So Many Doors by Oakley Hall

This classic noir tale of a destructive love triangle set around Bakersfield around the time of WWII was first published in 1950. Cognitive dissonance drew me to this novel that revolves around a cat-skinner (I'm going to let you look that up) and a young farmer's daughter. The lurid cover of this Vintage Crime edition is all pulp and cheesy noir, yet graced with great praise from Michael Chabon, who says "So Many Doors is a beautiful, powerful, even masterful novel by a writer whose work enriched American literature." Even more striking, there is a blurb by Amy Tam on the back cover, saying in part that "he is the master of characterization, narrative immediacy, and the art of luring you into a gripping story."

After reading, I was glad to have taken a closer look at the book with the tall busty blonde with a strangely enormous left foot on the cover of an advance reader copy. I've seldom read a book that captured the mad yearning, inchoate confusion, madness and near horror of existence so pitch perfectly. It actually made me feel glad to be north of 50, which doesn't happen too often. I’ve since learned that Oakley Hall’s work included the novel Warlock, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1958. The Downhill Racers, a 1969 movie starring Robert Redford, was based on another of his books. Hall taught at the University of California, Irvine, where he mentored Richard Ford, in addition to Chabon and Tan. He received lifetime achievement awards from the PEN American Center and the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and died in 2008.

Adult Fiction Paperback pr2096511 

Let's Go (So We Can Get Back) by Jeff Tweedy

A funny, charming, self-aware look back by the Wilco front man, from growing up in SW Illinois to present day. You really needn't be a fan of Uncle Tupelo, Wilco in any of its configurations, or have even heard of Jeff Tweedy to enjoy this book (although that would help, of course). Read it if you enjoy memoirs by interesting people with the ability to tell a good story well. I'll admit that I've seen him in concert probably a dozen times, but not for almost two decades, and haven't engaged with his music since Mermaid Avenue Vol. II was released in 2000 (doesn't matter: it's a great read). For a deeper dive into the book and where Tweedy is at these days, you can find a full length review from Gentleman's Quarterly here.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr2093580

 The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos

A Washington D.C. located crime novel that also serves as a love letter to the redemptive power of literature and libraries. Pelecanos shows that his focus on scriptwriting for shows like The Wire, Treme and The Deuce have done nothing but sharpen his skills as a novelist. He's entered what I think of as Elmore Leonard territory (one author, among many, he references in this book) where the writing seems so effortless you'd don't notice the craft in it. A true gift for anyone who works with books and literacy.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr2335224


The Runner: Four Years Living and Running in the Wilderness by Markus Torgeby

A beautiful, haunting memoir that reads like a modern day Scandinavian Walden, written by an athletic and mentally distressed Thoreau. Torgeby recounts growing up in a small village in Northern Sweden, struggling at school and having to care for his invalid mother. Discovered by a running coach, and showing the talent to achieve national and Olympic results, Torgeby is mostly crippled by anxiety over expectations and usually runs faster in training than racing. At the age of 20, he builds a canvas walled yurt (with an open smoke hole) in the wilderness and stays there year round, despite temperatures that sometimes plummet as low as -37. He later spends six months training in Tanzania, all the while continuing to ask himself “why am I doing this?” and allowing space and quiet for the answers to get past the noise of modern existence. This treatise of living simply and the struggle to find one’s self should appeal to reluctant readers and teens, as well as anyone interested in a slower existence.

Adult Non-Fiction Paperback pr2101215

 Vantage Point: A MacNeice Mystery by Scott Thornley

Fourth in the police procedural series set in Hamilton, Ontario, renamed Dundurn here. (Oddly, most street, park and place names are unchanged). Crime Inspector MacNeice is cut from the same cloth as P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh; this is a book for those that value setting and character development. The violence is both graphic and extreme, although Thornley has a sort of light touch with it, weaving together PTSD and modern art, set immediately following the last book in the series, Raw Bone.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr2085092


Milk Street Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball

Unlike a slew of cookbooks out there that are more than half filler trying to convince you they hold all the keys to perfect health and flavour, Milk Street Tuesday Nights gets to it quick after a one page intro. Organized by a combination of prep times (Fast, Faster, Fastest) and themes (Pizza Night), this is a practical cookbook with ingredients that you can find in most grocery stores that don't call for fancy gadgets, beyond a food processor. The tips are brief ("don't skip the lime wedges") with the logic outlined ("they provide a much needed hit of acidity and freshness"). Dishes come from a wide range of cuisines around the globe. This book totally restored my faith in cookbooks and is my new favourite by a wide margin. It might not have the cachet of a celebrity chef's art book masquerading as a cookbook, but if you want something for the kitchen rather than the coffee table, look no further. 

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr2335242

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