Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Us, by Michael Kimball is an understated, yet incredibly intimate story of aging, illness and death. The premise is quite simple: a man awakes one morning to find his wife beside him, no longer breathing. What follows is a complex story of the grim reality of what happens when we are met with mortality—that of our loved ones and of ourselves. While, by nature, the subject matter isn’t the endorphin releasing, warm-fuzzy type that I tend to look for in places other than books, this novel is an exceptionally tender portrait of the harsh realities of human existence, and of love. This book will make you think. I might make you feel a little crazy and a little sad. But it is completely worth it.
*Us is currently on our shelves, despite what our website may say. Call to reserve a copy, or come in to see it for yourself.
One of my other favorites from this year was the NYRB reprint of The Three Christs of Ypsilanti. I picked this up because the premise was just too intriguing to ignore. In the late 1950’s, three schizophrenic patients in the Michigan state hospital system shared one very distinct characteristic. They each claimed to be Jesus Christ. Social psychologist Milton Rokeach brought these patients together at the now demolished Ypsilanti State Hospital, where he performed experiments and studied the group for a number of years. Though this is nonfiction through and through, the larger than life personalities, and the pure emotive qualities of the three Christs are certainly the stuff of novelists’ dreams. From a psychological standpoint, this book provides a fascinating explanation and interpretation of the basic functions and modalities of identity and individuality. More than that, the three Christs call into question the very meaning of the term ‘mentally ill’, and the ways in which individuals, physicians, and the state view, treat, and interact with those diagnosed as such. By the end of the book, I found myself wondering exactly which players in this bizarre situation truly saw themselves as Christ; the schizophrenic patients, or the doctor who attempted to manipulate, by morally questionable means, the lives of three men deemed by the state to be clinically insane.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Ben Lerner's debut novel is a smart and ironic account of cultural, linguistic, and personal dislocation. Chronicling the rather unextraordinary adventures of a young American poet in Madrid (there under the false pretenses of writing a poem about the Spanish Civil War), Leaving the Atocha Station is a comedic portrait of the artist as a bundle of failures. Much more than an attempt to understand what poetry means in the early 21st century, Lerner's novel is an attempt to figure out what it means to be human.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Frank offers astute insight into what motivates the naïve and xenophobic Tea Ninnies aiming to “take our country back,” fearing burdensome, invasive regulation toward modest small business owners thus rallying for toothless oversight by the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and SEC, much to the delight of fund managers at JP Morgan.
Frank delivers a seething survey of the “funhouse mirror of contemporary conservatism” where unions “oppress” workers and what’s left of the middle class became a cheering squad for paid-for politicians and the industrialist Koch Brothers, all aided by the stealth astro-turfing machinations of Dick Armey, and Glenn Beck’s socialist-baiting histrionics.
Democrats whistle as workplace unionism dwindles, while a bizarrely aloof President Obama capitulates and compulsively offers olive branches to Rep. John Boehner and his bullies.
The last, chilling, four-page chapter, “Trample the Weak,” foresees a future where the market-minded moneyed interests, no longer fearing incorruptible government agencies, are free to call highways and parks--wasteful subsidies, and FEMA and Medicare are just the unfortunates’ power grab from big government.
This is not bedtime reading unless you enjoy getting both fired up and terrorized before bed.
Monday, December 26, 2011
- Border's closing at Stonestown?
- our GroupOn and Scoutmob and Google offers?
- our incredibly capable and friendly staff?
- eBooks on our website?
- our new inventory system?
- our section development in LPs, children's, young adult, cooking?
- the new flooring on the mezzanine and in the red delicious room?
- the literature in translation section?
- our new t-shirt designs?
- our new subscription service?
- our website re-design?
- our better use of Facebook?
- the used books we sell at the Beachside and Devil's Teeth?
- our ClemenTime event with the Bold Italic?
- our (more or less) amusing videos?
- more people are understanding the power of shopping locally?