For the last 10 years DIESEL has been pulling the state together culturally with stores in the Bay Area and stores in L.A. On the weekend of September 19th and 20th, we're uniting the state through that universal language -- Rock & Roll! Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders discusses her new memoir Reckless in Santa Monica on the 19th and Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen, and solo) parties it up in Marin with his new cookbook on the 20th.
Art gets special attention at our Brentwood store with painter Enrique Martinez Celaya discussing his latest book On Art and Mindfulness, based on his powerful workshops on living the creative life. Don't miss our Women's Fiction Panel and Celebration Party for the latest issue of ZYZZYVA at our Oakland store this month.
These are just a fraction of the events happening in the stores this month, let alone the near infinite cultural riches waiting on our shelves for you to experience them fully. See you in the stores!
Happy Reading! John & all DIESELfolk
Too often in science fiction the moral burden of social commentary is eschewed in favor of escapism. How welcome then this classic gem, which, through the story of a space crew trying to make it home, crystallizes the societal pressures of life in Communist Cuba. From the enshrined ideals of a selfless, socialist culture to the shortcomings of those same notions in the all-too-grim reality of their practice, this book is packed with commentary that avoids being preachy or pontificating. De Rojas starts with a bang and he never lets up. This a story of survival, a race against time, and a weighing of individual desires against collective good. -- Chris P.
Man, 2015 seems to be churning out the really good stuff when it comes to poetry, and Marie Buck's Portrait of Doom is no exception. I am a sucker for manicured poetry, for militant poetry, for starkness ... and Buck delivers. Not to say that it is simple or easy. She builds these complex worlds full of anti-heroes with flecks of capitalist familiarity. It's like glimpsing into the minds of a gang of teenagers living in an abandoned shopping mall, Wet Seal name tags still pinned to their polos.
What I appreciate most about Portrait of Doom is the urgency of each poem. Yes, they're beautiful, little fine-tuned poems. Yes, Buck is witty -- like Dickinsonian witty -- but they're also doing a lot of work, and creating paradoxes, and expressing this intimacy of consumerism and capitalism. I saw a TV show once where this world-class Gastro chef pureed the inside of an olive, added some CO2 to the mix, and then injected it back into the olive skin with a syringe. Somehow these poems taste like that olive: tart but perhaps curiously refreshing? Though I know in my heart of hearts that Buck would smash that frivolous little olive, as she very well should. In fact, reading this book gave me the confidence to finally quit a dead-end job. Thanks, Marie Buck. Here's one of my favorites:
Kiss Me Back
Poking at my great home
and my unspeakable honesty
and I am hugging a broker
I am hugging a broker
as hard as I can
until his face falls
so gently into my own.
-- Katherine D.
The simple request of a father to have his son take him into the mountains so that he may die and be left in a special place, unfolds into a deep and beautiful history of both of their lives, their troubled relationship, and the tests of bonds human and natural. Exquisitely written, with emotions closely registered; intimacy with nature shining off the page; and one of the finest transcriptions of the contours of love's sometimes torturous trails through men's lives, this is an instant North American classic, risen from the very landscape itself. -- John E.
Following a trend in recent "interior design" books, Rethink is as much a lifestyle book as interior design. It isn't meant to be pretty or glossy. It doesn't mean to be a bible for living. It is meant to report on the lifestyle trends that are happening now in reaction to worldwide events, including the areas of environment, economy, technology, and even terrorism. It considers how these events are changing our priorities about how we live in our personal spaces. Drawing upon her own observations and the wisdom of designers through recent decades, Talbot reports on living with nature, downsizing, working from home, mobile living, and more. It's an optimistic look at how we can build a better world from the inside out. -- Alan D.
Elephants like to smash things. The internet has documented it! Smashing, of course, isn't usually a nice thing to do, and it comes with its consequences.
One of the things I like about children's picture books is that often the title tells the story. Such is the case with Merrill's quirky tale. Little happens here beyond cars getting smashed by an elephant -- there is even a song about it, with a scale, notes, and everything. The elephant likes what it likes, and that just happens to be smashing cars. It's not acting out or protesting, as far as we know. The human response to all this smashing, though, which I won't give away, is itself a problem -- not least because it is so effective in dealing with the elephant acting on its pleasure. Efficiency, we wonder, as we turn the final page, might be another form of destructiveness. -- Brad J.
Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything is the kind of book that feels effortless -- which is, in fact, one of the surest signs of a controlled, skillful piece of writing. But you don't think about any of that while you're reading it because you're so deeply immersed in the world of Yoon's protagonist, Madeline. Her world is small -- she has a rare immunodeficiency disorder, which means she can't leave her environmentally controlled house -- but as a character she's vast. Her voice leaps vibrantly off the page -- almost instantly, you feel like you've known her your whole life. Yoon uses IMs and diagrams and illustrations to great effect, and the story moves at a breathless pace, incorporating an endearing romance and a fitting twist. Like The Fault in Our Stars' Hazel, Madeline is the perfect anchor. She's the type of heroine YA literature deserves. -- Anna K.
What would you do if you only had eight weeks to live? What would we all do? We All Looked Up follows the lives of four high school seniors as they come to terms with the harsh reality that the world is ending. As the last weeks on Earth unfold, so do the stories of these peculiar young adults. They are all trying to cope with the idea that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The colleges they worked so hard to get into will no longer be there in the fall, the cars they saved up for will no longer exist. As their lives begin to intertwine, society begins to unravel as protests erupt throughout cities. Surprisingly heartwarming and full of interesting and charismatic characters, We All Looked Up is an apocalyptic young adult novel that you cannot miss! -- Quinn A.