One of the greatest perks of bookselling has to be the advance reader copies (ARC); bound galleys of books that come from the publishers, meant to be read by reviewers, booksellers, and so on. But one of the of the worst things about ARCs is that they haven't been reviewed yet, and there are just so many coming into the store everyday. Most of the time it's not even possible to keep track of every ARC that comes in, let alone read them all.
And sadly, I am the absolute worst at just picking up an unknown book/author. I have so many other books that I know I want to read, I just can't justify picking up a book by an author I've never heard of. I can't handle that kind of risk. I need someone to tell me to read it. I need to know that it's good. Well, luckily for me, and new authors, and ultimately you (to whom I recommend all the great new books I read), I have a boss with excellent taste in books. And he shares that good taste with his less adventurous booksellers.
So the other day, when our boss told me that he thought I would really love Barefoot Dogs, a new book of short stories by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, I put everything else down and read it. Keep in mind, this is the same boss who recommended Stoner to me, which is now on my Super-Awesome, Mega-Elite, Best Books Ever List. The funny thing is, I had the ARC of Barefoot Dogs just sitting at home-- like for months. But because I had never heard of the author, and no one had told me to read it, I never picked it up.
I really, really need to resist this urge in the future, because this book is AMAZING. And I could have been gushing about it months ago. I would have looked so cool for being the first one to like it. And I really love looking cool. Oh well. Read this book anyways, even if I'm not cool.
Barefoot Dogs : Stories by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
This is my new favorite book. I very nearly read it entirely in one sitting-- I was just propelled forward by these amazing characters, and beautiful language. It's a collection of stories, but they are all linked so it reads much more like a novel. The head of a wealthy Mexican family is kidnapped; and in fear for their safety, his adult children and their families flee to places all over the world. It's funny, edgy, sexy, terrifying, and bold. Really, it's just all the good adjectives. READ IT! -Erin B
On an unremarkable night, Jose Victoriano Arteaga--the head of a thriving Mexico City family--vanishes on his way home from work. The Arteagas find few answers; the full truth of what happened to Arteaga is lost to the shadows of Mexico's vast and desperate underworld, a place of rampant violence and kidnappings, and government corruption. But soon packages arrive to the family house, offering horrifying clues.
Fear, guilt, and the prospect of financial ruination fracture the once-proud family and scatter them across the globe, yet delicate threads still hold them together: in a swimming pool in Palo Alto, Arteaga's young grandson struggles to make sense of the grief that has hobbled his family; in Mexico City, Arteaga's mistress alternates between rage and heartbreak as she waits, in growing panic, for her lover's return; in Austin, the Arteagas' housekeeper tries to piece together a second life in an alienating and demeaning new land; in Madrid, Arteaga's son takes his ailing dog through the hot and unforgiving streets, in search of his father's ghost.
Multiple award-winning author Antonio Ruiz-Camacho offers an exquisite and intimate evocation of the loneliness, love, hope, and fear that can bind a family even as unspeakable violence tears it apart. Barefoot Dogs is a heartfelt elegy to the stolen innocence of every family struck by tragedy. This is urgent and vital fiction.