Tag Archives: cheryl

On Our Nightstand, September 14th-20th

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
Kitchen Confidential
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.

John Evans
The Interloper
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.

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The Eye of the Holder

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:

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Freaky Foundations

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.

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3 Quick Questions With Mary McNamara

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…

Favorite Book
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Favorite Movie
His Girl Friday

Favorite Music
Bruce Springsteen

And considering her profession, we had to ask:
Favorite TV Show
Doctor Who

And speaking of favorite things, watch Cheryl talk up her Small Press Pick, Seagull Press:

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We Are the Walrus

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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…?

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*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
And:
*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?

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Dive Right In

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!

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3 Quick Questions With Damon Wayans

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’…

Favorite Book
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Favorite Movie
The Godfather

Favorite Music
Michael Jackson

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On Our Nightstand, May 25th-31st

Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!

Anna in Brentwood
Tokyo Fiancee
By Amelie Nothomb
A charming and lush autobiographical novel about a young Belgian woman who moves to Tokyo and the relationship that develops between her and a sweetly eccentric Japanese man. Nothomb’s cultural analysis is witty and astute.

Cheryl in Brentwood
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby
By Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
This collection of “fairy tales” is a great look at the twisted, odd, and perverse from a Russian perspective.

Grant in Oakland
Our Band Could Be Your Life
By Michael Azerrad
A history of indie rock and punk in the ’80s, which is awesome because it’s less about the music and more a cultural history of the movement.

John Peck in Oakland
Who Needs Donuts?
By Mark Alan Stamaty
The most terrifying kids’ book since The Rainbow Goblins.

Kim in Malibu
Civilwarland in Bad Decline
By George Saunders
Saunders is the funniest writer I’ve come across since David Sedaris. He’s the king of (hilarious) dystopia.

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Top Big Top Books

Cheryl in Brentwood reports:

Today is Circus Day, commemorating the opening of the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1884. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the circus, one reason being that I think clowns are creepy. (I’m not alone on this!) And yet, some of my favorite books are about the circus: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, Circus ABC by Jason D’Aquino, and The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney. What draws me to these stories are the sideshows filled with genetically altered humans, mythical beasts, and mysterious people preying on your darkest fears and desires–which, I’m sure you’ll agree, are not nearly as creepy as clowns.

On a related note, I was recently invited to an author’s dinner for the upcoming book Creepiosity by David Bickel. Of course I had to attend (that’s me third from the left):

Fortunately there were no clowns, but I did try the chicken feet.

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On Our Nightstand

Taking a page from NPR, here’s the first in a series of (hopefully) weekly updates on what we’re currently reading here at Diesel.

Anna in Brentwood
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

Cheryl in Brentwood
Extraordinary Knowing by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer
Extraordinary Knowing is an attempt to break through the silence imposed by fear and to explore what science has to say about various “inexplicable” phenomena. From Sigmund Freud’s writings on telepathy to secret CIA experiments on remote viewing, from leading-edge neuroscience to the strange world of quantum physics, Dr. Mayer reveals a wealth of credible and fascinating research into the realm where the mind seems to trump the laws of nature.

Geo in Brentwood
No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
Based on Twain’s boyhood memories of the Mississippi River Valley and of the print shops of Hannibal, the story is set in medieval Austria at the dawn of the printing craft. It is a psychic adventure, full of phantasmagoric effects, in which a penniless printer’s apprentice—a youthful, mysterious stranger with the curious name 44—gradually reveals his otherworldly powers and the hidden possibilities of the mind.

John Evans
Rhythmanalysis by Henri Lefebvre
Rhythmanalysis displays all the characteristics which made Lefebvre one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. In the analysis of rhythms–both biological and social–Lefebvre shows the interrelation of space and time in the understanding of everyday life. With dazzling skills, Lefebvre moves between discussions of music, the commodity, measurement, the media, and the city. In doing so he shows how a non-linear conception of time and history balanced his famous rethinking of the question of space.

John Peck in Oakland
You’re A Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice
A compendium of advice from the producers, writers, and actors of The Office, Saturday Night Live, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Knocked Up, Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show, Arrested Development, Reno 911!, and The Hangover along with other people who should really never give advice.

Kim in Malibu
2666 by Roberto Bolano
The lives of a throng of unforgettable characters—including academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father—intersect in the urban sprawl of SantaTeresa—a fictional Juárez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.

Margaret in Oakland
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Julie Orringer’s astonishing first novel, eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded best-selling short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, is a grand love story set against the backdrop of Budapest and Paris, an epic tale of three brothers whose lives are ravaged by war, and the chronicle of one family’s struggle against the forces that threaten to annihilate it.

Thomas in Brentwood
The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich
The finest introduction to art ever written!

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