Saturday, September 29, 2007

Choose to Reuse

Magers and Quinn is pleased to again participate in Hennepin County's annual Choose to Reuse program. County residents generate almost 7 pounds of waste per person per day. Recycling alone isn't enough; we need to prevent waste. Used books--and you do know we're the biggest used bookstore in the Twin Cities, in addition to all our snazzy new books, right?--are not only economical; they're also environmental.

Stop in the store and pick up the Choose to Reuse booklet with coupons for 80 local retailers who are making it easy to prevent waste. Look for the M&Q coupon and you can even save a little money. Or for more information, Choose to Reuse website.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Now with Eight More Monkeys

Last Christmas, I tried to sell everyone who came in the store a copy of Monkey Portraits, Jill Greenberg's collection of the prettiest monkeys you're gonna see. And it broke my heart when we ran out of books and couldn't get more from the publisher.

Now the paperback edition is out. It's in stock, and what's more, it has been expanded. The new book has eight more monkeys. What are you waiting for? Monkeys!!--David E

Logrolling in Our Time

Somebody in London has hired a very convincing publicist. The proof? The Times, The Financial Times, and The Independent newspapers have all run stories on a purported boom in custom-built, private libraries among the over-moneyed.

Watch the New York Times "Style" section to see if this "trend" crosses the Atlantic.--David E

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Halloween Comes Early This Year

The Encyclopaedia Britannica's blog has begun a series of posts listing haunted libraries across the US. Today's posting covers Alabama to the District of Columbia. They're scheduled to get to Minnesota in two weeks, just in time for a bit of pre-Halloween Scooby-Doo hijinks.

My personal favorite haunting so far: "Yorba Linda, Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace. Shortly after Nixon was entombed on the grounds in 1994, a night watchman reported seeing a luminous green mist over the president’s grave."--David E

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Like most of you, I've been hearing a lot about Melissa Plaut's book Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab lately. Her memoir is getting lots of play (for example, this excerpt/reading at NPR.)

But I hadn't realized that Plaut's book stems from the blog she started when she began driving. Right now, she seems to be focused on the mechanics of her book tour, but the earlier posts go all the way back to her taxicab days. I stumbled across this arresting detail: "I drove 195 miles tonight and my fingernails are, as usual, black with dirt from touching all that grubby money." We'd love to have that problem here in the store. Is New York money just extra dirty?--David E

Weird Wisconsin--Part Two

A while ago, I posted about the Wisconsin bookstore housed in a manure tank converted to be a castle. (Read that here.) There was an exterior picture, but now I'm pleased to be able to show you the inside, too:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sure, But an Hour Later You Can't Find the Book Again

We spend a lot of time labelling our books, categorizing them, and putting them on the shelves in order. Is it time wasted? It is according to the owner of Shanghai's Dukou bookstore. In an article in today's China Daily, Xiao Gao throws cold water on the whole organization thing: "Unlike most bookstores, books here are not categorized. Instead they are randomly shelved. According to Xiao, there is a bond between the reader and the book, and categorizing the books would jeopardize this relationship."

Beyond that puzzling idea, China Daily's review of four "concept bookstores" in China gives an interesting glimpse of bookselling in the Middle Kingdom. It's worth a read.--David E


While I don't usually think of the paper as a great source for literary news, USA Today today confounded my expectations and printed both an article on Irene Nemirovsky and an excerpt from her newly-released book Fire in the Blood.

Nemirovsky wrote over twenty books before she was killed in Auschwitz in 1942, but Suite Francaise, two novellas which were found in her papers only recently, is a runaway bestseller today, a favorite of critics and book clubs alike.--David E

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hot on the Shelves

Every year the folks at White Castle solicit recipes from their surviving customers for the "Crave Time Cookoff." Entrants must create a recipe which incorporates ten of the chain's trademark sliders in a new, exciting, and (it is to be hoped) tasty way. The best of these creations are collected in Crave Time Cookbook, and darned if we didn't just get a copy in the store this week.

Recipes include:
  • White Castle Souffle,
  • Chili con Castle,
  • Spinach Bake Castlebread,
  • and even White Castle Dim Sum

Flipping through the book, I can't help but notice that Minnesotans seem to be overrepresented in the winners. I don't know if we are more creative than the national average or if we just eat at White Castle more. Discuss.--David E

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Joe College has posted news of the Harvard Coop's policy of discouraging lingering students from writing down the ISBNs of their textbooks, in the hopes that the youngsters then won't be able to track down other, cheaper copies elsewhere.

The bookstore's website has very clear instructions: "When you receive your class schedule, come into the bookstore. Look through our selection of new and used textbooks. Buy them right then and there and take them with you. Happy studying!" Come in, look, buy--no one said you should comparison shop, kids.

The original article, from Harvard's Crimson newspaper, is here, but I also recommend the boingboing posting. The comments are good.--David E

Armchair Travel

The Kyiv Post has umm... posted an article detailing the city's bookstores.

I particularly want to visit this place: "Antresol, a restaurant/book cafe owned by the same people as Baboon and Kvartira Baboon is one of the coziest. In addition to a medium-priced menu, you’ll find shelves of classical, modern and foreign literature, which you can buy or just read while at the cafe." Then I'm off to Baboon.--David E

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Air Fresheners

The radio show Fresh Air has just posted two good author interviews:
  • Alan Greenspan talks about his latest book The Age of Turbulence. (Find it here.) Unlike, I didn't find him easy or breezy (see yesterday's posting on that, below), but he's very interesting nonetheless. Listen for the discussion of his romance with Ayn Rand in particular.
  • Today's show has an interview with Jeffrey Toobin about his book The Nine, a profile of the Supreme Court. Listen to that one here.

--David E

Recommended Recommendations

I just stumbled upon the blog Beyond the Bestseller and was impressed with today's item, a list of suggested books. I'd actually like to read many of them:I'll be watching this blog to see if their future recommendations are as good as September's.--David E

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Without Comment

The financial website says that The Age of Turbulence, the new book by the famously hard-to-decipher former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, is "an easy, breezy read."--David E

Black and White and Read All Over

The Minneapolis StarTribune has posted a very nice article about our monthly book club "Books and Bars." They share some anecdotes about the meetings ("When the evening's deliberations centered on a Chuck Klosterman book that included a passage on Dave Pirner, who happened to be on-site bowling at the time, Kamin got the Soul Asylum singer to duck into the session and wave to the crowd.") and profile some regulars including "the Hater," "the Teachers," and even a guy called "Text."

Check out the article here, then stop by next month's meeting (details here). We'll be discussing Jonathan Ames' novel Wake Up, Sir!--David E

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Free (Science) Fiction Friday

The blog Futurismic is back with its second "Free Friday Fiction," links to a bunch of free sci-fi books you can get just for clicking. See the latest list here.--David E

Y Tu Money Tambien

All the big books have promo videos now. But only a few can claim the pedigree that the video for Naomi Klein's new book Shock Doctrine has: Assisting Klein is none other than Alfonso Cuaron, director of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men.

Long a critic of globalization, Klein takes aim at "distaster capitalism" in her latest book, charging that today's finacial systems are too addicted to the turbulence caused by disasters to effectively prevent or mitigate them. You can hear Klein defend her idea in a recent BBC interview.--David E

Friday, September 14, 2007

Much Ado

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition--which aims to promote the idea that Shakespeare was not in fact the author of the plays attributed to him--got a shot in the arm recently when actor Derek Jacobi and the former artistic director of the Globe Theatre Mark Rylance signed their "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare."

You can read the details at the Coalition's website, E


I don't know which I want more--the nifty little chair/wheelbarrow with the built-in storage and lamp or the groovy, empty loft space. Click on the pic for details, but only if you speak German.--David E

Darkmans to be Published in the US

Nicola Barker's Man Booker Prize-nominated novel Darkmans will be published in the US in January, Publishers Weekly announced today. That leaves Animal's People as the only shortlisted title not available to American readers; US rights for that novel are currently on the auction block, and we should know a publication date soon.--David E

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Falling Up

James Frey's new novel will be published next summer by Harper Collins (WSJ). Unbroken by his hour-long scolding at the hands of Ms O a year and a half ago, Frey is back with Bright, Shiny Morning, a story set in today's Southern California, much like Frey's own life as a screenwriter.

I'm sure the critics are salivating over this news. To make it even better, Frey is already the author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel. Oh, the irony.--David E

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Booker Prize Roundup: Bonus Edition

The Guardian has posted a quick overview of this year's Man Booker Prize shortlist nominees. The parodic summaries are distilled from the paper's ongoing feature, "The Digested Read," which--as I've mentioned earlier--is extremely useful for folks (like me) who want to be opinionated, but don't have the time to read everything coming down the pike.

The Guardian has also posted a very useful Booker Prize page with links to their own reviews, other papers' reviews, and author interviews.--David E

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Last Chance

In the back of the store are two shelves of bargain books. They're not listed in our inventory, so you can't buy them online. You can only get these deals by coming into the store. These are titles that have been around too long or we have too many copies.

We often have some real gems on sale. Today on the same shelf I foundPS: I'm still trying to think of a jazzy name for this new--and I hope recurring--series. Any suggestions will be gratefully accepted.--David E

In the Long Run

We have a couple copies of Nocturnes, the new collection of photographs by St Paul's Chris Faust. Thing is, they're still in their shrinkwrapping, so I can't flip through them. Would one of you customers please come in and ask to see the photos, so we have an excuse to open one of these books?

Here are a couple of Faust's photographs to whet your appetite.--David E

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wisconsin Is The Wackiest State, I Swear

It used to be a manure tank in central Wisconsin. Now, all cleaned up, it's a bookstore. And not just any bookstore, but a real castle, with a moat and everything.

Read the whole article here. It'll make you want to plan a trip to the Badger State.--David E

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Booker Prize Roundup: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

This one is the Post-9/11 South Asian Allegorical One.

The protaganist is Changez; his girlfriend is Erica. When, after September 11, America changes (ummm... Erica... Changez... get it?) our anti-hero becomes the reluctant fundamentalist of the title. The novel is a single evening's monologue, as Changez recounts his tale to a traveler visiting Pakistan.

Good review: The Village Voice: "brief, charming, and quietly furious"
Not so good review: The Guardian: "slightly abstracted, thin-blooded"

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Booker Prize Roundup: Mister Pip

Shorthand for this one: The Favorite. (Alternative shorthand: The White-Man-Teaches-The-Unwashed- To-Love-Literature Book)

Mister Pip is set on the South Pacific island of Bougainville in the early 90s. As rebels approach and the white folks flee, only "Pop Eye" Watts remains to teach the local students using the only book he can find, Dickens' Great Expectations.

The knock on the book is that its theme is a bit too old-school British Empire. "Mister Pip contains a suspicious streak of paternalism throughout," says The Onion. "It invites sentiment yet gently mocks readers by exaggerating its own tropical colour," reassures The Australian.

Regardless, according to the UK gambling conglomerate William Hill, MP is the easy favorite to win this year's Man Booker Prize. It's listed at 2:1, ahead of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, lagging behind at 5:2.--David E

Booker Prize Roundup: On Chesil Beach

Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach was the bookie's favorite when the longlist for the Booker Prize was announced, but with the release of the shortlist that honor has moved to Mister Pip.

On Chesil Beach is the Establishment Choice in this year's nominees. McEwan has been longlisted five times; he won 1998's prize for his novel Amsterdam. Only Peter Carey and JM Coetzee have won the Man Booker Prize twice.

The novel itself is the story of two virgins whose disappointing first night as husband and wife prompts much discussion about love, sex, and even social class. Critical response has been good from the book's publication.--David E

Friday, September 7, 2007

File Under "Geek"

In an effort to post something that's not Booker Prize-related, I'll point you towards this list of the "Top 25 Librarian Bloggers." It's got four metrics, an explanation methodology... there's probably more, but I dozed off at that point.

I have to wonder if there aren't only about 30 librarian bloggers out there. How else do you explain number nine, Fililipino Librarian. Their slogan is "For those interested in knowing more about the Philippines, Filipiniana, Philippine libraries and Filipino librarians." A worthy cause, no doubt, but it's the world's ninth most popular librarian blog?--David E

Booker Prize Roundup: The Gathering

Among this years Man Booker Prize shortlist, Anne Enright's novel The Gathering can be summed up as The Irish One. But hers is not a land filled with alcoholic fathers and penny whistles. "Anne Enright, born in Dublin in 1962, gives us an Irish fiction that leads out of tradition into something zestily new," says the Telegraph. That seems to mean sardonic observations such as this one: "Emily is a bit of a cat and cats, I always think, only jump into your lap to check if you are cold enough, yet, to eat."

The Gathering is the story of Veronica Hegarty, who is drawn back into her sprawling Dublin clan's orbit following the death of her brother Liam. Familiarity ensues.

As appears to be the case with Nicola Barker's Darkmans (see my posting here), the emphasis in Enright's novel is on the writing more than on the plot. The Independent called it "slight in storyline, perhaps, but prodigious in the telling." Or as the reviewer in the Guardian said more obliquely, "She has uncovered the truth that sometimes our great adventures are interior." (Personally, I found the Guardian's Booker Club blog entry to be more opinionated and therefore more useful.)--David E

Booker Prize Roundup: Darkmans

Nicola Barker's novel Darklands is set in the town of Ashford in Kent, where the town's citizens are beset by the apparition of John Scogin, Edward IV’s court jester. Over several days and 840 pages, Scogin prompts each of the main characters to his or her own special madness. One rolls in the muddy seashore; another builds a model cathedral out of matchsticks.

Reviewers agree that plot is not the draw in this book. "[H]undreds of pages pass with little or no dramatic incident," says the Independent. No, you read this book for its language. One character is "easy as a greased nipple (and pretty much as moral)." Another is "Jabba the Hut with a womb, chronic asthma and a council flat."

The Guardian loved "this wonderful contrary sprawl of a novel." The Times was less thrilled with the book, though even that reviewer calls it "inventive, witty and well staged." The Independent was somewhere in between, praising the novel's "fearsome energy."

An American edition of Darkmans hasn't been announced yet, so we won't be able to judge for ourselves for a while yet.--David E

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Booker Prize Roundup: Animal's People

Of all the books on this year's Booker shortlist, the least familiar to me is Indra Sinha's Animal's People. It turns out to be a novel drawn from the author's own experiences in the aftermath of the Bhopal Union Carbide gas tragedy of 1984 (for information, click here).

Sindha founded the Bhopal Medical Appeal ( in 1994, and his novel is drawn from the stories of the people he met. The title's Animal is in fact a man, scarred and bent double since the events of "That Night." When the book opens Animal says, "I used to be human once." By its end, his people have helped him learn to find his humanity once again. The Indian Express called his story "a novel so honest that it leaves you gasping for breath."

There's been no announcement of an American edition of Animal's People as yet. Excerpts are available on Sinha's website.--David E

Man, Oh Man

The shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize has been announced. Among the final six are some you'd expect to see and a few I've never heard of. I'll do some digging in the next few days and try to get some details on the lesser known titles.Darkmans and Animal's People aren't available in this country yet, but that could well change in the coming weeks.

The winner of the Man Booker Prize will be announced on October 16.--David E

Book with a Beer Chaser

There's still time for you to get ready for next week's installment of our lubricated reading group Books & Bars. Join us Tuesday night (the 11th) at Bryant Lake Bowl (map) for conversation and a beverage with some very interesting folks. Doors open at 6:00pm for socializing; discussion begins in earnest at 7:00pm.

September's book is Theft by Peter Carey. It's the story of two brothers, one a painter and the other a childlike innocent, who are set about to steal paintings from the father-in-law of a beautiful stranger. John Updike said of the novel in The New Yorker, "Peter Carey is a superb writer, whose prose is always active, and who infuses his characters, however eccentric, with a warmth that lets them live in our minds."

Books & Bars is not your typical book club. We provide an atmosphere for lively discussion of interesting authors, good food and drinks. You're welcome to come even if you haven't read the book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mandatory Plaid Shirt

The San Francisco Chronicle has posted a brief interview with Steven Sparks, who works at the city's Green Apple Books, in my favorite part of SF--Clement Street. You can see the store's website here.--David E

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Turning Japanese

Donald Richie has written an article about Boy, a book of three short stories by Japanese actor/director Kitano "Beat" Takeshi. You might know Takeshi as the host of the cult hit TV show Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, but he's also a serious actor. His most famous move is the great Hana-bi (Fireworks). Richie's article discusses not only that movie, but many others, drawing together themes from both the book and the movies, and giving a fascinating glimpse into Takeshi's filmmaking.--David E

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The End

When Ian Rankin's best-known character, the crusty Edinburgh cop John Rebus, debuted in 1987's Knots and Crosses, he was forty years old. He's been aging in the novels right along with the rest of the world, and he's now sixty and approaching mandatory retirement. Seventeen books later, Rankin has announced that the next Rebus novel, Exit Music, will indeed be the last one.

You can read a review of the novel here, but that's all. No publication date has been announced yet for a US edition. If you're desperate for closure, you'll have to get it from across the pond.--David E

Among the Barbarians

Who would have thunk that New York magazine, home of the Model Manual and Party Lines, would also boast a great series of excerpts from graphic novels? But they do. Their Comics Page features some really interesting grown-up work--stuff you don't have to be embarrassed to read.

Right now they're showing Jake Myler's American manga Undertown. And if after that you accidentally read something about Leona Helmsley's dog, who can blame you?--David E

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What Might Have Been

Author and renowned curmudgeon VS Naipaul is one of the most prolific writers around. But it wasn't a sure thing. Early in his career, Naipaul was looking at other options. He tells the Scotsman:

"I would have liked to work for a big company in India. I did apply, but didn't get it. To get those jobs you had to be well-connected locally. It was a giant corporation. They made matches."

So he kept on writing, and the fire-making industry's loss is literature's gain.--David E