Thursday, January 31, 2008

Whose Dame is Grande-er?

If you haven't been following the presidential election, I'll give it to you in a nutshell: Maya Angelou has endorsed Hilary Clinton, and Toni Morrison has endorsed Barak Obama. No writer has come out in favor of any of the Republican hopefuls.

Now helpfully compares and contrasts the two authors--but fails to ask the most crucial question: Does it matter?--David E

Special Bonus: Read Maya Angelou's paean to HC, entitled State Package for Hillary Clinton.

Watch Out

Thirteen people have been arrested in Turkey, charged with plotting to kill the writer Orhan Pamuk. The author has long been the target of threats and was prosecuted last year for "insulting Turkishness" in his writings. Among those arrested are a retired general and the lawyer who brought charges against Pamuk and several other writers.

Details are here.--David E

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's in Your Pocket?

San Francisco's Chronicle Books is now the US distributor for the storied Moleskine notebooks. There's an item on the publisher's blog about the notebooks, and while it's mostly marketing fluff, it does include this charming photo. I thought it was too good to pass up.--David E


Paul Rand (1914-1996) was a giant in American graphic design. You've seen his work even if you don't know it--he created the logos for ABC, IBM, and even Enron, to name just a few. He was also a book and cover designer, and that work is the subject of a lecture by current design heavyweight Stephen Heller, part of the Paul Rand Lecture Series from New York's School of Visual Arts.

Watch the Rand lecture here, or see a list of Heller's all lectures here or subscribe to the video podcast using your favorite aggregator (such as iTunes).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This War

Susan Wicklund, author of This Common Secret: My Journey As an Abortion Doctor talks to about wearing a bulletproof vest to work and why she's hopeful about the future of reproductive rights nonetheless. Read it here.

Susan Wicklund will be reading from her book in our store on Tuesday, February 5, at 7:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.--David E

You Might Learn Something

Naturalist Paul Tolme was shocked to see that his descriptions of black-footed ferrets (originally published on the Defenders of Wildlife website--have apparently made their way--uncredited--into a bodice-ripper by the name of Shadow Bear. The book--like the ferrets--is not tame. Details are here at Newsweek.--David E

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's the End of the World as We Know It... And I Feel Fine

The program's name sounded unpromising: "Apocalyptic Fiction." I'd braced myself for a discussion of the Left Behind series. But instead To the Best of Our Knowledge served up a fantastic hour of book talk (download it here). They talk to the editor of The Apocalypse Reader. Kevin Brockmeier, author of A Brief History of the Dead, discusses his novel. Lydia Millet talks about her fifth novel, How the Dead Dream. And in the last and best segment, Scott Westerfeld, author of the young adult books Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, tells how his dystopian high-school world of mandatory plastic surgery grew out of a friend's visit to a dentist in LA.

Don't let the title fool you, too. This is a great hour of radio. It's funny and compelling, and will make you glad to be alive... for now.--David E

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Art Gawker

It's often worthwhile to check out the Times of London's "Book Extracts" page, but you sometimes have to skip the UK books you'll never see from people you've never heard of. And yet...

Read if you will this excerpt from the book Bit of a Blur by Alex James, and you will find this: "The roof terrace was a battle scene. ...I felt much better, drank some vodka and took all my clothes off. That was when Damien threw the watermelon. ...It sailed clean over the parapet." The Damien in question is Damien Hirst, the artist/scandalmonger/shark embalmer. The melon in question fell 50 floors; the police were called. It's fun stuff.

So you can read some very lowbrow gossip on a highbrow website. How great is that?--David E

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Life in Books

From the creative minds at Apartment Therapy comes this idea: wallpaper your home with pages from an old dictionary. Then you never have to leave the safety and security of a good book.--David E

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Belly Up to the Bar

From comes this list of America's top ten drunk authors. To paraphrase Lincoln talking about the perennially soused General Grant, send a bottle to the budding authors in your contacts.--David E

Like Stalking, Only Legal

From the good folks at Dwell magazine comes this five-minute video profile of the most famous book cover designer going (how's that for faint praise?), Chip Kidd. Hear him opine on Batman, visit his apartment, hear him sing. And if you that's not enough for you, you can hear Mr. Kidd discussing his latest novel at the Minneapolis Public Library, on Wednesday, February 27, at 7:00pm. Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nothing But a Mystery

Publishers Weekly has announced that the third installment of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance trilogy (along with Eragon and Eldest) will be called Brisingr. It will be released at midnight On September 20.

And that's about all I can tell you at this point. There's nothing on the publisher's website, nothing at, and nothing at the fan forum Stay tuned.--David E

Form a Circle

The National Book Critics Circle has announced the nominees for its yearly prizes. The list is rather too long to cite in full (see it here), but I'll draw your attention to one of the fiction titles: Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men. It's the story of a boy in the police state of Muammar Quadafi's Libya who both uses and is used by the system of betrayal and informers. Even I, who avoids fiction for the most part, liked this one, and that's saying something.--David E

Call the Surgeon General

In response to last year's enlarged smoking ban in the UK, London's Tank Books produced a series of literary classics packaged in cigarette boxes. Titles by Conrad, Kipling, and Kafka are among the works available to nicotine-deprived readers. They call the books "Tales to Take Your Breath Away."

Now from The Guardian comes word that British American Tobacco is suing the designers over a package that BAT says is too close to its own Lucky Strikes. It's the book on the far right of the picture above: The Snows of Kilimanjaro. There's no word yet on when a Hemingway patch might be available for Brits whose testosterone dips below acceptable levels.--David E

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

From Around Here

I somehow missed the fact that Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, is from St Louis Park. Leave it to MinnPost to keep me informed. Weisman talked to the Post about writing, touring, and how growing up with creosote in the drinking water made him an environmentalist.--David E

Sound and Fury

I've already blogged about Andrew Morton's publicity stunts promoting his latest celebrity tell-all Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography (read it here) and the web is alight with word of suits and paternity rumors.

The book itself is finally out, but saves you the trouble of actually reading it with their extracts of the juiciest bits. You can read the whole thing in maybe five minutes, which is only about four more minutes of your attention than this whole thing deserves.--David E

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What They're Reading in Reykjavik

According to the Iceland Review, homegrown crime writing is topping the charts on the North Atlantic island. Arnaldur Indridason's latest novel Hardskafi has sold a whopping 30,000 copies--in a country of only 300,000. That's the fastest selling Icelandic book ever. (Ísafold says that "Arnaldur er í toppformi.")

Indridason's earlier novel Jar City is the only one available in English as yet. But "Nordic Noir" is hot now, with publishers scrambling to find the next Henning Mankel. Wisconsin Public Radio's excellent program To the Best of Our Knowledge ran a good summary of the genre last month (here). You have to wade through the entire show for the book segment, but that's no hardship.--David E

More Verses

Random House has announced that Salman Rushdie's next novel, The Enchantress of Florence, will be published on June 3.

According to Publishers Weekly, "Florence is a historical novel based on seven years of research set in Renaissance Florence and the court of the Mughal Empire. Random House says the book mixes political intrigue and high drama, romance and magic and reflects on the dangers of intertwined fantasy and reality."--David E

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Portable Bookstore

Not only do have a great selection in-store and on-line, but we also sell books all over town--wherever there’s an event, or an author, or a gathering of booklovers that calls for booksellers, we can be there. Here’s a list of places where we’ll be selling books in February:
  • Feb. 2: 6pm Hot Stove League Baseball Banquet at the Ukrainian Hall on Main St. in N.E. Minneapolis – featuring Mike Veeck, Bill (Spaceman) Lee, Tony Oliva and more.
  • Feb.6: 7pm Macalester College Weyerhaueser Chapel: Poetry series curated by Wang Ping. This reading features Afaa Weaver, Tyehimba Jess, and Crystal Williams.
  • Feb.12: 6pm Bryant Lake Bowl, Books and Bars a book club co-sponsored by The Onion. This month we discuss The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Meets every second Tuesday.
  • Feb.17 6:30pm Macalester College John B. Davis Lecture Hall: Colonel (ret) Ann Wright discusses Dissent: Voices of Conscience sponsored by Neighbors For Peace.
  • Feb. 18 7:30pm Michael Oren discusses Power, Faith, and Fantasy at Lyndale United Church, 31st and Aldrich South.
  • Feb.20 7:30pm Jim Wallis discusses his new book The Great Awakening at First Universalist Church 34th and Dupont South.
  • Feb.22 4:30pm Daniel Tiffany reads poetry at Macalester College Fine Arts Center
  • Feb 27. 7pm Chip Kidd at Minneapolis Public Library downtown, part of their Talk of the Stacks Series.
  • Feb 28 7pm Charles Baxter at Minneapolis Public Library downtown, part of their Talk of the Stacks series.

Got an event that needs a bookselling partner? Got a venue for author events? Or for more info about these off site events contact David U here at Magers and Quinn Booksellers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

License to Mail

To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming and the 50th anniversary of the publication of his book Dr No, Britain's Royal Mail has issued James Bond Stamps.--David E

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's a Date

Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West
by the late Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto (which you heard about here earlier) will be released on February 12.--David E

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Shining Site for Authors

A beta version of the literary social networking site is active. The San Francisco-based start-up aims to connect authors and their readers, using blogs, podcasts, even video clips. So far, so good: Salman Rushdie, devorah major, Ishmael Reed, and T. Coraghessan Boyle have all contributed content. A portion of the advertising revenue from the website will be donated to charity.

You can read more about in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.--David E

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Now Hear This

I've just discovered that the Financial Times newspaper reviews audiobooks. On the page now are reviews of Patricia Cornwell's thriller The Book of the Dead and Haruki Murakami's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.--David E

Friday, January 4, 2008

Just Maybe

I can only guess that if you're an actor and you live long enough, you are somehow forced to write a children's book. Jamie Lee Curtis, Julianne Moore, and John Lithgow all have thin tomes on the short shelves.

Now comes word that British comedian David Walliams, best known in this country as the tall one in the sketch comedy show Little Britain. (See the news here.)

His editor says, "Walliams's playful wit and zestful imagination combine in a highly original story, which I know children will adore." I know it's unlikely, but I'm hoping that the forthcoming book--like the TV show--will be as disturbing and funny as Walliams' characters Emily the Crap Transvestite and Mr Mann. That'd be a kid's book even I'd read.--David E

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bite Me

I'm a sucker for photo books that catalog repeated instances of the same thing. (I honestly believe that the brightest undiscovered gem in our store at the moment has to be Minnesota Ice Arenas, a compendium of stats and pictures of every hockey venue in the North Star State.)

So it was with awe and pleasure that I spent a minute today flipping through a new book in our store: Tucker Shaw's Everything I Ate (a year in the life of my mouth). As you'd guess, it's an obsessive bunch of snapshots of meals and snacks, along with a short description of each one. I may be odd, but I find it a winning little book.

You can browse almost the entire book at Google Books--but oddly page 51 is missing. Figure that one out. I guess you'll have to come in the store to see that. See? Even in the digital age, bookstores rule.--David E

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Book With A Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, January 8. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

January's book is Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert, who works in what he calls happiness studies, explores the question of why humans as a group are so bad at predicting what will actually make us happy. A partial explanation: "When we have an experience . . . on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time," he writes. "Psychologists calls this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage." To get the full story, you'll have to read the book, but you can read the first chapter here to get started immediately.

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.

PS: Check out the StarTribune's article about Books and Bars. They loved it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Seven ... And Still Counting?

Seriously... Does it never end?

(This is what's got me going.)--David E

Breaking News

The Times of London has reported that Benazir Bhutto, slain Pakistani political leader, delivered a manuscript to HarperCollins shortly before her December 26 assassination. The book, to be called Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West will be "part political treatise and part memoir of the first woman elected Prime Minister of a Muslim country" and is currently scheduled to be released April 8, although the Times says that date may be pushed forward.--David E


"Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you." --Ford Madox Ford

That idea is the basis of an interesting blog The 99 Page Test. The site owners ask authors to open their own books to page 99 and discuss the events and themes as they relate to the rest of the book. I'll admit I don't recognize most of the authors interviewed, although Lisa See and Edmund White are among the respondents.

The blog is part of the larger Campaign for the American Reader network, which includes blogs on books and Hollywood and an opinionated list of literary lists. It's well worth a look.--David E