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

Jia Tolentino writes from an explicitly millennial perspective, but the “generation-defi ning” forces she so ably explores in Trick Mirror (Random House, $27)—the internet, feminism, the 2016 election--have touched everyone, no matter when they were born. Blending the intimate, honest approach of a personal essayist with an experienced cultural critic’s skepticism and range, Tolentino clarifies and complicates every subject she touches, from athleisurewear and reality shows (her story of appearing in one is priceless) to “difficult women” and drug use. Calling the name of today’s game “scamming,” she draws on her own experiences with blogs, books, and a megachurch—christened by its youthful members “the Repentagon”—to dissect some of the artifi ces at work today. These are mostly webbased, but even with familiar suspects like Amazon and Facebook Tolentino adds a lot to our understanding of how these forces affect us and how they stay so powerful; her discussion of the internet as a theater without a backstage is apt and memorable, as are her expositions of how feminism still knuckles under to the “tyranny of the ideal woman” and of how intensive marketing, dating only from the nuptials of Queen Victoria, has created “traditional” weddings where, for just tens of thousands of dollars, every woman can get the royal treatment for a day.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525510543
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House - August 6th, 2019

Staff Pick

David Treuer’s revelatory history, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (Riverhead, $17) tells much more than the story of “Native America from 1890 to the present.” To understand 1890—the date of the massacre of 150 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee, which seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of America’s indigenous peoples—we have to know the innumerable ways the U.S. had already tried to deal with its “Indian problem,” how Europeans had treated the Natives from first contact, and what life was like on the continent during the centuries before it was “discovered” by whites. Treuer covers this complicated history in detail; if the number of treaties, acts, and battles is dizzying, what comes through clearly is that there is no single “Indian” story. Each tribe—and often each clan within the tribe—occupies distinct cultural and geographical landscapes, and each has been impacted differently by the various means whites have used to try to control them. These stories are fascinating and long overdue—without them, the story of America, and especially of the West, has been both partial and seriously impoverished. Treuer’s central thesis, however, is that despite whites’ relentless battle to exterminate Natives, they failed. Wounded Knee was not the end of the story, just one chapter in an ongoing saga.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399573194
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - November 5th, 2019

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