DUTTON'S BRENTWOOD NEWS
Here for your interest is part of their latest newsletter, including some staff picks of books to read............
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A brief list of what we’re reading and recommending. Please feel free to call or visit for further suggestions.
Sean – There You Are: Writings on Irish and American Literature and History by Thomas Flanagan: Pure pleasure – Flanagan’s mind is keen, honest; his paragraphs funny and poetic; his company difficult to part with.
Scott – The Last Carousel by Nelson Algren: A collection of non-fiction pieces that dance into your heart and come barefooting out of your mind. The Chicago bard zigzags with alacrity and humor, and the reader comes away totally alive with a smile.
Erin – Facts For Visitors by Srikanth Reddy: This collection of poems was one of the winners published in 2004 by the University of California Press. These poems are a wonderful blend of oblique mysticism and concrete imagery.
Channa – The Last September by Elizabeth Bown: Bowen wrote keenly observant novels of England and her native Ireland set in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s. She’s one of those writers who, once you’ve discovered her, you’ll want to read everything she wrote. In The Last September, a wealthy English family is living out the end of British rule in Ireland. Young Lois lurches toward freedom and her own independence, while her elders cling to the only life they know. Beautifully evocative of the time and place.
Diane – The Children of Men by P.D. James: The coming attractions in theaters for The Children of Men looked too scary, but the novel by P.D. James, the marvelous English mystery writer, beckoned to me from the Dutton’s counter - even though I generally avoid mysteries and sci-fi. Set in the near future, the book takes up a quite plausible world in which women are no longer able to conceive, the aged are encouraged to suicide, and the oppressive government somewhat parallels that in Orwell’s 1984. As with James’ mysteries, the main characters are multi-faceted, thinking, feeling human beings who offer excitement and hope to the reader. I think this novel has far more significance than Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Cheryl – History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch: Kirsch examines the origin of The Book of Revelation in the New Testament as well as the ways it has been read and interpreted throughout the centuries. He argues persuasively that Revelations has played a very significant, sometimes catastrophic, role in Western History and offers numerous examples of the powerful effect Revelations has had on people and movements throughout the ages. Recommended for anyone interested in Western history or those of us who’ve ever wondered why the heck The Book of Revelation is in the Bible in the first place.
Odds and ends
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On the web
Everything old is new again………especially our website. Hot on the heels of a revamping of our Book Sense site, we have given our main web page a make-over. Come see our new look, with a new staff picks page, a greatly expanded (and updated) links page, and many other improvements. The address is: www.duttonsbrentwood.com.
Ooops, my bad…….last week’s newsletter contained two glaring errors (and perhaps even more that I still haven’t caught). First, in the staff picks, Flann O”Brien was deprived of an “n”, making his first name into a custardy dessert (it was spelled correctly elsewhere in the review). Second, also in the staff picks section, Scott’s glowing review of Last Carousel was mistakenly bestowed upon his previous week’s pick - Philip Levine’s What Work Is. The corrected review appears above.
Thanks for the Cool Memories………Last week French theorist and author Jean Baudrillard passed away. Though embraced more by the political left than by the right, his work was fiercely independent, defying easy labels and frequently courting controversy. His most famous formulations - hyper-reality and simulacra - argued that reality is so highly filtered by the trappings of consumerist culture (television, film, advertisements, political spin) as to be no longer “real”; that all that we take to be reality – including feelings and even “needs” – are actually simulacra.
Among his most famous books are Simulations, Cool Memories and his theoretical treatise/travelogue America in which he famously derided the U.S. as being, essentially, more fake than real (ironically, he actually quite liked the U.S., particularly Southern California, arguing that a contrived paradise is nevertheless still a paradise). His later works, particularly those post-9/11, were often criticized for being overly theoretical and not sufficiently sympathetic to the victims of terrorism – which he saw as an unavoidable response to globalization. He was 77.
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