Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Night Lights

How often do you get to spend an evening with two great artists? Tonight, Wing Young Huie who worked with residents along St Paul's longest thoroughfare to make The University Avenue Project and Monica Haller, who collaborated with a friend who served as a medic at Abu Grahib to produce Riley and His Story, Me and My Outrage, You and Us, will meet at Open Book (1011 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis) to talk about collaboration in their work.

Join us for a fascinating discussion about the process of making art and the role of the artist. This event is free and open to the public. Space is limited. Details are here.--David E

Looking at the Future

If cars drove the 20th century, can transit and biking and walking be the engine of the 21st? Find out at a screening of the documentary film, Beyond the Motor City, along with selected short films about bicycling--7:00pm, June 8, at St. Anthony Main Theater (115 Main Street SE, Minneapolis).

Beyond the Motor City is the newest documentary film from the acclaimed director of King Corn, Aaron Woolf. Using Detroit as a lens, the film asks whether transit can foster the rebirth of a city once synonymous with cars (it wasn’t called Motown for nothing). The evening will also include a post-screening Q&A with the director and local bicycling and walking leaders. Also that evening, Mn/DOT will debut a new “Share the Road” campaign. The whole thing is free and open to the public.

Watch a preview of the film here. For more information about this screening, including a free transit pass to get you there, visit E

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book as Fetish

Truly we live in an age of wonders. You can sit--teeth unbrushed, hair uncombed--at your computer and browse the shelves of ultraminimalist artist Donald Judd's library in Marfa, Texas. Click a shelf on the floor plan and you'll see a photograph of the bookcase, just as the late artist arranged it. A drop down menu tells you the subject area is on each shelf. Click that label and you're staring at a larger picture of the shelf, and now each book you see is linked to a page listing the tome's title, author, and other bibliographic information. Marvel at Judd's discrimination and taste, then click once more to find the book in a library near you and begin building your own 13,500 volume collection, if temporarily.

It took the Judd Foundation over 3,500 hours to put this information together. Redeem their efforts and take a look here, won't you? Then go brush your teeth.

Tip of the hat to the New York Times.--David E

Yet Another Reason to Go Up North

Congratulations to Apostle Island Booksellers. California transplants Demaris Brinton and Theron O’Connor are launching their "full-service, locally-owned, independent bookstore located in Bayfield, Wisconsin" today.

"Opening a bookstore seemed like a natural thing for us to do," Demaris told Shelf Awareness. "Bookstores are a representative of the place you are visiting. It is a place you can come to get a sense of the community."

Visit them online at Or better yet, drop in on your next weekend away.--David E

Helping Hands

Joe Selvaggio will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers on Wednesday, June 2, at 7:30pm.

Selvaggio, the founder of Project for Pride in Living, launched the MicroGrants Organization in 2006. MicroGrants is an innovative nonprofit promoting the self-sufficiency of individuals in need through strategically placed $1000 grants to support home-based businesses, construction tools, office equipment and supplies, books, job training tuition, licenses for day-care or cleaning businesses, insurance, down payments on necessary cars and even working capital.

Selvaggio's book Microgrants: It's Working! tells the stories of seventy-seven MicroGrants recipients in the Twin Cities area, demonstrating how relatively small amounts of cash, loaned or granted to poor people with ability and drive, can have a profound effect on their lives, their families, and their communities. The accounts relate the recipients' struggles to improve their lives, how they used their grants, and what happened as a result. MicroGrants also offers commentary and analysis of the program from several perspectives, including Jim Klobuchar, John Mauriel, Tony Bouza, Tom Fiutak, Mitch Pearlstein, Laura Watterman Whitstock, and Betsy Buckley. MicroGrants, It’s Working! shows and effective way to escape from poverty and to move toward self-sufficiency.

Selvaggio will be joined at Magers & Quinn by former Minneapolis Chief of Police Tony Bouza, who wrote the introduction to Microgrants.

Details are here.--David E

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Do You Like Me Now?

Esquire has published an excerpt from Brett Easton Ellis' new novel Imperial Bedrooms. The new book follows the infamous teenagers from Less Than Zero into desperate middle age.

The excerpt is here. Imperial Bedrooms will be released on June 15.--David E

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Remembering Smell

Bonnie Blodgett is the author of the Garden Letter. Her garden writing has been published in Garden Design, Fine Gardening, and Better Homes and Gardens. She is the gardening expert for Midwest Home and writes a weekly gardening column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But her latest book, Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing--and Discovering--the Primal Sense, isn't entirely sunny.

In November 2005, Bonnie Blodgett came down with a nasty cold. After a quick shot of a popular nasal spray up each nostril, the back of her nose was on fire. Eventually, she discovered that her olfactory nerve was destroyed, perhaps forever. She had lost her sense of smell.

Bonnie Blodgett will be at Magers & Quinn to read from Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing--and Discovering--the Primal Sense at 7:30pm, on Friday, June 25. Here's an excerpt from the book to whet your appetite.

I’m told my nose is my best feature. It’s long and straight and has a high bridge with a bump at the top that is a perfect perch for my thick glasses. My nose is large for my face, but I have an unusually small face. That makes me thankful for my nose. No one would describe me as mousy. When I enter a room full of strangers, I can trust my nose to announce that here is a serious, thoughtful person. And by the way, where are the appetizers? Do we smell a touch of cumin? But even though I could pick out the Chanel No. 5 from among ten other perfumes in a crowded room, there was a time when I took my sense of smell for granted. I assumed that it was indestructible. I certainly never asked myself which I valued more, my long, straight nose or what went on inside it.

My story begins on a Wisconsin interstate just before half of it veers south toward Chicago and half goes west to places you’ve probably never heard of--like the Wisconsin Dells, Altoona, Eau Claire--and then finally to the Twin Cities. I was driving home to St. Paul after a weekend visit with my daughter Caroline, a student at UW–Madison, when my nose began picking up a weird smell. Had I stepped in something? What could be causing this peculiar odor?

I pulled into a Kwik Trip to top off the tank and check my shoes. Nothing suspicious there. Maybe the heater fan was sucking up the smell from the engine and blowing it through the vent. Was a dead bird in there? Ridiculous. The smell was all in my head, not my nose. Nerves. Saying goodbye to Caroline had been more difficult than usual. She was as lonely and homesick at Madison as her older sister, Alex, had been happy there. How different my girls were.

My own college years weren’t exactly blissful. While other students were getting acquainted with one another, I was out foraging for plant materials, mainly tree branches of a certain shape and size, with which to transform my cinder-block cubeof a dorm room into a leafy forest glade. The smells of oak leaves and pine sap soothed my homesickness for Minnesota. Years later, when my husband, Cam, and I settled down to raise a family, I couldn’t wait to plant a garden. I dug up the patchy lawn in the backyard.

Gardening to me is an artistic endeavor, and a garden of one’s own represents the ultimate in creative freedom. In fact, in my forties I became so greedy for that anything-goes fix I got when planning a new border or rigging up a water feature that I decided to quit my job editing a city magazine to launch a publication of my own, the Garden Letter: Green Thoughts for the Northern Gardener. When my little magazine won an award from the Garden Writers Association for the Art of Garden Communication, a category invented just for it, I realized I’d turned a corner: I was a garden writer.

Excerpted from REMEMBERING SMELL: A Memoir of Losing—and Discovering—the Primal Sense by Bonnie Blodgett. Copyright © 2010 by Bonnie Blodgett. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Bonnie Blodgett will read at Magers & Quinn on Friday, June 25, at 7:30pm. Details are here.--David E

Friday, May 14, 2010

Harry Potter and the Filler of Big

Do you miss Harry Potter? If so, brush up your Chinese. There's a whole world of bootlegged books waiting for you in the Middle Kingdom.

11 Points ("Because top 10 lists are for cowards") has compiled a list of the most egregious rip-offs--and a few genius additions. Meet Naughty Bubble and Big Spinach (in Harry Potter and the Chinese Porcelain Doll). Follow Harry as he says goodbye to Hogwarts and transfers to "Asia's top wizardry school, Qroutes School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Relative Prince). Go under the sea in search of a waterproof pearl (in, um, Harry Potter and the Waterproof Pearl).

The full list is here.--David E

He Reads

I could dress this item up with some worthy fig leaf, telling you of the recent discussions online about the "fact" that guys don't read (cf. Huffington Post,, etc), but I'm not going to kid you. The Tumblr blog Hot Guys Reading Books is just eye candy with an intellectual gloss.

The blog is here. Recent postings all appear to be safe to view at work. Not that you're going to look.--David E

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tempis Fugit

Aspiring writers, take note. The deadline for submissions, both for What Light poetry contest and for the miniStories flash fiction competition is coming up in just one week--May 16. This is a great opportunity to get your work in front of some very important judges, including poet Todd Boss (author of Yellowrocket), Chris Fischbach (Associate Publisher, Coffee House Press), Daniel Handler (who penned the Lemony Snicket series), Kevin Larimer (editor of Poets & Writers), Heather McElhatton
(author of Pretty Little Mistakes and Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single).

Here are the details:
  • The deadline for submissions is midnight, May 16
  • There's no entry fee
  • Any Minnesota resident may enter work to either or both contests
  • The grand prize-winning poet and fiction writer will each receive $500 and a commission for a second piece
  • 20 finalists in each competition, 40 in all, will have their work published on throughout the year
  • Adjudication of all submissions is handled anonymously, and is based solely on the work entered, which may be in any genre or poetic style
The full call for writers, with length requirements and additional details for those interested in submitting work, is available here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Citizen Review: Vanishing Point

Stalwart M&Q loyalist Jess Horowitz is back with our latest "Citizen Review." She read Ander Monson's collection of essays Vanishing Point: Not A Memoir. The book is available now, and you can meet the author when he visits the store on June 15.
Vanishing Point
Ander Monson's Vanishing Point reminds me of the characters of my creative nonfiction writing classes in college. They would become good friends with the instructor. During workshopping sessions, they would give you good feedback and pick out funny or poignant parts of your essay that you didn't know you had created. When it was their turn to be workshopped, you were presented with a rich essay, full of long paragraphs and big words. Was it good writing? Was it mindless babble? Were you just not getting it?

This is how I felt many times while reading Monson’s book. He is clearly talented, yet quirky and selective with his prose. There are beautiful moments, like when the author’s eccentricities are revealed in his collection of found objects. Or when he analyzes the other people named Ander (not Anders) in the world. Monson's “Transubstantiation”, an in-depth meditation on Doritos and other snack foods, belongs in a Best Food Writing anthology. Other essays experiment with layout and footnotes. Monson has even set up a website to accompany the book, where one can go further into his peculiar world.

I’d recommend Vanishing Point for fans of the Believer. Or for students of creative writing looking to expand their palate with an experimental memoir. Or for those wondering what to buy their favorite indie reader, who quite possibly was one of those characters in my writing class.
Jess Horwitz lives in Uptown and likes her books arranged by color.

New Photography at M&Q

Monica Haller's book Riley and His Story, Me and My Outrage, You and Us has been hard to get a hold of. But M&Q has managed to get hold of copies.

In 2005, artist Monica Haller, Iraq war veteran Riley Sharbanno, and graphic designer Matthew Rezac began to organize Sharbanno's photographs from his tour as a nurse at Abu Grahib prison. Three years later, their project became the book Riley and His Story, Me and My Outrage, You and Us, a gripping and challenging exploration of combat, trauma, and memory. It's a fascinating book. Come check it out today.

But wait, there's more... You can meet Monica Haller on Friday, May 28, 7:30pm. She'll be at Open Book, in conversation with photographer Wing Young Huie. They'll be discussing collaboration in their work. Don't miss it. Details are here.--David E

Hand Delivered

The Clinton Book Shop (of Clinton, New Jersey) recently moved a few doors down Main Street. Rather than hire movers, the store enlisted the help of its customers to pass books hand to hand to the new location. has a slideshow of the move. You can see the photos here.--David E

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Citizen Reviews: The Prince of Mist

"Citizen Reviews," our occasional series of customer book reviews, continues with the Leslie Warner Tonyan's write-up of a young adult novel from Carlos Ruiz Zafon, author of The Shadow of the Wind. It's available now.
The Prince of Mist
Non-stop mysteries and adventures await readers of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's latest, The Price of Mist (Little, Brown and Co.). Suggested for readers ages 12 and older, the tale entangles 13 year old Max and his sisters, 15 year old Alicia and 8 year old Irina, with unexplainable events, ever increasing in menace.

Set against the backdrop of WWII, the family moves some distance from their endangered city to the assumed safety and tranquility of a seaside village. But the hoped for peace is soon disrupted by the discovery of a neglected garden filled with statues of circus performers, a malevolent, spider eating cat, and threatening whispers from a bedroom wardrobe. Rumors of the fate of the previous residents hint at tragedy and the discovery of old reel-to-reel films add to the intrigue. But this is more than a typical haunted house story.

Zafon also plays with the idea and significance of Time; past and present are not separable. Max's father is a watchmaker, Max is given a magic watch (which is stolen), the village clock hands move backwards, and a story of danger long past is thrust into current happenings.

A new friend, Roland, introduces Max and Alicia to his grandfather, the lighthouse keeper, with secrets of his own. Investigating an underwater shipwreck provides more adventure and mystery. Could the shipwreck, the lighthouse keeper, and the garden statues be somehow connected? And who or what is the source ever growing awareness of danger? Is evil really present in changing shapes and how can it be understood and combated?

More subtly, the family is presented realistically, with typical sibling attitude and conflicts balanced with affection and understanding for each other's foibles. Dynamic growth in response to life's changes is conveyed through the stress of relocation, Max's realization of the responsibility of friendship, and Alicia's budding romance with Roland. Ultimately, the bond between brother and sister and between friends creates depth and elevates this story beyond a mere series of adventures.

Friday, May 7, 2010

And ... Action!

Aspiring screenwriters will want to make plans now for the fall. The Loft Literary Center in association with the Minnesota Film and TV Board, IFP Minnesota, The Playwrights' Center, The Screenwriters' Workshop, and MCTC, are bringing Robert McKee's world-famous Story Seminar to the Twin Cities. This four-day, intensive workshop (beginning September 29) teaches the principles involved in the art and craft of screenwriting and story design. McKee has taught over 50,000 screenwriters, filmmakers, TV writers, novelists, industry executives, actors, producers, directors, playwrights--including over 100 Oscar-nominated writers.

Tickets are limited, so reserve your spot early. Details--including some sample videos--are here.--David E

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Father's Day Comes Early

Nick Hayes visited MPR's Midday show today to talk about his new memoir And One Fine Morning. The book is a memoir of Hayes’ father, Mark, an award-winning architect and artist who was equally at home sitting in the backyard or at a North Side Minneapolis restaurant or bar, laughing and telling stories. In the prime of his life in 1954, a series of heart attacks and strokes “cut him down, cost him his left leg, impair his speech and cripple his gift for painting and drawing,” Nick Hayes wrote. Two years later, one last heart attack killed Mark Hayes.

“Nick Hayes has written a moving tribute to his father--an artist, architect and dreamer who died too young but left behind a first-class legacy of buildings . . . a wonderful memoir of growing up in Minneapolis in the 1950s."--Larry Millett, author of AIA Guide to the Twin Cities, The Lost Twin Cities

You can listen to the whole show here. And you can meet Nick Hayes at Magers & Quinn. He'll be here to read from And One Fine Morning at 4:00pm, on Sunday, June 20. That's Father's Day, you know.--David E

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The newest issue of the NY/MPLS online lit mag, Indigest, features writing by Franz Nicolay (former member of the Hold Steady), poetry by CA Conrad, a tour diary by M+Q favorites Dark Dark Dark, and a thrilling look at Milkweed Editions editor Ben Barnhart's nightstand - which includes the wonderfully titled, wonderfully designed and wonderfully WRITTEN book In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin. On top of all that, it also features an interview with Matt Weiland of Ecco Press conducted by yours truly.

Mr. Weiland is a Minneapolis native and a former editor at Granta, The Paris Review and the Baffler. He recently helped Ecco publish Philip Hoare's The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea, which is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.

Read more here

---Jay P.

Happy Birthday, Open Book

Open Book, Minnesota’s center for reading, writing, and book arts, turns ten years old this month, and you're invited to the birthday party. Stop by Open Book on Saturday, May 8th, 2010, from 10:00am to 1:00pm, and enjoy the festivities. "Cover to Cover: See What’s Inside Open Book" features
  • sample classes from the Loft Literary Center
  • book, print, and papermaking demonstrations and activities from Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and
  • special deals on books from Milkweed Editions
There will also be complimentary coffee and appetizers available from Coffee Gallery (while supplies last). Tour the building, meet your fellow booklovers, and celebrate a literary treasure right in the heart of Minneapolis. For all the details, visit E

Monday, May 3, 2010

Authors, This Is How You Market Yourself

If you haven't heard of author Scott Sigler, it's not his fault. The author--his latest novel Ancestor comes out June 22--is a master of promotion. Consider, for example, the video contest he's running right now. Fans are asked to choose one of four scripts as a basis for their short films; a standard intro and outro are also provided to maintain consistency. From these raw materials, aspiring filmmakers will make a book trailer for Ancestor.

If you're lucky enough to win this competition, the rewards are great:
  • A 32GB WiFi + 3G Apple iPad (valued at $729)
  • $200 prize moolah!
  • A signed, personalized copy of Ancestor
It's also worth entering just to get your film work in front of Sigler's panel of big-time Hollywood judges:
  • Steven Schneider, executive producer of Paranormal Activity
  • Lucas Foster, producer of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Bad Boys, and The Mask of Zorro
  • Ron Karoska, co-founder of Monster FX, a major special effects producer
  • Justin Manask from the Office for Literary Adaptation, an agency that specializes in turning books and other literary properties into movies
The contest runs through June 14, 2010. Details are here.--David E

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What Are You Doing Tuesday Night? Meeting Michael Perry, That's What

Michael Perry will read from Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg, at 7:30pm this coming Tuesday at Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

Faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields surrounding his rickety Wisconsin farmhouse, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home, Michael Perry plumbs his unorthodox childhood--his city-bred parents took in sixty-some foster children while running a ramshackle dairy farm--for clues to how to proceed as a farmer, a husband, and a father. Coop is filled with humor, but Perry also writes from the quieter corners of his heart, chronicling experiences as joyful as the birth of his child and as devastating as the death of a dear friend.

"Beneath the flannel surface of this deer-hunting, truck-loving Badger is the soul of a poet."--Chicago Tribune

We're pleased to have Michael Perry back again. He's a lot of fun. You don't want to miss this reading. Details are here.--David E

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Gary Shteyngaart's new novel Super Sad True Love Story won't be out until July, but the advance word is already good.

Publishers Weekly called it "A rich commentary on the obsessions and catastrophes of the information age and a heartbreaker worthy of its title, this is Shteyngart's best yet." (The full review is here.)

M&Q is looking forward not only to the book, but also to Tuesday, September 21, when Gary Shteyngart will visit the store to read from Super Sad True Love Story. Mark your calendar now. You don't want to miss it. Details are here.--David E