Archive for October 2008

Nothing Scary Here

October 31, 2008

The holidays — hey, Halloween counts; don’t say it doesn’t — remind me that River City Books is once again the greatest source of calendars in the known universe. OK, at least among stores located in the 50057 area code.

RCB has always been the place I pick up a calendar this time of year but, really, they’ve outdone themselves this year. Never seen a bigger-better selection of calendars. You like puppies? They got puppies. A math guy or gal? They have something for you. Oh, you’re one of those people who likes to look at beautiful landscapes? They got those, too.

The accompanying photo is one display among several and judging by the looks of things, they are adding to the stash almost every day.

Gotta seem ‘em to believe ‘em.


Garrison Keillor Four-Pack

October 29, 2008

I was browsing River City Books’ ever-expanding and constantly changing selection of bargain books and stumbled upon something that truly and instantly made my woe be gone: four different Garrison Keillor items — a paperback, an audio book, one CD of songs and another of pretty good jokes (actually, great jokes). The best part is that the combined price of all four of these items is under $30. Now, of course, you wouldn’t have to buy all four, as they are sold separately (batteries not included). I just found it too tempting not to pick up one of each. In these difficult financial times I take your laughs — and cheap laughs at that! — where I can get them.

New Fall Fiction

October 27, 2008

This is perhaps the best time of the year for novels. Publishers roll out their stars in the fall, in advance of the holiday shopping season, and I always find more reading material than I can manage this time of year. I was in the old neighborhood bookstore the other day and spotted three fiction picks of various sub genres that are getting a lot of play right now sitting right next to each other: the latest Vince Flynn thriller; that fictional bio of Laura Bush I keep hearing good things about; and a historical novel that is high on my wish list. And, hey, this picture covers just a foot or two of real estate. Stop by the store for many more options.

Now Appearing: Legends of Music

October 23, 2008

Johnny Cash. Bob Dylan. The Beatles. Willie Nelson. I was down at the old neighborhood bookstore last night and, low and behold, I saw all of these legendary musicians and all in the same spot (OK, so maybe Willie is a little out of his league in that group, but still). Amazing! I should probably mention that the musicians themselves were not actually present but rather their respective albums (see picture) were on hand, which, really, is maybe better. After all, do you want to talk to the Man in Black — who is not presently available anyhow — or do you want to listen to him sing live at Folsom? Not a decision for me. And I am just glad there’s a store nearby in which to find these great performers.

Everything is Connected

October 20, 2008

More and more I have come to think the universe is connected in ways that can only be explored on conspiracy radio broadcast very late at night. See, I was down at the old neighborhood bookstore and I talked a reader who wanted to read Home by Pulitizer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. Nothing weirdly cosmic about that. Robinson is all over the media these days. But then I picked up a flier and saw that Robinson is coming to Northfield. That’s right, she’s giving the Christopher U. Light Lecture at Carleton College in November. So that’s a quinky-dink, eh? But then it’s gets freaky right around the time — all of these events, I need to mention, happened within minutes of each other — I visited the bargain book table. What did I find? Housekeeping by, well, you know who. The book is priced right, too, for just $4.99. There’s nothing magical about that. RCB as great bargain books seven days a week. But don’t tell me all these things are just a coincidence because neither I, nor the late-night talk show hosts, will buy it.

Speaking of Awards …

October 18, 2008

.. Aravind Adiga — a writer, I confess, I had not heard of until I read the news account — has won the 40th Man Booker prize for his debut novel, The White Tiger, just published in the States in paperback by Free Press. According to the New York Times, “Adiga, who lives in Mumbai, was born in India and brought up partly in Australia. He studied at Columbia and Oxford and is a former correspondent for Time magazine in India.” At 33, he is the second youngest writer to win the award after Ben Okri, who was 32 when he won the 1991 Booker for “The Famished Road.”

National Book Award Finalists Named

October 16, 2008

I saw that this year’s National Book Award finalists have been announced. Of course, there are some great books in the mix. You know where to buy ’em if you want ’em … Links included in the list:

Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)
Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba (Scribner)
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country (Modern Library)
Marilynne Robinson, Home (FSG)
Salvatore Scibona, The End (Graywolf)

Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Knopf)
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton)
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (Doubleday)
Jim Sheeler, Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives (Penguin)
Joan Wickersham, The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order (Harcourt)

Frank Bidart, “Watching the Spring Festival” (FSG)
Mark Doty, “Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems” (HarperCollins)
Reginald Gibbons, “Creatures of a Day” (Louisiana State Univ.)
Richard Howard, “Without Saying” (Turtle Point Press)
Patricia Smith, “Blood Dazzler” (Coffee House Press)

Young People’s Literature
Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains Chains (Simon & Schuster)
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath (Atheneum)
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic)
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion)
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now (Knopf)

By the way, the winners will be announced on November 19 at a ceremony in New York City. Maxine Hong Kingston and Barney Rosset will receive lifetime achievement awards.