A Unique Slant of Light:The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (Hardcover, $120.00)
An absolute must have for collectors or anyone interested in Louisiana art history from the colonial period through the present day.
The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans by Lawrence Powell (Hardcover, $29.95)
A perfect gift for newcomers to New Orleans! Powell offers readers a fascinating and detailed account of the founding of New Orleans. This is a must read for those that appreciate the history of our city!
I’m a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America’s Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet by Ken Foster (Paperback, $17.50)
This heartwarming book is a perfect gift for the dog lover in your life. For years, Ken has fought tirelessly against the misconceptions surrounding this particular breed and once again he has accomplished his goals through his writing (and I’m not just saying that because he’s part of the Maple Street team or because I have 2 pit bulls!).
Cindy Dike (Children’s Buyer, Uptown)
1Q84by Haruki Murakami (Paperback, 3 vol. boxed set, $29.95) If you like love stories, mysteries, or stories set in parallel worlds, you will devour this epic novel set in 1984 in Tokyo, Japan. I loved this book because it’s a gripping, page turner of a novel. Just when I thought I had the plot line figured out the author changed directions. I loved not knowing where the story was headed & following all the characters through the maze of it. Having read and loved A Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Murakami, I can say this is his masterpiece.
Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman & Jen King (Paperback, $17.95)
I love making candy at Christmas time. My family and friends have all been recipients of my pecan caramels and cashew brittle, but that’s as far as my limited knowledge of candy making has taken me. This little volume has all the tips, list of equipment, and recipes to make me or anyone a master candy maker. The index is rife with delights such as Brown Sugar-Coffe Caramels, Pates De Fruits, and Simply Perfect Dark Chocolate Truffles for starters. The photographs of the goodies alone are worth the price.
Puss in Boots retold and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Hardcover, $17.99)
I love this lavishly illustrated picture book about a clever talking tabby that helps his poor master win love and a princely fortune. If you like fairy tales, this picture book set in 1729 France is a sure bet, especially for ages 4 to 8.
Sarah Sky (Used and Rare)
What it is by Lynda Barry
(Hardcover, $24.95 (Drawn & Quarterly))
A book of beauty for just about anyone interested in art, creativity, the process behind it and writing.
Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson (Paperback $6.99)
If you didn’t get to fall in love with the strange world of Moomins as a child, you will as an adult. Be prepared for ships, flights from comets, adventures and quiet with a strange and supportive cast of characters. Great stories for children of all ages.
Rookie Yearbook One by Tavi Gevinson (Paperback, $29.95 (Drawn & Quarterly)) (Suggested by both Sarah and Maureen)
Remember how scary being a teenager was? This book, a compendium of content from the first year of online magazine Rookie, put together by 16-year-old fashion wunderkind Tavi Gevinson, goes a long way to assuage those fears. It’s chock-full of cool interviews (Joss Whedon! First Aid Kit! John Waters!); honest and genuinely helpful articles (“How to Not Care What Other People Think of You”, How to Look Like You Weren’t Just Crying in Less than Five Minutes”, “On Taking Yourself Seriously”, and, my favorite, “How to Approach the Person You Like Without Throwing Up”, to name a few); plus tons of extras like stickers, a paper crown, and a plastic record of killer tunes. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who likes glitter, and friendship, and summer vacation, including but not limited to: your sister, your best friend, and you.
Maureen Iverson (Uptown)
Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman
Lovely, funny, and sad in all the right ways, Bergman’s perfect collection of short stories is peopled with big-hearted, guilty-conscienced characters, and teeming with creatures of both the domestic and wild variety. This is the way I wish I could write and the things I wish I could write about. I don’t even like animals.
Around the World with Mouk: A Sticker Adventure by Marc Boutavant
I just want to look at this book all afternoon. Perfect for poring over, this French import is an oversized reusable sticker book illustrated by graphic artist Marc Boutavant. It’s like Richard Scarry’s Busy Town, BUT WITH KOALAS, postcard-writing, and international travel. Please disregard where I said I don’t like animals.
Gladin Scott (Manager, Uptown)
Toby’s Room by Pat Barker (Hardcover, $25.95)
From the author of the acclaimed Regeneration trilogy a new novel set during the first world war. Barker once again examines the love and loss faced by an English family in a turbulent time.
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (Hardcover, $26.95)
McEwan takes us back to the nineteen seventies and the cold war in this entertaining thriller. A great read from a master storyteller.
I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons (Hardcover $27.99)
This biography of the Leonard Cohen, great songwriter and enigmatic spirit, sheds light on his extraordinary life.
New Orleans Impressionist Cityscapes by Phil Sandusky (Hardcover $29.95)
This latest collection of Sandusky’s impressionist paintings brings the beauty and resilience of a great city to life. This is the perfect gift for locals or visitors.
Ben Jenkins (Manager, Healing Center)
The Sandman Slipcase set by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover,$199.00)
Neil Gaiman is currently my favorite author and I consider this to be his masterpiece. This box set includes all ten trade paperback volumes of the Sandman series where Gaiman follows Morpheus, the embodiment of dreams, throughout time. This is not your typical cape and tights graphic novel.
How Music Works by David Byrne (Hardcover, $32.00)
David Byrne of The Talking Heads discusses what music is and what it is to make music. This wonderfully written book is perfect for any music lover.
Art of the Dead by Phil Cushway (Hardcover, $45.00)
The Art of the Dead showcases the vibrant, charismatic Grateful Dead poster art that emerged from the streets of San Francisco in 1964 and 1966, while tracing the cultural, political, and historical influences of posters as art back to Japanese wood blocks through Bell Epoque, to the Beatniks, the Free Speech Movement, and the Acid Tests. It features interviews and profiles of the key artists and follows a chronological evolution of the art from the band’s origination through Jerry Garcia’s death. The book features iconic and rare images as well as extensive “process” material. Ultimately, The Art of the Dead makes the case that poster art is truly an original form of American fine art.
Michael Glaviano (Bayou St. John)
Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle (Paperback, $25.00)
Madness, Rack, and Honey is a moving and frequently hilarious collection of lectures delivered over fifteen years by poet Mary Ruefle to her writing students. Many of the lectures are specifically about the craft of writing poems, but don’t let that stop you if you don’t know any poets. Ruefle confronts headlong the questions that disturb the sleep of artists the world over. In “On Fear,” for example, the opening paragraph articulates her concern that in dedicating her life to poetry she may have ‘consecrated [her] life to an imbecility.’ The entire collection is dripping with this kind of superhuman honesty. An energizing and potentially life-changing read for the artsy person in your life.
Hot Pink by Adam Levin (Hardcover, $22.00)
The author of sprawling 2010 novel The Instructions is back with a relatively slender book of short fiction, wearing his influences on his sleeve and wearing them well. It’s extremely ambitious, but rarely is this ambition at the expense of emotional resonance. Levin is trying his darnedest to find and stretch the limits of American short fiction. RIYL George Saunders, Wells Tower, Kevin Wilson, and/or David Foster Wallace.
Antigonick by Anne Carson (Hardcover, $24.95)
Rogue classicist Anne Carson is always doing the coolest stuff. Antigonick is her rather nontraditional translation of Sophocles’ Antigone. The play opens with Antigone and Ismene squabbling over whether to attribute a quote to Hegel or Beckett. Later, watching Antigone head off to be buried alive, the chorus asks, “How is a Greek chorus like a lawyer?” The punch line? “They’re both in the business of searching for a precedent.” These anachronisms have been derided as “populist witticisms,” but we humbly contend that they are Carson’s main weapon in her attempt at a translation that is cultural rather than merely linguistic. The book also happens to be a gorgeous object; the text is simply a facsimile of a manuscript in the author’s hand, and interspersed throughout the book are beautiful drawings on translucent vellum by artist Bianca Stone.
Clark Allen (Used & Rare)
The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq (Paperback, $16.00)
The typically nasty little dissenter Michel Houellebecq released his fifth novel in 2010. After running the European circuit, winning praise and inpsiring disquiet alike, the book made its way to translation for eager English speaking audiences early this year. In The Map and the Territory, Houellbecq again displays his talent in portrayal of his grimmest, most unsettling of nihilistic tendencies, culminating in this novel in the brutal depiction of his own murder. Don’t miss out!
The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard by Joe Brainard (Hardcover, $35.00)
Collected for the first time in one volume, we finally have the writings of Joe Brainard, visual and literary darling of pop art era New York City. In his short life Brainard displayed a mirthful irreverence in mediums from writing to costume design to illustration and collage. His keen ability to sort, pick apart, and communicate life’s most extraordinary minutia garnered him praise from the likes of Frank O’Hara, Andy Warhol, Georges Perec and many more, cementing his name as one of the finest postmodern poets of the time. This volume includes his poetic autobiography “I Remember”, among countless notes, journal entries, short stories, sketches, and casual musings, effortlessly displaying the sweetness and exuberant potential that American writing has at its best.
We, The Children of Cats by Tomoyuki Hoshino (Paperback, $20.00)
Concocted by the award winning author Tomoyuki Hoshino, this is a strange and surreal collection of Japanese short fiction in which a journalist investigates crime in the seedy underground of an elementary school; two killers rediscover themselves as revolutionaries after their exile to Peru; and some people have bodies which just happen to sprout surprising new parts. We, The Children of Cats draws from forces ranging from traditional Japanese literature to Latin American magical realism, and stands proudly as one of the most unique works in translation of 2012.
Sara White (Bayou St. John)
The Storymatic (Boxed set, $29.95)
For those more interested in participating in the story than reading it, I recommend The Storymatic. This box set of 500 cards includes prompts for storytelling and is great as a teaching tool or parlor game. There’s also a kids’ version!
The Science of Good Cooking edited by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine (Hardcover, $40.00)
For those who enjoy cooking and those hesitant but interested to learn, I recommend Cook’s Illustrated’s newest book The Science of Good Cooking. This hardback includes over 400 recipes all paired with science experiments explaining why they work and will provide its reader with a foundation of basic cooking concepts.
Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700-1914 by David Jury (Hardcover, $60.00)
David Jury’s new book, Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700-1914, is a hardback gem filled with nearly 800 illustrations of printed ephemera such as engraved title pages, handbills, posters, type specimens, product labels, as well as accompanying text discussing the social and technological circumstances of the printing trade throughout history. This is a truly lovely gift for anyone with an appreciation for the printed page and the evolution of graphic design.
Matt Carney (Manager, Bayou St. John)
Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis by Mark Binelli (Hardcover, $28.00)
Mark Binelli manages to capture the daily absurdities inherent to post-crash Detroit without sacrificing (in the name of spectacle, narrative, or farce) the integrity of the city itself. Recommended for any lovers of highly readable location-specific non-fiction, or your uncle who enjoys interjecting dinner conversations with moments of “did you know…” regardless of the current topic at hand.
Building Stories by Chris Ware (Boxed set, $50.00)
Buildings Stories, one large highly-shakable box containing 14 separate printed pieces, is easily the most tactile holiday gift one could hope for. Recommended for anyone looking for new representations of the small private triumphs that rise from the mundane, or that one cousin who derails after-dinner drinks with both sides of the family whenever anyone refers to the graphic novel he’s been working on for six odd years as a “comic book.”
Big Class No. 2 by Big Class (Boxed set, $25.00)
Big Class No. 2 is a collection of coloring books (complete with crayons) divided by theme (food, sports, robots, etc) conceived from short stories written by a local 1st grade class at Lincoln Elementary (later illustrated by artists around the country). Recommended for anyone enamored with the spirit of collaboration and the wonderfully non-linear logic of youth or the education-oriented friends you invite over for the holidays even though they’ll probably just exasperate themselves explaining “creative agency” to the uncle you may have written off as a lost cause at the apex of a new-found and honestly foolish collegiate callousness but with time have come to appreciate for who he is.
Jeremy Blum (Uptown)
Orientation and Other Stories by Daniel Orozco (Paperback, $13.00)
Orozco leads the reader through the secret lives and moral philosophies of bridge painters, men housebound by obesity, office temps, and warehouse workers. Revealing the secret pleasures of late-night supermarket trips, exceptional data entry, and an exiled dictator’s occasional piss on the U.S. embassy, his stories are formally inventive and each with a gut-punch impact, softened only by lyricism and black humor. Featured in McSweeney’s, Harper’s, and Best American Short Stories, Orozco’s work recalls the melancholic tone of Dave Eggers, but with a more overt wit. GOOD TIMES.
My Brain is Hanging Upside Down by David Heatley (Hardcover, $24.95)
Oh man. I got a lot out of this. Long a fixture in comics anthologies, David Heatley’s wickedly observant drawings have been reaching an increasingly vast audience through his work in the New York Times op-ed pages and various New Yorker covers. This is his life story told in six different but tenuously connected narrative threads. Presented thematically and with a self-lacerating tone, Heatley explores his relationships with such themes as sex and race in a very explicit and uncomfortably hilarious fashion. Using postage stamp-sized panels, he crams a massive amount of narrative onto each page. His naive, visceral drawings imply an unshielded honesty that, I think, truly pushes the medium. ENJOY.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Hardcover, $29.95)
This is a huge, knotty marvel, the comics equivalent of a Pynchon or Gaddis novel. Asterios Polyp, our arrogant, prickly protagonist, is an award-winning architect who’s never built an actual building, and is in the midst of a spiritual crisis. After the structure of his own life falls apart, he runs away to try to rebuild it into something new. There are fascinating digressions on aesthetic philosophy, as well as some very broad satire, but the core of the book is Mazzucchelli’s odyssey of style—every major character in the book is associated with a specific drawing style and visual motif, and the design, color scheme and formal techniques of every page change to reinforce whatever’s happening in the story. A powerful example of how comics use visual information to illustrate complex, interconnected topics. A lush, remarkable work whose greatest beauty may reside in its core tenet- the need to pay attention to life as it happens. REAL RECOMMENDED.