With apologies to our customers we are moving our planned Saturday closure to be effective immediately in order to do the utmost to protect our most vulnerable citizens. If you want books write us at underthevolcanobooks@gmail.com: we can consult our inventory for you and make an appointment to get you what you want. Take care out there.

We will close temporarily at 6 PM on Saturday March 21st until general conditions improve, opening only by appointment (underthevolcanobooks@gmail.com).

That said, with three days for people to stock up any hour of the day, I thought I might distract myself and improve our customers’ shut-in days with thoughtful recommendations of three long, big-ass titles we have in abundant overstock. The wakeful reader might notice all these are from dead white dudes (okay, Franzen isn’t dead, but as my brother pointed out, he lives in a bird sanctuary).

Tastes these days are searching out heretofore less-heard voices: women authors (who IMHO wrote nearly all the very best novels), writers of color and from colonized countries, writers in translation – and the reason none of those titles are listed here is they are in demand and I struggle to keep them in the store. The following books, gathering dust here, have the power Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey accorded to records of long ago mega-popular hit songs: they resuscitate vanished worlds.

Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding (1749)

This is the kind of book that simply demands to be read not just in analog time but at the speed of centuries past. It isn’t that it’s not entertaining, but that it comes so entirely from that time that read by candlelight and moved on horseback that it unfolds by its laws. You need to spend hours kicking around in it, smelling the dung and nosegays and adjusting to that strange long ago time. Its frankness about sexuality and clarification of how and why all the old restrictions existed will round out your idea of how our (European) ancestors lived. It’s not a saucy romp though as people are generally made to think by its Swinging Sixties film adaptation, with the nineteen-year-old title character played by a twenty-seven-year old Albert Finney (looking forty at the time – Finney would go on to considerably superannuate the lead in John Huston’s 1980 adaptation of the novel for which this store was named WTF). Fielding’s young Tom is a naive and kind young man whose physical beauty draws women to him like a beehive and is helpless to nature’s call. The societal restriction of his sexual freedom reveals a vanished system governing all things. What new standards will this present crisis bring forth?

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams (1918)

A later world, more intricately built: Boston scion Henry Adams was the grandson and great-grandson of presidents, and a noticer. His strange memoir, published in two volumes at the turn of the twentieth century, refers to himself in the third person, and is a dense recounting of his whole span on Earth from silken cradle to monument-topped grave. We forget it now- recalling subconsciously with instinctual resentment – but for more than a hundred years the United States was run from New England. The weird life of the man who was the first slacker is made here into a freaky time machine that will take you into the closed rooms behind vast histories. Get aboard.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)

This novel was everywhere when we opened back in 2011. Its author, famous in a way writers have not been in America for a couple generations – TV famous – almost instantly became a magnet for online hate as soon as there was such a thing. He insulted Oprah; he warned of the dangers of the Internet; he promoted nonwhite, non-male authors but being a white dude himself at the top of the stack in a popular culture sense and not too deft with offhand commentary, dug his own grave with his mouth on frequent occasion. Nevertheless, he is a terrific writer of a very particular kind. I gave this book (in translation) to the man who would have been my Mexican father-in-law, telling him if he didn’t like the characters he could rest assured (as he suspected) he didn’t like (white) Americans (except for me). Well before our present cultural moment he put out a disappointing novel (Purity, 2015) moved to the previously mentioned bird sanctuary and kind of disappeared. We’ve heard enough from upper middle class white dudes no doubt: but that consciousness lives behind a dance of veils, and I would suggest that those fighting it (especially politically) should know that because of multiple evasions it is not truly identified or known. Franzen – engagingly, humorously, heartbreakingly and at great, enjoyable length – lets us see in.

 

 

The store will maintain normal hours until 6 PM close on Saturday the 21st, after which we will only open by appointment (which can be arranged by writing to underthevolcanobooks@gmail.com). If you have books to trade for credit please try to bring them before then. Hoping the virus situation passes and we can get back to normal soon. This will only happen if we take careful precautions in the meantime. Good luck, and hang in there.

We are open

March 18th, 2020

Want to just put this here to let people know we are staying open until further notice – but taking careful precautions against the Coronavirus: social distancing, washing hands after every transaction, and keeping all the windows and doors open. We can only offer credit for books brought in right now, because who knows what will happen next. And know that even if we close our doors, we will remain open by appointment (arrange by emailing underthevolcanobooks@gmail.com).

Meanwhile, check out the big love from MXCity Insider’s Guide, who call us the best English bookstore in the city, and say we might have the biggest and largest selection of titles in the whole country!  https://mxcity.mx/2020/03/under-the-volcano-books-mejor-libreria-inglesa-cdmx/

We will be closed on Monday, March 9th in solidarity with the women fighting for respect, security and justice calling for #UnDiaSinMujeres.

New entrance

February 1st, 2020

Please enter the building through the blue door next to our logo until further notice. I knew I put that there for a reason.

We want your books

January 28th, 2020

ESPECIALLY: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Sherman Alexie; Margaret Atwood; James Baldwin; John Berryman; John Bilger; Elizabeth Bishop; Roberto Bolaño; Ryan Boudinot; Jane Bowles; Paul Bowles; Ray Bradbury; Charles Bukowski; Mikhail Bulgakov; Octavia Butler; George Gordon, Lord Byron; Truman Capote; Anne Carson; Raymond Carver; Raymond Chandler; John Cheever; Liu Cixin; Te-Nehisi Coates; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Alain de Boton; Angela Davis; Philip K Dick; Joan Didion; G.B. Edwards; Jennifer Egan; George Eliot; T.S. Eliot; William Faulkner; Elena Ferrante; William Finnegan; Robert Frost; Carlos Fuentes; William Gaddis; Gabriel Garcia Márquez; Jack Gilbert; Allen Ginsberg; Francisco Goldman; Robert Graves; Ioan Grillo; Shirley Hazzard; Michael Herr; Herrmann Hesse; Geoffrey Hill; Chester Himes; bell hooks; Kazuo Ishiguro; Marlon James; Denis Johnson; James Joyce; Franz Kafka; Karl Ove Knaussgaard; Rachel Kushner; Charles Lamb; Philip Larkin; Ursula LeGuin; David Lida; Norman Mailer; Thomas Mann; Cormac McCarthy; Carson McCullers; Yukio Mishima; Toni Morrison; Haruki Murakami; Vladimir Nabokov; Flannery O’Connor; Octavio Paz; Mervyn Peake; Sylvia Plath; Edgar Allan Poe; Elena Poniatowska; Ezra Pound; Thomas Pynchon; Juan Rulfo; Rumi; W.G. Sebald; Anne Sexton; Wallace Shawn; Percy Shelley; Zadie Smith; Gertrude Stein; John Steinbeck; George W.S. Trow; William T. Vollmann; Kurt Vonnegut; David Foster Wallace; Colson Whitehead; Walt Whitman; Oscar Wilde; Angus Wilson; VIrginia Woolf… 50% more for credit over cash, and better deals than you’ll get anywhere else!

We are open daily again except Sundays, for a good long while. Come on in! (And bring us your books!)

Come party with us in celebration of the Bicentenary of the greatest writer in the English language.

Yeah, I said it.

Celebrate the greatness of Mary Ann Evans, better known as George Eliot with a lecture and readings, excellent food and drinx from the Legión Americana and spinning vinyl courtesy of DJs Tejón and Desertdeer.

November 22, at 7 PM, No cover

We are honored this July 3rd at 7 PM to present local translating phenom Julianna Neuhouser (Rebellion in Patagonia by Oswald Bayer (AK Press); The Iguala 43 by Sergio González Rodríguez (Semiotext(e)) with her new English translation of Field of Battle by Sergio González Rodríguez (Semiotext(e)).

The author, who died of natural causes on April 3, 2017, was a heavy metal rocker and journalist for Reforma who was widely recognized and won prizes in Germany and Spain for his brave coverage of the epidemic of femicides in Ciudad Juarez. Julianna produced the English translation of his groundbreaking book on the 43 disappeared students in Guerrero on the night of September 26, 2014, also published by Semiotext(e) and now has rendered into English González Rodríguez’s  Campo de guerra (2014), an examination of the social, political and economic roots of the narco war.

David Lida is the author of perhaps the best book in English about Mexico, First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, Capital of the 21st Century (Riverhead, 2009); a book of stories titled Travel Advisory (Morrow, 2000), and most recently, a novel, One Life (Unnamed Press, 2016) which brings the trauma of the migrant experience at our border into the horror of the American Gulag. David wrote the introduction to Julianna’s translation of Field of Battle and will appear in introductory fashion on the night as well.

Please join us on July 3rd at 7 PM.