Saturday, March 31, 2007
You can read an excerpt here. Or listen to editor David Shapard in a recent appearance on National Public Radio.
Alternatives to Teaching, Post-MFA
12:30 pm Panel, 207A Lind Hall
Join MFA alumni who have focused on careers in arts administration, development, radio, magazine publishing and more!
Panelists: Wendy Fernstrum (Minnesota Center for the Book Arts), Kate Freeborn (New Moon Magazine for Girls), and Rob McGinley-Myers (Writer's Almanac)
2:00 pm Panel, Arthur Upson Room Walter Library
Newly published authors and editors discuss the experience of publishing a first book, from the submission process to marketing and publicity.
Panelists: Alex Lemon, author of Mosquito (Tin House, 2006); Lauren Fox, author of Still Life With Husband (Random House, 2007); Laurie Lindeen, author of Petal Pusher (Simon and Schuster, 2007); Chris Fishbach, Managing Editor of Coffee House Press; Emily Cook, Publicity and Marketing Director at Milkweed Editions.
Teaching After the MFA
4:00 pm Panel, Arthur Upson Room, Walter Library
Join MFA alumni to discuss landing the post-MFA teaching job, faculty life, etc.
Panelists: Alex Lemon (Macalester College, Visiting Professor), Brian Malloy (Emerson College, Lecturer), Shannon Olson (St. Cloud State University, Assistant Professor), and Michael Seward (MCTC, Instructor).
Art in the Community
4:00 pm Panel, Arthur Upson Room, Walter Library
Roundtable discussion with arts Chairs at the University of Minnesota and the Twin Cities community. What effect can artists have on community on and off campus? Can the arts make a difference? What does it mean to earn an artistic degree?
Celebration and Reading
7:00 pm, 4th Floor, Coffman Union
Please join the Creative Writing Program as we celebrate our 10-year 7:00 pm Celebration and reading at the Campus Club West Wing, Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union.We will announce the Michael Dennis Browne Fellowship. Raffles, give-a-ways, readings, and more.
Friday, March 30, 2007
I haven't written about the Morning News' Tournament of Books since it was announced. Truth to tell, I haven't read most of the books competing. But as the brackets dwindle down to the finals today, there's some fun snarking worth a mention.
Yesterday's match-up was Gary Shteyngart's postSoviet farce Absurdistan and the one novel on the list which I have read, Kate Atkinson's Edinburgh picaresque crime novel One Good Turn. I'll spoil it for you and say that the judge, the beautifully named Rosencrans Baldwin, hated Baldwin's novel, calling it "ludicrous." He also hated Absurdistan ("The last time I threw a book that hard, it was Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. I was in a crappy motel room in Paris, and I tried to throw it out the window from the bed (the window was closed)."), but he still gave it the win.
The real fun, though, was in the commentary "from the booth." John Warner said it better than I could when he wrote, "Any detective novel is going to have more than its share of coincidences. In the architecture of the story, they aren’t coincidences, but merely events that haven’t yet been revealed to the reader. Perhaps the reveal is not always as well-timed or artful as one would wish, but it seems unfair to fault a detective novel for being a detective novel."
So Absurdistan passes on to the final match, against Cormac McCarthy's Oprah-chosen, post-apocalyptic father/son novel The Road. All sixteen of the judges plus a special guest weigh in for the decision. I won't tell you how it comes out. You'll have to read it for yourself.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
And if you've already a Murakami fan, his next novel After Dark comes out on May 8.
The winner of the Kiriyama for nonfiction is Three Cups of Tea : One Man's Mission to Promote Peace -- One School at a Time by Greg Mortensen. It tells the story of a mountain climber who repays the hospitality of a Pakistani village by returning to build and run schools for girls.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Of the reclusive novelist's latest outing, Powells.com said, "McCarthy takes such B-movie plot devices as an apocalyptic future, cannibalism, and scenes that could have been cut straight from Night of the Living Dead or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to craft an existential moral debate about what it means to be alive in a dead world. ...The Road, like many of McCarthy's novels, features homeless males on the move. Only instead of horses, the unnamed father and son have an old grocery cart with one wobbly wheel, loaded with canned goods and dirty blankets. And their journey makes All the Pretty Horses look like a trip to Club Med."
Who knew Oprah's viewers were such survivalists? Next up, Martha Stewart visits Oprah to talk about making a fallout shelter out of an old bathtub, origami paper, and Meyer lemons. Stay tuned.
It's a mystery, and one sure to get the Potter forums buzzing. And whatever my reservations about the US cover, I'll say this for it: it's better than the UK version (or more correctly the anywhere-other-than-the-US version) by a long shot.
And to remind you: You can get your copy of HP&tDH right away on July 21. We're taking advance orders for the seventh and final Harry Potter title. Our price is $20.99, down from the list price of $34.95. Stop in today and reserve your copy.--David E
UPDATE: A co-worker pointed me towards the non-US "adult" version of the latest Harry Potter opus. It's not bawdy, it's just supposed to be less juvenile than the other cover, more appropriate for reading on the bus, I guess.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
For those of you who grew up benighted and bereft, I'll explain here that the Moomins are the creation of Finnish author Tove Jannson. They are plump, white, happy trolls, inhabitants of Moominvalley along with friends including Snufkin (my personal favorite), Little My, and the Snork Maiden. They're utterly charming. They face all manner of trials (not least comet, flood and storm), but never lose sight of the happiness of just being together. Yeah, they sound treacly and awful, but I promise you they're not.
But to return our story... In addition to the nine Moomin novels, Tove Jannson also wrote and drew a Moomin comic strip in the mid-fifties. Some of these comics are now collected in Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip - Book One, the first of an anticipated five-volume set of the works. If you like the spare line drawings in the books, you'll love the comic strips.
And if anyone's interested, I'll show you my Moomin mug and Moomin pencil box, souvenirs of a long-ago trip to Japan, where they know good cartoons and keep the Moomin flame alive.--David E
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Michael Tolliver Lives will be released on June 1. Publishers Weekly gives the forthcoming book a rave, saying "Maupin introduces a dazzling variety of real-life reference points, but the story belongs to Mouse, whose chartings of the transgressive, multigendered sex trends of San Francisco are every bit as lovable as Mouse's original wet jockey shorts contest in the very first Tales, back in 1978."
I, for one, can't wait for another installment.--David E
Friday, March 23, 2007
I've been meaning to post something about James Salter for a while now. Not only did he write one of my favorite books (Light Years), but I'm reading There & Then, a collection of his travel writings. OK, I'll admit I've been a little envious of all the time he seems have have spent swanning around the south of France or skiing in Aspen. But he's still a great writer. To wit, this passage from There & Then:
There was a women I knew who used to ski every day, all season long, whatever the weather, whatever the conditions. She was born to it you might say--her father had been a racer on the Austrian team. Tall and sleek, she was married and had two small children; I often saw them on the slopes. Of course, she skied wonderfully, a natural. If you were too busy to ski, disinclined, or away, you knew she was there nevertheless. It was a kind of pact. One didn't know the terms, but they could be guessed at--her father had been killed while skiing, caught in an avalanche. She was being faithful to that, somehow. Other aspects of her life were in turmoil.
That's classic Salter. The mythologizing ("you knew she was there nevertheless"), the mix of intimacy and distance ("you might say... One didn't know..."), the dash-splice. Even when his topics rankle me a little, I love the style. Only Evan S Connell comes close.
James Salter. Read the man already, would you?--David E
Thursday, March 22, 2007
In the meantime, you can always track what Hollywood thinks of the movie's fortunes by watching its stock. That's right, the Hollywood Exchange follows "trading" in movies, directors, and actors. The adptation's stock (symbol: CHLRA) is down at the moment, but trending up again. Expect more movement as the preview screenings begin. Or better yet, spend the months before the November release reading the book itself.--David E
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I can't decide if I'm surprised about this: "The Joy of Cooking ranked 269 on the OCLC Top 1000 list. Joy of Sex did not make the Top 1000 list, or come anywhere close."
I know I'm bummed about this: "Jim Davis' Garfield is number 15 on the list. (Four of the 5 top works by living authors are cartoons!)"
And in answer to the question in the title of this item, neither Eusebius nor King made the cut at all. Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History was unlucky number 1001, and Stephen King didn't even come that close.--David E
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The Guardian has posted its third excerpt from Anna Politkovskaya's forthcoming book A Russian Diary (to be published May 22). Politkovskaya was a crusading Russian investigative journalist who was gunned down on the stairs of her Moscow apartment building in October 2006. Today, radio stations around the world are broadcasting her reports from Chechnya to focus attention on the ongoing conflict there, despite Politskaya's unsolved murder. (See more on the killing here and more on the broadcasts here.)
Anne Lamott's new book Grace (Eventually) goes on sale today.
By all accounts, Lamott's latest outing continues to mix the holy and the humorous. (A typical quote from her work thus far: "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.") Read a short excerpt of Grace (Eventually) at PBS' Religion & Ethics Weekly.
Monday, March 19, 2007
There's also a posting at Gawker.com in which Ferris takes a swipe at fellow author darlings Johnathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Iluminated) and Foer's wife Nicole Krauss (History of Love). If you fancy a tempest in a teapot, this is a fun one.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
We now have Kelly Link’s first book of short stories, Stranger Things Happen, in stock alongside her more recent Magic for Beginners (the one The Independent describes as “weird, funny, sad, scary, moving, hip, ingeniously executed and brilliantly written stuff”).
Stranger Things Happen is also available online for free. Yes, the book we’re offering for the discounted price of $14.35 is also online for nothing whatsoever.
We are telling you this because:
1) The stories are astounding and everyone should read them.
2) In your gratitude for having learned about this here, you might later purchase Magic for Beginners from us.
3) Your love of the stories in Stranger Things Happen may compete with a hatred of reading books on a computer screen, or an unwillingness to print out the whole manuscript yourself. In either case, we’ve still got it in stock.
In honor of teatotalers and abstainers everywhere, I post this link to NPR's interview with Michael Lerner, author of Dry Manhattan, a history of the dark impulses behind Prohibition in New York City. Turns out, it wasn't just a move against alcohol.
And in the interest of balance, I'll point out two titles on our shelves: Eric Bogosian's Drinking in America and Curiosities of Wine : Clinking, Drinking and the Extras That Surround the Bottles.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
The Lulu Blooker Prize nominees for 2007 have been announced. A "blook" in the organization's parlance, is "book with content that was developed in a significant way from material originally presented on a blog, webcomic or other website."
Last year's winner was the blog-turned-book Julie and Julia, Julie Powell's account of a year spent working through the recipes of Julia Child's classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
This year's shortlist includes titles from establishment blogger Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos); store favorite My Secret, a collection of confessional postcards from around the world; a book based on a soldier's blog from Iraq; and even a book that arose from a series of photos on Flickr.
A glimpse of the publishing future or more broadband navelgazing? You be the judge.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Author and blogger Ian Hocking has posted an interview with David Mitchell, author of Black Swan Green. The book is the April selection for our not-so-traditional book club, Books and Bars.
I'll admit I haven't listened to this one yet. I'm still trying to get through my backlog of New York Times Book Review podcasts.--David E
Everyone who hates spoilers will be glad to hear that the budding book was returned safely to its rightful home.
As we've seen in last month's posting about author Christopher Moore, the business of options is not at all straightforward--or all that efficient. Lethem's unusual move is only the latest in an ongoing rethink of the traditional system of options sales. (See his article in Harpers magazine here.) The author has long been giving away options to his work via his webpage, offering short stories and song lyrics for filmmakers, dramatists, and musicians to adapt.
So dust off your camera and sharpen your pencil. You could just be the lucky director who brings Lethem's new novel to the screen.
UPDATE: NPR has posted an interview with Lethem about his option sale.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
If basketball leaves you cold, check out The Morning News' Tournament of Books. A slate of recent literary fiction goes head to head, judged by a raft authors, editors, and general webgeeks. The winner advances, until at last only the champion remains. You can read the judge's decision, then read further commentary "from the booth," and even post your own thoughts on the match.
It's much better than that NCAA whatsit they've got going on.
Friday, March 9, 2007
- How Green Were the Nazis? edited by Franz-Josef Bruggemeier, Mark Cioc and Thomas Zeller
- D. Di Mascio’s Delicious Ice Cream: D. Di Mascio of Coventry: An Ice Cream Company of Repute, with an Interesting and Varied Fleet of Ice Cream Vans by Roger De Boer, Harvey Francis Pitcher, and Alan Wilkinson
- The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague
- Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Daghestan by Robert Chenciner, Gabib Ismailov, Magomedkhan Magomedkhanov and Alex Binnie
- Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Seaweed Symposium edited by Robert J Anderson, Juliet A Brodie, Edvar Onsoyen and Alan T Critchley
- Better Never To Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence by David Benatar
I'm rooting for the seaweed myself, but word on the street is that you don't want to cross the ice cream guys. Coventry's a tough town.--David E
The National Book Critics Circle awards have been announced. They are
- Fiction: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
- Nonfiction: Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution by Simon Schama
- Biography: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips
- Memoir/Autobiography: The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
- Poetry: Tom Thomson in Purgatory by Troy Jollimore
- Criticism: Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences by Lawrence Weschler
"We have to create a place where the images we want and need to see are being nurtured," says founder and facilitator Ezra Hyland, a University of Minnesota Teaching Specialist. "To me, two or three men discussing a book is as powerful an image as 10 young Black men running up and down a basketball court."
Black Men Reading is currently discussing Deconstructing Tyrone : A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-hop Generation by Natalie Hopkinson. Named for the title character of Erykah Badu's 1997 song of the same name, Deconstructing Tyrone explores the lives of post-hiphop black men in America.
The group meets Wednesday evenings, 6pm to 8pm at the NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center (1313 Penn Ave N, in Minneapolis). For more information, call 612/302-4692.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
We recently acquired a large collection of vintage PG Wodehouse books. Most of the 175 or so books date from the 1920s and 1930s, but there are also many newer editions. Prices start at $5.99.
PG Wodehouse was a prolific author. ("I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don't know what I did before that . . . just loafed, I suppose.") He's best known for his character Jeeves, unflappable and unfailingly helpful butler to the foppish Bertie Wooster. The Jeeves and Wooster novels and short stories are outwardly simple tales, brimming with farce and satire.
They also include some great epigrams. If you want to burn time online, try this random Wodehouse quote page. Hit refresh for a new quote. You can easily spend hours here, so beware.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Today, it's all about the subtitles:
They Had No Choice: Racing Pigeons at War
All Russia Is Burning: A Cultural History of Fire and Arson in Late Imperial Russia
The Bear Hunter's Century: Profiles from the Golden Age of Bear Hunting
This month's book is People's Act of Love by James Meek. This powerful novel was long-listed for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, and tells the story of a Russian prison camp escapee who makes his way to a remote Siberian village as he recounts his fantastical adventures as imparted to the megalomaniac captain of a Czech regiment and a self-reliant widowed mother.
Books & Bars is not your typical book club. We provide a unique atmosphere for a lively discussion of interesting authors, fun people, good food and drinks. You're welcome even if you haven't read the book.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
There are some good reports on the street available online. Here's an optimistic NPR story from December, 2003 and a much less cheerful one from The Washington Post in September, 2006.
While it won't directly help the folks on Mutanabi Street, there is a group called Books for Baghdad which accepts donations of textbooks, calculators, computer, medical school supplies, and other types of school supplies. (You can also read an article about the group here.)
Monday, March 5, 2007
March is Small Press Month. Since almost 80% of all books published in 2005 were by "small' independent presses, you're missing out if you only pick off the bestseller lists. High on the list of recommended titles is United States V. George Bush by Elizabeth de la Vega. If you keep track of our events page, you know that we hosted this author in the store just last month.
Early reviews (and here) are favorable. "Jhumpa Lahiri's wildly popular novel about two generations of a Bengali family receives a loving, deeply felt screen translation that should appease fans of the book while making many new converts," says Scott Foundas in Variety.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
So it's worth mentioning that we're always buying books for the store. If you've got stacks of books around the house (and, really, who doesn't?), consider bringing them in. We'll look them over, and while we can't take everything, we'll be happy to buy what we can. (See our book-buying policies for more information.) We'll pay cash immediately, or you can take store credit for your books. You can use your credit right away or keep it for up to a year, so you can mull over your choices before you decide.
I'm not saying you'll make enough to retire on, but you can always hope.
Friday, March 2, 2007
According to the magazine's website, "Minneapolis boasts the second-highest percentage of GLBT population in the nation, and among large metro areas, the 2000 Census ranks Minneapolis as having the third-largest concentration of gay and lesbian couples."