Alta Journal’s Top Book Reviews of 2021

This year, our critics sought out books that dealt with crucial themes like freedom, history, race, power, and adventure.

year in review, book review
Alta

In 2021, Alta Journal got literary. Check out our editors’ favorite Alta Monday Book Reviews, which deeply and carefully attended to some of the amazing California-related books that were released this past year.

”THE PLEASURE-SEEKERS”
myron brinig, flutter of an eyelid
Cady Wells

Myron Brinig’s The Flutter of an Eyelid is the great lost classic of Los Angeles literature. Reviewed by Chris Daley

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“BODY LANGUAGE”
eat the mouth that feeds you, carribean fragoza
City Lights Publishers

Carribean Fragoza’s debut collection, Eat the Mouth That Feeds You, is a work of exceptional power. Reviewed by Wendy C. Ortiz

READ

“THE ALTERNATE HISTORY OF LOS ANGELES”
eladatl, sesshu foster, arturo romo
Jeff Clark

In ELADATL: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines, Sesshu Foster and Arturo Ernesto Romo imagine the City of Angels as it might have been. Reviewed by Mark Haskell Smith

READ

“THE LONELY CITY”
everything now, rosecrans baldwin
Vincent Perini

Rosecrans Baldwin’s Everything No is a Los Angeles fever dream. Reviewed by David L. Ulin

READ

“SPHERES OF INFLUENCE”
always crashing in the same car, matthew specktor
JULIE PATTERSON

Matthew Specktor’s Always Crashing in the Same Car is a memoir through the lens of art. Reviewed by Claire Dederer

READ

“TAKING LIBERTIES”
on freedom, maggie nelson
Harry Dodge

With On Freedom, Maggie Nelson raises complicated questions about what it means to be free. Reviewed by Joy Press

READ

“CRIME AND PUNISHMENT”
the trees, percival everett
Graywolf Press

Percival Everett’s The Trees is a masterful allegory about America and race. Reviewed by Michael Schaub

READ

“NOTES OF A NATIVE SON”
inter state, josé vadi
Bobby Gordon

José Vadi’s Inter State looks at California from the inside. Reviewed by Sophia Stewart

READ

“ONLY REVOLUTIONS”
revolutionary letters, spring and autumn annals
City Lights Publishers

Revolutionary Letters and Spring and Autumn Annals recall the power of Diane di Prima’s voice. Reviewed by Lynell George

READ

“BODY AND SOUL”
how to wrestle a girl, venita blackburn, perishing, natashia deon
Virginia Barnes and Brienne Michelle

Natashia Deón’s The Perishing and Venita Blackburn’s How to Wrestle a Girl give voice to powerful Black women characters. Reviewed by Anita Felicelli

READ

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