The school year is concluding and summer vacations promise more reading time for everyone! Whether you want travel guides, beach books, classics, or catching up on the best books of the year, we are ready with suggestions, spontaneous reviews, surprising displays, and the latest books in every format for your every need. We look forward to seeing you in the store (or 24/7 online) and discussing great books with you. Have a wonderful summer.
John & all Dieselfolk
Reading The Son by Philipp Meyer is a kind of revelation. Like reading Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, or Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, or even Moby-Dick -- a Great American Novel kind of revelation. The scope and span, the language, the conception, the structure -- all conspire to manhandle you into a new understanding, a new sense of your history and place, and of what particular humans have been and will continue to be. Masterful, muscular, nuanced, finely researched -- all the usual descriptions of a fine historical novel apply, and don't reach the heft of this one. Beyond Texas, beyond the American West, Homeric in its ambitions, The Son embraces the finite particulars of place, time, and character as well as showing the stark, dark, and full range of human cruelty and heartfulness. -- John Evans
As a young, single woman, the greatest valentines in my life are my dear girlfriends, my roommates, my sister and mother. These are my truest and most reliable loves and, in this collection of essays, Sonnenberg touches that oft-underestimated truth. With prose that belongs to a great literary novel and the emotional depth of an autobiography, She Matters satisfies the craving for both fact and fiction -- a perfect gift for the friend who loves you best. -- Sus Long
The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell grabbed me from the first paragraph. "Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved."
This debut novel is about two little girls in Glasgow, Scotland who are orphaned by what are revealed to be extremely derelict parents. Their efforts to evade the authorities until the older sister is of age and can legally care for the younger one make up the rest of the novel. Marnie, her 12-year-old sister Nelly, and later their neighbor Lennie take turns narrating the story. Marnie is saucy and streetwise, Nelly artistic and fey to the point of being an innocent. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the story progressed from differing points of view in the tradition of As I Lay Dying or The Poisonwood Bible. Each perspective, as in life, gives a different view of the same circumstances. The novel functions as a mystery: crime first, culprit revealed later.
I don't recommend this book to everyone: it has extremely dark themes, drug abuse, child abuse due to neglect, wanton thievery. Marnie is especially salty; you will learn a great variety of Scottish swear words. But if you enjoy disturbing plots, this one is made even more entertaining by dark comedic elements -- for example, the girls' attempts to mask the stench of their parents' death scene with different household products, and the fact that the neighbor's dog is in the habit of digging in the yard where the bodies are buried. And I found myself pulling for these young girls to be able to stay together and avoid foster care. One of the more heartwarming aspects of the book was the burgeoning kinship with their elderly neighbor Lennie, also on the social periphery. The family that the girls and Lennie create together is unlikely and elevating, reminding the reader to always hope for comfort in impossible difficulty. -- Mia Wigmore
We Live in Water is a short story collection by the author of Beautiful Ruins, but different in tone. Jess Walter crafts the stories of desperate men struggling to surface in an America inundated with economic strife. The first story is about an irrepressibly funny, homeless meth addict who takes to begging to buy his son a copy of the new Harry Potter. While the content is depressing, like the America that is the setting, Walter's sensitive and compassionate authorial eye refreshingly renders total, sympathetic human personalities where most would never look. For anyone looking for a contemporary set of stories, one that gives a human face to suffering, this is a great book. -- Cameron Carlson
Way back in the far-off days of the '90s, two rival subcultures were at a critical juncture. They weren't directly at war with each other, but they were definitely in opposing corners. On one side was slacker-stoner grunge, and on the other side was hyper-drugged rave. Only one of them could come out as the epitome of what it was to be a part of Generation X. We all know how that story ended, so this book is, indirectly, about the losing side of that silent culture war. Originally published in 1998, but lovingly updated via the author's blog ever since then, the updated and re-released version of Energy Flash is especially poignant as electronic music has become ascendant in the year 2013. Ever wonder why all pop songs have started to sound the same? I'll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with you getting old, and everything to do with the 4/4 house beat being present in all of them. Energy Flash documents where and why that all came to be from someone inside the scene that thought it could change the world with love and positive energy. -- Joey Puente
Parenting = unconditional love -- and sometimes it's not an easy path. It's not the gooey, twitterpated longings that may or may not last the summer, or even the devotion one sometimes bestows on a furry friend. For the absentee parent (see, even adult relationships that result in a child aren't unconditional), it's an even tougher road. So -- what would happen if Darth Vader had taken a full-time role raising Luke? This is a hysterical, and sometimes touching, little volume recounting the day-to-day parenting events that even a Sith Lord experiences with his 4-year-old. And check out the new companion volume: Vader's Little Princess. -- Pam Stirling
Nate is a small-town middle-grader who sneaks onto a Greyhound bus and spends two breathless days in New York City, where he tries out for ET: The Musical and learns a lot about casting calls, stage mothers, unforgiving wardrobe choices, his heroic aunt...and himself. The author is a Broadway dancer who coached kids for the stage version of Billy Elliot. The book has a contemporary edge, yet is still sweet and funny. With its intrepid boy hero, a smart girl sidekick, and a quirky adult character, this comedy is choreographed to amuse. -- Riley Ellis