Carl joined Fountain in 2015 after 3 years of recording/editing audiobooks. In 2016 he became a fulltime bookseller and operations manager. Our resident history nerd, Carl reads a lot of non-fiction and literary fiction, or "sad stuff" as he is often teased about. It's okay though, he knows how to have fun. When he's not at the store he can be found visiting battlefields, taking in a baseball game or touring with his band(s).
This translated collection of short stories turn Japanese folktales on their heads and tie them together with a feminist twist. The world is filled with ghosts, some visible but mostly unseen, free from the restraints placed on them while they were alive. In death, they often find more influence on the world around them, observing, protecting and shaping events. Funny, relatable and insightful, WHERE THE WILD LADIES ARE is a delightful read and exactly the book I didn't know that I needed.
Saleh is an Iranian journalist who splits his time between Tehran, with its lavish art openings and book readings, and the arbitrary front of the war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Hounded by the censorship bureau, friends and a number of media colleagues that want something of him, he begins to find solace among the soldiers that have sworn to protect the Holiest sites on their paths toward martyrdom. Based on firsthand experience, Salar Abdoh has written one of the best war novels I've ever read, though it feels like so much more than that. Brutal, dark, funny, empathetic and wise, it truly captures the human condition in its finest, ugliest and all the in between.
From page one, I HAD to know how this book ended. The voice of Grace Turner, is so fresh and distinct, it wouldn't even matter what this book is about. Fortunately, the plot is also strong and very relevant in light of the #metoo movement. After disappearing from the spotlight one year ago, Grace Turner is back in Hollywood navigating the next steps of her life and career. But there's a lot of hurt in her past and she will struggle to make peace and sense of her relationships, personal and business. An incredible page-turner that offers a very personal look into celebrity culture, abuse, family and young adulthood.
After a tour in Iraq, Colleen returns to her small hometown in Mississippi and tries to re-adapt to life there. After getting married, she is expecting twins when her father-in-law faces a retrial for a civil rights era murder. Meanwhile, a widower looks to renovate a house that has historic meaning in the town, pitting him against the social elites. Odie Lindsey has written a perfect blend of not only a Southern novel, but an American novel that reflects on a complex past and how it relates to the current day. Gritty, pensive and with great depth and character building, this book will be talked about for a long time.
Beauregard has left behind a criminal past to open up his own garage and start a family. But times are tough, money has grown short and he finds his back against the wall when someone from his past seeks him out with a job offer. It's enough money to pay off his debts and end his flirtation with poverty. It's just one heist. What could go wrong? Excellent crime fiction taking place in Virginia, this is the first book in YEARS to actually, LITERALLY raise my heart rate. That is not hyperbole. It really sped up quick!
Kelli Jo Ford's debut begins in 1974 in Cherokee territory, when 15-year-old Justine gets pregnant, putting her on a different spiritual path than her evangelical mother. Told over decades, the novel beautifully explores relationships between multiple generations of mothers and daughters in Oklahoma and Texas who must constantly be their own source of strength amidst natural disasters, poverty, unreliable men and old age. Ford's style is raw and quiet, gritty and emotionally powerful. An important new voice in fiction.
The "sequel" to 2019's WAITING FOR TOM HANKS, Kerry Winfrey's new romance sees some sizzle between Chloe and Nick, who work at the same coffee shop. The peculiar bit is that Chloe's best friend, Annie (protagonist of the last book), has written a movie that is completely based on the romance between the two that she foresees, making the vibe at the coffee shop a bit awkward. Chloe does all she can to prevent the movie plot from becoming reality and with her life seemingly falling apart, she may succeed. Kerry is funnier and spicier this time around while still playing fun at typical romance tropes. A fun, PG-13 romcom!
It's hard to keep anyone engrossed in a book this heavy (literally and figuratively) but, WOW, Marlantes has done it! A family epic that follows the Koski's from their origins in Finland before the children must immigrate to the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century. Their lives center around the logging industry and as they try to make a living off the forests they must navigate the danger of the landscape, the work and labor politics all while trying to maintain a connection to home. This book means a helluva lot to me and I will talk anyone's ear off about it!
Sarah M. Broom grew up in New Orleans, New Orleans East to be exact, an area that tourists don't go to. Often neglected by the city administration, the area suffered even greater during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This is a memoir of family history, the city's history, class and racism through the lens of the house Sarah grew up in, which was lost to "The Water." As she continues to get pulled back to the city despite her attempts at distance, she struggles with the meaning of "home" when it seems like home is always working against you. Exceptional and moving, this is the kind of memoir against which other memoirs get judged.
This extremely poignant and timely debut follows three characters whose lives intersect over a terrorist attack in Bengal. A young, poor Muslim woman who is wrongfully accused, her former gym teacher who finds himself rising to prominence in a growing populist political party and a transgender hijra with Bollywood aspirations. Majumdar pulls heartstrings while examining the myriad of today's social issues to their core, all while maintaining an astute sense of empathy. An electrifying literary thriller, this is quite the novel!
Sam is laboring through a dinner party (what else do you do at those things?) when he overhears, "He fixes everything that's wrong with you in three days." Depressed and anxious his whole life, Sam is skeptical but transfixed. A meeting with this shaman gives him enough hope to agree to a weekend of divine soul surgery that will take him to the depths of his memory in an attempt to find peace. BROKEN PEOPLE is a rare blend of ugly, difficult, soul-searching truth with a narrative that reads so easily, you don't realize you've been transformed yourself until it's over.
Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal fled their home country of Ghana for very different reasons but ended up attempting to cross the Canadian border together on a below freezing night in December 2016. They were fleeing the United States, which had denied both of their asylum requests after years (!) spent in custody with their cases bogged down in bureaucracy. Joe Meno intertwines their stories in dramatic fashion while humanizing a much broader world issue. An essential book for anyone with an opinion on immigration.
Wayétu Moore is five years old when Liberia breaks out into civil war, forcing her family to flee their home. They eventually escape to the United States, where she is met with constant racism, both obvious and more subtle. Moore brings her incredible fiction writing talent into memoir, exploring her childhood imagination while soberly reflecting on her past and present as an adult. An incredible story in itself, I haven't read an immigrant or minority experience that has been expressed as powerfully and simply as this. The best memoir of 2020.
MINOR DETAIL is split in halves, the first taking place in 1949 at a southern outpost in the Negev Desert, where a platoon of Israeli soldiers guard against enemy invasion while searching for any remaining Arabs to expel from the region. Many years later a woman learns of an atrocity committed in that area 25 years before her birth and travels to the region in search of more information. These two narratives parallel very intelligently and Shibli's exquisite attention to detail and casual reporting style make for some very quiet yet heavy and dangerous storytelling. This is a powerful little book.
Max moves to Alabama from Germany with his parents and quickly takes a liking to his new home. He joins the football team, where he learns to play the game and is quickly brought into the social fold. He also meets Pan, a cross-dressing, self-proclaimed witch and the two begin a close relationship on the fringes of the social order in town. Max has a magical secret that could be dangerous for him if it's found out and is torn between two ways of thought as they pull him in opposite directions. Genevieve Hudson has created something really great, which holds onto the literary traditions of Southern Gothic, while expanding the genre to become relevant to our times. A beautiful and exquisite book.
This is a very meaningful book to me, being raised on MR. ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD by parents who were also raised on the show. A frequent character in the neighborhood, Francois Clemmons had to overcome much adversity in his young life to get to that point. Born in the south and then a transplant to Ohio, Franc dealt not only with constant racism but also abuse from his conservative family who he knew he could not come out of the closet to. Through hard work he got through school when he met Fred Rogers, the man who would change his life forever. This is a very heartfelt, inspiring and touching memoir that any fan of the show should read, as well as anyone interested in music or civil rights.
A lot has been written lately on "the divide" in America, however one defines it, but nothing I've read has tried bridging that gap more than this book. Marie Mutsuki Mockett is half Japanese and spends a summer with a wheat harvesting crew that has harvested her family farm for years. All members of the crew are white and evangelical, and Mockett spends her time learning about farming, going to church, and discussing thoughts on a variety of topics all while searching for her own place and self. Rarely have I learned so much while exploring and challenging personal beliefs with a single book as this. Truly thought provoking, empathetic and powerful.
This is an exceptional debut novel about a woman who tries to make sense of her life after her husbands apparent suicide. Most puzzling perhaps is the only communication he left behind, a drawing of a man's face with a fish body. Jia Jia becomes obsessed in discovering the meaning behind this as she starts to have her own interactions with a similar character in her travels. Along the way she interacts with a cast of characters across Beijing and Tibet who are searching for meaningfulness as well. A quiet but powerful novel on human grief and connection, I can't wait to see what's in store from this talented young writer.
The oil fields of West Texas in 1976 are a hard place full of roughnecks, rattlesnakes and bad weather. It takes tough people to make it out there and that includes the women, who have often been forgotten in stories about the area. A native of Odessa, TX, Elizabeth Wetmore has compiled stories from a number of strong, determined women of all ages into a novel that touches on love, race, class, immigration, sexism, abuse and the home. It is empathetic as it is gritty and it is gritty as hell. A fantastic new voice in fiction.
Anse Caulfield runs a refuge for exotic wildlife called Little Eden on the Georgia coast. He is joined by Malaya, a former soldier, Tyler, his lover and veterinarian, and Lope, an expert in falconry. Most of the animals have been rescued from abandonment, abuse, bankrupt zoos and circuses, though not always through legal means. I've been a big Taylor Brown fan since his first book and this one is without a doubt his best. An incredibly unique plot with badass characters fighting against a seedy underworld of people looking to exploit incredible animals.
Despite being valedictorian of her HS class and earning a masters degree, Eliese Goldbach finds herself in a situation familiar to many millennials: poor, with mountains of debt and mental health issues. She lands a job at a steel mill, which pays very well but is extremely dangerous work that threatens her health and strains her relationships as she struggles to find her identity in the mill. RUST is a powerhouse of a memoir that touches on class and political divides, while also exploring religion, mental health, women's issues and the process of steel making. It is so tough and so empathetic and honest you will absolutely be moved by it.
Noe Alvarez grew up working class to Mexican immigrant parents in Yakima, Washington. He dropped out of college after learning about a movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, marathons meant to connect Indigenous and Native peoples to each other and the land across North America. He takes on a 6,000 mile run from Canada to Guatemala that tests his physical and mental limits as well as those running with him. Alvarez depicts sides to America that most of us aren't familiar with but need to be and the result is very powerful and enlightening.
I knew I had to read this book when I heard the plot. Remembrance is a community in the space between dimensions where escaped slaves have eluded whites for years. But when some slave catchers stumble into their realm, the boundaries start to unfold and the world becomes dangerous for them again. Rita Woods has blended together a story that is both historically and currently relevant, told across three timelines with four different protagonists, all women of color. This is an exciting and important book!
Political operatives look to get rich quick by staging and escalating a conflict between Russia and Ukraine and reaping the sales of gas reserves in Slovakia. But when a member of the inner circle goes rogue and threatens to expose the conspiracy, it sets off a chaotic chain of events and everyone must pick a side. This literary thriller takes us headfirst into the underworld of global politics and will change the way you think about things, cementing Mark Powell as one of the best writers today. This one really threw me for a loop!
Of course I would read a book about crying! I can already hear the jokes at my expense from my coworkers. But in truth, this is a beautiful study on the subject - part memoir, part science, philosophy, history and poetry. Heather Christle uses her research in part to make sense of her own depression as well as the mental illness of loved ones and artists who have inspired her. I was highlighting passages and writing notes in margins, something I rarely do! Definitely a book I will revisit over and over.
I have read many accounts of Grant's Vicksburg campaign but this is by far the most balanced and exciting I've yet to come across. Miller avoids the usual "Grant was a drunk and actually an idiot" vs the "Grant was not that drunk and actually a genius" categories by analyzing a broader range of sources, both critical of Grant's shortcomings while also recognizing his strengths. Pulling from reports and diaries of common soldiers and citizenry, Miller weaves them seamlessly into a thrilling story of the campaign that ultimately doomed the Confederacy while also liberating around 100,000 slaves. This is some of the best writing on the Civil War I've had the pleasure to read!
Jodi McCarty gets out of prison after 18 years, determined to start anew in her grandmother's old mountain home in West Virginia. She immediately encounters Miranda, a pistol of a younger woman on the run from her husband with her three sons. But it turns out the property is no longer owned by Jodi's family and frackers are encroaching on the land, threatening Jodi's redemption. Written in two timelines, Mesha Maren's debut is rich with prose and a hunger that will shake you to your bootstraps.
A CIA operative in 1980s Miami attempts to make himself filthy rich by teaming up with a crime syndicate importing drugs into the United States. When his rebellious daughter disappears with a lot of money, he is in BIG TROUBLE. Told from multiple view points, Sealy has created characters and a plot so realistic that I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction. This book is STRESSFUL and also one of the most exciting the I've ever read. Masterful!