Nick B. Staff Picks


 

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The Story of My Teeth Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title to See Location Inventory.
Published: Coffee House Press - September 15th, 2015

I can confidently say that The Story of My Teeth is the best book I read in 2016, though it is hard to make such proclamations. It is a strange and unique tale, the kind that are typically given to us as classic masterpieces—timeless but usually decades, if not centuries old. I can honestly say you have never read anything like this before. It is smart, funny, strange, and brilliant. Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez is one of the greatest characters ever to reach the page.

-- Nick


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The Ghosts of Birds Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811226189
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 11th, 2016

This is the best book of non-fiction, if we must classify it as such, that I read this year. Weinberger is the master of literary non-fiction. From a true reckoning of the fate and origins of Adam and Eve to a book report on George W. Bush’s Decision Points—from Frog Grooms in South India to the Berlin Wall and its surrounding occupants these 36 essays are a masterpiece of literature. You won’t look at the world in the same light.

-- Nick


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Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens: Reportage Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780857423115
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Published: Seagull Books - February 15th, 2016

With László Krasznahorkai winning the Best Translated book award for his novels Satantango and Seiobo There Below, not a lot was said about his beautiful travelogue from Seagull Books this year. This is a subtle meteorite of a book. Krasznahorkai’s details and his haunting read on human nature are exemplified as we follow him up mountains in and out of temples and the homes of prominent figures in China. He sees the world and translates it for us, like no other can.


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Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780811225397
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - July 26th, 2016

Revulsion has us listening to a character who returns to El Salvador and delivers a diatribe against the country. The novel enraged some Salvadorans with some calling for a book ban and Castellanos Moya’s mother even received death threats against her son and in 1997 he fled El Salvador. Besides that it is a great work of fiction and a quick, though very intense read.

-- Nick


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Zazie in the Metro Cover Image
By Raymond Queneau, Barbara Wright (Translator), Gilbert Adair (Introduction by)
$14.00
ISBN: 9780142180044
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Published: Penguin Books - November 2001

There are few books that are fully and actually funny while still being literary. The exception, always, is Queneau. A hilarious romp around Paris - this book is also a marvel of translation. Queneau writes it with a lot of words sounded out - as if writing out how a southern drawl sounds rather than how it is actually spelled - and Barbara Wright translated that into English. All around this is a superbly enjoyable novel.

-- Nick


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Horror in Architecture Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781935935902
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Published: Oro Editions - May 30th, 2013

In capturing horror in its many guises, this study is presented in a unique manner - it spans architecture, art, and literature in a re-imagining of the failings of man-made architecture or man-made architectural works that have since been twisted by nature. This is a playful, easily read book that is an enjoyable work on the state of horror in our landscape. Highly recommended.

-- Nick


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The Waitress Was New Cover Image
By Dominique Fabre, Jordan Stump (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780977857692
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Published: Archipelago Books - January 21st, 2008

Rarely is there a voice - a narrator or otherwise - that is as succinct and captivating as that of Fabre's The Waitress Was New. Pierre's observations of the people and world around him are nothing spectacular yet we are captivated by them. This is a beautiful and simply put novel. There is no embellishment here, just life.

-- Nick


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How I Became a Nun Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9780811216319
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 28th, 2007

As far as short, gripping novels go no one is better than the Argentinian Aira. He has perfected the subway read. Since I can’t choose all of them I will recommend that you start with the first one I read - How I Became a Nun, “My story, the story of ‘how I became a nun,’ began very early in my life; I had just turned six.” So begins the quick and wonderfully strange childhood of the character, César Aira. Enjoy!

-- Nick


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Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781590200421
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Published: Overlook Press - July 2009

As it says in “The Blue Notebook” - part 16, “Today I Wrote Nothing. Doesn’t Matter.” or part 8: “When sitting in place do not kick your feet.” This is such a slight insight into the writings of Daniil Kharms. His mind was far more brilliant than the short light that was his life. These short writings are a must for any lover of literature.

-- Nick


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The Book of Disquiet Cover Image
By Fernando Pessoa, Richard Zenith (Editor), Richard Zenith (Translator)
$20.00
ISBN: 9780141183046
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Published: Penguin Books - December 31st, 2002

Pessoa is in my top three favorite poets of all time. Though much of his work was written by three separate 'Heteronyms', characters he invented to write in different styles depending on their stature in life (the word was also invented by Pessoa). The Book of Disquiet was written by another of these 'selves' though this one had been hidden in a trunk until it was discovered after his death. Maybe it is my life as a bookseller that relates to Disquiet so much, or my becoming entrenched in Pessoa's work when I was at University. Or maybe because a "Factless Autobiography" is what life seems like a lot of the time. Either way this book speaks to me, and will speak to you, in a way few books can.

-- Nick


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Satantango Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811220897
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - December 10th, 2013

There are few words that express the pure breadth of Krasznahorkai's Satantango. Like all his works it is a seamless masterpiece. The characters within are all part of a small Hungarian town awaiting some sort of change after the fall of communism. This is a monster of  a book that compels you to immerse yourself in a decrepitude that  is so brutal and relentless that it becomes darkly comical at times.

-- Nick


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The Complete Stories Cover Image
By Clarice Lispector, Benjamin Moser (Editor), Katrina Dodson (Translator)
$28.95
ISBN: 9780811219631
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - August 25th, 2015

Why I recommend this book: If you haven’t taken the time to delve into the world of Lispector then the time is now! Katrina Dodson’s tireless work translating Lispector’s stories is a thing of grandeur. Step into stunning Brazil as seen through Lispector’s eyes, she is one of the literary world’s true treasures.

-- Nick


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Kornel Esti Cover Image
By Deszo Kosztolanyi, Bernard Adams (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811218436
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - February 25th, 2011

This is one of the funniest and most enjoyable books I have ever read. Every time I think about it, I want to read it again. It will have you questioning the idea of self and the idea of sanity.

-- Nick


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Traveler of the Century Cover Image
By Andres Neuman, Nick Caistor (Translator), Lorenza Garcia (Translator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780374533946
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Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - May 7th, 2013

This was Neuman’s first book to be translated into English, and it hit me like a brick. Such a touching and interesting novel. This book will go down as one of the greatest novels of the 21st Century. It is quirky and funny and as Bolano called it “touched by grace.”

-- Nick


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The Things We Don't Do Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9781940953182
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Published: Open Letter Books - August 25th, 2015

Open Letter Books, out of the University of Rochester, has once again graced my shelves with a beautiful book. Neuman’s Traveler of the Century is a masterpiece. His short story collection shows that everything Neuman touches is gold. These stories weave in and out of each other touching on the very realist absurd. A true treat.

-- Nick


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Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret Cover Image
By Ondjaki, Stephen Henighan (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781927428658
Availability: Not in Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Biblioasis - June 10th, 2014

Granma Nineteen is an uplifting, heartwarming, and hysterically funny novel. I had never read an Angolan writer before, so I had to try this one. Hands down one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. A wonderful novel about the colonization of a small African village and the town’s folk who live there.

-- Nick


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The Bathroom Cover Image
By Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Nancy Amphoux (Translator), Paul Deangelis (Translator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781564785183
Availability: Not in Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - November 2008

Toussaint's first novel is a wonderful first person narrative. It is a quick, enjoyable read that is seamless and surprising. There is something odd yet reassuring of the voice in all of Toussaint's novels -- but this is the beginning of it all. "When I began to spend my afternoons in the bathroom, I had no intention of moving into it..." Classic!

-- Nick


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The Armies Cover Image
By Evelio Rosero, Anne McLean (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811218641
Availability: Not in Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 15th, 2009

This is a haunting masterpiece of writing and translation - everyone should read this book. Rosero writes of a small town in Columbia, a town caught in the middle of a war. Soldiers, paramilitaries, and guerrillas treat Bojayá and it's people as if they are nothing but a receptacle for their violence. Despite the violence and atrocities this book contains, you are constantly held by the stunning imagery and voice that Rosero brings to The Armies.This is the best book I read in 2011.

-- Nick


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Antwerp Cover Image
By Roberto Bolano, Natasha Wimmer (Translator)
$10.95
ISBN: 9780811219914
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Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 23rd, 2012

This is Bolano’s first and, I feel, his most remarkable novel. he was only twenty-seven when he wrote it but it is the beginning of what ultimately becomes Bolano’s voice. It is an unconventional but brilliant murder mystery. It is a quick read but one of the few novels I read time and time again, always discovering and experiencing new and wonderful nuances. Now in paperback you can enjoy this amazing novel for cheap.

-- Nick


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Sanctuary Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780679748144
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title to See Location Inventory.
Published: Vintage - December 6th, 1993

I recently took a break from international fiction to read true American voices -- I started with Sanctuary and couldn't put it down. Faulkner has a powerful understanding of the evil that exists in mankind. There is no justice -- for black or white -- in the south. This is a dark and troubling story yet there are times where the beauty of Faulkner's words make that darkest moments shine.

-- Nick


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Life: A User's Manual Cover Image
By Georges Perec, David Bellos (Translator)
$22.95
ISBN: 9781567923735
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Published: David R. Godine Publisher - July 2009

Perec finished Life A User’s Manual just a few short years before he died in 1982. It is truly a high point to finish such an epic and complete a novel -- not to mention see it published -- and to cap a lifetime of literary genius. Most known before Life was A Void, his funny, witty novel written completely without the letter “e.” Life is structured after a puzzle-maker but expands into the lives and rooms of an apartment block of Paris. after 20 years, Godine has updated this masterpiece (with a beautiful cover as well as corrections to the translation). You will love this book!

-- Nick


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The Man Who Walked Through Walls Cover Image
By Marcel Ayme, Sophie Lewis (Translator)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781906548643
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Published: Pushkin Press - August 28th, 2012

I say this a lot but it is hard to find truly funny books. Aymé is funny. These stories are surprising, absurd, and remarkable. The is always a surprising, matter-of-fact magical realism twist to these stories that seem so plausible even in their ridiculousness.

-- Nick


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The Temple of Iconoclasts Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781567925302
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title to See Location Inventory.
Published: Verba Mundi - October 2014

For lovers of Bolaño, Borges, and Calvino...few know of Wilcock but should. This is a bizarre, funny, and intriguing novel that will have you researching ruffs, doublets, codpieces, and archaic diseases. Bolaño called Wilcock, "one of the greatest and strangest . . . writers of this century." This book will not disappoint.

-- Nick


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The Death of Napoleon Cover Image
By Simon Leys, Patricia Clancy (Translator), Simon Leys (Translator)
$6.98
ISBN: 9781590178423
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Published: New York Review of Books - May 5th, 2015

"Ladies and gentlemen, alas! The Emperor is dead." What happens when the world thinks you are dead? What happens to your sense of identity? Leys tackles these ideas and more in stunning prose that will captivate and hypnotize you in the best possible way. This is what I want every novel I read to be - thought provoking, funny, and damn well written.

-- Nick


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Log of the S.S. the Mrs Unguentine Cover Image
By Stanley G. Crawford, Ben Marcus (Introduction by)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781564785121
Availability: Not in Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - September 2008

All I can say is that this book is all that I think of when I think of the word 'Adrift'. When this book was recommended to me I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I spent a good couple nights of a trip reading and re-rereading this book rather than seeing the sights during an unseasonably warm October trip to Chicago. The person who told me to read it couldn't begin to describe it but said I had to read it. I concur. You have to read it.

-- Nick


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The Flight of Icarus: Novel Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9780811204835
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title to See Location Inventory.
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - January 17th, 1973

Queneau is one of my all-time favorite authors. He is also hands down the most consistently funny author. I can easily recommend Zazie in the Metro and do, highly. The Flight of Icarus is the one I wish more people would read though... It is hysterical, unbelievably clever, and it's Queneau. I feel like a lot of people shy away from the play format but this is a novel by a truly enjoyable author.

-- Nick


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Stoner Cover Image
By John Williams, John McGahern (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781590171998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title to See Location Inventory.
Published: New York Review of Books - June 20th, 2006

There are few moments where you can call a novel perfect. There are even fewer moments when few have heard of that novel and that author. Since New York Review of Books reprinted Stoner a lot of people have rediscovered Williams's masterpiece. This is what the writer/reader relationship should be like always. A deft novel that will leave you a different person from which you started.

-- Nick