Friday, December 30, 2011

Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy

"Jude went out, and, feeling more than ever his existence to be an undemanded one, he lay down upon his back on a heap of litter near the pig-sty. The fog had by this time become more translucent, and the position of the sun could be seen through it. He pulled his straw hat over his face, and peered through the interstices of the plaiting at the white brightness, vaguely reflecting. Growing up brought responsibilities, he found. Events did not rhyme quite as he had thought. Nature's logic was too horrid for him to care for. That mercy towards one set of creatures was cruelty towards another sickened his sense of harmony. As you got older, and felt yourself to be at the centre of your time, and not at a point in its circumference, as you had felt when you were little, you were seized with a sort of shuddering, he perceived. All around you there seemed to be something glaring, garish, rattling, and the noises and glares hit upon the little cell called your life, and shook it, and warped it."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Books I Read That I Love (2011)



All comics reading was omitted. Because otherwise this post would be a block of The Invisibles, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec and The Unwritten. 2011 was a banner year! It's not even worth talking about the one book I hated but saw grimly to its end. I'll never tell.

What did you read?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume I

Okay, I was very, very excited for this. hitRECord is a collaborative production company fronted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Picture a community of artists submitting pictures or words or anything and then adding to each others' contributions, remixing and building up, up, up toward the sky. Conceptually, it is basically unbridled enthusiasm married to a serious work ethic.

First, I really love that there is a supportive, inclusive community of people working together to make art. Open-source art, yes. Second, I love that everybody gets paid. Profits are split 50-50 between contributors and hitRECord. Third, the role of curator-director that is filled by Gordon-Levitt is a huge part of what I think makes it successful. The encouragement! He's extremely, "Go team!" I like to think of it as a collective of talented snails that have been coaxed out of their hiding shells to comic jam. There's just a generosity of spirit here that is important. And contagious.

It's a beautiful, hand-sized treasure. Because that is what collaboration looks like! My favorites in this collection are flickering stars in old pickling jars (pictured below), the winter owls keeping trees warm and the very last one, which is especially tiny and tender. The smallest story! It makes an excellent present and an even better call to arms. Join the club! After all, it's part of a three-book series, so there are at least two more volumes to work on/look forward to. Let's get to it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A controversy of commentary.

DIESEL via Shelf Awareness
What's the unit of measure for internet commentary again? A controversy?

There's been one over Amazon and its Price Check program. The outrage sustained itself through all of last week. Online, that's basically a year. Every publisher and bookstore spoke out against it,  in support of small business: ABA CEO Oren Teicher's open letter is a concise example. While books were excluded from the promotion, the conceit of the app (to encourage the use of physical stores as showrooms) hit a raw nerve for those in the book business. Amazon's mere existence has already created a growing population of customer who feel no compunction over using stores and staff for recommendations and research only to leave and buy online. Amazon's Price Check is an attempt to further normalize that bad behavior. What do you think?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Recommendations

First of the season! 

A customer wanted starter O'Hara, to which I said "This!" Then, they asked if it would make an excellent gift. I vehemently said, "Yes!" and likely scared them. (Natalie, if you're reading this: I didn't mean to box your hat off in excitement.) Still! If somebody got this book for me, I would be most pleased with our acquaintance.

Do you need recommendations? There's also free giftwrap! We're helpful year-round but try to come even more in handy this month.  Come in!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Literary Gifts

Shakespearean Insults Mug
With the exception of the weather, it's getting to be that time of the year. Just store-keeping today, but we'll be putting together our holiday window tomorrow. Come in and browse for books for yourself, your loved ones! We walk and talk, make thoughtful recommendations! Like, for instance: to go with your Twelve Plays by Shakespeare, I'd suggest visiting Boing Boing to pair it with a Shakespearean Insults Mug. It includes such gems as "clod of wayward marl" and "veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth" and is in keeping with the finest spirit of the holidays.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

First Edition (Japanese): Wikipedia
I had no idea what Kafka on the Shore was about when I decided to start it, neglecting to read even the back of the book. And I believe entering into this story with as little background as possible is ideal. It allows you to be receptive and make your own discoveries as the book develops. And it is the book that has won me over to Murakami.

Ostensibly, it's about people standing apart from society, traveling towards one another. They alternate chapters on a measured drift together. And the fantastical elements of the world they inhabit are possessed of a naturalness, the feeling that they emanate from the story itself. Talking cats, entrance stones, magical gateways: for the reader, none of these images are obtrusive or extraneous. They are symbols that amass to add to a total meaning.

And I love these characters. Their story is told in a manner that acknowledges the story of any story, the story of any life, the story of time and the world. Did I exceed my 'story' quota? No matter. Loneliness, purity, dreams, music, imperfection, beauty, silence. I am forever happy to have read this.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Algonquin Cat

The Algonquin Hotel, famously known for hosting literary and theatrical notables, has a tradition of keeping a cat that has "run of the house." Myself, I have spied Matilda sitting quietly on a luggage trolley. Possibly in deference to the DOH, the Algonquin Cat has been placed on a leash. At least, it's satin! Still, the Post is inconsolable. Cat fancier? You can contact Matilda here to express concern and/or voice your support.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Death isn't cruel – merely terribly, terribly good at his job."

Credit: Uploaded to Flickr by The Health Hotel
The Guardian reports that Sir Terry Pratchett "has received consent forms requesting assisted suicide but has not yet signed them." He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in late 2007 and among other great works, is creator of the fantastic Discworld Series. He has said of his decision that he does not "believe in a duty to suffer the worst ravages of terminal illness" and hopes to be "helped across the step" when the time comes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kafka on the Shore

"Like I said, it's because all the performances are imperfect. A dense, artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I'm driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of - that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging."

Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

A third of the way in. Expect a full report by week's end.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Green Fairy

The Absinthe Drinker, Pablo Picasso
Absinthe and Other Liquors of Fin de Siècle Paris:
Lecture and Tasting
Date: Saturday, November 12th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $10

Presented by Morbid Anatomy

November 12th approaches! Get thee to the Observatory for "an exploration of the exotic and often diabolic liquids of France’s antiquity." Learn about absinthe, green chartreuse, armagnac and ricard at the illustrated lecture by filmmaker Ronni Thomas. Plus, enjoy complimentary absinthe, courtesy of La Fée Absinthe.

The evening concludes with a dance party. I am not even kidding. Explore the cultural legacy of the drink here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Manhattan, When I Was Young

"I never did it again - walk like that in New York, I mean, alone for miles in the middle of the night. But I did it then, taking in the dinosaurs that were those old empty buildings as avidly as I had once taken in rustling trees and sleeping clapboard houses. I took in the smell, that curious confluence of asphalt and automobile exhaust and swill and, surprisingly, tidal flats, and most of all I took in the swollen, purplish sky, in which, in all the years I have stared at it, I have never seen more than two stars."

Manhattan, When I Was Young
Mary Cantwell

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

One and the Crowd

It is not given to every man to take a bath of multitude; enjoying a crowd is an art; and only he can relish a debauch of vitality at the expense of the human species, on whom, in his cradle, a fairy has bestowed the love of masks and masquerading, the hate of home, and the passion for roaming…

Multitude, solitude: identical terms… The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself or someone else, as he chooses. Like those wandering souls who go looking for a body, he enters as he likes into each man's personality. For him alone everything is vacant; and if certain places seem closed to him, it is only because in his eyes they are not worth visiting
 "On Crowds" Charles Baudelaire

An excellent piece on social spaces and the tension between desire for access and a need for privacy. Timely and highly recommended.

Friday, October 21, 2011

DIY Literary Halloween

Did you pick up The Marriage Plot and immediately consider dressing up as Jeffrey Eugenides' author photo for Halloween?

You're not alone. There are many of us and we all have a plan.

Don a vest and let this guide you the rest of the way. Happy candy hunting.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mourir Auprès de Toi

To fill your stop-motion bookstore love story needs:
Filmmaker Spike Jonze and Designer Olympia Le-Tan collaborate inside
of the famous Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France.(via NOWNESS)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peter Brown: Signing & Discussion

Thursday, October 20th
Woody Tanger Auditorium, Brooklyn College
5pm - 6pm

Join us tomorrow as we welcome Peter Brown to Brooklyn College. He is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA and grew up in Hopewell, NJ. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he's living his dream of drawing, writing, and getting paid to do it. His site can be found here.

Pictured is The Curious Garden, a book about one boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. It's an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jonathan Baumbach & Will Eno: Signing & Discussion

Wednesday, October 12th
Woody Tanger Auditorium, Brooklyn College
6pm - 7:30pm

Please join us tomorrow as we welcome Jonathan Baumach and Will Eno to Brooklyn College. Baumbach directed the MFA Program in Fiction from 1973 until his retirement in 2000; he is the author of sixteen books including A Man to Conjure With, Reruns, Separate Hours B, On the Way to My Father’s Funeral, You or The Invention of Memory, and Dreams of Molly. His short stories have been widely anthologized, including in Best American Short Stories, O’Henry Prize Stories and All Our Secrets are the Same (The Best of Esquire). He is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship. He is a former chairman of the National Society of Film Critics. In 1973, he founded Fiction Collective, with Peter Spielberg, the first national fiction writers cooperative in America. 

Will Eno is a playwright living in Brooklyn. His recent play Middletown won the first-ever Horton Foote Award and his play Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Helen Merrill Playwriting Fellow, and a Fellow of the Edward F. Albee Foundation. His play, The Flu Season, won the Oppenheimer Award for best debut production in New York by an American playwright. His work is published by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Playscripts, and Oberon Books, in London. Other work has also appeared in Harper’s, The Believer, and The Quarterly.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Time Capsule

via plaztik mag blog
When I think about the possibilities of a store time capsule, I can only dream up a trinity that includes this sign, a cat carrier and a rubber-banded stack of bookmarks. For me, that's what we bury in the earth to explain ourselves to the future.

What else makes the cut? A handful of shelf pegs? Let's collaborate on the store crest. It should probably include a book.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Savage Revisit

Copyright 1971 Random House via Wikipedia
Zach Baron writes for The Daily on retracing Hunter S. Thompson's famous steps, 40 years later.

Monday, October 3, 2011

716 Broadway

716 Broadway
716 Broadway
716 Broadway
Do you like gargoyles, chimeras, and grotesques? 716 Broadway, home of our downtown store, has an impressive collection perched high above Broadway. Flickr user MGChan has a photostream that includes lovely shots of all our creatures. Start here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Read Like a Gilmore Girl, Extra Credit

My kingdom to know what book is featured in this painting.
Any guesses? If only "enhance" was a real option. Catch up to the movies, life!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

"For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."

Read Like a Gilmore Girl, Part 4

On to another season! Of course this would be when the Beats come in and ruin everything. Like a giant flashing warning sign, Jess steals Rory's copy of Howl, pencils notes in the liner and hands it back like he's just executed a really neat trick on the BMX bike of courtship. You know what would have been really awesome? If he had stolen Howl and replaced it with a copy of Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. There's the guy to throw Dean over for. Maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Read Like a Gilmore Girl, Part 2

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
Mistress of Mellyn, Victoria Holt
On her last day at Stars Hollow High, Rory clears out her locker and drops part of a pile of books on the floor. Most visibly, The Second Sex. However! She also packs up Mistress of Mellyn, which is hilarious. Kind of like that poster.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

Capture via Digital Dead Sea Scrolls
Why not take a closer look at the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Israel Museum, in partnership with Google, have digitized the manuscripts and made them available online. 

These are searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images, accompanied by short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Read Like a Gilmore Girl

Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote a hyper-literate show; you could easily be reading forever. Let's take it one book at a time and start here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kate Beaton Interview

The comic you wrote about the three Brontë sisters seems to have really struck a nerve. 
That comic got a huge response. It's in the window of a bookstore now.

Finally Anne gets a little credit for commonsense!
Anne's books are totally different from Emily's and Charlotte's. Anne's characters are horrified by what they see, while Jane Eyre is more like, "Well, I'll get used to this guy with his weird, wife-in-the-attic shenanigans. I love him!" People say that "Wuthering Heights" is a romance. It's not. It's a book about horrible people. It's more of a horror story than anything else.

Read the whole glorious thing at Salon: How to Make History, Jane Eyre and Superheroes Funny.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook, Rachel Wharton

Edible Brooklyn is part guidebook, part cookbook, all beautiful book. Handsomely put together, it collects recipes from a host of Brooklyn bakers, winemakers, butchers, chefs, food writers and more. Included are techniques, tips and tricks to preparation as well as suggestions on tracking down a local source for ingredients.

And the photographs! You can press your face to the page of cast-iron chicken with bacon and sauerkraut (courtesy of The Brooklyn Kitchen) or drown your eyes in an egg cream (care of H. Fox & Co., makers of U-bet chocolate syrup). The recipes can trend toward restaurant showpiece but there's still plenty here to try for the ambitious home chef.

Edible Brooklyn will be available on October 4th, 2011.