Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sneaky Peek

You may have heard about Scott McClellan's book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception. It was scheduled for a June 3 release to the public, but a reporter in DC went into a bookstore and bought a copy in advance of its official release date. How does that happen?

NPR talked to Barbara Meade, one of the owners of Politics & Prose bookstore and asked her just that question. (Listen to it here).

The New York Times also weighs in on the subject of the embargo that failed. Once one bookstore let a copy slip (and the book was reviewed at, the publisher decided to allow other bookstores to sell the book early, if they'd received their shipments. Said McClelland's publisher Susan Weinberg, “In the end, we felt that even though not everybody would have the book, we felt we should tell them they could sell it because otherwise they would be miserable, because people would keep coming in and asking for the book.”

Read the NYT article here.--David E

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bobble Foot

Larry Craig is going to write a "tell-all" memoir. He talks about it to a Boise TV station here.

No other details are available as yet. Will he make a book tour stop in Minneapolis? We'll let you know, I promise.--David E

En Fuego

You don't have to be Nostradamus to predict June's biggest book. The sixth collection of stories and essays from David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames is destined to fly off the shelves all month long.

The latest book from the erstwhile elf has had several announced titles, including Indefinite Leave to Remain and All the Beauty You Will Ever Need. But whatever you call it, Sedaris is back and is "older, wiser, smarter and meaner" (Kirkus Reviews).

When You Are Engulfed in Flames will be released June 3.--David E

Not Stirred

Got more money than you have brains? Then get out your wallet, because there's another oligarch edition* on the market.

Random House is selling a leather edition of the latest James Bond novel Devil May Care (penned by Sebastian Faulks) in conjunction with the British car maker Bentley. The $1500 book is bound in something called "Bentley leather" and comes with a pewter replica of 007's car.

Two hundred Brits bought the entire UK print run in just two hours. Only one hundred copies will be sold in the US, starting June 10, so throw your money at them now. Operators are standing by.--David E

PS: The first chapter of Devil May Care is here... for free.

City as Destiny

Sociologist Richard Florida--who wrote the various Creative Class books--is out with a new book, Who's Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life. In it, he argues that where you live is more important now than ever before, since your location determines your access to vital social networks. The accompanying website has the usual reviews, an excerpt, and (my favorite) various maps. The best one is this one:

I'm dying to know who makes up that island of mildly extroverted people in western North Dakota.--David E

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Amazon Coop to Close

Publishers Weekly is reporting that Minneapolis' Amazon Bookstore Coop will close at the end of June (details here). Amazon is the country's oldest feminist bookstore; it was founded in 1970. The store's current owners put the business up for sale earlier this year, but were unable to find a buyer.--David E

Chuck Palahniuk Rocks the House

M&Q hosted a fantastic event last week. Chuck Palahniuk packed the Triple Rock Social Club for a reading from his new novel Snuff. A capacity crowd of 350 attended and had a great time.

But don't take my word for it. You can read a fan's account of the evening on the blog One Schlock's Requiem. He made out well when the schwag was passed out. (There's a very nice picture of all his loot near the bottom of his post.) "Luckily," he says, "I’m tall, so catching all this stuff above the crowd is pretty easy."

Below are our photos from the event.

Chuck blows up one of the novelty giveaways.

Donald Ray Pollock warms up the crowd, reading from Knockemstiff.

Chuck again.

The crowd and their winnings. Note where Chuck signed the dolls.'s Alexis McKinnis interviews Chuck.

Chuck signing books.

We don't promise blowup dolls at every reading, but our author events always a good time. Check out our events page for details on all our upcoming readings.--David E


Filming on the movie version of Cormac McCarthy's grueling novel The Road is underway, and the New York Times has a glimpse behind the scenes. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic near future, after the earth has been scourged by an unnamed tragedy and world's few remaining humans trudge struggle for survival in a bleak and unforgiving wilderness of destruction. The film is being shot near Pittsburgh--because of the tax breaks, I'm sure.--David E

Woman On Top

Granta magazine has named a new editor. Alex Clark, formerly a deputy literary editor for the Observer newspaper (where she writes the column "My So-Called Week") and critic for the Daily Telegraph will take over for Jason Cowley, who left the magazine's helm after only seven months. Clark is the first woman to head Granta.--David E

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soup's On

If you're a fan of public radio's food and cooking show The Splendid Table, here are two bits of news you won't want to miss. The first is that host Lynn Rosetto Casper will be at the main branch of the Minneapolis Public Library on
Tuesday, June 24, 7:00pm, as part of the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library's "Talk of the Stacks" program. She'll be joined by Tom Crann, host of All Things Considered, and TST producer Sally Swift. Call 612-630-6174 for more information or visit the Friends' website.

The second piece of news is that we recently got a stack of Marion Nestle's book What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating. Nestle is a food scientist, consumer advocate, and frequent guest on TST. We got a good deal on What to Eat, so this useful book is only $12.99--over half off the published price of thirty dollars.--David E

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Elephant in the Room--Part 2

Just after I posted about the early review of Thomas Frank's forthcoming book The Wrecking Crew: Conservative Rule in Theory and Practice, we got word that the author himself will be reading in our store on August 28. We're still working out the final details, but we'll post the full information on our events page as soon as we can.--David E

Indications Point to No

According to the Star Tribune, plans to add a planetarium to the new downtown library are on hold. The Minnesota legislature approved bonding support, but Hennepin County commissioners are reluctant to fund the remaining $39 million balance. The Minneapolis Planetarium Society is continuing fundraising efforts.--David E

Monday, May 26, 2008

Elephant in the Room

Publishers Weekly got a sneak preview of Thomas Frank's forthcoming book The Wrecking Crew: Conservative Rule in Theory and Practice. Frank is the author of What's the Matter with Kansas?. PW calls his new book, "a scathing recap of Republican mismanagement and corruption... with a barbed wit and finely controlled anger." (The full review is here.)

The Wrecking Crew comes out August 5, plenty of time to get riled up for the Republican National Convention.--David E

Light Reading

From Holland's Studiomeiboom comes this lamp, called "Enlightment." It's a little pricey at 99 euros, but part of the profits from each lamp goes to the charity Edukans.--David E

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Home Sweet Home

As a teaser for next month's paperback release of Not That You Asked, Steve Almond has rant in about the scant joys of home ownership.--David E

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Behind the Curve(ball) has posted an interview with Tom Swift, author of Chief Bender's Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star. It's a fascinating look at baseball's early days and the young Ojibwe man whom Connie Mack called "the greatest money pitcher the game has ever known." Bender faced a great deal of racism during his career, though it didn't prevent his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1953.

Far be it from me to point out other's tardiness, but M&Q hosted Tom Swift back in April as part of our Baseball Bonanza. If you want to meet interesting, up-and-coming authors before they're too famous to read for free (yeah, I'm talking to you, Sedaris), check out our events page.--David E

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sneak Preview

Minnesota Public Radio talked to Denis Gardner, author of Wood, Concrete, Stone, and Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges, just out from the University of Minnesota Press. Gardner studied over 200 of the state's historic bridges for his book. The interview is here.

Denis Gardner will be in our store on Monday, June 9, at 7:30pm. He'll be talking about his book and showing slides.--David E

If You Can't Get to Hibbing...

Minnesota Public Radio spoke to Toby Thompson. Thompson will be in our store this coming Sunday, May 25, at 5:00pm to discuss his book Postively Main Street: Bob Dylan's Minnesota. Thompson's book was one of the first Dylan biographies, and has just been reissued with a new preface by the author.--David E

Here Come the Haters

It begins.

The dependably nasty is out with its rundown on factual errors in James Frey's novel Bright, Shiny Morning. For example, ""In 1873, the city's first newspaper, the Los Angeles Daily Herald, opens." — Can't be true because there were two other newspapers publishing in the 1850s."--David E

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Max Ross, in The Rake's Cracking Spines column, has posted a funny column about the pros and cons of Barnes and Noble. Personally, I think he's a little too charitable to the mega-chain, but what really caught my eye was this portion: "You can sit in a Barnes & Noble for as long as you want, without feeling guilty. (I tend to start feeling guilty after about fifteen minutes in Magers & Quinn if I don't find anything I want.) It's kind of like a library, but with newer, better smelling books."

Why does he feel guilty about being in our store without buying anything? I mean, are we doing something to casual browsers to make them anxious? Too much lurking? Too many offers to help find a title? Please, gentle reader, help us make our store less anxiety-provoking. Post a comment below.--David E

Can This House Be Saved?

Edith Wharton's home, The Mount, in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, is facing foreclosure. Wharton built the home according to her own exacting standards. It was completed in 1902. After the author's death, the house passed through several owners before it was acquired by a foundation, also known as "The Mount", which undertook a major restoration. The foundation is facing debts of around three million dollars, and the current tight credit market has made its situation very dicey.

Donors including former Disney CEO Michael Eisner have already donated to help the cause. Read more on the foundation's difficulties here. Click here to learn how you can help the Mount.--David E

Coffee to Go

Minneapolis' venerable Coffee House Press is picking up stakes and moving to Northeast's equally venerable Grain Belt Building. Plans are in the works for an open house in October. (Details of the move are in Publishers Weekly.)--David E

Calling All Cars!

A fight broke out at a recent reading by James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces. According to the New York Post, six "hooligans" came to the event at Los Angeles' Whiskey-a-Go-Go expecting to hear a heavy metal band and started to tear the place up when they found only Frey, reading from his new novel Bright Shiny Morning. Twenty cops were required to calm the fracas and arrest three of the participants.--David E

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Large, Charmless Bookstore Conglomerate Seeks Same For Dating, Possible Merger

From the Wall Street Journal: Barnes and Noble has formed a panel of worthies to look into buying the struggling Borders chain. (A subscription is required for the full story.)--David E

Over There

London's Guardian speculates on potential nominees for the post of Poet Laureate in the UK, which comes vacant next year. Their leading canditate is Carol Ann Duffy. If she gets the nod, Duffy will be the first woman to hold the position. Ten years ago, when the job was last available, Duffy was considered an unlikely candidate, as she was an unmarried mother in a relationship with another woman. This time around, times have changed (although Duffy is still a mother), and Duffy's reputation and popularity have grown.

The Poet Laureate is charged with composing poetry for the queen on special occasions. It's a largely ceremonial position, and the PL no longer receives "a butt of sack" (108 gallons of sweet wine), as was once the case. Still, most critics agree it's a good gig.--David E

Update (5/22/08): Now the Independent says there's a groundswell of support among literati for a women to be appointed Poet Lauret. They have a rundown of the top candidates here.--David E

Paparazzi-Free for Over 13 Years

London scandal rag The Mail gossips about the shopping habits of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban during a recent visit to a Nashville bookstore. Someone was clearly stalking the couple, as the article (here, not that you are the sort of person who reads that sort of thing) includes details of the books they looked at and the contents of said books.

We at Magers and Quinn would like to assure our customers that we are a paparazzi-free zone, where you can shop in peace, no matter how famous you are.--David E

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Out in the Woods

A rude cabin which once belonged to the prolific Western novelist Zane Grey has been purchased by the Bureau of Land Management. The retreat on Oregon's Rogue River will remain open to the public. (Details are here.)

It turns out that many of the late author's old digs have been preserved for posterity, including his home in Lackawaxen, PA, which is owned by the National Park Service, and a reconstructed cabin in Payson, AZ. Details on the museums are on the Zane Grey's West Society website.--David E

Barbara Ehrenreich Is Coming to Town

Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation, comes out June 24. It's another scathing look at contemporary society. Ehrenreich is an incisive critic and this book is a must-read for anyone with a social conscience.

And what's better than a new book by Barbara Ehrenreich? How about the chance to see her in person? She'll be in town July 8, at 7:30pm, reading from her book and taking your questions. The event is free and will be held at Lyndale United Church of Christ (810 W 31st St, Minneapolis). Mark your calendar now.--David E

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tempest in a Teacup

Simon Winchester, the author of Krakatoa : The Day the World Exploded August 27, 1883 and The Professor and the Madman : A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, is out with a new book, The Man Who Loved China. In it he tells the story of "an avid nudist, a wild Morris dancer, an accordion player, and a chain-smoking churchgoer and a supporter of gay rights" who also happened to be one of the twentieth century's premier Western scholars studying China. Like Winchester's earlier profiles about eccentric it's a great read; calls it, "an enjoyable, breezy read, well suited for reading on the chaise longue, gin-and-tonic in hand."

To bring the historical material up to date, you can also read Winchester's op-ed piece in the New York Times in which he examines China's puzzling technological retreat in the last centuries. Why, he asks, have "China’s innovative energies inexplicably withered away, and modern science became the virtual monopoly of the West[?]"

And finally, on the Britannica Encyclopaedia's blog, Matthew Battles takes Winchester to task for his idea: "Moral superiority mingles with sentiment and paranoia to produce a thick haze of incense-tinged nonsense." Buy the book and decide for yourself.--David E

Little Shop On the Prairie

Yankton, South Dakota's Press & Dakotan newspaper profiles Teresa Jacobson, who has just opened Books & Beans, a new and used bookstore in the town. The store also sells coffee, baked goods, and used video games.

If you're in the area, stop in and support a new, independent bookstore.--David E

At Least, We'll Miss You When You're Gone

Please read this great article in London's Independent newspaper: "The story of William McGonagall, the worst poet in the history of the English language". It's a gem of underdog history. But the poet has had his revenge, if posthumously. A signed folio of his poems recently sold at auction for £6,600. Not bad for someone who, while he lived, "was a music hall joke--the Mr Bean of the Scottish cultural scene. He was paid five shillings for a public recital so that his mostly working-class audiences could jeer at his bad poetry or pelt him with rotten vegetables."

And a critical refurbishment may be in the offing. McGonagall's biographer takes a very sunny view of his subject's limitations: "'Here, you see, he has the same thoughts as Wordsworth,' said Mr Nasmyth. 'He just doesn't know how to express them well.'"--David E

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Pity the poor author. His book was a hit in hardcover, but that was a year ago. Now the paperback edition is out, but how do you get people talking about it? It's 2008; the solution is YouTube.

Dennis Cass knew the answer and produced this video to draw attention to the softcover version of his very funny book Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain.--David E

He Is Always With Us

There's a roundup of this season's crop of books about Bob Dylan in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Let's run them down: --David E

Saturday, May 17, 2008

See Him Before He's Famous

There's an author reading coming up soon: William Alexander will be reading from his work at Uptown's own DreamHaven Books (912 West Lake Street) on Monday, May 19th, at 6:30PM. Will's work has appeared in in Weird Tales, Zahir, and Rain Taxi. In 2008 his work will appear in Postscripts, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and Fantasy: The Year's Best 2008. (When he's not writing, Will also works here at Magers & Quinn.)--David E

Palahniuk Reviewed

Chuck Palahniuk's newest novel Snuff comes out Tuesday. Like his earlier novels Fight Club and Rant, it's tough stuff. Or as the Minneapolis Star Tribune says in its review of the novel, "Before discussing Palahniuk's ninth novel, Snuff, it's important to note that while the themes and style of his books are always interesting, sometimes brilliant, sometimes inane and always rightfully controversial, his work is so unendingly gross and explicit that gentle, easily offended souls should be forewarned."

But wait, there's more: "That said, Snuff is a spare and effective one-act play; a refreshingly simple tale told start to finish by a writer who often piles on the mind games and reverse chronologies."

Best of all, tickets are still available for Chuck Palahniuik's reading on Wednesday, May 21, at the Triple Rock Social Club. Stop in the store and get yours before they're all gone. Details are on our events page.--David E

Friday, May 16, 2008

Support Your Local Library

If you've taken advantage of the expanded hours offered by the newly merged Minneapolis and Hennepin County libraries lately, you have the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library to thank. The group, which has thrice received the Baker & Taylor Award for the nation’s most outstanding Friends group, works to raise money for the library system, to expand its educational and cultural offerings (including the great Talk of the Stacks series of lectures by noted authors), and to keep the library open later and longer.

You can give back at the Friends' Off the Shelf gala. The event will be held Saturday, May 31. Tickets start at $50 for a basic wine-and music evening. Bigger spenders can mingle with local authors including Robert Alexander, Carol Connolly, Marion Dane Bauer, Bill George, Judith Guest, Pete Hautman, William Kent Krueger, Lorna Landvik, Mary Logue, Dr. Steve Miles, Dale Mulfinger, Heather McElhatton, Wang Ping, and Steve Thayer. Visit the Friends' website for full details.--David E

And Their Contentions Are Like the Bars of a Castle

I've told you about the Happy Tales Bookshop in Markesan, Wisconsin, housed in a converted manure tank (read that post here). Now you can see video of the store and its owners, courtesy of CBS' Sunday Morning.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Le Ballon Rouge has a nice article about St Paul's fantastic Red Balloon Bookshop. I hadn't realized until I read it that the bookstore is named for the popular French children's book (and movie) of the same name.--David E

Word of Mouth

The Star Tribune recently ran a nice review of Ellen Hawley's new novel Open Line, published by Minneapolis' own Coffee House Press. It's a satire of conspiracy-minded media, and a darn good read. Said the STrib, "The book is great comedy, but it also is challenging and sobering, leaving us to wonder just how far reality can be bent out of shape."

Elaine Hawley will be reading and signing books in our store Friday, June 6, at 7:30pm. Details are on our events page.--David E

DIY Booker

In honor of its own fortieth anniversary, the folks at the Man Booker Prize have announced the shortlist of titles for the "Best of Booker" Prize. Six past winners made the cut: You can vote for your favorite at the Booker's website. Don't worry if you haven't yet read them all. Voting ends July 8; the winner will be announced July 10.--David E

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's About Time

From the New York Times comes word that filming has begun on a revamped version of that staple of my childhood, The Electric Company; details are here. Now as then, the show aims to help struggling young readers--usually from low-income households. This time around, though, the show will be a multimedia extravaganza, including radio ads, billboard ads, and even a tie-in with Marvel Comics.

Now you have a brainy excuse to look at the clips of classic clips from the 70s heyday of The Electric Company here. Also, check out the cast of the 1971 series. Did you know Morgan Freeman was an original cast member?--David E

Don't Go Near the Water

I don't recognize half the seafood available out there lately. (Pongo, anyone?) And maybe that's just as well, since Taras Grescoe's muckraking profile of the fishing industry Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, really makes me think twice about eating any more fish. The book's press, including this article in Calgary's Herald newspaper and this write-up at, is good, if a little scary. Grescoe details the worker abuses and environmental costs of just about every kind of scaly main course.

Point me towards the Boca Burgers.--David E

May Your Song Always Be Sung

Just when you thought there was nothing more to say about Bob Dylan, his former girlfriend Suze Rotolo has published her memoir of their time together. Rotolo was there at the beginning (that's her posed with Dylan on the cover of his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan).

Her new book A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties is the subject of a write-up in the New York Times. You can read an interview with Rotolo here and read an excerpt from her memoir here, both courtesy of the New York Times.--David E

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I'm not going to get to it for a while, but I fully intend to read Misha Glenny's new book McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld as soon as I have a spare couple evenings. Glenny, a former BBC reporter specialzing in the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans, is a really gripping writer; I loved his book The Fall of Yugoslavia. Reviews of McMafia, which outlines the rise and reach of international crime syndicates around the world, have been very good; see some here, here, and here.

Meanwhile, I have at least begun reading the book; the first chapter is posted at, courtesy of the Seattle Public Library.--David E

Sincere Flattery?

This past weekend's broadcast of NPR's show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! had a literary question that was too good not to pass along: Bram Stoker based his most famous character on which of the following: a) his mother-in-law b) Walt Whitman c) Prince Albert.

The answer, you've no doubt guessed already, is Walt Whitman, whom Stoker felt was a sexually liberated freewheeling Male. In support of the thesis, I point you towards this interview with Erik Nuzum, author of The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula.--David E

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Going and Doing

A recent article in the Winona (MN) Daily News could just help you plan a weekend escape from the Twin Cities.

The Bookshelf, Winona's independent new and used bookstore, is moving. They will share quarters with the Blue Heron Coffeehouse. The Bookshelf will shutter its current location on May 24. Both businesses will reopen May 30 at 162 W. Second Street. Details are here.

It's a nice drive down the river to support an independent bookstore and get a cup of coffee. Start your engines.--David E

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Somebody, Indeed

Irish memoirist Nuala O’Faolain, author of Are You Somebody?" among several other books, has died of cancer at the age of 68. She was diagnosed six weeks ago, but declined treatment. "As soon as I heard I was going to die, the goodness went from life," she said.

The Irish Times has an obituary.--David E
5/13/08: The Washington Post has posted a longer obituary here. The New York Times' obit is here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Virtual Vacation

I admit it: I'm mildly obsessed by the idea of Second Life, the parallel cyber-universe/roleplaying game in which Korean high school students and Silicon Valley junior executives construct detailed worlds in which they can pretend to be Korean college students and Silicon Valley senior executives, respectively.

Now I find I can indulge in a bit of virtual armchair travel, courtesy of the Second Life blog and this review of Second Life In-World Travel Guide.Says the review's author, "The book is 6 inches wide, 9 inches high - it literally looks like any other travel guide for a foreign country I've seen. ... This book has the clearest, most color-true screenshots of Second Life I have seen from the over ten Second Life books I own."

By the way you can visit the author's decidedly Web 1.0 blog at E