Dispatch from the Buyer

Article by keaton

Each month, we preview the books we can’t wait for you to read.

This March: Puppets and Morse code redeem humanity; Moshin Hamid: Citizen of the World; the troublesome vice of keeping a diary; what the Lusitania can teach us about modern warfare; girls’ basketball, abortion and the apocalypse in Texas; the perils of boredom for an American expatriate housewife

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I Am Radar Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594206160
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - February 24th, 2015

Somewhere in the middle of I AM RADAR’s 600+ pages, everything clicked into place for me. All of the seemingly disparate storylines, the multitude of quirky characters, the graphs, illustrations, footnotes, particle physics, puppet theater, ethnic cleansing, communication, identity, the interplay of war and art, linked together like dots and dashes making up some vital Morse code transmission I suddenly remembered how to decipher. Only now, I was unsure of what was real and what was not. I have never read another novel that so thoroughly imbeds itself in reality for the sole purpose of instilling uncertainty in the reader. The effect is a work of artifice that becomes more real than real. And, in this hyperreality, I AM RADAR hones in on the myriad fictions underlying our perceptions of truth, illuminating the best and worst humanity has to offer.

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633652
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - February 24th, 2015

Mohsin Hamid wants you to collaborate in DISCONTENT AND ITS CIVILIZATIONS, his first nonfiction collection. For him, we are all foreign correspondents, enriching the world’s life, art and politics with our various points of view. The writer/reader relationship is no different. Living in three major cities on three continents over the past fifteen years has given Hamid a unique, global perspective on the 21st century. Yet, it’s striking--a testament to his emphasis on inclusivity, really--how easy it is to identity with his experiences, far as they are from the Western norm. This is reportage that makes the world smaller in the best possible way.

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977030
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Graywolf Press - March 3rd, 2015

Is writing a vice? Sarah Manguso thinks so, considering her twenty-five-year, 800,000+ page diary. But her composition is also based in fear, rumination, and anxiety. If we don’t record the events of our lives, if we forget all about them, then did they ever happen? Why did Manguso not publish her magnum opus, instead opting for this brief collection of aphoristic statements orbiting the abandonment of her life’s work? What can we really say about time, mortality, the sheer ongoing flow of life constantly slipping through our fingers? Anything? Nothing?

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307408860
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Crown - March 10th, 2015

Erik Larson’s newest historical blockbuster has everything you’ve come to expect from him: a total immersion in a bygone era, a Ken Burns-esque ability to weave numerous primary sources into one seamless, suspenseful narrative. Yet what seized me the most about DEAD WAKE is just how much the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania have in common with our own war-torn times. Like a pre-9/11 America, nobody in 1915 thought a disastrous enemy attack of that magnitude was possible. The atmosphere of terror engendered by the new technology of World War I--the submarine, especially--seems to directly parallel the unease brought on by terrorism and drone warfare. As with the best historical writing, Larson cuts through the skein of myth that accrues with time and makes the past relevant to the present.

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062319098
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Harper - March 10th, 2015

Joan Didion once wrote of “a realm of miseries peculiar to women.” For Mercy Louis and the other teenage girls of Port Sabine, Texas, this peculiarity squarely falls within the purview of apocalyptic religion and refinery town corporatocracy. In a setting all-too-familiar for anyone who grew up in Port Arthur, Texas City, Laporte, or Pasadena, THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS exposes how easily the sexuality of young women can become the scapegoat of a community’s own iniquity. Hypocracy, suspicion, greed, high school sports: these are the makings of tragedy in smalltown Texas.

Hausfrau Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812997538
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - March 17th, 2015

Can misery be erotic? Anna, the protagonist of Austin-based poet/author Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel, is undeniably miserable. She is also drawn to illicit sexual encounters like a moth to the flame. It is only as an object of desire that she finds respite from the boredom, loneliness and alienation of her married, expatriate life. It provides the only heat in her snow-filled Swiss existence. There is no romance here, save the unreciprocated kind for which you destroy yourself. What remains is the psychological turmoil of a woman unable to find her own agency in an impassive world. Like Nora Helmer or Anna Karenina, the Anna of HAUSFRAU is at the mercy of the choices she makes, and especially those she doesn’t.

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