Wednesday, April 04, 2007

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 review.

The Cottagers
by Marshall N. Klimasewiski
(W. W. Norton, 2006)

I have a good reason not to tell you too much about this book, as I want to save all my cleverest remarks for the discussion on the Litblog Co-Op over the next few weeks. But, in brief: imagine a murder mystery where everyone involved actually had to deal with the aftermath. Colorful characters move in and out, we find out about the problems of the victim and the suspects, but in the end, it's a death that doesn't go away from any of the survivor's lives. Klimasewski does a number of things extremely well: omniscient first-person narration that encompasses the voices of disaffected, f-ed up teenagers as well as successful, reserved urban adults and a small-town cop with a complex relation to his troop of Boy Scouts; a moody, perfect evocation of a place that's not exactly most people's idea of a perfect vacation spot (the rainy Pacific Northwest), but has a beauty and a charm that grows even in the gloom; an original limning of that old conflict between tourists and locals, upper class and working class, where even with the best of intentions there are always some sinister undertones going on.

That's all I can say at the moment, except that COTTAGERS made me eager to read, and haunted me when I finished it. That's not bad for a subtle, gentle, unexpected and honest story of small people in a small place.

Stay tuned for reviews of the new Chabon and McEwan, soon to come...