Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!
Anna in Brentwood
Gunn’s Golden Rules
By Tim Gunn
Tim Gunn, how are you so awesome? This book is partly a 21st century etiquette manual advocating basic human decency, partly a peek into the oddities of the world of fashion, and partly a series of autobiographical anecdotes. In its entirety, it is utterly charming.
Cheryl in Brentwood
By Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain’s classic restaurant expose almost makes me want to be a chef, but the fact that they work 12-hour days on their feet, with maybe one day off a week, and labor in a sweltering kitchen, makes me thankful I work in a bookstore.
Grant in Oakland
Alive in Necropolis
By Doug Dorst
By mixing together the tropes of ghost story, detective noir, and coming-into-adulthood narratives, Alive in Necropolis plays with the notion of what makes us human, given that Dorst’s undead are often more humane than the living.
By Antoine Wilson
Just finished local author Antoine Wilson’s wonderful, not-to-be-forgotten novel. Writing the way it is supposed to be done–craftily, engagingly, intelligently.
Miles in Malibu
Why We Fight
Edited by Simon Van Booy
Why We Fight is a collection of passages culled from a number of texts (ranging from the Bible to present day writers such as Thich Nhat Hanh), all dealing with the history and philosophy of fighting. Each passage is concisely prefaced in an insightful manner by novelist and editor Simon Van Booy, making the heavy subject matter easier to digest.
This month at Diesel, we’re celebrating Beautiful Books. Books not just as things you can read, but as glorious objects—for example, ones that fit in the palm of your hand, a style John Evans pays tribute to:
I’ve always loved the intimacy of smaller format books, that fit in the hand, in the pocket, in the eye. Books are ultimately a subtle magic composed of ink, paper, and light. Whether reading Emerson’s essays in a used compact edition published by Collins–the original Collins, from Glasgow, Scotland–or the first reading of Whitman‘s Leaves of Grass in an equivalent American publisher’s seductive and handy edition, I’ve been hooked on this delicate crafting of books for the itinerant traveler.
Read the rest of his appreciation here, and check out the videos we’ll be adding throughout the month, such as Cheryl‘s exploration of texture:
Cheryl in Brentwood reports:
Picture a quaint New England college town, a Greek revival house nestled behind a hedgerow on a tree-lined street. The woman of the house dutifully raising her children, seeing her husband off to work, cooking dinner night after night for her family and friends. While working on her household chores, what do you think a woman like this is thinking of? Gardening or baking cookies… Perhaps, or maybe she thinks of poisoning the sugar bowl and stoning people to death. If you’re like Shirley Jackson, that’s exactly what you think of.
Best known for her short story The Lottery and the novel The Haunting of Hill House, Jackson’s writing was inspired by her surroundings. Colonial gothic architecture and the eccentricities and traditions of regional families are repeated themes in her work. We Have Always Lived in the Castle brought to mind images so reminiscent of my northeastern childhood home that I could swear I knew the town and characters. Often Jackson would sketch out places and buildings as a visual starting point before writing a single word.
What is so wonderful about Jackson’s work is that she introduces you to what appears to be ordinary, lures you in, then reveals an utterly dark side, layer by layer, with a matter-of-factness that is characteristically New England. Had Shirley Jackson lived anywhere else, her stories would not have been the same. She always lived in the castle, and because her stories are so timeless, she always will.
TV critic Mary McNamara‘s latest show biz-set mystery is The Starlet. Check out the star-studded cast in her answers to our quick questions!
Presenting Mary McNamara’s…
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
His Girl Friday
And considering her profession, we had to ask:
Favorite TV Show
And speaking of favorite things, watch Cheryl talk up her Small Press Pick, Seagull Press:
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?
June is Cookbook Month here at Diesel. To kick things off, Cheryl in Brentwood has a report on cooking’s dark twin–drinking!
Dive Bars. The name conjures a dark, somewhat seedy establishment replete with denizen barflies–a description which is, thankfully, true. Yes, I love these local haunts. They are unpretentious, serve fairly priced drinks, and you’re bound to find a character or two. I’m always on the lookout for a new place to try, but I usually like to hear something about a new spot before I wander in. Some dive bars are best patronized in a group or at least with an imposing escort until you get a feel for the place. In Los Angeles’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the City of Angels, not only are there a slew of joints to check out, they are also rated as to how safe they are to attend alone.
Another good guide series is Thirsty? (there is also Hungry?) for many big cities in the U.S. These books not only include bars, but where to grab the best coffee, juice, and boba in the city…and yes, they have a special section devoted to my beloved dive bars.
Some of my favorites, you ask? The Tonga Hut in North Hollywood, a kitschy tiki bar that’s been around for over 50 years, is a place where you can kick back and watch a cult movie on the TV or listen to the eclectic jukebox. Pat’s Cocktails leans more toward being a sports bar, but you can get some cheap eats and play a game of pool for only fifty cents. Let me know your favorites and I’ll add them to my list!
Before we hit the bars, here’s a quick reminder: today’s the last day to enter May’s Guess the Book Competition. It’s like a Pub Quiz with only one question! Go for it!
We were thrilled to have comedian Damon Wayans signing copies of his debut novel, Red Hats, in our Brentwood store last week. (Pictures or it didn’t happen? Check out Wayans and his buddy Cheryl!) He was kind enough to answer our three quick questions–no kidding.
Presenting Damon Wayans’…
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand