Friday, February 27, 2009

Mannerheim (Screen), Bass, Dillard, Lopez, Montemarano

Recent selections:

If the Sky Falls by Nicholas Montemarano
Montemarano's short story collection is a great stuff. He's been plenty praised. This collection contains his classic, "The Usual Human Disabilities," about the pill-popping healthcare worker who takes two men with cerebral palsy to a strip club. New paperback. 150 EEK.

Mannerheim, The Years of Preparation by J.E.O. Screen
The most respected English-language work on Mannerheim, or at least so I've been advised. Paperback and full of my notes. 150 EEK. Sells for 36 EUR in Helsinki. Ouch.

Mannerheim, The Finnish Years by J.E.O. Screen
Hardback. New and gift-worthy, except for the fact I already wrote my name in it. In ink. Sorry. 200 EEK. Costs 43 EUR in Helsinki. Where do Finns get off asking so much for books?

The River Reader, edited by John A. Murray
Chock full of great nature writers like Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, and Annie Dillard. It's got Hemingway, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, HD Thoreau, and a host of other fashionable oldies thrown in to fill pages, but for my money the contemporaries Lopez and Bass are better than any of the rest of them. Fat paperback. 150 EEK.

To purchase a book, contact me at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Matthiessen, Kunzru, Helfer, Hemingway

Hottest new picks:

On the River Styx and Other Stories by Peter Matthiessen
(Let's get this out of the way: No, Peter Matthiessen is not dead.) A founding editor of The Paris Review (and CIA spy, apparently), Matthiessen is part of the American literary pantheon. Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard (which I've got in a box somewhere and will eventually list) was a National Book Award winner. These are wonderful stories. My favorite: "Lumumba Lives." Hardback no dustjacket, 125 EEK.

Transmission by Hari Kunzru
Indian cybergeeks, Bollywood actreses, Scottish wilds--it's the 21st Century where everyone is connected. I haven't read it so can't offer much personal praise. 50 EEK. Paperback. Like new.

Modoc by Ralph Helfer
"The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived" is how they bill it, and a lot of people agree. My mom sent me this, but it just failed to stir me. Which is to say: Don't take my advice, because this was a hugely popular book worldwide. Paperback. New. 125 EEK.

The Short Stories, Ernest Hemingway
H's first forty-nine stories with a nice preface by the author, instead of the overwritten academic apparatus a reader usually is stuck with. This book has been to battle and is marked up. Scribner paperback. 125 EEK.

To lay your hands on one of these dandies, write me at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hemingway, Applebaum, Allen

What's a man gotta do to sell a book in this town? I'm really disappointed in book sales, so I'm trotting out some hot numbers.

Opus Dei by John L. Allen
There's an Opus Dei chapter in Tallinn and wouldn't you like to know what they're up to? Secretly controlling the government? (No, that's the Masons.) Sacrificing barnyard animals when the moon is full? (No, that's parliament's crocodile commission.) Get all the dirt on Opus Dei, which will turn out not to be so dirty. A fine read. Penguin paperback with the smallish type. 125 EEK.

Gulag a History by Anne Applebaum
A nice companion for Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. A bit more dry, as Ms. Applebaum wasn't herself incarcerated. Brand, spankin' new; not a mark on it. Penguin paperback with small type. 150 EEK.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway
Worth it if only for "Killers" (the thugs who eat with their gloves on will remind of you of a few local restaurants) and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" (the classic tale of why not to hunt with your wife). Scribner paperback edition which used to belong to Brian Somebody. 50 EEK.

If you'd like a book, write me at

Sunday, February 8, 2009

DVDs, part 3

I’m an avid reader. A book a week. More if I’m sober. But then what to do with them once read? I used to save them, hoping I could give them to a good friend. But then I got practical (realized I had no friends, you'll say). If I just give them away, how am I going to pay my Amazon bill? So I thought I’d sell them. Or swap them. If you’d like to get ahold of any of these books, Write me at and we'll arrange the drop. We’ll meet at the Rahvusraamatukogu. You’ll wear a flower in your hair. I’ll carry yesterday’s newspaper under my left arm. DVD selection back by popular demand:

I've never figured out Brendan Fraser. He's capable of making decent movies, but then he goes and makes those awful Mummy flicks. Estonian subtitles. 50 EEK.

Jurassic Park The Lost World
Finnish subtitles. No Estonian. 50 EEK.

Jurassic Park III
Estonian subtitles. 50 EEK.
Star Wars II Attack of the Clones
Two-disk set with exclusive deleted scenes. No subtitles. 100 EEK.

DVDs, part 2

XMen The Last Stand
A cast of great actors (Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart) can't save this bomb. I walked out of the show, which is to say I turned it off halfway through. But you'll have better luck. Especially if you've got kids. 50 EEK. Has Estonian subtitles.

Jurassic Park
With some behind-the-scenes extra features. 50 EEK. No Estonian subtitles.

Shaun of the Dead
"A romantic comedy with zombies," reads the jacket, and I won't say more except it's actually pretty funny. A charming send-up of zombie flicks, including, of course, Dawn of the Dead. English humor. Subtitles in English, Arabic, and Croatian. 75 EEK.

Raising Arizona
Classic starring Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman. No Estonian subtitles, but you can brush up on your Hebrew. 75 EEK.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer
Stephen King's prequel to his own Rose Red. A promiscuous early 20th-century industrialist and an enormous Seattle mansion. No Estonian subtitles. 75 EEK.

To purchase one of these flicks, write me at

Dubus, Zakaria, Kross, Meyer & Brysac

Kingmakers by Karl E. Meyer & Shareen Blair Brysac
What's the difference between a Saudi Prince and an Afghan warlord? One is sitting on oil. This is the story of the invention of the modern Middle East and the tinkering and tampering since then. Hardback. 200 EEK.

The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria
Zakaria is the editor of Newsweek International. This book charts the demise of the American era and the rise of China and other less obvious suspects. Hardback. 200 EEK. Sold.

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
Dubus' newest novel. Hardback. 250 EEK. Brand spankin' new.
The Czar's Madman by Jaan Kross
Now that Kross is dead, he can't win the Nobel Prize (he was always short-listed). Who does that leave Estonia? Perhaps Andrus Kivirähk, though he's a bit young to be a contender yet. The Czar's Madman is a fine read, and any foreign resident of Estonia should have read it as part of his intel briefing. I've got it here if you skipped that day at spy school. 125 EEK.

Foer, Hall, Applebaum, Allen

Opus Dei by John L. Allen
Think Opus Dei is a Catholic-led conspiracy to control your world? John Allen's account may disappoint you, as they seem to mostly be a bunch of fairly nice people putting their money where their mouth is. Still, even though it doesn't end with Opus Dei putting chips deep inside the brians of newborns, it's a read well worth your time. 150 EEK.

Gulag by Anne Applebaum
I read this because I was curious about charges from a bitter friend that she'd plagiarized Solzhenitsyn. Those charges are nonsense. This is a fine book, though if you're over 50 you may wish to purchase the really expensive hardback. This is the Penguin edition with the tiny print. 150 EEK.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Nine-ear-old Oskar discovers a key in a vase in the closet a couple of years after his father dies in 9/11, and an adventure ensues. I'm lukewarm about Foer but I quite liked this one. 150 EEK.

I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company (A Novel of Lewis and Clark) by Brian Hall
I can't say enough good things about this book. And you'll never find it in Eastern Europe, given the low leverl of enthusiasm here for Lewis and Clark. A must read for history buffs and anybody else who likes to keep his powder dry. 150 EEK.