Literaryswag Book Club Pick for March: Wendy S. Walters' Multiply/Divide

This month's Literaryswag Book Club's pick is Wendy S. Walters' incomparable essay collection Multiply/Divide. Too many people use the adjective "incomparable" lazily; often applying it to things that can indeed be compared to everything. But when I tell you that this book is sui generis, which is Latin (read: bougie) for "in a class by itself," understand that this book is the class itself—the dry erase board, the weak ass marker that never seems to work, the desks, the projector, the projector screen that doesn't come down, the professor, the student, the kid who comes late and leaves early, the kid who waits until the end of the semester to ask for extra credit. This book is everything! The byline of the book is On the American Real and Surreal and it's not for show. In book's opening Walters tells us that some of the essays are based entirely on fact; others are works of fiction. Some are both. And she is so ill that she lets us know which is which. I've always been bad at math but the one thing I do know is that you're always supposed to double check your answers. By naming the collection Multiply/Divide, by telling us in the beginning of the book that everything is not what it seems, with an answer key, Walters' creates the most immersive and interactive reading experiences I've ever had. There are so many times in this book where you're going to have to flip back to the first page because the things that really happened is going to sound made up, the made up is going to feel real, and most of the time you're not going to know what the hell is going on but it won't matter. You would've effectively done the math. This book (and the 10 pictured here) came to me by way of the brilliant Ariel Lewiton of Sarabande Books and I want to thank her for shinning light on writers who often get shaded.

Jennelle Gordon