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Showing posts from November, 2007

Friday Odds & Ends

I love that people send me articles about books, bookstores, book technology, and other stuff they know I might be interested in for the blog. My friend Steve sends me the best of the gazillion articles he reads about ebooks. The ALP sends me articles about comics . And sometimes my mom sends me articles about bookstores . Thanks, guys -- I read them all, though I don't always have time to talk about them. Speaking of time, if you've got any this Saturday and Sunday, check out the Indie & Small Press Book Fair at the New York Center for Independent Publishing . As the Times notes , the sessions include musicians as well as authors and publishers, and the conversations should be as wide-ranging as the books on offer. And speaking of a wide range of great books, check out the new project of the National Book Critics Circle: a monthly Best Recommended list , compiled from the favorites of lots of great authors and critics. It's sure to be an extremely well-curat

Mini-Review: Gentlemen of the Road

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I've resolved to do more book reviewing around here, if in smaller snippets. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon (Del Rey, October 2007) I spent the holiday weekend with Michael Chabon's brief novel Gentlemen of the Road , and it was the perfect curl-up-in-bad-weather sort of book: bloody and daring adventures in exotic lands are immensely appealing when you are avoiding bad weather and extremely comfortable and cozy yourself. Though I'm one of those few odd souls who has never read the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I've been a fan of Mr. Chabon since he edited the McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales and asserted that there's no shame and indeed some honor in literary writers working with genre fiction -- that is, with plot and action, as well as realism and character and all that stuff. He's also one of the few authors whose blurbs I trust -- every book he has bothered to endorse has become a fa

Graphic lit, gifts

My occasional column in Shelf Awareness on "graphic lit" ('cause they're not all comics, and they're not all novels... but I'm pretty okay with all terms, interchangeably) ran yesterday, with my suggestions for gift-worthy graphic lit . There's an abundance of delicious new and collected comics out there this season, and this is just a small sampling. One of the titles I didn't get to include is the first and second collection of Moomin , the comic strip by Tove Jansson featuring an endearing hippo-like creature and friends. Whimsical and surreal, childlike and socially conscious, bizarre and totally intuitive, the strip has tremendous appeal -- but since I've only read it in bits and pieces (while I probably should have been doing other things) on the sales floor, I can't say I've experienced the whole thing. It's one of the gifty new collectios that works for kids and adults, so I thought I'd throw it in as a bonus for you blog

Good News, and An ELNO Invitation

So maybe you remember me mentioning the Brooklyn Business Library's business plan competition , which I entered with a crazy plan for an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. The winner of the competition gets $15,000 to use toward starting up their business, and runners-up get lesser financial prizes or service packages from local vendors. Well, late last week I got a call to tell me I'm a finalist. (!!!) I still have a presentation to make to a panel of judges on the 28th (which sounds like a cross between a dissertation defense and those prepared speeches I did in junior high), and there's no guarantee I'll take home the prize or even a secondary one. But what an incredible confidence booster it has been to realize that it's not just fellow book nerds who are enthusiastic about this idea. There are some Brooklynites out there who don't think I'm completely nuts, too, and allow for the possibility that I might have something to bring to our community. I

The Kindle, and all that that implies

Thanks to Shelf Awareness (a great electronic resource for those of us in the print industry, as many of you know), I spent all morning reading this article in Newsweek about the Kindle , the new e-reader just released by the same company that runs Amazon. I know that name -- and often, the concept of internet book sales and digital books -- is likely to incur hisses from the bricks and mortar booksellers. I admit to feeling some stirrings of indignation myself at the sometimes smug sense of inevitability with which the author (as most journalists, seemingly) wrote about the increasing viability of digital tools for reading. But, as is my habit, I'm trying not to make this an us-vs.-them thing (i.e., those vapid digital people vs. us serious print people, or those hopelessly old-fashioned meatspace people vs. us progressive connected people). Because as usual, I don't think a viable e-reader and a healthy book market are necessarily mutually exclusive. (For example, I us

Brooklyn Lit Life: Edwidge Danticat

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Haitian novelist and memoirist extraordinaire Edwidge Danticat was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award for her most recent book Brother, I'm Dying ; you can read an interview about her book and the nomination here . A few weeks before the awards, however, Danticat was gracious enough to talk a bit about her childhood in Brooklyn. Though Danticat no longer lives here, the borough's literary culture is a little bit richer for having her. Brooklyn Lit Life Edwidge Danticat Describe your particular literary project, and your role in it. It’s a book called Brother, I’m Dying , a family memoir. Why Brooklyn? What made you decide to live/work here, in both practical and emotional terms? My father moved here when I was 2 and my mother when I was 4. They left me in Haiti with my aunt and uncle while getting settled here. With immigration red tape it took us 8 years to be reunited in Brooklyn when I was twelve years old. Is there a Brooklyn sensibility or character?

Events, Past & Upcoming

Thanks so much to Jay Baron Nicorvo for inviting me to participate in the CLMP/LWC this weekend (that's Council of Literary Magazines and Presses - Literary Writers Conference for you acronym buffs). I had a great time in the "Power of Blogging" panel with Ron Hogan (of Beatrice and GalleyCat ) and BethAnne Patrick (of PW's BookMaven). Though I felt a bit outclassed -- I found out Ron has been blogging since the dark old days of 1995, and BethAnne actually gets paid to blog (though I wouldn't recommend anyone try to make her conform to some corporate idea of what she ought to be writing -- she's got opinions and chutzpah to spare!) I'm tickled to have had the opportunity to talk with them, and I hope we were of some help to the writers in attendance, who struggle (just like booksellers) with how to incorporate blogging into the world of the written word. If you don't have plans for this evening, and you're in the New York area, may I recommend

Link-slightly-wacky Monday

Greetings, fellow book nerds! I'm back from sabbatical, more or less, but I've realized the new schedule with BookStream et al. means that my blogging habits may need to change. Lucky for me this morning's Shelf Awareness led me to Booktrix , a book consulting company with a mandate as wide-ranging and hazy as mine at times, and to this post on the Booktrix blog , with the valuable advice: "Blog often, blog short, blog with pictures." I spent half of the "Digital Tools" panel at NAIBA telling booksellers that not every blog has to be the same format, length, or frequency, and that this doesn't have to take up all of your time. So I'm taking my own advice. I'll be posting (hopefully) a bit more, but in smaller bites. I've got a couple of Brooklyn Lit Life interviews in the pipeline, and a folder full of links and ideas to post. Today I'll pick just one. I was thrilled to get an email from Lauretta Nagel of Constellation Books