By Sarah Hansen, Colorado Review editorial assistant
Holiday gift-giving is tricky even for people you know well, but what about the extremely difficult/wildcard people on your list? Sometimes you draw a weird name in Secret Santa or realize at the last minute that you don’t have a gift for someone who will be at dinner. Luckily, we are here to help. Get your last-minute shopping done, support small presses, and give everyone on your list something they’ll enjoy.
For Your Strange Young Niece Who Only Wears Black and Rolls Her Eyes a Lot
Julia Elliott’s new short story collection, The Wilds, available from Tin House, is a surrealist delight. Strange and stunning prose drives Elliott’s storytelling, a combination of Southern gothic, dystopian, sci-fi, and fairy tale. Fans of Karen Russell and Aimee Bender will enjoy Elliott’s experimental fiction, and the collection of oddities includes a little bit of everything, from South Carolina nursing homes to paleo conferences with attendees in caveman suits. Oh, and I bet your niece will love the cover.
For Your Friend Who Won’t Stop Instagramming His New Baby
Man in the Moon is a wide-ranging collection of essays, offering insight on the many different ways to be a father and the many different fathers we’ve had. Edited by Stephanie G’Schwind, and available from the University Press of Colorado, the collection includes Dinty W. Moore, Dan Beachy-Quick, Deborah Thompson, as well as many other voices to encompass the terrifying/thrilling/heartbreaking/life-changing ways fatherhood has affected our lives. Maybe it’ll even make your friend rethink using that Nashville filter again.
For Your Bibliophile Co-worker Who Already Has, Like, Every Book Ever
Sarah Stark’s Out There, available from Leaf Storm Press, is already being hailed as the Catcher in the Rye of the Iraq/Afghanistan War—did you know that? Besides being compared to a literary giant, the book is about the literary giant One Hundred Years of Solitude, and a young veteran’s quest to find Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Think of Stark’s work as an homage to magical realism itself, a lyrical and lush work about the meaning a book can bring into our lives. Bet your friend hasn’t read it yet.
For Your Foodie Friend Who Keeps Judging You for Eating at Olive Garden
This collection of prose, essay, and poetry celebrates all things delicious in the world. Edited by Monika Rose and available from Manzanita Writers Press, A Taste of Literary Elegance includes writing and artwork from a variety of writers, and the collection focuses a lot of California wine country. A Taste of Literary Elegance promises to delight those whose palates are a little more refined than the average person, like your foodie friend reminds you constantly.
For Your Grandfather Who Watches Too Much Fox News
Terrance Hawkins’s American Neolithic, available from C&R Press, is heralded as bizarre and one of a- kind. The book, part thriller, part courtroom drama, part anthropological exploration, follows one of the last surviving Neanderthals trying to make his way in Manhattan. That’s a reductive summary, but you’ll have to trust me that this book is heartbreaking, brilliant, and subversive in a subtle way. It also has just enough conspiracy theory to keep your grandfather going.
Supporting small presses and being able to check those names off the list will feel doubly good this holiday season. Don’t forget to get something for yourself while you’re at it!