Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins recommends a ghostly novel, a comic’s memoir and a collection of dark Indigenous tales.
Tokyo Ueno Station
By Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles
From the publisher: Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest, doomed to haunt the park near Ueno Station in Tokyo.
Kazu’s life in the city began and ended in that park; he arrived there to work as a laborer in the preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and ended his days living in the vast homeless village in the park, traumatized by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and shattered by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.
Through Kazu’s eyes, we see daily life in Tokyo buzz around him and learn the intimate details of his personal story, how loss and society’s inequalities and constrictions spiraled towards this ghostly fate, with moments of beauty and grace just out of reach. A powerful masterwork from one of Japan’s most brilliant outsider writers, “Tokyo Ueno Station” is a book for our times and a look into a marginalized existence in a shiny global megapolis.
From Dany, Bookseller: Want a spooky fun ghost tale for your perfect Halloween October vibes? This book is not for you. Follow a formerly homeless ghost who haunts around a high traffic Japanese train station and can barely tell whether or not he’s actually dead. Heartbreaking, critical, and perfectly tragic for all the sad Fall homies out there looking for a cry.
Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult
By Maria Bamford
From the publisher: From “weird, scary, ingenious” (The New York Times) stand-up comedian Maria Bamford, a brutally honest and hilariously frenetic memoir about show business, mental health, and the comfort of rigid belief systems—from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” to Suzuki violin training, to Richard Simmons, to 12-step programs.
Singular and inimitable, Bamford’s memoir explores what it means to keep going, and to be a member of society (or any group she’s invited to) despite not being very good at it. In turn, she hopes to transform isolating experiences into comedy that will make you feel less alone (without turning into a cult following).
From Revati, General Manager: This hilarious memoir that takes several dark turns is even better as an audio book (shoutout to LibroFM!). If you haven’t yet experienced Maria’s storytelling skills in her stand-up shows, this is a great introduction. Full of mental health humor, life observations and some random pictures, this is a perfect memoir to read anytime.
Never Whistle at Night
From the publisher: Many Indigenous people believe that one should never whistle at night. This belief takes many forms: for instance, Native Hawaiians believe it summons the Hukai’po, the spirits of ancient warriors, and Native Mexicans say it calls Lechuza, a witch that can transform into an owl. But what all these legends hold in common is the certainty that whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear—and even follow you home.
These wholly original and shiver-inducing tales introduce readers to ghosts, curses, hauntings, monstrous creatures, complex family legacies, desperate deeds, and chilling acts of revenge. Introduced and contextualized by bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones, these stories are a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ survival and imagination, and a glorious reveling in all the things an ill-advised whistle might summon.
From Teresa, Bookseller: This collection of stories starts with a bang and doesn’t let off the gas. Every single story in this book made the hairs on my arms stand up and I couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder while reading them. The stories jump from Sedna, to white (perfect) suburbia, to what makes a child more Native than others and much much more. Every story borders on that perfect sweet spot of suspending disbelief…like this feels as though it could really happen. A wonderful, creepy book to kick off your eerie reading season!