Renowned Canadian author Miriam Toews
is a perennial favorite here at Powell's — so much so that for our landmark 50th volume of Indiespensable, we welcomed the idea of featuring her for a second time — a first in the subscription program's history. All My Puny Sorrows
is Toews's most heartbreaking and poignant work to date. The novel centers on the relationship between Elfrieda and Yolandi, two loving and incredibly close adult sisters raised in a small Mennonite community. Elf has battled severe depression all her life, and is determined to commit suicide (as their father did some years before). Yoli wants desperately to keep her sister alive, but also wants to respect her wishes and acknowledge her suffering. A remarkable and very autobiographical novel, the Giller Prize–shortlisted All My Puny Sorrows
is impossible to put down and, despite the difficult subject matter, showcases Toews's trademark wit. Yoli, Elf, and their extended family and friends are superb characters who will stay with you long after the book is over, and Toews writes with beauty, grace, and overwhelming love.
For this special installment, we also wanted to draw readers' attention to a Portland-based author whose fiction and essays have astonished us for years. Charles D'Ambrosio has been compared to literary greats such as Carver and Denis Johnson for his short story collections, and his out-of-print 2005 essay collection, Orphans, has become something of a cult classic. Now our friends at Tin House are publishing his new and collected essays in a book entitled Loitering — which includes all of those hard-to-find gems from Orphans plus new and previously uncollected work. Says Powell's own Jill Owens: "Charles D'Ambrosio's essays are excitingly good. They are relevant in the way that makes you read them out loud, to anyone who happens to be around. Absolutely accessible and incredibly intelligent, his work is an astounding relief — as though someone is finally trying to puzzle all the disparate, desperate pieces of the world together again." We're incredibly excited to present to you a signed advance reader's copy of Loitering in this shipment of Indiespensable.
Finally, we included what could be the ultimate indulgence: a Pinot Noir Salt Chocolate Bar from Pitchdark, Portland's single-origin artisanal chocolate crafter. The company teamed up with another local favorite, Jacobsen Salt, to create this decadent bar featuring hand-harvested sea salt infused with Willamette Valley pinot noir. We hope you enjoy the salty-sweet richness, along with the inedible (but satiating) literary contents, of Indiespensable #50.