Thursday, April 30, 2009

First, Do No Harm

Steven H. Miles--professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, member of its Center for Bioethics, practicing physician, and recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities--will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on May 7, at 7:30pm, to discuss his book Oath Betrayed.

News that the United States tortured prisoners in the war on terror has brought shame to the nation, yet little has been written about the doctors and psychologists at these prisons. In Oath Betrayed, medical ethics expert and physician Steven H. Miles tells how doctors, psychologists, and medics cleared prisoners for interrogation, advised and monitored abuse, falsified documents--including death certificates--and were largely silent as the scandal unfolded. Miles gives newly uncovered details about the policies that engage clinicians in torture. He discusses the ongoing furor over psychologists' participating in interrogations. Most explosively his new edition shows how interrogation psychologists may have moved from information-gathering to coercive experiments, warning all of us about a new direction in U.S. policy and military medicine--a direction that not so long ago was unthinkable.

Details this and all our events are here.--David E

Get Writing, People

The deadline for submitting your poetry or flash fiction (under 300 words) to Magers & Quinn and's mnLIT competitions has been extended to May 15.

Details on how to enter the contests are here.--David E

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

They're Here!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance -- Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! is finally back in stock!

We've been without zombies for a while here at Magers & Quinn. We sold through our original order in just a few days, and the publisher wasn't able to print enough copies to keep up with demand. But now all is well. Come in soon and get your copy of the book everyone is talking about.--David E

Citizen Reviews: Ecological Intelligence

Two months ago, I asked for M&Q customers who would review books for us. I got a great response--so much so that I fell behind in posting the reviews. My apologies to those of you whose fine work is still in the hopper; I have not forgotten.

To kick off the series I'm calling "Citizen Reviews," April Nelson discusses Daniel Goleman's latest book. Goleman's previous book Emotional Intelligence showed that smart is more than IQ. His latest book aims to teach us all to be smarter consumers, too. --David E

Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything
My consumer’s dilemma has to do with attempting to make ecologically responsible decisions in my day-to-day life, but not always having easy access to the information necessary. What Daniel Goleman proposes to combat this dilemma, in his book Ecological Intelligence, is the idea of radical transparency. Radical transparency, as Goleman defines the term, is “tracking every substantial impact of an item from manufacture to disposal—not just its carbon footprint and other environmental costs, but its biological risks, as well as its consequences for those who labored to make it—and summarizing those impacts for shoppers as they are deciding what to purchase.”

While I was reading, thoughts kept bubbling up in the back of my mind about the pair of Nike workout pants I’d recently purchased, and their questionable stigma. A few passing mentions in the book suggest that Nike has done a lot to improve their social impact. It would have been great if, when I was shopping for workout pants, I had been able to tell quickly each company’s environmental, biological and social impacts. Goleman gives inspiring examples of retailers that have already taken it upon themselves to provide these services to their customers and innovative concerned citizens that have created databases providing easily accessible information to consumers.

I have always thought that if manufacturers were to change their ways (i.e., their manufacturing methods or the chemicals they use in their products), the change would have to come about through government regulations. I was very excited to read Goleman’s support of the idea that our power as consumers, including business-to-business consumers, is considerable. The bottom line of this book is that businesses are prepared to cater to consumers’ desires, whether they are centered around ecological responsibility or saving money. The inspiring thing: the two do not seem to be mutually exclusive.
By day, April Nelson is an attorney's sidekick. By night, she is a Minneapolis-dwelling, voraciously-reading, dog-loving, eagerly-bicycling student pursuing a biology degree.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Muggles Unite!

Join us Sunday, and find out everything about Harry, Hermione and the gang. Steve Vander Ark, author of The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials, will be at Magers & Quinn May 3, at 5:00pm.

The Lexicon is an unauthorized guide to the popular series by author J.K. Rowling, is a 400-page companion work perfect for the curious reader who wants to know more about these remarkable books. Extensive new commentary, which does not appear on Vander Ark's Harry Potter Lexicon website ( adds to the fun of reading this reference work.

All the details are on our events page.--David E

Monday, April 27, 2009

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.

Tom Robbins is back with what he calls "the first children"s book about beer" for adults. B is for Beer is a "hallucinogenic hymn to beer, children, and the cosmic mysteries that sustain us all," he says.

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.

Jackets Required

A scholar at Oxford University's Bodleian Library has uncovered the oldest known dustjacket. The cover had become separated from its book--Friendship's Offering for 1830 (Smith, Elder, & Co., 1829). I would have thought there were older dustjackets in existence, but apparently not.

Thanks to Wessel & Lieberman for the tip.--David E

Sunday, April 26, 2009

LHB on Lucky Girl

The blog Largehearted Boy has a recurring series in which he asks writers to compile a playlist of songs to accompany their books. The latest installment of Book Notes takes us from Detroit to Taipei with Mei-Ling Hopgood, author of Lucky Girl. Hopwood's memoir recounts her youth with her adopted Midwestern family and her meeting with her Taiwanese birth family. Hopgood tells LHB, "My quest to get to know my biological family quickly turned into both a tragic and hilarious soap opera I couldn't have scripted, with a cast of characters that include a father hell-bent on having a son; a mother torn by his will; six Taiwanese sisters enduring the psychological scars that could have been mine; a sister raised by a family in Switzerland and the tragic boy adopted as an attempt to create a male heir."

Lucky Girl is in the store now. Mei-Ling Hopgood will be at the Children’s Home Society, 1605 Eustis St., St. Paul, Saturday, May 9, at 3:00pm. Details are on our events page.--David E

Saturday, April 25, 2009

On the Edge

Thanks to Closed Stacks for the tip.--David E

You Still Have a Week

Magers & Quinn Booksellers and are looking for Minnesota writers. We're running two series: What Light is a poetry competition, and miniStories is a flash fiction contest. Submissions will be accepted through April 30. Details are here.

Winning poems and stories will be posted on and on Winning authors will be invited to record audio versions of their work, which will be posted online and distributed through iTunes. Twenty authors in each category will be chosen between June 2009 and March 2010. Three of those twenty grand prize winners will be selected. Grand prize winners will be able to submit a second work to be posted online and will receive a small cash prize.

Full details on both competitions are here.--David E

Friday, April 24, 2009

Maker's Mark

From the Penguin UK blog comes a pointer to an interesting collection of publisher's marks. Even though I spend no small amount of time looking at shelves of books, I still find the variety of colophons very interesting.--David E

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'll Read to That!

Tom Robbins has a new book out. It's called B is for Beer. Billed as "a children's book about beer," the novella is really aimed at those of legal drinking age. It's Robbins' usual blend of fantasy and reality--with a big dose of humor.

You can start reading the book online, and you can hear from the author himself when Tom Robbins speaks at the Minneapolis Public Library on
Tuesday, April 28, at 7:00pm. Call 612-630-6174 for more info.--David E

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All Hail El Jefe

City Pages has picked our pickled book club "Books and Bars" as the "Best Reading Series" around. "[T]his is how literature was meant to be discussed—in public, at a neighborhood bar, with mildly inebriated strangers." We couldn't agree more.

CP's write-up is here. Books and Bars is online at, you guessed it, E

When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling

An intelligent suspense thriller with a twist, Darling Jim follows the saga of the three alluring Walsh sisters whose lives have been destroyed by Jim, a seanchai who enraptures the people of Ireland with his macabre mythic tales. When two sisters and their aunt are found dead in their suburban Dublin home, it seems that the secret behind their untimely demise will never be known. But then Niall, a young mailman, finds a mysterious diary in the post office’s dead-letter bin. From beyond the grave, Fiona Walsh shares the most tragic love story he’s ever heard—and her tale has only just begun.

Set in the middle of a bucolic Irish countryside, Darling Jim tells a story filled with love, jealousy, deep family feuds, resentments, sexual obsession, and envy. Jim, a mysterious seanchai—an old fraternity of Irish storytellers—travels through Ireland enrapturing audiences and wooing women with his macabre mythic narratives.

Meet the author at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Wednesday, April 29, at 7:30pm. Details are here.--David E

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coming Soon... Secrets!

That cheer you heard earlier this week was executives at Random House cheering at the news that Dan "The Da Vinci Code" Brown has delivered a manuscript for his next novel. The Lost Symbol, to be published September 15, "will cover a 12-hour period in the life of Da Vinci protagonist Robert Langdon," according to a brief article in Publishers Weekly.

PW's article is here.--David E

OK by Me

Dan Walsh, author/creator of the brilliant book Garfield Minus Garfield (and the blog of the same name), pointed out something very cool. Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, actually likes Walsh's idea of removing the cat from the eponymous cartoon, leaving behind only his owner Jon. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Davis called Walsh's work "an inspired thing to do."

The full article is here. (Thanks to John M for the tip.)--David E

What Lies Beneath

I'm really excited about this event. In Subterranean Twin Cities, geologist, historian, and urban speleologist Greg Brick takes us on an adventurous, educational, and—thankfully--sanitary tour beneath the streets and into the myriad tunnels, caves, and industrial spaces that make up the Twin Cities’ fascinating and surprisingly vast underground landscape.

He'll be in Magers & Quinn on Thursday, April 23, at 7:30pm. Details on this and all our upcoming events are always here.--David E

Geek Out

The Big Bang Book Club meets next Tuesday. It’s one of a few science book clubs in America co-sponsored by a bookstore. All are welcome.

May’s book is Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku.

Teleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe's physical laws may permit in the near and distant future. Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility.

“A fascinating exploration of the interface between science and science fiction, extremely well researched, lively, and tremendously entertaining.”--Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics and The Science of Leonardo

Dust off your Battlestar Galactica costume and join us. Or come in civilian clothes. It's up to you.--David E

Monday, April 20, 2009

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.

Mary Ann Grossman writes about books for the Pioneer Press, and Laurie Hertzel is Senior Books Editor at the Star Tribune. For this special edition of Talk of the Stacks, join Mary Ann and Laurie as they talk about the world of books. Moderated by Cathy Wurzer, author of Tales of the Road: Highway 61 and host of Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition and TPT's Almanac, this program will explore the life and livelihood of a book critic. From literary history to the latest fads, favorite interviews, professional perils, the changing literary scene, and the business newspapers, no topic will be edited out.

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.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ground Beneath His Feet

Spelunker Greg Brick spoke to the Pioneer Press about his new book
Subterranean Twin Cities.

You can tell he's dedicated from this item. When most of us smell something a bit off near a storm sewer, we just keep on walking. Not so for Brick. "You can smell that wonderful meaty sulfide odor," he said. "You smell that and you start looking for a good tunnel."

Greg Brick will be reading from his new book at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on April 23. Details are here.--David E

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nothing's the Matter with Kansas

I often poke fun at libraries and schools for banning books, so I'm pleased to be able to tell you that the Topeka and Shawnee County Library recently voted to keep four books on the topic of how to have better sex on their shelves and available to the public.

Details are here.--David E

#amazonfail Revisited

If you missed it--and if you're not a Twitter addict or a book industry nerd, you very well might have--there was a big furor about's listings this week. In short, reworked its algorithms to remove adult content from its search results, bestseller lists, and elsewhere on the site. But the definition of "adult content" was apparently quite broad and included a lot of reputable books on gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender subjects, as well as books including Lady Chatterley's Lover. The Twitterverse went nuts.

Summaries of the whole episode are here and here, if you're interested. Or you can just scan this handy flowchart, courtesy of the National Coalition against Censorship

Geeky, but does it really matter? Yes, says Patrick at Vroman's Bookstore--and I agree. "Anytime you limit yourself to fewer suppliers, especially of something as vital as information ...., you’re putting yourself at the mercy of that provider." His full posting is here.--David E

An All-Ages Show at M&Q

If you--or your kids--like baseball, you'll want to join us at Magers & Quinn Booksellers at 7:30pm on Friday, April 24, for a reading by John Coy, author of the young adult novel Top of the Order. Coy's newest novel takes readers into the hearts and minds of 5th grade boys, with plenty of baseball action that's sure to keep even the most reluctant readers turning the pages.

Jackson’s parents are divorced and his mother has started dating. Gig’s dad is in the National Guard and has been called up to serve in the Middle East. Isaac's dad wants him to go to a different middle school than all his friends. Diego is the new kid in school, a power-hitter who works with his family on the weekends and can't make every team practice. These four friends lead different lives, but on the baseball field, they're a strong team, the top of the order. In this crucial last year of elementary school, they’re faced with preparing for middle school and dealing with a new member of their team—a girl!

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

Through the Airwaves

Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible : A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel, was on MPR's Midmorning program earlier this week. If you missed it, you can listen to the entire show here.

We'll be discussing Kaku's book at this month's meeting of the Big Bang Book Club, 7:00pm, Tuesday, April 28, at Grumpy's Bar & Grill, 1111 Washington Ave N. Join us on the BBBC Facebook group to get a jump on the dicsussion.--David E

Marks the Spot

Indiebound, the joint marketing program of the American Booksellers Association, has some new bookmark designs. We're pretty happy with our tried-and-true M&Q bookmarks, but we're always open to new ideas.

What do you think of these designs? Post your comments below for us.--David E

Thursday, April 16, 2009

German for "Sale"

Magers & Quinn Booksellers is pleased to be one of only three stores in the mid-west participating in Taschen's upcoming Warehouse Sale. Starting April 22, we'll have hundreds of books on sale from one of the world's premier art publishers. Browse beautiful, fully-illustrated art, photography, and design books--all at substantial discounts. The Taschen Warehouse Sale runs through May 5 or until these great books are gone. Don't miss out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meeting Michio

Physicist and author Michio Kaku stopped in the store today. He's in town for an appearance tonight at the University of Minnesota bookstore (details here). He will be discussing his latest book--just out in paperback--Physics of the Impossible : A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel.

As you may have deduced from the photograph, Physics of the Impossible is the April book for our new science book club. The Big Bang Book Club meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at Grumpy's Bar & Grill. Details on the Big Bang Book club are here.--David E

A Tree Grows in Detroit

I know I should be depressed by this picture of a tree growing out of the discarded books in a Detroit school system warehouse, but I'm not. It's just too pretty a picture.

The photographer, Jim Griffioen, talked to PRI's program "The Story." Details are here.--David E

New Fiction from Israel

Suzane Adam has crafted Laundry as a study in deferral and a testimony to the power of the narrative. The book deftly balances the framework of a psychological drama with a deep lyricism. Translator Becka Mara McKay maintains this gorgeous tension in lucid, gripping prose. We have both Adam and McKay to thank for a novel so compelling and beautifully wrought that we hardly notice when nearly two hundred and thirty pages have passed before we are brought to the dark heart of Ildiko's action, the climax of her story—which is, we realize, what got us here in the first place. Laundry is a quick-paced, intelligent novel and a nuanced reflection on love, obsession and the complex depths of memory.

Suzane Adam and translator Becka Mara McKay will both be at Magers & Quinn on
Sunday, April 19, at 6:00pm. Details are here.--David E

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Reading on Women and Leadership

Katrina Uhly, Darlyne Bailey, and Kelly Mcnall Koney will be in Magers & Quinn Booksellers next week to discuss their book Sustaining our Spirits: Women Leaders Thriving for Today and Tomorrow. Dr. Bailey and her co-authors, Kelly McNally Koney, Mary Ellen McNish, Dr. Ruthmary Powers, and Katrina Uhly, embarked on a remarkable five-year process of discovery with over forty other women from institutions, organizations, and communities. From these conversations was born Sustaining our Spirits, a project where women leaders would learn from and with one another how to sustain their life energies and commitment and, in turn, be able to share those lessons with others.

We hope you can join us Monday, April 20, at 7:30pm, to hear more from these authors. Details on this event and all our upcoming readings are events page.--David E

Six Degrees of Kurt Vonnegut

Loree Rackstraw met Kurt Vonnegut in 1966, when she was a graduate student in his fiction writing class at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. What started as a brief love affair between the then-unknown author and his student soon matured into a joyful, lifelong friendship—and in her new book, Love as always, Kurt, Rackstraw distills four decades of her memories and Vonnegut's letters. She answered some questions about their friendship:

How did you become friends with Kurt Vonnegut?
In 1965, he arrived in Iowa City to teach in the Writers' Workshop MFA graduate writing program, where I was a second year student. He taught my Fiction Writing section, so I worked closely with him in that genre, and we became family friends.

What was he like?
He had a great sense of humor and satire and was always making people laugh. But he also had an underlying melancholia and perhaps even anger about the unfairness of politics and the socio-economic history of our country, particularly as it seemed unfair to powerless people. He was especially kind to those who were powerless. He loved to be on the go, and was easily bored.

What were his most important contributions to American culture?
His important contributions to American culture were, first of all, his books: He had a cult following when I first met him in the mid-sixties, but it became a national and even international following after Slaughterhouse-Five was published in 1969. He also began making public lectures about that time, and was especially popular at university and college campuses, where he had a strong student following. But he was also very popular among literature faculty, too--his unorthodox writing style and structure and his liberal ideas were intriguing.

Probably his most important contributions to American culture had to do with his ability to use the bully-pulpit he gained for insisting on a socio-economic structure to benefit the lower classes, the social and personal value of being of use to others, the general unfairness of war but especially of unilateral political decisions related to war and power in our democracy.

For me, it was his mind and how he thought that most intrigued me. His "E=mc squared" insight that "life is no way to treat an animal" was his expression of the central paradox of life as he saw it: the only thing about humans that is sacred is their awareness, yet it is this very awareness that allows them to misjudge and to create images or symbols or language that blind them to the positive—to kindness, and beauty and/or to goodness. The ease with which we can "become what we pretend to be" can blind us to the fact that we sometimes do harm when we think we are doing good, etc. His books almost always dealt with this paradox, in one way or another. But these serious issues were often camouflaged by the whimsy of his language and narratives, so that I think the deep intellectual content of how he did this with images or events or historical parallels or "revisions" in his books sometimes went unrecognized by scholars, who insisted he wrote largely comic "fluff."

This was part of his own personal dilemma: he loved to make people laugh, but readers' laughter could actually blind them to his deeper insights. I wasn't the only one who saw this irony: he was like the sad-faced clown in the circus.

How did his experience of the Dresden fire-bombing affect his writing and life?

It pretty much established the principle of "Accident" as a central function of life, and as it connected with paradox: e.g. captured and imprisoned by Germans when he himself was born of German-American father, and bombed (by accident) by his own American military Air Force, etc. His life was remarkably influenced by accidents.

How did his knowledge of anthropology, history, drama, literature and the arts influence his writing?
These disciplinary fields were strengths of his, and he interwove them into all his novels. He especially loved drama, did some amateur acting, did some adaptations of his own novels (Cat's Cradle) for the theatre and wanted to write more plays. Happy Birthday, Wanda June was staged and produced in NYC following publication of Slaughterhouse. His characters often reflected anthropological influences (cf. Slapstick, in which the USA is disintegrating socially and economically into a rebirth of the Middle Ages. To help people survive loneliness, he has his protagonist, Wilbur, become president and give everyone in the country middle names of animals or plants to assure everyone they can always find a cousin of that same name and be related to them.).

Loree Rackstraw will be at Magers & Quinn on Saturday, April 18, at 5:00pm. We hope you can attend.--David E

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scream and Shout

Meet the man who met the Beatles in Minneapolis. Author and photographer Bill Carlson will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers Sunday, April 19, at 4:00pm, sharing his memories and discussing his new book.

The Beatles! A One-Night Stand in the Heartland features an archive of original, previously-unpublished photographs shot by gifted and then 17-year-old photographer Bill Carlson on August 21,1965, the day the Beatles came to Minneapolis, with commentary from those who were there including, Larry Kane, Tony Barrow, Bill Diehl, and the fans. Forty-years later, award-winning cinematographer Carlson unearthed his collection of 140 never-before-seen photographs documenting one day in the life of the Beatles on their tour in the Midwest.

Details are on our events page.--David E

New Poetry at Magers & Quinn

Joshua Beckman reads from his new poetry collection Take It at 7:30pm tonight, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

A collection by one of poetry's genuinely necessary voices, Take It is a gift of expansive and expressive generosity. The poems in Take It masterfully combine traditional and contemporary concerns and speech in attending to a degraded, yet wondrous world.

Joshua Beckman was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He is the author of six books, including Take It, Shake, and two collaborations with Matthew Rohrer: Nice Hat. Thanks. and Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. He is an editor at Wave Books and has translated numerous works of poetry and prose, including Poker by Tomaz Salamun, which was a finalist for the PEN America Poetry in Translation Award. He is also the recipient of numerous other awards, including a NYFA fellowship and a Pushcart Prize.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mashed Up

How's this for a combo? A poem by the CP Cavafy, read by Sean Connery, with music by Vangelis? The mind reels.

Thanks to the University (of Washington)'s blog "The Shelf Life."--David E

Catch a Rising Star

People Are Unappealing tells the strange, funny, and sometimes filthy stories of Sara Barron’s twisted suburban upbringing and deranged attempt at taking the Big Apple by storm–first as an actor (then a waiter), then a dancer (then a waiter), then a comic (then a waiter). It’s there that she meets the ex-boyfriend turned street clown. The silk pajama-clad poet. The OCD Xanax addict who refuses to have sex wearing any fewer than three condoms. Barron has a knack for attracting the unattractive. People Are Unappealing is her wickedly funny look at the dark side of humanity.

Sara Barron will read from her book at Magers & Quinn Booksellers at 7:00pm on Saturday, April 18. Details on this and all our events are on our events page.--David E

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Lies Beneath

The Star Tribune ran a nice review of Greg Brick's new book Subterranean Twin Cities. Brick is a speleologist. That's a fancy way of saying he likes to crawl around in the caves and sewers that, it turns out, underlie much of the Twin Cities.

It sounds rough to me, but it has its rewards: "[Brick] gives us vicarious glimpses of surprisingly lovely images we will never see: the flickering shadows his candle casts on the sandbanks of St. Paul's Fountain Cave; an abandoned milk truck, entombed for the ages, that he discovers in another St. Paul cave; the entwined earthworms that "covered the floor like spaghetti" at the bottom of Schiek's Cave, and the view from 75 feet underground to the streets of Minneapolis, 'light streaming through the hexagonal lid far above us.'"

Hear more when the man himself is at Magers & Quinn on April 23. Details on Brick's reading are here.--David E

Friday, April 10, 2009

Not the Better Angels of Our Nature

Publishers Weekly is reporting that Seth Grahame-Smith, author of the spring's biggest hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has signed a two-book deal with Grand Central Publishing. The contract is worth a reported $575,000. The first title is going to be Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Seriously.

Details are here.--David E

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Sing the Poem Electric

The website collects audio and video performance of people performing their favorite poems. Robert Pinsky reads Emily Dickinson; Stanley Kunitz reads Gerard Manley Hopkins. But there are also submissions from ordinary folk, including a construction working from Massachusetts reading Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" (here).

What's your favorite poem? Celebrate National Poetry Month and tell the world.--David E

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"I like my zombies slow and I like my zombies stupid. "

Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, talked to the BBC recently. Besides the headline quote above, he's quite funny on a range of subjects, including what he surmises Jane Austen's reaction to his mashup would be: "I think she would smile. And then she'd sue me for a billion dollars."

The whole interview is here. (Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the tip.)--David E

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Buy Art

A great crowd turned out at Magers & Quinn last month to hear photographer Stewart Klipper talk about his book The Antarctic: From the Circle to the Pole. And now you have a chance two own one of Klipper's amazing photographs of the southernmost continent. is offering limited editions of two of Klipper's pictures for only $50.00 each. Larger versions are also available, while they last. Check them out, because when they're gone, they're gone.

Details on all the events at Magers & Quinn Booksellers are always here.--David E

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dame Memory

Researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed some of the novels of Agatha Christie, and they've come up with a startling post-mortem diagnosis: The doyenne of English mystery fiction had Alzheimer's.

They base their claim on a decreased complexity in Christie's grammar. Says the Guardian, "The most abrupt decline was seen in a novel Christie wrote aged 81, Elephants Can Remember. The book showed, they said, 30% fewer word types than Destination Unknown, which she wrote aged 63, 18% more repeated phrases, and almost three times as many indefinite words."

Details of the study are here.--David E

Saturday, April 4, 2009


David Nygren tossed off an thought on Twitter: "Idea: write novel in Excel spreadsheet. Column A=action. Column B=dialog. Columns C-? for each character's thoughts." But online friends liked the scheme and hounded him until he actually undertook the project. He tells the story on his blog

"So I’ve done it. Here is the first draft of my short storyspreadsheet “Under the Table” (I hope I don’t need to point out the double entendre). Other formats are available at the end of the post. Read it. I swear it’s not horrible (how’s that for a blurb?)."

Readers can kibbutz by downloading the spreadsheet, making changes, and mailing it back to Nygren. Read more about the project and find the link to download "Under the Table" here. (Thanks to the New Yorker's Book Bench blog for the tip.)--David E

Friday, April 3, 2009

A World of Books

British publisher 4th Estate celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary by commissioning this insanely complicated and beautiful stop-animation video. Check out the making-of videos too.

Thanks to Green Apple Books for the tip.--David E

And Then There Were Eight

The shortlist of for 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has been announced, and it's a varied selection. Libraries around the world--including the (former) Minneapolis Public Library--nominated 146 recent works of fiction for consideration. IMPAC's judges narrowed the field to eight: The winner will be announced in November. You can bet the authors are on the edge of their seats. The IMPAC is worth a whopping £100,000--about $150,000. Details are here. (Thanks to GalleyCat for the tip.)--David E