Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!
The Same River Twice
By Ted Mooney
I am absolutely taken by this moody, atmospheric novel set in contemporary Paris. There are artists, filmmakers, art dealers, and Russian mobsters all swirling around in this well-told tale. It is the kind of story that runs like a film in your head, but I have no idea where it’s going.
Anna in Brentwood
Our Tragic Universe
By Scarlett Thomas
As in her previous novel, The End of Mr. Y, Thomas is brilliant at getting inside the inquisitive, troubled minds of her young female protagonists as they ponder life’s big questions. Plus, every time I read a Thomas novel, I find myself getting recommendations for other books, as her characters are always reading. PopCo made me pick up Survive the Savage Sea, and this one already has me searching for my copy of Aristotle‘s Poetics.
Kim in Malibu
Little Black Book of Stories
By A.S. Byatt
A book of previously uncollected and intriguingly creepy short stories by Byatt that includes the fascinating “A Stone Woman” about a woman who literally morphs into rock. Freak of nature or metaphor? You decide!
Miles in Malibu
Consider the Lobster
By David Foster Wallace
Seeing America through the David Foster Wallace lens is like looking at your favorite food under a microscope. At first you may be unsettled by the inconvenient truths, but you will ultimately be rewarded for reading about the seedy underbelly of the world of dictionary editing, life on the 2000 McCain campaign trail, and the surreal hilarity of adult entertainment conventions. Eat up.
Thomas in Brentwood
The Insufferable Gaucho
By Roberto Bolano
More literary antics from Senor Bolano. An expectedly eclectic collection of incurably ill, insufferable, and ingenious characters. “Jim,” the three-page story that begins the collection, is an absolute knockout: a chili scalding the back of your mouth and a ghost haunting the corners of your memory.
As you may have heard by now, the I Write Like widget is serious business: copy and paste some text into the box, and it’ll tell you which (for the most part white, male) author you write like. With 100% accuracy, of course! We started with some of our staff members (Anna = Vladimir Nabokov; Geo = Charles Dickens; Grant = James Joyce; Jon Stich = Kurt Vonnegut; Margaret = Ian Fleming; and Alison, Cheryl, John Evans, Kim and Thomas all = H.P. Lovecraft—wow we’re a morbid bunch). But then we got creative:
Did you know…?
*Pablo Neruda = Raymond Chandler!
*Michael Moore = Dan Brown
*President Obama’s inaugural speech = H.P. Lovecraft (that guy! so versatile)
*Darth Vader = Anne Rice
*Lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey = Ursula K. Le Guin
*Unabomber Manifesto = Stephen King
*Lyrics to “A Whole New World” in Aladdin = Mark Twain
*Jack Kerouac = David Foster Wallace = James Joyce = Grant. Duh.
Gosh, we’re thinking about the relationships between these writers in whole new ways! (Huh. That sounds like a line from Mark Twain…) We feel like we’ve learned something. Don’t you?
May is Music Month here at Diesel, and we’re all getting down with our bad selves. In video form!
Here are our first few, um…”music videos”–none of which, sadly, feature Beyoncé. But we hope you enjoy them anyway.
First up, here’s Alison discussing Greil Marcus with Colin in Oakland:
Thomas in Brentwood introduces the 33 1/3 series, and his favorite, Mike McGonigal‘s take on My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless:
And finally, Anna in Brentwood talks about her love/hate relationship with Chuck Klosterman:
Alison (she’s everywhere!) reports:
One of my favourite book events of the year is almost upon us: The L.A. Times Festival of Books is happening this weekend! As a bookseller and reader, this is a dream come true. The sight of so many booklovers enjoying themselves on the UCLA campus can bring a tear to my eye. They truly represent Los Angeles in all its glory. To see children running not to be late for an author speaking relieves all the fears of reading going out of fashion. Authors in conversations, on panels, being interviewed; poets reading aloud—how can you choose from this plethora of riches?
Sometimes the choices are made for me as I am not organised enough to get the advance tickets and halls are often full by the time I get to them. However, that still leaves too many options. Should I go to the panels to support the people I know? A lot of the same writers will join panels with different themes each year, thus promising the familiar coupled with new ideas. How about choosing by the moderator? We have some consistently great ones working. They will skilfully pick at the seam until little gems of wisdom are pried loose. So much to take into consideration!
However, I think that I may have finally worked out the perfect system: zero in on the hall that has the most appealing events and camp out there to secure a seat. This may be Rolfe on Sunday:
12:00 — Art of the Critic, mod by David L. Ulin. Everyone can join in on this one.
1:30 — Fiction: The California Way, mod by Antoine Wilson
3:00 — Life on the Edge: Violence and the West, mod by Marc Cooper
So maybe I should stop looking at the programme before I get more distracted, and just see where the word takes me. Hope to see you there!
But first, see Joey in Malibu read Shel Silverstein‘s “Where the Sidewalk Ends”:
And check out the full archive of poetry videos here!
Last month we celebrated the publication of Tracy Trivas’ new children’s book The Wish Stealers. Before she rushed off to another local reading we had the pleasure of snagging the answers to a few quick questions!
Presenting Tracy Trivas’…
Favorite Book: Winter Count by Barry Lopez
Favorite Movie: Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso
Favorite Music: Realism by The Magnetic Fields
And speaking of favorites, here’s Alison with some of her picks from Love Poems From God:
Check out the complete poetry video archive here.
Our very own Alison reports:
Even after 20 years in business, any time our shop gets mentioned in print it’s still a thrill. It is surprising where we will turn up. We were included in this recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle on my absolute favourite radio DJ, Bonnie Simmons. This woman used to make me late for work, she is that good. She had an afternoon show on KSAN and I had an afternoon shift at Pendragon Books in Oakland. I would not be able to leave the house as I would have to hear what the next cut was. The songs would build on each other, the segues were brilliant, I would get so excited and be up and running for the day. Every day. Now that I listen to her mostly on the computer, I don’t have to worry about missing any songs. As excited as I am that she mentions us, I realise that I too have to contribute to KPFA not just as a payback but also to keep my cultural neighbourhood alive. Right back atcha, Bonnie. And thanks for your great work.
Two new books inspired by Homer’s epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey have become fast favorites here at Diesel. Alison is as bewitched by David Malouf’s Ransom as Malouf’s protagonist, the sheltered King Priam, is by the wider world when he enters it (plus donkey) to plead for the body of his slain son Hector. And while we’re not quite dashing ourselves against any seacliffs, the news that Zachary Mason, author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey, will be coming to our Oakland store on February 25th is certainly Siren song to our ears.
NPR seems equally entranced by this epic new duo: you can listen to Alan Cheuse’s review on All Things Considered here.