Category Archives: Miscellany

Lobster and Martinis or Lines We Love

Cape Ann also provides what I stubbornly maintain are the world’s best lobsters. I also stubbornly maintain that the only real way to cook lobsters is in three or four inches of sea water, in a covered kettle, for about twelve minutes (pound and a quarter lobsters being the ideal size). You then drape these dazzling creatures over the rocks until they cool off a bit, tear them apart with the bare hands, dip each piece in melted butter, and guzzle. There should be from two to six lobsters per person. While the lobsters cook and cool off, tow dry Martinis à la DeVoto should be served. Nothing whatever else should be served–we are eating  all the lobster we want, we are not fooling around with salad or strawberry shortcake or even coffee. All you need are the martinis, plenty of lobsters, millions of paper napkins, and a view.

–Avis Devoto to Julia Child, May 30th, 1952

Friday Miscellany

It’s finally Friday! I’m fussing around with the blog trying to prevent these comment spam attacks. I’m trying something called CAPTCHA codes. I hope they’re not annoying for folks trying to leave comments–I love comments! I’m just tired of these stupid spammers and their Gucci bags. They periodically get through all of the filters I’ve got set up. This might actually stop them. Let me know if this turns into a hassle.

I’ve got some thoughts about e-books which I’m trying to turn into a post. I’ll work on that over the weekend.

I finished reading Michele Huneven’s Round Rock earlier in the week and started Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I loved Huneven’s novel Blame. It’s interesting going back to read earlier work. I think Blame is a stronger work, but Round Rock is a great novel too. Both books deal with alcoholism but in different ways. I’m going to track down a copy of Huneven’s second novel Jamesland, just for completion’s sake. Anyone else read it?

Enjoy the weekend!

Advice to Authors

Here is a bit of advice: When we’re selling your at an event for you, don’t try to convince customers to buy the book by selling them from your own stash. At a discount. In front of us. Not cool. That might get you immediately banned from our shelves.

Let Me Explain!

One of the books I’m most excited about is Jonathan Evison’s novel West of Here coming from Algonquin Books this Fall. I’m just starting it and searched for the title image to use in the right hand column, but couldn’t find one. I went with the bear picture over there, which also happens to be my Twitter icon. The icon is so small on Twitter I bet people wonder why on earth I’m using a stuffed bear to represent me. I’m not really a stuffed bear kind of gal. Now you see why I’m using it.

Also, I’m really excited to read West of Here! I loved All About Lulu and have heard great things about this new novel from other booksellers. I’ll let you know what I think when I’m done.

A Scattered Post

I’ve had all these great posts planned about what I’ve been reading–Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number; about what does it mean for literature now that David Markson has died–he died on Monday; Kelly Link’s heart wrenching post on why she hasn’t written anything in over two year; about all of the cool books I heard at Book Expo America that are coming this Fall.

Perhaps that New York Times article is right–technology (probably Twitter for me) is making me a poor multitasker. I did score 97% on the focus test.

I can tell you that you should read Sloane Crosley’s new essay collection. I think it’s even stronger than her first one. In particular the essays “An Abbreviated Catalog of Tongues” and “Off the Back of a Truck” struck me the most. The essays have her acerbic wit, but with a touch of melancholy.

Mostly I’m watching the Fall galleys pile up on my shelves here in my office with a growing dread that I won’t get to all of them. Just today I got copies of Room by Emma Donaghue—booksellers are raving about this one and Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End: The Story of a Crime by Swedish author Leif GW Persson. The Fall season looks like it’s going to be great. Last year we (booksellers and publishers) exclaimed about the lists, but sales were so poor. Given what I’ve seen so far, I’m predicting a blockbuster Fall.

Stopping Time

Do you ever wish you could stop time so you could sit and read uninterrupted? My reading pile has gotten so big in the past few days. I’ll never get through it all and that makes me sort of sad. I read Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture, Thomas Chatterton Williams account immersing himself into the culture of hip-hop while young and how he got out of it. The subtitle doesn’t do the book justice. Williams book really is about discovering oneself and how hip-hop culture debases the black culture. His father, a sociologist by training, spent his life reading, teaching himself because no one else would. In the book, he tells his son that he never reads for enjoyment. He carefully underlines sentences in each book, magazine, and newspaper he reads. Thomas Williams finally figures out that he’s lucky because he can read for purely aesthetic reasons. I’m paraphrasing some really wonderful chapters here.

My point about stopping time is that Williams references reading authors like Kierkegaard and Dostoevesky and what he learned from these wonderful books. It made me want to go back and read them so badly. But each day, a new galley of something equally awesome has shown up on my desk. If I could stop time, I’d read them all. Right now, I have to pick what to read next: The Brothers Karamazov or Kraken by China Mieville. What to choose?

A Real Reader’s Emergency

On the escalator up toward the terminal at the Atlanta airport on Monday, I suddenly realized that I only had half of a book to read with a two hour flight to Philadelphia plus a long layover and another hour or more flight after that. Shit. What should I do? As I reached the top, I saw that my flight was beginning to board. Shit! My head turned left and right looking for the ubiquitous Hudson News. Where is it?! To the left I see a store front called Buckhead Books. Even better! An actual bookstore! I rush over to see their wares. Shelves upon shelves of books from which to choose!

Wait, the fiction section is 3 bays, mostly face outs. The classics section has approximately 8 titles, 7 of which I’ve already read. The front table only seems to have Scott Turow, Michael Crichton, and John Grisham on it in massive piles. Shit! I scan the bestseller wall. It’s a lot of Christian material plus some of Sookie Stackhouse series. Augh. What about Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant? I tried reading one of her previous books The Birth of Venus, but I didn’t care for it.

Some will start calling me a snob here. Fine. Go ahead. I just wanted something a little more solid. I can read a John Grisham novel in about 2 hours. I need a thick book that can entertain me for at least three or more hours. So stop. I know my own tastes.

This is taking forever! I’ve got 3 minutes to pick a book, pay for it, and run to my plane. Finally I spot it. Lurking toward the bottom of the fiction section, which I’m back in front of for a second look I see Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Finally! Something I haven’t read and actually want to read. Panic over. I grabbed, paid, and ran.

I’m so glad I finally read this novel. It was so good! You might be laughing at me for panicking about all this, but I’ve said it before. Being without a book is torture for me. I know I’m not alone.

Where Have I Been?

Work is nuts. I’m working floor shifts, plus events not to mention my regular job. It’s hard to find the time to write about books at the moment. Look who I met on Wednesday night as he signed copies of his book Bicycle Diaries!
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I found David Byrne charming and easy to chat with. Now I’m off to work at the Simmons Leadership conference for women. Then I’m off to Atlanta to spend two days with my family. Phew. I need another vacation.