Staff Pick

Read the title fast, and it might seem like the soothing “there, there” offered at moments of disquiet. But There There has little that’s comforting about it. Drawing the title from Gertrude Stein’s often misunderstood remark about Oakland, “there’s no there there,” Orange in his tremendous debut novel wants “to bring something new to the vision of the Native experience” by presenting the untold and as yet unstereotyped “Urban Indian story.” He brilliantly accomplishes this in twelve vivid interwoven profiles that tap into the “real passion…and rage” of Native Americans in contemporary Oakland. Powerful and moving, these virtuoso narratives bring us into the lives of children and grandparents, single mothers and drug thugs, recovering alcoholics and victims of abuse. All have complicated relationships with their heritage. Some are members of one or more specific nations, others don’t know where they belong. Some are always conscious of their identity, others feel Indian only when dressed in Indian regalia. For many, their heritage is too easily confused with patronizing images. One worries that “virtually everything” he’d “learned about being Indian he’d learned virtually.” Is he authentic or only a “Pretendian,” conforming to white-mediated assumptions about Native life? For those half-white/half-Native, the challenges are still greater. One man holds advanced degrees in Native American lit but has no confidence he knows how to be a Native American. Another man feels his mixed race puts him in the crosshairs of history, that he’s “from a people who took and took and took and took. And from a people taken.” Through such intimate and urgent stories Orange recovers the “there” of a Native history that’s “been paved over.” At the same time he emphatically ends American Indians’ long struggle “to be recognized as a present-tense people, modern and relevant.”

There There Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525520375
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - June 5th, 2018

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Staff Pick
In this heartbreaking book on climate change, Rush reports that wetlands have traditionally been treated as wastelands. People ignored their crucial role as “giant sponges,” using them for landfill and later developing them. But, flooding regularly, most were left to the poor, people with nearly as few options as the trees. Intertwining the voices of “the most vulnerable living along our shrinking coast” with stories of recent hurricanes, flood insurance policies, and descriptions of bayous and shorelines, Rush transcends statistics, showing  the immediate, human impact of rising seas. Rush lets you feel the despair of people finding the ocean in their living rooms, the desperation of spoonbills unable to feed themselves and their young, and the tragic loss of once stunningly beautiful wetlands.
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781571313676
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Milkweed Editions - June 12th, 2018

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Staff Pick

Made of metaphor the way the poles are made of ice, Kopf’s ingenious book is a beguiling, shimmering, shifting landscape that draws you in even as it blurs and finally eludes definition. Obsessed with the ends of the earth, Kopf retraces the triumphs and tragedies of its great explorers, explains the auroras borealis and australis, decodes the colors of glaciers, catalogs the microscopic life on an iceberg, and gives a capsule history of snow globes. While she, like Amundsen, Cook, and Peary “feel[s] that my life is at stake” in her venture, at another level she’s not interested in geographic exploration but in “the idea of investigation, of seeking out something in an unstable space.”  She plunges into the most unstable places of all: a person’s heart, mind, and consciousness. Her narrative shifts from “research notes” for a project about ice to a novel so intimate it reads like a diary. Its narrator is a struggling artist. She worries about supporting herself, about selling out to capitalist culture, about being too focused on art to meet the needs of others. Her relationships are fraught; “I can’t be with someone when I’m thinking about someone else, even someone fictional,” she says. The heart of her anxiety is her older brother. Nearly disabled with autism or something like it  (the diagnosis, like the poles, keeps shifting), he constantly stops, frozen, unable to act unless told what to do. How much does she owe him? How much can she understand him? How much is she like him? There are no firm answers, just Kopf’s skilled wielding of narrative, “the axe we use to break the frozen sea that inhabits us.”

Brother in Ice Cover Image
By Alicia Kopf, Mara Faye Lethem (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781911508205
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: And Other Stories - April 21st, 2018

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