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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


How We Assembled Indiespensable #33

Leni Zumas's debut novel, The Listeners, hit us like a bolt of lightning. Arch, witty, intelligent, impressionistic, hypnotic, and above all dazzlingly written, we couldn't put this deeply moving and disquieting book down. Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask, raves, "Just listen to The Listeners. You'll hear the prose of one of our most exciting young writers. Zumas has already proven herself a remarkable maker of short stories. Now she has sustained and heightened the exhilaration of her writing in this striking novel." And Miranda July writes, "Leni Zumas understands your quiet agony and describes it with such wry, unflinching familiarity that even the gory details ring true." So, together with our neighbors, independent publisher Tin House Books, we created an exclusive hardcover edition of The Listeners (with an embossed purple octopus on the cover, which is probably our favorite detail). And Leni (which, by the way, is pronounced laynee), who's a local author, was wonderfully funny and gracious when she came in to sign our books.

We also included an excerpt of Christopher R. Beha's upcoming debut novel, What Happened to Sophie Wilder, which Helen Schulman calls, "An old-fashioned literary novel in the very best sense — thoughtful and intellectual, moving and well-wrought....Beha has managed to produce a book that is satisfying for anyone who reads in order to live." (We think Sophie Wilder might well be the sleeper hit of the summer.)

Legs Get Led Astray is a provocative and remarkable collection of essays by Chloe Caldwell, published by independent small press Future Tense Books, which is run by our very own Kevin Sampsell. Enchanted (and disturbed) by Chloe's writing, we included a signed broadside of one of her shorter essays titled "Girlfriend."

Last and very much not least: Chocolate! Long-time subscribers may remember Alma Chocolate from volume #9. This time, the Portland artisanal chocolatier created special octopus boxes just for our subscribers. Inside the artful wrappings lay three luscious morsels — one of Alma's famous Habanero Caramel Crowns, a lemon-basil bonbon, and a traditional truffle sporting organic 74% Dominican chocolate mixed with organic cream.

Possibly our most locally grown Indiespensable yet. We love it when these things work out so perfectly.

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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 indiespensable@powells.com. (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Ask Used Trade Paper $5.50
  2. The Listeners
    Used Trade Paper $8.50
  3. Legs Get Led Astray
    Used Trade Paper $9.50
  4. What Happened to Sophie Wilder
    Used Trade Paper $7.50

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