Another installment of Never-Ending Stories!
The joy of running a bookshop is the joy of of always discovering books that I need to read. I was always one of those people (I prefer the term ‘gently mad’ as coined by Nicholas Basbanes) who would buy at least three books a week, slowly stock-piling and collecting. I loved touching the covers and contemplating for long stretches of time which of them were coming home with me.
The joy of visiting bookshops and the joy of selecting new and secondhand books for my shop is a tactile, deep time, where I lose everything else. The book holds its sway. Now, I would like to share monthly lists of new and secondhand books that I plan on reading (or re-reading) and collecting for my personal library in 2012. Read on!
All books are now -or soon to be- in the shop. I also am happy to ship to our out-of-town friends!
Calvin Moretti can’t believe how much his life sucks. He’s a twenty-four-year-old film school dropout living at home again and working as an assistant teacher at a preschool for autistic kids. His insufferable go-getter older brother is also living at home, as is his kid sister, who’s still in high school and has just confided to Cal that she’s pregnant. What’s more, Calvin’s father, a career pilot, is temporarily grounded and obsessed with his own mortality. and his ever-stalwart mother is now crumbling under the pressure of mounting bills and the imminent loss of their Sleepy Hollow, New York, home: the only thing keeping the Morettis moored. Can things get worse? Oh, yes, they can.
In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
A proud and boisterous Negro League team owner, Alex Pompez rose to prominence during Latino baseball’s earliest glory days. As a passionate and steadfast advocate for Latino players, he helped bring baseball into the modern age. But like many in the era of segregated baseball, Pompez also found that the game alone could never make all ends meet, and he delved headlong into the seedier side of the sport—gambling—to help finance his beloved team, the New York Cubans. He built one of the most infamous numbers rackets in Harlem, rubbing shoulders with titans of the underworld such as Dutch Schultz and eventually arousing the ire of the famed prosecutor Thomas Dewey. He also brought the Cubans, with their incredible lineup of international players, to a Negro League World Series Championship in 1947.
Pompez presided over the twilight of the Negro League, holding it together as long as possible in the face of integration even as he helped his players make the transition to the majors. In his later days as a scout, he championed some of the brightest future Latino stars and became one of Latin America’s most vocal advocates for the game.
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.
Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new “police force.” And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward-at the border of Five Points, the world’s most notorious slum.
One night while making his rounds, Wilde literally runs into a little slip of a girl-a girl not more than ten years old-dashing through the dark in her nightshift . . . covered head to toe in blood.
Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can’t bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn’t sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.
Paradise Tales by Geoff Ryman
Geoff Ryman writes about the other and leaves us dissected in the process. His stories are set in recognizable places—London, Cambodia, tomorrow—and feature men and women caught in recognizable situations (or technologies) and not sure which way to turn. They, we, should obviously choose what’s right. But what if that’s difficult? What will we do? What we should, or . . . ?
A sharp-eyed exposé of the deadly politics, murderous plots, and cutthroat rivalries behind the first blood transfusions in seventeenth-century Europe.
On a cold day in December 1667 the renegade physician Jean Denis transfused ten ounces of calf’s blood into Antoine Mauroy, a madman. Several days and several transfusions later, Mauroy was dead and Denis was framed for murder. A riveting and wide-reaching history, Blood Work shows how blood transfusion became swept up in personal vendettas, international intrigues, and the war between science and superstition. In a foreshadowing of today’s stem cell and cloning debates, proponents saw transfusion as a long-awaited cure to deadly illnesses, while others worried that science was toying with forces of nature, perhaps even paving the way for monstrous hybrid creatures. Taking us from the highest ranks of society to the lowest, Holly Tucker introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters, all ruthless contenders in the battle over transfusion. Finally, in a feat of historical research, she reveals the true identities of Mauroy’s murderers—and their motivations to kill.
SECONDHAND SHORT STORIES
Viking marauders descend on a much-plundered island, hoping some mayhem will shake off the winter blahs. A man is booted out of his home after his wife discovers that the print of a bare foot on the inside of his windshield doesn’t match her own. Teenage cousins, drugged by summer, meet with a reckoning in the woods. A boy runs off to the carnival after his stepfather bites him in a brawl.
In the stories of Wells Tower, families fall apart and messily try to reassemble themselves. His version of America is touched with the seamy splendor of the dropout, the misfit: failed inventors, boozy dreamers, hapless fathers, wayward sons.
The well-intentioned protagonists of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara are caught — to both disastrous and hilarious effect — in the maelstrom of political and social upheaval surrounding them. In “Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera,” an ornithologist being held hostage in the Colombian rain forest finds that he respects his captors for their commitment to a cause, until he realizes that the Revolution looks a lot like big business. In “The Good Ones Are Already Taken,” the wife of a Special Forces officer battles a Haitian voodoo goddess with whom her husband is carrying on a not-entirely-spiritual relationship. And in “The Lion’s Mouth,” a disillusioned aid worker makes a Faustian bargain to become a diamond smuggler for the greater good. With masterful pacing and a robust sense of the absurd, each story in Brief Encounters with Che Guevara is a self-contained adventure, steeped in the heady mix of tragedy and danger, excitement and hope, that characterizes countries in transition.
One of the most stunning literary debuts of our time, these energized, irreverent, and deliciously inventive stories introduce an astonishing new talent.
In the collection’s hilarious title story, a Hasidic man gets a special dispensation from his rabbi to see a prostitute. “The Wig” takes an aging wigmaker and makes her, for a single moment, beautiful. In “The Tumblers,” Englander envisions a group of Polish Jews herded toward a train bound for the death camps and, in a deft, imaginative twist, turns them into acrobats tumbling out of harm’s way.
Although Chitra Divakaruni’s poetry has won praise and awards for many years, it is her “luminous, exquisitely crafted prose” (Ms.) that is quickly making her one of the brightest rising stars in the changing face of American literature. Arranged Marriage, her first collection of stories, spent five weeks on the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list and garnered critical acclaim that would have been extraordinary for even a more established author.For the young girls and women brought to life in these stories, the possibility of change, of starting anew, is both as terrifying and filled with promise as the ocean that separates them from their homes in India. From the story of a young bride whose fairy-tale vision of California is shattered when her husband is murdered and she must face the future on her own, to a proud middle-aged divorced woman determined to succeed in San Francisco, Divakaruni’s award-winning poetry fuses here with prose for the first time to create eleven devastating portraits of women on the verge of an unforgettable transformation.
These lively and eclectic narratives, by the author of Shadow Without a Name, move from the scorching heat of the Gobi desert to the glacial heights of Mount Everest: here, among others, are the stories of a Scottish engineer who builds an exact replica of the city of Edinburgh in the dunes; of a dying, cross-dressing pilot who allegedly climbs Mount Everest and then mysteriously disappears; and of a monk who conjures the devil to prove the devil’s existence.
Based on history, legend, and an awe-inspiring power of invention, Antipodes delights, terrifies, and entrances.
Cultivate Community: Purchase these and other books at The Spiral Bookcase or at your local bookshop!