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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

September 3, 2017

Debut Novel Showcases New Tallent, and an Old Spymaster Continues to Intrigue
 
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. The first big literary novel of the Fall season has arrived, and it already has independent booksellers talking - with customers and with each other. The debut effort from Tallent is a harrowing but compelling coming-of-age story featuring 14-year-old Turtle Alveston, who lives in rural Northern California near Mendocino with her emotionally and physically abusive father. Dear old dad has Turtle convinced she's helpless without him, but she slowly begins to emerge from her self-loathing and combat his manipulations. It's a tough read at times, and perhaps not for everyone, but those who do stick with it will find themselves rooting unabashedly for Turtle and her efforts to free herself from her father's spell. 
 
My Absolute Darling is the #1 Indie Next pick for September and, as this review shows, Tallent's writing is a big part of the appeal: "I believe in great American novels, but not  the  Great American Novel. This is a Great American Novel: exquisitely lush language of the natural world; startlingly vivid characters; a global understanding of social context, in a particular place; and, in this case, steel-wire narrative tension stringing through the beautiful prose like piano wire. It is the book this year that I feel every American should read, because of its greatness and also because of its deep wrestling with issues of class, complacency, climate change, culture, and especially gender."  
- John Evans, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA 
 
 
A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre. At age 85, le Carre remains a master o f the spy novel, and he continues to deliver the goods in the latest, which is closely tied to his first book, written 50 years ago - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. In that novel, a mission undertaken by a British double agent was responsible for the death of three people. Decades later, the children of those deceased have decided to sue British Intelligence and try to collect some money. The only spy they can find to go after is long-retired Peter Guillam,a George Smiley disciple who was a minor figure in the tragic mission. This inventive plot device brings Guillam back to London to review the case and allows le Carre to revisit his original Cold War creation through flashbacks. A Legacy of Spies is great fun for old fans as well as those discovering an old pro for the first time.   
The Story of a Revolutionary Restaurateur
 
Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters. The founder of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California - arguably one of our country's most notable eating establishments - has written a candid and colorful memoir that should appeal to a wide swath of readers. Her counterculture roots and a year spent in France both contributed greatly to her vision for the restaurant, as well as to her ongoing role as a food activist.   

Waters's suburban upbringing did little to prepare her for college at UC Berkeley in 1964. It was the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, and she was soon drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. She writes about all that and more, including her failures and the utter chaos that surrounded the restaurant's opening.
 
As part of its starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote, "Readers will be charmed by Waters's adoration of exquisitely prepared food. Her anecdotes and her descriptions of friends and customers (many of whom were filmmakers, artists, and prominent thinkers of the time) bring the era and the restaurant to the mind's eye in vibrant detail." 
WHERE TO FIND 
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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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