Private Eye Confidential: Stories from a Real P.I., by Mike Spencer
At 29 years old, Mike Spencer moved from Florida back to the San Francisco Bay Area in late 1994. He realized that he wasn’t going to achieve his dream job as a newspaper reporter for a major daily paper. He had a cheap apartment, a pantry of rice and beans and a $500 1970s Dodge Dart that worked, sometimes. One day he answered a help-wanted ad in the Oakland Tribune for a workers’ compensation claims investigator. He never looked back, though he has thrashed many more cars in his two-decade career as a private dick.
Spencer’s book is part memoir, part trove of lurid true cases. Spencer, who has a degree from UC-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, tells his stories with a journalist’s eye for facts and details. Tales of love, death, justice, deceit, comedy and vengeance spill from his short, accessible, and compelling book.
Private Eye Confidential displays both the best and worst of human nature. Private investigators see everything, and Spencer has encountered a man who wanted to prove his paternity from a frozen tampon, a man hidden from society while a large fortune awaited, and a grieving mother who wanted to make sure her tragedy didn’t occur again. The book also contains cheating husbands, felonious wrestlers, some hidden Florida crime, and inveterate scammers.
“Mike Spencer goes out of his way to say the real life of a PI isn’t nearly as exciting as they make it seem in the movies. He then spends the next hundred or so pages describing a life a helluva lot more exciting than yours or mine. From being a bagman, to caught in the middle of a murder, Spencer, with a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor, describes the day-to-day existence of the profession that spawned a hundred heroes, from Marlowe to Spade. And Spencer is a worthy addition to that lineage. The main thing that comes through his insightful and hilarious Private Eye Confidential: Stories from a Real PI: men like this are not made; they are born this way.”
Joe Clifford, author of the Jay Porter Thriller Series
Tilted: The Brain Surgery Journals, by Louise Krug
When she was 22, Louise Krug had brain surgery that saved her life but left her with physical impairments. Now, ten years later and embarking on marriage, motherhood, and a college teaching career, she still struggles with knowing how to live. In her startling and hilarious memoir, Tilted: The Post-Brain Surgery Journals, Krug uses the third person to explore driving to hearing aids, neighbors and mom-friends. With both deadpan humor and keen introspection, Krug examines the micro and macro challenges of living a tilted life.
Simple acts like posing for photographs, riding a bicycle, and even haircuts are suddenly major hurdles. But so are more complex issues like the relationship with her mother and parenting. Krug gives readers a ringside seat as she grapples with her increasingly complicated self-image. A story of dealing with her demons and learning about inner strength, Tilted teaches us that, ultimately, your opinion of yourself is the one that matters most.
“Krug has a distance in her skillfully wrought third person voice, a voice gently laced with irony for her predicament, never once self pitying. She offers us a measured assessment of the mundane, the life stories we all experience– ex-boyfriends, worrying about wedding photos, family vacations, getting enough exercise– viewed through a lens a bit skewed, yet a bit clearer for her even tone and deft storytelling, a peek into the mystery of our physiological humanness.”
Nina Gaby APRN-PMH, writer, visual artist and psychiatric nurse practitioner, editor of Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women.
Shader: 99 Notes about Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, and Other Unlearnable Subjects, by Daniel Nester
In 2013, Daniel Nester’s estranged father died penniless and alone in a small apartment in Tucson. The news brought back a flood of memories about Mike Nester, an enigmatic truck driver with a genius IQ, who influenced Daniel’s worldview with conspiracy theories, philosophy books, and something called “the Nester curse.” Told in 99 chapters that meld together tales both heartbreaking and hilarious, Shader is the semi-comic coming-of-age story of Daniel Nester, a music-obsessed Catholic altar boy who searches for a new identity in Maple Shade, N.J., a blue collar town straight out of a Bruce Springsteen song. It was also where Martin Luther King, Jr. was once thrown out of a bar at gunpoint, and whose rough-and-tumble inhabitants, called Shaders, didn’t suffer band geeks like Daniel gladly. Eventually puberty, big hair, girls, punk rock, and poetry save his life. It’s a story of redemptive meditation, told in note form, on what it means to leave a place that never leaves you.
Nester takes us on the ride of his life, and we uncover pieces of ourselves along the way…an engaging read.—Billy Squier, multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter
My God! What would we do without Daniel Nester’s irreverence, obsessions and bizarre and wonderful charm. The book you hold in your hands is fantastic.—Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair and Easter Everywhere
Shader is that rare book that manages to be hilarious, poetic, insightful, and compulsively readable all at the same time. Daniel Nester has the gifts to turn a time, a town, into both a dream and a place that feels like home, with some of the most potent characters I can think of in recent literature. I couldn’t put it down.—Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door and Famous Builder
Discovering Flavor: A Non-Gourmet’s Guide to Appreciating Food, Drink and the Occasional Fine Dining, by Helen Labun Jordan
How is tasting wine like eating breakfast cereal? What can Idaho potatoes tell us about French culinary traditions? What does “fresh” taste like? How about “artisan”? Can you explain what your morning coffee tastes like? Flavor is what we experience when tasting food or drink – something that happens for all of us every day. Yet all flavor experiences aren’t created equal. On one hand, there are those of us who will polish off a bag of potato chips just because they taste good, and on the other hand, there are gourmets who find a novel’s worth of experience in every bite. Discovering Flavor starts to close the divide between these groups. It offers an introduction to food appreciation using common sense, everyday foods, and a narrator who loves food but never takes it too seriously. Check out the website now.
99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry, edited by Dean Rader
American poetry has a rich tradition of taking on important political and social events. The 99 poems in this diverse and dynamic new collection demonstrate how engagement with what Wallace Stevens called “the actual world” does not diminish poetry’s punch—rather it makes it hit harder. Born out of a popular blog began by Dean Rader at the height of the recession and at the infancy of the Occupy movements, 99 Poems for the 99 Percent shows that the aims of poetry and the aims of democracy are hand-in-hand. These are poems of anger, love, protest, humor, contemplation, hope, frustration, and beauty. These are poems by the famous and the marginal, by the heard and the ignored. These are poems that speak to the past as well as the future. These are poems of and for the real America.
Contributors include Robert Pinsky, Camille T. Dungy, Edward Hirsch, Dana Levin, Timothy Donnelly, Bob Hicok, Heid Erdrich (click for link to video), Dorianne Laux, Troy Jollimore, Brian Clements, Patty Seyburn, LeAnne Howe, Ray Gonzalez, Fred Marchant, Martha Collins, Lee Sharkey, Matthew Zapruder, Gillian Conoley, Jon Davis, Alexandra Teague, Rachel Loden, Janice Harrington, & 69 others. Buy the book here.
We’ll Always Have Linsanity: Strange Takes from the Strangest Season in Knicks History
Our first book: We’ll Always Have Linsanity: Strange Takes from the Strangest Season in Knicks History by Jim Cavan, Mike Kurylo, Seth Rosenthal, Robert Silverman, Jake Appleman, Jason Concepcion, Jared Dubin, Dan Litvin, and Jamie O’Grady. These bloggers and writers, who whose work appears in New York magazine,The New York Times, ESPN.com, and SB Nation among other outlets, live and relive the crazy 2012 season, from the preseason lockout to an ever-fluctuating and injury-riddled roster to the burst of heat and light that the emergence of point guard Jeremy Lin represented, as well as the ultimate disappointment as Lin leaves to join the Houston Rockets. The book is introduced by Will Leitch, the founder of Deadspin and the author of four books, including his latest, Are We Winning? You can buy it here.