Taxes, Hammers, Wars, & Families

Carriage Return, Week of 4/4/2017

Photo by John Ganiard

Carriage Return is The Ribbon’s round-up of recent Literati Bookstore staff favorites, as well as an occasional place for useful links and news from around the literary web regarding upcoming events at the store.


Not to belatedly fool you, but to highlight Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s upcoming reading at Literati Bookstore on April 12th, we’re starting this week’s Carriage Return off with some fantastic titles now out in paperback. If you’re escaping to warmer climes early (and have been patiently, patiently waiting for All the Light We Cannot See to come out in paperback!), then we’re just in time. Brand new releases in hardcover follow right behind.


Recent Staff Favorites (in Paperback)

Ecco Press (4/4/2017)

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

It should be a truth universally acknowledged that sorting out an inheritance can bring out the worst in people. It should also be acknowledged that a novel about an inheritance makes for some very funny social satire and entertaining story-telling. This story concerns the four Plumb siblings- Beatrice, Jack, Leo and Melody- middle-aged, upper-middle class New Yorkers, all of whom have been counting on their share of the family trust fund to save them from poor financial decisions, only to have that “nest egg” subsumed to save one of them from an extraordinarily bad decision. I loved the way debut novelist Sweeney weaves together in alternating chapters the siblings’ tales, and the way that post 9/11 New York becomes a character as well. Ultimately, this book concerns what many family sagas do: are we our brother’s keeper; how much do we owe family members who prioritize their needs over our own; and, are we able to detach from our family of origin and stand, finally, as grown-ups, on our own two feet. — Jill

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Scribner Book Company (4/4/2017)

Doerr is one of my favorite writers. His short story collections The Shell Collector and Memory Wall are both astounding, so it’s no surprise that his debut novel is amazing. Set during World War II, All the Light We Cannot See follows the lives of a young blind girl and a German orphan. While there is a thrilling subplot about a rare gem, what ties the book together is the importance and thematic use of sound. The book focused on all the echoes of war — from radio broadcasts to intimate whispers to the pounding footsteps of soldiers on the street to the quiet beating of the human heart. What they absorb bring them together or apart in unexpected ways. And Doerr’s descriptions of sound and touch through blind protagonist Marie Laure elevate what could be just another World War II story into a beautifully told novel. — Hilary

Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler

Vintage (4/4/2017)

Stephanie Danler is a delight, a treat, scrumptious. Ok, enough with the foodie descriptions. But, for real, Danler knows what she’s doing. Herein lies the story of Tess, a twenty-something who falls into a coveted waitressng job at an upscale New York City restaurant where appetite — for food, sex, life, etc. — expands and evolves. I loved her voice — hungry and curious — and the world in which she grows — chaotic and seductive. This a coming-of-age story like no other. — Claire

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith

Picador (4/4/2017)

A literary page-turner, this novel is a story of art — and forgery — an how deception ties together the fates of two women artists centuries apart. I was hooked from the first page and found myself quickly caught up in the character’s lives. But this just a suspenseful read — it is subtle, wise, and lovely novel, and a smart summer read if there ever was one. Impossible to put down, beautifully written, historically accurate, and psychologically nuanced. — Hilary


Recent Staff Favorites (in Hardcover)

A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System, by T.R. Reid

Penguin Press (4/4/2017)

An enjoyable book on tax policy! No, that statement is not an oxymoron. Reid reveals the truth: the U.S. taxpayer pays a lower percent per person than all but two other developed nations. We give large tax breaks to our richest citizens, such as the mortgage interest deduction. We allow private equity employees to declare their management fees as “carried interest,” and have those fees taxed as long-term capital gains — half the rate that regular income is taxed at! Our theoretical corporate tax rates are high, but the largest companies have found legal ways to shelter cash in other countries. Reid covers all of the ways that governments of wealthier countries tax their companies and citizens, and measures how effective their taxes are at achieving a “broad base and lower rate.” He argues, for instance, “The flat tax works in a country that is a former Communist state, with no investment capital and low wage rates, which needs to build a capitalist economy from a base of approximately zero.” That might benefit someday… Cuba? Reid comes to a surprising conclusion that there is one tax system that works fairly for all. No spoilers from me: when you are done with this book, pass it along to your congressperson. — Carla

Somebody with a Little Hammer, by Mary Gaitskill

Pantheon Books (4/4/2017)

Mary Gaitskill’s new collection of essays allows you to wander, quite freely, around her head. Gaitskill has distilled her best, quirkiest, most compelling essays from the last twenty (plus) years into one volume. There’s a little bit of everything in here — memoir, literary and art criticism, political editorials, music reviews — and Gaitskill has infused it all with her subjective wisdom and incomparable observations. The passion Gaitskill feels for her subjects is tangible, and the result is a wonderful and invigorating read. — Charlotte

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