Book Lists

This category is for lists of books (example: Top 10 Books for Summer Reading)

The Fury Road of American Politics

Childish name-calling, scoldings, pee-pee jokes: it’s not second grade, it’s the 2016 U.S. Presidential election! Six months ago, no one predicted any of this: the dominance of Trump, the competitiveness of Bernie, the flame-out of Jeb. But here we are, living in a reality-show that blows The Apprentice out of the water. This campaign is upending conventions (pun intended!) and earning a place in U.S. election history—for better or worse.

Quotations from Chairman Trump Cover Image
By Carol Pogash (Editor)
$14.99
ISBN: 9780795348211
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Rosettabooks - January 26th, 2016

Modelled on Mao’s little red book, QUOTATIONS FROM CHAIRMAN TRUMP is the perfect gift for just about anybody, because whether you love him or hate him, there are tons of great Trump quotes inside to confirm your opinion. It may be small (unlike Trump’s hands) but this pocket-size piece packs a big, dizzy-making punch. Read it out loud with your friends and feel your head spin, in rapturous delight or the opposite.


Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780393067064
Availability: Backordered
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 11th, 2016

The rhetoric in the 2016 debates has been a combination of aggression, humor, and out-and-out insults. In REPUBLIC OF SPIN, presidential historian David Greenberg gives us a fascinating context for this rhetoric by writing the history of presidential spin. How does the White House create and control the two most important tools of contemporary politics—the image and the message? Greenberg takes us all the way from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama for a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the echelon of political communication.


The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316185431
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - February 17th, 2015

There’s been a surge of discussion regarding income inequality since the Great Recession of 2008. In THE AGE OF ACQUIESCENCE, the brilliant Steven Fraser examines the history of America’s reactions to the role of wealth in the political arena. What once prompted outrage has now become the standard, or even a dare for the next round of candidates. This book is essential for anyone concerned with the current political landscape.


The Road Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307387899
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 28th, 2007

This Pulitzer Prize winner, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and beloved classic is a haunting masterpiece from one of the greatest contemporary American novelists. A harrowing tale of survival and a meditation on the meaning of good and evil, THE ROAD at its heart tells the story of a father and son traversing a deserted American landscape, trying to hold off starvation and to find salvation by reaching the ocean. This novel’s got it all: cannibals, roasted babies, locked cellars full of people, plagues, despair. Scared about the next president? Have this on your bedside table on the evening of Tuesday, November 8th, and you’re sure to see the next four years with rose-tinted glasses.


A Guide for the Perplexed Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780393348880
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 7th, 2014

You shouldn’t judge a book by its title, but this one’s great, isn’t it? And completely appropriate. A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED is a dazzling mash-up of digital technology and medieval archives, a spellbinding thriller that moves from a present day rivalry between two sisters to a 19th-century Indiana Jones style adventure. Dara Horn was named one of Granta’s twenty “Best Young American Novelists,” and all of her novels, steeped in Hebrew and Yiddish literature, have made multiple national best-of lists. A philosophical novel of ideas that digs down into the meaning of memory, A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED may not make the 2016 election any more comprehensible, but at least it can provide a smart, stimulating distraction.


On Our Shelves: Keaton, His Beard, His Books

Keaton is the book buyer here at Brazos, so he knows more than anyone about how wide and diverse the universe of publishing is. Like his taste in music, his taste in books runs the gamut from the heartfelt to the horrific, from the winsome to the wonky and weird. This week for our Brazos Book List, we’re tapping the intoxicating keg that is Keaton’s book brain (and yes, he also loves a variety of beers). Check these out on our staff shelf, along with selections from our other booksellers. Cheers!

 

A Collapse of Horses Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894135
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - February 9th, 2016

A top-notch collection of psychological horror in the vein of Poe, Shirley Jackson, and The Twilight Zone!  A writer’s writer finally getting his due, Evenson excels at exploiting the suspense of the unknown in this set of mind-blowing and unnerving short stories.  It’ll make you want to sleep with the lights on.

 


Staff Pick Logo
Burial Rites Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780316243926
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 1st, 2014

Set against the desolate fire-and-ice landscape of nineteenth-century Iceland, this brilliant, multifaceted debut novel traverses dark psychological terrain while providing pitch-perfect historical detail. Kent is equally skilled at delving into the mind of Agnes—a servant sentenced to death—as she is at rendering the domestic life of the poor farmers charged with sharing their tiny hovel with her because there are no prisons in Iceland. At once a brooding morality tale and a ferocious page-turner, BURIAL RITES is the rare novel that asks serious questions while remaining entertaining.


Golden Years: An Iranian Punk Beat Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780571321063
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Faber & Faber Social - March 15th, 2016

A posthumous debut novel brimming with sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, and no small amount of soul-searching, GOLDEN YEARS is a brilliant, fast-paced immigrant story that unabashedly wears its influences on its sleeve. It’s poignant and debaucherous; if you’re a fan of Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Henry Miller, Hubert Selby Jr., Roberto Bolaño, Patti Smith, Jarmusch’s Permanent Vacation, Easy Rider, etc., you will LOVE this novel! Oh, what could have been...


The Tattooed Soldier Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250055859
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - October 7th, 2014

Every revenge story is a love story. From the Guatemalan death squads of the 1980s, to an L.A. engulfed in the flames of the 1992 riots, Tobar’s debut is a moving exploration of violence, idealism, inequality, and the extreme lengths we will go in the name of love. Almost twenty years after it was first published, this novel still resonates.


The Vegetarian Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780553448184
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth Press - February 2nd, 2016

Our February #BrazosBest pick!
A terrifying vision of madness and obsession from a South Korean author poised to make huge waves in English translation. After a disturbing nightmare, Yeong-hye swears off eating meat and sets off a chain reaction that spirals outward from her and draws into question the very notions of identity and relationships. Exuding creeping psychological dread and a dark eroticism, THE VEGETARIAN will get under your skin and stay there.


BookList: The "Hey, Kids, Get Off My Lawn!" Edition

Hey, you! Feeling cranky? Yeah, we’ve all heard the old litany—that there are no new stories. And what’s with all these fresh-faced youngsters publishing books these days? Do we really need all of them? Why can’t they just go get real jobs? Well, here’s the reason: because every day, books by young writers come out that reveal our contemporary society in new ways, that push the boundaries of form, that speak in genuine ways to the timeless emotional dilemmas we all face.

The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse Cover Image
By Ivan Repila, Sophie Hughes (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781782271017
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pushkin Collection - November 24th, 2015

What happens when two boys fall down a well in the middle of nowhere? Take a second to imagine it. Okay, so whatever you just pictured doesn’t even come close to the harrowing experiences found in this slim novel, Repilla’s second. Yes, there’s maggots for dinner, weight loss, gradual insanity—but this book, somehow, isn’t a downer, for Repilla packs it with allegorical heft and haunting, lyrical prose. Our January pick for #BrazosBest deserves another look—and all of us on staff are eagerly awaiting Repilla’s next book.


Surveys Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781584351788
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Semiotext(e) - February 12th, 2016

Check out the description on the back of this debut novel—or, more specifically, the description of the main character, Colleen: “a twenty-three-year-old woman with almost not attachments or aspirations for her life.” Added to this, Stagg’s biography—she’s an editor in, yup, Brooklyn. So sure, this book is loaded with hip, millennial angst, but unlike much likeminded fiction, there’s nothing empty here. Stagg is a soulful, elegant writer, and her story is, ultimately, heartfelt, an exploration of young adult longing—that sense of loading your life with sex, drugs, and fame, but only getting farther away from who you really are.


Year of the Goose Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939419514
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Unnamed Press - December 22nd, 2015

Snack food companies? Fat camps? Modern-day China? Hallman’s debut novel is full of bold notions, but there’s nothing gimmicky here; while the author is eager to entertain with her whimsical, inventive prose, she isn’t desperate to please (though she does), and this book turns a tough eye to the problems affecting one of the United States’ most fraught diplomatic relationships. That cover—bright red, something you can’t ignore when you spot it on the shelf—says it all!


Olympic Butter Gold: Poems Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780810132221
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Northwestern University Press - November 30th, 2015

Who says rap can't be poetry? Seriously, though: the best emcees use rhythm, metaphors, syntax, and juxtaposition as much as any poet. No wordsmith illustrates this better than Fresno's own Jonathan Moody. Conjuring 2pac and James Brown, ROOs shoes and Agent Orange, OLYMPIC BUTTER GOLD is poetry for the people! Outcasts and hip-hop fans, take note.


The Sound of Music

Houston is the epicenter of American music. Okay, that may not be exactly true, but can it just be a coincidence that pop-divinity Beyonce was born here, and her mom used to run the salon just a few doors down from us on Bissonnet? Okay, yes, that may just be coincidence. But what is indubitably true is that most of us on staff are infected with an irrepressible case of musicophilia, and at least one of us has already subjected his poor spouse to multiple listenings of Kanye’s The Life of Pablo. And another of us put together a recent book list with suggested death-metal pairings.

Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374277901
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - February 9th, 2016

The internet and digital music allow the possibility of listening to virtually whatever whenever, and this superabundance of sonic options can be alternately thrilling and numbing. In this brilliant new book, Ratliff—a music critic for the New York Times—presents twenty short chapters with twenty ways to listen, twenty themes that cut across time and genre. The themes he chooses are structural (like “repetition”) and semantic (like “sadness”), and taken together they create a map for navigating the modern ocean of music, as well as an amiable, thumb-nail sketch of music history.


The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780300216929
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - September 15th, 2015

Greil Marcus is arguably the best music critic alive (thus his appearance twice on this list), but he’s more than that: he’s a historian, a philosopher, a cultural critic who uses music as a lens to read the story of America. This 2014 volume is perhaps the best introduction to Marcus’ style and way of thinking: it will rock your world (pun, sadly, intended). Why? Because he is able to construct wormholes across the spacetime of American music which illuminate seemingly distant and disparate artists, genres, and cultural moments. And he does it by choosing less well known songs. Just read the chapter on Etta James, Beyonce, and their versions of All I Could Do Was Cry—you’ll be hooked.


Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music: Sixth Edition Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780142181584
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Plume Books - April 28th, 2015

This is the book; simple as that. It’s been called the best book on American music, the best book on rock ‘n’ roll, and even, by one national critic, “the best book on being alive.” Alive is the best word for Marcus’ writing—it is ragged, ranging, resilient, rapturous—you read it and you can feel his perceptiveness and his sensitivity coursing through you. The most amazing part about MYSTERY TRAIN is the “Notes and Discographies” section, which runs to about 200 pages in this sixth edition, a section that Marcus has been expanding and updating since 1975 when the first edition was published. The ultimate guide to the history and experience of American music. A must-have.


The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780393241921
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 5th, 2015

Modern pop music is expertly engineered like fast food, with just the right balance of salty beats and sugary hooks to poke the brain’s pleasure sensors and keep you coming back for more (whether or not it’s good for you). This book from New Yorker staff writer Seabrook has been a big seller for us, and it’s no mystery why; there’s no other book out there like it, combining fine-grained musical appreciation with big-picture economic and social analysis of the contemporary music industry. Whereas Greil Marcus’ classics have the exploratory scent of an anthropologist or ethnographer, Seabrook writes with a streamlined, modern style perfectly suited to the digital landscape of the iTunes revolution.


The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780983186335
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Featherproof Books - May 12th, 2015

I love the provocative title of this wide-ranging, smart, and deeply-engaged collection of interviews, think-pieces, and reviews of contemporary music by Hopper, Senior Editor at Pitchfork and Editor-in-Chief of The Pitchfork Review. The book is not, technically, the first of its kind, but Hopper points up an obvious phallocentric orientation in contemporary music criticism (note the gender of the other authors in this list; not unrepresentative). She is SO smart, and SO aware of the state of contemporary American music, and she writes with such an infectious overabundance of energy that you can’t help but get carried along with her stream of consciousness.


RE(A)D

Is there any color that hits harder than red? It’s not just primary, it’s primal, evoking extremes of rage and lust, blood and guts, communists and Tea Party Republicans. For this week’s Brazos Book List, we’re taking a look at our inventory through rose-tinted glasses, drawing connections across new fiction and the arts.

The Red Notebook Cover Image
$10.95
ISBN: 9780811220972
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - July 16th, 2013

There’s no shame in getting a little hot over the beautiful form of a physical book, or how it feels in your hand as you thumb the stiffly yielding cover and the whispering, cottony pages (rawr, baby). The publisher New Directions and the living-legend cover designer Rodrigo Corral came together to produce a little pearl of an artifact for Paul Auster’s classic off-beat THE RED NOTEBOOK. Mark sums it up: “A brilliant writer reflecting brilliantly on coincidence, memory and the importance of chance in life.” Could this be the perfect little red book?


Sabbath's Theater Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780679772590
Availability: Backordered
Published: Vintage - August 6th, 1996

There’s a special place in the literary afterlife for Mickey Sabbath, the leering demon on the rich vermillion cover of this National Book Award-winner. He’s an egotist, a misogynist, a boor. As it happens, there are more than a few readers who ascribe the same qualities to Philip Roth himself. But whether you love or hate the character and his creator, you can’t deny their virtuosic creativity, their dynamic storytelling, their mastery of language. This is probably Roth’s best novel; you can’t turn the pages fast enough, and you can’t believe a human mind can create a hilarious fictional world so dazzlingly alive.


Year of the Goose Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939419514
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Unnamed Press - December 22nd, 2015

This new novel is one of Annalia’s favorites of the year. She writes: “Ask me about YEAR OF THE GOOSE and I will tell you it’s like sucking on a lemon, in a good way. In her spunky, strange, debut novel, Carly J. Hallman addresses decadence in the form of China’s tycoon culture. With sinister secrets from the heiress of China’s most successful corporation, Bashful Goose Snack Company, to tales of woe from a monk trapped inside the body of a turtle, Hallman’s characters are as grotesque as they are intriguing. The moral of the story here: beware of decadence.”


At Large: AI Weiwei on Alcatraz Cover Image
By David Spalding (Editor)
$40.00
ISBN: 9781452142760
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Chronicle Books - March 10th, 2015

Your eye is inexorably drawn to the vibrant red on the cover, accented with gold letters—as you get closer you see the subtlest variations in shade, creating what you slowly realize are intricate floral forms. The reference is two-fold: to the red and yellow of the Chinese flag, and to the delicate porcelain flowers of the installation Blossom, one of the off-beat and fascinating installation pieces featured in this handsome volume. The concept for the collection here is a startlingly diverse set of installation pieces executed at the island prison of Alcatraz, including a set of Icarus-like mechanical wings made of solar panels (Refraction), Lego-portraits of dissident artists and thinkers, and an interactive installation with custom designed postcards. Ai Weiwei has generated controversy recently with his self-portrait mimicking the corpse of the dead Syrian boy on the Turkish beach. This collection is something radically other, and gives you a sense of the diversity of his genius.


The Vegetarian Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780553448184
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth Press - February 2nd, 2016

Our pick for Brazos Best for the month of February—this slim, eerie novel has been flying off our shelves. Keaton says: “A terrifying vision of madness and obsession from a South Korean author poised to make huge waves in English translation. After a disturbing nightmare, Yeong-hye swears off eating meat and sets off a chain reaction that spirals outward from her and draws into question the very notions of identity and relationships. Exuding creeping psychological dread and a dark eroticism, THE VEGETARIAN will get under your skin and stay there.”


After Birth Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780544582910
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - February 2nd, 2016

Wanna know what Brooke thinks about AFTER BIRTH, one of her recent favorites? “Albert’s new novel delivers a delightful sucker punch. Love, sex, procreation; hot neighbors; loving husbands; powerful lady friendships. At times an all-out screed, AFTER BIRTH is not a warm and fuzzy dose of motherhood. Hold onto your hat—Albert has a lot to say and you’ll want to hear every word.”


My Funny Valentine

Ah, love: a perpetual Valentine’s Day where the sun shines a soft copper light on the tender conjunction of two balanced souls in perfect harmony. Or, often, a big pile of shit. For this week’s Brazos Book List, we’re setting aside the lollipops and roses and gamely probing love’s slimy, putrid underside. Five Brazos staffers went to a dark place and brought back an eclectic mix of books, from poetry to fiction to memoir, to sate your Valentine’s lust for dirty love.

Some Ether Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555973032
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - May 1st, 2000

Nick Flynn’s mother committed suicide when he was twenty-two, after reading a story he was writing about a single mother with two sons. Later, Flynn met his prison-bound father for the first time while working at a homeless shelter in Boston. Jonathan, at the time, had been sleeping outside, until the night he came in to ask for a bed, a ghost appearing. The underscore to all this: Flynn drinking, more than anyone should. SOME ETHER, Flynn’s debut poetry collection, ruminates on these times. It is a testament to bewilderment, all the ways we can leave and be left, love that keeps opening. —Annalia


The Age of Innocence Cover Image
$11.00
ISBN: 9780307949516
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - June 5th, 2012

Despite the title (and the delicate script on the cover), there’s nothing innocent about this classic American novel or the love triangle at its center. Aristocratic young lawyer Newland Archer finds himself frothing with desire for the dangerously independent Ellen, but there are two problems: 1) she’s still married to a Polish count, and 2) she’s the cousin of Archer’s wife. What makes Wharton’s storytelling so satisfyingly brutal is the push-pull of highly refined exteriors (including Wharton’s impeccable, lapidary style) and tortured, frustrated interiors. The rarefied culture of the Gilded Age setting will appeal to the same mental taste buds that savor Downton Abbey and THE GREAT GATSBY (published just a few years later), but whereas the tragedy of Gatsby plays out in car crashes and gunshots, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE cuts out your heart with sharp wits and tongues. —Corby


Geek Love Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780375713347
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 11th, 2002

If GEEK LOVE hadn't been recommended to me by a friend, I probably would have thought it was a romance about a couple of gamers. But, happily, “geek,” in this context, means "a carnival performer who performs wild or disgusting acts,” including, but not limited to, biting the heads off of chickens. This book does, however, involve romance. By which I mean incest. I hope I'm not giving away too much here. I promise it's not like any kind of incest you've heard of before. The players in GEEK LOVE are members of a carny family whose parents set about breeding their own freaks. The parents experiment with a little cyanide and whatever under-the-sink poisons happen to be around and, voila, the mother gives birth to Siamese twins, a flipper boy, a dwarf and, most perplexing of all, the youngest, Chick, whose powers are disturbing and potent. Every stripe of dysfunctional family drama is on display here, except for cannibalism, maybe. Can't have everything. (If you want EVERYTHING, you should really read Titus Andronicus. I haven't, but I hear it's nice and gruesome.) GEEK LOVE touches on every dark corner of love. Also, there's a girl with a tail, so that's cool. —Brooke


Preparation for the Next Life Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780991360826
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tyrant Books - November 3rd, 2015

Love isn't always pretty. This visceral and highly charged debut tells the dysfunctional love story between an Iraq War veteran and an illegal Chinese immigrant. The setting is New York City and, much like the relationship, the things hidden in “prettier” novels are exposed. Yes, Lish seems to be saying, love is real, it exists, but here are what the bumps and bruises look like. A stunning and unforgettable book where the love between two people is as palpable as the graffiti on a subway. —Mark


The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977283
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - January 19th, 2016

“Will you be my Valentine?” This dumb phrase has huge resonance in pop culture, but it’s a simplification; over the course of one’s lifetime, one has many different “Valentines.” Just ask Paul Lisicky. In this dazzling memoir, he recounts two major relationships, two major loves: one with his longtime partner, poet Mark Doty; the other with his best friend, novelist Denise Gess, who died of cancer in 2009. Lisicky has been writing for decades, but this is his breakout moment, a poetic memoir that intersects the personal with the global (all of our lives take place against the backdrop of history’s lurches, don’t they?), and a perfect story of “romance”—one that shows all the different forms love can take.  —Ben


On the Shelf Now: Get Him to the Greek

Don’t save the drama for your mama—go on and get yourself some Greek tragedy! At Brazos, we read a lot of contemporary fiction and nonfiction, but sometimes we lust for a bracing dose of the classics to give us that vertiginous sense of tradition and (let’s be honest) for all the gory family dysfunction, death, and destruction. Most of us know the cliches (incest! eye-gouging!) but not much else, which is a pity because Greek tragedy offers fascinating insights into the politics, philosophy, religion, and society of classical Athens.

The Story of the Iliad: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic and the Last Days of Troy Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780871408907
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - February 16th, 2015

I know what you’re thinking: wait a minute—the ILIAD is an epic poem, not a tragedy! True, but that’s what makes this new play by award-winning British poet Armitage so compelling—it’s a hybrid (or many-headed Hydra?) marrying the best plot points and themes of Homer’s military epic to the compressed time-frame and dramatic arc of tragedy. (As it happens, Aristotle said Homer was really the father of tragedy anyway, so we’ve got our bases covered.) Marvel at the hero Achilles and feel his accursed wrath; despise the deer-hearted Agamemnon; and indulge your love-hate relationship with Helen in this full-blooded modern adaptation that played at the famous Globe Theater in London just last year.


Bacchae Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062319678
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - August 18th, 2015

Never even dipped a toe into the bloody puddle of Greek tragedy? Then this is the play for you! All you really need to know about Euripides’ masterpiece is one ancient Greek word: “sparagmos,” which means “ripping something limb from limb.” Intrigued? You should be. This play’s got it all—an evil, repressive king; Jedi-style mind tricks; LOTS of cross-dressing; drunken all-night ragers; vindictive divinities; and, of course, sparagmos. Beyond all the jaw-dropping action, BACCHAE also shows a lot about Greek ideas of politics, religion, and gender norms. This new translation from acclaimed Scottish poet Robertson (who also has a wonderful translation of poems by Swedish Nobel-laureate Tomas Tranströmer) is light and nimble like Hermes, but when it needs to, it thunders like Zeus.


The Oresteia Cover Image
By Aeschylus, Robert Fagles (Translator), W. B. Stanford (Introduction by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780140443332
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - February 7th, 1984

Fagles is probably the most loved, best-selling, and all-around strongest modern American translator of ancient Greek poetry (and Latin; his AENEID is incredible). Let him be the Vergil to your Dante as you step with trepidation into the dark underworld of Aeschylus’ ORESTEIA, which is hands down the richest, grimmest, most aesthetically magnificent example of tragedy in existence. THE ORESTEIA—which takes its name from Orestes, son of Agamemnon—is the only surviving three-play set (trilogy) from ancient Greece; in the ancient world, all three plays would have been performed on a single day, outdoors in the spring sunshine on the slope of the Athenian acropolis. The poet Aeschylus manages to generate such suspense (the famous carpet scene!) and such dynamic characters (you’ll have nightmares about Clytemnestra and Cassandra, believe me) that you’ll be tearing your hair, rending your clothes, and begging the Furies for a shred of mercy.


These brand new translations from Bryan Doerries are beautiful on the page, but like a magic spell, their deep power lies in being spoken out loud, both in the study and on stage. Doerries (who will probably win a Genius Grant in the next couple of years) produced these direct contemporary versions in conjunction with his Theater of War project, a truly unique enterprise that brings together ancient texts, famous actors (including Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, and Dianne Wiest) and audiences of real soldiers. By experiencing the trauma of war as represented in these ancient Greek tragedies, contemporary veterans have found an avenue for talking about their own traumas, leading to more dialogue and the potential for more healing. All of this is explained in riveting detail in Doerries recent, acclaimed memoir THE THEATER OF WAR: WHAT ANCIENT GREEK TRAGEDIES CAN TEACH US TODAY (published by Knopf, also on our shelves now).


Antigonick Cover Image
$11.95
ISBN: 9780811222921
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 29th, 2015

Antigo…who? You may think you know the story of Antigone—that ancient Theban Katniss Everdeen whose unwavering loyalty to family brings her to a bad end—but groundbreaking poet Anne Carson will open your eyes with this slim, challenging retelling which puts the Sophoclean original in dialogue with its many historical admirers like Hegel, Heidegger, and Brecht. The publisher—New Directions—is one of our absolute favorites here at Brazos; they also published Carson’s phenomenal NOX, an ode to her dead brother based on Catullus which took the form of an oversized, accordion-style facsimile scrapbook. This translation/adaptation is not for the timid—but lovers of Greek literature will find new ideas in Carson’s encounter with what Hegel called the confrontation of “right and right.”


Book List: North Korea

North Korea's recent test of what may or may not have been a hydrogen bomb has added a little extra spice to the kimchi of international politics. It would be easy to laugh at this propaganda state (as in The Interview, for example) if it weren’t so heartbreaking and so dangerous. Whereas war in the Middle East is spreading millions of refugees across the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, the victims of the North Korean military dictatorship are hermetically sealed off in a political and historical black hole.

The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374175849
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - January 12th, 2016

If you’ve never read about the surreal North Korean abduction campaign, this book is for you. It’s a page-turner about various unsuspecting Japanese citizens who were disappeared in the 1970s/80s, plucked from their daily routines by teams of military commandos, put in sacks, and shipped off to live in cloistered communities in North Korea. Why? It’s complicated—but suffice it to say that the training of North Korean spies is involved. Boynton has published reporting in The New Yorker and New York Times (among other places), and this is a nonfiction thriller with the pace and excitement of a novel, but which will also teach you a lot about the troubled history of Korean-Japanese relations.

 


The Orphan Master's Son Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812982626
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - August 7th, 2012

Johnson won the National Book Award in 2015 for his story collection Fortune Smiles, and this 2013 novel—which won the Pulitzer Prize—is a contemporary American classic and one of the best dystopian novels of all time. It’s protagonist Jun Do is a man of many faces—a commando, a radio operator, a diplomat (who travels to Texas, of all places), an impersonator—and the plot follows his Odyssean twists and turns up through the climactic confrontation with the Americans at the novel’s conclusion. Johnson was able to travel to North Korea during his research period for the book, and although it’s fiction, the book has been praised by journalists who’ve worked extensively in North Korea for its attention to the grim realities of life. Complex, bizarre, and compelling, the novel is a must-read.

 


Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America Cover Image
By Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty (Contribution by)
$28.00
ISBN: 9780544373174
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - June 2nd, 2015

This memoir is one of the best things we’ve read so far this year.  Yes, admittedly, part of the success of the book depends on our inevitable fascination with the surreal and macabre aspects of North Korean society; e.g. the section where the narrator and his sister try to figure out whether the soup they were served at a restaurant along the railroad tracks contained human meat (thousands, perhaps millions, of people died of starvation in North Korea in the 1990s, and the rumors about what people did for food are haunting). But what really makes this memoir compelling is Kim’s keen memory, sharp intelligence, and his way of crafting prose with a spare, light touch. You will feel incredibly close to this sensitive young man, which makes following his desperate journey—losing his family, escaping to China, and eventually ending up as a college student in New York—all the more riveting.


Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780307720665
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - October 13th, 2015

A truly unique memoir. Kim is a journalist who was born in the South but has traveled often to the North reporting for the New York Times, Harper's, and the New York Review of Books.  In 2011, she was hired to teach English to a small cadre of elite North Korean university students attending the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (all the other universities were closed at the time, with the students sent off to do manual labor for the state). She was struck by their unquestioning devotion to the state, but what makes this memoir engrossing are the fleeting glimpses into their individual personalities and private lives. The effect is heartbreaking because we sense just how much is suppressed in order not to run afoul of the ever-present surveillance state. A lucid, heartbreaking look at a part of North Korean society we rarely see.


Book List: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

It’s a sad and amazing fact that Martin Luther King Jr. was not yet forty when he was assassinated at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel in 1968. The title of King’s last book was WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: CHAOS OR COMMUNITY?, and it’s hard to think of a more apt question for where we now find ourselves as a nation in 2016. This week, we acknowledge King’s incomparable strength of spirit and intelligence, as well the ongoing, evolving struggle for civil rights in America. Check out these seven titles—all on our shelves now—to get you thinking about where we go from here as a community.


The New Jim Crow Cover Image
By Michelle Alexander, Cornel West (Introduction by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781595586438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - January 16th, 2012

The best recent book on the state of race relations in America; this is what you want to read if you want to really understand what’s behind #blacklivesmatter. Impassioned law professor Michelle Alexander makes a compelling case—supported with lots of data and an expert’s legal analysis—that the last few decades of America’s war on drugs has had a devastating impact on black America, essentially instituting a New Jim Crow. Cornel West blurbed it as “an instant classic” and has a characteristically brilliant introduction to this paperback edition.


Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780804137416
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - January 12th, 2016

Published just two weeks ago, this emotional, truth-telling book from Princeton professor Glaude builds a case for what he calls the Great Black Depression, a perfect storm of economic and social injustices that have left black America disproportionately impacted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. This is a book from the heart, not a dry history or sociological analysis—part memoir, part manifesto. A keenly intelligent inside look at America in the age of Ferguson.


Citizen: An American Lyric Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781555976903
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 7th, 2014

On pages 134-135 of this poetic masterpiece, Rankine has a list, a list that keeps growing with every reprinting: “In memory of Eric Garner…In memory of Tamir Rice…In memory of Sandra Bland…” These names—of African Americans who have died recently at the hands of law enforcement—are the names that define a troubling moment in American history. Rankin’s mixed-media volume has received more accolades than can be comfortably printed on the back cover—including being a National Book Award Finalist and the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. This is the book that caused a stir at a Donald Trump rally—and rightly so. Widely hailed as one of the best, most original books of 2015.


S O S: Poems 1961-2013 Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780802124685
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - February 9th, 2016

Poet Amiri Baraka started his career in conversation with the Beats and the New York school poets, but after the assassination of Malcolm X he essentially started a new life (including leaving his wife and kids) and evolved into a founder and leading voice of the Black Arts movement. SOS—a New York Times Notable book of 2015--is the most complete collection of Baraka’s poetry, from his first published work in the early 60s all the way to unpublished work written just before his death in 2014. Dip in to this tome to sense the ferciously intelligent, jazz-infused and improvisational aesthetic, much of it forged in the fire of the 1960s civil rights movement.


Between the World and Me Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Spiegel & Grau - July 14th, 2015

When Toni Morrison tells you something is required reading, you’d best pay attention. Coates writes about being black in America on a visceral level, and it’s this immediacy that touched thousands (if not millions) of readers and won the book the National Book Award for non-fiction for 2015. Cast as a letter from Coates to his teenage son, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME is also an outpouring of grief over the death of Coates’ Howard University friend Prince Jones, who was shot and killed by police after being mistaken for a criminal. This book has quickly become the most important literary and cultural talking point in America.


The Sellout Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374260507
Availability: Backordered
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 3rd, 2015

This is without a doubt one of the smartest and funniest novels of 2015. In 2006 Paul Beatty edited a great anthology, HOKUM: AN ANTHOLOGY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HUMOR, and his authorial voice in this novel is not only laugh-out-loud funny, it’s also antic, cuttingly satiric and insightful. THE SELLOUT tells the story of an artisanal watermelon and marijuana dealer who ends up in a case before the US Supreme Court (where he doesn’t shy away from lighting up in front of Clarence Thomas). Beatty does not write superficial satire, and every aspect of racial conflict in America comes in for skewering.


Voyage of the Sable Venus: And Other Poems Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781101875438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 29th, 2015

Lewis dedicates her volume “for BEAUTY,” and this glittering, enigmatic National Book Award-winning collection certainly lives up to it. The title poem is an 80-page masterpiece, constructed completely from “titles, catalog entries, or exhibit descriptions” of museum pieces representing the black female form, from 38,000 BC to the present. Lewis is a genius, and she uses her gifts for language to give voice to these anonymous, objectified women. This is a book that will stand up to re-readings for years.


Indie Inspiration: Discover Great Books

Anyone who knows us knows that we’re big fans of indie presses—especially ones that specialize in literature-in-translation. Recently, we were ecstatic to host the editors of five of our favorite presses: Archipelago Books, New Directions, Open Letter, Restless Books, and Tyrant Books. To celebrate them, check out these ten great titles that will introduce you to new characters and worlds.

From Archipelago Books…

In Red Cover Image
By Magdalena Tulli, Bill Johnston (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781935744085
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Archipelago Books - October 21st, 2011

In this book, fantasy doesn’t just meet history; fantasy drives a book into history’s home. Set in an imaginary fourth partition of Poland, IN RED finds all the nastiness in humanity: greed, stasis, and cruelty. Bleak literature? Hard to say so when the writing is this exhilarating. Tulli is one of Poland’s greatest writers, and thanks to Archipelago, we have this remarkable book available in the United States.


My Struggle, Book Four Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780914671176
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Archipelago Books - April 28th, 2015

Come on, it’s Knausgaard. What more do you want? The man embodies everything about the European intellectual, and in photographs, he smolders. Oh boy, do I sound like I’m getting the vapors? My, my, bring me my fainting chair. Meanwhile, Archipelago will release book five of the monumental MY STRUGGLE series in April. Wake me up when it gets here.


From New Directions…


Beauty Is a Wound Cover Image
By Eka Kurniawan, Annie Tucker (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780811223638
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 8th, 2015

One of the great pleasures—perhaps duties—of indie presses, especially those that specialize in translation (like New Directions), is to introduce readers to the literature of new countries. Consider Indonesia: what was the last Indonesian novel you read? Thanks to New Directions, you can pick up BEAUTY IS A WOUND by Eka Kurniawan. He’s one of the great young world writers, and without New Directions, he would’ve been completely unavailable to American readers—which would’ve been a shame. You won’t want to miss this magical, haunting saga.


The Musical Brain: And Other Stories Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
$29.95
ISBN: 9780811220293
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - March 3rd, 2015

New Directions: the only English publisher of César Aira, one of Argentina’s greatest authors. Where to even start? After all, the dude has published an estimated eighty novels, all teensy. No, he’s not precious with his work. He writes a book? He puts the damn thing out. (And he claims he never revises anything!) These books are strange and experimental, but they’re still founded in great storytelling. Aira is very much in the lineage of other legendary New Directors authors...including, yes, Bolaño.


From Open Letter…


The Things We Don't Do Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9781940953182
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter Books - August 25th, 2015

There’s this Bolaño quote that always gets thrown around when talking about Neuman: that twenty-first century literature will belong to him. Read THE THINGS WE DON’T DO and you’ll see why. The stories are inventive, smart, snazzy—but forget that for a second. What I remember about Neuman is when the Brazos staff joined him for dinner after an event in October. Over Italian food and wine, he proved himself a supreme intellect, regaling us with stories while also demonstrating great curiosity in all of us. Literature will belong to him indeed.


War, So Much War Cover Image
By Merce Rodoreda, Martha Tennent (Translator), Maruxa Relano (Translator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781940953229
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter Books - November 10th, 2015

The best books from Open Letter feel fresh, contemporary, and universal, no matter what country or time they come from. Consider Rodoreda, a giant of Catalan literature, and a favorite of #CultOfMark’s leader and Brazos’ floor manager Mark Haber. In WAR, SO MUCH WAR, she tells a story about the Spanish Civil War, and a young boy’s poetic, surreal adventures. Though she wrote this book in the 1980s, it feels vital still. Literature in translation? Yes—and Open Letter proves that, through translation, we can all get closer to each other as readers.


From Restless Books…


A Legend of the Future Cover Image
By Agustin De Rojas, Nick Caistor (Translator)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781632060358
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Restless Books - June 23rd, 2015

Smart readers know to look toward indie presses for some truly genre-defying work. Consider de Rojas, considered the father of Cuban science fiction. Not until Restless Books translated A LEGEND OF THE FUTURE was his work available in English. So, do you know people who turn up their noses at genre fiction, thinking it pedestrian? Give them de Rojas...and thank Restless Books.


Where the Bird Sings Best Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781632060280
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Restless Books - March 31st, 2015

Look...it’s Jodorowsky. What more do we need to say? The man is a master filmmaker and artist. You know his works: the trippy western El Topo, the surreal horror film Santa Sangre, and plenty of visionary works of visual art. This novel is no different. There are insane beekeepers. There are ghosts. There are a variety of weirdoes, all of whom Jodorowsky loves. Want strange, moving works of fiction like this? Look to indie presses like Restless Books.

From Tyrant Books...


Bad Sex Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780991360802
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tyrant Books - September 15th, 2015

Okay, check out Clancy Martin’s author photo: long black coat, mussed hair, cigarette to his lips, disaffected as hell. Yes, this is the portrait of an indie author. Thing is, Clancy Martin, a philosopher and novelist, published his first books with FSG, one of the big New York publishers. Now, he brings his signature style—smart, tough, and a little irreverent—to an indie press. In the past, the indies have acted as a sort of warm up for authors waiting to make the jump to big corporate publishing; it’s nice to now see the opposite happening. [Clancy Martin visits us Tuesday, 1/12, at 7pm!]


Preparation for the Next Life Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780991360826
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tyrant Books - November 3rd, 2015

The story behind this book seems so unlikely. Lish wrote a dense, troubling book about modern America. Yes, it’s a love story, but one that exposes the difficult situations of veterans and undocumented immigrants. Not an easy read, this book came from a boutique indie press. Expectations, perhaps low. But from there, well, the damn thing caught on, sold and sold, and eventually won the PEN/Faulkner Award. Now, Lish is nearly a household literary name. Powerful things, these indie presses.


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