Please enjoy this latest edition of our newsletter, with book news and reviews from our various booksellers. We are available 7 days a week in-store for you to swing on in, old school, and have the true, full pleasure of having a bookstore in town: browsing, chatting, and selecting the perfect book. You can also have our enthusiastic recommendations of the best books around in this newsletter and online. Of course, you've always been able to order any book online with us and have it delivered to your house (or picked up at the store). Our shipping and delivery is as fast as any of those increasingly problematic, gigantic mass merchants you read about in the news, and have occasionally used?! Browse globally, buy locally and let's sustain the fragile ecology of free speech and cultural value together. Here's to reading and sharing good writing with each other!
Happy Summer Reading!
John & all Dieselfolk
Possessing a quick wit, a poet's sensitivity and a keen eye for the telling detail, Alain de Botton is simply the best at what he does - taking the often neglected and seemingly innocuous portions of everyday life and deftly revealing the irony and pathos which lurks beneath. He did it with psychological flair in How Proust Can Change Your Life, a refined aesthetic sensibility in The Architecture of Happiness, and in his latest book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, he approaches his subject with an almost journalistic obsession. Ten excursions into the world of work form the basis for his contemplations. We meet an artist and a career counselor, follow an unlucky tuna from ocean to box to kitchen plate, encounter admirers of cargo ships and electrical transmission towers, and visit with rocket scientists, accountants, entrepeneurs, and biscuit designers. His findings are usually revelatory, often humorous, quirky, sometimes sad. Nothing seems to escape his attention. And like a cross between Thomas Moore (author of Care of the Soul) and Michael Moore (director of Roger and Me) everything de Botton encounters serves to reintroduce us to our humanity. -- Colin Waters
The struggles of race, religion, and poverty that have defined the United States since WWII can be found in Aravind Adiga's description of Kittur, India. A fictional city, Kittur is the principal character and serves as a backdrop for the myriad players with questionable judgments and motives that reside there. The citizens have become greedy, amoral, and lascivious in the years following the assassination of Indira Gandhi and, in ways similar to an overly rebellious teenager, blame everyone but themselves for their actions. Yet, as with The White Tiger, Adiga is able to successfully get the reader to empathize and perhaps even love each character, regardless of their flaws and unethical or criminal decisions. It is this blurring of the line between good and evil that makes this novel fantastic and the presentation of a people resentful of their government, religion, or caste reminds us that youthful dissent and raw emotion, however obnoxious, can provoke real change. -- Jon Stich
In a world saturated with mammoth autobiographies, Grégoire Bouillier provides a fresh voice and an admirable use of restraint in chronicling his life and the result is a finely crafted memoir that reads like short literary fiction. He interweaves stories of boyhood vengeance, his mother's depression, his parents' reckless libidos, and his own desperate love affairs and sexual awakening, all while juggling poetic observations with unabashed melodrama and self-conscious word play with urgent storytelling.
Starting with the odd circumstances of his birth in Algeria and moving through his life in France, Bouillier scrutinizes key objects, events, people and even words that he encounters, always hoping to find some kind of synchronicity or symbolism to explain his twisted fate. This charming obsession to blend the mundane and the miraculous culminates in an attempt to link aspects of his own life to Homer's The Odyssey.
Terse yet poignant, ironically funny even as it is tragic, the book functions like a set of constellations - tightly arranged vignettes that move forward and backwards in time, boasting plenty of bright sentences. -- Steffi Drewes
Losing is never easy, and it's even harder when the road to recovery is covered in hills of cocaine. Our hero, an aspiring writer, loathes his job as a fact-checker for a prominent New York publication. His predicament is put into perspective rather quickly when his runway model wife leaves him for seemingly no reason. His soul searching goes through a rollercoaster of highs and lows, ultimately leading to the nightly routine of heavy drinking, excessive spending, snorting coke in bathroom stalls, and one-night stands. The search for truth and resolve in the face of dismay is the root of our protagonist's actions, though his heavily influential friend has other ideas about how to take the pain away. Although we don't all share the same habits as the main character, McInerney's ability to describe the emotions and steps one takes through love and loss make this heartbreaking novel a must-read. -- Jon Stich
"What matters is what you are doing when you die," at least according to twelve-year-old Paloma, who is contemplating suicide because she's abandoned all faith in her superficial, bourgeoisie family. Across the hall from this introspective prodigy lives the widowed concierge of the Parisian hotel, Renée Michel, whose acquiescent exterior hides a vigilant, creative soul. Together, these unlikely heroines provide an amusing and thought-provoking storyline in Muriel Barbery's innovative novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. In succinct chapters that alternate between the characters' sardonic perspectives, Barbery's graceful sentences allow us to inhabit the minds of two "renegade and remarkable" intellectuals struggling to pass as ordinary citizens in a soulless society. Drawing inspiration from Dire Straits and Mozart, Japanese manga and Tolstoy, synchronized divers on TV and films like Blade Runner and The Hunt for Red October, these inherently likeable characters go searching for the meaning of art (and life) and the pleasure of human interaction and, as the title suggests, they continue to find beauty in the most unexpected places. -- Steffi Drewes
I have been a vegetarian for the last four years and I am constantly looking for new, exciting dishes to add to the limited list of meals that I enjoy. I was watching Martha Stewart one morning (don't judge) and a young woman named Erin McKenna was showing Martha how to cook some delicious looking desserts. Having tuned in late, I did not immediately realize that these desserts were vegan. I did, however, have the urge to jump into my TV screen so I could taste her chocolate cookie sandwiches. When she started talking about the vegan ingredients, I was thrilled. I have made a few attempts at veganism, all of which have failed. When I saw this book had come out I bought myself a copy and told my mother we were going to have a baking day. I must admit, finding the ingredients for the recipes in the book is difficult. But McKenna does a good job of offering substitutes and listing websites where you can find the specific things you need. Searching for the ingredients is kind of fun anyway (like a treasure hunt!) and the end result is absolutely delicious. The best part is you know the food you're eating is actually good for you! I gave a strawberry shortcake to my 17-year-old meat-loving quarterback brother and he devoured not one but three (though I 'forgot' to tell him they were vegan). I highly recommend this book to anyone with a sweet tooth - carnivores and herbivores alike. -- Veronica Tyler
Max is a famous dog poet from New York city. When he arrives in Paris, the city goes wild and embraces Max, but Max is looking for love and cannot find it. Maybe he should just enjoy Paris instead and see what happens. Kalman's fanciful wordplay and zany cheeky funny illustrations dance and intermingle to create an imaginative Paris as colorful, weird and silly as every child's imagination. -- Grant Outerbridge