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Gina's Picks

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An Untamed State Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802122513
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - May 6th, 2014

Roxane Gay's novel is as dramatic as it is literary, maybe because this story of a woman's kidnapping in Haiti recalls some of our most terrifying ancient tales, (Lot's sacrifice of his daughters, Grimm's traumatized fairy stories) while told in vivid, contemporary psychological realism. A thrilling and important novel from an exciting writer. 


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Signs Preceding the End of the World Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781908276421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - March 10th, 2015

Absolutely stunning. Yuri Herrera writes about the US/Mexico border like no one else I've read. Here is a place where the wind cuts like a knife, where flags wave, where a snake lies in wait, and here is Makina, who trangresses the boundaries of this world, translating all through a brilliant, strange consciousness. And speaking of translation, Dillman deserves a prize for preserving the verve, vigor, and startling images of Herrera's prose. 


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In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way: A Graphic Novel Cover Image
By Marcel Proust, Stephane Heuet (Adapted by), Arthur Goldhammer (Translator)
$26.95
ISBN: 9781631490354
Availability: Backordered
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - July 13th, 2015

Proust's all about light, color, and texture, characterized by a lush, slow pace. The mind moves more quickly with images than it moves through the original text, but the long rhythms of Proust's sentences are retained alongside beautifully rendered images here, compelling the reader to savor each panel with care and attention. I'm reading this alongside the Moncreiff translation; my buddy's reading Lydia Davis's translation, and we are comparing notes as we go: not a bad way to spend the close of summer. 


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The Complete Stories Cover Image
By Clarice Lispector, Benjamin Moser (Editor), Katrina Dodson (Translator)
$28.95
ISBN: 9780811219631
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - August 25th, 2015

Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector's been as much a personal goddess to me as a favorite amongst favorite prose writers since I discovered her slender novels. To read her stories is to examine a body, unavel a consciousness, study a luminescent mind. (Her notion of plot is weird, elegant, and inspired.) 


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The Story of My Teeth Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 15th, 2015

What Luiselli does in her 2nd novel to be translated into English seems beyond the scope of writing. Following a commission by the Jumex Gallery (yes, an art gallery adjacent to the enormous Mexico City juice factory), Luiselli wrote the novel in collaboration with Jumex factory employees. So, we have "Highway," a notorious auctioneer and purveyor of celebrity teeth, Cervantes, Borges, clowns, fortune cookies, and even contemporary Latin American writers like Guadalupe Nettel and Francisco Goldman. Woo-eee! xo, Gina


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Faces in the Crowd Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781566893541
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

My favorite book that I read in 2015. Set in Mexico City and Manhattan, this book is a jewel. A DF writer remembers an earlier life in NYC, when she worked as a translator of Latin American literature and did freewheelin' things like paint her entire apartment cobalt blue, in her chonis. Now, she's a mother of a baby and a prescient, omen-spouting little boy, married to a man  who may be on the verge of leaving her, and in her scant free time she's writing a novel in which her pantheon of alter-selves inevitably appear, as well as little-known Mexican poet Gilberto Owen. It's rare to find a slim novel (experimental in structure, about "writing," no less) with characters as rich and compelling as Luiselli's, and her prose has the lightness and transparency to to display gorgeous motifs like the subway and the titular Pound image, a potted plant stolen from a roofop, a false manuscript, and darn near perfect sentences. 


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Eros the Bittersweet (American Literature (Dalkey Archive)) Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9781564781888
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - March 1st, 1998

O. Holy Book. Map love's golden ratio with one of our greatest contemporary artists and thinkers. Learn from Sappho's sweet, irresistable apples: "the reach of desire is defined in action: beautiful (in its object), foiled (in its attempt), endless (in time)." Dude. 


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Instant Winner: Poems (Penguin Poets) Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780143126638
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 30th, 2014

"I'm as tired as you ae of genius. Hey,/do you know where we put the sky?" Carrie Fountain askes in her poem "Surprise." These poems come from a place where no one's being awarded cash prizes over the phone or making New Year's resolutions, but time rinses tiny lovely moments anyway.


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A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250094735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - August 2nd, 2016

In Lydia Davis's foreword to this excellent collection of stories, she praises Berlin's sensitivity to "the perfec coincidence of sound and sense"--which often arrives in a dazzling, horrifying image that shocks the reader into a cackle.


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The Dream of My Return Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811223430
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - March 10th, 2015

Erasmus is a Salvadoran journalist living in exile in Mexico City during the Salvadoran Civil War. His marriage is breaking up, his bowels are unwell, and his doctor, Don Chente, another displaced Guanaco, is hypnotizing him into madness. In Moya's world, and in Salvador, then and now, paranoia is inevitable and somewhat practical. Despite ongoing violence, Erasmus decides to return to his country. Why leave DF for a country that has put family members in body dumps? Because of what all Salvys know:"it was as though my umbilical cord was attached to the place"--or perhaps, Erasmus considers, "because I'm an ass." In anothe writer's hands, the material might skew towards sentimental tropes. But in Moya's telling, anxiety, guilt, and historical trauma culminate in a delicate set of neuroses--in some places the novel reads like a Seinfeld episode, but with more screaming.


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Amulet Cover Image
By Roberto Bolano, Chris Andrews (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811217460
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 1st, 2008

“So the ghost children marched down into the valley and fell into the abyss.” A duende-soaked love song to Latin America told by a bizarre toothless Uruguayan woman named Auxilio. I think this is Bolaño’s best. 


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Ways to Disappear Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316298476
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - January 17th, 2017

Idra Novey's vocation as a poet is evident in every line of this well-plotted literary thriller. In Brazil, an American translator hunts for her missing author, a mystical writer of bizarre, beloved fiction, who reminded me of the great Clarice Lispector (who Novey has translated). Novey's certainly written a swift and mysterious romp, but she's also concerned with the act of translating another's art and the beautiful questions that arise when the translator seeks permission to create on her own. 


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The Body Where I Was Born Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781609807511
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Seven Stories Press - July 25th, 2017

Nettel's protagonist is preternaturally wise and aware of her self--mind, body, and soul--as "being different." She navigates bizarre parental hemispheres, all the while developing her powers of observation into artistry. A wonderful novel from the author of the short story collection NATURAL HISTORIES. She writes: "the origin of this tale lies in the need to understand certain events and certain dynamics that formed this complex amalgam--this mosaic of images, memories, emotions--that breathes within me, remembers with me, entwines others, and takes refuge in a pencil the way others take refuge in drinking or gambling." 


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Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions Cover Image
By Valeria Luiselli, Jon Lee Anderson (Introduction by)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781566894951
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - April 4th, 2017

During a green card glitch, Luiselli decides to volunteer as a translator for undocumented children, refugees from Central America's Northen Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras). With wisdom, curiosity, and compassion, Luiselli guides us through the cruel absurdities of the 40 question intake interview, only an introduction to "the vast legacy of chingaderas" perpetuated by the US and Luiselli's native Mexico, in both countries' responses to the Central American refugee crisis. "Partir es morir un poco/ llegar nunca es llegar." Read it to better understand our current chingadera--I promise it contains hopeful glimmers too. 


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What Have I to Say to You Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781935635765
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tavern Books - October 28th, 2017

Levad's glorious book of "honest love poems," in the words of the poet, "feel[s] all the ugly things that come with love and desire." Aphorisms, addresses, and anecdotes, on sex, grossness, prairie fires, magnifiecnt loneliness, and love's dirty stain. p.s. Megan Levad is an Aries. 
 


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The Undressing: Poems Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780393065435
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 20th, 2018

The war is on/if love doesn't prevail,/who wants to live in this world?

Li-Young Lee is an unabashed Romantic, hungrily apprehending the divine in each fleshy moment. I've not read any poetry that so gorgeously telescopes the history of the universe, its fires and flights and violences and great loves, that so emphatically and gracefully and intimately speaks with the voice of the manifold beloved and the mortal beloved. That first poem, the title poem, made my head explode. But arise from your swoon, gentle reader, the party is only just beginning!


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The Wild Birds Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781945572753
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rare Bird Books, a Barnacle Book - March 13th, 2018

The sudden, inevitable cruelties of the natural world beat against improbable but glorious forgiveness as we read the storms and seasons of the lives of a lineage of incredible women of the West. Strelow's writing is most ecstatic when describing the wild: a blue-gray rabbit, the perilous cliffs of the Farollon islands, a patch of thimbleberries in an Oregon forest's understory, a harrier bird soaring overhead. O, the Golden West! Strelow had my heart on the first page's description of the Pacific Ocean's magnificence: "Beating hearts are mapped by this longing for the infinite."


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The Chandelier Cover Image
By Clarice Lispector, Benjamin Moser (Translator), Magdalena Edwards (Translator)
$25.95
ISBN: 9780811223133
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - March 27th, 2018

This new translation has got to be one of the most vital and lyrical of Lispector's novels. The Chandelier, her second novel, pulses with a sensual exploration of consciousness (Virginia, the young protagonist, plunges her hands into riverbed clay with such immersive conviction that I feel compelled to sign up for a pottery class). Here, Lispector's quest for "pure is" takes shape in the space of ordinary days--the heady rush of fainting, the childhood desire to create new worlds and languages, the "almost anxious...shiny, sweet swirl" of radically distilled perception and looped memory. Ever gotten an insistently clear, half-drunk notion to throw a dinner roll out of a window at a particularly boring party you've been dragged to? You know what I mean, then. 


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America Is Not the Heart Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735222410
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - April 3rd, 2018

A gorgeous depiction of the Filipinx community just south of San Francisco--an extended family of fire-hearted nurses on 24 hour shifts, dj crews, and Lolos who won't ever retire. Castillo's narration is enviably, gracefully expansive; here too are a great grandmother so "white white white she was lavender," secret hideouts of the New People's Army, and the memory of candy sold by the side of a muddy road. Castillo is a hella lyrical angel on the page--I couldn't find an ungainly sentence in this novel, and hers is the sharpest and most memorable dialogue I've read in years.