Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Bit of African Sun

Michael Stanley--two writers who write under a single name--will be at Magers & Quinn to read from their second novel The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu Friday, June 5, at 7:30pm.

Normally a peaceful wilderness retreat, the Jackalberry bush camp has suddenly become a ghastly crime scene--and the details are still emerging when Detective David "Kubu" Bengu is assigned to the case. Zimbabwean teacher Goodluck Tinubu and another tourist have been found bludgeoned to death, while another guest at the camp--rumored to be a dissident wanted in Zimbabwe--has disappeared without a trace.

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Johannesburg natives Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Sears lives in Johannesburg and teaches part-time at the University of Witwatersrand. Trollip was on the faculty at the universities of Illinois, Minnesota, and North Dakota, and at Capella University. A full-time writer, he divides his time between South Africa and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Local Literary Light, Larry Sutin

Larry Sutin will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers to read from his novel When to Go into the Water ,Saturday, June 6, at 7:00pm.

Lawrence Sutin is the author of two memoirs, Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance (1995) and A Postcard Memoir (2000); two biographies, Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (1989) and Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley (2000), and a historical work, All Is Change: The Two Thousand Year Journey of Buddhism to the West (2006). He lives in Minneapolis and teaches in the MFA and MALS programs of Hamline University and the low-residency MFA program at Vermont College.

Wheels Keep Turning

It's unusual to see a book from a university press reviewed in the New York Times Sunday books section. It's even more unusual for the reviewer to be musician David Byrne. But this is no ordinary book.

Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes is both a review of the increase in bike commuting and a call to arms to make bicyclists safer. Says Byrne: "[Mapes] lays out in an easily digestible way a fair amount of material on trip patterns, traffic safety and air pollution. ... All this information is great ammunition for those of us who would like to see American cities become more bike-friendly."

The full review is here. Read it, be inspired, then stop by M&Q and get your copy.--David E

Farm livin' is the life for me.

If you were here when Dean Hulse came to Magers & Quinn to read from his new book Westhope: Life As a Former Farm Boy, you know it was an interesting evening. Hulse spoke not only about his past and his decision to leave North Dakota, but also about the future of family farms in an age of agribusiness.

If you missed out, you can still get a taste of the event. Hulse's publisher, the University of Minnesota Press, filmed the evening. Here's a bit of the Q&A:

See all the videos from the U of MN Press on their YouTube channel, E

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Sale at MPL

The Library Foundation of Hennepin County's "Black Hole Book Sale" starts June 4. The sale runs through June 27 at the Central Library Bookstore, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.
  • June 4-12: All used items are 50% off.
  • June 13-19: All used items are 25 cents.
  • June 20-27: $2 Bag Sale
Details are here or call 612-630-6178.--David E

Thursday, May 28, 2009

K.I.S.S. Off

I know you're busy people, so I'll keep this short.
  1. Kanye West has said, "I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life."
  2. Kanye West has a book out.
  3. It's 52 pages long, but don't worry--some of the pages are blank, and very few of them have many words.
  4. West's co-author is J. Sakiya Sandifer.
Television New Zealand has the details.--David E

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When Poets Attack

I didn't write about this earlier, because it seemed like a tempest in a teapot, but the story won't die, and recently it took a very soap operatic turn.

Oxford University has a "chair" in poetry. The job doesn't pay anything much, and you don't have to teach--just give three lectures a year, but it's very prestigious and is considered the best thing that can happen to a poet. The current incumbent is stepping down this fall, and the list of candidates was down to three--Derek Walcott, Ruth Padel, and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. Then, an anonymous email campaign reminded the world of past allegations of sexual harassment against Walcott, who eventually withdrew his name from consideration for the job. Padel was selected.

Then it got juicier. Late last week, reporters in the UK uncovered the fact that Padel was behind at least two of the emails. She has now resigned.

The full story is here. Stay tuned.--David E

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Citizen Reviews: Writing Places

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with a write-up of Writing Places: the Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher
Writing Places: the Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher
Peeling away, year by year, all but essential layers of the proverbial onion, an author finds his truest self, bringing unexpected rewards. After 20-plus years as newspaperman, freelancer, and jazz pianist, William Zinsser considered an offer to teach non-fiction writing at Yale. “At first it seemed like a crazy thing for a middle-aged Princeton man to do…But I wasn’t looking for professional advancement. I wanted to create a different kind of life....” And so he did. The prolific author’s latest work, Writing Places: the Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher, is the compact, colorful map of his working life, which he created in the dynamic cultural context of the past 60 years.

Zinsser, his WASP parents’ only son, rejected the generations-old family business and started his “unorthodox” journey at the New York Herald Tribune in 1946. Definitely not your son’s journalism. He eventually settled in as a columnist, later freelancing for The Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, Life and Look magazines. The professor’s early years at Yale led to his classic book On Writing Well, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006. Here are thoughtful back-stories of the classic’s seven editions.

Highlights of Writing Places include Zinsser’s reflections from 1967 Haight-Ashbury; his years at Yale as teacher, editor, and Master of Branford College; the Book of the Month Club; his more recent teaching gigs with new immigrants; and the most unusual people and places. An interesting and humorous tour guide, the author at 86 is equally compelling as an advocate for clear writing that reveals an author’s humanity.

Writing Places: the Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher would feel more complete if it included a chapter on Zinsser’s early years and mentors, when the author’s love of language and its structure took root and nourishment. Even so, it is a memorable life.
Barb Schneider is a gerontologist and freelance writer, living in Bloomington.

Monday, May 25, 2009

No Man is an Island, but Some are Planets

Excerpt powerhouse Good Morning America has posted a long selection from Brent Jeffs' memoir Lost Boy. Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose compound in Texas was raided in April of 2008. Lost Boy tells of his expulsion from the FLDS.

I'd known about the oldschool Mormon idea of multiple marriage, but it turns out that they also hold the idea of multiple afterlives. Jeffs writes, "The FLDS conception of heaven is complicated, too. In our religion, it's not getting into heaven that counts--it's getting into the right heaven. There are three realms. The highest and most "glorious" is the "celestial," which can be entered only by men who have had at least three wives in polygamy. Here, men become godlike and rule over their own planets. The reason that FLDS members have so many children, in fact, is to populate their personal planets."

It's a very interesting read. The entire excerpt is here.--David E

What's on Your Plate?

Tom Standage will discuss his new book An Edible History of Humanity at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Thursday, June 4, at 7:30pm. The bestselling author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses brilliantly charts how foods have transformed human culture through the ages. The book is a pithy, entertaining account of how a series of changes--caused, enabled, or influenced by food--has helped to shape and transform societies around the world.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Citizen Reviews: Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with Amanda Aranowski's reaction to Heather McElhatton's second novel. McElhatton will be at Magers & Quinn to read from her book on Tuesday, May 26, at 7:30pm.
Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single
The year 2009 has seen a return to tradition and to simpler times (think: award-winning Mad Men). It seems fitting then that Heather McElhatton’s new novel, Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single, is at once a return to traditionalism, offering a feminine perspective on and a tribute to one modern woman’s journey to find a partner.

Like Bridget Jones, Jennifer Johnson is a single, chubby, thirty-something young professional just trying to figure it all out. Whereas Jones’ quirky, light-hearted self-deprecation invoked laughter, at times I pitied the brutally self-loathing and lonely Johnson who misguidedly quits her job, forgoing her dream of writing, in order to get married (to a man she doesn’t get along with, who limits her calorie intake, and who slowly rubs out any and all signs of her personality.) Her language is at times funny and vividly descriptive. And then there is the fact that she attacks a cinnabon in a locked bathroom stall--a friendly reminder that sometimes it is OK to self-medicate with pastries.

I wanted to like this book and McElhatton—a Minneapolis-dwelling, pug-owning [hers is Walter, mine is Parker], independent woman like myself. Trying to balance a proto-feminist character with a return to traditionalist ideals is a challenging task for any writer and, while the author occasionally struggles with blending these two things, the novel shows promise, offering a glimpse into single life and the desperation that can occur when we get wrapped up in longing for the past.

In the end, this sums it up: Jennifer, like many women, longs for simpler times and a man like her father. “Where are men like my Dad now? All you had to do was make them a Manhattan and serve a hot casserole every night, maybe have a kid every two and half years and that was that. Your bills were paid.”
Amanda Aranowski lives in Minneapolis with her girlfriend and two pugs, working full time as an editor and writer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cool Cats

If you like cats, you will love Itty Bitty Kitty Ditties, a treasury of felines from A to Z in quirky pen-and-ink illustrations and short, witty poems. Reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s Practical Cats and Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Itty Bitty Kitty Ditties has the makings of a brand new classic in its own right. The collection is an absolutely charming celebration of fat cats, curious cats, clever cats, vain cats, scaredy cats, boozy cats, and proud cats for the more discerning cat fancier.

Versifier Tim Hodapp will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Friday, May 29, at 7:30pm. Stop by to enjoy an evening of feline poetry. Details are on our events page.--David E

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spasmodic or unconscious; it is all the same to you.

Andy likes to keep a small display of unusual books on display at the back of the store. This gem has been prominently displayed for the past week or so, and I just can't stop looking at it. From the giddy title to the insouciant, informative prose to the wistfully optimistic photographs, Looking Forward to Being Attacked almost makes you... well, look forward to being attacked.

It's a bargain at only $7.99. Buy it here.--David E

UPDATE: We sold it! Ah, the power of the internet!

Wait til Nero Wolfe Hears About This

From comes news of the world's thickest book: "Measuring over a foot long, with 4,032 pages, the volume contains the complete Miss Marple stories-–all 12 novels and 20 short stories." Only 500 copies were printed, so they're retailing for a pricey £1000.

Details are here. Thanks to the New Yorker's Book Bench for the lead.--David E

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Citizen Reviews: Sunnyside

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with this review of Glen David Gold's second novel Sunnyside.

Sunnyside, Glen David Gold’s second novel, is a kaleidoscopic look at American life at the beginning of World War I. It focuses on a young Charlie Chaplin, but Gold successfully interweaves other stories, both true and otherwise, everywhere from Russia to San Francisco. Indeed, when the exquisitely orchestrated San Francisco scene was over, I wanted to stand and applaud.

Gold’s prose is vivid and appropriately cinematic. During the San Francisco scene (which was already registering for me as one extended tracking shot), he writes, “Reverse the angle, and gaze from the platform and into the audience.” Gold is in complete control of our eyes, and he is an outstanding tour guide into his ambitious characters and this troubled time.

Aside from the strand about Chaplin’s personal and professional struggles, my favorite part was the tale of Lee Duncan, a one-time lighthouse worker who wants to be an actor, but ends up, very believably, doing his best to take care of two dogs who have been stranded by the events of World War I.

At times, reading Sunnyside reminded me of what it is like to order an overstuffed sandwich. Sometimes, his sentences and chapters feel like they have too much in them, but even if not every sub-plot gets your full attention, the overall experience is very definitely worth it. Gold even offers a Twain-esque warning that we should not take this all too seriously when he writes that “Any attempt to find a symbol... and give it meaning [is] not just doomed but punished.”

So read Sunnyside, rent a Chaplin movie, and then read Gold’s outstanding debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil (soon to be a miniseries on AMC).
Charles Ellenbogen lives in St. Paul with Kirsten, his wife (who recommends Outliers), Zoė, his daughter (who recommends Bread and Jam for Frances) and Ezra, his son (who recommends any Curious George book--or anything that features trucks).

[Editor's note: Bread and Jam for Frances is an awesome book. I can still quote lines from it, even though I haven't seen a copy since I was seven.]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Grating Grammar

Last month's fiftieth anniversary of Strunk and White's Elements of Style really brought out the haters. The most entertaining was Charles Pullum. I heard him on the radio somewhere, but somehow I missed his article "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice" in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He's snarky and funny and correct in his judgments. And he's wholly unrepentant: "The authors won't be hurt by these critical remarks. They are long dead."

I'm indebted to the Utne Reader's Great Writing blog for the pointer.--David E

Talking in the Library

Tomorrow night the Library Foundation of Hennepin County (formerly the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library) continues its "Talk of the Stacks" program.

The author of Prague is back with a new novel that Publishers Weekly called "a triumphant return."

Talk of the Stacks is a reading series at the Minneapolis Central Library exploring contemporary literature and culture. Readings are held at the Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Readings are held at the Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. The Talk of the Stacks presenting sponsor is U.S. Trust. Additional support provided by Secrets of the City and Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

The programs are free with open seating to the public. Book sale and signing follow presentations. Call 612-630-6174 for more info.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Rapture is Nigh!

It's the end times, people! Our big Taschen Warehouse sale is coming to a close soon. But not before we mark these beauties down again. That's right, all sorts of gorgeous books on art, design, and photography are now one-third off!!

Come in and get them while they last.--David E

Brush with Food Fame

Michael Pollan, author of The Ominvore's Dilemma, probably our bestselling book ever--stopped by the store this morning. He bought a copy of Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows.--David E

Poetry... With Drums

Here's an unusual event for you. On Thursday, May 21, at 7:30pm, Magers & Quinn celebrates the release of the “long-lost” Traffic--a tape with legendary poet Roy McBride reading his poetry with the music of the legendary Willie Murphy. McBride will be accompanied by the percussion work of his daughter Lacinea.

Details are on our events page.--David E

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hear a Jazz Memoir at Magers & Quinn

Philip S. Bryant will read from Stompin’ at the Grand Terrace: A Jazz Memoir in Verse at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Saturday, May 23, at 6:00pm.

Digging deep into the grooves of their monumental record collections, Bryant chronicles the rise and evolution of jazz from its roots in gospel and blues through big band and bebop to the outermost limits of avant-garde gone wild. At the same time, he conjures in stark yet sublime prose the lives of James, Preston, and their neighbors along the hard edges of the South Side in the 1950s and ’60s, when African-Americans tasted and endured the bitter brew of segregation, discrimination, and despair amid civil upheaval.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Speaking Truth to Power

From an acclaimed conservative historian and former military officer comes a bracing call for a pragmatic confrontation with the nation's problems. Andrew J Bacevich will be in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 27, at 7:00pm, to discuss his book The Limits of Power.

Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that the books will have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide common ground for fixing America’s urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.

“Andrew Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why those of both the left and right listen to him.”—Bill Moyers

This event will be held at St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis. Details are the M&Q events page.--David E

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Have Seen the Future

Earlier this week, Jeff Kamin--host of the Books and Bars reading club--spoke to Seth Grahame-Smith--author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. They weren't in the same room; we set up a voice and image link via Skype. We were a little nervous about the technological stuff, but it went off without a hitch, and we'll certainly be doing more of this in the future.

So what does that sort of twenty-first century author event look like? See for yourself:

You can find part two of the discussion on Jeff Kamin's blog Mustache Robots. You can learn more about Books and Bars at E

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Blame Dan Brown

I don't know who's dumber--the guy reading a book while driving down the interstate or the guy filming it.

Thanks Bookninja for finding this gem of human oddity.--David E

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Own a Piece of History

Charles Dickens' summer house is up for sale. Two million pounds will get you ownership of "Bleak House" in Broadstairs, Kent, in the UK. The house is not actually the model for the novel Bleak House, the novel, but Dickens did write David Copperfield while staying in the seaside manor.

The estate agent's listing for the property has all the details and pictures. Thanks to Novel Destinations for the tip.--David E

Monday, May 11, 2009

People of the Book

From Boing Boing comes a pointer to Nicholas Galanin's blending of books and Northwest native art forms. See the full Flickr set for more.--David E

Stranger Than Fiction

A Greek prodigy (he was admitted to Columbia University when he was only 15) has penned a very unusual and very successful graphic novel. Apostolos Doxiadis has written Logicomix, which tells the life of Bertrand Russel, mathematician, philosopher, and Nobel Prize laureate for literature. The book has been a bestseller in Doxiadis' homeland and translations are in the works for Italy, Israel, and China, among others. Logicomix will be released in the US on September 29.

The Guardian has all the details. (Thanks to the New Yorker's Book Bench for the tip.)--David E

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Word to Your Mother

Bookstore People had a good suggestion for Mother's Day: read your mom a poem. Among the suggestions was this one, "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins.

It's a very sweet poem. I bet you can make your mom cry if you read it to her.--David E

Double Vision

If you're too lazy to read to your child, don't despair. Chronicle Books feels your pain and has produced this video version of its book Duck! Rabbit!--well, the first half of it. So just park the short stacks in front of the computer and enjoy a little peace this morning.--David E

Details are here.--David E

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Laughing with Your Mouth Full

Gary Shteyngart--author of two very funny antic novels, Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook--sat down for dinner with Gigantic Magazine recently to talk about meat.

"GIGANTIC: Is pastrami sexier than corned beef?

"GARY: Well, I think in the way the pepper sometimes settles around the edge of it, that’s sexy. And it looks sexier."

They also talked about eating in public.

"GIGANTIC: So you had the tips on the drinking and dressing. Any tips for eating, for novelists?

"GARY: Anytime a novelist has food in his mouth, it’s not pretty. You ever see movie stars eat? Never. Similarly, writers should eat before going out. The pre-game eating. Unless he’s surrounded by other authors. In which case, it’s okay. We can all make a terrible scene of gigantic pork flowing out of our mouths. Writers should only drink in public. Because we need to drink, desperately. Eat in private, drink in public."

The entire interview is funny. Do yourself a favor and read it here.--David E

K Hole

I haven't had a lot to say about the Kindle. I just don't think it's that interesting.

But here's a bit of K-data I did find amusing. By one very unscientific measure, a whopping 70 percent of the storied ebook readers have gone to people 40 years old and older. Half of them are over 50. It seems likely that the Kindle has found its niche among older readers because it can be easier to handle than a classic book and because you can increase the size of the type at will.

The original story is here.--David E

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tattoo You

When appeared recently at NYC's Happy Endings Music & Reading Series, author John (Lowboy) Wray revealed a very unusual, if temporary, bit of body art. His "tattoo" reads "Kakutani 4 Evah"--a tribute to New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani. You can see the unveiling in the video below.

Thanks to Galley Cat for the tip.--David E

It Goes Up to 16

The LA Times' "Jacket Copy" blog has posted a nice summary of the contributors to Amplified: Fiction from Leading Alt-Country, Indie Rock, Blues and Folk Musicians. The anthology, compiled by Julie Schaper and Steve Horowitz--who are also the editors behind Twin Cities Noir--brings together sixteen short stories from songwriters including Zak Sally (Low), Rennie Sparks (The Handsome Family), and Jon Langford (The Mekons).

The full article is here.--David E

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Gone, But Not Forgotten

The Gothamist visited the New York Public Library for a special behind the scenes tour. Among the treasures is a letter opener whose handle is the preserved paw of Charles Dickens' cat.

Take the full tour here. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the tip.--David E

Going Underground

Author Jeff Forester describes how humans have occupied and managed the northern borderlands of Minnesota, from tribal burning to pioneer and industrial logging to evolving conceptions of wilderness and restoration forestry. On the surface a story of Minnesota’s borderlands, The Forest for the Trees more broadly explores the nation’s history of resource extraction and wilderness preservation, casting forward to consider what today’s actions may mean for the future of America’s forests.

Jeff will be reading from his book at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Thursday, May 14, at 7:30. We hope you an attend.

Details on this and all our upcoming readings are events page.--David E

File Under "636.8 Cats"

Someone working as Iron Frog Productions is compiling a list of all the known library cats in the world. I wasn't aware that there have been three--Pirate, Sinclair, and Sophie--at Uptown's own Walker branch. But they, like a lot of the cats on the list, haven't been around for over twenty years. It seems budget cuts even include pets.--David E

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

By Popular Demand

We're keeping our Taschen Warehouse Sale going. We've sold a lot of great art, design, and photography books, but we've still got some left. They're all beautiful and very steeply discounted. Come in today, because when they're gone, they're gone.--David E


The 2009 James Beard Award winners were announced recently, and the Cookbook of the Year is unusual, to say the least. Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes won the grand prize. Two of the book's blurbs sum up its appeal nicely:
  • "An unapologetic celebration of its title ingredient and a compelling argument that explains not only why fat is a fundamental flavor but also fundamental to our health."
  • "Fat isn't simply a cookbook: it's a celebration of the ingredient that makes everything we eat taste better."--Fine Cooking
You can bet we'll be getting copies in soon.--David E

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Meet Henry

This is Henry. His owner brought him into the store yesterday, but he was too tired to do much shopping. Instead, he sacked out near the register and charmed the staff. We didn't get much done for about ten minutes.--David E

Wait Til He Discovers Shirley Jackson*

Chuck Palalniuk's new novel Pygmy is out today. As part of the marketing blitzkrieg, Chuck spoke to the Baltimore Sun's "Read Street" blog. He dishes authors--who he likes, who he can't read. His favorite? You'd never guess...

"I read Erma Bombeck's humor writing like crazy when I was little, books with titles like The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? She'd write about alcoholism and the same really dark topics in suburbia that John Cheever was writing about, but she'd write about it in a really light way. Check out some of her books. You'll see."

The full interview is here.--David E

Talking in the Library

Thursday night the Library Foundation of Hennepin County (formerly the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library) continues its "Talk of the Stacks" program.

As a young man, David Rhodes published three novels in rapid succession: The Last Fair Deal Going Down (1972), The Easter House (1974), and Rock Island Line (1975). He was hailed as one of the best of his generation. A motorcycle accident in 1976 left him paralyzed from the chest down, since which he continued writing but stopped publishing.

Driftless, Rhodes's first novel in more than 31 years, is a profound and unforgettable portrait of rural America inspired by the Wisconsin community in which he has lived since the mid-1970s. Publishers Weekly called Driftless"expansive and affecting," proof that Rhodes "still knows how to keep readers riveted."

Talk of the Stacks is a reading series at the Minneapolis Central Library exploring contemporary literature and culture. Readings are held at the Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Readings are held at the Minneapolis Central Library, Pohlad Hall, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. The Talk of the Stacks presenting sponsor is U.S. Trust. Additional support provided by Secrets of the City and Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

The programs are free with open seating to the public. Book sale and signing follow presentations. Call 612-630-6174 for more info.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Book and a Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, May 12. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

May's book is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance -- Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! This is the publisher's blurb: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead."

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.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Citizen Reviews: Stone's Fall

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with this write-up of Iain Pear's latest historical thriller.--David E
Stone's Fall
Government action to calm financial markets. Ties between government and the defense industry. Cover ups and secret deals with foreign governments. These headlines from today are part of Iain Pear’s newest book Stone’s Fall, and his ability to weave these into this multilayered historical novel makes this a great read.

Stone’s Fall is told through three narrators in reverse chronological order. We learn through the three different voices the parallel path of John Stone and his wife Elizabeth as each rise from modest means through a series of manipulation, subterfuge and a business savvy. Their climb to wealth over by stepping over commoners and heads of states. Ultimately hubris defines their legacies, and each tries to redeem their lives in different ways.

The first part of the story takes place in turn of the century London, and is told by Matthew Braddock, a reporter who is hired by Stone’s widow to locate Stone’s child, of whom Elizabeth learns as Stone’s will is read. The second part is told 20 years prior in Paris by Henry Cort. Cort leaves investment banking to join the Empire’s nascent spy service. He first meets Elizabeth who provides him with some of the intelligence his spy masters seek, which leads then to Cort’s initial meetings with Stone. Cort ultimately becomes woven into Stone’s empire, and a protector of Elizabeth. Though it is Cort who tries to convince Stone that “Morality must apply to everything. Even the making of money."

The third part of the story is told by Stone himself and takes place in 1867 Venice. His story provides a detailed look inside the mind of how one might talk themselves into focusing on money over morality. The final few pages of the 700 page story reveals a surprise that slaps you in the face. A second read is probably warranted, and allows you to really appreciate how well Pears reveals keys to the characters relationships and builds to the ending.
John Peterson lives in Minnetonka, and is a senior financial executive with a global finance company with offices in Minneapolis. Originally from the New York area, he and his family have made it through their fifth Minnesota winter.

Creative Commons

Reporting from the heart of this “free culture” movement, journalist and activist David Bollier provides the first comprehensive history of the attempt by a global brigade of techies, lawyers, artists, musicians, scientists, businesspeople, innovators, and geeks of all stripes to create a digital republic committed to freedom and innovation. Viral Spiral--the term Bollier coins to describe the almost-magical process by which Internet users can come together to build online commons and tools--describes major technological developments and pivotal legal struggles, as well as fascinating profiles of hacker Richard Stallman, copyright scholar Lawrence Lessig, and other colorful figures.

A milestone in reporting on the Internet by one of our leading media critics, Viral Spiral is for anyone seeking to take the full measure of the new digital era.

David Bollier will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Wednesday, May 13, at 7:30pm
Details are on our events page.--David E

Saturday, May 2, 2009

It Starts in Hinckley

Mary Roach reviews in the most recent New York Times, and she likes it. "The Indifferent Stars Above is an ­ideal pairing of talent and material. In Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894, Brown showed himself to be a deft and ambitious storyteller, sifting through the copious and often conflicting details of dozens of survivor and eyewitness accounts to forge a trim, surging minute-by-minute narrative." (Roach's full review is here.)

That's right. Brown's earlier book is a Minnesota story. It's a great read, one that we've been recommending for quite at while here at M&Q. Come in today and get them both.--David E

Ain't No Big Thing

Chuck Palahniuk's new novel Pygmy will be released May 5. The posters for Chuck's upcoming reading tour were designed by Minneapolis' own David Dwitt. You can still buy one for only $20.00 here. Dwitt is also one of eight local poster artists who will be showing and selling their work at Magers & Quinn on June 14. Details are on our events page.--David E

Friday, May 1, 2009

No Vampires, Please--We're Mormon

Apparently, the Deseret Bookstore in Salt Lake City has all the sales it needs right now, and doesn't want to traffic in Stephanie Meyer's mega-selling novel Twilight. The store, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has pulled the book--and Meyer's three other bestsellers--off its shelves; they are still available by special order. (Details are here.)

In case we have any Utah readers, I'd like to direct you to Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore at 254 South Main Street. I've never been in the store, but Sam writes a really great blog, and I'm sure "Utah's Oldest and Largest Independent Bookstore" won't let you down.--David E