Katie's Staff Picks

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The Complete Stories (The Schocken Kafka Library) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805210552
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Call store for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Schocken - November 14th, 1995

What strange and wonderful labyrinths these stories are! They are like dreams that I both long to exit and never want to wake up from. Full of obsession, anxiety, sorry, and humor, they make me re-think what it means to tell a story from start to finish and, cliché as it sounds, what it means to be human. These stories, both published and unpublished in Kafka's lifetime, left in varied stages of fragmentation and completion, have the simultaneous ability to dismember, confuse, and enlighten. They exist at both the register of a shout and a soft, prayer-like whisper. I may never have Kafka completely "figured out," but I know that his stories will continue to echo and resound within me for a long, long time.

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Light in August (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679732266
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Published: Vintage - January 30th, 1991

is my favorite of William Faulkner's novels & also just my favorite novel, period. It's worth reading for the opening scene alone, which places us on a dusty country road that leads into the fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi & the heart of the story, but I'd recommend sticking around for the rest. As slow & expansive as a hot summer afternoon, it beautifully intersects the paths of a memorable cast of characters, bound most closely by their liminality in Jefferson and the world. As Faulkner himself said, this novel has a "lambent, luminous quality." It is also home to some of my favorite invented words in fiction---spectacleblurred, Augusttremulous, branchshadowed...

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Red Doc> (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307950673
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Published: Vintage - March 11th, 2014

Red Doc> is the perfect demonstration of how expansive Anne Carson's unique brand of minimalism can be. Existing somewhere between story, poem, meditation, and re-re-telling of an old myth with a new future, Red Doc> descends vertically down the center of each page, leaving the reader to fill in the blank spaces and piece together its fragments. I'm not sure I want to even attempt to say what this book is about (so just read it! if only for the pleasure of "ice bats"): it is about the many forms of love (between man & man, man & woman, human & beast, human & language); it is about loss in a very real way; it is about moving forward and backward at the same time; it is about the ability to fly. "After a story is told, there are some moments of silence. Then the words begin again," Carson once said. I believe that Red Doc> exists beautifully between these moments.

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Speedboat (NYRB Classics) Cover Image
By Renata Adler, Guy Trebay (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781590176139
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Published: NYRB Classics - March 19th, 2013

If you like novels that are less like novels and more like psychologically-driven collages, then this is the book for you. Adler says it best herself when, through the voice of her protagonist Jen Fain, she writes, "There are only so many plots. There are insights, prose flights, rhythms, felicities." The latter is what builds the structure of this book---it finds its driving force in the association and synonymy of language and memory. If Joan Didion was the first-person narrator of a novel she didn't write, this is what I imagine she'd sound like. Wryly feminine, deeply personal, and quirkily aphoristic, Speedboat is both of its own moment and perfectly contemporary.

The Pleasure of the Text Cover Image
By Roland Barthes, Richard Miller (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374521608
Availability: NOT on our shelves now. Usually ships 1-10 business days from warehouse. ETA will be updated with email order confirmation.
Published: Hill and Wang - January 1975

Towards the end of his beautiful and hypnotizing mediation on the pleasure and bliss of reading, Barthes asks us to consider the Text as a perpetual web that we weave ourselves into and get lost inside of. Barthes' textual world is this web. The Pleasure of the Text is as much a philosophical manifesto as it is a personal poem and lovesong: it continuously builds and breaks down its argument, diverging often to indulge in the seductive quality of a word. Reading and re-reading, one almost begins to consider Barthes as another voice in the room, whose speaking we are both listening and not listening to. "[The text] produces in me the best pleasure if it manages to make make itself heard indirectly; if, reading it, I am led to look up often, to listen to something else," he writes. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Red Spectres Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781468303483
Availability: Hard to Find. Not available to order. Call or email for used stock availability.
Published: Harry N. Abrams - April 18th, 2013

I didn't even know 20th Century Russian Gothic Literature was a thing before I read this book, but I'm sure glad I do now. If you like stories where people trade places with their reflections in the mirror, fall in love with wax figurines of Siamese twins, and are haunted by the phantoms of stillborn babies (and this is just the tip of the iceberg), then this is the collection for you. This gang of writers will fulfill your craving for narratives by the likes of Kafka and Kharms. Because who doesn't love stories where weird shit happens and the narrative voice gets a little wonky? I know I do.

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Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679728757
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Published: Vintage - May 5th, 1992

Reading McCarthy's sentences is like taking a long, panoramic view of the desert---the skyline, somewhere between stone and mirage, is forever receding. In Blood Meridian, he wastes no time in striking upon the darkest and most evil voids of the world. In prose that is simultaneously beautiful and harsh, he explores the possibility of continued motion in a futureless world. Blood Meridian pushes the boundaries of what an ordinary novel is capable of.