Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mightier Than the Pen

You don't mess with Katherine Dunn.

The 64-year-old author, best known for Geek Love, was the target of an attempted purse snatching recently, reports The Oregonian newspaper. Twenty-five-year-old Brandy Amber Carroll approached Dunn in the parking lot of Trader Joe's and demanded her bag. Little did Carroll know that the author has been training at the Knott Street Boxing Club for ten years.

Dunn fought back. “I would normally lead, as all good boxers do, with my left hand,” she said. “But my left hand was tied up in the purse.” Still, she managed to hold on to her valuables until police arrived.

Details are here.--David E

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Your Moment of Zen--Library Edition

I can't tell you much about this video, but it sure is pretty.

Thanks to architechnophilia for the catch.--David E

Keeping it Simple, Not Stupid

The Onion's "A.V. Club" talked to Carol Sklenicka recently. She's the author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, a comprehensive biography of one of America's foremost writers of short stories.

The Onion poses such down-to-earth questions as "Why all the fuss?" and "Carver’s described as a “dirty realist.” That’s bad, right?", and Sklenicka's responses are just helpful and succinct.

Read the full interview here, then meet Carol Sklenicka when she's in our store tomorrow--7:00pm, Sunday, November 29.--David E

Are You Listening?

Minnesota's own Kevin Kling will read from Holiday Inn at Magers & Quinn--Thursday, December 3, at 7:30pm.

Kevin Kling's first book, The Dog Says How, brought readers into his wonderful world of the skewed and significant mundane. His second book, Holiday Inn, is a romp through a year of holidays.

"Kevin Kling's stories are not merely delightful. They are surprising, wise and redemptive. He is one of our great national treasures."--Krista Tippett, public radio host and founder of Speaking of Faith.

Details on this and all our events are always on the M&Q events page.--David E

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shop Local, Eat Local

Sunday, M&Q is hosting James Norton and Becca Dilley. They traveled the length and breadth of Wisconsin, talking to all the graduates of the UofW's Master Cheesemaker certification program. The result is their new book The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin. They'll be in the store at 4:30pm on Sunday, November 29, to talk about their travels and the great cheeses they found. Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl will emcee the evening's discussion.

But wait, there's more....

Cheese samples at the event will be provided by France 44 Wine & Spirits. France 44 Cheese Shop and its new sister across the river, St. Paul Cheese Shop are committed to offering the best customer service and the best tasting cheeses from near and far. Stop by for a taste of something delicious and check out for the cheesiest blog. And remember, "Friends don't let friends eat cold, precut cheese."

Details on the event are here.--David E

Keep It in the Community

Got the Black Friday Big Box Blues? The Downtown Journal has posted a list of local gift ideas for the holiday season. "Give Local: 2009 Holiday Gift Guide" will help you find clothes, music, housewares, and even... ahem... books from local, independent vendors. The full list is here.--David E

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beat Black Friday... on Thursday

Want to cut down on holiday spending? Eat more turkey today.

Scientific American's "60-Second Science" podcast has the details. The tryptophan in turkey is converted into serotonin, which has been shown to reduce impulsive behavior. Hear the news here. It'll only take a minute.--David E

Chin Chin

Magers & Quinn Booksellers is pleased to announce an evening of wine information you can really use. On Friday, December 4, at 7:30pm, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl will be in the store to talk about her new book Drink This: 473 Answers to Your Most Impolite Questions About Wine (available November 24).

If you've been baffled by a wine list, stood perplexed before endless racks of bottles at the liquor store, or ordered an overpriced bottle out of fear of the scathing judgment of a restaurant sommelier, Dara is here to help. Before she became a James Beard Award-winning food and wine writer, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl (formerly of the City Pages, currently at Minnesota Monthly) experienced all these things. Now she presents a handy guide that will show you how to stop being overwhelmed and intimidated, how to discover, respect, and enjoy your own personal taste, and how to be whatever kind of wine person you want to be, from budding connoisseur to someone who simply gets wine you like every time you buy a bottle.

Refreshingly simple, irreverent, and witty, Drink This explains all the insider stuff that wine critics assume you know. It will teach you how to taste and savor wine, alone, with a friend, or with a group. And perhaps most important, this book gives you the tools to learn the only thing that really matters about wine: namely, figuring out what you like.

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl draws on her own experience and savvy and interviews some of the world's most renowned critics, winemakers, and chefs, including Robert M. Parker, Jr., Paul Draper, and Thomas Keller, who share their wisdom about everything from pairing food and wine to the inside scoop on what wine scores and reviews really mean. Readers will learn how to master tasting techniques and understand the winemaking process from soil to cellar. Drink This also reveals how to get your money's worth out of wine without spending all you've got.

"Dara Grumdahl is right about absolutely everything. If she calls me up at four in the morning, says 'Get dressed, get some money--and a gun--you'll need it where we're eating,' I don't ask any questions. I just go."--Anthony Bourdain

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Rick Moody, author of The Ice Storm, will serialize his latest short story via Twitter. From November 30 to December 2, a new 140-character-long installment will appear every fifteen minutes from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Here's a sample:

Saw him on OKCupid. Agreed to meet. In his bio he said he had a “different conception of time.” And guess what? He didn’t show.

Online literary magazine Electronic Literature is sending out the story chunks. Details are in Entertainment Weekly. Follow the stories on Twitter.--David E

Sunday, November 22, 2009


How much do you make if your book gets on the New York Times' bestseller list? Lynn Viehl, author of Twilight Fall, has posted her royalty statement from Penguin.

Income for the eleven months since the book came out is $24,517.36. Or as Viehl puts it, "My income per book always reminds me of how tough it is to make at living at this gig, especially for writers who only produce one book per year. If I did the same, and my one book performed as well as TF, and my family of four were solely dependent on my income, my net would be only around $2500.00 over the income level considered to be the US poverty threshold (based on 2008 figures.) Yep, we'd almost qualify for foodstamps."

Thanks to Nathan Bransford for the catch.--David E

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cheese, Please

Magers & Quinn Booksellers and invite you to learn about the artisans making Wisconsin's most famous--and tastiest--food: cheese. Eating local has never been more important to diners. A personal connection to the people who produce our food is an important and valuable part of fine dining. The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin is your guide to some of the most skilled craftsmen and -women right here in the Upper Midwest. Authors James Norton and Becca Dilley discuss their new book at 4:30pm, Sunday, November 29, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin--beautifully photographed and engagingly written--introduces hardworking, resourceful men and women who represent an artisanal craft that has roots in Europe but has been a Wisconsin tradition since the 1850s. Wisconsin produces more than six hundred varieties of cheese, from massive wheels of cheddar and swiss to bricks of brick and limburger to such specialties as crescenza-stracchino and juustoleipa. These masters combine tradition, technology, artistry, and years of dedicated learning--in a profession that depends on fickle, living ingredients-to create the rich tastes and beautiful presentation of their skillfully crafted products.

James Norton and Becca Dilley interviewed these dairy artisans, listened to their stories, tasted their cheeses, and explored the plants where they work. They offer here profiles of forty-three active Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, as well as a glossary of cheesemaking terms, suggestions of operations that welcome visitors for tours, tasting notes and suggested food pairings, and tasty nuggets (shall we say curds?) of information on everything to do with cheese.

Researching the book, the authors logged more than 7,600 miles on Wisconsin highways and back roads, visiting 35 cheese plants and interviewing 43 cheesemakers. They don't even want to think about how many pounds of cheese they ate.

James Norton is a weekly columnist for Chow magazine and editor of Heavy Table, a food magazine for the Upper Midwest. He is also author of Saving General Washington. Becca Dilley has photographed food for numerous publications and works as an independent photojournalist. Follow their blog is at

Details are here.--David E

"It was the dilemma of the watchers"

Earlier this week, Collum McCann's novel Let the Great World Spin won this year's National Book Award for fiction. The story takes place in New York City in 1974. A street full of people stands rapt as a tightrope walker crosses between the towers of the World Trade Center. McCann follows their lives after the event, eventually bringing them together again for an astounding finale.

Dave Eggers said, "This is a gorgeous book, multilayered and deeply felt, and it’s a damned lot of fun to read, too." The New York Times said, "Let the Great World Spin is an emotional tour de force."

Is it true? Find out for yourself. Random House has posted a long excerpt here.--David E

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Examined Life

In the cover story of this weekend's New York Times Book Review, Stephen King discusses the life and career of Raymond Carver, one of America's great short story writers. Carver was also, however, "the destructive, ­everything-in-the-pot kind of drinker who hits bottom, then starts burrowing deeper."

King's summary draws heavily from Carol Sklenicka's new biography Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life. King says, "[A]s a chronicle of Carver’s growth as a writer... Sklenicka’s book is invaluable." (The full review is here.)

Carol Sklenica will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers to discuss her book at 7:00pm on Sunday, November 29. We hope you can join us. It's sure to be a fascinating evening.--David E

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Sale at Magers & Quinn

On Thanksgiving Day from 12:00 until 9:00pm everything at Magers & Quinn Booksellers will be 20% off. No coupons, no crowds. Come in while the turkey's in the oven or later when you're fighting off the tryptophan. Either way, you can get a jump on your holiday shopping. Beat the crowds during this very special sale.

Throughout the holiday season, Magers & Quinn will be collecting donations to the Joyce Food Shelf. High-protein foods (peanut butter, tuna, dried bean and peas), infant formula, and toiletries are particularly useful and welcome. Share the bounty of the holiday season with your neighbors.

The Fine Print: During our Thanksgiving Day sale, no further discounts or coupons apply.--David E

Act One

There's a new player on the Twin Cities bookstore scene. Play by Play Books has opened at 1771 Selby Ave in St Paul. They have an bright and cheery store filled with books, scripts, memorabilia, and theater-related gifts. There will soon be wi-fi and coffee for sale, as well as a meeting space and even a patio in the back. Stop in today and buy a book.

Visit for details.--David E

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fashion on the Radio

Scott Schuman, who curates the Sartorialist and who put together a book gathering together the best of the blog's fashionable pictures, was recently on The Sound of Young America podcast. His talk on style is worth hearing, even without the pretty pictures. Here it here:

You can also download the podcast here.--David E

No Bird Brain He

Join members of the Big Bang Book Club for a discussion of Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--And Formed a Deep Bond in the Process Tuesday, November, 24, 7:00pm, at Grumpy's, 1111 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis.

Alex's brain was the size of a shelled walnut--he was a parrot, after all--and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.

The Big Bang Book Club is a monthly book club for non-scientists that relishes in folding arts and science into a heady brew. This event is sponsored by Magers & Quinn Booksellers; the Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy; Secrets of the City; and Grumpy's. Follow us on Facebook for details on all our events, plus extra materials about all the books.

Read Double Bound by Elizabeth Dingmann

Elizabeth Dingmann's poem Double Bound is this week's winner in our What Light Poetry Project. What Light is a part of mnLIT, which is presented by Magers and Quinn Booksellers and

All the winning poems, as well as the short stories from our flash fiction competition miniStories will be published on and in the months to come. So come back soon!

Click here to read Elizabeth's poem and to learn more about the mnLIT contest.--Jay P

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Damn Good Giveaway

One of the big food books for the holiday season will be Mitch Omer's Damn Good Food. Omer is the chef and owner of Hell's Kitchen. The book has 157 recipes from the restaurant, as well as stories of Omer's struggles with drugs and how he used cooking to get clean.

Mitch Omer will be in the store from 1:00pm to 3:00pm on Saturday, December 19. He'll be signing copies of the book and giving away samples from it.


Anyone who buys a copy of Damn Good Food can enter to win a free brunch for four at Hell's Kitchen. There are entry forms and a cigar box to keep them in by the front register.--David E

Citizen Review: The Lacuna

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with the latest from novelist Barbara Kingsolver.
The Lacuna
The United States has some 'splainin' to do. Kingsolver's newest novel, The Lacuna, shines light on some of the darkest episodes in American and Mexican history, including the brutal suppression of the 1932 bonus army protests, Leon Trotsky's murder in 1940, and the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. The novel begins with Harrison Shepherd's tumultuous childhood, spent shuffling between his Mexican mother and American father. A gift of a diving mask allows him to exchange the ugliness of life on land for the beauty and mystery of life underwater, where he discovers his first "lacuna" or "gap" in the form of a cave accessible only when the tide is just right. A chance encounter with Frida Kahlo shapes the rest of his life, spent mostly as a writer in North Carolina. We get a glimpse of the difficulties he faces as a young gay man pre-Stonewall. The cruelties of the McCarthy era are portrayed without ambiguity. Kingsolver's deft, compelling prose backs us into a corner with Shepherd until we can see no way out. And then the lacuna beckons.
Nancy Seger is a social worker who lives in south Minneapolis. She bagged twenty-two (22!) bags of leaves this fall. She has also recently re-discovered a deep love of falafel.

PS: Barbara Kingsolver was on Minnesota Public Radio recently. You can hear the hour-long interview here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

That Study Carrel Will Look Great in My Media Room

The Elkhart (Indiana) Public Library is auctioning off its vintage furnishings. When the library opened on March 31, 1963, it was full of desks, tables and chairs by Herman Miller, fiberglass chairs from Charles and Ray Eames, and desks and credenzas by Jens Risom. According to the library's sale website, "Some have been in use to the present day, while others have spent years in storage." Design fiends are salivating at the prospect of an unused Eames chair for their apartments.

An online auction begins on Sunday and continues until the end of business on Friday, November 20. Send your bid emails to

Thanks to Book Patrol for the catch.--David E

Friday, November 13, 2009

Starting Strong

St Paul's Replacement Press has announced its very first title. If You Lived Here, You’d Already Be Home is a collection of short stories by John Jodzio of Minneapolis. You might already know Jodzio's work from McSweeney's or from miniSstories. Jodzio won the miniStories competition in the summer of 2008 for "Shoo Shoo". You can also read the longer story which commissioned from Jodzio, entitled "Monarchs".

If You Lived Here, You’d Already Be Home will be published in March. Details are here.--David E

Get On the Bus

This coming Saturday, November 14, at 7:00pm, Peter Conners discusses his memoir Growing Up Dead at Magers & Quinn.

Peter discovered the Grateful Dead in 1985, at the age of 15, through friends who exchanged bootleg tapes of live Grateful Dead concerts. A teenager living in the suburbs of Rochester, New York, he became exposed to an entirely new way of life, and friends who were enjoying more freedom and less parental guidance. At the age of 16, he attended his first Grateful Dead concert on June 30, 1987-he was hooked. Between 1987 and 1995, Conners would attend Dead shows all over the United States.

Growing Up Dead provides riveting insight into the obsessive fandom that made the Grateful Dead the most successful touring band of all time. “We were just on the road, doing the best we could to get from show-to-show. So that was the story I wanted to tell: the story of a street-level Deadhead.”

Details on the event are here.--David E

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Big Bang in a Book

Here's a suggestion for the science nerd on your Christmas shopping list. Voyage To The Heart Of Matter is a collaboration between CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and "paper engineer" Anton Radevsky. Or as Gizmodo described it, it's "the most accurate paper Large Hadron Collider ever." That's right, all the inner workings of the world's largest partical physics laboratory are explained to you in these 3D pages.

It's not clear how widely the book will be distributed in the US, but you can always buy it directly from the publisher. Details are here.--David E

Read "Sights" by Jessica Roeder, this week's winning flash fiction piece.

Jessica Roeder's short story "Sights" is this week's winner in our flash fiction competition miniStories. miniStories is a part of mnLIT, which is presented by Magers and Quinn Booksellers and

All the winning stories, as well as the poems from our What Light contest will be published on and in the months to come. So come back soon!

Click here to read Jessica's story and to learn more about the mnLIT contest.--Jay P

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are You Experienced?

Graywolf Press is looking for interns. Graywolf is one of the nation's leading nonprofit literary publishers; their authors include Elizabeth Alexander, Charles Baxter, Sven Birkerts, Linda Gregg, Tony Hoagland, Jane Kenyon, William Kittredge, David Treuer, and Brenda Ueland. And they're right here in Minneapolis.

Applications for winter/spring internships are due November 15. Details are here.--David E

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"You don't get to pick your obsessions": John Irving Wows Minneapolis

"I would never have guessed that the hottest ticket of 2009 would be a 67-year-old author of 700-page books," begins Jay Gabler's write-up of last night's reading by John Irving, posted today on Ah, but it was, as a capacity crowd packed ComedySportz' theater to hear the author of The World According to Garp discuss wrestling, the writing life, and almost incidentally his latest novel Last Night in Twisted River.

Among the evening's revelations was this gem: "Turning to questions submitted in writing by the audience, Irving mentioned that at a recent literary conference he'd perplexingly received four questions directed at Margaret Atwood. "Though we're about the same age," he observed, "we really don't look all that similar." That led to a story about how Irving and John Updike, in the last decade of Updike's life, would trade packages of letters written by fans who mistook one author for the other."

Be sure to sign up for the M&Q newsletter or visit our events page to keep up with all the great authors you can meet in the months ahead.--David E

Fortitude Roars

The New York Public Library recently unveiled its new, web-friendlier logo. This being the digital age, they also released a video discussing the design process.

There's even more information at Flavorwire.--David E

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hear Here

John Irving will be in Minneapolis on Monday, to read from his new novel Last Night at Twisted River. Tickets for the live show are sold out, but Magers & Quinn will broadcast live audio of the reading in our store. Come in, sit down, and hear the whole reading for free.

Monday promises to be a very interesting evening. Irving recently spoke to the New Statesman, and he had some very interesting things to say, including his writing process.

How do you start a novel?
"With the last sentence. Every novel of mine began with a last sentence, and not even the punctuation in those 12 last sentences changed. The first couple of times that happened to me, I thought it was an oddity. I didn't recognise it as a habit, nor would I have labelled it a "process".. But then I came to recognise that this is the way my mind works."

The whole interview is here.--David E

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making Good

Michael Lewis' book The Blind Side follows a young man from his impoverished childhood with a crack-addicted mother, through his discovery of the sport of football, to his rise to become one of the most successful, highly paid players in the NFL.

Now the book is a movie, opening November 20. The trailer is below. Magers & Quinn has coupons good for two preview tickets to an advance screening November 17. Stop by the store and get yours while supplies last.--David E

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

After Percy

Rick Riordan, author of the recently completed Olympians series of young adult novels has announced his plans for his next books. The "Kane Chronicles" will tell the story of two siblings who accidentally release ancient Egyptian gods into the modern world. But fear not, they can fix this problem... if we're lucky.

The first book in the new series--The Red Pyramid--will be released on May 4, 2010. Details are in Publishers Weekly and on Rick Riodan's own blog.--David E

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Across the Street

To everyone who bought tickets to John Irving's reading next Monday, a quick note... The location of the reading has changed to Comedy Sportz, on the second floor of Calhoun Square (3001 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis). The new venue is just across the street from our store, so you won't have any trouble finding it. Parking is available in Calhoun Square's ramp, which you can enter from either Lake St or 31st St. Parking is also available at meters in the neighborhood.

The doors will open at 6:30pm. Please be sure to bring your ticket. If you have any questions, give us a call at 612/822-4611.

For those of you who were not able to purchase tickets to the event, we have a bit of good news. We will be broadcasting the audio from John Irving's reading in our store, live on Monday night. Come in, browse around, and hear the whole event for free.--David E

A Book and a Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, November 10. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

November's book is Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. It's the story of a New York doctor whose life is turned upside down when a mobster recognizes him from his previous job--as a hitman for the Mafia. Read the book before Leonardo diCaprio makes the movie. Seriously.

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, November 1, 2009

Not Helping

There's a new holiday on the calendar, and it's not one I'm looking forward to.

November 18th is International Science Fiction Reshelving Day, and on that day--as explains--defenders of science fiction "will go to bookstores around the world and move science fiction and fantasy books from wherever they might be to their proper place in the “Science Fiction” section. We hope that this quiet act of protest will raise awareness of this problem and inspire new readers to explore our thought-provoking genre."

Actually, people, what your "quiet act of protest"--and you're hardly Gandhi here--will do is to make the books you love harder to find. The next time a customer comes in and asks for Margaret Atwood or Michael Chabon, he or she will be directed to an empty spot on the bookshelf because you moved the book. No sale for the book store, no sale for the author, no book for an interested potential reader. Nice job.

Thanks to The Stranger for the tip.--David E