May 25, 2023

Nice new Random House releases!


Toutonghi’s tragicomic debut novel paints a loving, cockeyed picture of the Soviet immigrant experience in the twilight of the Cold War. Yuri Balodis, a painfully thin, bookish 15-year-old living in Milwaukee with his parents, narrates with adolescent angst tempered by retrospective wisdom. Proud to have escaped Soviet Latvia under trying circumstances, Yuri’s mother and father (who works as a janitor) have embraced America, choosing to speak only their own idiosyncratic brand of English and decorating their small apartment with glossy magazine ads. In 1989, Yuri watches the fall of the Berlin Wall on television, plays host to Latvian relatives who may or may not be seeking asylum, and dabbles in socialism, an interest derived mostly from his passion for wild-haired Hannah Graham, a Socialist Worker vendor. Yuri’s patriotic parents, particularly his hard-drinking father, Rudolfi, are outraged by Yuri’s espousal of Marxist rhetoric, a blatant form of teenage rebellion. Oblivious to everything except his own obsession with Hannah, Yuri fails to recognize his father’s love, and the implications of his own recklessness, until it’s almost too late. Toutonghi’s carefully observed character details, evocation of working-class Milwaukee and tales of the old country effectively walk the line between realism and absurdity.

Visit Pauls’ website

***Paul will should be in soon to sign some stock, so stop by and pick up an autographed copy.





Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal: What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, Buford grabbed it. Heat is the chronicle—sharp, funny, wonderfully exuberant—of his time spent as Batali’s “slave” and of his far-flung apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy.
In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes the frenetic experience of working in Babbo’s kitchen: the trials and errors (and more errors), humiliations and hopes, disappointments and triumphs as he worked his way up the ladder from slave to cook. He talks about his relationships with his kitchen colleagues and with the larger-than-life, hard-living Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters.
Buford takes us to the restaurant in a remote Appennine village where Batali first apprenticed in Italy and where Buford learns the intricacies of handmade pasta . . . the hill town in Chianti where he is tutored in the art of butchery by Italy’s most famous butcher, a man who insists that his meat is an expression of the Italian soul . . . to London, where he is instructed in the preparation of game by Marco Pierre White, one of England’s most celebrated (or perhaps notorious) chefs. And throughout, we follow the thread of Buford’s fascinating reflections on food as a bearer of culture, on the history and development of a few special dishes (Is the shape of tortellini really based on a woman’s navel? And just what is a short rib?), and on the what and why of the foods we eat today.
Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a richly evocative memoir of Buford’s kitchen adventure, the story of Batali’s amazing rise to culinary (and extra-culinary) fame, a dazzling behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters.
It is a book to delight in—and to savor.

AMONG THE THUGS is also available at BookCourt

Bill Buford is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he was the fiction editor for eight years. He was the founding editor of Granta magazine and was also the publisher of Granta Books. His previous book, Among the Thugs, is a nonfiction account of crowd violence and British soccer hooliganism. He lives in New York City with his wife, Jessica Green, and their two sons.




Gloom suffuses the works of celebrated French novelist Houellebecq. His latest offering features 40-year-old Daniel, a caustic comedian and filmmaker whose celebrity status earns him access to Elohim, a cult of sexually promiscuous health fanatics who achieve immortality through cloning. The narrative alternates between the original Daniel (plagued by a succession of failed love affairs, with affection remaining only for his Welsh corgi) and his subsequent “neohuman” incarnations, virtually devoid of humanity and emotion. Moments of contentment are rare for Houellebecq, who seems to revel in a sort of vulgar navel gazing, replete with horrifying images (one particularly distressing scenario depicts explosions of infant skulls). Joyless Daniel even despises laughter, “that sudden and violent distortion of the features that deforms the human face and strips it instantly of all dignity.” Frequently labeled by critics as a malcontent and misogynist, Houellebecq seems to revere canines, with their capacity for devotion and unconditional love. It’s a strange bit of sentimentality from a man who seems, by all accounts, heartless.

And come check out Houellebecq’s other books, all in stock:









Read a San Francisco Chronicle interview with Houellebecq. Click here:

Read a review by John Updike of THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ISLAND. Click here:


Thanks for reading …

Feel free to leave some comments.




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