3 books to read this month: Girlfriend on Mars, Daddy Boy, Terrace Story

A fun space-tourism story, a meditation on gender, fatherhood and masculinity and an inter-generational epic spanning space and time.

More about books you should read, and the authors who wrote them, that were recently featured on the Weird Era podcast, by co-hosts Sruti Islam & Alex Nierenhausen.

Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis

During my time as a bookseller, customers often came in requesting something simply “fun,” and if I was still working at the store now, I would hand them this. It revolves around a couple who, after several years of monogamy, have reached a fatigued state in their relationship. Or at least Amber has. Amber is tired of her partner Kevin’s lack of ambition, and of their shared marijuana-growing business. A relatable sentiment for many, sure, except that Amber not only abandons her relationship, but instead of moving to a new city, a new neighbourhood even, Amber decides she’s going to… Mars. Readers get to refreshingly read reality TV in this novel, as Amber enters herself into a competition funded by a megalomaniac tech billionaire, Geoff Task. Readers also get to intermittently jump back to Kevin’s narrative, as he sits slumped and heartbroken in their Vancouver basement, watching his ex-girlfriend attempt to leave Earth. In this episode of Weird Era, Deborah and I talk about monogamy, and fighting for oneself while still utterly loving others. (SI)

Daddy Boy by Emerson Whitney

In Daddy Boy, we follow Emerson as he meditates on gender. Raised by a non-biological father, as well as having a relationship with his biological father, Emerson wonders what both their roles have taught him. This is a book about wanting masculinity without any of its toxicity, about wondering if that’s even possible. This is a book about defining yourself outside the binary, and yet still in constant comparison to the people surrounding you. This is a book about a person who finds a lack of control in life so dizzying, they feel steadied to the ground most when chasing tornadoes in a van full of strangers. In the podcast, Emerson and I talk about gender, elders as maps and the ways in which masculinity and capitalism are inherently tied. (SI)

Terrace Story by Hilary Leichter

Terrace Story, Hilary Leichter’s second novel, concerns a young family in the city forced to downsize their apartment after rent prices soar. Their new home is small and boxy — until one evening when their friend, Stephanie, comes for dinner and reveals a large outdoor terrace hidden behind a door that should be just a closet. The caveat? When Stephanie leaves, the closet is back and the terrace is nowhere to be found. What follows is an inter-generational epic spanning space and time as we learn the histories of both the young family and Stephanie’s particular abilities. One of my favourite books of the year, tune into my episode with Leichter to hear what she thinks about the idea that Terrace Story is a fable about giving too much of ourselves away. (AN)

The Weird Era podcast is available via Apple and Spotify.

This article was originally published in the Aug. 2023 issue of Cult MTL.

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