David Rakoff, essayist, journalist, and frequent NPR contributor, died of cancer this past August at the age of forty-seven. But he was able to complete this extraordinary novel, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (Doubleday, $26.95)—and this isn’t just a run-of the-mill narrative, it’s a series of interconnected stories written entirely in verse. This may sound gimmicky, but Rakoff is brilliant with rhymes, using their echoes and rhythms to enhance his interesting and emotionally complex stories. You might think this accomplished writer of prose would have to go through awkward literary gymnastics to make the lines rhyme and keep the stories moving, but Rakoff is such a solid, flexible writer, you’ll smile at how he makes it all work so beautifully. As the title suggests, the book is about love, exploring the way even small acts of kindness can transcend time. Short and economical with its words, the book asks to be read twice, once for the story and a second time for the language.
Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385535212
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday - July 16th, 2013

I have been a Sherman Alexie fan ever since I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. I thought then, and still think, that more people should read his work. Blasphemy, (Grove, $27), a collection of new and previously published stories, is a great place to start if you have yet to discover this uniquely gifted writer. I find his stories by turns beautiful, poetic, heartbreaking, funny, scary, and real. His work is always salted with a good dash of anger—he grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation and his work reflects this experience. Alexie never backs down from the harsh realities of life on the reservation, but there is always poetry there, too (and Alexie has also published several collections of poems). His characters are often self-effacing and ravaged by deprivation, hunger, alcoholism, but are beautiful nonetheless. Alexie is a master at mixing the beautiful with the profane—and that is the essence of Blasphemy.

Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802120397
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - October 2nd, 2012

Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802121752
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - October 8th, 2013

One of things I love most about art is the fluidity of my perception of it: how it affects me can change depending on my mood, where and how I see it, and even with whom I see it. This is what I love about paging through The Art Book: New Edition (Phaidon, $59.95)—it puts art into new perspectives. Rather than listing the artists by period or genre, the book places them alphabetically. This makes for some interesting juxtapositions—a classic medieval work appears right next to a thoroughly modern sculpture, for instance. (For perhaps the ultimate juxtaposition, turn to pages 164-165.) Even familiar iconic pieces look new and different in this context; I can’t remember when an art book was this much fun. I suggest reading it with someone else, so that together you can be surprised by the serendipity of who turns up next to whom. It reminds you that art constantly amazes and can be seen in new and exciting ways.

The Art Book: New Edition Cover Image
ISBN: 9780714864679
Availability: Backordered
Published: Phaidon Press - September 10th, 2012

The Art Book: New Edition, Mini Format Cover Image
ISBN: 9780714867960
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Phaidon Press - September 25th, 2014