Staff Pick

Patti Smith is a collector of dreams and dream-like moments. Her Paris is “grainy bits of film swirl” spliced with her memories of earlier visits. Smith turns these images into guiding spirits and follows where they lead, making art—writing and photographs—along the way. Devotion (Yale, $18) is both a map and an artifact of this creative journey. It opens with a pilgrimage to Camus’s house, Simone Weil’s grave, and Modiano’s Paris streets that could be one more stop on the M Train. But rather than an end in itself, this essay is a staging ground for the “alchemy” that transforms random details of daily life—the color of the sky, the program on TV—into a work of fiction. “Devotion,” the book’s centerpiece, is a modern fairy tale about art and identity, love and autonomy. Both hauntingly lovely and slightly disturbing, as fairy tales are, it follows sixteen-year-old Eugenia as she pursues her passion for figure skating. This is an art whose very means are ephemeral, yet for Eugenia, who has lost her parents, her aunt, and her lover, it’s a reliable solace and a lasting inspiration, just as, for Smith, “the decisive power of a singular work” is always an irresistible “call to action” to make something herself.

Devotion (Why I Write) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300218626
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Yale University Press - September 12th, 2017

Staff Pick

Mattias Bostrom’s great overview of all things Sherlock is not simply a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a remarkable tour of Sherlock facts and myths, from Doyle's original ideas to the latest TV series and fandom. Bostrom's lively narration makes this hefty book feel just as fun as the original detective adventures. It is detailed but never boring, and is probably the only book over 200 pages that I have read in one sitting (do or do not try this at home).

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802126603
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mysterious Press - August 2017

Staff Pick
The 19th century might have seemed far away in the late-20th century, but now that we’re in the 21st century, how does it feel? When you read books like Joachim Kalka’s Gaslight, the answer is “surprisingly close”, and history feels significantly larger after reading it. It’s a book made from a melange of styles—literary criticism, military history, true crime—but they're all of a piece, because they’re all recognizably facets of the same world. We know how the modern world, as it exists now, can find its way into literature, so it's fun and enlightening to see how canonical artists like Marcel Proust and Emile Zola, Karl Kraus and Alban Berg dealt with their own contemporary bugaboos, from Jack the Ripper to the Dreyfus Affair, from anarchists to submarines.
Gaslight: Lantern Slides from the Nineteenth Century Cover Image
By Joachim Kalka, Isabel Fargo Cole (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781681371184
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New York Review Books - June 6th, 2017