Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Man, Oh Man

The 13 finalists for the Man Booker Prize were announced today. There are a few names that will be familiar to American readers, but not many. As ever, some of the books aren't yet available in the States.

The full list is here.--David E

This week's winning What Light poem is by Darci Schummer

Darci Schummer's "Archeology" is one of the winning pieces in this year's What Light competition, which is sponsored by Magers and Quinn and presented by mnartists.org. All the winning poems from our What Light contest (as well as the stories from our Flash Fiction contest, miniStories) will be published on magersandquinn.com and mnartists.org in the months to come. So come back soon!

Click here to read Darci's lovely poem.

Monday, July 27, 2009

August at the Soap Factory

Things are shaping up for M+Q's participation in the upcoming Soap Factory exhibit, Common Room. Common Room will be a temporary curated gathering space within The Soap Factory designed to facilitate interactivity and the blurring of the boundaries between curators, performers and audience, all within in a casual, living room-esque environment.

We were invited to curate some community gatherings around the subject of books. And here's what we have on tap.

For you artsy types who join us for our Granta Magazine release party on August 19th, we'll have:
  • A presentation by Emily Cook on literary hoaxes, which may or may not include slides.
  • 5-minute book reports by author Alison McGhee and M+Q's Jay Peterson (that's me).
  • A literary trivia challenge with Brad Zellar.
  • A presentation by Eric Hanson titled "When Ted met Sylvia." The working subtitle is "excerpts from Eric Hanson's birthday miscellany on crossed paths and bypaths of
    literary and historical figures."

And, on August 11th, for our faithful Books and Bars Book Club attendees, we'll have:
  • Giant Mad Libs!
  • An Exquisite Corpse writing game!
  • Writing contests!
  • And more surprise fun!

Check back for more updates!--Jay P

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Selling in a Buyer's Market

What’s the number one tip to help sell your home in today’s real estate market? Stage your home! taging statistics tell the story: Staged homes sell 50% faster than those that are not staged. Houses, staged to sell, produce sales that average 3%-5% higher than those that are not staged. Staged homes require fewer price reductions than unstaged homes.

Staging is a necessity if you want to sell your home today and get a better price. Staging a house doesn’t need to be expensive or require a professional stager. Everything you need to know to stage your home yourself is in Diane Keyes’ award-winning This Sold House--your best source for do-it-yourself staging advice.

One of the country’s first homestagers, Diane Keyes has been bringing her innovative approach to her home staging career and the real estate industry for more than twenty years. Her unique talents have brought her to four-star restaurants, multi-million-dollar island get-aways, and thousands of private homes. And when they needed someone to prepare the state mansion for the Swedish royal family the governor’s wife called Diane.

Diane Keyes will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Tuesday, August 4, at 7:30pm to share her knowledge with you. Details are here.--David E

M of Q

A cache of letters and draft works by Oscar Wilde previously believed lost has been found. The trove was last seen in 1953 when it was sold at auction. Then late last year the current owner contacted the Morgan Library and gave them the collection outright.

The best part of the story, though, is its beginning. The materials were originally collected by the Marquess of Queensbury. The marquess in question is not Wilde's tormentor (the ninth M of Q) nor his lover (#10), but rather Bosie's nephew, number eleven in the line. Details are here.--David E

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Like Google for Word Nerds

I have one dictionary. It dates from 1962 and does not include the word astronaut, but it works for most purposes.

Ah, but when I'm online I like ninjawords.com. It's blazing fast. The site is very simple--no ads, even. And it keeps a list of the words you've recently searched for. What more do you need?--David E


“In the places set between folds in the Earth, voices echo against mountains....” So begins the story of Concord, Virginia, one of those places set between folds in the Earth. It’s a place like almost any other Southern town filled with self-righteous preachers, descendants of slaves, upstanding town leaders and the ladies of the local bridge club. But, Concord has something else: a dark heart. A church has been abandoned. Vultures have been roosting in the trees at George MacJenkins’s house. Poisonous snakes follow Rachel Stetson into the river for a swim. And the ghost of Thomas Jefferson has recently spoken through a man chained to fate.

These are just a few of the characters in Peter Neofotis' new novel Concord, Virginia: A Southern Town in Eleven Stories. Meet more of them Friday, July 31, 7:30pm, when Neofotis reads at Magers & Quinn Booksellers. Details are here.--David E

Friday, July 24, 2009

Love Me. Love My Tentacles

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters will be available September 15.--David E

Wait for It

For a long time, the fourth installment of the Wimpy Kid series of books has not had a title. It's been known only as #4.

Now, at long last it has been revealed: the title will be Dog Days.

Details are here.Dog Days will be available October 12.--David E

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When Will Met Judy

Will Arnett--best known for Arrested Development--reads from Judy Blume's YA classic Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. What more do I need to say. Watch it. Now.

Thanks to the Daily Blabber for the catch.--David E

A New World in a Book

James A. Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, is a world-renowned scientist, doctor, and researcher. He lives in Oronoco, Minnesota. But his novel The Blue Notebook is the story of Batuk, an Indian girl who is taken to Mumbai from the countryside and sold into prostitution by her father; the blue notebook is her diary, in which she recalls her early childhood, records her life on the Common Street, and makes up beautiful and fantastic tales about a silver-eyed leopard and a poor boy who fells a giant with a single gold coin.

How did he come to write about such a distant subject? Ask him yourself, Wednesday, July 29, 7:30pm, when Levine will be reading at Magers & Quinn Booksellers. Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

McCourt Remembered

The late author Frank McCourt told the story of his youth in Limerick in the book Angela's Ashes. It's not a happy tale, but apparently Limerick isn't holding a grudge. The mayor of Limerick has opened a book of condolence for McCourt. Citizens may sign the book over the next two weeks, whereupon it will be delivered to McCourt's family.

The full article is here.--David E

UPDATE: The redoubtable Ed pointed out to me that the New York Times has begun a page where non-Limerick-ites can post their recollections of McCourt. It's here.

Reaching for the Stars

Art meets science when Mary Ann Lesert reads from her novel about women in science Base Ten--7:30pm, Monday, July 27, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

A promising young astronomer, Jillian Greer, and her research partner, Kera, seem destined to become astronauts. But while Kera plots her path to NASA, Jillian falls in love with Jack, an ambitious doctor. They marry, start a family, and she takes a giant step off the path to her dream.

Knowing that NASA won’t hire astronauts older than forty, Jillian, at the age of thirty-nine, escapes to the sand dunes of Lake Michigan to recover her aspiration of reaching the stars. Her solo adventure through the challenging wilderness leads her over steep dunes, through icy waters, and to the top of the lighthouse where she made her first important scientific discovery. Lesert’s thoughtful and timely first novel unfolds as Jillian contemplates the future of her career amidst the sacrifices she has made as a mother and wife.

Details are here.--David E

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This week's miniStories winner is Rodney Nelsestuen

"Rage" by Rodney Pederson is one of the winning pieces in this year's Flash Fiction competition miniStories, which is sponsored by Magers and Quinn and presented by mnartists.org. All the winning stories as well as the poems from our What Light contest will be published on magersandquinn.com and mnartists.org in the months to come. So come back soon!

Click here to read Rodney's story.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yours to Keep

A recent rights dispute has brought to light a very surprising fact about the Kindle: amazon.com has the right to remove books from users' devices without warning. Buyers who had purchased electronic versions of 1984 and Animal Farm awoke last week to find that amazon.com had removed the files from their readers without their knowledge. The New York Times has the details here.

Chalk one up for ink on paper. Once you take it home, it's staying put.--David E

Don't Miss This Event

You're invited to hear lawyer Kristine Huskey discusses her book Justice at Guantanamo: One Woman’s Odyssey and Her Crusade for Human Rights, Sunday, July 26, 5:00pm, at Magers And Quinn Booksellers.

Kristine Huskey was one of the first attorneys to represent Guantanamo detainees starting in 2002, just 6 months after 9/11. She was accused of being unpatriotic and questioned at every turn for merely representing accused terrorists and standing up for the rule of law. Huskey went on to establish and become the Director of a National Security legal clinic at a top law school--University of Texas School of Law--also her alma mater. In becoming an expert on national security issues--detention, privacy, terrorism financing, military justice--Huskey became all too aware of the male-dominated aspect of her chosen field.

Details are here.--David E

Friday, July 17, 2009

K Blows Top

Peter Carlson will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Friday, July 24, at 7:30pm to discuss his new book K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America's Most Unlikely Tourist.

Khrushchev's 1959 trip across America was one of the strangest exercises in international diplomacy ever conducted--"a surreal extravaganza," as historian John Lewis Gaddis called it. Khrushchev told jokes, threw tantrums, sparked a riot in a San Francisco supermarket, wowed the coeds in a home economics class in Iowa, and ogled Shirley MacLaine as she filmed a dance scene in Can-Can. He befriended and offended a cast of characters including Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Calling All North Dakotans

On Thursday, July 23, at 7:30pm, Jonathan Twingley will visit Magers & Quinn Booksellers to read from his North Dakota-based novel The Badlands Saloon.
A one-of-a-kind, fully illustrated debut novel about a young man's restless and lifechanging summer spent in a small North Dakota tourist town, The Badlands Saloon is a loving meditation on that time in life when you don't so much unfold the map as sit down and start to draw it.

Featuring eye-catching, full-color illustrations that bring this novel's landscape and characters to life, The Badlands Saloon is a unique paean to America.

Details are here.--David E

Slithering Sequels!

Quirk Books has announced its eagerly-anticipated follow-up to the smash hit mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance -- Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! The new book will also combine Jane Austen's original novel with Seth Grahame-Smith's monstrous additions.

The new book is... wait for it... Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Publishers Weekly outlines the plot thus: "In the Quirk update, the Dashwood sisters, evicted from their childhood home by their conniving stepmother, land on a mysterious island full of man-eating sea creatures, instead of a nearby, downgraded, English cottage." (The full PW article is here.)

S&S&SM will be available September 15.--David E

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It seems that even in his own country Haruki Murakami can be a bit puzzling. Japan's Mainichi Shimbun tackles the question What is the parallel world in Murakami's new novel '1Q84'?, and their answers aren't particularly illuminating. Still, until the book is available in English, this is all we anglophones have to go on.

The whole article is here.--David E

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This week's mnLIT winner

"From the Windy Trees" by Dan Pederson is one of the winning pieces in this year's What Light Poetry Project competition within mnartists.org's mnLIT program, which is sponsored by Magers and Quinn. All 38 winning stories and poems will be published on magersandquinn.com and mnartists.org in the months to come. So come back soon!

Click here to read Dan's poem.

A la Cart

Every year the swallows return to Capistrano, and every year librarians gather to dress up in funny costumes and push library carts around in elaborately choreographed routines. Yes, the Librarian Book Cart Drill Championships have come again. Allegations of steroid abuse couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of these plucky terpsichorean librarians.

NPR's story is here. There's even video here, although I can't embed it.--David E

Monday, July 13, 2009

We're in the Money

Feeling stimulated? You might be if you work in the arts. The National Endowment for the Arts has announced direct grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grants have been given to "nonprofit arts organizations are receiving grants to support the preservation of jobs that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn."

Minnesota made out pretty well. Better than, say, LA, says the LA Times' Jacket Copy blog. The full list of Minnesota recipients is here.

The grants are good news for local literary organizations including Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Milkweed Editions, and Springboard for the Arts. They're not so good for folks outside the metro area. The only recipient who's even close to being in greater Minnesota is the Franconia Sculpture Park--and they're an easy drive from the Cities, in Schafer.--David E

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Roasting on an Open Fire

The New Yorker's Book Bench blog was keen-eyed enough to spot this forthcoming gem. General Sherman's Christmas will be the perfect gift for anyone who wants to combine warm holiday sentiments with a ruthless scorched earth policy of military dominance.

That sounds like a few people on my Christmas list.--David E

Over Before It Began

I just learned that Laura Esquivel--author of Like Water for Chocolate--lost her race to represent Mexico City in the Mexican congress. I hadn't even realized she was running.

Details are here. Thanks to Galley Cat for the tip.--David E

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Sadly, Superheroes Decadance--a new book in which the Italian cartoonist Donald Soffritti imagines how time will ravage Superman, Batman, et al--is not available in the US. Happily, the UK's Telegraph newspaper has posted a slideshow of images.

Thanks to ABEbook.com's "Reading Copy" blog for the tip.--David E

Peeling the Onion

As a child and teenager, Nathan Rabin viewed pop culture as a life-affirming form of escape. Today, pop culture is his life. For more than a decade, he's served as head writer for A.V. Club, the entertainment section of The Onion. In The Big Rewind, Rabin shares his too-strange-for-fiction life story. From a psilocybin-addled trip to the Anne Frank House to having focus groups for his movie-review panel show opine that all the male critics seemed "gay" and that the show as a whole was "too gay," Rabin discusses his personal evolution in prose as hilarious as it is unexpectedly poignant.

You can hear more when Nathan Rabin reads from his book The Big Rewind at Magers & Quinn Booksellers,Saturday, July 18, at 7:00pm. Details are here.--David E

Friday, July 10, 2009

Coconut (Grove) Samoa

This just in from the Miami Herald: The public library in Coconut Grove, Florida, is now on the Miami Register of Historic Places. As such, the exterior must remain largely unchanged, although major renovations are planned within.

I wasn't aware of the library, but now that I've seen it, I'm glad they're preserving it. That's a groovy, South Pacific-style building.--David E


The Hennepin County Library system is holding two public meetings about the future of Uptown's Walker branch library. The agenda is a bit vague: "These are beginning discussions to gather community input on a new Walker Library before a request for proposal (RFP) is issued. We are looking for ideas about the kind of library the community wants."

There will be two sessions: Saturday, July 11, from 2:00-3:30pm, and Thursday, July 16 from 6:30-8:00pm. Presumably, the meetings will be at the Walker library, but the item doesn't specifically say so. The full item is here.--David E

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Literary Drama

The on again, off again saga of Vladimir Nabokov's unfinished final manuscript has taken yet another unexpected turn. An excerpt of 5,000 words will be published in Playboy magazine this fall.

To recap the whole story: Nabokov instructed that his incomplete novella The Original of Laura should not be published. According the the New York Times, it was hardly finished: "Vladimir Nabokov wrote the work on 138 index cards, which have been stored for the past 30 years in a bank vault in Switzerland, where Nabokov died in 1977." But last spring his son and heir Dmitri started shopping the manuscript around to publishers anyway. Random House sealed the deal, and the resulting book will be available in mid-November. Much debate and furor ensued. (See here and here, for example.)

Meanwhile, magazines were vying for serial rights, and Playboy was in the thick of things. According to the New York Observer, "When Amy Grace Loyd, Playboy’s literary editor since 2005, heard the news, she began an intense courtship process. “I did it with orchids, mostly,” Ms. Loyd said."

The details of the seduction and ultimate conquest are worth a read. The NYO article is here.--David E

Rock Out

I can't wait for this event. Jessica Hopper reads from Girls’ Guide to Rocking on Thursday, July 16, 7:30pm, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

The book is everything a rocking girl needs to know: How to choose the right instrument for you. Where to shop for instruments and where to avoid. How to get your band together and keep it together--tips on playing in a band with your friends and staying friends. How to turn your bedroom into a soundproof practice space. Giving your band the right name, plus a cautionary glossary of overused words (Wolf, Star, Crystal, Earth, etc.). How to set-up and promote your own shows. The freedom of going solo, and how to handle performing alone in the spotlight. Songwriting tips, with eight prompts to get the lyrics flowing. The ins and outs of recording, whether at home or in a studio. Taking care of business: publicizing your band, making T-shirts, legalese and the creative personality, and the four signs that say "time to hire a manager"--in other words, you've arrived.

Jessica will be introduced by local author and musician Laurie Lindeen.

Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

History, Days of Yore, Bygone Eras, Etc

Word nerds can't wait for summer to end, because this October the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary With Additional Material from a Thesaurus of Old English will at long last be published. The two-volume set has been 44 years in the making. The OEDHT not only groups words of similar meaning, but it arranges them chronologically, so readers can trace the development of English words through history. The BBC posted an example here, if you'd like to see how synonyms for the word trousers have come in the the language.

At a whopping 4448 pages, this useful etymological tool doesn't come cheap. the lists at $395.00. You can preorder a copy here. For more casual readers, details are here; there's even a sample page (.pdf).--David E

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Help Yourself

Confused about how to find a particular book in our store? Scott Muskin has made this helpful instructional video just for you. (Or you can ask our helpful staff.) Scott will be back at Magers & Quinn on Sunday, July 12, at 7:00pm, to read from his novel The Annunciations of Hank Meyerson, Mama's Boy and Scholar. Details are on our events page.--David E

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fiction and Non-fiction

Scott Muskin and Nicole Johns read from recent works, Sunday, July 12, 7:00pm, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

Inaugural winner of the Parthenon Prize for Fiction, The Annunciations of Hank Meyerson, Mama’s Boy and Scholar establishes Scott Muskin as a truly original and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction. Hank Meyerson isn’t the whiny sort of mama’s boy. He’s more the wry, shaggy, chubby sort--an over-thinker, a ranter, and sometimes a crier. He adores Emily Dickinson. He kibitzes. He has the audacity to fall in love with his sister-in-law.

Purge by Nicole Johns is a beautifully crafted memoir that has a Girl, Interrupted feel. In this raw and engaging account of her months in rehab, Nicole Johns documents her stay in a residential treatment facility for eating disorders. Her prose is lucid and vivid, as she seamlessly switches verb tenses and moves through time. She unearths several important themes: body image and sexuality, sexual assault and relationships, and the struggle to piece together one's path in life.

Details are here.--David E

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Book and a Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, July 14. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

July's book is Atmospheric Disturbances by first-time author Rivka Galchen. The novel tells of the travails of a man who mistakes his wife for an impostor. The New York Times loved the book and called Galchen a "cerebral, demanding, original new writer."

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.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cheap Ticket to Paradise

Lucinda Fleeson discusses her new book "Waking Up In Eden" at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Saturday, July 11, at 6:00pm.

Like so many of us, Lucinda Fleeson wanted to escape what had become a routine life. So, she quit her big-city job, sold her suburban house, and moved halfway across the world to the island of Kauai to work at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Imagine a one-hundred-acre garden estate nestled amid ocean cliffs, rain forests, and secluded coves. Exotic and beautiful, yes, but as Fleeson awakens to this sensual world, exploring the island's food, beaches, and history, she encounters an endangered paradise--the Hawaii we don't see in the tourist brochures.

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

Friday, July 3, 2009

Don't Forget to Water Your Books

Honbachi--book pots--are available from a website called Tokyo Pistol. More than that I cannot tell you, as my Japanese is quite rusty.

Thanks to the Bibliophile Bullpen for the tip.--David E

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Judging a Book

Seth Godin, marketing maven and author of Small is the New Big, posted an interesting item on his blog today. He wrote, "Tactically, the [front] cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you've sold the book."

Do you agree? I really do think that a lot of books are sold by marketing rather than by their covers. That is, you read about the book in a magazine/heard the author on the radio/saw it on your friend's shelf, and that's why you want it. I'd agree that a poor cover can prevent a casual browser from picking up an unknown book and learning more, however.

What do you think? Weigh in in the comments, please.

Thanks to the Book Cover Archive Blog for the tip.--David E

A Whole Lotta Led

The blog Largehearted Boy has a recurring series called "Book Notes," in which authors compile playlists of music related to their books. Never has this been more appropriate than his recent list from Jessica Hopper, author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking: How to Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom. Hopper had to power through the writing of her book--in order to meet her contractual deadline--and she turned to Led Zeppelin to get her through.

Was it worth it? I'll say. You can learn more about Hopper's book at girlsguidetorocking.com. And meet the author herself when she's in Magers & Quinn on hursday, July 16, at 7:30pm. Details are on our events page.--David E

Two Poets for the Price of One--Free!

Wayne Miller and Dobby Gibson read from their new poetry, Thursday, July 9, 7:30pm, at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

The Book of Props is an artistic and philosophical endeavor to place oneself in the world. What emerges is a whole-hearted embrace of being, where technique and subject match. With its fluid combination of personal lyric and formal innovation, The Book of Props engages readers with its fundamentally humanistic perspective.

Dobby Gibson’s Skirmish puts into conflict the private and public self, civil disobedience and civic engagement, fortunes told and fortunes made. These poems imaginatively, sometimes manically, move from perception to perception with the speed of a mind forced moment to moment to make sense of distant war and local unrest, global misjudgment and suspicious next-door neighbors, the splice-cuts of the media and the gliding leaves on the Mississippi River.

Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Logrolling in Our Time

Here's a news item (via The Bookseller) that bears repeating: "Reed Elsevier officials have admitted that it was a mistake for the STM publisher's marketing division to offer $25 (£15) Amazon gift cards to anyone who would give a new textbook five stars in a review posted on Amazon or Barnes & Noble."

That's right, a publisher paid people to review its books favorably at online vendors. The article is unclear whether RE thinks its scheme was a mistake because it was eventually exposed or because it simply cost too much. The whole story is here.

We at Magers & Quinn are happy to recommend books. And, no, we don't get kickbacks. We do it out of love.--David E

Prove It

Rick Nelles will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Wednesday, July 8, 7:30pm to lead a mini-seminar for job hunters and to discuss his book Proof of Performance.

Where’s your proof of performance? That’s the question employers increasingly ask job candidates in today’s highly competitive job market. While you may have a terrific resume that gets you to the job interview, you now need more than prepared answers to interview questions to get the job offer. Indeed, savvy employers want to see the proof behind your resume claims of performance.That proof is best provided in a specific type of portfolio you bring to the interview and present to the employer. The book describes a novel strategy that has turned job interviews into commanding performances for hundreds of job seekers who have quickly gotten job offers: develop and present a performance portfolio at the job interview.

Rick Nelles lives in the Twin Cities area. He is the President of Career Directions, Inc. Details on next week's event are here.--David E