Staff Pick

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” Herman Melville’s great novel, Moby-Dick, is an incredible exploration of revenge and the conflict of man versus nature, but it is also a reverent and insightful novel of the sea. Indeed, the ocean is as much a character as Ishmael or Ahab, and Richard J. King’s book, Ahab’s Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick (Chicago, $30), shows us just how deep Melville’s research went. King delves into the natural history behind the work, teaching us about whale intelligence, marine animals, and period research methods while also taking a broader cultural view of how the sea was seen by the American public when Melville was writing. Whether you love Moby-Dick or just like getting your feet wet, King’s book captures the enduring power that the ocean still has over us, and what that means in an era of climate crisis.

 

Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of
$30.00
ISBN: 9780226514963
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: University of Chicago Press - November 11th, 2019

Staff Pick

A writer, translator, critic, and editor, Alberto Manguel is an unabashed bibliophile who writes with the erudition of a lifetime of deep, wide reading, as well as an irrepressible sense of wonder. Fabulous Monsters (Yale, $19.95), an eclectic collection of thirty-seven profiles of imaginary figures— from Satan and Sinbad to Faust, Superman, and Heidi’s grandfather—celebrates fiction’s unique power to create characters that “cannot be caged between the covers of their books.” Drawing its title from the scene in Through the Looking-Glass where Alice meets the Unicorn and each admits the reality of the other, Manguel’s book reminds us that “the monster is…the thing unexpected”—the thing that surprises and startles and enchants us. And Alice isn’t just a dreaming child—armed with words, she “confronts unreason with simple logic,” an approach tantamount to civil disobedience. Similarly, Jonah, when ordered by God to speak against the people of Nineveh, refused because he was an artist; contrasting the ambition that fuels creation with the acquisitiveness that accumulates for its own sake, Manguel pulls Jonah into the 21st century, as he also does Twain’s Jim, Defoe’s Crusoe, and Rousseau’s Émile, tracing genealogies of racism, exploitation, and a society “that wants to produce consumers, not citizens,” while showing us how to “reimagine reality in order to better see and understand it.”

Fabulous Monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and Other Literary Friends Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780300247381
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Yale University Press - September 24th, 2019

Staff Pick

Few are the writers who can turn their hand to anything, while still maintaining a consistent, vibrant voice. For over three decades, French author Emmanuel Carrère has been one of that group; this new collection of nonfiction written between 1990 and the present, 97,196 Words (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28), offers longtime readers a wonderful retrospective, while new readers will find it the perfect point of entry. Blending the rich storytelling of a novelist with the insight of a nonfiction writer, Carrère here, as elsewhere in his work, blurs the lines between the genres as he ranges from reflections on shifty writers like Truman Capote and Philip K. Dick, to heightened self-analysis brought to bear on interviews with Catherine Deneuve, from relationship columns for an Italian women’s magazine to empathetic crime narratives where the culprits have invented fake lives for themselves. And his profiles of where current-day political energy rests, with an eye on Davos and Macron and Russian dissidents, are potent, considered primers. But it’s always the storytelling that’s the key: reading Carrère is pure, alive pleasure.

97,196 Words: Essays Cover Image
By John Lambert (Translated by), Emmanuel Carrère
$28.00
ISBN: 9780374178208
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 5th, 2019

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