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Showing posts from June, 2009

The Handsell: The Good Thief

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Shop Indie Bookstores The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (Random House, $25.00) This novel contains an orphan, a con man, a giant zombie, a mad doctor, a dwarf, and a sinister factory. If that laundry list excites you with prospects of strange and uncanny adventure, or reminds you of childhood afternoons curled up with Robert Louis Stevenson, this is the book for you. For me, it's a reminder of when I was very young and my mom used to read "chapter books" to me before bedtime, chapter by excruciatingly suspenseful chapter. Now, my husband and I have been reading The Good Thief aloud to each other. It's the first time as an adult I can recall saying "please, just one more chapter." It takes a pretty incredible writer to write a 19th century boy's adventure story with a wry 21st century sensibility. Hannah Tinti gets everything right, sketching scenes with the smallest of telling details, letting the character's moral evolution reveal itself in

Linguistical musings: Bookish, Bibliophilic, Literary

It's sometimes illuminating to work in a neighborhood where a large percentage of our customers speak languages other than English -- that is, SoHo, a major shopping destination for European tourists. (Why they buy books in English when they don't seem to speak it fluently is something I've always wondered -- but we're not complaining.) Recently I noted, not for the first time, the tendency for Spanish speakers to call the bookstore a "library" (leading to a certain amount of confusion since there is a New York Public Library around the corner). This makes sense, though, since the Spanish word for bookstore is libreria . The word for book is libro , and - eria is where an item is sold ( zapateria for shoes, tabaqueria for smokes, etc.) The Spanish word for library, on the other hand, is biblioteca -- which also sounds familiar and logically related to books, for its similarity to bibliophile or bibliography. So what, I asked the ALP (Adorably Litera

The Handsell: Lake Overturn

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Shop Indie Bookstores Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre (HarperCollins, $24.99) This book was put into my hands by one of my mentors and favorite booksellers, Toby Cox at Three Lives & Co. It took me a couple of weeks to get to it, but when I did it proved the rule that you should always trust your local indie bookseller when they tell you you're going to love something. This is the best straight-up novel I've read in a long time. No fantasy, nothing meta, no structural trickery or experimentation -- just character, story, place, metaphor, incredibly well-observed and perfectly described, so that you sink deeper and deeper into the author's world, and your heart aches for the story's people long after you've left them. Vestal McIntyre is a contemporary George Eliot (this book reminded me more than once of Middlemarch ), capable of capturing the truths about a community and an entire society in individual moments and interactions. McIntyre understands

The Handsell: Chicken With Plums

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I have two reasons for starting a new series of The Handsell today. 1) I have less than a month left as an employee at McNally Jackson, so I feel I ought to poach my own staff picks from the store website before I'm no longer a MacJack (as we call ourselves in uninhibited moments). 2) If you're like me, the situation in Iran at the moment is incredibly compelling, filling us with hope and fear. Marjane Satrapi is, I'll admit, the one Iranian writer I really know, and she's been involved in speaking out for the opposition movement . It seems like a good time to revisit her work. Shop Indie Bookstores Chicken With Plums by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, $12.95) I waited a long time before picking up the newest work by the author of Persepolis , fearing she was just cashing in on her fame with a fluff followup. But it's wonderful, of course; I actually think this book is even more nuanced, moving and illuminating about Iranian life than Marjane Satrapi's ori

New Audio Awesomeness!

I don' t often use this blog to plug stuff going on at McNally Jackson, but sometimes it's just too good. Thanks to the diligent efforts of mixmaster Steve and blogmaster Dustin (who, incidentally, will be ably taking over my job as McJ events coordinator as I move on to Greenlight), the McNally Jackson blog is now a talkie. It's our inaugural event podcast ! We've been sound recording author events for months now, hoping to preserve some of the great live conversations for posterity. At last, we've edited and hosted one of the best -- the star-studded March 30 poetry event with Robert Pinsky, Sharon Olds, Mark Strand, and Philip Schultz. Click over to the McNally Jackson blog -- if only to see the awesome picture of Dustin attempting to stuff a book into his ear. The audio sounds great -- all those resonant poet voices! Leave lots of comments so we know you're listening, and we'll feel all motivated to do some more.

One Bookseller's BEA

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Maybe I'm just lucky. But this was the best BEA I've ever attended. I was lucky, in a way, that it was in New York this year, which made it easy for me to attend on my own dime as the new owner of Greenlight Bookstore... but that did mean I had to work some shifts at my day job at McNally Jackson so that other booksellers could make the show. So keep in mind that there's a lot of stuff that I missed. On Wednesday I was lucky to attend my last Emerging Leaders Council meeting. The national council representing frontline booksellers under 40 has finally gotten a rep from each of the 9 bookselling regions, and there's a lot of talent there. Perhaps we toot our own horn, but we like to think that some of the education the ABA offered this year was partly at our instigation (and there were EL booksellers on a large percentage of the panels), and that the increasing presence and visibility of young frontline booksellers at Winter Institute and regional shows can be tr