Friday, November 30, 2007

Inside Joke

Life imitates art in Santa Barbara, where someone is spraypainting graffiti on the local UC campus. The red figures are in the shape of the muted trumpet (below) from Thomas Pynchon's novel The Crying of Lot 49. In the book, the trumpet is the clue which allows the protaganist Oedipus Maas to discover the reclusive organization called Tristero. Fifteen to twenty of the designs have been found so far on the University of California campus.

No one has claimed responsibility for the grafitti, and says, presumably with a straight face, "Pynchon could not be reached for comment."--David E

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Kalima (Arabic for "word") is a project funded by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage which aims to increase the number of books in translatation available to readers in the Arabic language. According to their website, that won't be hard; there's a real dearth of such works available at the moment. "If you are looking for the works of Freud or Chaucer for example, you will not find them in Arabic. ... Spain translates in one year the number of books that have been translated into Arabic in the past 1000 years."

I'm already a fan of the project just from having learned that one of the first six titles they've translated is Haruki Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore. Arabic readers looking for something meatier can at last read Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time--David E

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Agony, I Tell You

You may not know the name Vinko Bogataj, but his world-famous wipeout in the opening credits of ABC's "Wide World of Sports" was formative to me in my youth and gave rise to the expression "pulling a Vinko."

I mention this because on Saturday, Decepber 8, at 8:30pm, Wayne Johnson, author of White Heat: The Extreme Skiing Life will be in the store. Johnson has met Bogataj and other similarly wild and crazy skiing guys. So that video isn't looking so gratuitous after all, is it?.--David E

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You Tell Me

If you're having trouble choosing a book, you can always ask the staff at your friendly local independent bookstore for some suggestions. Or visit There you can choose up to four characteristics for your desired book. Should it be short or long? Safe or disturbing? Sex-filled or sex-free? Click on the appropriate bar, then move the slider to get just the right balance. Then click on "Go," and see what you should be reading.

You can also search the recommendations by character, plot, and setting. The possibilities are endless.--David E

Boldly Go

I'm not a big fan of science fiction, but when the Seattle Public Library's book maven Nancy Pearl--author of Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason and Book Crush For Kids and Teens: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Interest--makes some suggestions, even I pay a little attention. Pearl has listed six of her favorite SF novels. Better still, there are excerpts for them all, so you can get a taste without leaving your computer.

You can find the list and the excerpts here.--David E

Friday, November 23, 2007

Since You're (Probably) Not at Work Today

First, Ian McEwan's novel On Chesil Beach is passed over for the Booker Prize. Now he's been hit with a nomination for the Literary Review's Bad Sex Award. Also on the list is the late Norman Mailer for his book The Castle. Details of the prize and its history are here.

In fairness to McEwan, On Chesil Beach is a novel about sexual dysfunction. It centers on a rather unsatisfactory honeymoon night, so the attention actually means McEwan has done a good job of writing,perversely enough.--David E

Sneak Peek

The New York Times has posted its list of 2007's 100 most notable books. The list will be in print on December 2, but you can check it out online now. Click here to refresh your memory and help jumpstart your holiday shopping list.

Remember that you can always check our inventory on our website or by phoning us at 612/822-4611 (toll-free: 888/912-6657). If the book you want isn't in stock, we can always order new copies of in-print books; special orders are 10% off the publisher's price and generally arrive in under a week.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Cry a Little

Oh, you tired, underpaid publishing industry insiders, at last your story can be told. The Onion has the inside scoop on how Rupert Murdoch tried to drive Judith Regan to quit her job as the head of Regan Books, attempted publisher of OJ Simpson's If I Did It. Enjoy the semi-truth.--David E

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

They Pulled Me Back In

So I'd just given up on NPR's news program aimed at twentysomethings with woefully short attention spans, The Bryant Park Project, when darned if they didn't go and post an item I'm actually interested in.

The BPP talked to Dan Borchert, author of Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library. He blows the lid off these publicly-funded ratholes, detailing theft, drug-dealing and other such shenanigans. But the choice morsel of the report is about folks who park their kids in the library all day, finding it a cheap alternative to daycare.

Hear the interview here.--David E

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Now You're Talking

A few weeks ago, Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! and author of The Book of Vice, talked to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air program. It was all very nice; I recommended it. It was very appropriate for most any audience--good, if not quite as sensational as you might expect an interview on the subject of immorality to be.

Ah, but now Sagal, umm, lets his hair down in an interview with My favorite revelation: Sagal wrote the first draft of the screenplay that would eventually become Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. If that's not a sin, I don't know what is.--David E

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can't Find Me! But Call My Agent for an Interview

Andrew Morton's forthcoming unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise--titled plainly enough Tom Cruise: The Unauthorized Biography--seems to have landed the author in hot water--or at least in a good publicity stunt.

Morton is the author of biographies of Princess Diana, Madonna, and Mel Gibson, but has said researching Cruise was his hardest task yet. According to London's Daily Mail, Morton is under such pressure from the Church of Scientology that he's sold his apartment and gone into hiding. Says the author, “I have received threats from the Scientologists and things have become pretty heavy--to the extent that it’s almost more than my lawyers can ­handle.”

Tom Cruise: The Unauthorized Biography will be published January 15, 2008.--David E

Friday, November 16, 2007

Support Your Loal Poets

Magers & Quinn Booksellers and the Walker’s present a reading by the winners of this quarter’s poetry contest: "What Light--this week’s poem." The reading will be Sunday, November 17, at 5:00pm, in our store (map). Refreshments will be served.

Among the readers for this reading wil be
  • Charisse Gendron
  • Margaret Hasse
  • Amy Levine
  • Cass Dalglish
  • Greg Watson
  • James Henderson
  • Andrea Matthews
  • Vanessa Ramos
  • Terri Ford
  • Karsten Piper
All Minnesota residents are invited to submit their poetry to "What Light." Visit for more details.--David E

Up North... Way North

The Iceland Review has published a summary of the state of publishing in Iceland. It seems the little country of only 300,000 souls managed to publish an astonishing 800 books last year. What's more, Icelandic publishers and bookstores manage to sell those books at quite decent rates: 8,000 to 12,000 copies constitute a bestseller. Most small publishers in the US would be very happy to see numbers like that, too.--David E

Talk to Him

Minnesota Public Radio has interviewed Wing Young Huie about his trip around North America, chronicled in his book Looking for Asian America. In 2001 Huie and his wife traveled all around the US and even into Canada and Mexico, seeking out Asian Americans in the most unexpected places. They found a Vietnamese Elvis, Miss Congeniality on her cell phone in San Francisco's Chinatown, a Hmong street sign in rural North Carolina, a meditating Falun Gong protestor in Washington, D.C., and a bubble tea Valley Girl.

But you can do more than just listen to the MPR interview. Huie will be in our store (map) on Tuesday, November 20, at 7:30pm. He'll be giving a talk about his trip, showing slides, and answering questions. Don't miss this unique opportunity to interact with this great local artist. The event is free and open to the public--David E

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Nationals

The winners of the 2007 National Book Awards have been announced. The fiction winner is store favorite Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. The Young People's Literature winner is Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian--which is also #5 on our Uptown Bestsellers list this week.

Rounding out the winners are Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes for nonfiction and Robert Hass' Time and Materials for poetry.--David E

Pimp My Bookcart

Winners of the 2007 "Pimp My Bookcart" competition have been announced. Librarians everywhere are clearly deeply, if not disturbingly, creative.--David E

Imitating Art

Teacher Michael Chalk was reading a book in a pub in Cairns, in the north of Australia. Odd, you might say, but is it a crime? Bouncers in the bar thought it might be and escorted Chalk out of the bar, citing other patron's concerns about his choice of reading material.

And just what was the dangerous book in question? It was The Unknown Terrorist. In the novel, the protagonist is mistakenly identified as a terrorist, and Kafka-esque non-hilarity ensues. It's fiction. Yeah, fiction.

Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Right in Our Backyard

One of our favorite books of local history is Uptown Minneapolis. It's a collection of historic photographs of the neighborhood and a fascinating look at the area's past.

You can not only get the book at our store right now, but on November 27, at 6:30pm, you can meet author Thatcher Imboden. He'll be speaking at the Walker Library (2880 Hennepin Avenue S). The event is free. Call 612/630-6650 for details.--David E

Aim High

It's official. Oprah has announced her next book pick, and the world must sit up and take notice. This time around it's Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth. The novel tells the tale of the building of a twelfth-century English cathedral and promises "a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother."

Oh, and get reading, Oprahites. The book weighs in at a healthy 970 pages.--David E

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One Way or Another

If you're not yet up to here with remembrances of Norman Mailer, I have two quick reads for you. They're entirely different views of the man. First is Joan Smith's scathing post on the Guardian's blog. She calls him "more grand reactionary than great writer," and that's about the nicest thing she has to say.

Then, read the 2006 interview reposted recently at From his cantankerous opening salvo--"I'm also hard of hearing — particularly when I don't like a question"-- it's a very intresting interview and one that reminds you of Mailer's charm.--David E

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sea Change?

This one may not seem like much, but trust me, booksellers think this is big news. According to the Guardian Picador has announced that starting this spring, they will publish their new titles in both hardcover and paperback editions simultaneously. Until now, industry practice has been to release the paperback months (or in the case of The Da Vinci Code, years) after the hardcover is published. So we in the stores are forever hearing customers say about some big, much-hyped book, "Only in hardcover? I'll wait then."

Many questions remain: Is this a UK-only phenomenon? Will other publishers follow suit? Will hardcovers become luxury items? I'll try to answer the first one in the next few days. Only time will tell about the second.--David E

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sing, Sing a Song

Can't get the theme from The Brady Bunch out of your head? Then you're experiencing one of the more benign forms of what author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, calls "musicophilia." His latest book of the same name, recounts the many ways our brains process, use, and even misuse music. Get a taste: NPR has posted two interviews with Sacks and an excerpt from his new book.--David E

Thursday, November 8, 2007

For Make Glorious Readings of Borat

What is an author reading by Borat like? To judge from a recent appearance in West Hollywood, it's about as funny and scandalous as you'd expect. According to USA Today, Sasha Baron Cohen didn't break character as he showed off the newly printed jewel of the faux-Khazak publishing industry.

"We now have built the great statue of Melvin Gibsons," he said. "It is over 700 feets tall, and childrens can climb up the staircase inside it and throw potatoes down on Jewtown from its [ummm.... rear--Ed.]." The crowd reportedly loved the performance.

Borat: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is available now for brave readers like you.--David E

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Second Chance

Paul Krugman doesn't give compliments lightly, so when he says--as he did today on Minnesota Public Radio--that last night's conversation and Q&A with David Morris, sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers, were "really good," you know he means it. Close to a thousand people attended this fascinating--and free--event. If you weren't one of them, you can hear Professor Krugman on MPR's "Midmorning" show.

And we still have copies of his latest book, The Conscience of a Liberal. If you hurry, you might get one of the signed copies.--David E

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Not Quite A Million

This spring I predicted that Random House's terms under which disgruntled purchasers of James Frey's semifictional memoir A Million Little Pieces could claim recompense would be too hard for most people. And sure enough, only 1,729 folks (an estimated 7.2% of those eligible) have jumped through the necessary hoops.

You can read the full story , including details of just how much the lawyers are making off this whole scandal here.--David E

Geek Out... Way Out

Following up on my earlier post about the book Transit Maps of the World: Reuters UK has interviewed the author. He's funny and interesting, but the best part is the mention of several websites for "transport geeks." I love in particular. It shows maps of transit systems around the world. I'll be wasting a lot of time there, I can tell.--David E

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stream of Consciousness

Douglas Coupland, the Canadian author of Generation X and Microserfs, is releasing a series of videos on YouTube to promote his latest novel The Gum Thief. The video, like the book, is a series of random thoughts of an office superstore employee. Using signage customized with parts of the text and animations of paperclips and staples, the video is part promotion, part meditation.

Visit YouTube to find the other video segments.--David E

Friday, November 2, 2007

Don't Miss It

Please join us for an evening with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. He will be in town to discuss his new book The Conscience of a Liberal. You won't want to miss this opportunity to hear one of the country's most interesting and influential thinkers.

Professor Krugman will be interviewed by David Morris, Vice President of The Institute for Local Self-Reliance. A reception and book signing will follow.

This event is free and open to the public. Note also that unlike most M&Q events, this reading will be at Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Avenue S, in Minneapolis.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Book with a Beer Chaser

There's still time to get ready for next week's installment of our lubricated reading group Books & Bars. Join us Tuesday night (the 13th) 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.

November's book is The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Through the lens of four meals from four different sources--"industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves"--Pollan explores why we eat what we eat.

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.

Short and Sweet

One of the more entertaining daily email newsletters I get is the Very Short List. It's not quite a list, being only a single item a day. Recent items have included a link to a Japanese commercial in which Keifer Sutherland spoofs his 24 character and a neo-gypsy cover of "Born to Be Wild."

Today's item heaps praise on the second volume of The Paris Review Interviews. "[Y]ou'll find a pearl of wisdom on practically every page (Faulkner: "All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection"); if you can't wait, just skip to the interview with Stephen King at the end."

Another thing I love about VSL is their Venn diagrams, placing each item in its proper sociological context. Below is the one for The Paris Review Interviews.--David E