Tag Archives: thomas

On Our Nightstand, September 21st-27th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Earth (The Book)
By Jon Stewart, et. al.
Written in the style of a guidebook for all the alien species who may have discovered our planet after we’ve destroyed ourselves, the followup to America (The Book) is hilarious…and just a little bit sad. But focusing on the hilarity–my favorite bit so far may be this description of Saturn: “God liked this planet. So he put a ring on it.”

Cameron in Malibu
Imperium
By Ryszard Kapuscinski
Infamous Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski records his encounters with the Soviet Empire in this series of essays. Beginning with his father’s disappearance in Belarus, Kapuscinski describes the peculiarities of Central Asian satellite republics and the eventual fall of Soviet Russia.

Geo in Brentwood
Henry and June
By Anais Nin
A rather intimate (understatement?) look into Nin’s diaries reveals a provocative and racy account of sex, literature, and psychoanalysis.

Jon Stich in Oakland
Strange As This Weather Has Been
By Ann Pancake
Set in the West Virginia mountains, this novel details how the mining industry has helped to create unnatural disasters whose effects are described through a cast of characters. It reminds me a lot of Timothy Egan‘s The Worst Hard Time, writing and subject wise.

Thomas in Brentwood
Selected Poems
By Paul Verlaine
Un coup de pied au cul.
Une gifle dans le visage.
Un brise dans le coeur.

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Space Oddities

How excited are we to be hosting this lady at our Brentwood store tomorrow?

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mary Roach
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Even more excited than we were when Jon Stewart shaved off that fugly beard! And we were pretty darn excited about that. So come join us to see Mary Roach sign and read from her new book, Packing For Mars, in Brentwood tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Speaking of things we love, see Thomas rave about New Directions as part of our Small Press Celebrations:

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On Our Nightstand, August 24th-30th

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

Alison
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.

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On Our Nightstand, August 10th-16th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Super Sad True Love Story
By Gary Shteyngart
I’m very picky about dystopian fiction: it’s incredibly hard to create a vision of our future world that feels vivid but still realistic. Shteyngart’s shallow, artless America feels all too probable, but its people also still seem like people, and you ache for them.

Geo in Brentwood
In Utopia
By J.C. Hallman
The “utopia” concept has always interested me, and apparently it has also interested Hallman because he wrote a great book about it. In Utopia covers anything utopian in both concept and execution, from the history of the word to real-life utopian communities to Pleistocene rewilding.

John Peck in Oakland
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
By Julia Child
After slogging through the weighty cultural history, movie tie-ins, and countless editions of this book, I’ve found that it is, at its core, a beautifully written and expansive cookbook. French cooking is both lavish and simple at the same time—a cuisine that rewards patience is always a worthwhile pursuit.

Thomas in Brentwood
The Skating Rink
By Roberto Bolano
Only three chapters in, Bolano’s characters propel and scatter like gravel thrown from the back tire of a rusted get-away truck.

Veronica in Malibu
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
By Raymond Carver
While not the most optimistic portrait of American life, this collection of short stories is absolutely captivating. Carver’s mastery of his craft is not only beautiful, but inspiring. If only I could make the banality of middle American suburbia sound half as enchanting…

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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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On Our Nightstand, July 20th-26th

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

Anna in Brentwood
The Thieves of Manhattan
By Adam Langer
Like last year’s delightful How I Became a Famous Novelist, Thieves is a playful skewering of the book world that displays surprising insight about the creative urge. To be honest (an important issue in this book), it never even made it to my nightstand because I zipped through it in less than a day.

Geo in Brentwood
The Idea of Communism
By Tariq Ali
A thoughtful short book (or long essay, whichever you prefer) that examines the evolution of Communism, from the theory that Marx and Engels bring forth in The Communist Manifesto to its many derivations: Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism… The -isms are infinite and, Ali argues, grow further and further from what Marx and Engels had perceived in the first place.

John Peck in Oakland
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
By David Mitchell
After taking genre-bending fiction to incredible heights with his first three novels, it’s been interesting to see David Mitchell stick to more traditional narrative structures on his fourth and fifth (Black Swan Green and Thousand Autumns, respectively). I’m about a third of the way through this book, and loving it—I’m resisting the urge to dog-ear my favorite pages, so it’s filling up with little scraps of paper as I make my way through it.

Thea in Malibu
Ceremony
By Leslie Marmon Silko
Ceremony tells the story of Tayo, a young Native American trying to navigate the clash of his traditional identity with the damaging aftermath of WWII. Silko’s writing is beautiful, poignant, and moving. Not to be missed!

Thomas in Brentwood
Don Quixote
By Miguel de Cervantes (trans. by Edith Grossman)
The noble quests of Donny Q reassure that chivalry is a battle still worth fighting. Grossman’s translation captures Cervantes’ distinctly modern wit that keeps him so relevant.

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On Our Nightstand, July 13th-19th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Somebody Everybody Listens To
By Suzanne Supplee
A realistic and heartfelt young adult novel about a teenage girl from the small-town South who tries to set her dreams of becoming a country singer in motion. I don’t know much about country music, but Supplee does a great job of capturing how music of any kind can convey and intensify emotion.

Geo in Brentwood
Poor People
By William T. Vollmann
I can always count on William Vollmann’s work to challenge me intellectually and philosophically. Poor People is no exception.

John Peck in Oakland
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
By Tom Bissell
Every art form based on new technology spends its first few decades in a sort of limbo, during which any attempt to valorize it as art is smacked down by the guardians of high culture. As video games near their third decade, the argument for games as art is gradually, but surely, becoming irrefutable. As a gamer, I’ve been waiting a long time for a good book-length study of one of my favorite activities, obsessions, and yes, art forms.

Kim in Malibu
About a Mountain
By John D’Agata
It would have been easy for essayist John D’Agata to rant about how storing nuclear waste inside a mountain is a really, really bad idea. Instead, he weaves together the facts of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, project with wit, insight, and surprising cross references, ultimately revealing just how little we can truly know about anything.

Thomas in Brentwood
The Man With the Golden Arm
By Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren’s The Man With the Golden Arm is crass, dirty and unrelenting. I am gladly submerged in the tremendous daily follies of Algren’s post-WWII burnouts and users.

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On Our Nightstand, June 1st-7th

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

Anna in Brentwood
The Possessed
By Elif Batuman
Batuman’s funny, thoughtful journey through the world of Russian literature will make you want to (re)read Anna Karenina. It will not make you want to go to Uzbekistan.

John Peck in Oakland
American Vertigo
By Bernard-Henri Levy
Noted French thinker Bernard-Henri Levy travels through America in the footsteps of Tocqueville. Part travelogue, part essay, entirely engaging.

Kim in Malibu
The Routes of Man
By Ted Conover
A fascinating, readable, and humanistic account of how several key roads worldwide are changing and the impact this has on political, environmental, medical, and social concerns. The best piece of nonfiction I’ve read since Citizens!

Steffi in Oakland
Let the Great World Spin
By Colum McCann
Written in a series of diverse and compelling POVs, this National Book Award-winning novel presents very believable and intriguing characters tied together by a fascinating storyline.

Thomas in Brentwood
Just Kids
By Patti Smith
Rock icon Patti Smith’s memoir is written with the greatest abundance of love for the hustlers, poets, thieves, mystics, and transients in her life. And of course, for her Robert Maplethorpe, who embodied all of the above.

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It’s Better Than Nothing in This Cockeyed Caravan

One of the things we worry about late at night when we should be asleep, dreaming our Borgesian dreams, is the state of modern literary fiction. Gorgeously written, incisive and meaningful books hit our shelves all the time…but we worry that modern literary authors are afraid to be funny lest their work not be taken seriously. Not so! Here our some of our favorite humorous works of literary fiction.

American Psycho
By Bret Easton Ellis
I think American Psycho is one of the funniest books ever written. Bret Easton Ellis knows his magnificently rich, vain, arrogant asshole main character a little too well. There’s no way Ellis is a good person in real life, but I don’t care: I’d still like to meet him and have him critique my worthiness based on a simple handshake. — Jon Stich

The Breast
By Philip Roth
Roth’s hilarious tribute to Kafka is exactly what it says: a man turns into a female breast. While it may seem like a one-trick pony ride, the novella sustains the concept excellently. As our tragic hero is institutionalized for being trapped within the soft, tender, limbless tissues of the female mammary gland, you quickly appreciate why it is so great not being a breast. — Thomas

Cranford
By Elizabeth Gaskell
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen‘s novels are infinitely amusing–even without zombies. Gaskell, however–another 19th Century writer and friend of Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens–is, I think, sadly overlooked. Her Cranford, about the society women form amongst themselves in a small English village, is both touching and hilarious–in that inimitable wry, Victorian way. It’s a loving satire of the best sort. — Anna

Gravity’s Rainbow
By Thomas Pynchon
Gravity’s Rainbow will remain one of the most complex literary experiences I’ll ever undertake. As usually happens with books over 750 pages, I don’t remember everything from the book. Its encyclopedic nature, covering everything from the physics of missile trajectories to the history of German silent film, exacerbates the novel’s ruthlessness on my normally efficient memory. But the thing I remember most about the book (aside from its fantastic ending) is its humor. Pynchon somehow fits slapstick pratfalls and oddly-hilarious one-liners (“…it can get pretty fascist in here…”) in with the occasional piece of meta-humor, such as when a German character gets injured and moans in pain: “Öööööö!” — Geo

The World According to Garp
By John Irving
Because what could be funnier than a blow job gone horribly wrong? No, no, I kid. John Irving’s books are often described as eccentric and unpredictable, which they are, but they’re also touching and thoughtful and very, very funny in ways not related to oral copulation. Comedy is tricky, and Garp manages to strike a balance between truthfulness and the absurd. In a crazier vein, check out: Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Absurdistan by Gary Shyteyngart, and Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders. — Kim

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Put Another Dime in the Jukebox, Baby

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:

Rock on.

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