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.

 

 

 

 

 

This is 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, is a very successful screenwriter. (She and Irving wrote Norma Rae, among other big movies.) Because Harriet has no children of her own, and because she senses “great potential” in Michael, she zeroes in on him when he’s still a very young child and essentially steals him (emotionally speaking) from his own family. Great awkwardness and emotional confusion follows. - Rico

The Mighty Franks: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780374537807
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 29th, 2018

A music journalist and lifelong classic rock fanatic, Hyden takes a sentimental, occasionally quirky trip through the genre he loves, revisiting the bands that have meant the most to him and to millions of other fans. As he says, he learned more about adult relationships from Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours than he did from his own father. Now himself a husband and father, he ponders the state of classic rock as it enters its twilight years. Will it last after all its stars have passed on? If so, what will it mean to be a fan? - Rico

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Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062657121
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - May 8th, 2018

Kushner’s new novel opens with the main character Romy Hall on the way to prison to serve a life sentence for murder. As much the story of Hall’s life in prison, it’s the story of her past—her childhood on the streets of San Francisco, her experiences as an exotic dancer, and the circumstances surrounding her crime. Kushner writes effortlessly, with compassion for people struggling to survive in modern California’s darkest corners. - Rico

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The Mars Room Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781476756554
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - May 1st, 2018

Trevor has long been one of my favorite short story writers. Like Thomas Hardy or Alice Munro, two writers he was often compared to, he could convey an entire life—its triumphs and sorrows—in a few deft sentences. When he died in 2016, the world lost one of its great artists. The stories collected here are the last he ever wrote. Each one makes clear the open-hearted, almost painful, compassion he felt for his characters. If you’ve yet to discover Trevor for yourself, this is a great place to start. - Rico

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Last Stories Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525558101
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - May 15th, 2018

Kushner’s new novel is, in a word, devastating. It opens as the main character, Romy Hall, is on her way to prison to serve a life sentence for murder. Kushner writes so convincingly, with such compassion for people struggling to survive in modern California’s darkest corners, you’d think she has personally lived the life of her main character—and every other character in the book. - Rico

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The Mars Room Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781476756554
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - May 1st, 2018

Like Thomas Hardy or Alice Munro, two writers he is often compared to, Trevor could convey an entire life—its triumphs and sorrows—in a few deft sentences. When he died in 2016 the world lost one of its great artists. Each of the stories collected here, the last he ever wrote, makes clear the open-hearted, almost painful, compassion he felt for his characters. - Rico

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Last Stories Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525558101
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - May 15th, 2018

Munro is quite simply the best short-story writer ever. The recent Nobel Prize in Literature is just icing on the cake. This book brings together the best stories from the first half of her career, including my personal favorite “The Albanian Virgin.” Munro’s compassion and honesty will break your heart, and her artistry will leave you in awe. - Rico

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A Wilderness Station: Selected Stories, 1968-1994 (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781101970362
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 15th, 2015

“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

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