February 2011



Hello Reader,

Booksellers live to recommend books we love, books we think are important, and books we think you'll want or need. It's because we are passionate, opinionated readers. So, hopefully, are you! We would love your recommendations for our store, and for our website. Please feel free to come into our store and write up a shelf-talker for us to put on the shelf below a book you love. Or you can email us with a brief review for us to post on our website or maybe include in our newsletter. We have always included our readers in conversations about books and in recommending books to other fellow-readers, but we haven't extended that further to shelf-talkers on display in the store and reviews on our website, until now. We look forward to discussing your books in the store. As for the website, please email your reviews to our newsletter editor Grant, at grant@dieselbookstore.com. Diesel is a collaborative enterprise, bringing writers, editors, publishers, booksellers, and editors together in many expansive conversations. Here's to creative and productive dialogue! Contributors have a chance at some special treats, besides the joy of recommending itself.

Happy Reading!
John & all Dieselfolk

Staff Pick Logo
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439149089
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Scribner - January 4th, 2011

Stand-up comedy is a genre that, when examined broadly, seems to reward the loudest and most reductive with the greatest success, while relegating the overly introspective to the endless purgatory of comedy-club opening slots. But for those of us who like a dose of unease with our laughter, comedy is funniest when it's stranger, darker, and teetering just on the edge of un-funny. Over the past decade, numerous comics -- Zach Galifianakis and David Cross come to mind -- have courted mainstream success without compromising the edginess of their younger days. Patton Oswalt is unique among this group for what I'd call (for lack of a better word) his vulnerability. While a self-deprecating comic sensibility is nothing new, it's rare to see one so eloquent: "Ticket Booth" is the most true-to-life memoir of sad, awkward adolescence since David Sedaris' Naked, and his musings on Dungeons and Dragons are both painful and cathartic, especially to those of us who've been there. Lest you think this book is too heartfelt, though, many of the chapters are simply blasts of absurdist hilarity that will clear the room of all sentimentality. --John Peck

Staff Pick Logo
The Hard Way Around: The Passages of Joshua Slocum Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400043422
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Knopf - October 19th, 2010

Geoffrey Wolff, brother of Tobias Wolff, is a great writer and biographer. He creates enough interest with his own style, wit, and fascinating research to enliven the most boring subject matter, and his latest text focuses on the incredible first solo-circumnavigator, Joshua Slocum, and the final days of the golden age of sailing. Wolff's writing is incredibly precise in detail and historical accuracy. Even for those turned off by adventure or the sea, Wolff's marvelous text brings to life a lost world of outmoded pirates, human triumph, love in impossible circumstances, and the beginnings of globalized capital amongst mizzen-masts and sharks. -- Cameron Carlson

Staff Pick Logo
Super Sad True Love Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400066407
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Random House - July 27th, 2010

Dystopias are tough. To live in - that's a given. But also to write in such a way that seems different enough from the present to make an impact, but enough of a logical extension of current circumstances as to feel eerily plausible. Nineteen Eighty-Four was written more than sixty years ago, but - aside from the title, anyway - it still feels like it could be a future lurking just around the corner. A little more warrantless wiretapping, a bit of spyware, a few extra security cameras, the Homeland Security Act - we still tremble at the feet of Big Brother. The genius thing about Super Sad True Love Story is that it takes that idea and brings it forward to a time and place where Big Brother is also a reality TV show. Let me clarify that some more: Big Brother is a TV show that draws millions of viewers every week while according to various studies, one in four Americans read a whopping zero books last year. Maybe that's, like, post-modern or something? I don't know. I'm stuck on it being kind of depressing. Super Sad True Love Story could be a real downer, too, as it takes place in an America that is deeply in debt, where readers are a dying breed, where people can connect more easily to the internet than to each other, where terrorism is a constant fear, where love may be an impossibility. Yet like all great satirists, Shteyngart brilliantly shuffles the laugh lines and the scares. I was frequently terrified while reading this book, but I was also exhilarated, hopeful. Because while those statistics about American readers make me queasy, I still believe in the power of the written word. Maybe through Shteyngart writing about this possible future world, and through our reading about it, we can exorcise it, banish it. These fearful shadow-futures can return to the status of only-stories, held safe between the pages of a good book. -- Anna Kaufman

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There's a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came from: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781890447571
Availability: Backordered
Published: Open City Books - November 2nd, 2010

Exaggeration, narcissism, and pretense are often a memoirist's best friends. Bryan Charles, however, presents his journal of moving to New York City in 2001 to become a writer and his survival of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in an unpretentiously honest fashion. While trying to get published, Charles finds a few day jobs, the largest of which is a high-paying marketing position in the World Trade Center. Though he intends to quit, he ends up sticking with it and is at work during the September 11 attacks. Surrounded by panic and fear, he recounts his experience in a frantic voice that conveys the urgent need to survive. Although 9/11 is not necessarily central to it, Charles' life story leading to this tragic event and his undeniably different life after is what makes Road to Everywhere terrific. This is a very raw memoir, one that does not glorify the highs or sulk in the lows but rather tells the simple story of a man in the midst of bedlam and devastation who somehow lives. - Jon Stich

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Wind, Sand and Stars (Harvest Book) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156027496
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - December 9th, 2002

Antoine de Saint-Exupery is perhaps best known in America as the author of The Little Prince, but in France he is equally respected as one the greatest Gallic aviators and heroes. Wind, Sand, and Stars is his autobiographical record of flying with courageous and reckless men during the beginning of aviation, and of his subsequent adventures through Spain, France, and Africa. A great and beautifully written account of life lived in the extremes of human experience, this an overlooked treasure for those interested in history and flight. -- Cameron Carlson

Staff Pick Logo
The Sriracha Cookbook: 50
By Randy Clemens, Leo Gong (Photographer)
ISBN: 9781607740032
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ten Speed Press - January 18th, 2011

Named after a Thai fishing town, and created in its current form by a Vietnamese immigrant in Los Angeles, Sriracha - AKA "rooster sauce" - is experiencing a meteoric rise in mainstream popularity. But the bright-red chili sauce in the clear plastic bottle is no niche ingredient, like truffle paste or salt cod. Its five basic elements (peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt) cover every part of the flavor spectrum, making it a surprisingly versatile additive: while The Sriracha Cookbook, as one would expect, contains many Asian recipes, it also branches out internationally with recipes like Sriracha Pesto, Sriracha Ceviche, and Bacon-Sriracha Cornbread. Most importantly, while author Randy Clemens clearly enjoys his titular ingredient (and is a confessed spice junkie), he has a strong culinary background, and his well-tested recipes succeed in making the book much more than a novelty. -- John Peck

Staff Pick Logo
The Secret River Cover Image
By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Leo Dillon (Illustrator), Diane Dillon (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781416911791
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - January 4th, 2011

How fitting that a story of such mystery and magic should miraculously arrive in the midst of the post holiday doldrums. The Secret River uses classic folktale motifs - sudden poverty, a mysterious wise woman, fierce token-demanding forest animals - to tell the story of a young girl determined to help her family in hard times. While best remembered for her classic coming of age novel The Yearling, this long forgotten Rawlings tale won a Newbery Honor two generations ago and is the perfect vehicle for some of the finest work the Dillons have given us. This is a picture book to treasure, to read and reread and save for the next generation. -- Margaret Simpson