Jeff

Jeff, bookseller, Brooklyn

Most recent staff pick: Run River by Halle Joan Didion 

This book is Joan Didion's first, a dishy exposure of the bleak marriage of two wealthy scions of California landowning families. Falling somewhere between The Great Gatsby--in its nostalgic depiction of troubled, striving privilege--and The Grapes of Wrath--as a crucial entry in the mythology of California--people have somehow resisted calling it The Grapes Gatsby. Not sure how. As an almost-sixty-year-old novel alongside Didion's better known works like Play It As It Lays, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and The Year of Magical Thinking, it can stand outside the shadow of the author's reputation as a truly gorgeous novel.

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Run River (Vintage International) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780679752509
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: Vintage - April 26th, 1994

This book is Joan Didion's first, a dishy exposure of the bleak marriage of two wealthy scions of California landowning families. Falling somewhere between The Great Gatsby--in its nostalgic depiction of troubled, striving privilege--and The Grapes of Wrath--as a crucial entry in the mythology of California--people have somehow resisted calling it The Grapes Gatsby. Not sure how. As an almost-sixty-year-old novel alongside Didion's better known works like Play It As It Lays, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and The Year of Magical Thinking, it can stand outside the shadow of the author's reputation as a truly gorgeous novel.


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Housekeeping: A Novel (Picador Modern Classics) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250060655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador Modern Classics - November 3rd, 2015

HOUSEKEEPING feels like a book in code, like something handwritten on yellowed paper, lost, and then found again. On the surface, this is a family history: three generations of precarity and loss as the women of one family succumb to disasters and suicide and time itself. It's about the tenuousness of rural living, and of modern living, but more than that, it emphasizes how difficult it is for people to hang on to civilization when they're being torn up by the roots.


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The End of San Francisco Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780872865723
Availability: Backordered
Published: City Lights Publishers - City Lights Publishe - March 19th, 2013

"Which of the readers is loud enough to be heard over smacking lips and chewing?" The answer? Mattilda. "And which reader is best able to compete against deliciousness and wine for the attention of the room?" Again, the answer was Mattilda. "And which of these writer-provocateurs has written the definitive memoir of gay activism, drugs, sex, and 90's culture in San Francisco replete with sonic signposting to the electroclash, RIOT GRRRL, and rock of the that storied decade?" It could only be MATTILDA.


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The New Me Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143133605
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: Penguin Books - March 5th, 2019

The creep of economic precarity and labor insecurity into the millennial generation of the upper middle class, the notable absence of men in the lives of women, and a potent strain of social hostility makes this  THE novel to read to understand a large minority of young professional women. Butler doesn’t sugar coat anything, not about the bullshit jobs or the professional striving or the materialist hunger for lifestyle and unearned satisfaction, or the clinging depression and noxious hope that drive this novel’s action. It’s a book full of private shame made public and almost-guilty admissions, perfect for readers of Ottessa Moshfegh or Alissa Nutting. Our heroine is even named Millie. The millennial. Just perfect


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Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781947534308
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribe Us - May 8th, 2018

Before 1600, India was the seat of some of the greatest and most technologically advanced empires the world has ever seen. Fully a quarter of the global economy--fabrics, metals, and trade--was Indian. But then the British East India Company systematically stripped India, turning one of the richest countries in the world into one of England’s poorest colonies. This book details how the British affected the economic and cultural subjugation of a subcontinent of 200 million and how the rapacious theft of that nation’s wealth by a private corporation masquerading as a government led to the rise of the British Empire. This book is a crucial understanding of colonial economics, and would be excellent reading for anyone curious how capitalism operates on an international scale.


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Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399589041
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: One World - March 26th, 2019

In this memoir, Mira Jacob tells poignant stories of her American experience with illustrations superimposed on photographs. Through effervescent dialogue with natural rhythms, she interlaces recollections from her childhood as the "other kind of Indian" in New Mexico with the wrenching pain of raising a curious, thoughtful, biracial child in the Trump Era. & from the mouths of these babes, her-as-a-child & her child, Jacob draws difficult questions about whether America is living up to its promise to immigrants & people of color. Spoiler alert: we're not even close. I read this standing up on the subway & under the streetlights as I walked home. I stood outside to finish it in the wind. It's that good.


Black Wings Has My Angel Cover Image
By Elliott Chaze, Barry Gifford (Introduction by)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781590179161
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: NYRB Classics - January 19th, 2016

When we watch the classic films noir like Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, & Shoot the Piano Player—or read the excellent novels they were each based on—we're carried away by the clipped dialogue, bleak cynicism, & simmering, often brutal, sexuality that mark the genre & we lose sight of the fact that these are great social novels as profound as anything by Upton Sinclair or George Orwell. This book has everything we love: a big heist, a sexy dame, & a desperate man at the end of his rope. But it's also a powerful story about the world that awaited American soldiers & exconvicts in the postwar world & two people with no restraint running wild in a society governed by uniformity.


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Golden State Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316505413
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: Mulholland Books - January 22nd, 2019

Golden State has all the trappings of a classic California detective novel: a hardluck gumshoe who's still carrying a torch for the one who got away, a rookie partner as earnest as she is young, and a vast conspiracy with our intrepid pair in the thick of it. What makes this story extraordinary is that it's set in a future society built on the ruins of California and our down-at-the-heels hero is an investigator with the Speculative Service, a special police that enforces truthfulness at all times, for everyone. This inventive novel contains multitudes: all the best parts of Westlake and Chandler spliced into a utopia like those built by Ballard and Orwell. The result is shockingly good and often quite funny.


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Soul of Wood Cover Image
By Jakov Lind, Ralph Manheim (Translated by), Michael Kruger (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781590173305
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: NYRB Classics - January 5th, 2010

When Jakov Lind died in 2007, The Guardian hailed him as a writer who was a consummate survivor, a Jew who had lived through the peak of Nazi power “inside the lion’s mouth” where he did not “have to feel the animal’s teeth and claws.” Lind's stories are stuffed with the madness of that time, of hiding in plain sight, remembered through a haze of LSD, hashish, and surprising good humor. His stories are full of a logic divorced from reason and the pain of survival. The sum, improbably, is wildly, darkly funny.


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High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing (Voice of Witness) Cover Image
By Audrey Petty (Editor)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781938073373
Availability: Special Order: Please email for availability
Published: McSweeney's - October 2013

When people talk about Chicago, their eyes light up and no matter where they’re from or what language they speak, they always seem to say the same names: Al Capone. Michael Jordan. Barack Obama. Cabrini Green. Some people might remember pizza or Oprah or the damned Cubs, but the silhouettes of this city’s housing projects still loom large for out-of-towners driving past the still-empty lots that millions of black Chicagoans have called home since 1940. In High Rise Stories, Audrey Petty gives voice to twelve of the people who lived in these projects in an approachable, personal oral history format. Their stories offer a vastly different picture of life in the projects than decades of sensationalist news stories and the depiction here is buttressed by essays and comments from well-regarded scholars like Alex Kotlowitz, Larry Vale, and Brad Hunt. This isn’t just one of the best new books about the city, but one of the best works of first-person history I’ve ever read.


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Sprawl Cover Image
By Danielle Dutton, Renee Gladman (Afterword by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781940696775
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Wave Books - September 4th, 2018

I don't miss where I come from, and even while living there, while walking those safe and sterile streets at night and crossing my neighbors' perfect lawns, I felt--or maybe assumed--that our whole world was empty and that nothing was going on even in the minds of the people inside their homes. Danielle has filled all of the supposed emptiness of suburbia with a flood of thought and feeling. Her protagonist's powerful stream of consciousness peeks inward and outward, bringing her marriage, her world, and herself into powerfully shifting focus, as if she was passing everything around her under a microscope for the span of a second. A very provocative read.


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Montauk Cover Image
By Max Frisch, Goeffrey Skelton (Translator), Jonathan Dee (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941040249
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - April 16th, 2016

There’s nothing terribly new about the confessional as a literary form. It can just as easily appear as swagger as it can an act of contrition, and this book has the flavor of both. Lynn, the protagonist's lover of the moment, acts as the touchstone for painful recollections of relationships gone by. Full of unhealed wounds and populated by the numerous women that interconnect in his memory, in this memoiristic novel the author is at his most brilliant and his least kind. Montauk is messy in the way that psychotherapy is messy, like the gorgeous self-scrutiny of Maggie Nelson or Karl Ove Knausgaard. It’s loving, in its way, and sadly aware of how much time has passed and how badly.


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The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977368
Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
Published: Graywolf Press - April 5th, 2016

Y'all don't need me to tell you Maggie Nelson is good, but that's what I'm going to do. This is a book for fans of Nelson's peculiarly brilliant form of self-criticism, but also something for the many who are REALLY into true crime. Ostensibly about the closing of a cold case—the brutal murder of the author's aunt before she was born—but reaching beyond that grisly affair into much broader questions of trauma, voyeurism, and grief, every sentence reminds me exquisitely, maybe painfully of the people I care about most. This is a brilliant memoir, to be sure, but there are deeper reverberations here about how a 36-year-old murder can color how we remember the dead and relate to the living.


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My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781564783929
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - January 20th, 2015

Part memoir and part espionage novel, My Life in CIA is a farce in the vein of The Man with One Red Shoe, a riotous case of mistaken identity that brings a American expat in Paris uncomfortably close to the world of Cold War spies. Written with good humor by the first American member of the OuLiPo—a group of French experimentalists revered by a small coterie of literature nerds—it's unclear what in this book is true and what is clever reinvention of the form. But like Anais Nin or Nicholson Baker writing erotica, or Paul Auster and Robert Coover toying with noir, this is a snob's spy novel, a pleasing genre book from an impressive literary talent.


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My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century Cover Image
$24.20
ISBN: 9780300164275
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yale University Press - March 30th, 2010

Rarely as a reader have I experienced a book like this one, the story of a place and a people through the life of just one man. Adina Hoffman's prose is so wonderfully malleable—poetic here, matter-of-fact there—that she not only distills the Palestinian experience of the last hundred years to four hundredish pages, she moves us and entertains us with the saga of their lives and the intertwined life of a poet, the incredible Taha Muhammad Ali. So much more than a biography, it is the painstaking resurrection of a disappearing world and a tremendous new understanding of how history is written and the struggle of oral traditions in the face of "People of the Book."