Showing posts from October, 2006

Halloween Link Lunacy

Happy Halloween! I love this holiday, despite my horror of horror films (and tendency to get freaked out when staying in the tower rooms of Victorian bed-and-breakfasts). It's an excuse to dress up and become someone imaginary (a thrill for a lover of the magical in literature), and a time to turn everything upside down: our version of the Carnival that provides a safe space for our strangest and silliest impulses. Whether or not you're planning on doing anything scary, eerie or carnivalesque today, it's a good time to get into the spirit of the macabre, if only as a break from your utterly reasonable interests the rest of the year. Here are a couple of suggestions. Chas Addams, the New Yorker cartoonist and creator of the Addams Family, is the subject of a new bio by Linda Davis that looks pretty great. Check out this excerpt and some cartoons on the NPR website. It's a great day to check out And Now The Screaming Starts , a blog dedicated to all things strange a

Comment: Recent Reads

I'm running out the door today, so I'll save my book reviews for a day when I have time to do them justice. But as a sneak preview, here are my three most recent reads, all of which I enjoyed in their wildly different ways. THE KILLING JAR by Nicola Monaghan (Scribner, due out April 2007) KLEZMER BOOK 1: TALES OF THE WILD EAST by Joann Sfar (First Second Books) THE DISSIDENT by Nell Freudenberger (Ecco) In the meantime. I'd love to hear from you. What are you reading, or what have you read recently? What do you think of it? Where did you hear about it? Who would you reccommend it to? I'm always looking for new reading suggestions, and stories of how books find their readers. Looking forward to hearing yours!

Chronicle: Light-headedness

I skipped out of work early today to come home and nap -- the bug that's been going around caught up with me, and I've got that heavy-limbed, fuzzy-headed, dizzy, nauseated, generally charming thing going on. But that's not the only reason I'm light-headed. I'm going to Portland! I've been hearing about the ABA's Winter Institute since this time last year. It sounded odd at first -- like BEA, but without the sales floor: just pure programming for booksellers. But the booksellers who went to the first one in Long Beach came back singing its praises, saying they learned more practical stuff about running a bookstore, and had a better time meeting authors and each other, than at any other event ever. So yeah, I wanted to go to the Institute in Portland, Oregon this year, especially when I checked out the session lineup. Financial documents! Store design! Magazine selling! New media! Not to mention the author events, and the chance to hobnob with other ded

Chronicle: Coming and Going, Watching and Talking

Time for a Chronicle update, as there seem to have been a number of Doings in my little bookselling world to report on in the last couple of weeks. Job Did I mention I'm now the events coordinator for my bookstore? Our former coordinator decided a few weeks ago that he'd like to spend more time on the sales floor (he's in charge of the literature section, lucky guy), so I was tapped to step in. And I'm totally loving it. In addition to hosting events, I now get to work with authors and publicists to set up events in the store, figuring out what works best for us and them, trying to think creatively about what's likely to attract the best audiences. It's a lot of emailing, and also a lot of making up flyers and posters and ordering and returning books. I'm a lot busier at the store than I used to be, but it's something I've wanted to do for a long time. And spending half of the time in the back office and half of the time on the sales floor is great –

Stay tuned

I just staggered home last night from a super-productive board meeting of the New Atlantic Booksellers Association, and I haven't quite collected my thoughts on that and other recent events. I'll have a nice juicy Chronicle post up here tomorrow, so check in then.

Happy Birthday, Blog

On October 20, 2005, I posted my first entry on my new blog The Written Nerd (a name I had tentatively floated to the ALP a few days earlier and been encouraged by his laughter). The post was called My Overenthusiasm . I'd been feeling a little isolated in my book nerdishness at the bookstore where I then worked, where folks didn't seem to share my enthusiasm for the work. I'd been inspired by Robert Gray's Fresh Eyes ; I sent myself an email with his URL and the text "Think about doing this yourself." I wasted a lot of work hours reading Jessa Crispin's Bookslut (yep, she's an inspiration too in some ways), and I was getting excited about the possibilities of talking about books on the web. A week or two after my first post, I sent my new blog address to almost my entire email list. That list included NAIBA Executive Secretary Eileen Dengler, who sent it to the entire NAIBA listserve, which is certainly how people in the industry started to hear abou


(I've got a lot of work to do today, so I thought I'd post this handy reference guide I'd written up and meant to post for a while. That way it'll be there on the sidebar under "Previous Posts" if you ever need to refer to it. I'll post something more substantial later this week.) I know I'm always prodding you readers to comment on the issues I discuss on The Written Nerd. However, it has occurred to me that since many of you are book people, not blog people, you may not know how easy it is to comment (or "post a comment") on a blog. Forgive me if this is all old news to you, but I thought I'd write up a brief tutorial to make commenting less of a mystery. These instructions look long, but I'd say they take about 30 seconds, plus however long it takes you to articulate your thoughts in writing. How to Comment On This Blog 1. Click on the "[#] COMMENTS" link at the bottom of the post on which you wish to comment. A new

Link-Mad Monday: Rats, Cranes, Ghosts

Hooray, actual links on an actual Monday! * Last week was Slate's Fall Fiction week , which of course I'm slow in noticing. My favorite article in their "Book Blitz" is this one on Overlooked Fiction , with comments from bloggers (including Bookdwarf) and booksellers (including my former coworker Carol at Three Lives, a voracious reader and supporter of the underdog if ever there was one; hi Carol!) Lots of other interesting stuff in the Slate lineup, too; I'll have to read through some of it before I can link and recommend. * And the winner is: FIRMIN! The Litblog Co-Op's Read This! Selection has been announced , and Sam Savage's literate rat takes the field. Click over for nominator Ed Champion's brief but thoughtful take on why he picked this book, including this great summation: Firmin challenges our narrative assumptions by presenting us with a tale told by a rat, signifying perhaps both nothing and everything, about the relationship between reali

Comment: Awards Week, with Audience Participation

As you probably know if you're a person who reads about books, it seems to be awards week in book country. Kiran Desai won the Man Booker Prize for THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS. Her fellow shortlisters were: Kate Grenville for The Secret River M. J. Hyland for Carry Me Down Hisham Matar for In the Country of Men Edward St Aubyn for Mother’s Milk Sarah Waters for The Night Watch (Since this is a British Commonwealth prize, some of these books have not yet been published in the U.S. and may be unfamiliar.) Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature (which I personally think is wonderful and inevitable.) And the shortlist was announced for this year's National Book Award : Fiction: Mark Z. Danielewski , Only Revolutions (Pantheon) Ken Kalfus , A Disorder Peculiar to the Country (Ecco/HarperCollins) Richard Powers , The Echo Maker (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Dana Spiotta , Eat the Document (Scribner/Simon & Schuster) Jess Walter , The Zero (Judith Regan Books/HarperCollins) N

Link-Madness Continues

Yeah, I know it's Wednesday and I usually write something more substantial, but there are a bunch of links I missed and lots to do at home. So check it out: *Shelf Awareness on Tuesday noted that it seemed to be indie bookstore weeked for the Associated Press, with not only the story I linked about niche bookstores hitting national papers, but this article (here in USA Today) about indie store struggles and successes. More optimistic facts from Oren Teicher; more head-shaking pity from the reporters about those poor indie bookstores. But this does give some good attention to the good stuff that's going on in good stores. The AP really likes that photo of the guy next to the "Invasion from Mars" poster, huh? *You've probably already heard that everyone's favorite radio voice Garrison Keillor is opening a bookstore in St. Paul, but here's the whole story from Bookselling This Week. This is only one of many stories of bookstore openings, anniversaries, and o

Link-Mad Columbus Day Monday: Hauntings

Just a couple of light links today -- it's a beautiful fall holiday morning, and I can't confine myself to the computer screen for long. * The ever-restless mind of the ALP has launched a new project: And Now The Screaming Starts , a blog devoted to the horror genre so dear to my man's heart. (CRwM is another acronym adopted by the ALP - long story.) His book and movie reviews are actually pretty darned insightful, and mixed in with appreciations of the new Halloween marshmallow Peeps. How can you resist? * Speaking of Halloween-ishness, a sharp-eyed friend (thanks, Lauren!) sent along this article about a couple of fantasy & horror niche bookstores that are making good. I'm not sure they took the ABA's quotes entirely in context -- studies indicate that indie bookstore shares are actually increasing in market share, though times are still tough -- but it's a cool piece about another kind of community of booklovers. * And another kind of haunting: I just thi

Comment: New York Speaks about Bookstores

Wow! I've just discovered an amazing new community at . It's a linked series of blogs and message boards for discussion on issues related to different Brooklyn neighborhoods. Wednesday evening I logged on to the Prospect Heights forum and posted the topic "Who Needs a Bookstore?", asking users where they thought might be the best potential spots for a literary bookstore/cafe in Brooklyn. Since then there have been nearly 40 replies and over 400 readers! Most are excited, though some are discouraging -- it's an interesting cross-section of New York public opinion. Check out the conversation if you're interested. Interestingly, this comes on the heels of the announcement that major New York indie bookstore Coliseum Books is closing , for the second time. Their first location on Columbus Circle closed due to massive rent hikes several years ago, and though they were able to open up in a new location on Bryant Park, their sales never really

Comment: LBC Winner; Big Ad Question

I've just received word that the members of the Litblog Co-Op have spoken, and the Fall Read This! selection has been chosen! But... it's a secret, and I can't tell ya whether Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage from Coffee House Press Sideshow: Stories by Sidney Thompson from River City Publishing or Manbug by George Ilsley from Arsenal Pulp Press is the big winner. That announcement will come on October 16, followed by lots of chats with the authors (of the winner and the two runners up) and blog posts by the clever literary folks who read the books and made the call. Pick up one or more of these books if you have a chance in the meantime - these links will send you to the Powell's website, or you can pick them up at your local indie bookstore. * * * And now I have a serious question for you, the readership. I've been approached by another blogger about a new service called Brainiads, which will allow bloggers to work with individually

Book Reviews #35, #36, #37, and #38: Cockroaches and Lions and Parties, Oh My!

One of these days Mondays will again be about Link Madness, but I always seem to have some catching up to do. Here's a rundown of my reading over the last month or so – at least the ones I finished. We're in Week 40 of the calendar year, so I've still got a chance to make my 52 book goal by December 31. Book Review #35 KOCKROACH by Tyler Knox (William Morrow, January 2007) I picked this one up with giddy enthusiasm – it is, as the ALP observed, my kind of thing. Here's the first paragraph: As Kockroach, an arthropod of the genus Blatella and of the species germanica , awakens one morning from a typically dreamless sleep, he finds himself transformed into some large, vile creature. Obviously, Knox is channeling and reversing Kafka's most famous short story, "The Metamorphosis", in which hapless Gregor Samsa finds himself transformed into a cockroach. Such an allusive and fantastic premise piqued my curiosity, and I was definitely not disappointed. Like Kaf