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Brooklyn bookstore staff picks for April 2

What to read this week

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Word’s pick: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” by Rob Spillman

Spillman’s memoir is about the desire to seek out the unexpected, the dangerous, perhaps even the destructive, to find out what it means to live “for art.” Rob is a child crossing into East Berlin with his father, illegal Western currency tucked in his sock. Rob is a young man living on a heroin block of the East Village with his girlfriend Elissa. Rob and Elissa are drinking absinthe in Portugal and writing their great expatriate novels. It all leads to the liminal moment in history after the collapse of the Berlin wall, but before reunification proper. “All Tomorrow’s Parties” shows East Berlin in anarchy — riot police and skinheads and all — and a young writer finding his way back home.

— Michelle Chen, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].

Community Bookstore’s pick: “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me” by Richard Farina

Published just two days before his death, Richard Farina’s only novel is a 1960s classic worth a 21st-century read. The protagonist, Gnossos Pappadopoulis, just wants to quit the scene and go way out, but continually finds himself involved in politics. Although the book is a product of the ’60s, Farina’s ecstatic prose allows an apathetic modern reader to tune in and drop out. If you don’t trust me, listen to Thomas Pynchon, who describes the book as “coming on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch … hilarious, chilling, sexy, profound, maniacal, beautiful and outrageous all at the same time.”

— Sam Jaffe Goldstein, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].

Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Quick and the Dead” by Joy Williams

This novel presents the rules of writing and then systemically destroys them. You can ask yourself how Joy Williams does it — how she gets away with having an 8-year-old talk like an adult, or how she can reveal the detailed thoughts of a character, only to have them kill another character and then vanish from the story. Williams’s skill defies any expectations, so don’t have any. Instead, read this book for its beauty.

— Jess Pane, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].

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