April 2014 Staff
Reviews, Sports Books, & More
Here are three new staff reviews for you! We also have some great readings coming up. Plus, check out the latest Sports books and see which new Magazines we're carrying.
|Our staff brings you three new favorites. Click on a title or cover image to link to our website, where you can read more about the book or purchase it from our secure webstore.
by Willy Vlautin
reviewed by Kathy
This novel is a devastating look at the underside of the American Dream. The unconscious adventures of an injured young veteran weave among the stories of Freddie, working two minimum-wage jobs to pay off enormous medical bills, one job in the group home where Leroy's dream life begins; and Pauline, the intensive care nurse taking care of Leroy through long nights in the hospital. The hard world of this book is inhabited by good people whose lives have been stunted by collision with birth defects, mental illness, drug addiction, and sexual abuse. They struggle bravely against relentless impoverishment, broken promises, and government indifference. What could have devolved into a cold political polemic, in Vlautin's capable hands, is instead a tender depiction of the least entitled among us living brave lives with integrity and compassion.
by Josh Ostergaard
reviewed by Will
This anecdotal history of baseball is a gem. Musings--both personal and historical--are intertwined with snippets of Americana, dashes of history, and cultural observations by an urban anthropologist. Flip through the book and randomly read about pissing in the Wrigley Field troughs, Allan Dulles' CIA coups, bubble gum and tobacco rituals, the politics of facial hair, and both religious and ideological attempts to co-opt sport. Or better yet, read it again in the way the author intended and see the connections between Baseball and Machines, Militarism, the Animal World, Nationalism, and the Corporatocracy.
Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum
by Leonard Susskind & Art Friedman
reviewed by Andy
Fair warning is given in the introduction: this book is for "mathematically literate non-physicists" and a "basic knowledge of calculus and linear algebra" are necessary. Susskind and Freeman give us the bare minimum for attempting to understand quantum theory, showing us the basic "rules of the game," laying them out methodically and, thankfully, not too quickly. Susskind does not digress into any philosophical discussion whatsoever, almost achieving metaphysical and ontological neutrality, never speculating on the quiddity of quanta themselves. One could almost call it quantitative epistemology, a numerical and symbolic mapping of an (almost) unbelievably abstract territory. When I saw Anton Zeilenger speak, he swooned over the math of quantum theory, and Susskind does show the elegance and beauty of the symbols dancing and their almost miraculous delivery of numerical predictions. The book also cleared up some things that have bothered me about quantum theory: Why are imaginary numbers necessary? What is the nature of entanglement within the formalism? What is the wave in the famous Wave Function? What kind of a space is Hilbert space? The only real disappointment in the book is a lack of suggested reading. I am grateful that Susskind has taken the time to make this fascinating subject approachable above the qualitative plane--the only way to skin the quantum cat is with math.
Mother's Day Alert!
We have a delightful new collection lurking in our Poetry section: Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds
. Illustrated by David Allen Sibley, this is a wide-ranging selection providing, in the introductory words of Billy Collins, "pleasures that are literary, pictorial, and scientific." A lovely gift for that special woman!
We have some great authors appearing in late April and early May:
Spheres of Disturbance
Wednesday, April 16, 7pm
Helen is dying. Helen is choosing to die. Over the course of one day in 1985, those who surround her--among them her daughter, an art thief, a high-strung housewife and crochet artist, a lesbian poet, and a pregnant Vietnamese pot-bellied pig--grapple with her impending end. In nine revolving points of view, they resist or accept, impact or impede the trajectories of Helen's death in the world around them, tracing the mark of a culture that tries, desperately and impossibly, to deny death. By turns haunting, sensual, and brilliantly cunning, Spheres of Disturbanceexplores how we can bear to approach, or even choose, our inevitable end. In addition to her reading, Amy and a guest mandolinist will perform a song from the novel!
Fancy Nancy Story Hour & Songs!
Saturday, April 19, 10am
Oregon Children Theater's "Fancy Nancy: The Musical" opens May 10, but you can meet Nancy in person before that. Put on your most exquisite ensemble, and get ready for an hour of fancy fun, as Nancy shares a song or two as well as some secrets to her very special flair. We'll also have readings from some of your favorite Fancy Nancy stories, a chance to win tickets to the show, and vouchers for free Cupcake Jones cupcakes!
The Inmost House
Wednesday, April 30, 7pm
Oregon Book Award winner and 2014 finalist Sandra Stone will read from her new book, The Inmost House. Stone's second book is a work of poetic non-fiction, a transformative event in the life of an artist. Of culture and customer, epiphany, mortality, Stone also has much to say. Here are occasions for beauty, loss and plenitude, of transcending divides, of folly and reverence. Fluent and inventive juxtaposition of words, Stone's sentences are patinated by moonlight that illumines the insights of this distinguished book.
The Steady Running of the Hour
Monday, May 5, 7pm
This novel unravels a tale of passion, legacy, and courage reaching across the twentieth century. In 1924, the English mountaineer Ashley Walsingham dies attempting to summit Mount Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson--whom he has not seen in seven years. Ashley's solicitors search in vain for Imogen, but the estate remains unclaimed. Nearly eighty years later, new information leads the same law firm to Tristan Campbell, a young American who could be the estate's rightful heir. If Tristan can prove he is Imogen's descendant, the inheritance will be his. But with only weeks before Ashley's trust expires, Tristan must hurry to find the evidence he needs.
Under the Salvadoran Sun
Wednesday, May 15, 7pm
Portland author Davidson's debut novel is about a woman's search for a new purpose for her life in the embrace of post civil war El Salvador. It's love, sex and altruism in the hot and sensual arms of Central America. By a chance meeting with her former lover, Angela, an artist and widow from Seattle, is drawn into assisting him at a Salvadoran orphanage, supervised by an irreverent nun. More is at stake for Angela when she has to confront her daughters' discovery of her past transgression. As the story unfolds, Angela faces the complex world of Salvadoran gangs, threatening to entrap the young boys of the orphanage and secrets that jeopardize her relationship with her lover, Liam.
New Sports Books
|Here are some of the latest titles from our Sports section:
Where Nobody Knows Your Name
by John Feinstein
Baseball's minor leagues are a paradox. For some players, the minors are a glorious launching pad toward years of fame and fortune; for others, a crash-landing pad when injury or poor play forces a big leaguer back to a life of obscure ballparks and cramped buses instead of Fenway Park and plush charter planes. Focusing exclusively on the Triple-A level, one step beneath Major League Baseball, Feinstein introduces readers to nine unique men: three pitchers, three position players, two managers, and an umpire. Through their compelling stories, Feinstein pulls back the veil on a league that is chock-full of gifted baseball players, managers, and umpires who are all one moment away from getting called up--or back--to the majors.
Why Soccer Matters
Before Messi, before Ronaldo, before Beckham, there was Edson Arantes do Nascimento--known simply as Pelé. A national treasure, he created pure magic with his accomplishments on the field: an unprecedented three World Cup championships and the all-time scoring record, with 1,283 goals in his twenty year career. Pelé explores the recent history of the game and provides new insights into soccer's role connecting and galvanizing players around the world. This is Pelé's legacy, his way of passing on everything he's learned and inspiring a new generation. In Why Soccer Matters, Pelé details his ambitious goals for the future of the sport and, by extension, the world.
In My Skin
by Brittney Griner
Hailed by ESPN as the world's most famous female basketball player, Brittney Griner has been shattering stereotypes and breaking boundaries ever since she burst onto the national scene as a dunking high school phenom. But the sport's "most transformative figure" (Sports Illustrated) is equally famous for making headlines off the court, for speaking out on issues of gender, sexuality, body image, and self-esteem. Filled with all the humor and personality that Brittney Griner has become known for, In My Skin is more than a glimpse into one of the most original people in sports; it's a powerful call to readers to be true to themselves, to love who they are on the inside and out.
What Makes Olga Run
by Bruce Grierson
Grierson explores what the wild success of ninety-four-year-old track star Olga Kotelko can tell us about how our bodies and minds age. Olga not only looks and acts like a much younger woman, she holds over twenty-three world records in track and field, seventeen in her current ninety to ninety-five category. Convinced that this remarkable woman could help unlock many of the mysteries of aging, Grierson set out to uncover what it is that's driving Olga. He considers every piece of the puzzle, from her diet and sleep habits to how she scores on various personality traits, from what she does in her spare time to her family history. What emerges is not only a tremendously uplifting personal story but a look at the extent to which our health and longevity are determined by the DNA we inherit at birth, and the extent to which we can shape that inheritance.