Thursday, October 30, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield... Now A Book!

Earlier this year, I blogged about the best website ever,, which edits out the eponymous cat to expose "the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle."

Now from Random House comes word that the best of the blog will be published as a book, also called Garfield Minus Garfield. Get one before I buy them all as Christmas presents.--David E

PS: The New Yorker's "Cartoon Lounge" published a interesting interview with G-G creator Dan Walsh last month.


From my favorite librarian blog Swiss Army Librarian comes word of a push to make “Massachusetts Libraries” license plates available soon. Advance applications for Bay Staters are available on the Central Massachusetts Regional Library website. A portion of the license fee goes to support... you guessed it... libraries.--David E

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everyone Blogs Now

I'm writing this on Wednesday, so I can't vouch for the content, but Danielle Steel, the 61-year-old author of more potboilers than you can shake a stick at, is launching a blog Thursday. It's at, of course.--David E

Meet Andrei Codrescu and Support a Local Publisher

Coffee House Press is holding a benefit tonight in honor of its upcoming 25th anniversary. There will be hors d’oevres, desserts, drinks, a performance by poet and NPR essayist Andrei Codrescu, and live music from accordionist Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton. The party starts at 7 p.m. on October 29, 2008 at the Grain Belt Brewery Bottling House, 79 Thirteenth Ave. NE, Suite 110, Minneapolis. Tickets are $30; to reserve a ticket, contact Diana with payment information at 612-338-0125 or email her.

Read more about Coffee House Press in this article in the Twin Cities Daily Planet.--David E

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The View from Behind the Podium

Last week, we hosted a reading by Peter Fogtdal, author of the novel The Tsar's Dwarf. We host a lot of events here, and we're pretty used to seeing them from the back row. So it's fun to read the author's perspective.

Fogtdal wrote an account of his visit to Minneapolis on his blog. It covers not only his appearance at M&Q, but readings at the Danish-American Center and the U: "I'm at University of Minnesota to talk to a class called Introduction to Scandinavia. Fellow Dane Søren Vestergaard Riis has invited me. 34 freshmen are sitting in front of me listening like thieves. Students are nice in Minnesota. They don't yawn much, they laugh at your jokes, and they only storm out of class when you've promised not to give them a D."--David E

Monday, October 27, 2008

The New Book from the Last American to Win a Nobel Prize for Literature

NPR's Book Tour program has landed an exclusive sneak peek at Toni Morrison's latest book A Mercy. According to Publishers Weekly, "The four-day serialization [October 27, 28, 29 and 30] will also present NPR arts correspondent Lynn Neary discussing the book with Morrison, and the audio will be available as streaming audio, podcast or download on Additionally, Michele Norris, host of All Things Considered, will interview Morrison about A Mercy. At the end of the entire serialization, Morrison will participate in a web chat on that will run sometime during the week of November 17."

That's a lot of Morrison, but then again, she has a lot of fans.--David E

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pigeons on the Grass, Alas

The Bookstore Guide reviews bookstores in Paris. Of course, they visit Shakespeare & Co., but they also go further afield and visit Artazart (for art books, bien sûr) and The Red Wheelbarrow ("It simply oozes familiarity and friendliness," says BSG).

But if and when I move to Paris, you'll find me working at San Francisco Book Company. It's an English-language used bookstore on the Left Bank. I will be the one without the beret, though.--David E

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Aaron, Who Gave So Much

Alan Bennett--whose work includes the plays The Madness of King George and The History Boys and the recent novel The Uncommon Reader--has donated his archives to the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.

According to Reuters, "Bennett said he made a gift of his writings as a way of paying society back for his free education. He was an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford University.

"I was fortunate in my time because my education was entirely free," he added.

"None of it cost me or my parents a penny. It's a situation which young people in education today can only dream of and this is wrong. I believe that free education is a right."

He said that by donating his archive to the Bodleian, he would be "rubbing shoulders" with the likes of Thomas Hardy and Philip Larkin. "They might not be all that pleased but I am."--David E

Friday, October 24, 2008

2 by Flannery O'Connor

How does news travel on the web? Slowly.

Last month, a blog called The Morning Oil posted two little-known audio files featuring novelist Flannery O'Connor. The first is a lecture on the grotesque in Southern fiction. The second is the author reading what is probably her best-known short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

And there they sat until web audio scavenger Large Hearted Boy found them. Next discussed them. And that's how I found them. How's that for efficiciency?

Visit TMO's posting to read the entire backstory. The links to the files are at the bottom of the entry.--David E

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Bunny Is Back

Oregon's bunny-book-burning mom has repented. Says the Associated Press, "Taffey Anderson says she will make the book [The Book of Bunny Suicides] available for the Central Linn School District's review committee to screen. The Halsey woman recently said she would burn the book rather than take a chance on it returning to a shelf at the Central Linn High School library.

"Anderson says the comment about burning the book was made in anger, and she regrets making it."

Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yes, You Can Has Planetarium

It's on again. The Hennepin County approved county funding for the proposed planetarium atop the new downtown Minneapolis public library, reports the Star Tribune. All that's left now is for the Minneapolis Planetarium Society to raise a mere $20.5 million.

You can donate your nickel at E

And Don't Get Her Started on Watership Down

Taffey Anderson, a mother in Halsey, Oregon, was shocked--shocked, I tell you--when her 13-year-old son came home from his high school library with a copy of The Book of Bunny Suicides. So disturbed was she that she's refusing to return the book, lest another impressionable mind be warped by its cartoons depicting rabbits on the verge of self-destruction.

The school authorities have begun an investigation, but Mom has spoken: "Anderson plans to fill out the forms, but she's not taking any chances. Once the review is over, regardless of the outcome, she plans to burn it. 'They're not getting this book back,' she said."

The full news story is here.--David E

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who's That Guy?

The English-speaking literary world is still scrambling to learn more about Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. The New York Times published selected excerpts two weeks ago. Now the New Yorker has announced that its October 23 issue will include a complete Clezio short story, "The Boy Who Had Never Seen the Sea."

This article from the Associated Press has a summary of Clezio's works and an interview with the New Yorker's fiction editor. The magazine will be on newstands Monday, or you can read the story on E

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sit, Stay

The film version of JR Ackerley's paean to his pooch My Dog Tulip is well underway--68 minutes of an expected 88 minute run time have been completed. The book is an unflinching look at dog ownership--and to judge from the clips on, the movie isn't prettying up Ackerley's frank and funny book.

Voice actors for the animated film include Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rosselini. The film is expected to be ready for Cannes next May.--David E

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fry's on the Road

British humorist (and technology enthusiast) Stephen Fry is coming to America. His new show--helpfully titled "Stephen Fry in America" has just begun airing on the BBC.

Even better for those of us west of Iceland, there's a long excerpt from the book of the same name on Fry's blog. In it, Stephen muses on how his life would have been different had his father accepted a job at Princeton and his son been raised as "Steve." Fry also visits Ben and Jerry and mingles with Mormons. It's a long excerpt.

The companion book is on sale in the UK, but it's not available in the US as yet.--David E

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Not Dead Yet

Under the headline "Why book tours are passé,the Christian Science Monitor frets that "the traditional author tour has been in decline."

Oh yeah? Tell that to the standing-room-only crowd who came last night to hear Cass Dalglish discuss her book Humming the Blues.

We buck the trend all the time. Check out our events page for details on all our upcoming events.--David E

Big, Beautiful Fish (Book)

MinnPost's Amy Goetzman has a crush on Tom Dickson's new book The Great Minnesota Fish Book. There's no other way to explain her rave review on MinnPost.

For example, she writes, "The book is gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that I suspect a majority of copies will live on coffee tables in lavish northern Minnesota cabins. Each fish is illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri, a Kansas City biologist and artist who is to fish what Audubon is to birds." And, "The Fish Book is fascinating. Dickson profiles the habits and history, natural and human-influenced, of each fish, and mixes in a little advice to anglers."

But credit where credit is due, she's right: it is a very cool book.

Come see for yourself. Tom Dickson will be in the store tomorrow (Sunday, October 19), at 5:00pm. Come share a few fish stories and check out the book you're getting your dad for Christmas this year.--David E

Friday, October 17, 2008

Logrolling in Our Time

The folks on the Utne Reader's "Great Writing" blog spoke to folks at the recent Twin Cities Book Festival. You can read the entry here or watch a video, if you prefer.--David E

From New York with Love

The latest issue of The New Yorker has a review of To Siberia by Per Petterson. Petterson's first two books In the Wake and Out Stealing Horses were surprise hits.

The review is quite a love letter: "Petterson could be labelled a “prose stylist,” except you never feel that he is styling anything; you feel that he is simply setting down sentences, unaffected by slang and hip foreign expressions. (This comes through remarkably well in the faithful translations of Anne Born.)"

The entire review is here.--David E

Thursday, October 16, 2008


The U of M's English department has announced its "English@Minnesota Writers Series" for the fall. The list includes Junot Diaz on October 29 and Ethan Canin on November 13.

The events are free and open to the public. A full list of events is here.--David E

Judge a Book

Computer software books must have the ugliest covers of any category, but this one really takes the cake. Who on earth would look at the manuscript for iPhone in Action and think, "What would really tell readers what this book is about like a drawing of a fourteenth century Turkish warrior?"--David E

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Book Award Nominees

They're celebrating again in St Paul now that the final five for the 2008 National Book Award have been announced. Graywolf Press has a novel on the shortlist--The End by Salvatore Scibona.

The nominees for fiction are
Minneapolis can hold its head up too: Coffee House Press has a nominee for Patricia Smith's book of poems Blood Dazzler. The full list--including the nominees in the Nonfiction and Young Adult categories--is here.--David E

We Have A Winner

The winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize--which constantly touts itself as "the most prestigious literary prize"--has been announced: it's White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. This is the Indian author's first novel.

White Tiger chronicles one man's rise from poverty to power in contemporary India. He's something of an anti-hero, and the story has been called a modern Macbeth.--David E

UPDATE: The Independent has a nice story about Adiga, his backstory, and his book.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Since the wrecking crew came in last week and tore down the buildings across the street to the east, a lot of folks have asked what the new Calhoun Square will look like. We don't really have any inside dope, but above is the most recent info from

More sketches--dating from March, it appears--here.--David E

On the Isthmus

If you missed the Twin Cities Book Festival this past weekend, take a break from kicking yourself, and head to Madison. The wisconsin Book Festival starts tomorrow, and it has one heck of a lineup. Scheduled speakers include Marilynne Robinson, David Wroblewski, Aleksandar Hemon, to name just a few. Get moving.--David E

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just the Facts

Larry Millet--author of Lost Twin Cities and Strange Days, Dangerous Nights--is back with more crime photos from the Twin Cities' newspaper archives. Murder Has a Public Face traces four shocking murders from discovery to arrest to trial. It's a fascinating look at both crime and punishment in the mid-twentieth century. The Star Tribune looked back at the era in a recent review of the book: "Apparently, newspaper readers had no problem digesting a full helping of gore -- and all the gory details."

Do you want the details? Larry Millett will be in our store on Thursday, October 16, at 7:30pm. You can ask him what was too scary to get into the book.

The particulars on that event and all our upcoming readings can be found on our aevents page.--David E

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Better Living through Rhythm

We have two copies of the new DVD of The Visitor to give away. It's the story of a man who learns to live (and it seems, to drum) again, thanks to the soulful folk he finds squatting in his apartment. The director is Tom McCarthy, who also directed The Station Agent. Critics liked it; it got 93% on's Tomatometer.

You can find out more on or the movie's official website. Here is the preview:

The first two readers to write me (click here) can get a free copy. When they're gone, they're gone.--David E

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jean-Marie Who? Part 2

The UK web magazine The First Post is one of the first out of the gate trying to answer the question Who the heck just won the Nobel Prize for Literature? (A: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio) They managed to uncover a " a Le Clezio expert from Birmingham University," one Beatrice Damamme-Gilbert. She gives thumbnail sketches of five of Clezio's books. They also tracked down a Clezio hater. "[S]ays David Platten of Leeds University, ... generally speaking the Frenchman is 'pretty dull'."

You'll be spared making your own judgment. None of Clezio's books is readily available in English.--David E

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not With a Bang

The Nobel has been a contentious subject in literary circles in the US of late. Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy (which awards the Nobels) said, "The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining." American writers and editors rose as one, accusing the Academy of provincialism; after all, this is the body that never offered its prize to Proust, Joyce or Nabokov. ( posted a nice summary and rebuttal last week. Ted Gioia has a provocative list of alternate-reality winners here.)

As if to confirm American charges of obscurantism, the Swedish Academy has reached into the writerly wilderness for this years winner: It is Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Touche, Horace.--David E

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's Always Sunny in Magers & Quinn

We're not any happier about home heating oil costs than you, but a used bookstore like Magers & Quinn isn't the worst place to ride out the coming economic storm. As our own events impresario put it told the Pioneer Press recently:

"Historically, books do OK in bad times. It depends on how bad the misery gets," said David Unowsky, who knows as much about selling books as anyone in this state.

Unowsky, who owned St. Paul's Ruminator Books, coordinates author readings at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis. In bad times, he recalls this quote from Renaissance Dutch scholar Erasmus: "When I get a little money, I buy books; and, if any is left, I buy food and clothes."

The full article--including the upbeat thoughts of other Minnesota booksellers and publishers--is here.

We've always had good books at great prices. We're not changing that now.--David E

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

At Long Last Lymph Nodes

After six years of study and preparation and hard work, David Macaulay is finally satisfied with his latest book, The Way We Work. This time around, his subject is neither castle nor cathedral, but the human body itself.

The author and illustrator spoke to NPR recently. When asked what age reader he intended to reach, he says, "61." Macaulay turns 62 in a few months.--David E

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Writing for Money

No points for guessing who tops Forbes' list of best paid authors (answer here). Also rans include an author who's guest-starred on The Simpsons, Maine's scariest citizen, and the man with the world's largest collection of aviator glasses and flight jackets.

Honorable Mention goes to Ken Follett whose Oprah-blessed novel Pillars of the Earth got him on the list--even though he didn't even come out with a new book in the past year.--David E

Friday, October 3, 2008

Call for Entries

"What Light" is looking for Minnesota poets. Please submit up to three short poems, maximum 50 lines or 300 words each, as attachments to You must be a resident of Minnesota and a member of to enter. Our judges--Deborah Bernhardt, Jim Johnson, and William Stobb--will select twelve winning poems to be posted, one poem per week, on and The deadline is October 18, 2008.

Membership on is free. Contact or call 612/375-7611 with questions on registration.

The mission of is to improve the lives of Minnesota artists and provide access to and engagement with Minnesota’s arts culture. is a project of the McKnight Foundation and the Walker Art Center.

Full details on the judges and answers to some FAQs are here.

His Purpleness

Last summer, Prince played 21 shows in 21 nights at London's O2 Arena. If you missed them, you might want to pick up a copy of 21 Nights, which has just been released. The book documents the London run--both backstage and onstage. Included are Prince's own poetry and lyrics and never-before-published photographs by Randee St. Nicholas. Each book also comes with a copy of "Indigo Night," a CD available only with the book that captures some of the live after-show sessions.

We have copies in the store now. Come in and check them out while they last.--David E

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Via the Caustic Cover Critic come these illustrations for a Folio Society edition of Joe Simpson's mountain-climbing memoir Touching the Void. They're by Geoff Grandfield, and there's a lot more of his work on

Folio Society books are not readily available in bookstores, but you can get them through the society's website.--David E

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And Cyndi Lauper Calls Her Lawyers

Minneapolis' own Amazon Bookstore Coop is getting a new moniker. It will be known henceforth as True Colors Bookstore.

The name change is the result of's 1999 trademark infringement lawsuit against the store's previous owners. Although the bookstore kept its name then, the settlement stipulates that any subsequent owners may not use the old handle.

Details are in Publishers Weekly.--David E

Paper, Please

NPR's "The Sound of Young America" program recently broadcast Chip Kidd's appearance at Seattle's Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival. Kidd--as befits a man who's made his name designing book covers and more recently writing novels--has some interesting things to say about the future of e-books. Listen to the podcast of the interview below.--David E