Showing posts from April, 2007

Monday Hookey; Vacations

We were making rather merry yesterday (sampling 5 different kinds of bubbly to pick which one to serve at our wedding), so I'm playing hookey this morning. I'm taking an impromptu vacation from daily responsibilities, and there ain't a thing you can do about it. So I suggest you head over to the LBC , where it's the week of The Cottagers. There's a great post up about suspense in the novel. And you can start thinking about the question of the worst vacation you ever had -- or a great bad vacation story -- for the contest later in the week. Enjoy!

Friday tidbits

Just one more PEN Festival event this morning (a last-minute add-on, as the incredible panel yesterday for high schoolers with Ishmeal Beah and Uzodinma Iweala was over capacity), and I'll be done for the week. But I'd just like to tell you: - The New York Inquirer has published my blog post "In Defense of Author Events and the Conversation" on their website in response to Mik Awake's article against them. I wish I had time to go back and edit the piece now, as I've discovered Awake is a friend of a friend and we've emailed a bit, and I now think we're actually much more in agreement than it seems (I think we both agree that author events need to evolve from the staid read-from-the-book model, though I think in many cases they successfully have done so). In any case, you can read my piece on the Inquirer and chime in on the comments for the public record. - The Litblog Co-Op now has all the content on Mark Binelli's SACCO AND VANZETTI MUST

Wednesday Review: Paco Underhill's WHY WE BUY

Just a brief review today, though this one deserves much more. WHY WE BUY by Paco Underhill (Simon & Schuster, 1999) I heard Paco Underhill speak at Book Expo last year, and my coworkers and I left the room gasping. A professional "shopping scientist," Underhill's insights into how customers actually interact with the bookstore sales floor had the astonishment of something that's been right under your nose all along. We did some serious rethinking of some of our displays and placements after that presentation, and have continued to keep his principles in mind when making changes in the physical bookstore. But I'm lazy when it comes to reading anything other than fiction, so it took me until this past month when I found myself with a spurt of interest in practical nonfiction to finally pick up Underhill's most famous book. (The ALP had read both, and told me he preferred this one to its sequel, THE CALL OF THE MALL.) And I was utterly enthralled all the

Mad Monday: Sacco & Vanzetti Week!

I've got to rush off to work early this morning, so no time for link madness. But that's just as well, because all the action this week is over at the Litblog Co-Op , where we'll be spending the entire week discussing Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! by Mark Binelli, one of my favorite books of the past year. The author will be guest blogging on Wednesday and Ed Champion will air his podcast interview on Friday, while in the meantime LBC readers will be posting on aspects of the book from anarchy to silent film to the myriad historical references. Head on over to read up on the discussion, and perhaps even enter the contest to win a free copy of the book. Here, I'll give you a head start with the contest question: What historical "couple" would make a great slapstick comedy team, a la Sacco & Vanzetti, and why? Best answer posted in the comments here by end of the day on Friday wins a signed copy of the book AND an original publicity poster. Best of lu

Friday Comment: In Defense of Author Events And The Conversation

Following the example of my friend and bookselling role model Amanda Lydon of Good Yarns , I recently set up a Google Alert to send me a weekly email with internet mentions of McNally Robinson. Amanda (who is hosting a NAIBAhood Gathering this Wednesday on "Community Value" for bookstores) knows the value of knowing what people are saying about you, and it's been interesting for me to track links to our new website and instances where the store's name pops up in blogs and online periodicals. It's not a perfect tool, and the mentions aren't always relevant, but it has led to some interesting trains of thought. I was initially pleased at a link Google turned up that contained the phrase "One of the most convivial book events I’ ve ever attended occurred last month at the McNally Robinson bookstore in SoHo ." But when I followed the link to this article in the New York Inquirer , it turned out to have the suprising title "Against Litera

Wednesday Review: Ian McEwan's ON CHESIL BEACH; LBC S&V Excitement Begins

Time for one o' them book reviews. ON CHESIL BEACH by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese, June 2007) I'm embarassed to say that I initially registered my opinions on this book before I'd really read it. My bookstore is signed up to be the New York City host of Powell's Out Of The Book project , a 23-minute documentary on McEwan and On Chesil Beach created by Powell's that will be shown at indie bookstores around the country in June and accompanied by panels, music, dramatic readings, and other shenanigans. That sneaky Dave Weich of Powell'swas in town filming some bits for the film at the Random House offices, and asked me if I'd like to be involved; being the ham I am (why do you think I host events??), I agreed. I neglected to mention that I was only halfway through the book, had never read any McEwan before, and that my sole experience with this literary celebrity was an interview he did with Zadie Smith in The Believer (and if she likes him, I thought, he can&

Link-Mad Monday: Flying Links

Off to a NAIBA meeting this morning, so may I just quickly direct your attention to: - BTW's listings of the schedule for ALL regional fall shows (including what I like to call NAIBA-Con, the show we'll be planning today). Find out when your region is meeting and get involved! - the Litblog Co-Op , which will be announcing the Spring 2007 Read This! title sometime today! We'll be discussing all three titles over the next several weeks -- stay tuned. - this piece in the Guardian (thanks to my London operative Sue Harris for the link) about a NEW indie bookstore making good in the land of and Waterstones. If they can do it... Man, the circus was a treat! Did you think of good literary circus references over the weekend? Thanks to David for reminding me of Lemony Snicket's CARNIVOROUS CARNIVAL -- I didn't see the Baudelaire's at Madision Square Garden, though. I realized recent Booksense bestseller WATER FOR ELEPHANTS would certainly fit. Would lo

Friday Cleanup: Links, Appeals, Speculations

Friday is going to be a catch-all day on the blog: some weeks I may use it for longer musings, or for reviews, or for links if lots have accumulated since Monday. Today I can't stop thinking about the author event we had last night with Noah Lukeman's book A Dash Of Style , and his suggestion that your use of punctuation reveals something about you as a writer. Does my excessive use of dashes mean I'm a scattered thinker (or just a quick connection maker)? Does my reliance on exclamation marks in email mean I'm a teen drama queen or hungry for attention (or just passionate)? Does my obsession with parentheses mean that I feel I need to spell it out for the reader, or that I'm secretive, or just that there's a lot that needs to be fit into every sentence? Then again, almost anything can make me question myself... but only for a minute. More importantly, sharp-eyed reader and good friend to bookstores Miraida Morales has drawn my attention to an article in Ch

Chronicle: Loss

Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday Review: Michael Chabon, THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION

I'm going to try to make Wednesday book reviewing day around here. Even if I only get to talk about one book a week, that should more or less keep pace with my reading. I've got a bit of a backlog now, however, and only brief moments on Wednesday morning for blogging, so it may take me a little while to catch up. And today's book deserves a post all to itself. THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION By Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, May 2007) I was one of the recipients of a kind and clever push to bloggers of this book by literary dean Chabon (whose book blurbs I always agree with, but whose AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY I admit I have never read, though it sounds like exactly the kind of book I would dig). I was a latecomer to the game and only got a signed bookplate, rather than a personalized book autograph -- still, it's nice of Mr. Chabon and his publisher to notice me. And it's nice of him to write the first great book I've read this year. Michae

Link-Mad Monday; Comment: The Accidental Writer

Here ya go -- weekly linkage. * Hey, here's a new twist on the doom-and-gloom indie bookstore closing story: Gothamist had a link to this story in the New York Post, confirming the rumors I'd been hearing that a Manhattan Barnes & Noble is actually closing (thanks to David for the tip). The end of the Astor Place branch will actually be a real loss to the New York bookstore scene; the store had an interesting and eclectic mix of books, including what several folks have told me was the largest and best poetry section of any B&N. And the comments on Gothamist indicate that it was a favorite haunt for impoverished NYU and Cooper Union students. Several factors are involved in its demise, of course, the most prominent of which is insanely rising NYC rents, the bane of any business trying to have a long life in this overpriced city. But I wonder if B&N's emphasis on volume and discounting rather than customer service contributed to this store's role as a pla

Comment: Easter Sunday

Happy Easter! Here's the (quite literate) Easter sermon from my church, Old First in Brooklyn. ( Check out what our Rev has to say on the Atlantic Yards ; it's as close as he gets to fire and brimstone.) And here's a poem from one of my favorite poets - perfect for the month and for the day. Enjoy your eggs, family feasts, or just a day off Easter Communion Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast: God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips. You striped in secret with breath-taking whips, Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced To crosses meant for Jesu's; you whom the East With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships, You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased, God shall o'er-brim the measures you have spent With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease. Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent: Lo, God shall

Flying Wednesday Links, and a Review (Klimasewiski)

Couldn't resist showing you this article (via Shelf Awareness): how cool is Book Cellar, a bar/bookstore in Chicago? Check out the store's website for photos of Studs Terkel and series of astonishing book cover cakes... How's Harry Potter treating y'all? Here's a bookstore, the Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio, that has tackled the "to discount or not to discount" problem by donating the extra cash to a literacy foundation. "Loss Leader" chain bookstores, take note... And in another philanthropic gesture (via Lance Fensterman's blog), a benefit concert at BEA! No, not Bon Jovi -- it's the Rock Bottom Remainders , the literary supergroup including Stephen King, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, and some other good-natured sports. The concert and VIP reception will benefit 826NYC (aka the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store, very dear to my heart), as well as Get Caught Reading and the American Booksellers Foundatino for Free Expression. Okay, a quick

Tip: Like a CSA for Poetry

I love National Poetry Month -- all that wealth of words flowing around and everyone remembering to love it. You all probably know about this, but for the month of April, Knopf Publishing will email you a poem a day. You can subscribe by emailing sub_knopfpoetry at info dot randomhouse dot com (see the clever spam avoidance?) To whet your appetite, here's yesterday's poem from Marge Piercy. The streets of Detroit were lined with elms I remember elm trees that were the thing of beauty on grimy smoke-bleared streets stinking of death and garbage, but over the cramped rotting houses, the elms arched. They were cities of leaves. I would lie under them and my eyes would rise buoyed up and surfeited in immense rustling viridescence. They enclosed me like a cathedral. I entered them as into the heart of a sanctuary in a mountain pure and vast and safe. I wanted to live in their boughs. They gave no fruit, no nuts and their fall color was weak, but their embrace was strong. I would

Link-Mad Monday: Announcements, etc...

- Well, the final results are in, and your Book Nerd finished rock-bottom, dead-as-a-doornail last in the Office Blogger Pool of the Tournament of Books . (Have I mentioned this is why I've never gotten into sports?) Perhaps a better reading of the current literary marketplace temperature would have made me a better predictor (it seems the TOB is right on the same page as our gal Oprah in naming Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD as the must-read of the season). But as the ALP and I agreed in our own post-tournament wrap-up conversation, the only way to make it any fun is just to vote for the books you like -- that way at least you know why you're rooting for something. I'm sorry my love for Richard Powers and Brian K. Vaughan couldn't quite carry them to victory, but I admit I had a damn good time reading the reasons why. Maybe I'll actually have to pick up the McCarthy book now that it's out in paperback. Or maybe I'll wait until after I get married to