Well, the weather turned a bit, which is nice. We like the days when it is mild(er) enough to sit and read a book. A good thing too, because the cavalcade of new titles continues. 

F*ck, That’s Delicious. “This ain’t no cookbook. This ain’t no memoir. This is Action Bronson’s devotional, a book about the overwhelming power of delicious—no, f*cking amazing—food.” Yes, please. 

Also, Hot Mess Kitchen. Gabi Moskowitz and Miranda Berman are, in their own words, “saving millennials from the perils of takeout,” and showing them how to use all those fancy gadgets in the kitchen, including the pronged thingies in the drawers. If you’re going to add new cookbooks to your shelves this fall, be honest with yourself and pick up these two. All them fancy books about bountiful spice collections and sous vide cooking and molecular gastronomy are cool and all, but really? Hot Mess Kitchen and F*ck, That’s Delicious are probably the two goals within reach. Don’t be embarrassed. We’ll definitely be over if you’re cooking something from the latter and we won’t say anything about the former. 

In fact, if you have a copy of Thad Vogler’s By the Smoke and the Smell on hand, we’ll be happy to peruse it while you do whatever it is that you’re doing with that pronged thingie and the chicken in the kitchen. Mmm. Smells good. Are we having Hog-Tied and Porked Chicken or Mustard-Spanked Chicken? Do tell. 

Well, sex and politics. We are veering wildly from one extreme to the other. Surely we can find our way back to a middle ground? Ah, here we go: A Column of Fire, the latest Ken Follett doorstop. 

“In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love. 
Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.” 

We’re sure there is both sex and violence in A Column of Fire, but it is metered out over nearly a thousand pages at a pace much more stately and responsible than you are getting here in this newsletter. 

Right. Did we forget to mention the new Longmire book last week? There’s a new Longmire book, which means the next season should be coming to Netflix soon, right? In The Western Star, Walt Longmire climbs aboard the wayback train—in this case a Challenger steam locomotive known as—wait for it—the Western Star, and revisits a case from back when he was a youngster. Which means Lucian Connally is also younger, and maybe less of a pain in the ass. Probably not, though. We suspect that Lucian’s always been in a pain in the ass. 

Not that we need The Young Adventures of Walt Longmire, but we don’t mind if Johnson takes us back a bit for a book or two. Though, we know that both Walt and Lucian survive, so it’s not terribly dramatic in that sense, but Johnson has shown a deft hand at using the wayback train in the past (see Spirit of Steamboat, specifically), and so we’ll give him a pass here. 

And speaking of what happened when, this week sees the paperback release of Good Vibrations, Beach Boys frontman Mike Love’s recounting of those jolly years of sunshine and songwriting. Love, who was a panel banger before taking the mike, co-wrote the lyrics on eleven of the twelve Top 10 hits the Beach Boys racked up, and Good Vibrations takes us through the creative ups and downs of being a pop star in the ‘60s. 

He’s still officially the lead singer, by the way. Fifty-five years and counting. Fifty-five Top 100 singles too. Coincidence? 

We also neglected to mention Skyfarer last week. Totally not a Western and not a memoir, Skyfarer is straight-up escapist SF. Some say it is Star Wars-inspired. Some say it is reminiscent of Final Fantasy or Firefly. Some say “wicked awesome fight scenes.” And other say “Whoa! Endless sky and floating islands, dude! Totally tubular.” No one is wrong here, because Joseph Brassey has shoved all of those things into a can, compressed it with asymptotically scaled nitrogen Whoo-haw, and then exploded it all over the page. But with rigor and precision, as one would expect from a writer, of course. 

[In the spirit of full disclosure, we need to point out that Joe is the guy on the right in the video that is seen here. That’s Mark who gets hit a lot on the left. But enough of that.]

Meanwhile, Robin Sloan’s new book Sourdough is purportedly about to do to the world of food what Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore did to the world of books, which is . . . (hush, we didn’t read it; rather, we didn’t finish it). Anyway, Sourdough is about Lucy, a young woman who has no life except what is afforded her by her computer screen, but when she befriends a sourdough starter, magical things happen. Mostly. Sloan is a gifted writer who can lure us into a strange world that is almost like our own and help us find fabulous things therein, and we suspect that Sourdough will—[don’t do it! don’t do it! don’t make a bread pun!]—rise to the occasion. 

And speaking of finding our way, Brené Brown is back this week with Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Now, we don’t want to be too pedantic, but all those words don’t quite work together. Brown, who has written a number of books about finding yourself in this increasingly complicated and over-stimulated world, tackles how to find yourself and your true identity in a world that is increasingly polarized and obsessed with perfection. That path takes us through a metaphorical wilderness,  naturally, and Brown is here to guide us through the tangles and briars. 

And finally, we have a new picture book about Arturo Schomburg, the man who single-handedly curated a collection for the New York Public Library that has become the cornerstone of the Library’s Negro Division. Schomburg, who spent much of his day doing legal work, wanted to ensure that folks—young and old—had access to the creative output of Africans and those who were part of the African diaspora, and when his personal collection threatened to overflow his house, he turned to the Library for assistance. Now, a century later, his collection is known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez bring us Schomburg’s story in striking words and pictures, giving us a reminder of the value of preserving and respecting our cultural and creative heritage. 

Make art. Find your path. Don’t allow the world to grind you down. The usual closing reminders from your local booksellers. 

Overheard At The Store »»

JASPER: I say, recumbent ruminant, how fares your repast?

COLBY: I’m not a ruminant, you churlish curmudgeon. 

JASPER: You have four legs, an extra stomach, and more fur than I. That makes you exotic, and therefore . . . 

COLBY: Ruminants are—never mind. We’ve been over this. 

JASPER: I learn slowly, if I deign to learn at all. One of the pleasures of senility, my dear slothful sciurinae. 

COLBY: I will be wrathful as soon as I get up. 

JASPER: Not on my account, please. 

COLBY: You’re—you’re blocking my sun. 

JASPER: Melanoma is no laughing matter. Especially for torpid talpidae like yourself. 

COLBY: You . . . moles don’t get skin cancer. That’s not how it works. 

JASPER: I’m sure it isn’t. I can’t be bothered. 

COLBY: I can bite your ankles. 

JASPER: Not in these shoes you can’t. 

COLBY: <sigh> What do you want? 

JASPER: It’s not me who needs help. It’s you. 


JASPER: You have done a great service for Horace and I. Now that K is writing again, there is . . . well, when I wake up each morning, I have a strange sensation in my belly. It isn’t intestinal distress, but rather . . . anyway . . . I would like to return the favor. Perhaps it will make this odd tingling in my gut vanish, and I can return to my more natural resting state of maddening malcontent. 

COLBY: A favor? What do I need from you? 

JASPER: I understand you are undertaking the creation of a loose association of like-minded souls. 

COLBY: Uh . . . maybe . . . 

JASPER: Do you have a marketing plan? A logo? A manifesto? 

COLBY: Uh . . . no. 

JASPER: You will fail, o crepuscular cretin. You lack vision. You lack a pithy tagline. You lack symbolic representation that can be readily taken up by the hippocampus. 

COLBY: The what? 

JASPER: The sea horse of the mind, you hackneyed hamster. You must harness this horse. Ride it! 

COLBY: I don’t think I’m the one who has been getting too much sun. 


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