Break the Chains, Build Local Power


And now, a word from our friends at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

Since our founding in 1974, we have worked to rewrite the rules and empower communities to choose their own future. Across several vital economic sectors, we help break the corporate stranglehold that extracts wealth from local economies and undermines democracy. We give communities the tools to build a strong local economy themselves. From banking to energy, healthy soils to community-owned Internet networks, time and again we have shown that when we level the playing field for individuals and businesses, we improve our economy and the quality of life for all citizens. To many, ILSR is one initiative that they have followed, learned from, and tried to embody. But we are much more than that. We are a network of initiatives with a coherent philosophy and strategy that link all things community – utilities, internet, shopping, banking, trash, recycling, and – the most important part piece – YOU. We need your help to expand our reach and multiply our successes.

The Internet Makes Itself Useful


Alright, alright, Internet, maybe you're not so bad after all! 

"Yesterday [4/15] selections from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress became available to stream online for the first time — the launch of a project digitizing some of their 2,000 recordings from the past 75 years of literature. “I think that reading poetry and prose on the page is important, but there’s nothing that can replace listening to literature read aloud, especially when it is read by the creator of the work,” Catalina Gomez, project manager for the process of putting the archive online, told Hyperallergic."

A bit like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's massive collection of animal calls . . . but, well, literature. Okay, fine, Internet! You're doing good work. 

"This book is the best work of fiction I read in in 2015."


Chances are that if you've been in the Oakland store the past year you've either heard or read Brad commenting on John Keene's story/novella collection, Counternarratives. It's taken some time, hemming & hawing, now well into May, but he's finally decided to put it in writing: "This book is the best work of fiction I read in 2015." 

This does not come as much of a surprise, given what he had to say about it in his review for The Quarterly Conversation:

"Counternarratives, in short, is no simple tableau of triumphalism. It is a call to arms of sorts, perfectly in tune with the “Black Lives Matters” declaration we see playing out daily in our cities. But it is also one that is conspicuously absent the attendant chant heard recently in Cleveland, which echoed Kendrick Lamar’s lyric, “We gonna be alright.” Keene, it seems, sees no reason to be so confident that this is so. Queering the script, defying the imperative to be silent, however, does not require confidence or a vision of what progress means. It is, rather, in all its uncertainty and risk, the most basic stuff of—the very matter of—life. It is also the crowning achievement of one of the year’s very best books."

Keene is doing something very special indeed with the short story, and his work (now out in paperback!) is not to be missed. (Note: he will also be at this year's Oakland Book Festival on May 22nd, where we'll be selling books, chatting about books, petting dogs, and generally making small talk. Come by!)