About Ian

Ian started at Avid in June of 2019, just short of celebrating his 20th year in Athens. He spent most of the last 2 decades tending hipster bars and playing loud music (some folks would say you could swap those adjectives). In fact, he’s often spotted reading in dark, noisy bars. Most of his free time is spent nose-in-book, playing old video games or rewatching classic talkie films like Midnight Madness and Cabin Boy.

My Staff Picks: 
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The Hollow Beast (Biblioasis International Translation #46) By Christophe Bernard, Lazer Lederhendler (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781771965552
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Biblioasis - April 2nd, 2024

Three generations of cursed alcoholics literally chasing their demons across the 20th century and snowy Smalltown, Canada, fuelled by cravings for prank retaliation and an unlimited supply of Yukon, the high-proof glue that keeps everything from calming down.  Wordplay often turns to roughhousing (no puns barred) and all rules of the non-cartoony, or “real”, world are tossed out the window to lay lost until the next snow melt (or lie lost? no…).  The spirit of early Sam Raimi movies (Crimewave and A Simple Plan come most to mind) fully possesses the body of this over-caffeinated cornucopia of cornball carnage (ew, ick and ugh).  This was such a hoot to read, full of misdirections and trap doors to keep the reader wanderlustingly lost, looking for the most sensible way to stay inside the funhouse.

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Service: A Novel By Sarah Gilmartin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781911590828
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Pushkin Press - June 4th, 2024

Three takes on a workplace abuse accusation give us a captivating courtroom drama (with very little courtroom), memory and self-delusion fueling the unreliability of each narrator (the Waiter, the Star Chef and the Star Chef’s Wife) along the way.  The truth, though often seemingly clear as day, is clouded over and re-forecasted within each new chapter’s recollection, keeping the reader excitedly closing and reopening their moral-conundrumbrella.  The sexist nexus between the restaurant world’s ego-driven longhaulers, eager-to-please newbies, and often passive-aggressive placebo managers is plated picture-perfectly; a highly accurate bridge between the out-of-the-frying-pan era of 20 years ago and the into-the-fire present day.  Here’s hoping it’s a cleansing, antiseptic fire, since there’s no such thing as surprise visits from the mental health inspector (it’s safe to say that most restaurants, from either era, would have a framed “F” on display, right inside the front door).

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The Extinction of Irena Rey By Jennifer Croft Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639731701
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - March 5th, 2024

A unique case of my current interests (an inside baseball peek into the world of professional translators) served up as a Jenga tower composed of personalized reading blocks (dark comedy, groundless paranoia, regional lore, cabin fever, mysterious shenanigans, reality tv tomfoolery, etcetera etcetery).  From the onset, we’re introduced to the unreliable translator transcribing an unreliable author, the former dropping footnote rebuttals to the latter’s snarky slander throughout.  Imagine the setup, mid-story surprises, and alliance-treachery of Clue starring the cast of any season of The Real World.  I fear I’ve pulled out some of the Jenga blocks just by mentioning any of this, so I’ll reluctantly hush, as this is a hard one to shut up about.

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Fury: A Novel By Clyo Mendoza, Christina MacSweeney (Translated by) Cover Image
By Clyo Mendoza, Christina MacSweeney (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781644213711
Availability: May be on our shelves (or available in 5-10 business days)
Published: Seven Stories Press - March 12th, 2024

Fury follows a dying family tree by flipping the horizon then tracing the root system through the mulch, manure, dirt and darkness: a meristem’s underbelly of betrayal, revenge, lycanthropy, dreams, film and thirst-deprived illusions that reciprocates a sole despicable patriarch.  Its micro-chaptered, puzzle-piecemeal format gives the heavy subject matter a faster pace, but plants plenty of benchmarks along the path for the reader to pause and reassess the constantly mutating situation.  Mirror-imaged themes, objects and characters breadcrumb a path throughout the book, but whether they lead to or from the fresh air of clarity is a glass-half-anything situation.  A tremendously (f)unsettling day in the garden of readin’.

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Love Novel (Biblioasis International Translation #44) By Ivana Sajko, Mima Simic (Translator) Cover Image
By Ivana Sajko, Mima Simic (Translator)
ISBN: 9781771965989
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Biblioasis - February 6th, 2024

As if a cartoon fight-cloud, the kind that bops down the street, fists, feet and grawlix intermittently breaching the surface and disappearing into the chaotic void, were probed with NASA satellite precision, here’s Love Novel, with it’s angry empathy and disturbing relatableness; a spotlight and laserscope sight on domestic blitz.  

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Harlequin Butterfly (Japanese Novellas) By Toh EnJoe, David Boyd (Translated by) Cover Image
By Toh EnJoe, David Boyd (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781782279778
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Pushkin Press - March 5th, 2024

This tiny book is pleasantly strange right out of the gate, then spends the next 100 pages reinventing itself over and over again.  I’ll refrain from spilling too many beans, as the experience is loaded with surprises and misdirection, a series of unreliable aviators taking us on a mobius trip through curiocumulous-riddled skies.  I’ll short-and-sweet it with: don’t be deceived by its short length and sweet demeanor, this book contains attitude (altitude) and multitudes in plenitude.  Often both cartoony and Savage Detectivey, this puzzle will surely be as fun of a re-read as the first time around.

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Same Bed Different Dreams: A Novel By Ed Park Cover Image
By Ed Park
ISBN: 9780812998979
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Random House - November 7th, 2023

Hats off to a book that's both super-duper complicated and a comfy(-wumfy) read.  It can't be easy to do or my home library would be exclusively stocked high with books only written so.  And and and historical conspiracy fiction is so easily sloshed and spilled, leaving g'awful stains if not handled with utmost care!  For me, this was the ultimate fun read, with large portions doled via pop-culture-factoid nuggets, a la Reed's Mumbo Jumbo and Bowman's Big Bang, throwing around genres as smokescreens to keep you constantly guessing at just what exactly you're experiencing (yeah, this book's a magic show).  Be prepared to second guess your own memory and/or kickstart bizarre connective arcs between fictional/real characters/events, as for every card that is flipped to reveal an answer, you'll find yourself going "oh but what was on the top side of the card again?" (I mean, if you hate magic, you've probably only run into bad magicians).  Sigh.  (Don't "run into" bad magicians.)

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Cousins By Aurora Venturini, Kit Maude (Translated by) Cover Image
By Aurora Venturini, Kit Maude (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781593767297
Availability: May be on our shelves (or available in 5-10 business days)
Published: Soft Skull - May 16th, 2023

My kinda fare: a colorful palette of characters reminiscent of school days when you mush all the cafeteria food together on the tray then dare your neighbor to eat it.  Blushworthy moments galore, like being shot from an early-oeuvre John Waters canon, to land in a Leonora Carrington net. A gourmet gag-fest, even more chokingly delicious in hindsight.  

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The MANIAC By Benjamin Labatut Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593654477
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Penguin Press - October 3rd, 2023

For the most part, the MANIAC is a short, streamlined tale of Artificial Intelligence’s evolution, from a concept born of brilliant madness to a reality settling into generally accepted madness.  Not an easy history to condense, as the human evolution debate of “where do we go from here” is century-plus old at this point, allowing an author plenty of meandering room for tangled-web-unweavery and where-to-begin-ities.  However, the main(iac, teehee) storyline sticks to the expressway, only taking a few frontage road ventures to check out some colorful characters along the way.  I was surprised to find that this was Labatut’s first non-translated English release as each chapter is told in a key player’s own voice which never feels hokey, but gives the book a natural documentary vibe and pace (I could almost hear a phantom Errol Morris voice yelling “and what did you do next?!” throughout).  The author clearly had fun with a topic he loved, which in this case made a pleasant and easy read out of complex (and scary to some) subject matter. 

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Whale: SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE By Cheon Myeong-Kwan, Chi-Young Kim (Translated by) Cover Image
By Cheon Myeong-Kwan, Chi-Young Kim (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781953861146
Availability: In our warehouse - should arrive/ship in 5-10 business days. (Currently not on our shelves.)
Published: Archipelago - May 2nd, 2023

This post-WWII recently-split-Korean fantasy comes baked-potato loaded with all of the tall-tale toppings, heated in a crumpled tin foil history.  Cheon will introduce, reinvent, kill off, ghostify and mythologize a character within a five page arc, then move on to build, destroy and immortalize a new adventure over the short span of the next five.  With a constant mutation of narrative play, this process never stales or grows tiresome.  Set in a tumultuous time, in a land full of transitional turmoil, with characters that wouldn’t win any Something of the Year awards, Whale isn’t pretty, but it’s beautiful nonetheless; a Trigger Warnings on Parade, with so many shiny doubloons and sparkly beads to scoop up in the aftermath.  My favorite read of the year?  So far.