LitPicks: 3 Unforgettable Literary Treasures Released This MonthThat Will Enrich Your Summer Reading

by BUST Magazine

At The Edge Of The Woods: A Novel By Kathryn Bromwich (Two Dollar Radio)

At some point, especially during the last few years, we have all imagined moving into a cottage in the woods and getting away from everyone else. The reality, though, is a bit more nightmarish for Laura, the main character in Kathryn Bromwich’s enthralling debut novel, At the Edge of the Woods. Living alone on the outskirts of an Italian village where she is decidedly an outsider, Laura is a woman fleeing a wealthy and abusive French husband, who would rather see her dead than be denied an heir. And, aside from a waiter whom she takes as a lover, the villagers soon see her as a strega (witch) and plot to drive her out. The forest, however, has its own intentions, claiming Laura for its own as she finds her own uncanny strength within its depths. Through lush and sinuous prose, the novel similarly puts readers under its own spell. It demands that you reach out to others, no matter how isolated they are, and insist that they read what is sure to be an instant classic.


Moby Dyke: An Obsessive Quest to Track Down the Last Remaining Lesbian Bars in America By Krista Burton (Simon and Schuster)

When Krista Burton was deep in the throes of pandemic lockdown, she realized there was nothing she missed more than “the feeling of being in a packed, sweaty dyke bar.” That moment of longing served as the catalyst for her first book, Moby Dyke, in which Burton sets off on an epic quest. You see, there are less than 20 lesbian bars left in the United States, and she’s on a mission to visit them all. Burton’s cross-country trek takes her from Wild Side West in San Francisco to the Cubbyhole in N.Y.C. and all the gayplaces in-between (including a pit-stop at the Pearl Bar in Houston for Dildo Races). Along the way, she learns how each spot survived the “dyke bar apocalypse.” The book is a celebration of these places that have long served as safe havens for the lesbian community. But Burton’s stories about her own life also shine—she brings the introspective and observational humor that made her blog, Effing Dykes, so popular. Moby Dyke will make you want to get a dildo charged up and go off to the races. –MARIE LODI

Boys Weekend By Mattie Lubchansky (Pantheon)

Boys Weekend is a graphic novel centered on Sammie, a newly-out trans femme. When their best friend from college, Adam, announces his upcoming nuptials and invites them to a bachelor party on a lawless, futuristic, Vegas-like island, Sammie feels obligated to attend. Despite being out to Adam and his tech bro friends, they still find Sammie’s gender identity confusing, often making them the butt of jokes or asking idiotic questions. Meanwhile, Sammie suspects something nefarious is afoot once they notice that their trip coincides with a conference for a suspiciously cultish organization. While a horror story about gender identity might not seem like an obvious fit, it actually is symbolic of the price one must pay for societal conformity. The tech bros at the center of the story seem representative of those cishet men who hold tightly to archaic gender norms—even when they lead to their own suffering. Author Mattie Lubchansky cleverly spins horror tropes to send up toxic masculinity and tech bro culture. They also cast a critical eye at the systems that continue to enforce a strict gender binary. Boys Weekend is compelling and hilarious with plenty of food for thought. –ADRIENNE URBANSKI

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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