Happy New Year! Thanks for your support of our bookstores throughout 2009 -- we greatly appreciate your company, your conversation, your recommendations and your encouragement. Here is our first newsletter of the new decade, with reviews of books new and classic, bringing the past forward into a new year. We hope you continue to enjoy this newsletter, our dynamic website with all of its new features, and our stores with our storied booksellers. If you need books please stop by -- need ebooks, please download from independent sites such as ours -- need information, please consult our website for book news and reviews. Hope you have a fascinating, expansive, contemplative and exciting new year.
John & all Dieselfolk
Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano's most recent book is all-encompassing, perfect for the reader with numerous curiosities. It covers 5,000 years of narrative condensed into 600 short vignettes over 365 pages. Mirrors is an intricate web, a thematic thread. If we were to approach its layout in some sort of spatial manner, each individual vignette could connect to any other vignette. But the connections don't stop with theme - they continue with subjects. Universality across eras and cultures seems to be what Galeano finds intriguing, evidenced by his stringing together of creation myths from different cultures, examples of misogyny and racism throughout time, and historical figures like Caesar, the Marquis de Sade, Napoleon, Stalin, and Hitler. In his ambitious attempt to relate the concepts of almost everything, Galeano has written the stories of almost everyone, and the result is one highly fascinating and unclassifiable book. -- Geo Ong
This Is Where I Leave You made my bout with seasonal flu almost a pleasure. The novel is impiously, devilishly funny. Judd Foxman must sit shiva for his atheist father with his equally non-believing family. This means he will be staying in the basement (he's the last to arrive) of his childhood home with his mother, brothers and sister, their spouses, children and lovers. One week with this bunch and family secrets seep and ultimately gush out. It's a splendid conceit especially since only a few days before his father's death Judd catches his wife in (extremely comical) flagrante delicto with his boss! A warm current runs through this ocean of hilarity because Judd really does mourn his father's death. Sharing his grief and nostalgia eventually unites him with his siblings and mother. And I won't say what happens with his wife, but this novel worked better for me than any antiviral drug. -- Diane Leslie
You may remember the story of a 23-year-old American woman who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer when she positioned herself in front of a Palestinian refugee home targeted for demolition. This image made headlines in March 2003 when journalists everywhere recounted the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's tragic death. Thanks to the help of Rachel's family, Let Me Stand Alone honors the story of her life, in her words. This vivid collection of poems, drawings, letters and emails chronicles a young woman's journey from creative and adventurous child in Olympia, Washington, to courageous peace activist in the Gaza Strip, as she discovers her voice and her place in a world that is at once beautiful, unpredictable and terrifying.
What surfaces in the journal entries is the author's desire for human connection that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries; here is a deeply emotional and intellectual young woman immersed in constant dialogue, posing difficult questions for herself and the rest of the world. Even the earliest bits of text reveal a ten or eleven-year-old Rachel wise beyond her years, a budding humanitarian. And her later ruminations on teenage love and escapist fantasies, democracy, white privilege, and her efforts with the International Solidarity Movement are all expressed with grace and conviction, even as she admits her deepest fears. Many readers will find it easy to embrace Rachel Corrie's wit and generosity as a storyteller, but difficult to walk away from her words without a sense of awe. -- Steffi Drewes
Here is your American novel: sprawling, pretentious, tender. Wolfe is a poet, bottom line, and page after page of Look Homeward, Angel is touched by some dark and lovely ghost - at times so possessive, it bursts through the medium itself. Too bizarre for you? Okay. I get that. Coming-of-age, wanderlust, the American South - those work too. But I promise, if you begin this book, it won't be long before you're calling your friends well into the night, perhaps drunk, and you hear yourself saying: "Hold on, I just have to read you this one last scene...let me just find it..." Classic. -- Sean Mix
At the beginning of a new decade, I thought it fitting to revisit a tale from my past. Hesse's Demian is many things: Jungian psychological exploration, a quest for enlightenment, a study in duality - but mostly it is the story of a youth in revolt against his bourgeois upbringing. Narrator Emil Sinclair becomes infatuated and obsessed with the darkly intriguing Max Demian, a classmate who seduces Emil out of his privilege-induced complacency and sets him on the path to self-actualization. A trope-laden story of adolescent angst, Demian avoids becoming cliché by the beauty of its details and the honesty with which Hesse presents Emil's predicament. -- Grant Outerbridge
Fashion designer Scott Schuman brings his eye for fashion from the web to the printed page. Schuman began his now-famous blog thesartorialist.com to capture what people are really wearing on the streets as opposed to what's currently raising bleached eyebrows on the catwalks. Schuman's first book is stocked with glossy full-page photographs and serves as an anthology of Schuman's personal favorites. These beautiful images of everyday passersby going about their days on the streets of New York City, Milan, and Paris, showcase not only the stylish and fashion-forward but exhibits how fashion can act as a proponent of individuality, self-confidence and optimism. -- Geo Ong
Aside from some subtle onomatopoeia, The Lion & The Mouse is a wordless retelling of Aesop's classic fable. Running from a hungry owl, a mother mouse inadvertently disturbs a lion's rest. Instead of eating her, the lion lets her go. Later, when he finds himself trapped in a hunter's snare, it is the mouse that repays the kindness and frees the lion. We all know the story, but it is Pinkney's delicate paintings that underscore the beauty of the tale. -- Grant Outerbridge