June 2008



Hi All,

Since Grant edits this newsletter, and my fellow booksellers write the reviews, I can say without boasting that the span of books presented in this issue is admirably wide-ranging, engaging & prompting --- geographically, temporally, and in manner, style and subject. Diverse voices are being read and recommended from city to desert, San Francisco to Russia, human and animal, sacred and despairing. What books can do.


Happy Reading,
John & all Dieselfolk



Staff Pick Logo
City of Thieves Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670018703
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Viking Adult - May 15th, 2008

There are very few books out there where I genuinely empathize with the main characters. This is normally due to the fact that most writers fail at drawing the one human emotion most of us wish we could experience during difficult times: laughter. But David Benioff gives us this feeling throughout City of Thieves. Lev Beniov has been caught looting a dead German soldier and upon his capture befriends cellmate Kolya. Their lives will be spared if they can find a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding cake. Since 1940s Soviet infrastructure was deprived of a Safeway or AM/PM, this order takes them on a week-long hike through the frigid dysphoria of Leningrad. The absurdity of their mission coupled with the graveness of WWII gives us a satisfying juxtaposition both poignant and thrilling. -- Jon Stich

Staff Pick Logo
Maps and Legends Cover Image
ISBN: 9781932416893
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: McSweeney's - April 28th, 2008

I had never read Michael Chabon's writing before I read Maps and Legends. I've met him (we have similar tastes in science fiction) and my friends have recommended The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, but I've yet to open my copy. What made me begin reading Chabon's first collection of non-fiction I can't really say (actually, I guess I can: Jordan Crane's gorgeous tripartite cover caught my eye, and then Chabon's constellation of essays ranging from Norse mythology, Cormac McCarthy, His Dark Materials, comic books, and golems was a topical galaxy I really wanted to explore). Chabon's essays are marvels: both personal and universal, witty, surprising, and are interested in the parts of the world that so often remain unconsidered. I bought the book and am now recommending it to you dear reader. When I'm done here, I'll get to his fiction. -- Trevor Calvert

Staff Pick Logo
In the Pines (Penguin Poets) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143112549
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - October 2nd, 2007

Notley has helped guide and challenge contemporary poetics for as long as I've been alive. In the Pines continues with this; it is mythic, of-the-earth. Notley has created a triptych wherein transformation is a constant. Protean and feminine in its narrative, we read of speakers shifting, flickering almost, from state to state, sometimes so fast not even they know what state they inhabit: "I'm turning into something I never foresaw. When I get there I'll recognize it." This collection never settles - it pulses from prose to verse, from concept to something almost tangible. In the Pines stalks, haunts, and sings. -- Trevor Calvert

Staff Pick Logo
Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143038818
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - April 1st, 2007

On one hand, this is an accessible overview of the history of government-American Indian relations and on another hand it is a brilliant exploration of the diverse worldviews of Native Americans focussing on their attitudes toward the sacred and toward land and nature. Thoroughly researched and gracefully written, it spans the whole country through several centuries, incorporating the impact of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act on the protection of native sacred lands and waters. Full of surprises, fascinating histories, and under-represented outlooks. -- John Evans

Staff Pick Logo
Down These Mean Streets Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679781424
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - November 25th, 1997

In Spanish Harlem in the 1930s, Piri Thomas comes of age on the streets. He is conflicted in every conceivable sense - racially (embracing his Puerto Rican heritage but denying his African), economically, educationally, sexually, and spiritually. As he recounts his descent into drugs, violence, crime and eventually prison, the lyricism of his voice becomes more hypnotic and seductive. From his lockup in Sing Sing, Thomas comes to terms with his marginalization, teaches himself how to be a man, and transcends the culture of dead-ends and despair of his early youth. A classic memoir not to be missed. -- Grant Outerbridge

Staff Pick Logo
Julius Shulman: Palm Springs Cover Image
By Julius Shulman (Foreword by), Michael Stern (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Alan Hess (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
ISBN: 9780847831135
Availability: Backordered
Published: Rizzoli International Publications - February 12th, 2008

Photographer Julius Shulman's place in architecture's modern era is without peer. This book, the accompanying catalogue of a gallery show organized and presented by the Palm Springs Art Museum, beautifully documents the development of so-called Desert Modern. Filled with historic and contemporary Shulman photos and accompanying text, this book is both interesting as an historical record and valuable as an academic resource. Presented are works by acknowledged modern masters such as Richard Neutra, as well as lesser known but no less significant regional architects, and is a great addition to any modern coffee table or architecture research library. -- Mike Hatfield

Staff Pick Logo
Graffiti Paris Cover Image
ISBN: 9780810970892
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: ABRAMS - June 1st, 2008

Leave it to Paris to take a recently exhausted craze such as the graffiti art publications of recent years to a level of pretentious brilliance. If most of these tagger publications seem to be mere doppelgangers of the form's iconoclasts, consider Graffiti Paris the Magical Mystery Tour of the street art genre. In addition to the stenciled mural in the tradition of Banksy and a propagandized poster reminiscent of Shepard Fairey's Obey collection, other styles include collage, oil paints, sculpture, found objects, and performance. If you are already critical of the street art in your neighborhood, the amazing graffiti illustrated in this book will probably just make you feel worse. -- Jon Stich

Staff Pick Logo
Varmints Cover Image
By Helen Ward, Marc Craste (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763637965
Availability: Backordered
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - March 25th, 2008

This simple book is not only a deep and eloquent eulogy for Mother Nature as we once knew her, but also a hopeful glimpse into the future that reminds impressionable young readers that all is not lost. The world of Varmints is populated by the Few - those creatures patient and gentle enough to listen to the natural world. But soon the Others arrive, hauling with them industry, cities, noise and anxiety. The rest is a struggle for one small creature to find his way to where he truly belongs. The exquisite illustrations are broad and complex, appropriately terrifying and inspiring where need be. This book is an important artistic companion to the wealth of books for younger readers about the climate crisis that will one day be theirs to negotiate. -- Grant Outerbridge

Staff Pick Logo
Little Brother Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765319852
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - April 29th, 2008

Little Brother is everything that youth fiction should be: motivating, mobilizing and entirely engaging. Following a terrorist attack in San Francisco, Marcus and his friends are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time by the Department of Homeland Security, placed in a secret prison, and interrogated for days. After he is released, Marcus finds that the DHS have gone off the deep end and San Francisco has become a police state. Nobody is above suspicion, anyone could be a potential terrorist. So he sets out to do what any other technologically inclined seventeen year old would do: he's going to take them down! Little Brother offers a truly terrifying look at what could be the future of our country. Every young person needs to read this book and read it soon! -- Joey Puente