It is the "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." Despite the alarms being rung of the death of the book and of bookstores, this season's bounty is truly astonishing to bookseller and reader alike. Every day we are opening boxes filled with generous, exciting, well-written novels, poems, stories and histories. Beautiful printing, the world's art, thought, and imagination all placed directly into our hands. "Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?", the fruits of all these labors, filled "with ripeness to the core." Gather while ye may!
John & all Dieselfolk
D.A. Powell's latest collection of poetry, Chronic, possesses equal parts heartbreak and swagger, lust and wit, as he traverses landscapes of unbridled erotica and unparalleled loss. Collaged on these pages we find stories of death and disco, climate change and chronic illness, suburbia and satellites, democracy and one-night-stands. Revealing a wordsmith in his creative prime, Powell's language tends to trigger a powerful visual, sensual and auditory response with every line; even as he writes "sweetmeats and barium ooze from her fistula / cystic hibiscus - with plaster and spatula," the reader's ear delights and her imagination shifts from a candied delicacy to an x-ray image to a blooming flower to a body in disrepair. This crystalline arrangement of shifting and overlapping images is Powell's forte: presenting routine objects, environments and relationships as if seen through a kaleidoscope - at times humorous, at times devastating. With poems this formally and conceptually exquisite, it's hard not to be hooked in an instant, to be drawn to "the parallax of bodies which are and are not ours." -- Steffi Drewes
What impresses me so much about Nick Hornby is that he understands the internet, fandom and obsession, and the condescending attitudes they too often engender. Not only that, he captures it all with a grace that makes the act of writing look easy. He understands people and his warm, funny prose easily carries the narrative past some of the more Dickensian plot points. (I know from reading Hornby's Believer columns that he's a big fan of Chuck D., so I'm sure he'd be happy to hear that.) Juliet Naked is a mature answer to High Fidelity, and it's easily my favorite of his novels to date. I really, really liked it - not enough to write thousands of words dissecting its every nuance on the internet, but I think we can all agree that that is ultimately a good thing. -- Anna Kaufman
It was a moment that passionate fiction readers live for - I was 75 pages into A. S. Byatt's new novel The Children's Book and as I settled into a comfortable chair, prepared to reenter its world, I thought: "I am completely, blissfully happy - I need nothing else..." The perfect novel, at least for me. . .
I've always loved the aspect of Byatt's novels that revels in the life of ideas, the pursuit of knowledge an end in itself. But first I must be seduced by the story and the characters, to be gripped by the narrative; only then do I happily follow the intellectual discursions. This is Byatt's first novel in seven years, and much as I have loved virtually all her fiction, my favorite has remained Possession, her Booker Prize winner from two decades ago. Until now, for The Children's Book has entered my personal pantheon of great contemporary novels.
I became completely immersed in a deliciously detailed and emotionally charged story of three clans that spans late Victorian England through the outbreak of WWI. The Wellwoods, the Cains and the Fludds exemplify the artists, writers and utopians of that amazing era. From polite Fabians to slightly deranged Russian anarchists, from potters to fabulists, from naifs to degenerates, her characters are both deeply, beautifully drawn and emblematic of a period of huge creative output and social change.
The central character is Olive Wellwood, at first glance living an enchanted life in an arts & crafts style farmhouse in the Kent countryside, writing charming children's stories, while her brood of brilliant, imaginative children run riot. But this is more Brothers Grimm than Floppsy, Mopsie & Cottontail - children are both loved and tragically neglected and predators of all stripes inhabit this self-deluded world.
Byatt's often sensuous discursions into the natural beauty of the landscape, the intricacies of ceramic glazes and pottery firing, and the eye-popping delights of the Great Paris Exposition among others offer fascinating respite from some very badly behaved characters. In fact, I was so enthralled by some of her descriptions of the art, architecture, fashions and crafts I spent hours down-loading images to create my own "illustrated" version of this fabulous new novel (now on view at our Oakland store). -- Margaret Simpson
You'll know Peter Coyote's woody voice from countless commercials, often for nonprofits and environmental groups, or his accomplished acting in some 120 or so films. If you ever lived in the Bay Area you might know him also as a member of The Diggers or the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Lucky for us, he is also a writer. Sleeping Where I Fall charts the trajectory of a tribe of individual humans, the ideas they shared, and the communal life they created from roughly 1964 to 1980. It is beautifully written, painfully honest, and luminously revealing of the intentions, failings, strengths, and humanity of that radical wet edge of the counterculture called the Digger Family. Coyote wisely incorporates thoughtful, graceful, and probing chapters on fellow Diggers in this tribal memoir, attempting to more clearly reveal their collective culture, their creativity, their struggles, and their wild successes. Their impact on the wider culture, and influence on the counter culture, is well-known but has never been captured so clearly and so articulately. Part memoir, chronicle and cultural history, it is the most insightful, intelligent, on-the-ground transcription of the moments, events and intentions swirling through the hearts and minds of that era. Honoring their heroic, troubled, and energetic attempts to be fully human, the book is both testimony and inspiration, encouraging a compassionate, imaginative and active engagement with your life in all of its relations. For those who lived it, it will be a vivid flashback, and for those who are curious, a wondrous, literary immersion. Dont' miss it. -- John Evans
It takes a writer of great patience and craft to deliver us into our own world, which, above all, is a world of motion. Spanning across six genres, six voices, and six distinct personalities, David Mitchell walks generations and back again with all the wit, the joy, the sorrow, and the longing furiously revolving in our human landscapes. Both unique and grand, this book moves like an underground river. "Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world." Indeed. -- Sean Mix
I'll admit it, I go weak in the knees for a cocktail that looks as fabulous as it tastes, and this book is chock full of them. Over 60 recipes of well-known favorites as well as some contemporary gems including, 'The Vesper' - the original James Bond martini, 'The Bradshaw' - a sunset colored concoction created for the Sex in the City movie, and the beautifully layered 'Pousse Cafe'. Each recipe is described with campy, handwritten text accented with doodles and accompanied with a full page, color photo. The ingredients are easy to find and the drinks a snap to prepare. No fussing with a cocktail that takes longer to make than it does to drink. Happy hour, here I come! -- Cheryl Ryan
Have you heard of The Octonauts? The who? The what? The Octonauts!!! The Octonauts are Diesel Oakland's favorite team of underwater animal explorers. Cute, colorful, imaginative, and action-packed, their exploits appear in four volumes: The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster, The Octonauts & the Sea of Shade, The Octonauts & the Frown Fish, and new this month, The Octonauts & the Great Ghost Reef. Their mission? To investigate the mysteries of the deep and to help their fellow creatures. Kids will love the fact that The Octonauts have their own unique personalities, a deep sea workstation in which they live and play, and jobs just like real scientist-explorers. Adults will appreciate the cool graphics and quirky humor. And both will look forward to the vibrant illustrations and little visual details that make each adventure worth returning to again and again. -- Colin Waters