Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On the Shelf at Paragraphs - "Razor Girl"

The novels by Carl Hiassen are favorites with our customers. As a columnist for the Miami Herald, Hiaasen has a subject: Florida. For years he has written stories that highlight the most bizarre antics and colorful episodes of life in our third largest state. Hiaasen grew up in Florida during the 1950s and has lived and worked there his entire life, watching it morph from a rural backwater with abundant natural beauty and resources to one struggling with the effects of development and tourism. Hiassen’s books are first and foremost fast-paced thrillers combining equal parts of humor and suspense. However, he handles serious issues with a satiric wit that never feels pedantic. Each of Hiaasen's novels is set in a different part of the state and is full of colorful characters in outlandish situations.

“Razor Girl” Carl Hiaasen 
Alfred A Knopf 
September 6, 2016 in Hardcover
352 pages
His latest, “Razor Girl”, is a classic Hiassen setup. The dialogue somehow sounds believable even at its most deadpan hilarious, and the multi-pronged satire--of Florida, corrupt cops, bumbling criminals and, most exquisitely, the entertainment industry--is gentle but merciless. While it is nearly impossible to describe the plot of a Hiassen novel, this one begins when Merry Mansfield, the razor girl of the title, has teamed up with a thug named Zeto to rear-end shady Key West land developer Martin Trebeaux. But when Merry hits the wrong car things begin to spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page.

There’s Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys–a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another, Dominick “Big Noogie” Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear, Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren, a street psycho known as Blister who’s more Buck Nance than Buck could ever be, Brock Richardson, a Miami product-liability lawyer who’s getting dangerously–and deformingly–hooked on the very E.D. product he’s litigating against, and Andrew Yancy–formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover’s husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he’ll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy’s future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way–including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections.

““Razor Girl” is vintage Hiaasen, in the very best way: darkly funny, unapologetically crazy, and more Florida than a flamingo eating a Cuban sandwich while singing a Jimmy Buffett song. (The odds of that flamingo ending up as a character in a forthcoming Hiaasen book, by the way, are actually pretty good.) It might even inspire you to head to the Sunshine State. Just make sure you watch out for the Gambian pouched rats.” (NPR Book Review)

Hiaasen is also the author of several popular novels for young readers: “Hoot”, which won a Newbery Honor, “Flush”, “Scat” and, most recently, “Skink – No Surrender”, which introduces one of the wildest characters in his adult books to a teen audience.

Monday, December 12, 2016

On the Shelf at Paragraphs - "Atlas Obscura"

At Paragraphs we believe a book is the perfect gift. Selecting a book for a friend or family member is a way of sharing an experience that will be remembered long after the wrapping paper has been torn off and thrown away. I still have books that I was given as a child and they are cherished memories from family members who are no longer alive.

Everyone has that one person, on their list, who has everything and poses a unique challenge when trying to find a meaningful gift that will be treasured beyond the holiday season. “Atlas Obscura – An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” is the type of book that will appeal to just about anyone who is interested in discovering something new about the world we live in.

The new book “Atlas Obscura” introduces the reader to over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world and will inspire equal parts of wonder and wanderlust. Created by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, “Atlas Obscura” revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. The book covers the entire world: split into sections by each continent and then country, each country gets a handful of entries. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer.

In 2009, Foer and Thuras, founded the website Atlas Obscura to celebrate a different way of looking at the world in an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found. The online collaborative project depends on a far-flung community of explorers to discover amazing, hidden spots, and share them with the world.

Foer and Thuras identify the basic beliefs behind the website and book:
  1. There is something new under the sun, every day, all over the world.
  2. Around the corner is something that will surprise the hell out of you.
  3. Atlas Obscura is for people who still believe in discovery.
This is not your traditional travel guide. It is a book that steps off the well-traveled path, and actively encourages its readers to explore the world. As with any book published with material originating online, the content is limited by the number of pages you can reasonably bind together. The website has a considerable amount of additional information on it, and if the book arouses the readers curiosity she can follow-up by becoming a part of the online community or to do some additional research while flipping through the pages.

This is just one of the many titles included in our 2016-2017 Winter Catalog and Holiday Gift Guide. Stop by Paragraphs and pick up a free copy to discover more great gift ideas that have been specially selected by members of the Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers Association.

"Atlas Obscura – An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders”
By Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton
Published by Workman Press on September 20, 2016
ISBN: 9780761169086
Hardcover, 480 pages