DIESEL Classics -- from Then and Now, from our L.A. Store!

By DIESEL, A Bookstore -- Brentwood

By DIESEL, A Bookstore -- Brentwood

Remainder

Tom McCarthy

$16.95 $15.59

The protagonist of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder is an amnesiac obsessed with pattern, repetition, and the association of importance to utterly meaningless images and events based on a tingly feeling he gets when he feels at peace with the world—when he feels “authentic.” Remainder works narratively towards this idea of the Real, with the protagonist reenacting first an unremembered déjà vu, then scenes from reality, and finally, a “reenactment” of a bank robbery that never happened—one that he externalizes in reality. Ultimately, this work is a fascinating post-modern exercise in tension, repetition, and performance, but readers hewn to character motivation and desire will find little here. -- Alex

The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition

Fernando Pessoa

$24.95 $22.95

Highly regarded as the premier poet in the Portuguese language, Fernando Pessoa rose to fame decades after his death and is still being discovered by unilingual audiences. Employing what he called “heteronyms,” Fernando Pessoa created fictional “poets, essayists, critics, prose writers, translators, philosophers, and people, many with distinct biographies, ideologies, and writing styles”(Zenith). These heteronyms were not simply pseudonyms to Pessoa—they were channeled identities separate from himself. Pessoa writes, “The origin of my heteronyms is basically an aspect of hysteria that exists within me…the mental origin lies in a persistent and organic tendency of mine to depersonalization and simulation…” Their chronological origin begins with the creation of childhood imaginary friends who would speak to Pessoa through letters that he himself wrote. The Book of Disquiet (544 pages; Penguin Classics) follows the inaction of Bernardo Soares in the modernist tradition of the Flaneur. His wanderings and musings may be read in any order—the numbered sections of the Book of Disquiet are loose fragments that were discovered posthumously and assembled into a collection. Truly a beautiful and perplexing project to behold. -- Alex

The Book of Salt

Monique Truong

$16.99 $15.63

"He came to us through an advertisement that I had in desperation put in the newspaper. It began captivatingly for those days: 'Two American ladies wish...'" It was these lines in The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book that inspired The Book of Salt, a brilliant first novel by acclaimed Vietnamese American writer Monique Truong. In Paris, in 1934, Binh has accompanied his employers, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, to the train station for their departure to America. His own destination is unclear: will he go with "the Steins," stay in France, or return to his native Vietnam? Binh has fled his homeland in disgrace, leaving behind his malevolent charlatan of a father and his self-sacrificing mother. For five years, he has been the live-in cook at the famous apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus. Before Binh's decision is revealed, his mesmerizing narrative catapults us back to his youth in French-colonized Vietnam, his years as a galley hand at sea, and his days turning out fragrant repasts for the doyennes of the Lost Generation. Binh knows far more than the contents of the Steins' pantry: he knows their routines and intimacies, their manipulations and follies. With wry insight, he views Stein and Toklas ensconced in blissful domesticity. But is Binh's account reliable? A lost soul, he is a late-night habitue of the Paris demimonde, an exile and an alien, a man of musings and memories, and, possibly, lies. Love is the prize that has eluded him, from his family to the men he has sought out in his far-flung journeys, often at his peril. Intricate, compelling, and witty, the novel weaves in historical characters, from Stein and Toklas to Paul Robeson and Ho Chi Minh, with remarkable originality. Flavors, seas, sweat, tears -- The Book of Salt is an inspired feast of storytelling riches. -- Alison

The Heaven of Mercury

Brad Watson

$17.95

Finus Bates has loved chatty, elegant Birdie Wells ever since he saw her cartwheel naked through the woods near the backwater town of Mercury, Mississippi, in 1917. He's loved her for some eighty years: through their marriages to other people, through the mysterious early death of Birdie's womanizing husband, Earl, and through all the poisonous accusations against Birdie by Earl's no-good relatives. With "graceful, patient, insightful and hilarious" prose (USA Today), Brad Watson chronicles Finus's steadfast devotion and Mercury's evolution from a sleepy backwater to a small city. With this "tragicomic story of missed opportunities and unjust necessities" (Fred Chappell), "Southern storytelling is alive and well in Watson's capable hands" (Kirkus Reviews, starred). "His work may remind readers of William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, or Flannery O'Connor, but has a power--and a charm--all its own, more pellucid than the first, gentler than the second, and kinder than the third" (Baltimore Sun). -- Alison

The Angry Buddhist

Seth Greenland

$16.00 $14.72

By the end of The Angry Buddhist, I was wondering if its lowlife characters -- who include ex-cons, call girls, corrupt police, a gun-for-hire, a blackmailer, a dog- and kidnapper, two rival politicians, and their spouses and aides -- didn't live in the unforgiving desert of California, would they be less harsh and callous and nutsy? No wonder the would-be Buddhist of the title is angry. While I read this novel John Edwards' trial was underway and the parallels between reality and the book's plot amazed me. It also called to mind Fargo, Congresswoman Mary Bono's career strategy, and a few of the more amusing Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen narratives. Happily, the novel is grounded by an ironic mystery-blogger who serves to remind the reader that the author is fully in control of his hardscrabble desert rabble. -- Diane

A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki

$18.00 $16.56

With her third novel just published, I can say that Ruth Ozeki, the most innovative novelist I know, has never failed me. A Tale For The Time Being relates Ruth's (fictional) reactions when she encounters and reads the diary -- possibly washed all the way across the Pacific in the 2011 tsunami -- of a cheeky and irresistible Japanese teenager named Nao. Within this journal is the story of Nao's great-grandmother, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun who took up that calling after her son was forced to be a kamikaze pilot and died in World War II. She enlightens and entertains not only Nao but also Ruth and, most importantly, the reader. These three magnificent female characters are completely diverse in age, language, thought, and deed. Ruth Ozeki never shies away from politics, history's cruel realities, or environmental catastrophes; instead these subjects are always naturally and seamlessly attached to the characters' lives. All this, and the narrator discusses the act of writing and its purpose. If this masterwork doesn't win top honors from critics and booksellers, I'll throw the book at them. -- Diane

Call Me by Your Name

André Aciman

$17.00 $15.64

“Call Me By Your Name” is the story of the relationship that emerges between a teenager named Elio, and a summer guest who stays at his parent's house in Italy. At first, Elio and Oliver unsuccessfully try to hide their attraction to one another, but slowly the barriers between them fall. The last several weeks of summer are spent exploring their newfound passion, as well as their adventures throughout Italy. The book is narrated from Elio’s perspective, as he analyzes the story unfolding before him. -- Erin

The Outsiders

S. E. Hinton

$10.99 $10.11

S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” is the novel that originally got me invested in the world of reading. This classic book is about a young boy named Ponyboy Curtis who is living in a divided world, where either you’re a privileged soc (short for social), or a poor greaser. One night, Ponyboy’s friend, Johnny, accidentally kills a soc throwing their lives into disarray. The events that follow the murder change Ponyboy’s opinion on the society that he’s living in, and he realizes that people really aren’t that different from one another. -- Erin

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

$16.99 $15.63

The descriptions in this novel are amazing. They build up the world that is being created so well and invoke all 5 senses in such a way that makes the reader feel like they're truly there. Márquez has the most beautiful and unique style of writing I've ever read and this is one of my all time favorite books. -- Eve

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

$17.00 $15.64

The fact that this is a banned book is just the perfect amount of irony. This is a book that reminds us that ignorance is not bliss. While reading, it tells us that reading is so important to us. If you like reading you have to read this. -- Eve

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson

$17.00 $15.64

To me, this is the definitive cyberpunk novel. Practically dripping with style, this tale of a near-future America that is so outlandish and exaggerated that it makes complete sense. -- Joey

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster

Mo Willems and Mo Willems

$17.99 $16.55

Poor Leonardo is just no good at being a monster! But when the perfect opportunity to scare the tuna salad out of someone comes along, what will he do? -- Joey

We Are Called to Rise

Laura McBride

$25.00

This is a powerful fiction debut. Set in Las Vegas, it is the story of returned war veterans, of immigrants fleeing political persecution, of suburban families, and of the ways we break and the ways we heal. Though that sounds like a big sprawling novel, it is actually a very focussed, refined, and intimate story of an 8-year-old boy and his family, along with the limited array of people an 8-year-old regularly interacts with. It is a graceful, and gracefully written story. It is deeply touching, emotionally suspenseful, and curiously contemplative. The depth is stroked lightly. The surface is described exquisitely. It is as if it ends on a major chord with a minor note left hanging poignantly in the air. Real life is so carefully and compassionately rendered in a simple tale, in an exaggeratedly legendary town that proves itself as ordinary as the extraordinary quotidian is anywhere. -- John

The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Amos Tutuola

$17.00 $15.64

The Palm-Wine Drinkard. Published to astonished acclaim in 1952, this surrealistic, modern African fable becomes more contemporary with each passing breath. Like hearing Sun House, or The Clash, or Thelonious Monk for the first time: forever changed. -- John

10:04: A Novel

Ben Lerner

$17.00 $15.64

Between Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, a poet named Ben navigates health scares, the prospect of fatherhood, and a few other quotidian existential crises. That’s the essence of the plot, but the essence of this invigorating novel is really everything that’s happening underneath, betwixt and between, inside. Lerner masterfully takes up the tools of autofiction to access his narrator’s mind—a mind that’s haunted by the legacy of Walt Whitman, by the inescapable truths of living within global capitalism, by compulsive dreams of an unknowable, brighter future. This is a book that makes you want to read more deeply, write more ambitiously, see more critically, think more generously, and live more dynamically. -- Marc

Counternarratives

John Keene

$16.95 $15.59

In the heart of the jungle, in 17th-century Brazil, a Jesuit priest strives to keep his true identity hidden from the next wave of colonizers, until one of his slaves—whose own power is far greater than meets the eye—collapses the distance between them. This is but one of the historical re-imaginings Keene presents in this inventive book of (sometimes not so) short fiction. His settings range up and down the Americas, and stretch back to the times when this continent was first deemed a New World. Keene uses forms of primary text to wrench in reverse a critical gaze we only seem comfortable using in the present; he reminds us that questions of race and sexuality, power and memory, have always been urgent. -- Marc

The Apothecary

Maile Meloy

$8.99 $8.27

I read an advanced copy of The Apothecary by Maile Meloy in one sitting. It reminded me of Pinkwater's The Neddiad, another grand and magical children's adventure novel set (partially) in Los Angeles in the 1950's. The illustrations are superb, and cinematically enhance the story a la The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Shameless retail plug: The Apothecary would make a wonderful holiday present for ages 9-12. -- Mia

The Tiger's Wife

Téa Obreht

$17.00 $15.64

Tea Obreht is on the National Book Foundation's list of "5 under 35" young authors to watch. The narrative includes the relationship between a young doctor and her grandfather, also a doctor. About the practice of medicine, he told her, "When men die, they die in fear," he said. "They take everything they need from you, and as a doctor it is your job to give it, to comfort them, to hold their hand. But children die how they have been living-in hope. They don't know what's happening, so they expect nothing, they don't ask you to hold their hand-but you end up needing them to hold yours. With children, you're on your own. Do you understand?" (p. 154) Infused with Eastern European fable and fairytale, I was carried away by this novel. -- Mia

Let the Great World Spin

Colum McCann

$18.00 $16.56

A book about life in 70s New York, about tragedy, about hope. McCann’s writing makes you believe anything is possible. -- Thatcher