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A Defense of Jane Austen, Master Clockmaker

A Jane Austen novel is like a Swiss clock: the product of exquisite workmanship set into motion by intricate, hidden parts. Like a fine timepiece, her plots--and heroines--must also be extraordinarily accurate. Her characters are rewarded not only for their depth of feeling but for their ability to balance a ledger, and indeed most of her plots end with a marriage that puts the heroine solidly in the black. As the author once wrote to her niece, “Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony."

For those who are not already devoted to Austen, it might seem that nothing much of note happens in her novels. When non-believers trot out this argument, I’m always reminded of William Least Heat-Moon’s road classic BLUE HIGHWAYS. In a tiny Texas town called Dime Box, a woman tells Least Heat-Moon that “people don't think anything important happens in a place like Dime Box. And usually it doesn't, unless you call conflict important. Or love or babies or dying.” Though Austen’s novels may feel myopic to a contemporary reader, their concerns were of the utmost importance to women of Austen’s time and station. Elaborate social cues dictating when and how to sit, stand, and curtsy can throw a veil up between Austen’s novels and the modern reader. Almost every scene in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE or EMMA takes place inside a drawing room. However, although they may do it perched on the edge of a sofa, Austen’s heroines navigate a perilous landscape that is as complex, mysterious and variable as the human heart.

Keaton's Top 10 Books You Didn't Read in 2017

As the buyer, I tend to get excited about new releases waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before they ever hit our shelves. We’re talking 1000s of titles every year, not that I read all of them. But I do my best. Some, like LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, are no brainers. Titles that spark rabid reader anticipation as soon as they are announced and need very little help finding their way into your hands. Others become cult house favs, leading one or more Brazos bookseller on a personal quest to bring a lesser known gem to your attention.

To Name Those Lost Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781609453497
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - February 7th, 2017

The first book I read this year, and still one of the best books I read this year! This heartbreaking and violent tale life in the Tasmanian frontier is at its foundation a story about parents and children--especially the hard choices we make to give the ones we love a better life. A taut page-turner and a slow-burning potboiler all at once, TO NAME THOSE LOST is an immersive adventure from one of the young shining lights of literature down under.


Themystery.Doc Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780802124913
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 3rd, 2017

The most unique book I read this year, THEMYSTERY.DOC is an attempt to capture the essence of living in the internet era in the form of a novel. Replete with photos and screenshots, symbols, transcriptions of real-life conversations, and no fewer than three intertwining storylines, this is the most avant garde American fiction of 2017. Imagine Danielewski but with much more substance. A weighty tome that is a breeze to read, you won’t find another book like this.


Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash Cover Image
By Eka Kurniawan, Annie Tucker (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811225649
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - August 1st, 2017

The best crime comedy about murder for hire and male impotence you’ll find this year! VENGEANCE IS MINE… follows a traumatized hitman and his near-invincible gangster girlfriend as they just try to live and love on the mean streets, but can they escape the pull of the underworld? All the literary quality you expect from a New Directions title, now with car chases! This book is a blast and a half!


All We Shall Know Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143131045
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - July 4th, 2017

My favorite contemporary Irish author returns! ALL WE SHALL KNOW is the kind of quiet yet emotionally searing domestic literature that gets under your skin for a long time to come. Centering on the collapse of a relationship and its aftermath in a small rural town, this novel is further proof of Ryan’s ability to craft specifically Irish yet universally human drama from everyday life.


The Sarah Book Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780988518391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tyrant Books - July 11th, 2017

West Virginia madman and indie lit cult hero, McClanahan, turns out a stunning semi-autobiographical novel documenting his divorce and the ensuing psychological tailspin with a truly raw honesty that is hard to forget. Unsettling, hilarious, demented, lyrical, and sad as fuck, THE SARAH BOOK is the work of a true American original.


The Glass Eye: A Memoir Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941040775
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - October 3rd, 2017

Somewhere between grief and madness lies THE GLASS EYE. This stunning debut memoir delves deep into young Jeannie Vanasco’s ordeal in overcoming the twin miseries of her beloved father’s death and the severe manic depression she is no longer able to keep in check. A visceral, haunting confessional-style read from an extremely talented and troubled woman that deserves to find a wide audience.


The Good People Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780316243964
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 19th, 2017

Psychological thrills, pitch-perfect historical detail, and gothic chills all come together in THE GOOD PEOPLE, Kent’s sophomore novel that shows no signs of a slump. Three women face the suspicion of their neighbors and the disapproval of their priest, when they seek to cure an invalid child by “putting the fairey out” of him in 1800s Ireland. Based on an obscure legal case--much like her debut, BURIAL RITES--THE GOOD PEOPLE is a deft work of fiction that is as literary as it is suspenseful.


Swallowing Mercury Cover Image
By Wioletta Greg, Eliza Marciniak (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781945492044
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - September 12th, 2017

Told in brief, episodic chapters, this subtle yet stunning work of autobiographical fiction perfectly distills the universal wonder of childhood while also capturing the particular experience of growing up under Communist rule during the 80s. Wiola is a precocious young girl trying to find her place in rural Poland but often finds herself in trouble – with her family, her teachers, even her entry into an art contest leads to a run-in with the Communist Party. Through it all she remains indomitable, learning about love, loss, sexuality, death, and the myriad forms of ugliness that run rampant in the world. SWALLOWING MERCURY – the third amazing release from nascent Transit Books this year--is a vital contribution to the literature of childhood.


Solar Bones Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781616958534
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Press - September 12th, 2017

A lyrical, haunting Irish novel recounting the last moments of a dying man's consciousness. An ordinary civil engineer--who may or may not be a newly minted spirit--sits at the kitchen table and mulls over his life and place in the world, moving back and forth in time at will. Written in a meandering, digressive narrative style that is strangely hypnotic, absolutely beautiful and totally engrossing, SOLAR BONES rightly deserved its Man Booker nomination and should also find its way into your hands!


They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: Backordered
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 7th, 2017

OK, so this one just came out. It really hasn’t had a chance to sell yet, but I wanted to make sure I expressed every bit of my excitement for the BEST ESSAY COLLECTION OF 2017! Covering topics as varied as Fall Out Boy, racism and police violence, depression, underground hip hop, and beyond, THEY CAN’T KILL US… is simply brilliant. It is full of heart yet humble, and fully engaged with the political and cultural milieu of today. A book to break your heart and give you strength. I give it my highest recommendation!


Book List: Texas Independents

The relationship between local presses and local bookstores is no doubt a powerful one. In honor of our event March 31 with the Writer's League of Texas, here are a few highlights from small presses in Texas.


A Strange Object (Austin) 

Man and Wife Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780989275989
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Strange Object - May 10th, 2016


Deep Vellum (Dallas)


Sphinx Cover Image
By Anne Garreta, Emma Ramadan (Translator), Daniel Levin Becker (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781941920091
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - April 21st, 2015

Seeing Red Cover Image
By Lina Meruane, Megan McDowell (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781941920244
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - February 23rd, 2016

Staff Pick Logo
The Art of Flight Cover Image
By Sergio Pitol, George Henson (Translator), Enrique Vila-Matas (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941920060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - March 17th, 2015


University of Texas Press (Austin)


A Love Letter to Texas Women Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781477309490
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Texas Press - April 5th, 2016

The Plain in Flames Cover Image
By Juan Rulfo, Ilan Stavans (Translator), Harold Augenbraum (Other)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780292743854
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Texas Press - September 1st, 2012


Texas A&M University Press (College Station)


Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan Cover Image
$34.95
ISBN: 9781623495299
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Texas A&M University Press - January 20th, 2017


Arte Publico Press (Houston)


Diaspora: Selected and New Poems Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781558858367
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Arte Paublico Press - September 30th, 2016

The Wetback: And Other Stories Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781558858343
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Arte Publico Press - September 30th, 2016


Cinco Puntos Press (El Paso)


Rani Patel in Full Effect Cover Image
$11.95
ISBN: 9781941026502
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Cinco Puntos Press - October 11th, 2016

Don't Say a Word, Mama/No Digas Nada, Mama Cover Image
$8.95
ISBN: 9781935955450
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Cinco Puntos Press - September 24th, 2013

Bailarines Como Gladiadores - Una Entrevista con Leila Guerriero

Brazos Bookstore: Tu punto de vista es muy importante ya que tu no sabías bien lo que era el Malambo antes de comenzar el libro. Creo que esto es importante ya que el lector probablemente parte del mismo lugar que tu. ¿Creíste que tu punto de vista era importante para contar la historia?

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo Cover Image
By Leila Guerriero, Frances Riddle (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811226004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 7th, 2017

Dancers More Akin to Gladiators: An Interview with Leila Guerriero and Frances Riddle

To think that one of the most moving books I would read this year would be about a dance contest—an obscure, Argentine, dance contest, no less—is very surprising. But A SIMPLE STORY, written by celebrated Argentinean journalist Leila Guerriero is just that: an incredible book about a little-known dance, the Malambo, and the contest that occurs every year in a small, provincial town in Argentina. It is brief, stunning, and powerful, a book that deals with obsession, humility, social class, and the physical challenges of mastering a dance that can quite literally destroy a person’s body.

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo Cover Image
By Leila Guerriero, Frances Riddle (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811226004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 7th, 2017

Explore the World at Brazos!

No need to leave Houston for spring break—you can travel the world at your neighborhood bookstore! Join us for a week of family programming dedicated to exploring the globe. We’ll have a new in-store activity each day of the week, and also some special events, all celebrating the diversity of Houston!

Subscribe to Brazos Best

Join our all new #BrazosBest subscription service! Sign up for 6 months or 12 months of new paperback titles, hand-picked by the Brazos staff, from major publishers AND indie presses, from established writers AND exciting newcomers, from American authors AND translation sensations! All delivered direct to your home every month! Never miss a book!

(Note: subscription begins the month AFTER you sign up.)

$110.00
SKU: BrazosBest6

$220.00
SKU: BrazosBest12

Annalia Gives Good Gifts

Little Bot and Sparrow Cover Image
By Jake Parker, Jake Parker (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626723672
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - September 27th, 2016

Absolutely on Music: Conversations Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385354349
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - November 15th, 2016

Umami Cover Image
By Laia Jufresa, Sophie Hughes (Translator)
$21.99
ISBN: 9781780748917
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: ONEWorld Publications - September 13th, 2016

An evening with Mary Beard at Christ Church Cathedral

"The beginning of empire and the beginning of literature were two sides of the same coin.”

―Mary Beard, S.P.Q.R.: A HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME

 

Join us for an evening with renowned historian and author Mary Beard on September 18 at 7:30pm. With her signature wit and immense knowledge, Beard will discuss her work as a classical scholar and her newest book, S.P.Q.R.: A HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME. We hope to see you there!

A Debut Author Raises a Glass!

Let’s set the scene:

You’re a debut author. It’s the magic hour—that time in the afternoon when the sun has set but light still dusts the sky. After years of struggle, your first book is forthcoming, about to enter the world. Tomorrow, there will be time for more stress—for interviews, for readings, for sleeping on couches as you tour the country and share your work with the world…but for now, take a deep breath, put on some music, and grab yourself a drink. It’s time to relax. It’s time to reflect. It’s time for #debooze.

In #debooze, we ask a debut author to reflect on his/her road to publication, and to also recommend some booze.

The Debut: Will Chancellor's A BRAVE MAN SEVEN STOREYS TALL

The Booze: Margaritas

 

This book began 18 years ago on my first day of college. I was seated at a conference table with a dozen other nervous freshmen in our Grand Survey of Civilization! seminar. The professor puts up a slide of a bronze statue, tells us it's Poseidon, and asks what we think. Everyone looks down and starts picking at their denim. Except this one guy, this six-eight blonde water polo player raises his arm and says,

—I don't think it's very accurate.

The professor looks puzzled and says,

—That's an interesting choice of words. It's a statue of a god, what do you mean it's not 'accurate'?

—Well, I always thought Poseidon would look like me.

Some part of me registered how radically other this psychology was. I kept circling back to the question, 'Who the hell says something like that?'

After college, I tried to become an environmental lawyer. I worked at Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, but was dispirited by how decades of hard-won battles can be undone with an executive order. Then I thought that I would approach global environmental policy through the more translatable fields of epidemiology, chemistry and physics—the coolest work at Earthjustice was done by the scientists. So I moved to Austin to finish some prerequisite courses for an MPH/MD.

But that comment kept coming back to me. And at this point I was more interested in translating Homer, talking ideas with friends at Spiderhouse, Mojo's and Dolce Vita, and learning Russian—chiefly to help me better understand the Slavic novels I was buying by the armful at Half Price Books.

Fucking Half Price Books. Very frequently, I decided to buy books rather than food. If I caught sight of the turquoise spine of a Penguin Twentieth Century Classic, I was done. I remember spending my last penny on THE RAZOR’S EDGE, looking at the calendar and realizing I was ten days away from a paycheck, which meant I would have to scrounge for food in the house.

As it turned out, the only 'food' that was mine was a half-dozen leftover canisters of Minute Maid Limeade. For a syrupy week, I ate frozen limeade concentrate with a spoon. And read Somerset Maugham.

How did those Limeade canisters get there in the first place? Glad you asked. Turns out that the perfect margarita calls for concentrate.

Perfect Margarita (cheap):
-one canister limeade
-six ounces of rail tequila
-splash of triple sec
-ice

Blend high until slushy

Salt the hell out of the rim

Perfect Margarita (fancy)*:
-2 oz Single Estate Ocho Silver (Tequila)
-3/4 oz Luxardo Triplum (Triple Sec)
-3/4 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice
-1/4 oz Del Maguey Iberico (Mezcal)

Shaken with fresh ice and strained into a rocks glass

*Thanks to KJ for the secret recipe

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