Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What the Neurologist Doesn't Say

"What the Neurologist Doesn't Say" is a newly commissioned poem by one of our 2009 What Light grand prize-winners, Jeff Johnson. Each of these new pieces is accompanied by a curated selection of work drawn from's vast database of artists. To view a slideshow of images selected to accompany Jeff's' poem, please click here.

To visit M+Q's mnLIT page, read more about Jeff click, and learn more about the most recent call for submissions to What Light and miniStories here.

--Jay P.


One of the downsides of holding events at M&Q is that we, dutiful employees that we are, don't always get to sit and enjoy the show. So I was pleased to find this video from John Jodzio's recent appearance at the store. He reads his short story "Inventory" from his collection If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home. It explains a lot about the cover art for the book, by the way.

A quick warning: John's story includes the F-bomb, so if you're watching this at work, turn the volume down.

You can also see the video here.--David E

A Spirited Discussion

Minnesota Reads interviewed Wendy Webb, author of the new ghostly thriller The Tale of Halcyon Crane. She answered the traditional "6 questions we always ask."

You can ask Wendy your own questions when she reads at Magers & Quinn, Monday, April 5, at 7:30pm. Details are here.--David E

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Write On

mnLIT, a writing competition for poets and short story writers, has issued its 2010 call for entries. Twenty winning poems and stories will be published at both and The top selection in each category will earn its author five hundred dollars.

Entries will be accepted through Sunday, May 16. mnLIT is open to all Minnesota residents. Details are here.--David E

Hello, Neighbor

Minnesota Historical Society Press has produced this nifty video to introduce to Paul Hillmer's new book A People's History of the Hmong. It's the most complete history of this fascinating group of Minnesotans.

Get a copy at Magers & Quinn or buy one here.--David E

Monday, March 29, 2010

Last Chance to See Erin Hart

Come by Magers & Quinn tonight at 7:30pm to hear Erin Hart read from her latest Irish mystery False Mermaid. This is your last chance to see her in the Cities before she hits the road to visit bookstores around the nation. Don't miss out. She's a great writer and a great reader.

Details are here.--David E

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Other Man

Michael D. Cooper has a new book coming out this fall. Cooper, you see, is Elizabeth Gilbert's ex-husband--the one she divorced before she went on to live and write her smash besteller Eat Pray Love. Cooper's book seems to have been originally called Displaced, but the working title at the moment is the milder--simply The Husband. Look for it in July.--David E

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Well Begun

John Jodzio's new collection of short stories If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home was well and truly launched last night. M&Q hosted a party, and fans, friends, and family turned out in droves to celebrate. Here are some non-incriminating pictures from the party.

Get your copy of John's fantastic book here.--David E

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Momma Can Get Nasty"

I don't know much about this clip, but I know it's funny, eh? It apparently first ran on Canadian television's The Rick Mercer Report, which to judge from the Wikipedia sounds a lot like the Daily Show.

I don't want to spoil anything for you, so I'll just say that apparently Margaret Atwood knows hockey. Enjoy.--David E

Are You Up to the Challenge?

After tomorrow night's launch party for John Jodzio's new book If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home, a couple of us are going to cross the street to Chiang Mai Thai and have an after party. You should come, too.

We'll be in the event room at Chiang Mai Thai. They rent out the space, but if our bar tab gets to $700, the room will be free. Designate a driver and help out, would you?

RSVP on Facebook Or just come to Chiang Mai Thai after the launch party at M&Q. Either way, bring your thirst.--David E

Monday, March 15, 2010

Read Kris Woll's story "Prayers for the Dead"

"Prayers for the Dead" is a newly commissioned story by one of our 2009 miniStories grand prize-winners, Kris Woll. Each of these new pieces is accompanied by a curated selection of work drawn from's vast database of artists.

To read "Prayers for the Dead" click here.

To view a slideshow of images selected to accompany Kris' story, please click here.

--Jay P.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You've Read It, Now See It

The movie version of Steig Larsson's worldwide bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo opens Friday, March 19 at our neighbor the Uptown Theater. Magers & Quinn has five passes for two to be used at any weekday showing of the movie after opening weekend.

Stop in soon and ask for a pass. Limit one per customer, and once they're gone they're gone.--David E

Friday, March 12, 2010

Smiles, Everyone, Smiles!

From Shelf Awareness comes this TV ad for LA's Skylight Books. I'm a little jealous. They have a dog and a cat and a tree. They have porkpie hats, and they're so so happy. Whatever is in the employee water cooler, I want some too.--David E

Fantastic Forum

Community activists and geographers alike turned out in droves last night when Myron Orfield and Thomas Luce headed up a panel discussion on regional planning issues at Magers & Quinn. Their new book Region is a comprehensive look at the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It covers everything from job creation to housing prices to transit planning. It's a beautifully packaged book, complete with full-color maps and charts. Get your copy here.

Orfield and Luce were joined by Thanks to everyone who turned out and participated in a great evening.--David E

And So It Begins

The Tale of Halcyon Crane, the first novel from Minnesota's own Wendy Webb, is a haunting story full of delicious thrills and family secrets. She will read at Magers & Quinn Monday, April 5, at 7:30pm--but you can get a taste of the novel now. Here's an excerpt.


I was the only passenger on the ferry crossing to Grand Manitou Island. As I stood on deck holding tight to the railing while we dipped and tumbled on the green, roiling waves, I understood why tourist season grinds to a halt when the November winds blow.

I was called to the tiny island in the middle of the Great Lakes by a dead woman. I traveled there at an unwelcoming time of year to learn the story of her life, hoping to discover my own story as well. A few whitecaps and swells wouldn’t keep me away.

A summons from the dead is a strange way to begin a tale, but, as I have since learned, it’s really no stranger than any other story in my family. As it turns out, I come from a long line of people who hover on the edge of reality. My family history isn’t merely a chronicle of births and deaths and weddings and accomplishments, though it includes those things. No, the stories of my relatives sound more like fairy tales—Grimm’s, unfortunately—with witches, hauntings, and malevolence all wrapped up in regrettable and sometimes bloody mishaps.

Until recently, I knew nothing of this. Growing up, I had an altogether different notion of who I was and where I came from. Then the truth began to reveal itself, as it always does. Truth seeks the light of day, needs it just like we need air, and so it finds ways to seep out of the sturdiest, most skillfully hidden boxes—even those buried deeply in the hearts of the dead.

My truth took its first breath one foggy autumn morning, nearly a thousand miles away from where I stood on the tossing ferry. That particular day didn’t begin with anything out of the ordinary. Isn’t that always the way? Life is thrown into chaos while you’re making your way through mundane everyday tasks—an accident on the way to the grocery store takes your beloved, a heart attack interrupts a lazy Sunday morning, or, in my case, life- altering news arrives with the morning mail.

I awoke in my little bungalow overlooking Puget Sound and lay in bed awhile, listening to the barking of the seals. Then I pulled on a sweatsuit and sneakers and headed outside for my usual morning walk. I had already crossed the street and started up the hill before I noticed the fog settling in, dulling the edges of the world around me.

Some people find the sound of a foghorn romantic, evoking images of travel to faraway places with strange- sounding names. But I’ve never liked the fog. It obscures reality with what seems to be sinister intent, erasing all that is not within arm’s reach. Anything could be out there, beyond.

I knew it was silly, being unnerved by fog in a seaside town, so I continued to walk my usual route, listening to the tinkling of the wind chimes—tubular bells— that were hanging from the eaves of various houses along the way.

I can’t explain why--did I sense what was coming?--but the back of my neck began to tingle with a thousand tiny pinpricks. I paused, holding my breath, dread seeping off the cold pavement into the bottoms of my feet and working its way up my legs. Then something convinced me to hurry home, and I arrived at my door just in time to see the mailman materialize out of the fog.

"Pea soup," he said, shaking his head as he handed me a stack of mail.

"You be careful out there, Scooter." I smiled at him. "I couldn’t see you until you were on my front step."

"Don’t you worry about me, Ms. James. I’m old friends with this fog."

I watched him disappear into the whiteness and took the mail inside, where hot coffee was waiting, and poured myself a cup as I sorted through the stack. Along with the usual assortment of letters, bills, and catalogs was a large manila envelope labeled archer & son, attorneys-at-law. I noticed the postmark: Grand Manitou Island, a popular tourist destination in one of the Great Lakes, halfway across the country from my home.

I sat at my kitchen table sipping coffee, turning the envelope over and over in my hands. What was this about? What did this lawyer want with me? Finally, I took a deep breath and tore it open to face whatever it contained.

I found two letters inside. One bore my name and address handwritten on the front of a thick creamy envelope, the back flap sealed with crimson wax. It was old-fashioned and lovely, reminding me of an invitation from another time and place. (As it turned out, that’s exactly what it was.) The other was a white business-sized no- nonsense envelope. I opened that one first.

Dear Ms. James,

It is with deep regret that I inform you of Madlyn Crane’s death. I am Ms. Crane’s attorney and the executor of her will. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully yours,
William Archer Attorney-at-law

Madlyn Crane. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Why did this lawyer regret to inform me of her death? A feeling of undefined, unexplainable apprehension began to cling to me as I picked up the second letter. Why was my heart pounding so? Why were my hands shaking? I broke the seal on the back of the envelope, unfolded the letter, and began reading. It was dated almost one month ago.

Dear Hallie,

Thirty years ago, my daughter and my husband were killed in a boating accident near our island home. Imagine my surprise to find that they--you and your father--are very much alive.

I don’t quite know how to continue this letter. What do I say to my only child, for whom I have grieved all these years?

I’ll start here. When I learned that you were alive, I was as stunned as you must be now. I had the impulse to pick up the phone and call you immediately, but then it hit me: I could not do that. I had no idea what you had been told.

Did you believe I was dead? Did you believe I had abandoned you? Your father could have told you anything. But now you’re a grown woman. If you had any inkling I was alive, you would have found a way to contact me. I came to the conclusion that you and I must have been told the same lie, each believing the other was dead. We were both deceived.

How does a mother rise from the dead and enter her child’s life? I thought of coming to see you, but simply showing up on your doorstep did not seem wise. A letter seemed like the gentlest way to turn your world upside down.

Excerpted from The Tale Of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb.
Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Webb.
Published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction
is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or
medium must be secured from the Publisher.


Wendy Webb will read at Magers & Quinn Monday, April 5, at 7:30pm. Details are here.--David E

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near Tokyo

Lots of good news, via this article in the Guardian: There's a film version of Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood coming soon. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead is working on the score. And the director is none other than Anh Hung Tran, who directed The Scent of Green Papaya, a lyrical, painterly movie about life in Vietnam before the war. Tran also co-wrote the screenplay for Norwegian Wood with Murakami himself. (Details are here and here.)

Now the bad news: No release date has been announced for anywhere other than Japan. You might need to buy a plane ticket in order to buy a movie ticket.--David E

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How They Do It

The blog design:related has posted an article about the design process that led to the cover for the new YA novel Blameless by Gail Carringer. They've boiled it all down into a video that's under two minutes long.

Blameless will be released in September. Thanks to Shelf Awareness for the catch.--David E

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This week's winning poem is Susan Stevens Chambers' "Weather Advisory"

Self-described "Lawyer Poet" Susan Stevens Chambers is this week's winner in our What Light Poetry Contest. Her poem was selected by fellow poet Joyce Sidman, author of Red Sings from Treetops.

What Light is a part of mnLIT, which is presented by Magers and Quinn Booksellers and

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

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"The first 12 years are the worst."

This item is a two-fer. First up, I'm recommending the best podcast available, bar none. It's's Culture Gabfest. Do not be tempted by other, lesser gabfests. This is the one.

This week's installment includes a discussion of a series that ran recently in the Guardian. Writers offered up their ten cardinal rules for writing fiction. Gems include:
  • Jonathan Franzen: "Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting."
  • Hilary Mantel: "Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant."
  • Joyce Carol Oates: "Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst."
The full lists are here.--David E

Friday, March 5, 2010

Citizen Review: If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home

Critics love John Jodzio's short stories, but what does your average M&Q customer think? Wonder no more. Here is the dependable Ben Paulson with a Citizen Review of Jodzio's first book.
If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home
John Jodzio's If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home is that special kind of book that makes you want to seize the person nearest you by their lapels and thrust the book in their waiting hands, only allowing their escape after staring deeply into their eyes and pleading, "Read this as soon as possible." Yes, it's that kind of book. Jodzio, a Minneapolis resident and short fiction writer, has been featured in McSweeney's, Rake Magazine, MnArts Magazine, and numerous online publications. If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home, his first published collection, is also the first book published by Saint Paul's promising Replacement Press. As might be expected, the release of this book is an exciting occasion for everyone involved, not the least of which should be local bibliophiles. If you haven't been paying attention, now is the time to get in on this blossoming homegrown literary scene, and Jodzio's rich collection of short fiction is a rewarding place to start.

Comprised of 21 short stories, If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home is a wonderful look into a strange new world, one explored through the offbeat and bizarre lives of its characters. Though the stories vary greatly in length and subject, they share a combined sense of hopeful melancholia and bleak humor. These works range from an absurdist sketch of a baby that won't stop eating everything in its sight, including a ninja star ("Inventory"); to the story of a disappointed couple trying to reason with a group of clamorous street musicians ("Shoo, Shoo"); to a poignantly painful tale of two adolescent boys urinating through mail slots ("If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home"). Jodzio's writing should seem alien and ridiculous, but, more often than not, the effusive longing and sardonic humor of his characters are disarmingly familiar. These characters spiral through their lives, trying to create unity in their fleeting and fragmented universes. Jodzio's stories ache tangibly, and they are not as foreign as they seem. If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home testifies that the only thing separating you from these characters is simply that you are not them and they are not you. But just barely. Please read this book as soon as possible.
Ben Paulson lives in St. Paul, where he obsesses about books, zombies and breakfasts.
Join us for a launch party for If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Friday, March 19, at 7:30pm. Details are here.

Behind the Scenes

The good folks at Replacement Press have received the first copies of their first book from the printer. Details and more pictures are here.

The first editions of John Jodzio's short story collection If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home arrived in St Paul earlier this week. They're here in good time for the book's launch party at M&Q on March 19. For more on that event are events page.--David E

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Awards Season

The polls are open to name the City Pages' "Best of the Twin Cities" for 2010.

Categories 35 and 33 are "Best Bookstore (New)" and "Best Bookstore (Used)." I leave it up to you to decide where best to write in M&Q. You can vote here.--David E

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wait For It

The International Prize for Arab Fiction--widely referred to as "the Arabic Booker Prize"--was awarded to Abdo Khal. I was rooting for Khal, since his novel's title was my favorite among the nominees. It's called She Throws Sparks--which would also be a great name for a band.

According to this article The National,a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, the title has also been translated as Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles. "It comes from a Quranic verse and is a reference to hell. Khal uses the metaphor to describe the situation of people in a kind of living hell. Set in Jeddah, he compares part of the town to heaven and part of it to hell and then writes a graphic account of sex, repression, love and despair."

It sounds like a very interesting book, but sadly it is not available in English. Here's hoping a US publisher takes note of the award.--David E

Read "Philippe" by Randy Nelsestuen

We're back with another winning piece from our flash fiction competition miniStories. miniStories is part of mnLIT, which is presented by Magers & Quinn Booksellers and

This week's winner is Randy Nelsestuen's story "Philippe."

Randy's story was selected by Lise Erdrich, author of Night Train.

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 Randy's story.--Jay P