perspective of Khristen, a boarding school dropout who travels across a ruined America after her mother goes missing. Ultimately, she lands at an elder community determined to punish the corporations and individuals guilty of causing climate disaster. Knopf, September 14

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7 HOW TO WRESTLE A GIRL, BY VENITA BLACKBURN
how to wrestle a girl, venita blackburn
MCD X FSG Original

Blackburn captures the underside of teenage girlhood in these stories, which address body issues, self-consciousness, casual cruelty, budding queerness, complicated families, and first encounters with grief. Several stories follow a single character from Southern California as she grapples with the death of her father and the emerging sexualities of her sister, her mother, and herself. MCD X FSG Originals, September 7

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8 I WISHED, BY DENNIS COOPER
i wished, dennis cooper
Soho Press

Part biography, part novel, I Wished revisits the story of the great love of Cooper’s life—and the centerpiece of five of his earlier novels—George Miles. But I Wished distinguishes itself for its vulnerability and reflection on the author’s earlier works: what they succeeded in conveying about love and how they failed. Soho Press, September 14

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9 INTER STATE: ESSAYS FROM CALIFORNIA, BY JOSÉ VADI
jose vadi, inter state
Soft Skull Press

Vadi takes readers on a journey up and down the length of an ever-changing California, painting beautiful, longing, and often fleeting scenes of what he sees. He gives voice to a wide array of Californians, including skateboarders, farmworkers, DJs, and tech burnouts; their perspectives add up to an unexpected and sharply cogent report on the state of the state. Soft Skull Press, September 14

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10 L.A. WEATHER, BY MARÍA AMPARO ESCANDÓN
la weather, marÍa amparo escandÓn
Flatiron Books

When Keila Alvarado announces that she wants a divorce from her weather-obsessed husband, Oscar, her three grown daughters react with shock. As the foundation of their family slips away, Claudia, a celebrity chef; Olivia, a successful architect; and Patricia, a social media savant, try to salvage their parents’ marriage, examining in the process their own fragile relationships. Flatiron Books, September 7

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11 ON FREEDOM: FOUR SONGS OF CARE AND CONSTRAINT, BY MAGGIE NELSON
on freedom, maggie nelson
Graywolf Press

As its title suggests, Nelson’s latest book offers a contemplation on the ideas and practice of freedom—who has it, how they get it, and whether it can last as a socially dominant ideal. Each of the book’s four parts (or “songs,” as Nelson puts it) addresses one specific territory: art, sex, drugs, and climate. Graywolf Press, September 7

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12 POET WARRIOR, BY JOY HARJO
poet warrior, joy harjo
W.W. Norton & Company

In this memoir, Harjo explores her own long journey to become a poet warrior, sharing the ancestral stories and music with which she grew up, her poetic influences, the various challenges she faced, and more. The death of Harjo’s mother permeates much of the material as Harjo weaves her way through time. W. W. Norton, September 7

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13 THE TREES, BY PERCIVAL EVERETT
the trees, percival everett
Graywolf Press

Everett’s latest novel, The Trees, is a murder mystery steeped in the legacy of racism in the United States. A series of murders draws the attention of two detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, who are stumped by what they find at every crime scene—the body of a white man with racist connections lying next to a dead Black man. The mystery intensifies when the Black corpses vanish and are replaced by photographs of Emmett Till. Graywolf Press, September 21

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14 THE WRONG END OF THE TELESCOPE, BY RABIH ALAMEDDINE
the wrong end of the telescope, rabih alameddine
Grove Press

At the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Lebanese doctor Mina Simpson encounters Sumaiya, a Syrian woman with terminal liver cancer. The pair form a bond as Sumaiya keeps her diagnosis secret from her family and Mina treats her amid the horrors of the refugee camp around them. Grove Press, September 21

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