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Jeff

    Jeff, bookseller, Brooklyn

    Most recent staff pick: Montauk by Max Frisch trans. Goeffrey Skelton

    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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    Montauk Cover Image
    By Max Frisch, Goeffrey Skelton (Translator), Jonathan Dee (Introduction by)
    $15.95
    ISBN: 9781941040249
    Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
    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: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
    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
    $22.00
    ISBN: 9780300164275
    Availability: In stock at Brooklyn or Jersey City -- click for more details
    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."