Huckberry Book Club: Luis Angel Cancel
Welcome to the Huckberry Book Club, sponsored by Burrow. This month, we’ve got our very own Managing Editor Luis Angel Cancel (and his pup, Eno) here to share three of his favorite books. Read along with us and let us know what you think in the comments below.
The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara
Ok, I’ve got some advice. I’ve read novels and non-fiction at bedtime for nearly as long as I’ve been able to read. But lately, I’ve switched to keeping poetry collections on my bedside table and can’t recommend this move enough. Given the abundance of information we’re subjected to on a daily basis—the 24-hour, often tragic, news cycle, the ever-present distraction of our phones—poetry makes for a refreshing mental palate-cleanser at the end of the day. This collection from O’Hara is monumental and I always find a delicious turn of phrase that compels me to read aloud to my wife. The book itself was a wedding gift. Our pal (and damn good poet in his own right) Sasha Fletcher selected O’Hara’s Having a Coke with You to be read during my wedding ceremony. It’s nice to crack this book open and hit the reset button at the end of a rough day by remembering a really, really good day.
Buy: The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara
Between Meals by A.J. Liebling
There are a lot of things that contribute to why I love this book so much, so I’ll try to unpack just a few. For starters, it’s almost a companion piece to Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast—another favorite of mine—in that it’s a collection of autobiographical stories of a young man basically eating his way through Paris on a tight budget. At its heart, the book is about the pleasure food and wine can offer. Liebling and the late writer Jim Harrison are my twin gourmand gods when it comes to food writing and I trust every recommendation they ever committed to paper. After reading Between Meals, I now snatch a bottle of Tavel whenever I can find it. Liebling is an extraordinary prose stylist and his vivid descriptions will have you salivating and frantically searching for cheap airfare. Bonus, the introduction to this book was written by the legend James Salter himself.
Buy: Between Meals by A.J. Liebling
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
I shouldn’t have to tell you to read James Baldwin but, pssst, you should really read James Baldwin. Anything you can get your hands on. This short, semi-autobiographical novel hit me like a cannonball to the gut. Its central character, John, is an intelligent teenager raised in a Pentecostal Christian household in Harlem. I, too, grew up in the Pentecostal church and for anyone that doesn’t know, it’s a particularly intense denomination. It wasn’t hard for me to relate to John’s confusion, disillusionment, and struggle to find his place in the world. And if my endorsement isn’t enough, throw a rock and you’ll probably hit a major publication that’s named this book one of the best novels of the 20th century.
Buy: Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin