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How We Assembled Indiespensable #16

At times, we've used Indiespensable to highlight relatively unknown writers we sense we'll be hearing quite a bit about in the future — like David Wroblewski, Paul Harding, and Gil Adamson, to name a few.

We don't have to tell you who Louise Erdrich is. She's had a long, successful career, which has included dozens of award-winning books, including Plague of Doves, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. So why feature her now? Because Shadow Tag is unlike anything she's done; it's a remarkable, deeply personal novel that ranks among her best work and confirms her legacy as one of the greatest living American writers.

Shadow Tag follows the domestic drama surrounding the marriage of Irene, a historian struggling to complete her doctorial thesis, and Gil, an artist who gained notoriety through a series of boundary-pushing portraits of Irene. When Irene discovers that Gil has been reading her diary (a red-covered journal), she uses it to manipulate him and records the truth about her marriage in another journal (one with a blue cover) that she keeps in a safe-deposit box. With unsparing prose, Erdrich chronicles the troubles of each member of the crumbling family.

Kirkus raves:

Readers...may suspect she has written close to the bone here, but she manages the rare achievement of rising above the facts she has incorporated to create a small masterpiece of compelling, painfully moving fiction.

If there was ever an Indiespensable volume meant to include a journal, this is the one. Truth or lies — it's up to you. But after reading Shadow Tag, you might think twice about recording deceit.

We're thrilled to have the opportunity to include a pre-publication copy of So Much for That, the latest novel from Lionel Shriver, author of The Post-Birthday World and the Orange Prize winner We Need to Talk about Kevin. (Editor's note: Don't miss Lionel Shriver's exclusive essay which appeared on the blog.)

Publisher's Weekly proclaims:

A risk taker with a protean imagination, Shriver has produced another dazzling, provocative novel, a witty and timely exploration of the failure of our health-care system.

Finally, we've been itching for a reason to include some pint-sized delicacies from Two Tarts, a lovely bakery here in Portland. We even went on a field trip to taste test every single delicious morsel they make — for quality assurance reasons, of course. This job is tough, but someone has to do it.

So there it is, Indiespensable's Sweet 16. We hope you enjoy it.

The Indiespensable Team

÷ ÷ ÷

A collective of high muckamucks, the Panjandrums largely spend their time in competitive Bananagram duels and negotiations regarding Pie Friday — not to mention painstakingly designing each installment of Powell's subscription club, Indiespensable, with the help of independent publishers and local merchants. From time to time, they find it entertaining to give you a look at the hows and whys behind the what. But, if you're yearning for more, send questions, suggestions, and random anecdotes to (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)

Books mentioned in this post

  1. We Need to Talk about Kevin
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  2. The Post-Birthday World (P.S.)
    Used Trade Paper $2.95
  3. So Much for That
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  4. Shadow Tag
    Used Hardcover $4.95
  5. The Plague of Doves
    Used Hardcover $9.95

One Response to "How We Assembled Indiespensable #16"

    DeniseB April 12th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Wow, how do I love Powell's? Let me count the ways...I can't! Too many ways! First, you guys pick the last two Indies that wind up on the front page of the NYT's Book Review and NOW, I find out I have a signed and number 1st edition of this years Pulitzer!!

    Not to mention (I am mentioning) enough Powell's swag to keep a girl looking fly (the kids still say that, right?) LOVE the backpack!! You guys are awesome!!

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