Rico's Reviews

Rico has had a lot of different jobs over the years--carpenter, office manager, teacher, marketing copywriter--but he's spent most of his adult life selling books, first at Capitola Book Cafe and now at Bookshop Santa Cruz, where he manages the Fiction section. In his spare time he does a lot of birdwatching, backpacking, and woodworking. His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines around the country--one was a Notable Story of the Year in the 2009 Best of the West anthology and two were nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. His essay, "Of Human Carnage," was selected for Best American Essays 2016. Though he mostly reads literary fiction, he also loves outdoor adventure, history and anything about Africa. Aside from being around books all day, his favorite part of the job is making recommendations and turning people on to authors they haven't discovered yet.

 

 

 

 

 

“Mother died today. Or maybe it was yesterday.” It’s one of the most famous openings in world literature, kicking off one very strange (pun intended) and compelling read. Mersault’s life of detached mundanity, and the eventual tragedy he makes of it, is like a train wreck—you can’t look away. I’ve read this book five times and I can’t wait to read it again. - Rico

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The Stranger (Vintage International) Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780679720201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 13th, 1989

Though Lahiri has written other critically acclaimed and well-known books, this one, her first, is still my favorite. With its focus on people in transition, the stories collected here capture the promise, as well as the sense of dislocation and sadness, of those who try to pick up stakes and build a better life elsewhere. The prose is stunning, the characters heartbreaking. - Rico

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Interpreter of Maladies Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780395927205
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - June 1st, 1999

In these six short stories (and “short” is relative here; a couple of these are novellas) Johnson spans the globe, from San Francisco to Germany, from post-Katrina New Orleans to North Korea, capturing the lives of ordinary people (and a couple of total weirdos) in extraordinary circumstances. This is quite simply one of the best short story collections of the 21st century. - Rico

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Fortune Smiles: Stories Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812987232
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - October 4th, 2016

Exley is one of those writers who, essentially, had one great story to tell—the story of his disastrous life—and man does he tell it well. An alcoholic and general failure, he was a college classmate of football great Frank Gifford (husband of Kathie Lee) and had a life-long (non-romantic) obsession with him that he details in hilarious, tragic and completely unforgettable ways. - Rico

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A Fan's Notes (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780679720768
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - August 12th, 1988

Frans Lanting, one of the most widely known and well-respected nature photographers in the world, has taken some of the iconic photographs of the past several decades. Here he collects his best images from Africa, capturing the light and vibrancy of the continent. The images are so astounding they literally calm the spirit. A great gift for photographers, travelers, nature lovers, and those looking to take an African safari of the mind. - Rico

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Into Africa Cover Image
By Frans Lanting, Chris Eckstrom (Editor), Frans Lanting (Photographer)
$50.00
ISBN: 9781608878895
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Earth Aware Editions - October 10th, 2017

This collection presents 50 large-scale works from Rothko’s color field period (1949–1970) alongside essays by his son, Christopher Rothko, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator of painting and sculpture Janet Bishop. Filled with illuminating details about Rothko’s life, influences, and legacy, this essential volume brings the renowned artist’s luminous work to light for both longtime Rothko fans and those discovering his work for the very first time. - Rico

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Rothko: The Color Field Paintings Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9781452156590
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - September 5th, 2017

Eugenides is one of those great old-timey writers, like Tolstoy or Dickens, who tell big, sweeping stories that somehow still feel specific and intimate to his characters, and he does it with compassion and a sad-funny tone that keeps you glued to the page. Though he’s been publishing for almost 25 years, somehow we’re only now getting his first collection of short fiction. As a huge fan of his two previous novels, Middlesex and The Marriage Plot, I can’t wait to see what he does with the shorter form. - Rico

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Fresh Complaint: Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374203061
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar Straus and Giroux - October 3rd, 2017

Tobias Wolff calls this the best thing ever written about the Vietnam War. An amalgam of autobiography, war reportage, and fiction, it tells the story of O’Brien himself and the other soldiers in his platoon in such a powerful way you can’t imagine anything else needing to be said on the subject. The perfect companion to the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary. - RIco

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The Things They Carried Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780618706419
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 13th, 2009

My favorite novel by Faulkner, and the most accessible of his major works, Light in August is a flat-out masterpiece of style, structure and storytelling. Following the fates of many characters at once, all of them swirling around and toward each other, the sense of tragic menace is palpable. For my money, this is the quintessential Southern Gothic novel. - Rico

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Light in August (Vintage International) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780679732266
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 30th, 1991

This might be one of the strangest--and best written--memoirs I've ever read. It tells the story of Michael's aunt Harriet, who, along with her husband Irving, are very successful screenwriters. (They wrote Norma Rae, among other big movies). Because Aunt Harriet has no children of her own, and because she senses "great potential" in Michael, she steals him (emotionally speaking) from his own family. Much awkwardness ensues. - Rico

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The Mighty Franks: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374210120
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 16th, 2017

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