Store Publications


Review of Books | Spring 2014

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.


 

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307907769
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon, 4/2014
All the Birds, Singing is a beautifully crafted page-turner about Jake Whyte, a female sheep farmer living on a remote island near England. How Jake got here is a mystery, as we get the sense early on that she is an outsider. She wears scars on her back and hears strange beasts in the night. This book has depth, mood, and grit, but above all else it is Wyld’s story structure that makes this novel so gripping. Jake’s past is given to us in pieces, out of order and time, slowly revealing the unexpected truth. -Keith

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9781555976712
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press, 4/2014
How do we commiserate with one another? Can empathy be selfish? Where is the overlap of body and mind, pain and projection? Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, explores these questions in writing that balances science and emotion. Once uncomfortably called a “wound-dweller,” Jamison takes on an acting job at a medical school, witnesses a deadly mountain marathon, befriends those battling phantom diseases and prison, and draws on literature just as much as her own body. Fortified with strange and diverse anecdotes, this is an intelligent and emotional must-read about what and why we feel. –Amanda

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780871404510
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 3/2014
Walter Kirn achieves the rare marriage of page-humming suspense to psychological insight of substantial depth in this true-crime account of sociopath and con man extraordinaire Clark Rockefeller. Were this merely a third-person retelling of Rockefeller’s multifarious lives, it would be fascinating enough. But what raises it above the genre is the author’s long-standing involvement with Rockefeller dating from years before the inveterate liar’s crimes began to catch up with him. Kirn’s willingness to frankly reflect on the implications of being conned, and what it means to “tell the truth,” complicate and enrich this very American tale of a seriously disturbed German. –John

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9780307272249
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 3/2014
These brave poems—these poems of a lost father and new babies, of something we can’t fully hold on to yet—are affecting how I see life, death, and beauty. They are beginning to tear apart my own sentences, and together we are finding a new way to tell the truth. Kevin Young is fresh, crafting his lines with power and emotion. There is an immediacy and reality here. I have met his father in these poems. I was there for the births. I think any reader, familiar with poetry or not, will feel these poems deeply, find something true here. -Kenny!

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780374239329
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 4/2014
If you are pregnant, you need to read this book. If you have ever had a baby, you need to read this book. If you are planning to have a baby in the future, you need to read this book. If you are the partner of a woman who is having a baby, has had a baby, or plans to have a baby, you should read this book. If you are simply blown away by the miracle of birth and the strength of women, you should really, really read this book. Thirty acclaimed writers share their birth stories. They are amazing. -Nikki

All Our Names (Hardcover)

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780385349987
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 3/2014
In an unnamed African country, Isaac and his friend 
are enmeshed in a mad rebellion. While one young 
man becomes more entrenched in the revolution, the other is unwilling to give his allegiance to the cause, and a sacrifice of love and loyalty is made. As he transitions to life in America, Isaac finds himself the outsider once again in a world that he must make amends with. Mengestu’s gift as a storyteller is his ability to lift the lift the lid enough to make you look at the world just a 
little differently. -Tracy

Europe in Sepia (Paperback)

$13.95
ISBN-13: 9781934824894
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter Books, 2/2014
Dubravka Ugresic, the exiled Croatian novelist and cultural theorist, is back with a newly translated collection of essays. These short observances on all things human and evil are rooted in Ugresic’s background. After being breastfed on the failed “brighter” futures of communism, Ugresic now lives alongside the economic collapse of global capitalism. Filled with cynicism, dark humor and undeniable truisms, this book leaves the reader with two options as the way out of these apocalyptic times: revolution or imagination. -Davor

Redeployment (Hardcover)

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9781594204999
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 3/2014

There are no straight lines in this exceptional story collection rooted in the Iraq War. Memories surface out of order. Back home in the States, things sometimes make even less sense than they did in Iraq. The consequences are both impossible to avoid and too devastating to acknowledge.
It is tempting to call this “the real story” of the Iraq War, but Phil Klay’s skillful inhabitation of so many different voices prevents this. He shows us that this is a war made up of millions of stories, millions of individual traumas. The weight of this reality hangs on every word. -Casey O.

The Enchanted (Hardcover)

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780062285508
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper, 3/2014
Told through the eyes of a death row inmate, The Enchanted is set in a prison and told with elements of magical realism, poetry, and soul. Our omniscient narrator finds enchantment in the ancient walls of his shelter, escape in the books he finds in a dull prison-library, and true beauty set against the brutality and madness of rotting souls and a corrupt prison order. Author Rene Denfeld, journalist and licensed investigator of death penalty cases, gives us a career’s worth of insights, filling these pages with haunting details that breathe life into the decay of existence sentenced to death. –Keith

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9781590177181
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics, 3/2014
In this thin, dense volume (re-released here in this 
beautiful edition from NYRB Classics) William Gass displays all the verbal razzle-dazzle for which he 
is known. Animated by a scholar’s penetrating mind, a novelist’s rich imagination, and a poet’s lascivious tongue, Gass examines the word blue from a triple-jointed array of angles. Although it is filled with enlightening passages and references from the history of literature and philosophy, this is not a starched, academic exercise. I read it slowly, with a widening grin, and frequent pauses to gaze out the window, dreaming into the blue depths of Seattle’s gray sky. -John

$29.95
ISBN-13: 9780674073050
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harvard University Press, 2/2014
This rediscovered memoir of a mixed-race African American free spirit offers a delightful account of life in New York, Paris, London, and elsewhere during the 1920s and ’30s. A dancer, writer, actress, and critic, Reynolds acted in silent films (including The Thief of Bagdad); was a friend of W. E. B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, and A’Lelia Walker; experienced the heyday of 
surrealism with Man Ray and Antonin Artaud; and, as a journalist, covered the Spanish Civil War and witnessed the fall of Paris to the Nazis. Her fascinating story is enriched by essays by Patricia J. Williams and George Hutchinson. -Karen

The Unamericans (Hardcover)

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780393241136
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 2/2014
Antopol’s debut collection has the makings of a big-budget thriller: Hollywood. Communism. Yiddish Underground. But as stories leap from the United States to Israel to the Soviet Union, their heart lies less in world history and more in the intimate failures and obligations that accompany love, parenthood, and family. An absentee father worries he’ll be disappointed on a road trip with his young son. A waitress finds fleeting love in a bomb shelter. A man, marriage failing, journeys to his wife’s family in an Israeli kibbutz to manage an art estate. Diverse and poignant, these stories choose risk and conflict as honest alternatives to happiness. –Amanda

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780374118587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 4/2014
Lydia Davis, winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, returns with another stunning collection
of stories, marked by her customary brilliance, brevity, and razor-sharp powers of observation. I don’t know
how she does it, but Davis’s characters can somehow stand outside themselves, narrating their experiences with a degree of detachment while simultaneously bringing a keen awareness to the moment at hand. Davis’s latest collection mines personal dreams, lists, short narratives from Flaubert, letters of complaint to various manufacturers, internal dialogues, brushes with death, brief conversations, and observations on rituals and habits with a fierce focus that will leave you breathless. -Laurie

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307908100
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon, 4/2013
Written primarily during the first eighteen days of the Egyptian revolution, and in part in the months after, Cairo gives us a diary of a revolution in progress. Here, Ahdaf Soueif recounts her actions and experiences as part of the protests each day, recording the things she witnesses, the stories she hears, and her hopes and fears for the next day’s efforts. Soueif writes with a powerful, memorable voice, but what I found equally striking were her interludes from later dates, which reflect on the unfinished nature of both the book and the revolution. -Jacob

$35.00
ISBN-13: 9780300179088
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press, 3/2014
Long before spinning the World Wide Web, information technology seemed to spiral forth ephemerally, like the vapors of the Genie of the Lamp. Here is the fascinating history of news dissemination, from the earliest days of word-of-mouth (often sung!) through the development of the printed word to the creation of media empires and monopolies. Information: who has it, who wants it, and the arbitrage in between. Also why cui bono was and remains such a prudent watchword. Like the genie, news has the power to grant wishes and dreams, or to cruelly chastise those who wish unwisely. –Jesse

$23.00
ISBN-13: 9780812995787
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House, 3/2014
Returning to his native Nigeria for the first time since he was a teenager, Teju Cole is our Lagos tour guide—his writing evocative, sensory, and cinematic. Cole is not afraid of the reality or the ferocity of his city. He is honest—heartbroken at times, yes—but there is a rich hope here, a light found in the people, art, and culture of his homeland. Those already familiar with his work will find this memoir the perfect companion to his magnificent novel Open City, as it explores Lagos with the same intellect and perception he used to examine New York City. -Kenny!

$16.95
ISBN-13: 9781612192642
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House, 1/2014
The world is now totally controlled by fast food joints, and Leonard—our ne'er do well hero of sorts—takes complaint calls for the Pythagorean pizza chain, Neetsa Pizza. He finds himself getting caught up in a bizarre reality in which long dead individuals, such as an explorer named Marco, keep calling him on the phone. The social and political order are coming apart, and Leonard is called upon to save the world as he knows it. What to do? Rachel Cantor's debut novel is clever, delightful, and full of surprises along the way. Dive in. -Greg

$16.95
ISBN-13: 9781619022935
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Soft Skull Press, 4/2014
An unnerving true chronicle of a society that has reached a catastrophic accommodation with its own dysfunction. Colombia—incomparably beautiful, culturally wealthy, the epicenter of terrestrial biodiversity—has been steadily drained of all this treasure, for the sake of monetary riches generated by a commodity whose purpose is to satisfy human lust for pleasure. Here are multiple life stories of the people who make it, those who move it, and those who come to the source to use it, each driven by a curious yet inexorable logic. Trenchant, nuanced, and empathetic, Cocaina provides no panaceas but plenty of food for thought. -Jesse

Piano Stories (Paperback)

$16.95
ISBN-13: 9780811221801
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1/2014
In these times where everything has been done
and originality is no longer a question or even a quality to be considered, the republication of Felisberto Hernandez’s Piano Stories is a breath of fresh air. Barely known during his own time and barely mentioned during our own, Hernandez is a writer whom few others can be compared to. His stories live in a realm much closer to that of dreams, where each object and being exist in the logic of their own making. And where behind every identifiable surface lies a great and impenetrable depth. -Davor

The Crane Wife (Hardcover)

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9781594205477
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 1/2014
Rich with Japanese mythology, The Crane Wife tells the story of George Duncan, a man whose life is unremarkable in nearly every way until he finds a crane with an arrow through its wing. George pulls the arrow out and unwittingly frees himself from his monotonous life. When a young woman appears in his shop the next day, George finds himself creating mysterious works of art with her that twist the world around them, affecting the people who walk into the shop in intimate and unexpected ways. The Crane Wife is masterful, writing a line between myth and reality that will leave you awe-struck. -Justus

$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780374289201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1/2014
Good criticism isn’t just honest—it voices the truth. Wendy Lesser’s understanding of this distinction makes her the perfect guide for exploring this unanswerable question. Why I Read is a spirited investigation of literature’s methods and capabilities, and Lesser shines as she illuminates the strengths of her favorite works. But it is her eloquence in approaching the uncanny and ethereal connections between writers and their readers, her reasoned and intuitive grasp of the “spaces between” that makes this book such a welcome revelation. Her authority comes from her clarity. “Literature is a remarkable thing,” she tells us, “and so are its readers.” -Casey O

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9780307379979
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon, 2/2014
I knew Cummings only through my love of his poetry until I read this book. Cheever reveals Cummings’s life in a way that informs his individualistic style as a |poet and writer. Cummings embraced the Pound maxim “make it new.” He was a radical and in many ways still is. He has fallen in and out of favor over the years. Cheever asserts that his time has come again, and perhaps this time he will remain the ever present giant of poetry that he is and ever will be. A fine biography. –Greg

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780374209148
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 3/2014
Mohamed’s second novel orbits around three women whose lives intertwine as the city around them unravels in the months before the Somali Civil War. Deqo is a resourceful and kind young refugee. Kawsar is past middle age and mourning the loss of her husband and daughter. Filsan is an ambitious soldier trapped in her military father’s shadow. United early in the novel by an act of violence and its aftermath, these women come into focus through their relationships, mainly with other women. Imbued with humor, rough flaws, and hard-won tenderness, these women stumble bravely through their circumstances to arrive at hope. -Casey O.

Boy, Snow, Bird (Hardcover)

$27.95
ISBN-13: 9781594631399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 3/2014
A young woman seeking refuge in a small Massachusetts town finds that it’s not just her husband’s family that harbors a stunning secret in Helen Oyeyemi’s most recent novel. Set in the 1950s, Boy, Snow, Bird is reminiscent of the mannered “passing” novels of the ’20s and ’30s (in which multiracial African Americans moved into white society and denied their heritage). Here Oyeyemi explicitly explores both the cruelties inflicted in the course of enforcing the “natural order” as well as the consequences of the rage of those who have learned to despise what they see in the mirror. -Karen

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780393348484
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 2/2014
Betsy Prioleau debunked the myths surrounding the femme fatales of history in Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love. This time around she tackles history’s greatest lady killers. As it turns out, the men we love and throw ourselves at have not always been the chiseled Adonises that popular culture leads us to believe. Prioleau expertly spotlights some of the great Casanovas throughout history and today. Her research helps refute the horrid advice that books like The Game have been throwing at modern men and shows what skills actually draw the lady moths to the flame. -Brandi

I'll Be Right There (Paperback)

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9781590516737
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Other Press, 4/2014
Jung Yoon picks up the phone and immediately recognizes her ex-boyfriend's voice, even though it’s been eight years. He is calling to tell her Professor Yoon is in the hospital, dying. The sound of his voice, along with the sobering news, gets Jung thinking about her life and the tragedies, loves, and friendships woven through it. Set in South Korea amid social unrest and political demonstrations, the story depicts the quiet isolation and angst of early adulthood, but it is Kyung-Sook Shin’s subtle portrayal of the complex bonds among these powerful and relatable characters that leaves the deepest impression. -Nikki

The Winter People (Hardcover)

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780385538497
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday, 2/2014
Sara Harrison Shea died under ghastly circumstances in 1908, mere weeks after the death of her beloved daughter, leaving a haunting legacy behind. More than a century later, sisters Ruthie and Fawn wake to find that their mother is mysteriously missing. Joining forces with two suspicious strangers to track down their missing mom, they begin to uncover shocking family secrets—Sara’s and theirs—as well as a tale of twisted motherly devotion. Jennifer McMahon weaves a tale of historical suspense and Gothic horror that seamlessly combines two not-so-disparate tales of mothers and daughters in the small town of West Hall, Vermont. -Brandi

Exploding the Phone (Paperback)

$18.00
ISBN-13: 9780802122285
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press, 2/2014
It’s a story so outlandish, it couldn’t possibly be true—how a small group of hackers and pranksters could whistle into a phone to make free calls, or eavesdrop on almost anyone (including the FBI), or prank call Richard Nixon—except that it’s all true, and there’s so much more to tell, all in this outstanding history of the “phone phreaks” and their decades-long game of cat-and-mouse with the world’s largest corporation, “Ma Bell,” and the U.S. government. Exploding the Phone is an engrossing history of a little-known subculture, and an important, highly entertaining document of the history of hacking. –Jacob

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9781566893459
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Coffee House Press, 4/2014
Out of the many fragments of baseball history collected in The Devil’s Snake Curve, Josh Ostergaard has assembled a unique take on baseball’s complicated symbolism. Full of mustaches, advertisements, and more than a few reasons to hate the Yankees, it’s a story about how baseball became intertwined with our ideas about things like patriotism, civility, and masculinity. Ostergaard’s interpretation of baseball’s history is one I was increasingly drawn into, and while he doesn’t pretend to be objective, he leaves room for readers to make their own connections and draw their own conclusions. It is as thought provoking as  it is entertaining. -Jacob

Grasshopper Jungle (Hardcover)

$18.99
ISBN-13: 9780525426035
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Juvenile, 2/2014
Every time I try to explain what this book is about, I begin a long-winded, crazy synopsis that leaves the listener overwhelmed. There is such depth to this exceptional new young adult novel that I want so much to paint a vivid picture. I finally realized that it’s so much easier to explain this book with a simple statement: Grasshopper Jungle is about two boys who inadvertently cause the catastrophic invasion of their town by six-foot-tall praying mantis creatures that only want to eat and breed. See! So much easier. Plus there are mad scientists, love triangles, and unstoppable corn! -Casey S.

Under the Egg (Hardcover)

$16.99
ISBN-13: 9780803740013
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial, 3/2014
Her grandfather’s dying words were about treasure “under the egg.” But for thirteen-year-old Theo, his legacy of a few hundred dollars isn’t any treasure, and it’s not enough for her and her addled mother to keep their family home. But an accident in her grandfather’s studio leads Theo to find a painting under a painting. Could it be a rare missing masterpiece? And how did her grandfather come into possession of it? This debut novel is not only a great mystery but a wonderful story of friendship too. -Holly

$16.99
ISBN-13: 9780763632601
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick, 3/2014
You think babies have it easy? You couldn’t be more wrong. In this delightfully rhythmic tale, we hear the struggles of this baby who faces mushy food, stinky diapers, and a night behind bars—of the crib that is. The illustrations of the round-headed baby who tells this tale of woe are adorable (think Helen Oxenbury’s chubby cherubs). The text begs to be sung as a classic blues song (complete with a refrain of “B A B Y Baby, got the poor little baby blues”). A distinctly pleasing picture book. –Holly

$19.95
ISBN-13: 9780735841130
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Northsouth, 2/2014
Prince William needs a reader to help him pick a princess! Arriving from all around the world are twenty-six choices. They are beautiful and strange birds, each with a name and home country that share the same first letter. Their personalities and favorite foods match, too, and they’ve brought plenty of bizarre gifts— rhino balloons, anyone? The tongue-twisting alliterations beg to be read aloud. Paired with Puchner’s lush and quirky watercolors, this story makes one reading—just like one princess—not nearly enough. -Amanda

The Winter Horses (Hardcover)

$16.99
ISBN-13: 9780385755436
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 3/2014
When orphaned Kalinka stumbles across a herd of rare and wild Przewalski horses living on an animal sanctuary in the Ukrainian Steppe, she thinks she’s finally found a safe place to stay. Living with the horses gives her hope that the war will pass them by...but when Nazis arrive at the nature reserve and begin slaughtering the beautiful animals, Kalinka must summon her courage to save the breed. With the help of the groundskeeper, she flees with two of the wild horses and a loyal dog... but with the Nazis in immediate pursuit, their chances of escape are slim, and getting worse. -Justus