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the ncb newsletter
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Howdy, readers! I'd like to thank everyone who came to the first meeting of our Sci-Fi Fantasy Club! The book we discussed was one of my all-time favorites, so I really enjoyed hearing what everyone had to say about it. I hope you can join us for next month's! See the "Events" section below for details.

This week we have our long-awaited Books of the Year for 2022, plus a host of exciting new releases including Ibram Kendi, David Graeber, and my personal favorite cookbook author...

All that and more, in this edition of the NCB Newsletter!
Books of the Year 2022
We've had a month to think about it -- now here's our favorite books from last year! (Well, mostly from last year.) You can check these out on the table near the biography shelf, or compiled for easy browsing on our website here.

Gut — J. Bailey Hutchinson

Gut made me want to get my feet dirty in the muddy Mississippi riverbanks. It made me want to feel the Memphis sun on my forehead. It made me want to hug Mitzi (you'll meet her). Hutchinson explores life's ebb and flow through nature, the ritual of feasts, family traditions, and death, among other memories. Wise, humble, gritty yet delicate.

My Tender Matador — Pedro Lemebel

The book I read last year that I can't stop thinking about is My Tender Matador by the Chilean author Pedro Lemebel. Set during the final days of the Pinochet dictatorship, the novel tells the story of a flamboyantly gay man, eking out a living making dresses for the wives of generals and politicians. When he meets a handsome guerrilla, the two enter a relationship of mutual deception. Soon they're scouting locations for an assassination attempt, under the guise of a Sunday picnic in the country.

Politics, love, fantasy, and denial swirl together in a complex story that is as funny as it is searing and caustic. The setting may be the other side of the world, but I know no better portrait of the moral and emotional complexity of life under duress--and the beauty to be found in the cracks of a crumbling system.

When the Night Agrees to Speak to Me — Ananda Devi

One of the great Francophone poets working today. Devi's verse is intimate yet epic, and elemental without neglecting the body. The four poems in this book (ably translated by Kazim Ali) make most other contemporary poets seem spectacularly unambitious.

Fighting Is Like A Wife — Eloisa Amezcua

Another Coffee House Press classic!! Beautiful and strange collection of poetry based on the life of boxer Bobby "Schoolboy" Chacon and his wife Valorie Ginn. These poems sing with the brutality of boxing and its physical/mental toll. Amezcua experiments with form and structure. Visually stunning -- wildly imaginative poems. The fights have never been written quite like this.

Leech — Hiron Ennes

Leech is one of those books that has a little something for everyone, yet is weird enough to be wholly unique in this world. Frozen north Gothic tragedies? Medical mysteries? Far-future archaeologies? Philosophical/ethical quandaries? A little body-horror and a LOT of delicious psychological horror?? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! All told by perhaps the most interesting narrator I've ever encountered. Pick it up and let it into your mind!

Witches — Daisuke Igarashi

In my undergraduate studies as a comics artist, fan-translations of Daisuke Igarashi's short stories were passed around surreptitiously in PDF format by students and professors alike. It's a joy to see the work of such a master in print at last. Right from the opening title spread, rendered painstakingly in the style of an illuminated manuscript, Witches seizes you with its uncanny beauty. This is not Disney magic -- this is cunning magic, chthonic magic, as beautiful, terrible, and inscrutable as the universe itself. These seven stories take us from the Amazon to the Alps to rural Japan, joined by a conception of the witch as bridge between the human and the cosmic. Igarashi's taste for striking, dreamlike imagery (occasionally veering into horror that would make Junji Ito jump) makes every splash page unforgettable.

The Marriage Portrait— Maggie O'Farrell

Set in Italy in 1560, sixteen-year-old Lucretia de Medici, bride of Alfonso the Duke of Ferrara, foretells her death at the hand of her husband in the first pages of the novel. One year later she is dead. Lucretia sits for her formal portrait while contemplating the end is near, yet unable to escape. Suspenseful - O'Farrell never disappoints.

Tell Me I'm Worthless — Alison Rumfitt

"No live organism can continue to exist compassionately under conditions of absolute fascism, even the birds in Italy under Mussolini were observed to take part in rallies and violence. [...] Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of the house, and whatever walked there marched on Rome."

I have defied temporal dictates and declared a book that publishes 1/17/23 as my best of '22. To be fair, I read the UK release (10/28/21), and before that I read the first draft (c. 2020). I spent '22 waiting for it to wash up on this side of the Atlantic. Tell Me I'm Worthless is a thoroughly unpleasant book-- I mean that as a compliment!-- about the tacit cooperation between "gender critical"/trans-exclusionary feminism and fascism.Three girls enter a haunted house. Two girls leave. Alice and Ila can't comprehend what happened at Albion House or what they did(n't? do) to each other. Afterwards Alice scrapes by recording sissy porn, while Ila embraces gender-critical thought. Rumfitt cares deeply for her characters, writing Alice and Ila with equal tenderness and cruelty ("I have to believe that other people have also experienced impossible, horrible things," Alice thinks). But Albion still haunts them, Albion which is Britain, and fascism, and the kind of illusory safety from trauma you achieve only by declaring us vs. them.

Night of the Living Rez — Morgan Talty

These interconnected stories are beautifully written and deeply moving. The book and Morgan Talty deserved much more attention than they received. For fans of Louise Erdrich and Tommy Orange… My favorite book of 2022.
New Books

How to be a (Young) Antiracist — Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone

How to be an Antiracist is shaping the way a generation thinks about race and racism. How to be a (Young) Antiracist is a dynamic reframing of the concepts shared in the adult book, with young adulthood front and center. Aimed at readers 12 and up, and co-authored by award-winning children's book author Nic Stone, How to be a (Young) Antiracist empowers teen readers to help create a more just society. Antiracism is a journey -- and now young readers will have a map to carve their own path. Kendi and Stone have revised this work to provide anecdotes and data that speaks to the experiences and concerns of young readers, encouraging them to think critically and build a more equitable world in doing so.

Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia — David Graeber

While conducting ethnographic field research in Madagascar, David Graeber encountered the Zana-Malata, an ethnic group descended from the pirates who settled on the island in the eighteenth century. Pirate Enlightenment, Graeber’s final posthumous book, is the outgrowth of this early research and the culmination of ideas that he developed in Debt and The Dawn of Everything (written with David Wengrow). Graeber considers how the protodemocratic practices of the Zana-Malata came to shape the Enlightenment. He illuminates the non-European origins of what we consider to be “Western” thought and recovers forgotten forms of sociopolitical order that gesture toward new, hopeful possibilities for the future.

River Sing Me Home — Eleanor Shearer

The Emancipation Act of 1834 has ended slavery, but on the Providence plantation, former slaves are forced to stay on as "apprentices." So Rachel runs, beginning a desperate search to find her children. The grueling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad. She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children... and her freedom.

The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself — David Mura

Intertwining history, literature, ethics, and the deeply personal, Mura shows how white identity is based on shared belief in the pernicious myths, false histories, and racially segregated fictions that allow whites to deny their culpability in past atrocities and current inequities. White supremacy insists white knowledge is superior to Black knowledge, dismissing the truths embodied in Black narratives. Taking readers beyond apology, contrition, or sadness, Mura attends to the persistent trauma racism has exacted and lays bare how deeply we need to change our racial narratives—what white people must do—to dissolve the myth of Whiteness and acknowledge the stories and experiences of Black Americans.

Come to the store to meet David Mura and get your copy of the book signed: Febraury 27th at 6pm!

Exiles — Jane Harper

Federal Investigator Aaron Falk is on his way to a small town deep in Southern Australian wine country. But mystery follows him, even on vacation. This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Kim Gillespie's disappearance. When Kim's older daughter makes a plea for anyone with information about her missing mom to come forward, Falk and his old buddy Raco can't leave the case alone. As Falk soaks up life in the lush valley, he is welcomed into the tight-knit circle of Kim’s friends and loved ones. But the group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk’s closest friend, the missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge. What would make a mother abandon her child? What happened to Kim Gillespie?

The World and All That It Holds — Aleksandar Hemon

As the Archduke Franz Ferdinand arrives in Sarajevo one June day in 1914, Rafael Pinto is working at the pharmacy he inherited from his father. And then the world explodes. In the trenches in Galicia, fantasies fall flat. War devours all that they have known, and the only thing Pinto has to live for are the attentions of Osman, a fellow soldier, a man of action to complement Pinto’s poetic soul; a charismatic storyteller; Pinto’s protector and lover. Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches, survive near-certain death, tangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Over mountains and across deserts, from one world to another, all the way to Shanghai, it is Pinto’s love for Osman—with the occasional opiatic interlude—that keeps him going.

Fake Meat — Isa Chandra Moskowitz

In 2017 I found a cardboard box outside my Philadelphia apartment building containing Isa's books Isa Does It, Veganomicon, and Vegan with a Vengeance, and I've been cooking with them ever since. I make her Curried Tofu Scramble with Arugula so often I can do it from rote. Isa's recipes are simple enough for weekly use but fancy enough that you'll want to show them off. She even got me to like broccoli rabe! I can't wait for this one, and whether you're a vegan or an omnivore, I urge you give it a shot! -Graham
New In Paperback
As always, our newsletter can't fit everything, so check out the other new arrivals and recent bestsellers on our website!
Upcoming Events
Literary Bridges

Sunday, February 5 at 2:00pm

This month, Literary Bridges hosts Hamline University creative writers reading their work. Many of the students and alum worked with The Fulcrum Journal, created in 1995 to represent the balance between the literary and visual art communities at Hamline, showcasing the diverse voices of undergraduate students with their annual publication. (To order their 21-22 issue, Pleasure Fruit, email fulcrumjournal@hamline.edu.) Co-host Donna Isaac states, "We celebrate Hamline University for its fine creative writing programs, teachers, and publications; these writers are just a cross-section of the wonderful work that H.U. does right down the street from Next Chapter." Readers will include Emma Harrington, Elena Laskowski, Remi Sherman, Austin Malberg, Tara Westerlund, and Arielle Newfield.
Deborah Appleman (Literature and the New Culture Wars)
In Conversation With Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Snyder

Tuesday, February 7 at 6:00pm

Our current "culture wars" have reshaped the politics of secondary literature instruction. Due to a variety of challenges from both the left and the right, school reading lists are rapidly shrinking. For many teachers, choosing which books to include in their curriculum has become an agonizing task with political, professional, and ethical dimensions. Deborah Appleman calls for a reacknowledgment of the intellectual and affective work that literature can do, and offers ways to continue to teach troubling texts without doing harm. Rather than banishing challenged texts, she writes, we should be confronting and teaching the controversies they invoke. Deborah Appleman is the Hollis L. Caswell professor of educational studies and director of the Summer Writing Program at Carleton College. Professor Appleman's recent research has focused on teaching college-level language and literature courses at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater for inmates who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education.
Manga Club: Bloom Into You (Vol. 1)

Saturday, February 11 at 5:00pm

Come to NCB at 5pm on the second Saturday of every month to talk manga with other weebs! Hosted by our resident manga experts Emily and Graham (yours truly), the Manga Club provides free Japanese snacks, a 10% discount on ALL manga in the store, and most importantly, a forum to discuss a new title every month. For our pre-Valentine's Day meeting, we're reading a girls' love manga that explores the gap between adolescent expectations and the realities of love. An unexpected response to an innocent question sparks a journey of self-discovery for the girls in a high school literature club... we'll be discussing the first volume of this wildly popular romance series.
Beth Obermeyer — When Winter Came

Wednesday, February 15 at 6:00pm

Maintain isolation - practice good hygiene - wear a mask - be kind. We all know these methods of fighting COVID-19, but this prescription comes from the 1918 experience of Dr. Pierre Sartor, who battled the worldwide influenza pandemic in his small town of Titonka, Iowa. Dr. Sartor wrote an inspiring first-person account which lay forgotten in a lockbox of family artifacts until it was discovered decades later by his granddaughter, Beth. Based on Dr. Sartor's memoir and years of research, she reconstructs his life from childhood in Luxembourg, to medical school in Chicago, to courtship and marriage. His story speaks to the qualities that make a compassionate physician - a compelling example of doing the best of things in the worst of times. Beth Obermeyer is a dancer, musician, journalist, and author of three books published by North Star Press. Her first book, The Biggest Dance, was a Summer Read Pick in the Pioneer Press. The third, The Days of Song and Lilacs, was a finalist for the Midwest Book Awards. She lives in Minneapolis.
Sci-Fi Fantasy Club: Amatka

Friday, February 24 at 5:00pm

There's no final frontier for the Sci-Fi Fantasy Club! Join us the last Friday of every month as we uncover and rediscover forgotten classics, titles that blur genres, small press stunners, and all the books you missed because they don't have Brandon Sanderson's marketing budget. For our second meeting, a surreal debut novel set in a world shaped by language, in the tradition of Atwood and Le Guin. Vanja is sent to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka to collect intelligence for the government. Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja falls in love with her housemate, Nina, and prolongs her visit. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony, she embarks on an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by a captivating new voice.
From Our Shelves
Staff Pick Spotlight:
The King In Yellow Robert W. Chambers

"Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die
in Lost Carcossa."

The lost link between Gothic and cosmic horror, between Poe and Lovecraft. It's remarkable how deeply it still chills.
Fact of the Week:

The number of active militia groups in the U.S. spiked after the Waco Massacre, reaching 400 in 1995, but plummeted in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing, down to 40 by 2005. Timothy McVeigh, spurred into action by Waco as were so many conservatives of his generation, was responsible for stemming that very same tide with an act he had hoped would bring more Americans to his side. He claimed that he hadn't know there were children in the building he bombed, but also said he felt his cause was worth the cost of innocent lives. As an anonymous sympathist of the Michigan Militia put it: "The optics were lousy. It looked bad, killing kids."

Learn more about American right-wing militias in
Waco Rising, by Kevin Cook
Featured Excerpt:

His sins were numerous, this wrong man.
Buttes were good to listen from. With thunder-
hands his father shaped the dust, circled
fire, tumbled up the wind to make a fool.
Now the fool is dead. His bones go back
so scarred in time, the buttes are young to look
for signs that say a man could love his fate,
that winter in the blood is one sad thing.

-from "In My Lifetime," by James Welch (collected in Riding the Earthboy 40)
Next Chapter Reader Poll
Thanks to everyone who responded to last week's poll! The question was, "What was your favorite gift you received during the holiday last year? (Literary or otherwise!)" Keith responded, "Quiet/Calm/Hygge - After a year of trying to recreate life before Covid, I gave myself a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the season. It was marvelous!" Thank you, Keith, and everyone else who replied! Also, major props to Hal for pointing out that Ancillary Eddas is a good band name. I am in total agreement.

Now for this week's poll! This is a short-answer question, so reply to this email with your response! I'll feature some of the responses in the next newsletter. And our question is:
Would you come to a book club at Next Chapter if it was...
...a Mystery/Thriller club?
...a Literary Fiction club?
...a Romance book club?
...a Nature Nonfiction club?
...a Historical Nonfiction club?
I'm not into book clubs.
Other/multiple (feel free to reply!)
We Are Open!

Three ways to shop with Next Chapter Booksellers:

1. Come in the store and browse. Talk to a bookseller or peruse the shelves, as you prefer. Although the mask mandate is no longer in effect, we appreciate it if you choose to wear a mask. 

2. Order online or over the phone for in-store pickup. We'll let you know when your books are ready, then you can swing by and pick them up at your leisure.

3. Get your books delivered to your home. We can mail your books (no charge for orders over $50) or hand-deliver them (to addresses in St. Paul only, and again for orders over $50).

We're here 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday.
Thanks for reading
all the way to the end.

As always, we've got lots more great books in the store. Come on in and ask us for a recommendation -- or tell us what you're reading right now! And follow us on social media for the latest news: we’re Next Chapter Booksellers on Facebook, @nextchapterbooksellers on Instagram, and @NextChapterMN on Twitter.

See you in the stacks!

Graham (and all of us at Next Chapter Booksellers)