But, in answer to my question, they showed me the dedication:
"Along with virtually every other good thing in my life, this book is a gift from and for my mother, whom I adore.And clearly, Mom adores Ellen back.
And with her, my father, who each day gives everything he has for his family."
The book takes place post Katrina. As I looked for info about the book I found several sites saying it comes out August 29 this year, but it was already at Powell's - maybe because Portland is her home town. Her first book, it turns out, was about her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala 1991-1992, I didn't mention to her parents that I was in Portland for my Peace Corps group's reunion.
Powell's is an enormous bookstore with room after room of books. Here are a few books I looked at near the entrance. The first three reflect my always burning curiosity about what makes people tick.
The Man In The Monster is a book about a journalist who befriends a serial killer on death row as she seeks to understand the man and his actions. This gets directly to the basic theme of this blog - how do you know what you know? Why is a man's life summed up by something he spent, perhaps three or four weeks on in total, rather than everything else he did? Is it accurate to forever label him a murderer when, as the parts of this I scanned suggest, it was hard for the author to imagine the man she grew to know as the man who had killed?
Mark Ruthman, Chicago in a First Read review of the book writes:
"This is a very well-written and soul-searching peek at an unexpected relationship that develops between a brutal killer and a pacifist journalist. While this seems wildly improbable, the journalist has an amazing sense of compassion and the killer is well-educated and legitimately or convincingly remorseful and highly functioning and medicated by the time she meets him, so that she only catches glimpses of the "monster" that on a handful of occasions took control of him and caused him to stalk and sometimes rape and kill women and girls. As time develops and she sticks with him through his retrials and appeals and sentencing, all the while fervently trying to keep him from being executed, her compassion wins out and she has to be reminded by him of his horrific actions. She pieces together the story of his childhood and early relationships where parents, family, and others skewed his notions of how to treat other people in relationships and general. His family history suggests both nature and nurture went awry and contributed to his desires to commit horrible crimes. . ."There are a number of reviews of the book at the link.
What's Your Story? was put together by Brandon Domon who sat in a public space and gave people a blank page to write their stories. The rules are spelled out in the book, which, like the stories in it, is all handwritten.
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Straight To Hell is a disturbing book, by a young banker who describes his high flying days and ways. If you don't already question the enormous salaries in banking, then this book should at least raise a few. Like whether the market is the best way to determine salaries. The chapters I looked at were about his life in Hong Kong.
Again, a sharp contrast to the life I led for a year in Hong Kong teaching at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
This book reminds me of pale version of John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hitman. But it seems to focus more on the sensational than the structural forces that allow this to happen. But both are exposés of corporate greed behind the facade of respectability.
And finally, this last one combines two stories by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.
I was hoping you could read the staff recommendation at the bottom, but it's too small. It basically says these two first books of Murakami have long been out of print in English, but now they are back, that they are coming of age stories for the characters, but also for Murakami.
I found this note on his beautiful website:
In 1978 Murakami was in the bleachers of Jingu Stadium watching a baseball game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp when Dave Hilton, an American, came to bat. According to an oft-repeated story, in the instant that he hit a double, Murakami suddenly realized that he could write a novel. He went home and began writing that night.
A bookstore is a little like an airport - each gate offering you a different destination. Except a bookstore offers an overwhelming number of options. I bought two books. Americanah, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian-American. The other is The Larouse Book of Bread, by Éric Kayser. It's time to take my bread making to another level. Can I bake 50 different kinds of bread in the next year? That would be nearly one a week. Maybe I should aim for 25. After all, I may want to repeat some of the best ones.