In case you weren't keeping track, Arundel Books, which used to be a beautiful bookstore on 1st Avenue downtown, is now a beautiful bookstore in the old Wessel & Lieberman space facing Occidental Park in Pioneer Square. And Arundel founder Phil Bevis still publishes books, both under the Arundel Press shingle and, more expansively, as Chatwin Books. (One of Arundel Press's titles, Nicole Sarrocco's Karate Bride, is a Seattle poetry classic.)

Bevis has just announced that Chatwin Books is publishing collected poetry editions (with previously published and new work) from three poets: Maged Zaher, Jack Grapes, and Rex Wilder.

Zaher's will be the first in the series. Titled Opting Out: Collected Poems (2000-2015), it will be out sometime this winter. Next will be Last of the Outsiders: The Collected Poems of Jack Grapes Volume I, out in late winter or spring 2016, with the second, still untitled, volume arriving later in the year. The Collected Poems of Rex Wilder will be published in spring of 2016. (Bevis thanks Red Hen Press for giving "generous permission to use work from" Wilder's two recent Red Hen releases.)

Wilder and Grapes are both California poets. Zaher is a proud Seattleite (by way of Egypt), and a substantial collection of his work is a big deal for the Seattle literary scene, even moreso because he's being published by a Seattle press. Expect to hear a lot about this book in the next few months.

Your Week in Readings: The best literary events from September 14 to September 20

The Seattle Review of Books recommends one literary event for every day of the week. As always, we aspire to a nice mix of national and local authors in a variety of venues. This week, we’re following the suggestion of one Jeff Youngstrom, who wants us to bold the author names in this post. What do you think? Helpful? Not helpful? If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them. You can always hit us up on Twitter or email.

MONDAY We start the week off with a huge name: Salman Rushdie reads at Town Hall. His newest book, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, “follows the lineage of the mythical Jinn and their part-human children with fantastical powers.” It’s reportedly a tribute to traditional Middle Eastern storytelling. While it’s true that Rushdie has not written a great book in a very long time and he’s been too easily distracted by celebrity nonsense over the last decade, he’s still one of the most important authors of our time. If you’re a young whippersnapper who doesn’t know about the fatwa against him, you should understand that it was a very big deal.

TUESDAY University Book Store hosts a celebration of a collection of essays from scientists and authors. All the essays are about dirt. Literal dirt. The book is titled Dirt: A Love Story. You’ve got to love books that focus on bizarre subjects with a passionate fastidiousness. Contributor David R. Montgomery will be reading and signing at this event.

WEDNESDAY You’ll want to head to Hugo House tonight for the latest edition of Wage Slaves: Tales of the Grind, which is a work-themed reading series that launched a couple years ago. Tonight features a doozy of a lineup: Bruce Barcott, Sam Ligon, and Brian McGuigan, in addition to SRoB-featured poet Anastacia Renee Tolbert and SRoB interviewee Kate Lebo, who’s coming back from Spokane just for this reading. Doughnuts and coffee will also be served, as is Wage Slaves tradition.

THURSDAY Seattle Review of Books co-founder Paul Constant — uh, that’s me — will be giving a talk about Seattle and the Future of Books as part of the 28th Ignite Seattle lecture series at Town Hall. I’m petrified of the Ignite format, a Powerpoint talk in which the slides advance every fifteen seconds whether the reader is ready for them to advance or not. So this could be a disaster. Fun!

However, we have a rule here at Seattle Review of Books. If we’re recommending an event in this column that Seattle Review of Books is taking part in, we’ll also recommend a second, non-SRoB event. We don’t like conflicts of interest any more than you do. So our ALTERNATE THURSDAY event is the Dock Street Salon at Phinney Books, featuring local authors Donna Miscolta and Allison Green. Miscolta is celebrating her new book contract and Green is the author, most recently, of The Ghosts Who Travel with Me. They’ll read and discuss their “publishing journeys” for the Salon part of the night.

FRIDAY For the last day of the work-week, you should head down to the downtown branch of Seattle Public Library for a reading from Erica Jong. The Fear of Flying author reads from her new book, Fear of Dying. Like the title says, it’s a rumination on mortality that plays on the title of her classic novel. (She also wrote a book titled Fear of Fifty.) Like everyone, I read Fear of Flying when I was way too young to appreciate anything but the sex scenes. I have not kept up on Jong since then. But she’s at an interesting place in her career and this is sure to be an interesting reading.

SATURDAY Go to Seattle First Baptist Church for a reading from Richard Blanco, who you probably know best as “the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve” as an inaugural poet. Tonight, he’ll be reading from his memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, but you’ll probably be able to talk him into reading some poems, too. Though his poem at Obama’s second inauguration was frankly lackluster, he’s a very good poet.

SUNDAY The last featured reading of the week is The Buddhists in the House, a special poetry reading at Gallery 1412. Readers include Maged Zaher, Deborah Woodard, Norman Fischer, and Susan Schultz. Expect Buddhist-themed poetry and also, because Zaher and Woodard are involved, expect brilliance, too.

The Sunday Post for September 13, 2015

Man, weeping

Sandra Newman — who is the funniest person on Twitter, and an amazing writer to boot — looks at the history of male tears.

So where did all the male tears go? The truth is, we don’t know for certain. There was no anti-crying movement. No treatises were written against men’s tears, and no leaders of church or state introduced measures to discourage them. Their decline occurred so slowly and quietly that no one seems to have noticed it happening. But by the 18th century, proponents of the Cult of Sensibility were exhorting men to be more sensitive, with an emphasis on free-flowing tears, which implies that males were already regarded as lachrymally challenged. By the Romantic period, masculine tears were reserved for poets. From here, it’s just a short leap to the poker-faced heroes of Ernest Hemingway, who, despite their poetic leanings, cannot express grief by any means but tippling and shooting the occasional buffalo.
By Any Other Name: The Best American Pseudonym 2015

Over at the Kenyon Review, poet Amit Majmudar takes a deep, nuanced, and fascinating looks at the Sherman Alexie white-poet-appropriating-Chinese-name-for-idiotic-reasons thing (white dudes: on't do it).

Editors often say they are looking for what is “unconventional” or “new,” but the new doesn’t exist (just ask Ecclesiastes), and literary conventions vary from clique to clique and era to era—is free verse conventional, or is a sonnet conventional? Depends on which century you’re referring to. What readers and editors alike desire is for the familiar language—English—to be estranged into poetry. For the familiar object to be perceived anew, as a strange thing, as if for the first time…so that a red wheelbarrow you have seen a thousand times before is no longer a red wheelbarrow you have seen a thousand times before. It is, forever after, the red wheelbarrow.

And that is what the byline “Chou” did to Hudson’s competent poem. “Chou” estranged what were thoroughly unstrange cultural references and sentiments. If we take a poem as inclusive of its byline—much as the word Monet at the bottom right hand corner is part of the painting of waterlilies—then that pseudonym is the most ingenious, most poetic part of a goodish poem; from this perspective, Alexie’s positive response to it was not a matter of nepotism at all.

I never noticed how racist so many children’s books are until I started reading to my kids

Anybody who has read around ages-old racial stereotypes in popular kids books while reading before bedtime will appreciate this Leigh Anderson piece on just that topic. It starts with her deciding to order a copy of Little Black Sambo.

I remember the story primarily for its description of the tigers chasing one another round and round a tree until they melt into butter, butter that Sambo's mother uses for a stack of crispy pancakes. In the 35 intervening years, I knew the book had been relegated to the dustbin of racist cultural artifacts, but I didn't remember it well enough to know why.

The young woman at the bookstore register flinched when I asked for the book and said she couldn't order it for me; Amazon, until recently agnostic on race relations, dropped a copy in a plain brown wrapper on my doorstep. A quick skim revealed illustrations with the minstrel-show aesthetic — bright, white, round eyes, bulging red lips — of "darky" iconography.

High Schoolers Stage "Read-In" Protest in Solidarity with Teachers' Strike

Seattle teachers are striking. We absolutely love the gumption of the kids, in this Rich Smith piece from The Stranger, staging a read-in. First, what a fantastic form of protest. Second, we at the SRoB are behind the teachers 100%. My kid is sitting out his first few days of Kindergarten during the strike right now, and we couldn't be more proud of where his teachers have drawn the line in the abuse the legislature and school district keep dumping on them. No cost-of-living increase in six years means their salary goes down every year. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court fines our pathetic legislature, who only find constitutional adherence something to crow about on the national level.

I propose that today when you read, read for the teachers. When you read this link, or whatever book you're on right now, think back to the teacher that inspired you to learn and want to keep learning. Then maybe write a note to your state respresentative and tell them to get their damn acts together.

Eli Konsker said he organized the event in solidarity with the teachers' strike because teachers have supported him during his three years at Nathan Hale High School. But he also wanted to offer students a chance to be productive even though they weren't in school. "I invited people to work on college essays, finish up summer reading, anything educational," he said.

Mark your calendars: Priscilla Long's Crossing over at Elliott Bay Books, September 19th

Our sponsor Priscilla Long is launching her new poetry collection Crossing Over September 19th at 7pm at Elliott Bay Books. For the next day, we're featuring one of her poems on our sponsrship page, and we hope you take a look.

Like all of our sponsors, Priscilla is a hard-working writer. She wants to get the word out about her upcoming event. Take a look, consider going to see her, and tell her you found out about the reading on the SRoB. Your consideration is the first step in our campaign to make advertising on the internet something we all like.

Rahawa Haile’s short stories of the day, of the previous week, for September 12, 2015

Every day, friend of the SRoB Rahawa Haile tweets a short story. She gave us permission to collect them every week. She's archiving the entire project on Storify

Today is the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This morning, a Facebook user shared this Warren Ellis fan forum thread from the day of the attacks. Reading through it, I realized I'd forgotten so many details from that day: the confusion, the fear, the hope, the hatred, the ugliness.

In this one thread on a comic writer's forum, you can watch America turn itself upside down and rip itself apart. You can see the trajectory of the next 10 years, laid out in the frantic writings of a handful of scared people.

Intoxicating and irresistible and maybe untrue

Published September 11, 2015, at 12:00pm

Rebecca Hussey review Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir.

What is it about writing advice? Mary Karr shows how lyrical and inspiring, and maybe also how awkward and frustrating, it can be.

Read this review now

The Help Desk: Flirting with disaster

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

I'm a young woman, I love to read, and I ride public transit. You can probably guess what happens next: do you have any short responses for me to say to men who insist on interrupting my precious reading time? I don't want to be confrontational, but my reading a book should not be seen as an open invitation to flirt.

Liz, #7

Dear Liz,

In the words of Mother Theresa (not that one, another one), “If you didn’t want men accosting you in public you should have never grown dirty pillows.” My advice is slightly more helpful: Either cut them off or get comfortable with the idea of being confrontational. It’s easy! Fun, even!

Try memorizing these simple phrases so you have them ready when someone asks, “what are you reading?”:

“The scratch-and-sniff book of vaginal diseases.”

“Hitler and Pol-Pot: The BFF pop-up book.”

“Sex games you can play with your cat.”

The trick is to make men — many of whom have lived their lives without being made to feel true discomfort at the hands of a woman — feel as uncomfortable as they are making you at that precise moment.



Over at the Seattle Times, Mary Ann Gwinn has the exclusive story on this year's Washington State Book Awards finalists. You should click through for all the details, but here are some of the authors I'm especially rooting for: Kim-An Lieberman was posthumously recognized for her second poetry collection, In Orbit. SRoB contributor Kelli Russell Agodon is a finalist in the poetry category as well. Peter Mountford is a finalist for his excellent second novel, The Dismal Science. And Elissa Washuta is a finalist for her memoir My Body Is a Book of Rules.

Congratulations to all the writers! If you're looking for an overview of local authors who are doing good work in various fields, from young adult novels to picture books to memoir, you should check out the full list of nominees.

The Best American Poetry 2015 controversy continues with a New York Times story that suggests Michael Derrick Hudson, the white poet who took on a Chinese pseudonym in order to make some asinine "point," might have stolen the name from a real-life Yi-Fen Chou:

The family of a woman named Yi-Fen Chou, who attended the same high school in Fort Wayne, Ind., as Mr. Hudson, has stepped forward, demanding that he immediately stop using [the pseudonym].

It just gets worse and worse.

Upstairs, downstairs

Published September 10, 2015, at 11:39am

Paul Constant review Leanne Brown's Good and Cheap.

Leanne Brown's book about eating well on four dollars a day went from a thesis to a free download to a Reddit sensation to a New York Times bestseller in less than two years. Can a cookbook change the world?

Read this review now

Thursday Comics Hangover: The fantastic voyage from Saga to Bitch Planet

Every comics fan knows Wednesday is new comics day, the glorious time of the week when brand-new comics arrive at shops around the country. Thursday Comics Hangover is a weekly column reviewing some of the new books that I pick up at Phoenix Comics and Games, my friendly neighborhood comic book store.

The new collected volume of Saga, volume five, hit the stands yesterday. I haven't read it yet, but I've already said on multiple occasions that Saga is the best mainstream ongoing comic in the business today, and I don't think volume 5 is going to damage my opinion. (The weird thing about reading collected volumes of monthly comics is that you're likely to hear well in advance if an upcoming volume is going to be especially disappointing.) Phoenix Comics keeps upping their orders of Saga, in both the monthly and the collected editions. They got almost a hundred copies of volume 5 yesterday, and they've already sold a significant portion of their order. The book keeps picking up more and more fans with each passing month; it's deep into "phenomenon" territory now.

The comics industry is always wringing its collective hands, trying to figure out how to get more people to read comics. We're at a point where many of the top ten most successful movies of any given year are superhero films, but Marvel and DC can't seem to turn those movie superhero fans into comic book fans. The Walking Dead comics series sells well, but most comics store employees say that Walking Dead fans tend to stick with the Walking Dead comics. They don't venture into other titles.

This isn't the case, I've been told, with Saga. Turns out, Saga readers also read Sex Criminals and Wicked and the Divine. They branch out and try new comics. Why is that? Damned if I know. Maybe part of it is because Saga is such an expansive comic; it feels like a story that's always opening up to embrace new possibilities, which perhaps encourages readers, in turn, to embrace their own new possibilities. Or maybe that's some mystical hoo-ha BS and there's no good explanation.

In any case, yesterday also saw the release of the fifth issue of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro's Bitch Planet, and, goddamnit, Saga fans had better be picking this series up. Bitch Planet takes a simple premise — a women's prison in space — and simultaneously embraces and refutes all the expectations that come along with the premise. Part of the pleasure of Bitch Planet is that it wallows in about nine pulp traditions at once: it's a crime comic and a prison comic and a sci-fi comic and a woman-on-the-edge comic and more, all blended into one dreamy package. Hell, this issue is a sports comic and I still liked it — speaking as the most sports-phobic person in the world, that's really saying something. And this issue has got a great guest essay by Lindy West in the back. What's not to love? The first collected edition of Bitch Planet arrives in early October; when that happens, you have no excuse for missing out.

For Interview magazine, Choire Sicha interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin, and it's exactly as delightful as you hope it would be. They discuss editing, the book business, fans, and her big problem with poets. ("Poets get very territorial, and that's too bad; that's a waste of time.")

You already know that the Short Run small press & comix expo is happening on Halloween this year. But they've just announced their schedule for the month of October, and there's some great stuff happening in the lead-in to the festival. First up, on October 8th, Short Run goes to the Capitol Hill artwalk with an art show at Joe Bar featuring comics artists from Seattle, LA, Chicago, and Toronto. On the 28th, they'll be hosting special festival guests Charles Forsman and Melissa Mendes at the Capitol Hill branch of the library. On the 30th, they're having a pre-festival funk at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Georgetown with an art show featuring art from Forsman and Mendes and Jim Woodring, who is the most brilliant comics artist in Seattle. And on Halloween night, they're hosting a costume party with musical guests Your Heart Breaks and Mommy Long Legs, along with "a troupe of bizarre papier-mâché monsters by artist and musician Kelly Sorbel."

Short Run is a celebration of Seattle's intentionally small and hand-made literary art scene, and their programming accentuates that aesthetic; they're accessible (most events are free) and energetic and fun. You should make sure to block out some time in your busy October to celebrate.

Exit Interview: Kelly Davio is moving to London

When we announced that we’d like to interview authors who are leaving town for our Exit Interview feature, the most-suggested writer was Kelly Davio, a poet, columnist for The Butter, and co-publisher and poetry editor at the Tahoma Literary Review. The e-mails we received were dripping with sadness about Davio’s departure; the word “irreplaceable” came up. Davio’s debut poetry collection, Burn This House was publshed by Red Hen Press in 2013.

Where are you going, and when and, if I may be so bold, why?

I’m gearing up for one of the bigger moves of my life: I’m headed to London, England. My husband is in tech, and his company has made him director of a group that works primarily out of its London office. It’s hard to say goodbye to literary Seattle, but I’m awfully proud of my husband and this big opportunity for him, so off I go. If I can get all my paperwork in order, that is. Trying to collect all the right papers, stamps, and certifications feels a little bit like waiting for a ruling in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, if I may be allowed a cheesy Bleak House reference.

We encourage as many Bleak House references as possible around here. When do you leave?

If I can get all of the moving parts of this relocation to align, I should be gone by early October. Somehow, in this remaining month-or-so, I need to sell a house and find a new apartment overseas. Yet somehow all I want to do is work on my novel revisions. Maybe I'm in denial!

How would you describe Seattle's literary culture?

I’d say the community here is pocketed. And I mean that in a good way — there are wonderful little pockets of literary community all over the city and the larger area, and no matter what neighborhood you live in or what kind of literature you like to read or write, there’s a gathering and a community for you. Over the years, I’ve thought, “okay, now I have a handle on literary Seattle.” Then I'd immediately be proven wrong when I’d learn about an expo like APRILFest, or about events like Poets in the Park out in Redmond, or about cool new presses like Two Sylvias, or about great literary organizations like Old Growth Northwest. There’s always something new percolating here, and I’ve loved discovering all of these diverse and thriving literary communities over the past decade.

Did you feel supported in Seattle?

Absolutely. Part of that comes from having attended Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, which I firmly believe to be the friendliest and most supportive MFA program in the world. Part of it's also the fact that literary folks in Seattle are unusually giving of their time, their knowledge, and their professional support. Every time I’ve needed help with setting up a reading or getting in touch with a conference organizer, a fellow poet or writer has been gracious enough to help me out. I’ve tried to do the same for others in turn. I think Seattle writers understand that the literary world is an ecosystem, and that when we all work to better that ecosystem, we create a better place for all of us to thrive.

In your opinion, what could Seattle literary culture do better?

We could — and I include myself in this — put our butts in chairs with greater regularity. Being an attendee at a reading series, a book launch, or a workshop is an important way that any one of us can support other writers. Of course, it’s hard when you don’t get off work until six or so to make it halfway across the city to attend a reading at seven, especially when traffic is grueling and busses are late and it’s raining, and, and, and. Yet at the same time, it’s awfully disheartening for authors to put on events that draw, say, two people total.

When a good friend of mine released her first book a couple of years back, she had a big, well publicized event here in Seattle, and just one guy showed up. The guy wandered in as she read to an empty room, he ate a muffin in what sounded like an arrestingly messy way, and then he wandered back out. That, folks, is a bad scene.

And where the heck was I? I don’t remember. I will always feel terrible about not showing up and putting my behind in a chair to listen to her and support her.

Are there any aspects of literary Seattle that you'll especially miss?

I’ll really miss Open Books, Elliott Bay Books, and Hugo House. Those places — both as physical locations and as evolving communities — have been at the center of my experience of Seattle as a literary city, and I’ll miss being able to pop by anytime I want.

I’ll also miss being close to home base as I work on Tahoma Literary Review; I’ll continue as poetry editor and co-publisher, but it will be a bummer not to be able to attend contributor readings and launch events here at home.

Do you have any readings or public events between now and when you go?

I do! I'm happy to say that I'll be reading one last time at Lit Fix on September 23, 7pm at the Rendezvous. I'll be reading with Kevin Maloney, Matthew Simmons, and Jeanine Walker. All the proceeds from the event will benefit Literacy Source, which does wonderful work here in our community.

Do you have any parting words, advice, or wishes for Seattle's literary scene?

Be good to each other. Remember that there’s room in literature for all of us, and we’re at our best when we help — not crowd — each other out.

This is terrible news. National Geographic was a nonprofit for over 125 years. Now it's likely going to become just another content farm for Rupert Murdoch's multinational entertainment corporation. It's very hard to find a silver lining in this deal.

The recommendation engine

You can’t stay in business for as long as (our September Bookstore of the Month) Seattle Mystery Bookshop has without becoming really, really good at a thing or two. The most readily apparent sign of the bookstore’s excellence is in its selection, which I wrote about last week. The selection is really quite impressive — the shelves of Seattle Mystery Bookshop display a stock that is comprehensive enough to please the most deeply OCD mystery nerd and yet welcoming enough to appeal to a novice browser who has never before considered reading a mystery novel.

But the store’s not-so-secret weapon is its comprehensive understanding of the mystery genre, which it puts to great use as a tireless engine of book recommendations. A sign on the front counter as you’re walking in to Seattle Mystery Bookshop reads, “for mystery lovers who know what they want and for those who haven’t a clue!” That’s about right.

One of the store’s greatest resources is its seasonal list of new arrivals, which arrives in newsletter form and is consistently updated on their website. The list is broken out into subsections including local authors, new in paperback, historical books, international mysteries, and so on. Elsewhere on the site you’ll find long lists of staff picks to give you a sense of which booksellers’ tastes most align with your own. With its combined decades of bookselling experience behind it, the website has got to be one of the best online resources for mystery-lovers.

The real magic happens, of course, when you visit the store in person. Drop by at any random hour and you’ll see customers get connected with books that no algorithm would retrieve. The ever-changing displays provide a passive form of connection: one woman picks up Leonie Swann’s delightful Three Bags Full, about a herd of sheep trying to solve their shepherd’s murder, from a display of light-hearted mysteries.

But other pairings are more intentional. A young couple buys the latest volume of an urban fantasy series from bookseller Adele, mentioning offhandedly that it’s the only series of prose novels their autistic son is interested in reading. At that, Fran asks the couple to wait and disappears into the store for a quarter-minute, returning with a copy of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a mystery narrated by a young autistic boy. The couple are effusive in their thanks, saying that they might have to come back and buy a second copy because their reading-addicted daughter will likely grab hold of the book and not let go.

I decided to put the recommendation engine to work. I tell Fran and Adele about one of my favorite reading experiences: one morning a long time ago, I sat down to read a book from Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series. I was entranced by both the mystery — it involved The Deaf Man, a recurring antagonist who plagues the 87th Precinct with elaborate, almost super-villainous schemes — and by McBain’s writing voice, which was short, and punchy and, it turns out, addictive. I finished the book in a couple hours and wanted more. I walked up to Twice Sold Tales, bought another Ed McBain mystery, took it home, sat down, and read that one from beginning to end, too. Then I returned to Twice Sold Tales again, bought another Ed McBain mystery, read that one from cover to cover, and then I ordered a large pepperoni pizza, ate it all by myself, and fell asleep. It was one of my favorite days. Do they have any recommendations for McBain-like thrillers, written in staccato sentences? Bonus points for a little bit of levity — McBain had a great, underrated sense of humor.

Without a single step wasted, Adele leads me to The Life and Death of Bobby Z, a novel written by Don Winslow. Get a load of these opening paragraphs:

Here’s how Tim Kearney gets to be the legendary Bobby Z.

How Tim Kearney gets to be Bobby Z is that he sharpens a license plate to a razor’s edge and draws it across the throat of a humongous Hell’s Angel named Stinkdog, making Stinkdog instantly dead and a DEA agent named Tad Gruzsa instantly happy.

“That’ll make him a lot easier to persuade,” Gruzsa says when he hears about it, meaning Kearney, of course, because Stinkdog is beyond persuasion by that point.

Sold! I ask if I should read Winslow’s latest, The Cabal, which is earning rave reviews everywhere. Adele gasps. “You haven’t read The Cabal?” I admit that not only have I not read The Cabal, but I haven’t read the novel that preceded it, The Power of the Dog, either. I ask if I should just pick up The Cabal. Adele shakes her head. “You really won’t get it without reading The Power of the Dog first.”

But I have another question: those mysteries that I like, the ones with the short, punchy sentences — McBain, Elmore Leonard — why are they always referred to as “masculine” books? Surely there are women authors who have a similar style? Fran and Adele both light up and lead to me Kelli Stanley’s San Francisco-set novel City of Dragons, a Hammett-like historical thriller that opens with a bang: “Miranda didn’t hear the sound he made when his face hit the sidewalk.”

And sold again.

From a memory of a terrific reading experience, Adele and Fran guided me to two books that I never otherwise would’ve encountered. On a certain online book retailer, the recommendations for those who look up McBain are Go Set a Watchman, the newest Michael Connelly mystery, and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, none of which are very appealing to first-time readers and none of which necessarily seem appealing to McBain fanatics. When it comes to suggested reading, people are in no danger of being replaced, John Henry-like, by algorithms. And when it comes to personally suggested reading, Seattle Mystery Bookshop has some of the best humans in the business.

Of all the think-pieces published yesterday about Sherman Alexie and the Best American Poetry controversy, Jia Tolentino's piece at Jezebel is by far the best. Don't bother with the rest of them. This has been a think-piece public service announcement.