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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.






10:04 by Ben Lerner

This scintillating amalgam of fiction and autobiography is filled with profound observation, gorgeous prose and a narrative structure that recalls the best of Nabokov. While Lerner’s intellect and erudition know no bounds, the book is taut and precise—a masterwork of literary engineering. It is among the smartest, most compelling novels I’ve ever read. - Rico

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10:04: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250081339
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - October 13th, 2015

Golden State 2017 edited by Lisa Locascio

This is an excellent anthology of great current fiction from California, representing our fair state in all of its beautiful and insane glory. Along with writers from many of the far corners of the territory, the book includes several Santa Cruzans, including Elizabeth McKenzie (The Portable Veblen), Micah Perks (What Becomes Us), Kat Meads (2:12 a.m.: Essays), and Gary Young (The Dream of a Moral Life). Sharp, intelligent, and often very funny, these pieces offer something for everyone. - Rico

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Golden State 2017: The Best New Writing from California Cover Image
By Lisa Locascio (Editor)
ISBN: 9781944853235
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Outpost19 - June 6th, 2017

Consequence by Eric Fair

Fair served as a contract interrogator for the U.S. military during the Iraq War. In this searing memoir, he recounts several of the “enhanced interrogations” he participated in, the moral gray areas that troubled his Christian faith and his sense of human decency, and the long period of nightmares that followed his service. When his health began to deteriorate and his marriage teetered on the brink of divorce, he decided to put pen to paper in a last-ditch effort to save his own life. The book is a compelling, heartbreaking addition to the growing body of important writing about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. - Rico

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Consequence: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250118424
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Picador - April 11th, 2017

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan

Nominally about horse racing and one man’s obsession to breed the next superhorse, this astounding novel is really about race, poverty, and wealth in America and the past’s stubborn refusal to disappear. Morgan is a superb prose stylist with a particular gift for setting and character, and her novel is gorgeous and unflinching. It’s a moral epic for our time. Think William Faulkner, think Cormac McCarthy. She’s that good. - Rico

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The Sport of Kings: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250131843
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Picador - May 2nd, 2017

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul

Winner of the Nobel Prize, Naipaul is one of the great writers of the 20th century. In my opinion, this is his best book, the story of an Indian man who buys a store in the middle of the Congo and tries (and mostly fails) to make a living while the world around him is falling apart. The story of both a single human being and an entire continent, this is a flat-out masterpiece. - Rico

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A Bend in the River (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679722021
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 13th, 1989

Stop That Girl by Elizabeth McKenzie

Before The Portable Veblen made her famous, McKenzie wrote this amazing collection of connected short stories. Together they tell the story of Ann and her lovably nuts family (including her grandmother, “Dr. Frost”, a psychiatrist). You will laugh, maybe cry a little, and then laugh some more. Also, a nozzle stolen from Bob Dylan’s garden hose makes an appearance. - Rico

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Stop That Girl: Fiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812972283
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 11th, 2006

The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

A reimagining of the American language, The New Yorker called this book “a miracle in prose.” The story is something you might find in an old Western, but McCarthy creates something majestic out of it, something biblical. The images of the desert southwest, the Mexican ranchers, the cowboys, the star-crossed heroes, are both mythological and as real as stone. - Rico

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The Crossing: Border Trilogy (2) (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679760849
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 14th, 1995

South and West by Joan Didion

The first of the two pieces collected here is a draft of an essay that traces a road trip Didion took with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, through the south in 1970. The second is a series of “California Notes” which she recorded for an assignment for Rolling Stone (that she never completed) on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976. She later expanded them to include her thoughts about San Francisco, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento, and published it as part of her acclaimed 2003 book, Where I Was From. If you’re a Didion fanatic, as I am, you’ll be gobbling this up. - Rico

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South and West: From a Notebook Cover Image
By Joan Didion, Nathaniel Rich (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781524732790
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Knopf - March 7th, 2017

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, his friend Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it’s a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter’s troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation. - Rico

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White Tears: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451493699
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Knopf - March 14th, 2017

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Kundera is one of the great writers of the last half of the 20th century and this, in my opinion, is his masterpiece. His pitch-perfect evocation of the artistic and intellectual life in Czechoslovakia following the Prague Spring, and the story of his very human (i.e. flawed) quartet of main characters, will nourish your mind and break your heart. - Rico

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060932138
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - July 5th, 2005


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