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We’re All In This Together: The Continuing Saga of Inprint

Ten or so chapbooks, laid out across a conference-style table: this is what I see when I walk into the Inprint bungalow on Thursday afternoon to speak with Rich Levy (Executive Director) and Krupa Parikh (Marketing and Outreach Director). I like catching up with our partners at Inprint because it always feels like visiting an interesting friend who has something new to show you.

Lincoln in the Bardo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812995343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - February 14th, 2017

Buyer's Corner: Science Edition

The Principia: The Authoritative Translation and Guide: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy Cover Image
By Isaac Newton, I. Bernard Cohen (Translator), Anne Whitman (Translator)
ISBN: 9780520290884
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: University of California Press - February 5th, 2016

Cosmos Cover Image
By Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson (Foreword by), Ann Druyan (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780345539434
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - December 10th, 2013

A Brief History of Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553380163
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam - August 31st, 1998

On the Origin of Species Cover Image
By Charles Darwin, William Bynum (Introduction by), William Bynum (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780140439120
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - October 1st, 2009

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399184413
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - March 1st, 2016

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062316097
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - February 10th, 2015

I Am a Polar Icebreaker: Notes on SHRILL

So a few Wednesdays ago, I went to the doctor. A new doctor, chosen after much sturm und drang with insurance companies and recommendations from well-trusted friends and Internet searching. And it seemed to pay off, because when the day finally came, the doctor was fine and personable when she showed up. There were pleasantries, y'know, I was feeling nice and relaxed. And then it was time to get down to business, so the doctor looks at the computer and says to me, "So just looking at your height, I'd say we need to get you down to an ideal weight of—"

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316348409
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Hachette Books - May 17th, 2016

In the part of my memory that comes up with really good comebacks half an hour after getting into fights with people, I told that doctor off. In the part of my memory that remembers exactly how many people were present the day I ripped my pants in seventh grade gym and exactly what color underwear I was wearing that day, I know that I sat there kind of stunned and awkward for the rest of the exam and then had a fit of tears in the Uber on the way home and then was a total bitch to my therapist that afternoon when she tried to help.

But this time, I had Lindy West in my ear saying, "You know that's total bullshit." And when I got home and picked up SHRILL to reassure myself that I hadn't hallucinated that really good chapter about how women's bodies are considered public property, and size and weight are conflated with health in terrible ways, and how that's crap (the second chapter "Bones", for the curious)—I felt better. This doctor's appointment wasn't the first time I'd encountered people concern-trolling my body for "my health" (thanks, dad). It wasn't even the first time I'd had a medical professional give me an arbitrary number for "my health" that, to reach, I would have to literally slice off parts of my body. It was, however, the first time I'd had these things happen after reading SHRILL, and it was the first time that I didn't cry about it for days after.

And I don't experience a fraction of what Lindy West experiences in SHRILL, is the thing. I am still acceptably small and shrinkable; my body can compress itself into straight sizes and does not unduly make itself known on planes, in restaurants, in public transit. But my natural shape and size is still a "concern" to people around me, and it's hard not to hate and fear my squishy bits for that. The strength to not do that—to push back and get loud and defend my right to take up space—I have to thank Lindy West for.

This might be the most personally honest thing I've ever blogged for this website, but if you think this is honest, you need to go read SHRILL. SHRILL brings a new meaning to "brutally honest," in that it lures you in with hilarity and pop culture criticism and then sucker-punches you in the tit with the West's reality of being a loud, unapologetic, funny fat woman in our fatphobic, perfection-obsessed culture. This book is funny as hell, and powerful as all-get out, and incredibly important. Important, because West doesn't hold back any details on how vitriolically hated she has been for being a woman who dares to have opinions in a public space.

My first exposure to Lindy West, and a lot of people's first exposure to her, was when her piece "How to Make a Rape Joke", a response to Daniel Tosh's hideously unfunny "rape joke" controversy, went viral in the summer of 2012. According to RAINN, every 107 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States—the majority of those someones being women. Please imagine, if you somehow avoided this controversy, how absolutely exhausting it was to be a young woman in the summer of 2012, when a bunch of men you'd formerly felt safe with came charging in frothing hordes to every social media site you'd formerly enjoyed, all to feverishly defend the ability of mostly white, privileged dudes to tell careless jokes about one of the most horrifying, violent, and demeaning things that one in four women will experience. It was a pretty brutal summer.

But West's piece came into the conversation like a bucket of cold water, and for me and many women I knew, it became a rallying cry. For me, still in college and still finding my legs to stand on when faced with the visceral evidence of my male peers' disregard for my bodily autonomy, Lindy West became my #goals. To be that articulate and capable of defending not just myself but the women around me—damn. I wanted to be able to do that. In West's essay-chapter "You're So Brave for Wearing Clothes and Not Hating Yourself!" West discusses her own acceptance of her fat body: "I am unassailable. I am a polar icebreaker… I can absorb blows—literal and metaphorical—meant for other women, smaller women, more breakable women—women who need me." As I straddle the line between breakable and unassailable, that line hits me where I live. And it makes me feel safe. I finally have someone on my side.

My notes from reading SHRILL are absurdly all-over-the-place: quotes from my review copy with six asterisks in front of them and ten exclamation points after; stuff in all-caps like "UGH YES THANK YOU"; my sole comment for the chapter "The Tree" is "owwwwwww christ"—this is what West's writing does to you. It makes you fist-pump emphatically; it makes you think truly and deeply about other people's experiences and how—and more importantly why—your own have been different. It's tough to read sometimes, not gonna lie, because that's what happens when a writer is this open and candid about her life, but ultimately, it's heartening. This book is not a relentless stream of negativity. Far from it.

I did nearly pop a rib laughing at this book. West's desert-dry wit and turn of phrase find humor in absolutely every painful or awkward life situation there is. Even when it's something we're told not to talk about—though usually that, in West's book, is the perfect reason to talk about something. The first chapter of this book is about periods. There are many stories about the online harassment she's flooded with as an outspoken feminist writer—harassment we are usually told is "just part of the internet." There is an unabashedly unashamed and emotionally devastating chapter, in which the familiar daily calculus of making decoy purchases at the drugstore so as to not be judged for the one thing you actually need to buy, becomes the lead-in for the story of her abortion (shared with the world last year when #shoutyourabortion was trending to help end the stigma around the procedure). There's still a tremendous pressure for women not to share their experiences of these things—harassment, menstruation, termination of accidental pregnancies—which, in SHRILL, means it's high time we started being loud about them.

West believes unwaveringly in building a better world with her championing of under-recognized humanity, and you know what the best part it? All those trolls and haters and vicious misogynists—some of them, West tells us, change their minds. Her story in SHRILL of a troll who reached out to her and apologized made me cry—not from empathetic pain at his cruelty, but in awestruck disbelieving hope and joy that maybe more trolls and haters and vicious misogynists will change their minds. And it's a good reminder for me, too, when I get exhausted and angry and fed-up with being silenced and shamed and misunderstood, not to take the easy way out—the easy way being more silence and more anger, or just to hate everything. Because it's easy, West reminds us, to hate things. Hate is lazy. Sincerity is harder—but worth it.

Liz Wright is the Kids Specialist at Brazos Bookstore, though she likes to remind people she created the Gender & Sexuality section on the main floor as well. She received her BA from Wellesley College, where she spent four years learning how to raise her voice and the voices of other women. Her writing has appeared in BUST Magazine and Minerva Rising Literary Journal. This fall, she’ll pursue her MA and MFA in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children at Simmons College, where she’ll be the Dean’s Fellow for Children’s Literature.

The Future of Fiction: Two Dollar Radio and America’s Young Novelists

Two Dollar Radio is one of the very best contemporary independent literary publishers, in that they seem to genuinely point the way forward for American literature: their work is hip and avant-garde, yes, blurring genres and feeling on the cutting edge of fiction, yet their books are also rooted in the simplest of things: character, plot, image. The books tend to be slim but ambitious, novels you can read in a sitting and then think about for months. Their authors are new, young, looking for new ways to tell stories.

Binary Star Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512255
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - January 13th, 2015

Haints Stay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512323
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - June 2nd, 2015

Sloane Crosley’s North Star: A Q&A About THE CLASP

This may not come as a surprise to you, but many authors are not terribly charming—not off the page, anyway. Think about it: authors spend countless hours alone, living in their heads, crafting characters and telegraphing their movements and thoughts through carefully constructed sentences. It takes a lot of internal focus to write a book—and, as a result, authors sometimes seem confused and gruff when meeting their readership, grumbling and stumbling as though hospital patients let into the sunlight for the first time in years.

The Clasp Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374124410
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 6th, 2015

Poetry as Thinking-Through: A Q&A with Roberto Tejada

When people ask me about AWP (short for The Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference and Bookfair, though no one calls it that), I say it’s more like a literary summer camp than an actual conference. I can’t prove or disprove this as I have never been, but that’s what it seems like on paper: you go back every year to try to see the friends you’ve written letters to all year, and you try to go to the most fun activities on the few days you have. It’s a place to stock up on swag.

Pearls Before Swine, Chapter 1: All Men Are Dogs

One night, after an unusually ample plate of pulled pork sliders, Keaton Patterson was visited by a large talking pig. “Colossal” was how he described it to Mark Haber, “with a cleft nose and a pierced eyelid. And it wasn’t just talking either—it was eloquent.” He stretched out the last word as though unsure how it ended. “This pig was a soothsayer, a sage. He was sharing his wisdom for the ages and he feared for all of humankind.

The Bridegroom Was a Dog Cover Image
By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811220378
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 27th, 2012


Keaton: And it just gets weirder and weirder from there.

Mark: Yeah.

Keaton: You know, I was doing a little bit of research. And Yoko Tawada, she’s a very prominent contemporary Japanese writer. She also writes in German apparently. She’s won major awards in both Germany and Japan. THE BRIDEGROOM WAS A DOG in particular won the Akutagawa Prize, which is the biggest literary award you can get in Japan.

Mark: Yeah. It’s like their Pulitzer or something.

Keaton: So, this story is roundly considered a classic of contemporary Japanese literature.

Mark: Yeah.

Keaton: But what does it “mean?”

Mark: Yes! Exactly! What is Tawada saying?

Keaton: There are certain elements of it that I think are very pertinent to Japanese society. It seems that there’s a definite look at gender roles, or the changing of gender roles...

Mark: Yeah. Gender roles, conforming to what society says you’re supposed to be.

Keaton: Also, modernization. You have the ancient part of the town and the newer modern apartments being built. All of the mothers—interestingly, you never hear about any of the students’ fathers—but all the mothers seem a little unnerved by this unmarried twenty-nine year old woman. So, there’s definitely a preoccupation with changing gender norms in Japanese society there. And in Japanese society, you know women have had a long upward battle with progressivism and equality issues. And so here comes this guy into this single, independent woman’s life. And he really instantly subjugates her right away it seems. He seems to objectify her. He just comes in and says, “I’m here to stay,” and then they have sex.

Mark: She’s actually powerless, yeah.

Keaton: And she doesn’t resist him at all, but it doesn’t seem like she really wants to [have sex] either.

Mark: No. And she even says toward the end she doesn’t even like to look at him.

Keaton: They have this really kind of passionate sexual affair. It goes on for awhile but then almost peters out immediately. And on the other side of the gender roles theme, a lot is made about how Taro likes to clean. The mothers talk about how maybe Japanese men are becoming sissies these days. But who doesn’t like a guy who cleans?

Mark: Right! Exactly! Exactly!

Keaton: So again, the relationships between men and women, dominate gender roles all seem in flux. And we’ve all heard the phrase “all men are dogs” before. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Mark: Yeah, true!

Keaton: And apparently Taro is an adulterer. So...

Mark: True! He’s a dog. There you go.

Keaton: What are some other issues in Japanese culture we see here? Bullying.

Mark: Bullying, yes. Being an outcast.

Keaton: There’s the new girl at the school, Fukiko, who gets bullied for being “strange.” That really affects Mitsuko. And so going back to rumors, there’s this idea of members of society pointing out and ostracizing those who are not quite the same. Anyone who’s perceived as being strange is ostracized—Mitsuko the independent woman, Fukiko the new girl...but I’m talking too much!

Mark: I think theme of small town gossip is really important to the story. It’s just universal, you know? How rumors can affect what other think of someone who is different. All these mothers, who are kind of reluctant to send their kids to Mitsuko’s school, speculate about her past. They don’t really know her, but they make up stories about her.

Keaton: To get away from the plot for a minute and just talk about the structure, I don’t remember the last time I read sentences as long as the ones in this book. I mean, this story is sixty pages long...I think there’s like thirty sentences in the whole book. Do you think maybe she’s trying to mimic a conversational tone, the yarn-ness of a folk tale?

Mark: It definitely feels like a folk tale.

Keaton: I mean there are whole paragraphs, whole pages that are single sentences. But nevertheless there’s always this really fluid feel to the prose.

Mark: Yeah. It’s really well written. I was thinking about how clever it is that she can go seamlessly from one viewpoint to another: “But then we heard this....but then there was this...but then she told a story to the class...” It’s almost like a movie. It just moves from one viewpoint to the other effortlessly.

Keaton: Where is the point of view in this story? Is there a real, singular narrator here? It almost seems like there’s none.

Mark: It’s kind of omniscient.

Keaton: It’s like the miasma of voices of the community rumoring back and forth, giving rise to the story. There’s no specific point of view. All that uncertainty just kind of adds to the eeriness of it, I think. And then with the ending, you just read this strange tale...and then it’s just gone. I think that’s just the way things happen in life too around certain events. Certain occurrences really... [Keaton begins to cough uncontrollably] Sorry, I got some rib caught in my throat. You know, stories kind of pop up in our lives, in our surrounding society, our little cultures, and they just infect everything for a while, get everyone’s attention, it’s the center of attention, and then it’s just gone.

Mark: Yeah. Then it’s gone.

Keaton: It’s kind of like the effervescence of these stories, or just society in general. If society is built on stories, and stories are transient, especially folk tales...

Mark: Right! Just like events in life. What seems so important and is the focus of everyone’s attention suddenly is done. And then it’s on to the next!

Keaton: And it really does seem that Tawada is trying to mimic an oral tradition rather than a written story.

Mark: It very much does. Down to the teacher telling the story. “Let me tell you a story, children…” And that’s in the larger context of the story we’re reading.

Keaton: And you know, the continuation of the oral tradition depends on stories being passed down. So when a story loses people’s interest...

Mark: It dies off.

Keaton: Right. And maybe there’s a sense of that fading of a more “magical” past in THE BRIDEGROOM WAS A DOG.

Mark: That’s very interesting.

Keaton: Yeah. I’d like to see some more of what Tawada has written.

Mark: She has more books from New Directions.

Keaton: So, we’ll say “thumbs up” to THE BRIDEGROOM WAS A DOG?

Mark: I say “thumbs up”!

Keaton: And how about to Pizzitola’s? They get a thumbs up?

Mark: Yeah! Definitely an all around success. What do we have to look forward to for our next installment? I think we’ve chosen.

Keaton: Next month, we’re going to discuss Paul Auster’s THE RED NOTEBOOK, New Directions Pearl number I-know-not-what.

Mark: Some number.

Keaton: We’ll figure it out. See you next time for Pearls Before Swine!

The Red Notebook Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811220972
Availability: Backordered
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - July 16th, 2013

Exploration of the Power Elite: A Q&A with Kevin Kwan

by Annalia Linnan

Some books are like macarons—rich, delicate, meant to be sampled rather than devoured—while others are like potato chips: you sit down to read a chapter, and two hours later, you forgot about the laundry, you haven’t eaten dinner, and where did all those crumbs come from? Kevin Kwan’s latest novel, CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND, is a bag of kettle cooked chips.

China Rich Girlfriend Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385539081
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday Books - June 16th, 2015

Kevin Kwan speaks at the Asia Society Texas Center on Tuesday, June 16. Ticket information is available here.

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
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
ISBN: 9780802124913
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
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)
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
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
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
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
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)
ISBN: 9781945492044
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
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
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
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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!