Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pop Up Video

Ever look at a pop-up book and wonder, How do they do that? This video gives a glimpse into the process of designing Sam Ita's forthcoming edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I think the coolest part is his computer-driven paper cutter.

The book itself will be available October 7.--David E

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Go Go Gophers

Max Ross at the Rake has good news for U of M boosters:

"According to this survey, the results of which were posted last week on this blog, the University of Minnesota's MFA program in creative writing is the 3rd-best in the nation."

Congratulations, folks.--David E

Keeping it Local

David Mura heads up the Star Tribune's roundup of local literary news. His new novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire is the poet and memoirist's first foray into fiction. Mura will be in our store for a reading on September 25. You can learn more on our events page.--David E

An Early Frost

Per Pettersen has a new book coming out. His first English translation Out Stealing Horses was a runaway success for the Twin Cities' Graywolf Press. Like his earlier novel, To Siberia is set in a very cold Scandinavia, but is full of vivid characters. Time Out New York has a preview of the book and calls it "a frostbitten, beautifully rendered addition to the “family can really screw you up” genre."

To Siberia goes on sale September 30.--David E

Friday, August 29, 2008


This is El Ateneo Grand Splendid, in Buenos Aires. Built in 1919 as a theatre, it was converted into a bookstore in 2000. Although the seats were remove to make way for the books, most of the rest of the building's original features--including the red velvet curtains framing the stage--are still intact.--David E

From Proserpina, via Flickr.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gan Aft Agley

Terrible, terrible news from the Guardian. Michael Jackson has been at work with some British celebrity I've never heard of, David Gest, on an album whose lyrics will be the poetry of Robert Burns, Scotland's most celebrated versifier. "He [Gest] explained that he and Jackson were originally planning to do a musical about Burns's life, but decided instead to turn his poetry into show tunes." I guess that's a small blessing, anyway.

But all is not dour. The article ends on a happy note, saying, "There are no current plans to release the recording as an album."--David E

Behind the Canvas

Peter Plagens, artist and art critic for Newsweek magazine, is writing a novel that promises to give us all a glimpse of the sordid underbelly of the art world. The first chapter is up and readable; the subsequent 23 installments will come once a week.

You can read Plagens' novel at E

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who Wins, Exactly?

Still smarting from the shakeup in Minneapolis's library system? It could be worse. Residents of Treasure Island, Florida, will have to pay for their library cards--as much as $100 each--if the city commission has its way. Commissioners recently voted to withdraw from a larger library system, to which the town currently pays $107,132 a year. Commissioner Phil Collins is reported to have said that spending that money would be "doing a disservice" to Treasure Island residents.

If Treasure Island is able to leave the Gulf Beaches Public Library system, it could well be the end of the larger cooperative, too. Library Director Jan Horah said, "I can't cut $100,000 out of our budget. It takes almost $200,000 just to pay salaries," she said. "I don't know what we are going to do."

Details are here.--David E

Like Little People

Alba Ballard loved her parrots. And what's more, she loved dressing them up. She sewed costumes for them and built sets so they could reenact scenes from movies and TV shows of the sixties and seventies. Sonny and Cher, Liberace, Bonnie and Clyde--she covered them all.

Photos of Alba's work are collected in the book Mrs. Ballard's Parrots. We've got a stack in the store now, at only $7.49. It's cheaper than dressing your own pets.--David E

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elephants Welcome

The book blog at the Christian Science Monitor profiles Twin Cities bookstores in advance of the Republican National Convention, and Magers & Quinn gets a nice mention. As manager Jay Peterson says, we're hoping for some increased evening traffic in the store, as conventioneers unwind from the day's hubbub.--David E

Tempus Fugit

Dave Freeman, author of 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Travel Events You Just Can't Miss has died, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The paper also tells us that "Freeman's relatives said he visited about half the places on his list before he died." (His co-author visited the rest of them, however.)--David E

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Prune of Tomorrow

Yesterday was Ray Bradbury's 88th birthday. The tributes were many, and I can't do much to add them. I can only make sure that you remember the master of the science fiction novel by watching this early advertisement he did. God bless the archive that is YouTube.--David E

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Venerable publisher Penguin is dusting off its image to launch a dating website through the auspices of The personals include books read and other such literary information to aid in the decision making process. The site is only for UK booklovers, though. Yanks will have to do it the oldfashioned way.

In an unrelated note, I'll point out that Magers and Quinn is located in the heart of Uptown and is open until 11pm on both Friday and Saturday nights. Just saying.--David E

Buy a Vowell

Sarah Vowell, author of The Partly Cloudy Patriot and Assassination Vacation, has new book coming out. The Wordy Shipmates is a history of the Puritans, those pinched Protestants whose quirks haunt us to this day, says Vowell.

The Wordy Shipmates will be released October 7. You can get a preview in this article by Vowell in the New York Times from earlier this year or in this excerpt in USA Today.--David E

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Pages First

Hennepin County Library and the Loft Literary Center have announced a joint program of classes to be held at various libraries in the Minneapolis area. The "First Pages" classes will be taught by the Loft's usual corps of instructors, and enrollment will be limited to 17--which the Loft has found to be the largest workable class size. You can try your hand at writing poetry, memoir, or creative nonfiction.

MinnPost's Amy Goetzmann has a longish write-up on the program and its rationale.

To find a class, visit the Hennepin County Library's website.--David E

What Your Books Do When You're Not Watching

from the Sydney Morning Herald--David E

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Old Book Smell

It turns out there's a scientific explanation for that used bookstore smell. The answer comes from the book Perfumes: The Guide (via the Paper Cuts blog).

Authors Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez say, "Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good-quality vanilla absolute."

Now you knows.--David E

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From the Rumor Mill

Temple Grandin has a new book coming out. But it's not with a big publisher and there's not a lot of pre-publication buzz happening yet. In fact, all I've managed to find so far is this press release, posted on a not-particularly-bookish blog. There's no information on the website of the publisher, Future Horizons.

So it seems likely that The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's will be available September 2. I'll pass on more details when I find them.--David E

Dark Chocolate Satanic Mills

McSweeneys has unearthed some little-known ad copy which the noted horror writer HP Lovecraft wrote during his tenure as a copywriter for the treasured Whitman's Sampler. Here's a... well, a sample:

Coconut Creme Swirl

They say that the Coconut Creme Swirl sleeps. But if the dread Coconut Creme Swirl slumbers, surely it must also dream. It is certain that while it dozes the Coconut Creme Swirl is absorbed by terrifying visions of exacting its creamy tropical vengeance upon mankind! Consume the Coconut Creme Swirl before it awakens to consume you!

The rest of Lovecraft's descriptions are here. The whole range of McSweeneys historical researches are always available at Magers and Quinn.--David E

The Secret Is (Coming) Out

Bob Woodward's fourth book about the Bush administration will be released September 8.

The title was a big secret; Simon & Schuster's own website still lists the book as only " Untitled on Bush, Volume IV" as I write this. But now we know the name: The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008.

The book will get a big push from The Washington Post (where Woodward is an associate editor) and 60 Minutes (CBS is owned by Viacom, which also owns Woodward's publisher). The AP has the details.--David E

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rain Taxi Turns 50

Local literary stalwart Rain Taxi got a nice write-up in Jacket Copy, the Los Angeles Times's book blog. Rain Taxi is publishing its fiftieth edition this month, and they're holding a party Wednesday to celebrate.--David E

Sunday, August 17, 2008

AKA Paronomasia

I like a good pun, but I love a bad one. Here is the winner of the "Vile Puns" portion of the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

Vowing revenge on his English teacher for making him memorize Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality," Warren decided to pour sugar in her gas tank, but he inadvertently grabbed a sugar substitute so it was actually Splenda in the gas.

Becky Mushko
Penhook, VA

The rest of the winning entries are here.--David E

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Below Elmo

It can't be easy being an author. Case in point: according to the list of titles for which patrons have filed the most requests at New York's Mid-Hudson Library System, Potty Time with Elmo comes in above the Booker Prize-nominated novel Netherland. Our condolences to Joseph O'Neill, but I'm sure his reviews (see the Star Tribune, New York Times, and NPR) are much, much better than Elmo's.--David E

PS: I was wondering just the other day if the Hennepin County Library's website has a similar feature. I didn't see it, but if anyone else has found it, I'd love to know. Post your comment below, please.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Star Tribune Names Book Editor

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has named its new book editor. Laurie Hertzel has penned an article introducing herself and outlining her plans for the section: "My plan, over time, is to revamp these pages, giving them a slightly broader focus -- not just book reviews of the most recent offerings, but an engaging weekly homage to the joy of reading."--David E

Big Night

Last night's event with David Carr went really well. A big crowd packed the store; David was great; we sold books by the cartload. But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's the news from the author's mouth (via his blog):

"the event at magers and quinn in uptown made me feel like the non-fat elvis for a wonderful moment of two. huge, enthusiastic crowd, a great host in Jim Walsh and a big line of people waiting to have the book signed. part of me was surprised when they stepped up and had my book in their hands. thanks to all who came out. mebbe some pictures to come once I get a nap."

Signed copies of Night of the Gun are still available. Come get one while they last.--David E

Russell Crowe, Super Spy

For four years the anonymous blog chronicled the trials and tribulations of one server's life in an upscale restaurant. The blog is now a book, also titled Waiter Rant.

The intrepid Jacket Copy blog has interviewed the book's waiter/author, Steve Dublanica. He talks about his double life and the lengths he went to to avoid detection.

Dublanica was very successful at hiding his identity, but even so one man smoked him out. A posting about Russell Crowe led the actor to ask Dublanica if he was the blogging server. Says Dublanica, "To this day he is the ONLY customer who ever confronted me."--David E

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Enough to Put You Off Your Feed

It's the last book I ever thought would be made into a movie: French Women Don't Get Fat. And yet, the slim tome--which assures you that you can eat all the creme, beurre, and fromage that you want and still remain slim--is indeed coming to the silver screen.

According to this article in the Guardian, the movie will be not a documentary: "Swank's production company 2S Films describes the proposed film as a romantic comedy which follows a 'girl-next-door champagne company middle manager who learns some tough life lessons which help her become the woman she's always wanted to be'."--David E

PS: Coming sooner is the movie version of He's Just Not That Into You. The cast includes Kris Kristofferson, who really should know better.

First Taste is Free

David Carr was on Fresh Air Tuesday. Carr is the author of The Night of the Gun, in which he tracks down the story of his own drug addiction as if it were a news story--interviewing eyewitnesses, reading documents, and the like.

You can ask Carr your own questions when he's in the store tonight at 7:30. Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I don't really follow music, so I should probably check with some of the hipper staff here in the store, but I think this is cool news: The score for the film version of Chuck Palahniuk's novel Choke--which will be released in November. Details are here. If Radiohead isn't cool any more, just let me live in ignorance, OK?--David E

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bookstores--The Cheaper Alternative

Maine's State Library has put together the Library Use Value Calculator. You enter the number of books or movies you check out, or the number of hours you spend online, and so on, and the calculator tells you how much your visit would have cost you if you had to pay for it out of pocket.

It makes you realize that "free" libraries are in fact very expensive. Your local, friendly indie bookstore is a real bargain by comparison.--David E

(With thanks to the Talking in the Library blog.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Such Complete Intoxication*

Who among us in Minnesota has not wondered in an idle moment, "What would it be like to traverse the State Fair in a Sky Ride gondola with a US Senator while snorting cocaine?"

Now you can find out from a man who's actually done that. On Thursday, August 14, at 7:30pm, former Twin Cities Reader editor David Carr will be in our store to discuss his memoir The Night of the Gun. Carr turned his reportorial skills on himself, following his addiction from the darkest alleys of St Paul to his subsequent recovery. Come in and test his memory with some questions of your own. And don't miss this article in the StarTribune for a little sneak preview.--David E

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It Can't Hurt to Ask

TIME magazine (and yes, they seem to insist on all those caps) wants your questions for Haruki Murakami for their upcoming interview with the most famous living Japanese author. Quite a few folks from around the world have already taken the opportunity so submit a query, but you can still get yours in by going here.

And for the record, I've already put in my question: What's with all the red hats in your novels?--David E

Friday, August 8, 2008

Greatly Exaggerated

I haven't yet had a chance to listen to the show, but apparently Minnesota Public Radio spent an hour yesterday prophesying the death of old media like books--and the stores that sell them. I notice however that the doom and gloom of the newsroom do not pervade MPR's marketing wing. They still hit us up for underwriting support quite regularly.

Listen to the show here.--David E

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Talking Books with Neil Gaiman

I'm sure that the dedicated fans of our lubricated book club are already well into August's book, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Now they can also get started formulating their questions. The author spoke to NPR's Bryant Park Project in June, so you can get an insight into his thoughts on the novel.

This month only, Books and Bars will meet at the Nomad World Pub, 510 Cedar Ave S, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.--David E

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Miscellaneous Bookish Blogs 2

The best book blog you're not checking out is Reading Copy from the folks at online vendor

It doesn't seem quite right to include the behemoth that is Powells blog. They hardly need the publicity, but it is a very fine blog, nonetheless.

The book blog at London's Guardian alternates between maddeningly Anglo-centric and delightfully eccentric. It's always worth a look.

Print Is Dead is still waiting for its name to become true. Until then, it's a good guide to things book-related.--David E

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Critics

In an age of shrinking book review sections in most major newspapers, it's stunning that National Public Radio has increased its coverage. Reviews, interviews, excerpts--they're all here.

It's not a blog, but no one can ignore the New York Times Sunday Book Review. For advance notice of forthcoming books, try Publishers Weekly.--David E

Monday, August 4, 2008

Publishing Insiders

If you want to see how books are made (and I can't in good conscience recommend that you should), here are a few blogs to visit.

The pick of the litter has to be Editorial Ass--it's short for "assistant." An anonymous worker bee began her blog years ago, and she's still at it, detailing the foibles of publishing from the inside. It's very candid and very funny.

If you want even more dirt, visit Galley Cat for publishing industry gossip or The Book Publicity Blog and Publishing Talk to totally geek out.--David E

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Book and A Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, August 12. This month only, Books and Bars will meet at the Nomad World Pub, 510 Cedar Ave S, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

We'll be outside on the patio, weather permitting, with microphones and a grill to use! Bring your own "grillables" or order off the Nomad's menu of nearby restaurants. Don't worry about rain or humidity/heat. We can move inside if it's a dog day of summer.

August's book is Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. It's the story of Fat Charlie whose humdrum life is turned upside down when he learns that his late father was in fact the wily Ghanaian trickster god Anansi. The Washington Post called Gaiman's novel, "delightful, funny and affecting."

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.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Newspaper Book Blogs

Most newspapers have a book blog. If you only read one, make it Jacket Copy, from the Los Angeles Times. For my money, it's probably the best general-interest book blog of any of American newspaper.

If you want more, try the very opinionated, very funny Between the Covers from the Miami Herald; Book Patrol, which is really bookseller Michael Lieberman writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; and the ever-reliable Paper Cuts from the New York Times.--David E

Friday, August 1, 2008

Miscellaneous Bookish Blogs

I'm never sure what to expect when I check in with Bibliophile Bullpen. That's why I keep going back.

Cover designer Henry Sene Yee shows off his work on his blog.

The University of Rochester travels the world in a book on the blog Three Percent.--David E