Archive for February 2009

The Last Sale

February 25, 2009

end-is-nearEver since the shocking news broke that River City Books is going out of business (March 29 is D-day, by the way) people have been asking me—and, more importantly, pressing RCB booksellers—about the possibility of going-out-of-business sale. I can now say for certain there will be such a sale and, what’s more, I can provide the fine print.

Here is the schedule of progressively deeper discounts:

Sunday, March 1-Saturday, March 14

35 percent off all books
25 percent off all CDs and DVDs
40 percent off all clothing and gifts

Sunday, March 15-Saturday, March 21

40 percent off all books
50 percent off all bargain books and other selected titles
50 percent off all clothing and gifts

Sunday, March 22-Sunday, March 29

45 percent off all books
75 percent off all bargain books and other selected titles
75 percent off all clothing and gifts

I almost forgot. A few disclaimers: Sorry, but no previously offered discounts or coupons apply after March 1 on any in-stock items. Going-Out-of-Business Sale merchandise is not eligible for additional discounts. Special ordered books are not eligible for sale discounts.

Ready … set …


What Northfield Has Read

February 19, 2009


Periodically over the last, well, now that I think of it, it’s be pert near three years now, I’ve provided updates about local bestsellers. The old neighborhood bookstore has always devoted wall space for a nifty “What Northfield’s Reading” display, and it’s fun to check out what people have been reading over various stretches of time. I especially enjoy looking at a full year’s worth. Today, I offer a gift of this sort that comes in bittersweet wrapping: a list of What Northfield Has Read since River City Books came into being (March 2002). I think this list says a lot about your neighbor. And it reveals secrets about the couple sitting in the opposite booth as you at Hogan’s. Or not. Still, it’s a neat list and I thought you’d like to have a gander. Note that I do not provide links to all of these books because I’m entirely too lazy to undertake such an endeavor. By the way, there is no prize for guessing the overall numero uno. But if you can tell me which book landed at No. 136 I will serve as a reference on your application to the Minnesota School of Professional Clairvoyants. All right, enough horse pucky buildup, here’s the top 150:


Instant ‘Summer’ On the Cheap

February 15, 2009

merwin-bargainWho is the best poet still open for business? Billy Collins? Mary Oliver? It’s my opinion that any such barstool debate — what, brewski drinkers don’t argue about verse? — would have to include the name W.S. Merwin, a magician with words.

A few years back Merwin wrote a lyrical nonfiction prose book called Summer Doorways. Set in 1948 when he was twenty-one and already married, it’s the story of Merwin’s days as a student in seminary school and at Princeton and the years he spent as a tutor fo children of privilege living abroad. Summer Doorways also tells of the poet’s youth in the few years before he won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1952. And it describes life in Europe that was already passing away at the close of the Second World War. Kirkus reviews says “Summer Doorways” is “masterful.”

Oh, one other thing I must say before you consider whether to pick up a copy at the old neighborhood bookstore. The price of this hardcover just may entice you to write an ode of your own: $5.98.

Presidential Poetry

February 13, 2009

prez-poemYou know what, I really liked that poem that was read at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. “Praise Song for the Day” is its name and Elizabeth Alexander is its author. Hey, that’s a tall order. For one, you’re writing for such an historic occasion that, like, everyone’s going to remember, maybe for years! And then you have competing pressures of appeasing both the masses and the critics, who, you know, will scrutinize your every word like a banker scrutinizes a bailout. If there’s a writer who can identify, you’re reading him. What, you think it’s easy being the only bird who can write? In any event, I was at River City Books last night and I saw that they can a couple of copies of a nifty little chapbook of “Praise Song for the Day” and if you liked it, too, you just might want to pick one up.

‘Souls’ for Eight Dollars

February 10, 2009

bargain-erdrich“Great originality and charm,” says Entertainment Weekly

. The New York Times calls it “powerful and haunting.” 

Shouted the San Francisco Chronicle: “Stunning flights of lyricism.” And, finally, “No way that book is only eight bucks.” That last quote comes from, well, me. Not exactly of the same esteem as the others, but nonetheless you should know that Four Souls by Louise Erdrich was spotted — and pictured — on sale for $7.99 in hardcover at River City Books. The book retails for $23.95. Enough to make a guy want to say things in quotation marks!

I’d Buy That for a Dollar

February 7, 2009


The rumor (OK, so I’m the one spreading it and I even have photographs) is that River City Books has calendars on sale for a buck. A buck! Get ’em while you still can.

Right Where I Left It

February 4, 2009

Sometimes I think I am on top of it, but really I am just fooling myself. Last week I scribbled in my notebook a reminder that the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards had been unveiled. Then I promptly never looked at the note again. Until this morning! Better late than never? You be the judge. In the interest of time, I have not added links to each one of these titles. I am so slow I’d be here till the winners are announced (March 12, if you’re scoring at home). Rest assured, you know where to find these NBCC Award finalists:

“2666” by Roberto Bolaño (FSG)
“Home” by Marilynne Robinson (FSG)
“The Lazarus Project” by Aleksandar Hemon (Riverhead)
“The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart” by M. Glenn Taylor (West Virginia University Press)
“Olive Kittredge” by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

“The Forever War” by Dexter Filkins (Knopf)
“This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War” by Drew Gilpin Faust (Knopf)
“The Dark Side” by Jane Mayer (Doubleday)
“White Protestant Nation” by Allan Lichtman (Atlantic)
“From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776” by George C. Herring (Oxford University Press)

“Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching” by Paula J. Giddings (Amistad)
“The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family In An American Century” by Steve Coll (Penguin)
“The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul” by Patrick. French (Knopf)
“The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family” by Annette Gordon-Reed (Norton)
“White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson” by Brenda Wineapple (Knopf)

“Why I Came West” by Rick Bass (Houghton Mifflin)
“The House On Sugar Beach” by Helene Cooper (S&S)
“The Bishop’s Daughter” by Honor Moore (Norton)
“The Eaves of Heaven” by Andrew X. Pham (Harmony Books)
“My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq” by Ariel Sabar (Algonquin)

“Sleeping It Off in Rapid City” by August Kleinzahler (FSG)
“Half the World in Light” by Juan Felipe Herrera (University of Arizona Press)
“Sources” by Devin Johnston (Turtle Point Press)
“The Landscapist” by Pierre Martory, translated by John Ashbery (Sheep Meadow Press)
“Human Dark with Sugar” by Brenda Shaughnessy (Copper Canyon Press)

Children’s Literature
“A Reader’s History: Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter” by Seth Lerer (University of Chicago Press)