#WhatToReadNext: After H is for Hawk

flytrap
10% off in August!

Say you’ve just finished Helen Macdonald’s stunning memoir, H IS FOR HAWK, and now you’re struggling to find something to fill that nature writing/memoir-sized hole in your heart. We’ve all been there, friend. But have no fear!

Consider, perhaps, Fredrik Sjöberg’s THE FLY TRAP, which has just come out in paperback and just happens to be one of our books of the month for August (and also happens to be 10% off for the remainder of the month). While Helen’s book masterly details both her overwhelming grief over her father’s death and her training of the enigmatic goshawk, THE FLY TRAP is a thoughtful consideration of solitude, peaceful summer nights, limitations, and, believe it or not, the *almost* universally reviled fly.

fly
Picture of Actual Fly

He also explores the art and obsession of collecting, and examines some of the life of the mostly forgotten naturalist, René Edmond Malaise (similarly to how Macdonald breathes more insight to the tortured life of T.H. White).

MalaiseRenéEdmond
Picture of Actual Malaise

Don’t want to take our word for it? Our owner, Ed, also loved and highly recommends the book! He says, “THE FLY TRAP is my pick for the most thoroughly enjoyable book you’ll read all year – so enjoyable, so pleasurable, so charming, so thoughtfully informative, so filled with an infectious liveliness it had me repeatedly returning to Wikipedia to learn more!” He adds (with great enthusiasm), that “reading THE FLY TRAP is a bit like having dinner with a witty European intellectual – it is a celebration of discovery as it entertains and instructs, making us appreciate the small wonders of a boundless nature.”

We’re sure Fredrik Sjöberg’s THE FLY TRAP is just one of many titles that would be a great followup to Helen Macdonald’s H IS FOR HAWK. Do you have your own pick? Let us know!

New Books of the Moment

Here are two excellent books that were just reviewed by us, the helpful staff at Unabridged.

Stefan had this to say about …  ABOUT A MOUNTAIN by John D’Agata

D’Agata crafts a stylish and circuitous investigation of the controversial government plan to store our nation’s nuclear waste inside of Yucca Mountain to illuminate the state of the modern metropolitan area. The prose whips by in a series of montages that affect a sublime, lucid quality that skilfully interweaves many desperate sources to tell the overarching story. There is a lot going on here, but D’Agata never lets the material consume the moment. Stefan loved, loved, loved! This book.

Shane read/loved/and recommends SHADOW TAG by Louise Erdrich. He said:

What initially attracted me to Erdrich’s novel was not the plot, but rather the format in which the book is written. Shadow Tag alternates between excerpts from two diaries (one fake and one real) and third-person narration. The idea of keeping a manipulative fake diary (that you know your spouse is secretly reading) fascinated and disturbed me. And Shadow Tag did fascinate and disturb me – from beginning to end. Ultimate, it is about the collapse of a marriage and family. but with powerful imagery and engaging prose, Shadow Tag is a highly original tale, leaving the reader with profound insights into sex, love, and power. Some readers may be put off by the unlikable characters and bleak subject matter, but it is worth the plunge. Intense, poetic, chilling, raw and fearless – I really cannot recommend this unforgettable novel enough!

They are, of course, available for your pleasure. Stop by today to chat about them or, you know, whatever. Just not about squirrels. We are not currently fans of squirrels.

Unabridged Book of the Month!

elegance of the hedgehogNew book of the month! It’s so big it two needed extra days!

By now I am sure you’ve heard a friend, or a friend of a friend who’s read The Elegance of the Hedgehog and loved it, but now you have Ed who highly recommends this wonderful book.

This is what he had to say:

“I loved the Elegance of the Hedgehogmaybe my favorite novel of the year. In this double narrative, there is more to Renee – elderly, frumpy widowed concierge at an exclusive Paris apartment building – than meets the eye! And Palo Ma – 12 years old, philosophical, precocious – decides (in pretty typical french, existential fashion) that she’s going to kill herself on her 13th birthday.

The novel is tender and satirical, its characters inspiring the affection and enthusiasm readers similarly have for those of Alexander McCall Smith. Plot developments range from heartbreaking to the comic (at one point, Renee ponders whether her cat exists, or just her perception that exists!) The novel challenges stereotypes and class divisions all the while exploring the nature of beauty and the meaning of life.

Hooray for Elegance of the Hedgehog!

Like all of our Europa Editions (an amazing Publisher who is doing great things for English Literature) at Unabridged Bookstore, it is 10% off the cover price.

ALSO! Here is some further reading about the author, Muriel Barbery.

Gay Books and Pride 2009

In honor, or Honour as the Brits say, of Gay Pride 2009 and the 40th anniversary of Stonewall here are some delightful newish gay titles that you should be reading. Maybe not this weekend because who has time for reading a book when there are so many other things going on but soon afterward. After the headache goes away.

Here are three that you should keep in mind … among others.

SWISH: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner

Robert had this to say: “Dang, I thought I was pretty darn gay: show tunes, no interest in sports, oh, and a sexual interest in men, but Derfner clearly has me out-ranked, and these hilarious, compulsively-readable essays place him immediately on the shellf with the best of Sedaris, Burroughs, Dan Savage,  and their fab ilk.”

SALVATION ARMY by Abdellah Taia

Ed highly recommends: “Salvation Army is a short, but compelling, autobiographical novel by Moroccan Abdellah Taia, told very powerfully and effectively in the first person. Sensually and sexually evocative vignettes depict an uncertain journey of sexual and cultural self-discovery embodying the complex hopes and fears of a gay Moroccan ex-patriot. ”

LIGHT FELL by Evan Fallenberg

Ed loved: “Light Fell takes place at the dangerous intersection of homosexuality and orthodox religion – an Israeli man leaves his family for another man (a rabbi, no less!) and now, 20 years later, is about to reunite with his five grown sons on his 50th birthday. Author Fallenberg does a good job humanizing what I found to be an unlikable main character (and his equally unlikable children) while exploring the family dynamics of “gay”, as well as the many taboos and hypocrises demanded by organized religion, and the consequent self-loathing and narrow-mindedness it engenders.”

A tad bit of repetition

I know. I know. I mentioned the book before, BUT, it is now our Unabridged Featured Book of the Month Not to be Missed at All Cost Because What Else do You Have to Do other than Read a Book About A Complaint Letter to American Airlines. AKA: UFBMNMACBWEYHDRBACLAA

Don’t miss Dear American Airlines! 10% off! Here’s what Robert had to say …

“This is the longest, most prone to digression letter of complaint you’ll ever read. And also the funniest, and most surprisingly poignant. Bennie Ford, a boozy failed poet is in a spot familiar to many  of us: stuck at O’Hare, fuming, and his missive to the airline becomes a confession, a diversion, a story of a life. Read it! Robert recommends!”

Mostly new in paperback, $13.95 and 10% off; Mariner Books.

At least you’ve never burned down a forest

henry david thoreauThoreau died on this day in 1862. While the 147th anniversary of someone’s death is not really one to be celebrated there are currently two, TWO, great books about the myth and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau.

The novel, Woodsburner (reviewed here in The Washington Post), circles on the day that Thoreau burned down a forest (yup, a whole forest. 300 acres) on the Concord river in Massachusetts. While Theoreau is an integral componet (striking the match, etc. etc.) the story shines brightest (get it, fire pun) when the supporting characters take over. Thoreau shrinks to the background and only pops up again at the end.

The Thoreau You Don’t Know by Robert Sullivan was also recently released and Robert had this to say:

“I didn’t know Thoreau very well before I read Sullivan’s engaging work. But this excellent introductionm to the man and his legacy cognently argues that Thoreau was gregarious, community-minded, a man who engaged in society rather than removing himself from it. “heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads,” said Thoreau. Robert says: Read this, and then read Walden. Michael Pollan fans will like this.”

Sullivan does talk about Thoreau burning down the forest if you want a historical telling. I’d insert another fire/match/burning pun but I think Ron Charles of the Washington Post goes above and beyond.