Monday, March 15, 2021

Staff Recommendations for the Week of March 16th - Paperback Picks!

While it's a quiet week for hardcover release recommendations from the Boswell bookselling crew, this Tuesday we see a big drop day for paperbacks that we've recommended. Every week we refresh the two new paperback book tables at the front of the store with the latest releases in softcover. Here's a handful that we read and loved.

First up is This Town Sleeps by Dennis E Staples, an author we hosted and whose debut novel we were proud to champion in the before-times. Let me just say - the cover stayed the same, and for good reason. The digital photo here doesn't do it justice - this thing pops! And what's inside is even better. From Chris Lee: "This Town Sleeps might just be the answer to the question: who will write the great gay Ojibwe gothic novel?" And from Tim McCarthy: "Staples gives us a beautifully complex picture of family in its many forms. Ojibwe tradition is blended with modern America and universal humanity. The voices are strong. The stark honesty of Staples’ characters and the grace of his writing make this debut memorable." Just named a Fiction Finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards!

Speaking of events, in the not-so-before-times (the during times?) we hosted a virtual conversation with Adrienne Raphel, whose book Thinking Inside The Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them is out today in paperback. Here's Daniel on that book: "As a person who is attracted to puzzles but struggles with solving them, I am continually fascinated by the world of crossword puzzles, and it didn’t seem to matter that I’d already seen Wordplay and read Marc Romano’s Crossworld some years ago, I was thoroughly entertained by Thinking Inside the Box. Maybe it’s a memory thing; I hear crossword puzzles are good for helping with that." If you'd like to watch the video of Daniel's conversation with Raphel, check that out right here:

Speaking of books that Daniel loves by authors who visited us virtually for amazing conversations, there's also this week's paperback release of Lakewood, the novel by Megan Giddings that's just been named an LA Times Book Prize Finalist. Here's what Daniel has to say: "Lena Johnson is a college student, struggling with debt, coping with her grandmother’s death and her mother’s disability. She gets the opportunity to participate in a research project in a small town in Michigan, only why would they list the death and dismemberment benefits in the non-disclosure agreement? And the first thing she has to work on is memorizing her pretend work routine while the patient group is effectively tortured, both mentally and even physically. What a fascinating story Lakewood is - a coming-of-age story with a strong dose of social justice-framed psychological horror!" Giddings has been generous enough to join us for a few conversations, both about her own book and others. Check out her recent interview of author Dantiel W Moniz, featuring Moniz's debut story collection Milk Blood Heat. They have a fascinating talk that includes much erudite advice about writing - here it is:

Kay Wosewick recommends The Mountains Sing, a novel by Nguyẽ̂n Phan Qué̂ Mai that hit international bestseller lists and was Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Awards Fellowship. Kay's review: "Grandma is the heart, soul, and motor of a large family that, for the most part, survive and even overcome the horrors of 20th century Việt Nam. Honest, generous, hard as nails yet loving, and absolutely pragmatic when faced with seemingly impossible hurdles, Grandma embodies the resilience required to hold families together in the face of cleaving forces. Quế Mai does not skirt dark events, but Grandma's handling of them, such as being forced to abandon her children to complete strangers, leaves the reader with admiration and a strange lightness in place of the obvious alternatives of horror and trauma."

From our adult buyer Jason Kennedy, a novel that's right in his wheelhouse: strange and futuristic, with a lot to say about technology and many layers of social commentary: 88 Names by Matt Ruff, the author of the equally strange and beguiling novel Lovecraft Country. Jason has the following words: "John Chu is for hire - only in the online gaming world of Call to Wizardry. For people who don't want to waste time leveling up characters and doing mundane tasks to create armor and weapons, there's sherpas like John Chu who will do all the hard work on character creation. They just have to pay for it. It's a nice cheat that gamers are always looking for. Matt Ruff is brilliant in the setup of the MMORPG world. At first, I think he's going to explore the VR world that is coming down the pipeline, but then it opens up as a thriller, spy story, and then it pivots again and again. If it leaves you a bit confused and lonely, then Matt Ruff has made his point."

And finally, digging deep into the staff recommendation files and archives for this last one, a legacy recommendation from former Boswellian Kelli O'Malley for the book Docile by KM Szpara. Kelli left behind this recommendation for this book: "'There is no consent under capitalism.' Elisha and his family are drowning in inherited debt. Under the laws of his state, he must either enter a contract with someone who will pay off that debt, or his whole family will face the consequences. Elisha must become a Docile: a human automaton drugged not to feel, remember, or disobey. But when he refuses the drug that will make him compliant, the very core of his being will be obliterated. In this beautifully written novel, Szpara weaves a tale that will strike emotionally hard in unexpected ways. Szpara explores the most intimate of connections between consent, love, pain, and betrayal with clarity and compassion. Readers be warned, this book delves in to dark topics such as rape, violence, and abuse. But there is catharsis, there is hope. This book takes a necessary look at how the very thing that makes us human is stripped away when we no longer have a choice."

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