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Bookseller’s ChoiceUse the arrows on either side of the page to flip through the magazine.The book covers are clickable, and will take you to the book on our website: ebbooksellers.comFeel free to download & share the magazine!•••1About Brad’s Choices“Poetry is probably my deepest love, even if I do gadabout more with the likes of fiction and history. I don’t just mean the Poetry section, even though I do take great joy caretaking it. What I mean is, no matter what I read, I tend to be most interested in how a writer is using language --what they do with words and the spaces between them. There is sometimes more poetry shacked up in the paragraphs of prose than at its home in verse. For me, more important than most stories are the worlds -- the legions of consciousnesses and identities, unruly most of the time -- created in the telling of those stories. One result of this is that I tend to err on the side of reading slowest the books I value the most.”
2The Peregrine, by J. A. BakerI’ve been referring to this as the Moby-Dick of “bird books” for a while. Shorter, of course, but so is a bird’s life compared to a whale’s ...but no less ambitious or profound. Rich beyond its page count. Join the cult following!In Memory of Memory, By Maria Stepanova, Sasha Dugdale (Translator)Truly mesmerizing piece of writing. The mining of memories, of yours and of others, those imagined, idealized or invoked, turns excavation into an art-form. Stepanova’s novel has claimed its place as one of the great examples.The Living Mountain, by Nan ShepherdUnder-known for far too long, Nan is finally starting to get credit for some of the most innovative nature writing of the past century. Her focus here is her home, the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland. Strikingly, she eschews the male obsession with the heights / the ascent, and focuses her eye, body, and prose on the plateaus.
3Pond - by Claire-Louise BennettMy friends were inundated with texts from me raving about and quoting this book. One of the most kick-down-the-door debuts in recent memory. Get lost in Bennett's narrator's headspace, and you may not wish to be found. One of those quiet sorts of books that are actually screaming. Time is the Thing a Body Moves Through - by T FleishmannLine for line, one of the best written books in the store. I found myself stopping for long moments between sentences, or even clauses, both to marvel and to tease out what was happening on the page. A book about art, love, and community: about living.I Hope We Choose Love - by Kai Cheng ThomWhat a book. My co-worker, Adelaide, has been enthusiastically talking about this one for a while. Upon reading, I had to join the chorus. The questions that inform Thom’s book are a challenge -- a challenge prompted by hope; hope motivated by love -- that we might do better to ourselves and to our communities. Seiobo There Below - by László Krasznahorkai, Ottilie Mulzet (Translated by)Mysterious...mesmerizing...magical. László Krasznahorkai is, for me, “lit-bro” me all you want, the greatest living novelist. High praise, eh? How about this?This is his masterpiece. I’ve read this multiple times since it’s release, and will keep reading for years to come.
4Inward Morning - by Henry BugbeeConfession: despite my love of lyrical wilderness existentialism, of which Bugbee’s work is considered an underground classic, I’m decidedly not the outdoor type . . . and would be the first to be fed to the bears if the shit hit the fan.Island Zombie - by Roni HornAnother nature-focused assemblage of journals, Brad? Seriously! Roni Horn is a visual artist with a serious ear for language. Her pieces here about weather, in particular, are truly stunning. One of the early joys of the year was dipping into and out of this.Dictée - by Theresa Hak Kyung ChaI steer pretty decisively toward writing that defies form and genre. If ever there was an example of this, it is Dictée, which is as defiantly original today as it was when it was first written before Cha’s murder in 1982.
5Bertolt - by Jacques Goldstyn, Claudia Zoe Bedrick (Translator)This book continues to give me joy. Each time we sell out - which is often - and it returns, I re-read it, and I’m in love with it all over again. As I’ve said at the store, “Think The Giving Tree, without the masochism.” Hold on, don’t get mad! I just mean, because here the tree isn’t being celebrated for being consumed, but for a living something with which we might also share.Dialogues - by Paul Valéry“Truth is before us, and we no longer understand anything at all.”Yes, these covers leave a lot to be desired, & the books cost too much. There’s no getting around that. But . . . oh my. Oh my! Do spend time with with the Dialogues, whether by thievery or expensive purchase. Your soul, or whatever remains thereof, will thank you.Suite for Barbara Loden, Exposition, & The White Dress - by Nathalie LégerLéger’s trilogy of essay-novels are among the most exhilaratingly creative pieces of writing I’ve read in years. Again, very genre-defiant, as you’ve come to expect, but exceedingly welcome to all readers. Just a pure, if somewhat heady joy! Sharks, Death, Surfers - by Melissa McCarthyOne of the great “this is why you shop at good indie bookstore” books you’re likely to find, because where and how else would you know about this bizarre convergence of cultural & natural history?
6No-No Boy - by John OkadaFirst published in 1957, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and the Japanese internment behind them. Too often we forget -- too often we silence. It’s our responsibility us that Okada’s classic should suffer neither.Echo Tree - by Henry DumasI’m beside myself with joy that our friends at Coffee House Press are re-releasing this masterpiece story collection. Would that 2021 be the year of Henry Dumas, perhaps we might have learned something from 2020 after all.Counternarratives - by John KeeneIf I could put Keene’s collection of short stories and novellas into every one of these catalogs, I probably would. Counternarratives is one of the true works of 21st-century genius.
7Border & Rule, by Harsha WaliaTo my eyes & politics, this is one of the most significant books of the year. Walia’s ability to take outrages that have a tendency to compound and debilitate, and to articulately synthesize them is remarkable in itself. She demonstrates that the the world’s migrant/refugee crises are inevitable outcomes of conquest, capitalist globalization, and climate change generating mass dispossession worldwide. Black Nature - Camille Dungy (editor)I know it’s not a competition, but if I had to decide what is the best anthology in the store . . . it very well may be this one. It’s stunning in its scope --some 400 years of African American nature writing.Superlatives stacked cannot do it justice. An indispensable book, period … end of story. A Pre-Columbian Bestiary - by Ilan Stevens, Eko (Illustrator)An mesmerizing collaboration between award-winning Mexican American scholar Ilan Stavans and illustrator Eko, this book features forty-six religious, mythical, and imaginary creatures from the Nahua, Aztec, Maya, Tabasco, Inca, Aymara, and other cultures of Latin America. Fully exceeded my very high expectations.Being Property Once Myself - by Joshua BennettJoshua Bennett is a renowned poet AND a helluva literary-critical scholar. Here, he examines the intersection of the non-human and human, man and animal, and the role blackness has played / been denied in the relationship.
8Japan Supernatural - by Melanie Eastburn (Editor)This gorgeous book takes you on a journey through the myriad array of yokai culture and yurei (ghosts). works date from the 1700s to 2019 and include detailed ukiyo-e woodblock prints, miniature netsuke (toggles), metres-long scrolls & contemporary photographs, paintings and installations. The Art & Science of Foodpairing - by Peter Coucquyt, Bernard Lahousse, Johan LangenbickThis book blew my mind: 10,000 flavor matches laid out in taste wheels and color keys. When cooks go to one ingredient, they will find 10 food pairings and a color wheel revealing the taste results.Arctic Heroes - By Ragnar Axelsson (Photographer)One of the most arresting nature photography books I’ve spent time with. My very own Alaskan husky, aptly named Diesel, agrees! This book stops people in their tracks.For a video tour of the book see here: https://vimeo.com/488857034
9High As the Waters Rise - by Anja Kampmann, Anna Posten (translator)It’s pretty well-established in these parts that I’m really not that into plot. Give me language that aspires to something beyond even a story -- but to a moment in time, to a depth of emotion, etc. Kampmann’s debut novel is about love, meaning it circulates through and around it by way of language. I loved it.The Book of Unconformities - by Hugh RafflesFaced with profound grief, Hugh Raffles reached out for … not solace, or maybe even understanding, by ballast by thinking about the solidity and endurance and possibly plain old indifference of rocks. An Inventory of Losses - by Judith Schlansky, Jackie Smith (Translated by)Much of living seems like an accumulation of losses. That’s depressing, in a way. But there is something to the accounting. There is, if nothing, but the grasping, if for but a moment, the time it takes to do so. Anyway … Judith Schlansky’s latest work, an exquisite grasping of what refuses it, is phenomenal.Floating Coast - by Bathsheba DemuthThis is the perfect sort of nonfiction for the reader who, like me, believes topics are not stable, steady-state objects. History has happened, but what has happened is not static, and is in fact always still happening. Bathsheba Demuth’s account of the history of the Bering Strait, for example, is a stunning example of this. Not at all a topic I thought I was interested in … but sometimes it’s a joy to be wrong.
10The Classical Music Lover’s Companion to Orchestral Music - by Robert PhilipI’m a classical music dilettante, but definitely find I respond best when I have some cues about what to listen for. This book has been a treasure trove for listening. Now in paperback. Music From Elsewhere- by Doug SkinnerHere you'll find tunes hummed, strummed, and sung by spirits, sprites, and fairies, extraterrestrial elevator music, dreamed ditties, marches for occult ceremonies, secret musical codes and languages, music made by animals, and more!Liner Notes for the Revolution - by By Daphne A. BrooksThis is one of the books I’m most excited this spring! Daphne Brooks’ book kicks down the door and demands long overdue recognition and celebration of Black women musicians as radical intellectuals..Be sure to indulge in the 9-hour Spotify playlist, too!
11The History of the World in Seven Cheap Things -by Raj PatelNature, money, work, care, food, energy, & lives … it’s hard to argue we’ve not managed to cheapen them all, and in the process have sold the world shut.Maybe let’s re-think this, yes? Paths to Prison - by Isabelle Kirkham-Lewitt (Editor)The horrific reality of prison extends beyond the immediate walls. It is informed by a logic and constructed by way of a complex cultural architecture. This is a fantastic entryway to re-thinking the reaches of prison. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us - by Mariame KabaWhat if social transformation and liberation isn't about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle.American Lucifers - by Jeremy ZallenAs a rule, capitalist “progress” occurs at the expense of those whose labor makes it possible. An awareness of this progress’ history (and these lives left behind, many of them nearly forgotten) helps me as I reflect on where it’s taking us. American Lucifers examines that the history of artificial light and its profoundly dark history.
12The Political Writings from Alienation and Freedom - by Frantz FanonFrantz Fanon's political impact is difficult to overestimate. His anti-colonialist, philosophical and revolutionary writings were among the most influential of the 20th century. The essays, articles and notes published in this volume cover the most politically active period of his life and encapsulate the breadth, depth and urgency of his writings. In particular, they clarify and amplify his much-debated views on violent resistance.Afropessimism - by Frank B. Wilderson IIIWhat a book! A mix of biography and philosophy, it is surely the most accessible articulation of Wilderson’s provocative theorizing of afropessmism - i.e., whereby the Black slavery is an ontological condition. Challenging in the best way.How to Read Donald Duck - by Ariel Dorfman, Armand MattelartA devastating indictment of a media giant, a document of twentieth-century political upheaval, and a reminder of the dark undercurrent of pop culture. First published in 1971, How to Read Donald Duck is a great example of how deeply-set the logic of imperialist capitalism is.
13Picatrix - Dan Attrell (Translator), David Porreca (Translator)A manual for constructing talismans, mixing magical compounds, summoning planetary spirits, and determining astrological conditions -- all from a original text compiled in Arabic from over two hundred sources in the latter half of the tenth century? Translated first into Castilian & then Latin? Count me in!Notes Made While Falling, by Jenn AshworthVisceral writing at its very best. Ashworth blends memoir and cultural study into her reflection on trauma (in this case of a childbirth gone very poorly), and mines her experience for insight into the creative process itself. Fascinating and rewarding from beginning to end. Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death's Duel - John DonneI spent a significant portion of my Christmas Day reading John Donne’s sermons & devotional material about sickness & death to my sleeping dog … because that’s how I celebrate. I may not share Donne’s piety, but I will bow down to his prose nearly any day. Suicidal - by Jesse BeringMany of us know this singular impulse. Either we’ve suffered the loss of people we love to it; or we suffer the thought itself. Bering’s dealing is bracing and unlike any other I’ve encountered. Darkly funny at times, but never glib.
14Timefulness - by Marcia BjornerudTime is long. This amazing book reveals how knowing the rhythms of Earth's deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future. It invites a new way of thinking about our place in time, showing how our everyday lives are shaped by processes that vastly predate us, and how our actions today will in turn have consequences that will outlast us by generations.The Medea Hypothesis- by Peter WardIs life its own worst enemy? In his very provocative book, geobiologist Peter Ward’s answer is an unequivocal Yes! Before you sigh, “Oh, more misanthropy, Brad, really?” -- he’s not just talking about human life!But he is talking to humans that live, with a message about harm reduction.. Underland - by Robert MacFarlaneWas I too subtle with the theme of this set of books?I’ve long been a fan of MacFarlane’s writing, and here it is wed in a deep, powerful way with a reflection on how time is etched into the earth itself. MacFarlane writes has a way of capturing both wonder and insight, and he is a treasure.
15Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018 - by Daniel BorzutzkyDaniel Bozutzky’s poetry is incandescent with anger at the violence suffered by those most vulnerable. What makes him a truly special poet, however, is how he harnesses his disappointment with the way things have been and are, and invites a pulsing hope for what might yet be. Nobody - by Alice OswaldRead everything by Oswald, probably my favorite living poet at the moment, but for the sake of this I’ll focus on the latest. Fractured, sometimes in a frustrating way, but a frustration built by a sort of design, or perhaps better a necessity. Read it out loud to the Pacific Ocean, and see how it responds.The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton - by Lucille CliftonAn indispensable collection for every poetry library. Arguably the most important poetic visionary of the late-20th century. Clifton was a gift to us. Our gift to her is the recitation and the sharing. So glad all these poems are together in one place. For a shorter collection, see How to Carry Water.Dub - by Alexis Pauline GumbsAnother poet whose oeuvre is expanding, radically and organically, into something like a complex ecosystem. Dub is the concluding volume of a poetic trilogy that situates the lives of her ancestors, in all their joys, pains, and passions, within the life that sustains and lives within the ocean. Gumbs’ vision and verse are powerful.