Summer Booknotes from Our Staff

Bright Before Us by Katie Arnold-Ratliff (Tin House)

Katie Arnold-Ratliff creates a superb debut novel, depicting her characters with wit and depth. Francis Mason, an elementary schoolteacher, becomes tossed between past and present, real and imagined, after the discovery of a dead body on a field trip—a body Francis believes to be his high school love. Wedged between today’s unhappy marriage and his romanticized past, Francis spirals into obsession, fear, and addiction. Francis must confront his past and find the woman he believes holds his heart before he can live his “real” life. –Seth

Netsuke by Rikki Ducornet (Coffee House)

When a successful psychoanalyst carefully constructs his practice to fulfill his extravagant and insatiable erotic desires, well—things definitely get interesting. The risks and consequences of his indiscretions pile up until he is unable to tell whether he is running away from his downfall or towards it. This is a superb creation; Ducornet has compressed this explosive world of emotion and deceit down to its terrible essence. In the end, it is a stunning display of how someone can spend his whole life thinking only of himself and still have no idea who he is. –Casey O.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (Ecco)

It’s just another day at the office as two men on horseback embark from Oregon City to the California gold country to kill a man who has offended their boss. They may be professional killers, but first and foremost Eli and Charlie Sisters are brothers, and their hilarious banter alone is worth the price of admission. The gripping adventure of an epic quest collides with brutal comic timing, and the shock of remorseless violence is countered by the fragile hope that a rough man like Eli could leave the murdering life behind, settle down with a nice lady, and maybe even improve his dental hygiene in the process. –Casey O.

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.