A mysterious death leads a pharmaceutical scientist deep into the Amazon jungle in search of her enigmatic former mentor, who's there doing research on a tribe in which the women can bear children well into their 70s. This compelling premise in the astonishingly capable hands of Ann Patchett, a master of literary page-turners, made State of Wonder our obvious choice for a summer Indiespensable pick. Jill and Megan devoured it first, and then the rest of the team caught Patchett fever. It's had the critics swooning, too: "Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page....This is Patchett's best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto" (Shelf Awareness); "[A] superbly rendered novel....powerful and captivating" (Library Journal, starred review); "[F]luid and remarkably atmospheric prose" (Booklist).
Old-school Indiespensable subscribers will find a familiar name in this box — way back in volume 5, we featured Miriam Toews's fantastic novel The Flying Troutmans. Now we're pleased to include an advance copy of her forthcoming book, Irma Voth, which describes Irma's life in a Mennonite outpost in Mexico, where she tangles with a documentary film crew, local drug running, and the limits and loyalties of family. Publishers Weekly calls it "an intimate coming-of-age tale with picaresque and extremely effective prose."
And, finally, we were overcome with delight when we found out about Lucky Peach, the new food quarterly from McSweeney's and Momofuku's James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang. We're excited to present you with "Issue One: Ramen." Feast your eyes on recipes from some of our favorite foodies, a ramen taste test with Ruth Reichl, an explanation of MSG headaches from Harold McGee, and much more. We think Indiespensable #27 is packed with great summer reading; let the sunbathing, escaping, and drooling commence.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)
Books mentioned in this post