Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

Ron Charles, fiction editor at the Washington Post and Marjorie Kehe, book editor of the Christian Science Monitor sat down with Kerri Miller today on MPR's Midmorning program to review their picks for the year's must-reads. Among their choices were some you've likely heard of already--Wolf Hall, The Angel's Game--and some you probably don't yet know--The Anthologist, Border Songs, Yesterday's Weather. There were even suggestions for younger readers, such as Rick Riordan's excellent Percy Jackson series and the delightfully-titled Al Capone Shines My Shoes.

You can listen to the whole show here:

You might hear a few ideas to pick up at our New Year's Day sale. Everything in the store will be 25% off on January 1, 2010.--David E

Citizen Review: The Unnamed

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with loyal M&Q customer Jess Horowitz, writing about Joshua Ferris' second novel.
The Unnamed
Joshua Ferris, author of the popular office black comedy Then We Came to the End (2007), returns to the shelves with his second novel, The Unnamed. We meet Tim and Jane Farnsworth, a wealthy, successful couple who share a beautiful home and an inability to relate to their introverted teenage daughter. Tim has just begun a third bout with an inexplicable illness. As we learn about Tim’s illness, family relationships are tested, flaws are illuminated, and countless doctors shrug their shoulders as to what is causing Tim’s problem.

Throughout the novel, Tim and Jane are repeatedly separated and reunited, having to reestablish their sense of home and continuity. While reading, I was frustrated, relieved, and again frustrated by their actions, which I imagine was Ferris’ intention. As in his first novel, he excels at creating characters that we can’t help but follow down the path to insanity.

Many novels and films take on a strained marriage, but Ferris’ story is original and unusual. Much of the book takes place in winter, so it’s highly recommended to read it in these cold months, to make the book’s feeling of cold all the more vivid.
Jess Horwitz lives in Uptown and likes her books arranged by color.
The Unnamed will be published on January 18, 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year's Day Sale

M&Q is kicking 2010 off in style. We will be open New Year's Day from 10:00am to 8:00pm, and everything in the store will be 25% off. (This does not include special orders.)

There will be refreshments and maybe even live music. So come in and stock up on your winter reading.--David E

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Hours

Please note our holiday hours:
  • Dec 23: 10:00am to 10:00pm
  • Dec. 24:10:00am to 4:30pm
  • Dec 25: Closed
  • Dec 26: 10:00am to 10:0pm
Save yourself a trip and check our inventory online before you come in. Our website is updated hourly, so if a book is listed as "In Store," you can find it here. Give us a call (612/822-4611) and we'll even put it on hold for you.--David E


USA Today has published its annual list of the country's most literate cities. The rankings are based on newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.

The readingest cities are
1. Seattle
2. Washington, DC
3. Minneapolis
4. Pittsburgh
5. Atlanta
6. Portland, OR
7. St. Paul
8. Boston
9. Cincinnati
10. Denver

That's right, folks. Washington, DC, is bigger on reading than Minneapolis. We used to own this list, and now we have fallen to number three. Hang your head in shame for a minute, then get out there and visit a library, buy a local magazine, attain some education, and (do I have to say it?) go to a local bookstore!

USA Today's article is here. The original data is available here.--David E

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Wears a Wig

Winter snowstorms can slow down holiday deliveries, and bookstores suffer along with everyone else. But M&Q was fortunate that when we ran out of copies of Drink This: Wine Made Simple, we were able to turn to the author for help. Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl loaned us copies from her private reserve, so we can get them to you in time for the holidays.

They won't last long, so stop in and get your copy today, before they're all gone.--David E

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All in the Family

Did you know that Carl Sandburg's house is now a National Historic Site? Did you know that Sandburg and his wife Lilian moved to the home outside Asheville, NC, because the longer summers would be good for her goat-breeding business? Did you know that the Sandburgs' three girls were nicknamed "Spink," "Skabootch," "Swipes"? I didn't either, but happily the blog Novel Destinations is there to fill in the gaps in my literary knowledge.

Visit the Carl Sandburg NHS here--virtually at least.--David E

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Got to Put It Someplace

Don't know where to put a piece of public art? Libraries seem to be the default choice lately.

The Lithuanian branch of Frank Zappa's fan club donated a bust of the singer to his hometown, Baltimore. The city, however, was at a loss as to where to put it. In the end they decided to put the statue (pictured above) outside the Highlandtown branch of the city's public library system.

Details are here.--David E

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coming Soon

Library Journal looked at the 2010 crop of fiction and found a winner: Maaza Mengiste's novel set during the Ethiopian revolution of 1974, Beneath the Lion's Gaze (available January 11, 2010).

"A recent New York University graduate, Mengiste was voted a "new literary idol" by New York magazine and garnered a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her honors do not belie her skill, for this book is stunning." (The full review is here.)

You can meet Maaza Mengiste when she reads from her novel at Magers & Quinn--Sunday, January 24, at 5:00pm. Don't miss it.--David E

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Flavorwire has compiled a fascinating list of recent electronic literature ("created in a digital environment, and often intended to be read or viewed on a computer"). Among the items mentioned are works for Wii, SMS, and even Google AdWords.

I'm going to start with Mai Ueda’s Domain Poems (.pdf), a work composed entirely of found domain names, but I'm sure I won't stop there. The full list is here.--David E

Read a new poem by Darci Schummer

Darci Schummer's poem Hair is this week's winner in our What Light Poetry Project. This is the second of Darci's work to be selected for this year's contest.

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 Darci's poem and to learn more about the mnLIT contest.--Jay P

Beat the Winter Doldrums

The Twin Cities' largest and friendliest book club, Books and Bars, is kicking it into high gear this winter. From January to March, B&B will meet twice monthly, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.

Here's what we're reading: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. --David E

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Going Once, Going Twice...

Rain Taxi has just launched its annual Benefit Auction on eBay to raise funds for the coming year. There are first editions, gorgeous broadsides, rare chapbooks, quirky used books, as well as original art, an article of clothing, a decorative bag, and even a crazy quilt. Many of the items are signed by the authors and/or artists.

The auction runs through Sunday, so don't procrastinate. Browse the items here.--David E

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meet Mitch Omer

Mitch Omer, owner and chef of Hell's Kitchen, will be at M&Q to meet customers and talk about his cookbook Damn Good Food--from 1:00pm to 3:0pm, Saturday, December 19.

In his new cookbook, Damn Good Food, Mitch Omer reveals the recipes that have made his restaurant a pleasure seeker's destination, including inventions like his tart, ethereal Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes; dark, wild Bison Sausage Bread; and sweet, creamy Mahnomin Porridge. These dishes have the hungry and eager queued up out the doors of Hell's Kitchen, often for hours, but now you can make them at home.

"Mitch Omer makes Anthony Bourdain look like an altar boy."--Jacques Pepin

Stop by Magers & Quinn to get a copy of Damn Good Food, get it signed, and get inspired to make your best holiday meal ever.

Citizen Review: The Farmer's Daughter

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with M&Q's own Shawn Neary reviewing the new collection of three novellas from Jim Harrison.

The Farmer's Daughter
When in our store and walking underneath the low ceiling in literature, you may have noticed Jim Harrison's books off to your right. These are the books whose jackets bear a certain resemblance to one another. They are, by and large, paintings in muted colors, of quiet landscapes and powerful, solitary animals (the odd Legend of the Fall movie tie-in being the exception). The three novellas within The Farmer's Daughter, Harrison's latest, possess this same relational quality. While there's no direct tie between Sarah Anitra Holcomb, Brown Dog, or the nameless narrator of "Games of the Night," the same measured pace, the same types of challenges, the same turns of phrase, even the same songs (Patsy's Cline's The Saddest Word in Lonesome is Me is mentioned a number of times) appear throughout these pages. The characters examined--a home-schooled daughter of Montana, a some-time rabble rouser and full-time father fleeing the law, and a man prone to monthly blackouts and compulsions to insatiable violence--are molded by actions from which there is no going back and emerge, to paraphrase Harrison's description of the farmer's daughter from which this book takes its name, terribly certain of themselves.
Shawn Neary is excited to write a 200 word review of Updike's Rabbit novels. He could kind of go for a pizza right now and misses Book It in a bad way.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Was Victor Frankenstein a mad scientist? How have images from Mary Shelley’s classic monster novel permeated our ostensibly modern ideas of science? We’ll discuss these questions and much more when the Big Bang Book Club goes literary for December. We'll meet at 7:00pm on Tuesday, December 22, at Grumpy's Bar, 1111 Washington Ave S, in Minneapolis.

The Big Bang Book Club is a monthly book club for non-scientists that relishes in folding arts and science into a heady brew. It is sponsored by The Big Bang Book Club is a monthly book club for non-scientists that relishes in folding arts and science into a heady brew. It is sponsored by Magers & Quinn Booksellers; the Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy, which works to engage the public on science or technology issues to deliver the knowledge and experience of Humphrey Institute experts; Secrets of the City--the daily digest of Twin Cities culture; and Grumpy's Downtown.

Five Dollah Five!

Bargain hunters, take note. Magers & Quinn has a super special cart of beautiful books on the sidewalk in front of the store. They're all priced to move at only $4.99 each. Check them out.--David E

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We Sold One!

Today, nineteen days after the book was first released, M&Q sold its first copy of Going Rogue. We're in the big leagues now!--David E

M&Q is Your Source for Breaking News

It turns out that Books & Bars is a good source for Hollywood gossip, as well as a fun evening out.

Word is out that Natalie Portman will both produce and star in a film adaptation of the spoof/mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance -- Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!. Author Seth Grahame-smith broke the news when he spoke to our monthly beer-infused book club back in May. The New York Daily News reported the news yesterday (here).

Magers & Quinn--we're booksellers and gossipmongers.--David E

The Making of...

The Utne Reader's "Great Writing" blog clued me in to this article in Poets & Writers. It tells the story behind the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary With Additional Material from a Thesaurus of Old English, published earlier this year by Oxford University Press. (Read more about that here.)

P&W includes news of a near-disaster. "In 1978, things nearly went up in smoke when the building housing the sole copy of the work-in-progress caught fire." The whole article is here.--David E

Friday, December 11, 2009

Checking It Twice

Here's a gift for the book collector on your list. This reproduction of Thomas Jefferson's bookstand let the polymath president consult five volumes at once.

Buy one here, but be warned: innovation in solid mahogany doesn't come cheap.--David E

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Read Caroline Ore's short fiction on our mnLIT page

Caroline Ore's short story "Solo Performance" 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!

Caroline was selected as a winner by local novelist David Oppegaard, whose novel Wormwood, Nevada was just published by St. Martin's Press.

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alice through the Ages

Flavorwire looks at artists' impressions of Alice over the years. See them all here.--David E

Not Zombies

It has long been thought (on the Wikipedia, for instance) that Jane Austen died of Addison's disease. But today the New York Times reports that Katherine G. White of the Addison’s Disease Self-Help Group has pointed the finger in another direction. She blames cows for giving Ms A bovine tuberculosis.

Details are here.--David E

A new poem by Greg Watson

Greg Watson's poem "My Brother's Tattoo" is this week's winner in our What Light Poetry Project. If memory serves me, I believe that Greg has had a winning poem in each of our What Light contests. He also has a new book due out soon titled Not Elsewhere, But Here.

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 Greg's poem and to learn more about the mnLIT contest.--Jay P