There's a rumor out there that Amazon is getting out of the book business. Why would they do that? Because they don't make money at it and because they don't care? Who knows, it's just a rumor. And what if they did? Independent bookstores would bud and blossom this spring, returning to the communities that they served for the whole last century. Nice image springing to mind.
And coming up: International Women's Day (Friday, March 8th) -- with books celebrating the occasion on display in the store! Here's to Spring when it comes!
'Til then --
John & all Dieselfolk
Gretel Ehrlich has long impressed me as a journalist and writer. Her essays and stories are magnificently descriptive of the natural world yet retain an immense tenderness and human sensitivity. So it is with her newest work of journalism, a look at the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In the early days just after the disaster, Ehrlich bravely entered the still-radioactive danger zone of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to report on the effects on lives, homes, and the environment. Of course, within this active zone, the quakes continue and the possibility of another tsunami is terrifyingly real. Through it all, Ehrlich painstakingly reports on the heartache and tragedy brought to so many, speaking of the unleashing of these destructive natural forces with grace and beauty. Facing the Wave is a dignified tribute to a country and its people and their courage in the face of natural disaster. Reading this book allowed me to have a depth of understanding and compassion I never would have experienced without the author's ability to put her readers right in there. Definitely one of my favorite works of nonfiction in years. -- Linda Grana
A novel about the impact of AIDS in the late
'80s, told from the perspective of June Elbus, a 14-year-old medievalist whose ambition in life is to be a falconer at the Renaissance Faire. When her one true love, best friend, and godfather Uncle Finn dies of AIDS, she struggles to make sense of it all. Brunt examines the culture of love and loss around the disease that was at first misunderstood and greatly feared. I think this novel succeeds because it is unflinchingly honest about the need to continue living, and find joy and companionship in grief. -- Mia Wigmore
About you and me: I have nightmares that I've woven myself into a web of lies and cannot find a way out. This ends in chase scenes, screaming matches, and wrongful imprisonment. Just sit and think sometime about how easy it would be to end up in prison. You tell a fib, you let your anger get the better of you, luck is not with you, and BAM: your free life becomes property of the state. We were a good person. We are an outlaw.
About Schroder: it is a rare reading experience that finds you halfway through a novel, sure that you have never read anything like this ever before. I'll admit, I even had early misgivings about the book because of its uniquities. It's a first person account by an unreliable narrator who communicates with both intimate candor and pretentious footnotes. Once you're used to it, it's a great read because you are holding a still-warm deposition. Gaige has fabricated a living document.
Schroder takes us into the life and lies of a man bent on making something of himself. A boy tells a little white lie to gain admittance into a summer camp, a lie which sweeps him up into an entirely new identity -- one that gives him opportunities he'd never have had as a German immigrant to the United States in the 1980s. The novel follows the title character and the great measures he will take when that invented identity has been threatened. Lyrical and inventive, Gaige has a gift for making us love the unsympathetic, pull for the lawless, and see ourselves in the madness of another. -- Sus Long
Hinton is best known as one of the finest translators of ancient Chinese poetry. In his first collection of essays, Hinton applies the spiritual-poetic vocabulary of wilderness poetry and Zen Buddhism to his own experience wandering the mountains of his native Vermont. A savory combination of nature writing, keen poetic listening, and quiet, almost unvoiced spirituality, it is a pleasure to see a skilled translator of ancient texts bend his interpretive lens to the world today. Reading Hunger Mountain, one gains a fresh view of the modern world through the eyes of the ancient Chinese nature poets. -- Alex Kantner
Houellebecq's fifth novel is an intellectually sophisticated, scathing survey of a fictional artist's milieu and contemporary France. Houellebecq is famous at home as a moral provocateur. His previous work explored concepts such as sexual nihilism and the apocalypse. This novel, however, deals in terrific social observation and criticism of first-world, privileged society. This is much in the prose style of Flaubert, with other obscure influences such as Lovecraftian horror and the French noir tradition. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a humorous, pessimistic, and compassionate critique of modern man. -- Cameron Carlson
Nigella may be British, but as a young woman she felt so drawn to Italy that she was compelled to go to Florence to learn how to cook like an Italian. Lucky for us she did. In her latest cookbook, she dishes up the divine and the decadent while keeping the fuss and muss to a minimum. The book presents a variety of main courses; tasty, healthy sides; and of course, desserts (the chocolate "salami" looks particularly interesting).The full-page, color photos are so scrumptious you'll wish you could grab a fork and dive right in. These recipes are also not going to break the bank and you won't have to run all over town looking for specialty ingredients. Just a few parting words for you: Marscapone Mashed Potatoes. Oh yeah. -- Cheryl Ryan
In the tradition of Calvin and Hobbes and poised to take the cartoon crown from the Wimpy Kid, this novel in comics features a boy, his pet polar bear named Total, and the cases of the Total Failure detective agency they run together. Timmy believes he's good at everything. But in the most hilarious way, we see it's just the opposite. Surprisingly poignant at times, this book is smart and funny with multi-generational appeal. No mere wannabe, it's is sure to fill the Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Dork Diaries void for your 8 to 12-year-old reluctant reader. -- Riley Ellis