Booknotes


Review of Books | Spring 2015
 

BOOKNOTES, the newsletter of THE ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

 

$30.00
ISBN: 9780385539258
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books - March 10th, 2015

The word for this haunting novel is "interior." Most of the action in the slowly-plotted narrative occurs indoors, and the book's gravity rests in the characters' interiority. Four young men—college classmates of various ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations—remain bound in friendship over several decades. At the center: the unforgettable Jude, brilliant, strange and tortured. The depth of the abuse he experienced in childhood is slowly disclosed as the novel progresses, as is his desperate struggle to survive—and not be defined by—that hideous past. This book will remain with you—inside—for a very long time. -Peter

 


$26.95
ISBN: 9780307271037
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - March 3rd, 2015

Set in England during the days after the Roman occupation, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, The Buried Giant, begins as an elderly British couple departs in search of their son. A mist has settled onto the land, causing disorientation, forgetfulness, and fear in every quarter. The travelers, who are joined along the way by Sir Gawain and others, find themselves in territory both unknown and often hostile. This is a wise story, a parable with much to say about love, trust, and commitment, told by one of our modern master storytellers. -Karen

 


By James Simpson (Translator), Stephen Greenblatt (Foreword by)
$24.95
ISBN: 9780871407368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - March 9th, 2015

Think of The Canterbury Tales crossed with The Prince. Think of a less scrupulous Odysseus, or Beowulf if he were equally clever but more interested in feasts than heroic deeds. James Simpson’s new translation makes available one of medieval literature’s great characters and con artists, Reynard the Fox, whose adventures consist mostly of eating any unfortunates who might cross his path. He then finds increasingly clever ways of evading punishment for his crimes by manipulating the greed and stupidity of the much more powerful animals that try to capture him. I couldn’t help but root for the fox. -Jacob

 


$26.95
ISBN: 9781612193748
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House Publishing - February 24th, 2015

David Graeber, the anthropologist renowned for his history of money, Debt (Melville House), sets out to describe our complicated relationship with bureaucracy—the endless paperwork, forms, and regulations that seem to fill up so much of our time. Where did it all come from? And why do we submit to it? Graeber’s criticism is lively and sharp, frequently laying bare the hidden layers of bureaucracy, stupidity, and violence that infiltrate nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Graeber has written an insightful, surprising book that, despite its unpleasant subject, is a true pleasure to read. -Jacob

 


$25.00
ISBN: 9781476786568
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - January 6th, 2015

Megan Mayhew Bergman's lyrical collection of short stories imagines the lives of women who lived on the periphery of others' stories by giving voice to characters who have been overlooked by primarily male-centric narratives. Though composed of fictional accounts of these historic women, Bergman's empathetic tales are infused with a greater truth: how women have written their own flawed histories through strength, passion, and perseverance. At times hilarious but always moving, this book is a beautiful peek behind the curtain of history, and an essential exercise in recognizing the value of listening to voices that society has traditionally silenced. -Kim

 


$7.95
ISBN: 9781101911761
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - February 3rd, 2015

This work may be short, but it is a thought-provoking bit of awareness presented in a slim, digestible format. Drawing from her own life experiences, Adichie makes a case for a more functional world where forthcoming generations of women and men can uphold new norms based on gender equality instead of prejudice. The parallels presented between African gender issues and those of the West give a much-needed global perspective on how anti-feminism affects the way we think and live across cultures. Adichie’s treatment should not be a substitute for more critical gender thought, but is a great gateway to it. -Keith

 


By Mac Barnett, Jory John, Kevin Cornell (Illustrator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781419714917
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Amulet Books - January 13th, 2015

When I read in The Terrible Two that the town of Yawnee Valley elected a cow as mayor by accident, and then re-elected it after its approval ratings were historically high, I was hooked. The main story revolves around Miles, the new kid in Yawnee Valley. Miles tries to secure his identity as the greatest prankster of his school. He may be gifted, but he meets his unexpected match in a classmate and turns his own life into a pranking showdown to prove his prowess. The well-executed humor, energetic illustrations, witty writing, and elaborate, creative pranks make this book a complete package of childlike fun and entertainment. -Keith

 


$15.99
ISBN: 9781940456249
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Talos - March 3rd, 2015

In the land of the dead, time is your currency, drinking makes everything all a little more bearable, and Jacob Campbell can keep your body looking its best as you decompose into eternity. But Jacob the preservationist has a new goal in death: to search out a legend, “the Living Man,” the only person to ever cross into death without dying first. Jacob, along with a freshly deceased, precocious sidekick, sets out to prove this legend true. An ambitious debut novel filled with humor and philosophy amid an awesome reimagining of the afterlife, Dead Boys is disgustingly satisfying. -Casey 

 


$17.99
ISBN: 9780451470775
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - March 3rd, 2015

Mary Iris Malone (aka Mim) is not okay. Exiled to Mississippi with her father and step-mother, she is hundreds of miles away from her mother and her real home. Learning that her mother may not be okay either, Mim embarks on the road trip of a lifetime to reunite with her ailing mom. Hopping a Greyhound bus, she meets a colorful cast of characters that force her out of her anti-social, sarcastic comfort zone, and into a bizarre, darkly comic journey that is as relatable as it is outrageous. This fantastic debut will thrill YA fans to their very cores. -Casey 


$24.95
ISBN: 9780385539609
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books - March 3rd, 2015

Not since Emma Donoghue’s Room have I felt so tangibly claustrophobic yet so compelled to continue reading. Anna Lyndsey’s life goes from one of stability as a British civil servant to one of uncertainty and pain when a mystery illness grips her body. An intolerance to the light produced by her computer monitor becomes an intense reaction to fluorescent lights, ultimately rendering her unable to tolerate any light, natural or synthetic. Lyndsey finds herself existing in a completely blacked-out room with word games and audiobooks as company—and the love of her life as a beacon in the dark. -Brandi


$24.99
ISBN: 9781250046505
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - March 10th, 2015

Meet sixteen-year-old Maren: recently abandoned by her mother and in search of an absent father, she seeks answers to the strange affliction that has plagued her since infancy. Show her affection and she’s compelled to devour you whole. Her quest takes her across the country and introduces her to others like herself, something she never expected. Maren’s journey of discovery is a coming-of-age tale, inspiring young women everywhere to stand true in themselves and to take ownership of their emotions and bodies. Equal parts horror, fun, and feminist strength, this is a must-read! –Brandi

 


$17.99
ISBN: 9780062348166
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - April 7th, 2015

In Dark Sparkler, actress Amber Tamblyn writes an elegiac series of poems dedicated to twenty-five of Hollywood’s young actresses, both (in)famous starlets and those lost to obscurity, all deceased too young. Dark Sparkler is a collection of the light, shimmery fluff associated with Hollywood but digs deeper into the glittering women’s lives to find a place of dark, emotional turmoil. Tamblyn helps to pare away the disillusionment that underlies the spell of Hollywood glamour, and reveals the raw, real, and relatable humans underneath. Reading these poetic renderings of Tamblyn’s poetry is quick and beautiful and helps give these sadly short lives a new voice and power. -Brandi 

 


$18.00
ISBN: 9781580055512
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Seal Press (CA) - April 7th, 2015

Do we really need a marijuana handbook just for women? Oddly, yes. The statistics are constantly being debated, but it appears that women smoke less than their male counterparts, and the boy’s-club vibe of the pot industry is historically to blame. With the rise of marijuana legalization and the fading of societal stigma associated with its use, women are turning more often to weed, sometimes in place of alcohol, to relax and medicate. Timely and extremely useful, Sicard’s book includes strain breakdowns, resources, recipes, and tips, making it truly a great guide for new and experienced smokers. - Brandi

 


$16.00
ISBN: 9781597142984
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Heyday Books - April 10th, 2015

A little girl’s simple request, “Mama, tell me a story” grows into an imaginative and beautifully illustrated tale. In a world where a wolf can eat the sky, surely a little boy can save the world. This journey through darkness brings together an unlikely cast of friends—a mouse, a lion, a dog, a monkey—working together to solve a mystery and heal the sky. The soft illustrations with their sparse palette make room for your imagination to come out and play.  While this original fable delights, it serves up child-sized life lessons of compassion, cooperation, and generosity. –Seth


$24.95
ISBN: 9781590516072
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press (NY) - February 24th, 2015

Göran Rosenberg's prizewinning book reconstructs the lives of his parents, survivors of the Polish ghetto at Łódź and of Auschwitz, during the war and after their resettlement in Sweden. Laying his own fragmentary memories of childhood alongside what little he knows of their story, he gradually uncovers the sources of their silence in the Holocaust's aftermath, and in doing so reveals important truths about the experiences of survivors and their descendants. The silencing of survivors is an active process, and Rosenberg has much to teach us about our own silencing of ourselves and others. -Karen

 


$26.95
ISBN: 9780385538985
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books - April 7th, 2015

Heidi Julavits came across an old diary of hers, and found it self-absorbed, trite, and uninspired; nothing foretold the acclaimed writer she would become. Curious whether her current persona might yield more insightful observations, she resumed diary keeping. For two years, each entry, beginning with "Today I...", followed a random thought to its satisfying conclusion. With a knife-edged dry wit and amusingly wry perspective, relationships, ambitions, fears, beliefs, habits, and motivations are fodder for her distinctive soul-searching intellect. From the heights of cerebral philosophizing, to the depths of pop-culture musings, the clock unfolds to reveal modern life: inane, hilarious, exquisite. -Erica

 


By Floyd Cooper, Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781623701703
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Capstone Young Readers - February 2015

In the latest children's book by Floyd Cooper, renowned author and illustrator, Mazie learns her Great Great Great Grandfather’s story—and why Juneteenth is celebrated. She finds out that things used to be much harder during times of slavery, and that she has descended from oppressed, persevering, resilient people. She also discovers that her Great Great Great Grandfather was at the balcony of the hotel where the emancipation proclamation was read on a warm June day in Galveston Texas in 1865. And best of all, Mazie learns how her people learned, grew, and became heroes.  -Jake

 


$27.95
ISBN: 9781618931405
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Time Home Entertainment - April 7th, 2015

Journalist Bruce Barcott’s comprehensive overview of the past, present, and future of marijuana makes for gripping reading. Not just a history of our beliefs on pot, or how legalization came about in the states of Colorado and Washington, the book takes readers on a grand tour of dispensaries where Barcott talks to the people who actually benefit from the therapeutic powers of marijuana. He introduces readers to the cost of jailing criminals who are charged with possession, and the possibility of revenue in states that have decriminalized it. Whether you are for or against legalization, this is an important book. -Holly

 


$30.00
ISBN: 9780385534918
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nan A. Talese - January 6th, 2015

The Weimar Republic during the interim between World War I and World War II brought together two of the artistic titans of the 20th century: dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill. Their collaboration produced two of the great theatrical works of their time, The Threepenny Opera and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The two men weren't alone in this endeavor however; Elizabeth Hauptmann, Helene Weigel, and Lotte Lenya played essential roles in the work these men did. This is an invaluable theatrical history set during the time that Germany was heading toward world cataclysm. -Greg


By Frank Stanford, Dean Young (Introduction by)
$40.00
ISBN: 9781556594687
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 14th, 2015

When I first encountered the poetry of Frank Stanford, it felt like a feral wind had grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and nailed me to the privy door. The work reeks of the mulch of a deeply felt life, relentlessly tracking the wounded truth of Mystery. Written in an authentic rural vernacular (but throwing shades of Lorca, Breton, even Cormac McCarthy and Jason Molina) the poems are antithetical to the flimsy trends of contemporary ironists. Stanford said 'I don't believe in a tame poetry' and then he proves it: 'When no one is looking / We touch the thin underthings / Of our death to our lips.' - John


$24.95
ISBN: 9780307594174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 21st, 2015

In her new novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of cruelties visited upon children, or as one character, Booker, describes it, "...how childhood cuts festered and never scabbed over…” Throughout the story, points of view shift between half a dozen characters. Particular focus is given to a beautiful young "blue black" woman named Bride who has created a life for herself of seeming happiness, yet has an ever-present search for love and acceptance. We are all in one way or another shaped by our childhood. Morrison writes about this with great sensitivity. -Greg

 


$17.00
ISBN: 9781586422301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Steerforth Press - February 3rd, 2015

Weir has written what feels like a novel that could have been written by Dickens, although a bit more down and dirty, full of colorful characters set in the back alleys and streets of London after the Napoleonic War. The narrator is "your wery ‘umble" Will Starling, a young man who is an assistant to a surgeon--think amputations. We are taken into the world of Doomsday Men who provide surgeons with bodies for dissection--although that is not all. There is whispering that one Dionysus Atherton is attempting to raise the dead. This is a book to remember. -Greg

 


$16.99
ISBN: 9780385389587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - March 10th, 2015

What if your perfect small town was also the home of a cursed monster? In Alice Hoffman's latest YA offering, Nightbird, that is a real possibility. Until this summer, lonely Twig Fowler has lived a remote life in Sidwell, Massachusetts. When changes start occurring—new neighbors, cryptic graffiti, and purported sightings of the Monster of Sidwell—it's up to Twig to ask questions, take risks, and learn to trust her friends and herself. Nightbird is a shimmering and darkly mysterious tale of family, community, and the incredible power of true friendship. -Julia


$25.00
ISBN: 9781426213748
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: National Geographic Society - March 3rd, 2015

Life from Scratch is—in short—not your average food memoir. As food writer and blogger Sasha Martin (of Global Table Adventure) embarks on the culinary project of cooking, in 195 weeks, a meal from every country in the world, she and the reader are plunged into an unexpected and wrenching exploration into Martin's difficult past, and her struggle to reconcile and heal from it. Martin combines unflinching and insightful candor with artful and skilled recipes (I recommend trying her Kabeli Palau) to take us on a journey through taste, memory, and the people closest to us.  -Julia

 


$15.95
ISBN: 9781594747892
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quirk Books - May 12th, 2015

Here’s a brief quiz: Do you have a deep, unwavering devotion to aspects of popular culture that other people might refer to as “geeky?” Have you ever been known to “squee?” When your favorite character dies in a novel, does it hit you “right in the feels?” If the answer to any of these questions was “uh... yes,” then you, my friend, are a fangirl. Do not fret! It is an awesome thing to be, and Sam Maggs has written a guide to help you navigate the fangirl world of conventions and fandoms. TOLKEINDILS UNITE! –Hilary

 


$24.99
ISBN: 9780465029648
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Basic Books (AZ) - February 24th, 2015

Anyone who’s ever been to a therapy session knows that the conversational bond created between therapist and client can lead to revelations about true thoughts and difficult feelings. In his newest book, a famed psychotherapist invites his readers into individual therapy sessions with some of his most fascinating patients: ordinary people. In one session, an older woman reminisces about her past as a prima ballerina. In another, a highly successful businessman espouses his paralyzing fear of death. This book perfectly illustrates a famous quote by Mark Twain: “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility.” –Hilary

 


$16.99
ISBN: 9781481409193
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aladdin Paperbacks - January 20th, 2015

Owen has discovered Bethany’s secret—she can jump into books! Once Bethany takes Owen into a book with her, he decides he must learn how to do it on his own. But Bethany (whose mother is real and whose father is a character from a book), warns Owen he must be careful; he can change the story of a book. Owen has his own agenda for entering into his favorite story, but so does Bethany; she is looking for her father. A really fantastic adventure for all book lovers who have ever wanted to be a part of the story! -Holly

 


$25.00
ISBN: 9780804179683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - February 3rd, 2015

The latest installment in Kelly Link’s pantheon of short story collections embodies everything that Link’s fans know and love: the fantastical melds with the mundane, strange creatures lead ordinary lives, and beneath the magic, the pulse of humanity still beats. In “The Summer People,” we start with the duality of a touristy place, with the year-round residents resenting the wealth of the summer visitors, and then find that the “summer people” are not quite who you’d expect. “Light” is about the relationship between siblings and vacations in different universes. Link has created another collection of worlds for us to explore. –Hilary

 


$24.00
ISBN: 9781571311153
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - May 12th, 2015

A lovely, poignant tale is set in the magnificent (and consoling) Canadian Rockies, of a boy grown up quickly and called to face the truth of his family in its unsparing, yet ultimately kindly, incarnation. Hard questions persist, such as why addiction should so often lock onto the most sensitive and spiritual among us, or why those souls who most need our compassion are the hardest to reach. Medicine Walk shows that our biological families are only part of the story and that our true families emerge and settle in ways that can be as surprising as they are profound. -Jesse

 


By Paolo Rumiz, Gregory Conti (Translator)
$27.95
ISBN: 9780847845422
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rizzoli International Publications - March 3rd, 2015

Where does East meet West across the New Europe? Rumiz' ebullient 3,000-kilometer, cartographically-"vertical" journey explores the morphing boundaries among the homelands of an array of peoples. These people have famously suffered the worst that monarchy, religion, war, ideology and kleptocracy can offer, and remain vibrant with grace, alacrity, and wit. "Money rules everywhere, and the sacred is in pieces" laments one, but Rumiz deftly rearranges the mosaic to show that Europe's essential soul lives on; it just resides farther east than you think. A joyous narrative of the lands of forest and steppe, mushrooms, bear-spirits, ikons, the Firebird, and...magic. -Jesse 

 


$26.00
ISBN: 9781476749051
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria / 37 Ink - February 10th, 2015

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl opens with Issa Rae saying she is both awkward and black and that someone once told her those were the two worst things to be. From there her essays take readers on a hilarious and strange journey, beginning with her first brush with the Internet and online personas. Both established fans of Rae’s work, and those unfamiliar with her website, or her hilarious web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, are about to become addicted to her singular sense of humor and the wonderfully awkward way in which she moves through the world. -Justus

 


$24.95
ISBN: 9781770898684
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: House of Anansi Press - June 9th, 2015

What if you could successfully access your creative self anytime you wanted to work? David Usher’s book does exactly that. He demystifies what is often a murky and poorly understood topic, giving readers the tools they need to understand and use their own creative process at will. The way the book’s format works is playful and functional. Usher has readers breaking rules, stepping outside the norms, and exploring their creativity within the first few pages. This is no passive read. For readers who want to take an active role in their creative processes, this book really does change everything. -Justus