Staff Picks Mid-June 2012

Please allow me to introduce you to our brand spanking new bi-weekly feature on the Librairie D+Q blog: Staff picks! Each of us here at the Librairie will share with you books we are eager to devour or our favourite reads of the moment.

Let's waste no time:


Space Ducks: An Infinite Book Of Musical Greatness  
by Daniel Johnston 

We just received singer/songwriter/comic artist Daniel Johnston's latest book! Space Ducks: An Infinite Book Of Musical Greatness is this over-the-top-goofy, daring and visceral work of art about space ducks fighting demons all over the place. Johnston's style is crazy eye-popping as ever, and his narrative the perfect meeting point between a child's wild imagination and an adult's perspective on the dark things in life. 

Blue Nights
by Joan Didion

And now that it's out in paperback you have no excuse: read Joan Didion's Blue Nights! One of my favourite books of 2011, it is poignant, elegantly incisive and unapologetically real. It is so beautifully and precisely written, and the truths it brings to light are so sharp and infinite, you will weep.

How Should A Person Be?
by Sheila Heti

Lena Dunham, creator of the much-talked-about HBO series Girls recently named Heti's How Should A Person Be? as her 2012 summer-read. For those us anxiously awaiting season two of Dunham's show, a newly-arrived paperbook edition of Heti's 2010 similarly-themed and superb meta-novel will be just the thing we need to tide us over. (Also recommended: Middle Stories Heti's debut short story collection, also recently reprinted).

The Best American Noir of the Century
edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler

I've been thinking lately that this may very well be the only book I'll ever really need.
Stories from Charles Beaumont, Patricia Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Mickey Spillane, Chris Adrian, David Goodis, Harlan Ellison, Lawrence Block and helluva bunch more and edited by two guys who know their Noir. Includes Tod Robbin's dark and deranged short story, Spurs (the story Tod Browning's 1932 film Freaks was based on).


Leaving the Atocha Station
by Ben Lerner

I just finished this book in May and it stealthily became a book that I will continually look back upon fondly. The first novel by poet Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station is about language and displacement. It is about those sensations you get when you are suddenly in an environment where few speak your mother tongue and you only grasp suggestions of conversations. Lerner explores those events that slowly shift our position from outsider to insider. Summary: It's great.
(psst, we also recently got in two of his superb poetry books...)


Fortress of Solitude
by Jonathan Lethem

Some books, when you read them, declaim to you that they are the author's story. We just have to be thankful that Jonathan Lethem's story takes place in an incredibly rich moment in Brooklyn and America's story, and that it happened to be soaked in graffiti, art, comics, and punk cultures. Far and away my favourite thing of Lethem's. The relationship between Dylan and Mingus feels heart-breakingly real.


Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)
by Errol Morris

I first fell for Errol Morris when I learned that he had famously incited Werner Herzog to eat his own shoe (it was cooked, granted, but still) by successfully making and releasing a documentary about the pet cemetery business (Gates of Heaven, 1979). He turned the seemingly ho-hum realities of burying domesticated animals into a truly engrossing full-length feature; he is no less adept at uncovering the complex truths behind a range of (often) well-known documentary photographs. 
In a memorable section, he explores and rejects Susan Sontag's analysis of Roger Fenton's 1855 pair of photographs of a 1) cannonball-strewn and 2) cannonball-free road from the front lines of the Crimean War. It's an absorbing case of "what came first" guesswork, and the rest of the book offers plenty more brainfood for the detail/photography/history oriented.


Birdseye Bristoe
by Dan Zettwoch

Small-town USA has never looked as nice as in Dan Zettwoch’s debut graphic novel BIRDSEYE BRISTOE. The book recounts the tale of uncle Birdseye, the sole citizen of a small town where a corporate cell phone tower is being built. With a ballpoint pen, colored pencils and whiteout, Zettwoch creates some phenomenal artwork: intricate cross sections of industrial parts, detailed aerial maps, and a gorgeous fold-out that just might make you swoon a little. But don’t let Zettwoch’s bright colors and great sense of humor fool you, this book also contains some strong messages about corporate America that are definitely worth paying attention to.

Conquest of the Useless
by Werner Herzog

Surely you're familiar with Bernard Pivot's famous questionnaire (think Actor's Studio or SNL) that ends with the query: ''If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?'' My answer is: I really don't care what is said; I just want it to be done in the voice of the great Werner Herzog. Unlike other "behind the scenes" film books, Herzog’s CONQUEST OF THE USELESS is the director’s personal journal written during the making of his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo. As if bordering tribe wars, the irrational Klaus Kinski, plane crashes, and the image of Mick Jagger trotting through the jungle in a suit wasn't intense enough, the journal is rendered in a beautiful and hypnotic prose that will have you hooked in no time.

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