Winter Gazette 2017

Handpicked new releases, lovingly presented to you by the staff of Elliott Bay.

 

Audiobooks available for select titles through our friends at Libro.fm.

 

Fall Booknotes 2017

 

Staff Pick Logo
A Field Guide to the North American Family: An Illustrated Novella Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781101874950
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 31st, 2017

In many respects, this story has been told before: two suburban families are beset with tragedy (death, injury, and divorce). The A-to-Z entries in the field guide format bring inventive nuance by simultaneously acknowledging the motifs found in such stories and using them to highlight the complexity of these characters and their relationships. There is little sense of time or a direct plot line: it is less like a Choose Your Own Adventure, as it’s marketed, and more like a jigsaw puzzle—the final image revealed piece by piece in no predetermined order. A great book for readers of experimental literature! -Thomas


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The Grammar of Spice Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780500519677
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thames & Hudson - October 10th, 2017

If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to the when, the where, and the how of using various spices in your kitchen, look elsewhere (like Karen Page's Flavor Bible, for example). This is something else entirely—leave it on your counter and take a peek while you're waiting for water to boil. Open to a spice you know and get to know its historical, botanical, cultural, literary, or, yes, culinary side. Or open to something unfamiliar and find the inspiration to try something new. More interesting than your average coffee table book, prettier than your average bathroom book—this a true kitchen table book. -Sam


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Book of Twilight Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, William O'Daly (Translator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781556593987
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Copper Canyon Press - October 17th, 2017

Book of Twilight is gorgeous. The poems of Pablo Neruda’s 1923 debut collection Crepusculario in their original Spanish are on the left, and William O’Daly’s English translations are on the right. With both versions side-by-side, we are able to immerse ourselves in Neruda’s budding greatness. These often heartrending poems are romantic and soft in content, yet direct and exact in form. With themes of love, loneliness, grief, and longing, Neruda’s dive into brokenness and imperfection is magnificent. I am blown away by how Neruda, at just nineteen years old, managed to pack such raw feeling into so few words. -Sage


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The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763677541
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - October 10th, 2017

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, known for their numerous high humor children’s books have once again combined their wit and skillful illustrations for the masterpiece that is The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. When Mouse discovers he has been swallowed by Wolf, he is filled with bewilderment until he meets Duck. These unlikely friends soon bond in their shared experience and decide to make the best of their situation. The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse is a wonderful addition to the library of Barnett and Klassen, and will delight perennial and new fans alike. -Teasha


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Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735211261
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - November 7th, 2017

If you're anything like me, you've never given much thought to jellyfish, aside from the erroneous rumor that urine will relieve a jellyfish sting. In Spineless, an ex-scientist turned textbook writer and mom rekindles her love of the ocean through an unexpected fascination with jellyfish. These complex creatures play vital roles in their ecosystems and respond in unpredictable ways to the changing chemistry of the oceans. Berwald wonders, will jellyfish take over the warming, acidifying seas, or will they suffer along with so many other important species? You'll find some answers (and many more questions) in these pages. -Liz


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The River of Consciousness Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780385352567
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 24th, 2017

This collection of essays was outlined by the beloved neurologist and author in the weeks before his death. Evolution, creativity, the perception of time—these are among the themes Sacks effortlessly navigates in his wonderfully warm and personal style. But whether he is writing about the history of botany or the experience of being an earthworm, always present is a sense of his extraordinary intellect, and of retrospection over a long and wide-ranging career. Especially poignant are his observations, often humorous, of his own aging body—in fact, “Mishearings” (p. 123) is worth a read on its own, and I recommend you do that right now. -Justin


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No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters Cover Image
By Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen Joy Fowler (Introduction by)
$22.00
ISBN: 9781328661593
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - December 5th, 2017

As she reflects on her life, Ursula K. Le Guin takes readers through a series of meditations on what actions, ideas, and pleasures might truly matter. No Time to Spare is direct, full of her humor and acerbic wit. Her topics include explorations into respect and how neither "the geezers" nor "the twerps" know how to relate to one another anymore, as well as records of her new cat's reckless adventures. Each offering in this diverse collection presents a strange sort of comfort: in life we have no time to spare—we are all moving towards our ends—but how wonderful the choices we have at hand while we live it. -Justus


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The Best American Comics 2017 Cover Image
By Ben Katchor (Editor), Bill Kartalopoulos (Editor)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780544750364
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - October 3rd, 2017

This year's Best American Comics is so intellectually and artistically diverse you're guaranteed to find both comics and creators you adore and abhor. But every single comic in here is worth reading, whether it's the stark surrealism of Patrick Kyle, the messy intimacy of Gabrielle Bell, or the cartoonish anxieties of Seattleite Björn Miner. Editors Ben Katchor and Bill Kartalopoulos aren't interested in featuring big name publishers; they're looking for deeply personal stories and comics that take risks. The art they've chosen defies expectations and reminds readers why they love comics—it seems there's nothing the medium can't do. -Emma


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Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780451494023
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - November 7th, 2017

John Mauceri utilizes fifty years of musical experience to compose this academic yet personal title, which is both an accessible guide to the history and techniques of conducting and a behind-the-scenes view of a conductor's life. He unravels the preparation of a performance, including score interpretation; the influence of technology, time, and place; and the importance of the relationships involved. Anecdotes of great conductors, including Mauceri's mentor, Leonard Bernstein, sparkle with notes of candid humor, passion, and a touch of musical magic. This is an insightful read for aspiring conductors, opera fans, and music lovers alike. -Liz


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Silence: In the Age of Noise Cover Image
By Erling Kagge, Becky L. Crook (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781524733230
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - November 21st, 2017

Have you experienced this: emerging gentle from dreamstate into waking, and without talk, without radio, with no blot on silence, dwelling in that quiet as far into the day as possible? Arctic explorer Erling Kagge asks and explores these fundamental questions: What is silence? Where is it? Why is it more important now than ever? This beautiful, elegiac book is to be kept close at hand; to be read and re-read. I’m giving it to everyone this holiday season. I’m wishing silence into everyone’s life. -Peter


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Great Hiking Trails of the World: 80 Trails, 75,000 Miles, 38 Countries, 6 Continents Cover Image
By Karen Berger, Bill McKibben (Foreword by), The American Hiking Society (Contribution by)
$50.00
ISBN: 9780847860937
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rizzoli International Publications - September 26th, 2017

Author Karen Berger has hiked more than 18,000 miles. While you ponder that number, here’s another: she details the history and lore of eighty trails in this book of startling beauty. Great Hiking Trails of the World could reroute your life just from flipping a page. Don’t let it get into the hands of your friend with wanderlust or you’ll never see her again. From pilgrimages and historic hikes to ice-capped summits and beach cliff walks on six continents, the diversity of trails in this book is a testament to geologic might and human willpower. As John Muir said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” -Katie


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Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated Cover Image
By Shea Serrano, Arturo Torres (Illustrator), Reggie Miller (Foreword by)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781419726477
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Abrams Image - October 10th, 2017

Basketball (and Other Things)—let's call it BAOT for short—is the follow-up to writer and Twitter champion Shea Serrano's phenomenal The Rap Year Book. As earnest and informative as its predecessor, filled with lists, graphs, movie scripts, and Arturo Torres' incredible art, BAOT asks and answers big questions, like: What was the most important NBA Championship? Was Kobe Bryant a dork? (He was.) How would Air Bud fare in the draft? By the end of these thirty-three chapters you'll realize that Shea's right: basketball is fun. And BAOT is the most fun you're going to have reading a book in 2017. It's good to have fun. -Eric


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Mean Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894913
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - November 7th, 2017

Mean is a brazen coming-of-age story, shining a stark light on both the ugly and lovely crevices of life. In prose vignettes, Myriam Gurba has perfectly captured the mundane horrors of being a mixed-race queer woman in America. Her writing moves fluidly between genres, managing to be both memoir and ethnography, poetry and prose, bildungsroman and ghost story. A tale of survival written with a wry, dark humor, this is not an easily digestible book; but Gurba was brave enough to write it, and her readers ought to show the same courage. We need more stories like this. -Emma


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Grant Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9781594204876
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - October 10th, 2017

A detailed rehabilitation of Ulysses S. Grant’s legacy, this book charts the tragic arc of a man whose convictions were galvanized by war and tested by two fateful presidential terms. Chernow’s intensive research demonstrates that Grant was not a corrupt mediocrity of myth but rather a progressive leader whose experience in the Civil War made him a devoted champion of equal rights, willing to stake his career on the enfranchisement of black Americans in Reconstruction-era America only to see it flounder against corruption and political backlash. Chernow’s book has a distinct timeliness in detailing the moral imperatives left by Grant's unfinished work. -Wes


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What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781616207823
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - November 7th, 2017

We are living in a damnable time in our nation; one that is demonstrably divisible. Dan Rather brings six decades of professional experience and his personal touch to bear in exploring the characteristics that can lead us to achieve the elusive and unrealized ideals of America. A self described optimist, Rather is also a realist who acknowledges our faults along with our virtues. This is an encouraging book and will appeal to a wide array of readers—with the possible exceptions of ossified cynics and the congenitally ignorant. A much needed balm. -Greg


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Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter & Booze Cover Image
By Kate Lebo (Editor), Samuel Ligon (Editor)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781632171122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sasquatch Books - October 24th, 2017

Pie & Whiskey is a reading series founded in Spokane, Washington (a small town east of the Cascades you've probably read about in The Stranger) that pairs poetry and prose with butter and booze. It's a good pairing. This collection features culinary-themed writing from a lineup of Northwest heavy hitters and several irreverent, fun recipes so we can join the boozy "sweet corruption" from home. I can easily see myself knocking back several Chocolate Pecan Pie Whiskey Shots (p. 28) to survive family gatherings this holiday season and, come spring, I know I'll be ride or die for the Motherfucking Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (p. 91). -Eric


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Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve And/Or Ruin Everything Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399563829
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - October 17th, 2017

As both a pop science fan and proud semi-Luddite, I was drawn to Soonish thanks to its deliciously skeptical subtitle. Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, the married coauthors (she's a biologist, he's a cartoonist), maintain a tone of tempered optimism throughout the book. Soonish comprises ten chapters that each explore a different technological concept. Many are hopeful (precision medicine?!) and some are mildly terrifying—hard pass from me on brain-computer interfaces, thank you. Funny, conversational, and interspersed with clever comics, Soonish strikes a balance that tech nerds and technophobes alike will appreciate. -Shawn


Staff Pick Logo
Blitt Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780399576669
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 24th, 2017

Barry Blitt is a cartoonist and illustrator. You'll probably recognize his work from the iconic covers and pages of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, Frank Rich's Sunday op-ed in the New York Times, your mom's house, and the waiting room of your primary care physician. After lampooning the American political landscape with pen and ink, watercolor, and his signature sharp wit for over twenty years, Blitt's work is collected here for the first time along with insights into his thought process and private sketchbooks. A truly beautiful piece of Americana and the perfect gift for lovers of illustration and satire. -Eric


Staff Pick Logo
Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781612196701
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House Publishing - November 7th, 2017

The umbrella. We think of it for rain, but one can also find it in ancient Egypt, a country not known for its rain. Brolliology is a fascinating and idiosyncratic look at the history of an ever-so-useful and practical object. Did you know that, at one time, the umbrella was a sign of poverty? The rich rode in carriages, dispensing with the need for the humble umbrella. The book is richly illustrated and full of wonderful stories of the appearance of the umbrella in literature. There is even a chapter on the umbrella as detritus—having collapsed under the pressure of the weather, it ends its life in the gutter. Pick this book up and learn the long and unique history of this common object. -Greg


Staff Pick Logo
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth Cover Image
By Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9780399167898
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - November 14th, 2017

The first time I read this book, I cried. I still don't quite know if those tears were sparked by joy, hope, or a strange sadness, but they reappear with every reread. Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite children's authors and this title is a perfect example of why. Written for his infant son, Here We Are combines basic facts about the world and its inhabitants with Jeffers' trademark humor and heart-wrenching sincerity. I want to give this book to every child in the world. Every adult should read it, too. -Liz


Staff Pick Logo
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) Cover Image
By Dan Santat, Dan Santat (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626726826
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roaring Brook Press - October 3rd, 2017

You know the story: Humpty Dumpty, the wall and the fall, all the horses and men who put those pieces back together again. But what happened next? Award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat continues the well-known story to show readers why Humpty was on that wall in the first place and what it takes to eventually get that brave egg back up there! We are reminded that although accidents are often inevitable, life is all about what happens when we get back up again. Be courageous! -Maggie


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The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780553523225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books for Young Readers - September 26th, 2017

Inspired by an evening storytelling session with his daughters in 1879, Mark Twain penned incomplete notes for this tale of a young boy on a journey with some magic seeds and a band of animals. Philip Stead’s playful narrative and Erin Stead’s soft, elegant illustrations here weave together with Twain’s original story, a wonderfully imaginative collaboration between revered modern-day storytellers and an American legend. The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine champions friendship and character with a signature witty wisdom that shines. -Sage


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The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780375815300
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 19th, 2017

One evening, as eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead is working at his father’s inn, he overhears three gentlemen in conversation. Their subject is much more than local gossip; it concerns an infant that lives in the nearby priory. Lyra, the baby being raised by the nuns, is the illegitimate daughter of two notable figures and heroine of Pullman’s previous trilogy. Young Malcolm stumbles into a nefarious spy ring and is set on a course that will imperil him and Lyra greatly. Return again to Philip Pullman’s Oxford and embark on a journey that is surreal, wondrous, fraught with danger, and utterly breathtaking. -Holly


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The Annotated African American Folktales Cover Image
By Henry Louis Gates (Editor), Maria Tatar (Editor)
$39.95
ISBN: 9780871407535
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - November 14th, 2017

Gates and Tatar have masterfully curated this book of African American folktales. Spinning lessons from Anansi and Brer Rabbit to Stagolee and John Henry's triumphs, this collection includes stories from centuries ago and from recent generations. The illustrations that go along with these tales are beautiful and poetic themselves. I highly recommend this book, whether it is being read to a child or fervently read on your porch late at night. -Allen


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1984 Cover Image
$19.84
ISBN: 9781328869333
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - April 4th, 2017

Allow me to assume, reader, that you're well versed in the present import of Orwell's 1949 classic. You've read the op-eds, drawn your conclusions, and you don't need any opining from me. The essentials, then: the stark cover design of this newly released hardcover edition (which retails for, yes, $19.84) leans brilliantly into the world Orwell created with Oceania. And that is, after all, one of the most astounding achievements of 1984; its universe so permeated our culture that it gave us new language, new boundaries, new ways of categorizing our fears. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. -Shawn


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Elmet Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616208424
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - December 5th, 2017

Fiona Mozley has unleashed a debut novel not to be missed. Her churning, lyrical style unravels the concepts of loyalty, violence, classism, conflict, and what it is to be wild. We see all this through the eyes of 14-year-old Daniel and his insular family, a tight-knit unit composed of his not-to-be-trifled with sister and the rugged, overwhelming presence of his survivalist father. Mozley artfully describes a cultural clash of old-world values at odds with a more modern vacuum of morality as Daniel’s father enters deeper into a web of conflict with a cruel property and business mogul. The intensity of Elmet will keep you rapt through the very end. -Amy


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The Rules of Magic Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781501137471
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 10th, 2017

The Rules of Magic is so good it will have readers calling out from work with book fever and retreating into the magical world of the three Owens siblings. This is a story of self-discovery and the pushing of boundaries that reminds readers both of the magic inherent in our everyday lives and the responsibilities that come with being a person in this world. Hoffman keeps readers riddled with suspense, so even those who have read Practical Magic and know what becomes of the characters will be unable to stop their compulsive page turning. -Justus


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Little Fires Everywhere Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735224292
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - September 12th, 2017

Free-spirited artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl never stay in one place for too long. They have lived in dozens of cities, can pack everything they own into a Volkswagen Bug, and just manage to scrape by financially. When they arrive in Shaker Heights, they do not match the town’s picture-perfect appearances. As the presence of Mia and Pearl stirs things up, pasts are revealed and facades come tumbling down in gasp-worthy fashion. The characters will keep you guessing, laughing, and engaged. A compelling exploration of identity and motivations, Little Fires Everywhere is a slow burn that delivers. -Sage


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Manhattan Beach Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781476716732
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - October 3rd, 2017

This is my favorite novel of 2017 and here’s why you should read it. 1) Anna Kerrigan is the only female deep-sea diver working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II and she is the most human character I’ve read in a long time. 2) Her father Eddie has links to shady union business and has disappeared. 3) The novel has the dark pull of noir and the drama of the high seas. 4) Jennifer Egan researched it for a decade. 5) 1940s criminal jargon. When I finished it, I took a deep breath, then texted my bookish friends and told them to get their hands on a copy. Consider this my text to you. Read Manhattan Beach. Tell your friends. -Katie


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The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780811226936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - August 29th, 2017

A cornerstone of Portuguese literature, Pessoa's book is presented in its complete form for the first time in this beautiful edition. This work is existentialism in its purest form, like a vaccine for a wasted life. Using several "heteronyms," Pessoa injects the reader with a living bacteria professing his life is death, solitude is his virtue, coexistence is satanic, and his only joy is to be found in inaction. The fact that Pessoa constructed such a large body of ruminations, though, seems to indicate that there is fulfillment to be found—if only outside himself. This is a deeply inventive work where hope can be read only between the harrowing lines. -Tony


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In the Distance Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - October 10th, 2017

The best novel I have read in 2017. Why? Because it is replete with qualities that seem increasingly scarce in contemporary culture; namely nuance, subtlety, and reflection. A young Swedish immigrant arrives penniless in antebellum America, his sole purpose to reunite with his brother. From this simple setup, Diaz creates a deep evocation of foreignness, adding a welcome complication to the Western genre. Exploring myth and shame, the episodic journey upends stereotypes while maintaining a gripping narrative. Written in beautifully tactile prose, In The Distance is a startling debut novel. I look forward to reading it again. -John


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Spy of the First Person Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525521563
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - December 5th, 2017

For over fifty years, in plays and prose, the late Sam Shepard wrote of life and passion with a visceral energy that had few peers. In this exquisite, haunting last work of fiction, written by hand and dictated by voice as his body was limited by the ravages of ALS, Shepard writes from different perspectives on the body’s loss of strength. Even so, the power of beauty, the pull of landscapes of the heart—and of actual land—are as intense and keen as ever. There is loss, but not loss, fragility and strength, self and others, absence but presence, here, then not. -Rick


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The King Is Always Above the People: Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781594631726
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 31st, 2017

Known for hosting Radio Ambulante on NPR and for At Night We Walk in Circles (a finalist for the 2014 Pen-Faulkner Award), Daniel Alarcón bestows upon us a beautiful offering of short stories reflecting the complexities of the human experience. With each story you are transported into the rich and vivid lives of people who are resilient, compelling, and at times, in pain. From Lima, Peru to close-knit immigrant communities in California, Alarcón demystifies the notion of the one-story narrative with eloquence. It is no surprise that The King is Always Above the People was longlisted for a National Book Award. -Teasha