(Jackson Street) Books on 7th is around the corner and on the internet tubes. We strive to be your full-service new and used bookstore, emphasizing good literature, progressive politics, and, of course, books about baseball. Opened in Hoquiam October 1, 2010

Saturday, December 12, 2009

department of Book Reports: Nobody Move

It's no secret that I love the writing of Denis Johnson. I reported on Tree of Smoke, the National Book Award winner here. It is the long, ambitious story of American involvement in Southeast Asia as done by a sort of post-modern Graham Greene. Not nearly as long, and not quite as ambitious, nevertheless, Denis Johnson's new novel Nobody Move (Farrar Straus Giroux $23.00) is a finely written caper novel that has its own fascinating passages.

Originally serialized in Playboy magazine, the plot is fairly straight forward. Jimmy Luntz has just finished participating in a barbershop singing contest when he is picked up by a shady character called Gambol. It seems Jimmy has many gambling debts, and Gambol's boss, Juarez, has a taste for eating late-payers testicles. Luntz is able to escape from his captor and hooks up with a woman, Anita Desilvera, who has her own set of problems. The chase ensues and there is plenty of guaranteed mayhem, as Gambol, Juarez and "The Tall Man" pursue Jimmy.

The dialogue is smart and quick. Here's Luntz talking to a young woman at a mini-mart:

"Are you walking?"
Luntz said, "I guess I'll hitchhike"
"You better clean up first."
"Yeah, where's the washroom?"
She shook her head. "The whole back of your pants is like you been rolling in dirt. You better find some deep water."
"Where's the river?
"Right over there a half mile."
"Is it cold?"
"It's cold. But it wont kill you".

I should mention the jacket art, which is reminiscent of Chip Kidd. Susan Mitchell's jacket design of bullet holes with board illustrations by Philip Earl Pascuzzo are a great update of paperback pulp art from the forties and fifties.

Nobody Move is available at Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores.

When Hollywood comes calling, I'm sure democommie will be up for the part of Luntz.I have a special offer for orders placed here: enter the code FOG (stands for Friends Of the General) in the ask the bookseller a question tab, and I'll include a free Advance Reading Copy of something delightful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interfictions 2 in Second Life

Second Life truly is an amazing place that has reinforced my belief it is indeed a Small World. I've had the pleasure of meeting a couple authors I know in Real Life, and one of them, Ray Vukcevich, has been most gracious in helping set up an author salon for Lacamas Reading Hall. I met Ray back in the day at Seattle Mystery, when we had the signing for his delightful novel The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces.

Monday night, Dec 7th at 6pm PST/SLT, five of the authors of Interfictions 2 will gather to discuss their Intersticial Fictions from the short story collection Interfictions 2 (Small Beer Press, $16.00).
Delia Yorfle (Delia Sherman) is the co-editor of this volume and explains Intersticial Fiction:
What is interstitial art? It is art made in the interstices between genres and categories. It is art that flourishes in the borderlands between different disciplines, mediums, and cultures. It is art that crosses borders, made by artists who refuse to be constrained by category labels.

Erin Terrawing (Erin Underwood) is the Vice President of the Intersticial Arts Foundation, who sponsored this project.

Cecil Soup (Cecil Castellucci) will discuss her story The Long and Short of Long-Term Memory. Mason Leitner (F. Brett Cox)brings us Nylon Seam and its accompaniment music. Capricorn Brewster (Carlos Hernandez)has the delightfully titled The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria. Sardonicus Optera (Will Ludwigsen)has Remembrance is Something Like a House. Ookami Moonwall (Ray Vukcevich)rounds out the evening with The Two of Me.

Each copy of Interfictions 2 ordered through our store will receive a special signed bookplate, that I will send later. The bookplates are being mailed from one author to the next and I will drop them in the mail as soon as they are available.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Carl Sagan Edition

Seattle Tammy and I are relaxing this week for the holidays with good company, fine liquor, and many great things to eat. We have also been watching Cosmos with Carl Sagan on the new-fangled Youtubes. What a great show it was, too. We thought we would share the following segment where Sagan talks of books and libraries. His thirst for and his delight in knowledge is clearly evident and contagious. We need more people like him.
We are thankful for good readers and good friends. May you find wonderful books in the coming year.

Edit update from Danton: Carl Sagan autotuned:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Going Bovine

If you know Libba Bray from her Gemma Doyle trilogy, you may be in for a surprise here. Going Bovine (Delacourte, $17.99)

16 year old Cameron just wants to get out of high school, with as little effort as possible. When he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, even that is out. Once regarded as a loser, now his classmates are eager to show their love and support at a Student Rally. As he lies in the hospital visitors drop by and give him advice, pray for his soul and play video games.

Dulcie has stopped by with a challenge, follow the feather clues to find Dr. X who may have a cure, and close the wormhole in the space-time continuim to save the world, and bring back the greatest Inuit rock band of all time, The Copenhagen Interpretation. Dulcie is a cute, pixie faced punk with the softest of wings. Or is she another hallucination?

Cameron talks fellow schoolmate Gonzo, a hypochondriac dwarf, into accompanying him on the trip and they are off to Disney World! Along the way they'll pick up a Garden Gnome who is actually the embodiment of the Norse god Balder and really resents being hauled around the world posing for vacation pictures. There's a detour to Party House!, YA TV's annual spring break televised humiliation fest to rescue Balder, who has been kidnapped by frat boys who want to pose with him in front of, what else, tourist attractions.

This wild ride has everything! Mad Cow disease, String Theory, Hallucinations, Road Trips, the Haldron Collider, the Higgs Field, Snow Globes, Jazz and Don Quixote. It asks the eternal question: "Why does micro-wave popcorn taste so good?" It's not going to end well for Cameron, but Libba is honest with her readers and finishes the book on a hopeful, lovely theme. I do recommend this for a mature teen reader, simply for the honesty with which the real life topics are addressed, but as a parent I can tell you there is nothing here a 15 yo doesn't already know about.

If you can't trust an author in a cow suit, who can you trust?

Bonus video: Libba discusses her virtual skype book tour.

Another cool thing I found while researching this book is the blog LargeHeartedBoy, which asks authors for the playlist they listen to while writing.

As a bookseller, I would be remiss not to point you at the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex Award. On a shortlist of 10, singer Nick Cave was picked for his second novel The Death of Bunny Munro, about a sex-obsessed door-to-door salesman. "Frankly we would have been offended if he wasn't shortlisted," said Anna Frame at his publisher Canongate.

Read these if you dare:
Paul Theroux for A Dead Hand

Nick Cave for The Death of Bunny Munro

Philip Roth for The Humbling

Jonathan Littell for The Kindly Ones

Amos Oz for Rhyming Life and Death

John Banville for The Infinities

Anthony Quinn for The Rescue Man

Simon Van Booy for Love Begins in Winter

Sanjida O'Connell for The Naked Name of Love

Richard Milward for Ten Storey Love Song

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Department of Book Reports: The Posthuman Dada Guide, Tzara & Lenin Play Chess

The Posthuman Dada Guide, Tzara & Lenin Play Chess by Andrei Codrescu (Princeton Press $16.95) This delightful volume uses the historical figures of Tristan Tzara, the Romanian poet and V.I. Lenin to look at the split between radical art and ideological revolution in 1916. Zurich had become a haven for artists and other refugees. Hugo Ball rented the Meirei restauraunt to host a Kuntstlerkneipe (cabaret) named Voltaire. Decorated with paintings by Arthur Segal, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kadinsky, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Arturo Giametti, and Otto van Rees. The entertainment included Tristan Tzara reciting and shouting poetry, the chanteuse Emmy Hemmings, and a Russian balalaika band. As the evening wore on, the skits and improvisations became more raucus egged on by the drunken audience, to culminate in Tzara reciting nonsense French and un-rolling a roll of toilet paper with the word "merde" printed on it.

The Swiss cafe culture was a vibrant microcosm of the Bohemian life during these years with Einstein, Joyce, Hans Arp, Carl Jung and Freud.

Codrescu's use of posthuman shows they we have become so integrated with our technologies, we no longer are able to survive the natural world without them. This slim volume is your guide to this new world.

"This is a guide for instructing posthumans in living a Dada life. It is not advisible, nor was it ever, to lead a Dada life. It is and it was always foolish and self-destructive to live a Dada life because a Dada life will include by definition pranks, buffoonery, masking, deranged senses, intoxication, sabotage, taboo breaking, playing childish and/or dangerous games, waking up dead gods, and not taking education seriously. On the other hand, the accidental production of novel objects results occasionally from the practice of Dada."

I love listening to Mr. Codrescu on NPR, and here's an interview this past spring discussing The Posthuman Dada Guide. You can order the book from us and begin your Dada life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Department of Book Reports: 1959: The Year Everything Changed

Fred Kaplan's 1959: The Year Everything Changed (John Wiley and Sons $27.95) chronicles an extraordinary year. On January 1st, Fidel Castro's revolutionaries took power in Cuba. On January 4th Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan visited the United States. Fidel would do the same on April 15th, followed by Khrushchev on September 15th. On April 9th, Lenny Bruce appeared on television. On March 17th, excerpts from William Burrough's Naked Lunch were published in the literary magazine Big Table which were promptly seized by the office of the Postmaster General on the 18th. A busy year for the Postmaster, who was sued by Barney Rosset of the Grove Press for confiscating copies of the newly published and unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterly's Lover on April 28th. On March 13th, the now largely forgotten Herman Kahn began his lecture tour on how he stopped worrying about the Bomb and learned to love it. On March 2nd, Miles Davis began recording Kind of Blue; John Coltrane would step into the studio on May 4th to record Giant Steps; and on June 25th, the day the Kind of Blue sessions ended, Dave Brubeck began work on Time Out. On July 13th, the documentary from Mike Wallace, The Hate That Hate Produced, on Malcolm X was aired. On July 23rd G.D. Searle sought FDA approval for its birth control pill. On November 11th, John Cassevetes' film, Shadows, opened, followed Truffaut's 400 Blows on November 16th. And on November 19th, Ford ceased production on the Edsel. All these things happened, and more. Kaplan gives the details in a fine narration.

I suppose my only quibble would be that Kaplan completely ignores the Triumph of the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Chicago White Sox in the Fall Classic. There was a young boy at game three, played on Sunday October 4th, just five days shy of his ninth birthday, a game he'll never forget. It was the swan song for the Boys of Summer, and Carl Furillo delivered the game winning hit in the 7th inning. That young boy's future dearly beloved was a rollicking three month old baby. How did that get by Kaplan? In any event, it is a fun book.

On another note, I'd like to point out that today is National Bookstore Day. If you can, please go visit yourfavorite independent bookseller and show them some love.

Jackson Street Books is proud to present Jess Walter at Lacamas Hall.
The Financial Lives of the Poets
“In Jess Walter's best yet, feckless financial reporter Matt Prior has lost his job, is six days away from losing his house, and suspects his wife is courting an affair. Walter's own obvious empathy for the human condition will have you pulling for Prior and his screwy, shady, last-chance scheme for solvency. A laugh-out-loud serio-comic masterpiece!”

—Ranae Burdette, Eagle Harbor Book Company via indiebound.org

Jess Walter is the author of five novels, including The Zero, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award and Citizen Vince, winner of the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. He has been a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize and the PEN USA Literary Prize in both fiction and nonfiction.
Another 7/11

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Our Little Town

I have lived all my life in big cities. I grew up in LA; I went to grad school and then began my career in Portland, Or.; and up until last year, lived for 33 years in Seattle. So the adjustment to living in a small town has proven interesting, to say the least. Not that I don't love it. The Harbor is a sweet place to live. The pace is low-key. The natives are friendly. In fact, Hoquiam boasts to being the friendliest town in Washington State.But the thing that has really struck me in this election season is that I actually get to vote for County Coroner. I've never lived in a place where the position of coroner is an elected office. And not only is it an elected office, it is a partisan office. Who knew?As it turns out, both candidates here are Democrats. That is good, because I don't want a Republican performing my autopsy. One of the candidates is a nurse. The other is the current coroner who was appointed to the office after the previous coroner moved onto another position. We ended up voting for the current office holder. But you can see both candidates campaign signs all over town and in Aberdeen.
There were a couple of other important ballot issues. One is designed to overturn the Washington State Legislature's "Everything but Marriage" law that granted our gay citizens equality in all things, except for marriage. We voted, of course, to retain the new law, even if means destroying our marriage, which I'm sure is part of teh gay agenda.

The other is an initiative to cap government revenue sources and was promoted by our state wingnut, Tim Eyman. Surely something we need; cripple government during a recession.

Anyway, that's the scoop from our little town for now.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel

Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett discuss their graphic Steampunk robot history: Boilerplate, History's Mechanical Marvel and their career in Graphic Novels. Join us for a Steampunk night with this talented team of artists at Jackson Street Books' Lacamas Hall.
Boilerplate was created in 1893 by Professor Archibald Campion, a robot soldier designed to "prevent the death of men in the conflicts of nations". Throughout his career he met historical figures such as Teddy Roosevelt, Lawrence of Arabia, Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla. This coffee table book chronicles his story with photos, maps, paintings, posters, cartoons and stereoscope plates.

Boilerplate is available at Jackson Street Books and your local independent booksellers

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dear Family and Friends, WE MADE IT!!!

Our delegation has successfully entered the Gaza strip and are now staying at the Marna House in Gaza City. Our schedule is extremely busy, beginning before 9:00 AM and continuing well into the evening for each of the six days we will be in Gaza.

I was not free to talk about the delegation's destination before departing the USA as we had major concerns about whether or not we would be allowed to enter Gaza. Now that we are "IN" please feel free to pass the word along. In fact, because there was (and still is) a chance that my computers and the computers of the other delegation members may be confiscated by the Israeli authorities upon exiting Gaza I brought an olde, beat up PC laptop (case is cracked, key board works but is far from new and in general appears to be an antique) just in case. That is the good new concerning my planning for the this trip. The bad news is that I neglected to import my email address book which is stored on the MacBook. I have a few email addresses stored on this older laptop but certainly not nearly all of them.

So, if you have received this email I would sincerely appreciate your forwarding it on to anyone who you feel may be a friend or family member of mine. Please don't assume that everyone I know who you know will receive this email. I am missing many, many email addresses or have many outdated email addresses So, if you should receive more than one copy of this email blame it on me and simply hit the delete key for any additional copies you might have received.

I have much to tell you but it's almost 1:30 AM and my schedule begins bright and early again in the morning. But if a picture really is worth 10,000 words then I've added another 20,000 words to this email by attaching two pictures.

The first picture is an example of what a Bell Captain at a hotel looks like in a country under seige. Gaza.

The other picture is of a child of the occupation . . .
In Solidarity Peace is Inevitable,

5 for Peace

via Dave Wiley
San Diego Veterans For Peace
Hugh Thompson Memorial Chapter 91

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Department of Book Reports: The Big Burn

The Big Burn Teddy Roosevelt and The Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin, $27) For those of you who enjoyed Ken Burn's National Parks, I suggest this excellent history of how our National Forests came into being. We saw terrible fires in California this past summer, 100,000 acres burned and many houses were lost. This is small in comparison to the fire that swept through the Northwest in 1910, burning 3 million acres in just two days. The town of Wallace, Idaho was completely destroyed. 85 (or perhaps 87) lives were lost. This fire raced across the landscape, pushed by Chinook winds and updrafts the flames created, blasting up to 85 mph. That speed cannot be out run. Trains were unable to carry people to safety as bridges and tracks were destroyed.

Theodore Roosevelt had set aside the National Parks during his presidency, and put Gifford Pinchot in charge of managing these forests. Pinchot, newly graduated from Yale with new theories of Forestry, had amassed his staff of Forest Rangers, or "little G.P.s" as they were known. John Muir had traveled west and sent back reports of Yellowstone and the glorious Sierras. Their conservation ideals were often ridiculed by the hard scrabble homesteaders and Railroad and Lumber Barons of the region. By 1910, Roosevelt was out of office, replaced by his own pick of Taft, whose ineffectiveness was blatant in this disaster.

photo: historylink.org

Egan gives a good narrative of how this time period produced the break from Republicans as the Progressive party of Lincoln and Roosevelt to what we know today. The scope of the burn also allowed him to push his Conservation goals and add to the Parks with the National Forest lands. Much of the eastern parks owe their existence to this tragedy.

Timothy Egan has written some of the best Western histories including The Good Rain, about this part of western Washington we call home and The Worst Hard Time, about the dust bowl years and the western migration it produced. His research brings out the personal narrative in these histories. In The Big Burn we learn of how after Gifford Pinchot's young wife died after just 2 years of marriage he spent the next 20 years haunted by her presence. His diary notes "days of light" when he believed he had been in her presence, or "dark days" when she did not appear. He sought out seers and seances to call her forth. He was often seen carrying on conversations with her as he dined alone in Washington DC's finest restaurants.
Taft and Roosevelt's lives and presidencies are detailed with personal details and the political aspects of the day. The firefighters are given good tribute here. Drawn from the logging and mining operations and joined by the Buffalo Soldiers, these are the lives that were lost that weekend. The 1,200 firefighters hired by the Forest Service often weren't paid for their time, or medical bills. Ed Pulaski, who herded his men into a cave and pulled his handgun to keep them from running into the inferno, was left destitute after the fire. Denied a patent number, he is remembered today for the axe/blade tool that bears his name and is invaluable to firefighters everywhere.

The Big Burn is available at Jackson Street Books and do check with your local independent booksellers to see if Timothy Egan will be reading. Listen to the audio from a recent radio interview on KUOW's The Conversation (begins at 40 minutes in).
Cross-posted at Jesus' General

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yet another episode of Small Town, Small Minds

Our first example surprised me. This is a living room on a main street in downtown Aberdeen. Market Street, in case you're wondering. I was so shocked, I had to go around the block and come back for a picture. Dan warned me "be careful" as I jumped out of the car and snapped the picture from the sidewalk. I only took the one, I was actually kinda nervous myself. Anyone who would post this sort of ugliness in their front window wasn't anyone I wanted to talk to. I didn't think it'd help if I said I wanted it for my blog.

Then we have the Market Place Health Food store that I was so delighted to find right next to Jay's Fruit Stand and Michael's Meats. I always thought it a little odd those two would talk about how their proximity would bring customers to each other, and make no mention of the Health Food store. Maybe now we see why.

If you are not in WA state, I-71 is an initiative to repeal the modicum gay rights given last year, our "Everything BUT Mariage" act. You actually want to vote "Yes" to keep these rights for our citizens. We both sport APPROVE buttons, via our dear Fran's generosity and activism.

Here's a local um.. brilliant mind.. proffering her two bits on how to vote on I-71:

Preserve marriage as one man, one woman
Under our Bill of Rights, all American citizens have equal rights. Gay people can already choose civil unions. They can arrange legal matters such as insurance and wills.

Senate Bill 5688 is about granting special rights to homosexuals and unmarried seniors.

If we allow SB 5688 to pass, society is one huge step closer to redefining marriage into oblivion as anything and everything.

Legal arguments are already being made that if gay people can marry, why not multiple partners, why not men and young boys, why not polygamy. People supporting 5688 say this is not what they want, but activists have claimed that passing 5688 is just one of the incremental steps ( to approve gay marriage in the U.S. and redefine marriage as a whole).

Traditional marriage, as imperfect as it is, still exists to protect women and children and to perpetuate our society. Please resist arguments to dilute it further. Please stand against Washington Senate Bill 5688.

Please help preserve marriage as between only one man and one woman. Protect our children by protecting marriage. Please vote NO on SB 5688.

Jill Lagergren


You just keep telling it like it is, Jill. Stay on point there, dear. And, don't bother mentioning what folks can actually vote on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels

Tristram Hunt's Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels (Metropolitan Books $32.00) is a tour de force of biography. Filled with critical appraisal, keen insight, it is also a remarkable history of the 19th Century.

Hunt takes us on Engels journey as son of a good German burgher, to his youth, filled with the thoughts of Young Hegelianism, his conversion to "Communism", his first shaky meeting with the Moor, Karl Marx, onto his participation in the 1848 European revolutions, and on to his own life as Manchester bourgeois, and his retirement to London. And it is a remarkable journey.

At the center, of course, is the central relationship with Marx. Engels supported Marx and his family most of his adult life. And generously. When you read or hear of accounts of the squalor of Marx's domestic life, always without money, it was not that Engels was not supportive enough; Marx was horrible at managing money. And Marx's family, his wife and daughters, loved Engels, regarding him as a family member. The one serious rift came upon the death of Engel's long-time lover and companion, Mary Burns, and one which was repaired by an apologetic Marx, who never really apologized to anyone for anything.

It is also interesting to see the contrast of their years in England. Engels was occupied with running his father's firm in Manchester, while Marx spent his hours in the British Museum, struggling, and often distracted from writing Capital. And oddly, for a staunch Communist, Engels indulged himself in the life of the ruling class in Manchester, often riding in fox hunts. And at night, Engels was also not just a sexual libertine, he could be an outright Lothario, seducing his "friends" wives.

Which is not to say that Engels didn't have his own intellectual accomplishments. His "Condition of the Working Class in England" was a seminal work of social and political analysis. His nickname, The General, (bestowed upon him by Marx's daughters) came from his fervid interest in military campaigning. He was often published pseudoanonymously for his coverage of the Crimean War, the Prussian-Austrian war, and finally the Prussian victory over the French in Sedan in 1870. Engels knew that he would always play second fiddle to Marx in thought, acknowledging his genius.

Read this book. It is a treat for the mind. And please do not confuse Marx's General with Jesus' General. They are not related.

Marx's General is available at Jackson Street Books and other fine independent booksellers.

democommie was unavailable for comment on this book report.Cross posted at Jesus' General.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Marijuana is SAFER

Alcohol causes 35,000 deaths in America each year. No-one has ever died from effects of marijuana. Domestic abuse and violence often has it's origins in alcohol consumption. Marijuana has not had this effect. So, why are we driving people to drink?

Marijuana is SAFER, by Steve Fox (MPP), Paul Armento (NORML), and Mason Tvert (SAFER) (Chelsea Green Publishing $14.95) Part history lesson and part activism handbook, this volume provides a full range of facts to counter the empty "just say No" prohibition arguments that have been given too much credence to date.
Broken down into 3 parts, the authors first cover The Choice: Marijuana vs. Alcohol, looking at the differences to both person and society from the effects of usage. Available studies and anecdotal stories of Frat Row and drunken brawls after sporting events have led to the realization that the continual promotion of alcohol to celebrate has had much more damage than promoting marijuana would have. Here is a great recap from their website.
Former Seattle Chief of Police, Norm Stamper has written the intro and (sadly after) his retirement has become a leading voice in the Legalization movement. Here is a short video from him.

Choice Interrupted examines covers the history of Reefer Madness and the consequences of following the zero tolerance policies. Last year SAFER published a "WANTED" poster that pointed out the fact that Cindy McCain's money came from alcohol and the hypocrisy of a major manufacturer of alcohol funding her husband's presidential run to further advocate for marijuana prohibition.
Freedom of Choice breaks down traditional arguments and shows that marijuana use could be an alternative and not an additional vice. This section gives you a good basis for advocating locally and enlarging the discussion.

Recently our local paper ran a story of a 15 year old boy who died of alcohol poisoning. I'm certainly not for encouraging children that young to partake of anything, but it can't be denied that our society's continued glamorization of alcohol contributed to the young man's death. And if you think 15 year olds can't get their hands on either substance, well, dream on.

On Monday night at 6pm, I'll be joined by Mason Tvert to discuss Marijuana is SAFER in Second Life. We have a new reading hall just down the street from the bookstore. Join us at Lacamas Hall for an eye-opening evening.

SAFER is on twitter

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Financial Lives of the Poets

The Financial Lives of The Poets, by Jess Walter (HarperCollins $25.99 ) I've been reading Jess' books for a few years now, and I can safely agree with his wife: "No, dear, you aren't funny." So, in spite of that assessment, Jess set out to write a comedy novel. He has succeeded, if you like your comedy dark and on the bleak side.

Turns out, this is a brilliant novel that captures the free-falling zeitgeist of our current society.

Matt Prior left his newspaper job to begin his start-up blog: poetfolio.com During the boom economy, it seems to be a sure fire hit; financial news in verse. Now at the end of his savings, about to be evicted from the house they bought and have loved, a fateful trip to the 7/11 changes everything. He needs milk. For the boys. For their cereal. In the morning.

That shit's like, $9 a gallon!

Here is a beautifully played out drama, a family you can love. Coming utterly undone. About to lose his house, with no job or prospect, his wife is certainly having an on-line affair with her high school boy friend... Matt's encounter at the 7/11 sets off a new venture: sell pot to the aging boomers who still fancy themselves "happening". A tap on the shoulder a couple days later dashes that American Dream. By the end of the book, there is redemption, resolution, and resignation. And re-connection with family.

The poetry sprinkled throughout is perfect, I recommend A Brief Political Manifesto on page 39.
Luke Baumgarten has written the review I only wish I could. Go read it, and stay tuned for Jess Walter in Second Life, sometime in October.

On a somewhat related note: I will be interviewing Mason Tvert for his book, Marijuana is SAFER on Oct 5th, 6pm (Pacific) at our new place: Lacamas Reading Hall. We'll discuss marijuana myths, propaganda, and how to become active for pro-cannabis legislation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Department of Book Reports: PNBA Tradeshow re-cap

I had hoped to live blog this last week, but the Hotel from Hell had the worst wi-fi I've ever seen. If you have to go to Portland OR, and you must stay near the airport, stay at any hotel but this one. Just sayin.
The show floor! Table after table of glorious books! Yes we were in heaven. I used the weekend to ask authors, publicists and publisher reps for authors to read in Second Life. I have 16 yeses, and more contacts for the future.
Running into old friends is the best part of the show.
And speaking of Garth, Larkworthy made a lovely machima of the reading for us:

You know Booksellers are cool, cause we read graphic novels!
Seattle Author Jennie Shortridge has her new novel When She Flew which will be along in November. Garth says "Smart, Funny... and Wise."
Rebecca O'Connor's Lift is her life journey as a falconer. I must tell Siobahn about this one! (twitter!)

I was so excited to meet the folks behind Boilerplate! Their encyclopedial Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel is a joy to read. They've agreed to a reading so get your SL Steampunk gear ready!
Vampire coffee. I'm really tempted to snicker here, but the Twilight Frenzy is everywhere. The local rag had a breathless front page speculation earlier this week, that some scenes in the next movie might be shot here in town because an auto parts store in Hoquiam is briefly mentioned in the second book. Even though the entire first movie was filmed on Oregon's coast. And Vashon Coffee really is quite good.
The Buzz Book Award is voted on by booksellers at the show, for most impressive book of show. This year, the winner is Hands at Work, a book written by Iris Granville and photographed by Summer Moon Scriver.
More Bookstore friends! Clyde & Bill from Cover to Cover Books.
Redsides Publisher Services is repped by George Carroll. Dee from Village Books looks over this seasons offerings. (twitter!)
After a long day on the tradeshow floor, it's time to hit the bar. Chuck from Village Books (twitter!) tells us of his plans to buy an Espresso Book Machine and their plans to help other NW bookstores republish their local favorite book for sales through their store. I'll be trying to track down They Tried to Cut It All, a history of logging on the coast.
The author dinner is a real treat, as 5 different authors come to your table to tell you of their book. I picked Randy Sue's table, so we could have some time with this sparkly lady.
Doug Scott is the policy director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness. Our Wilderness: America's Common Ground is a lovely photobook that should be a hit across the country, with stunning photos and history of our national parks.
Gregg Olsen is another old friend, his true crime is well respected in the Northwest. A Twisted Faith tells the story of a Bainbridge Island minister who carried on 5 affairs with parishioners while plotting the death of his wife. This one doesn't get published till next April, rest assured there will be a bookreport! (twitter!)
Cathy Lamb has Henry's Sisters, which has been praised as "positively irresistable" by Publisher's Weekly and is a September 09 IndieFirst Pick.
Kevin Michael Connolly, who, without a doubt is the most inspirational person we met last week. And if you're thinking it's a might presumptious of a 23 year old to write a memoir, let me re-assure you: not this 23yo! Born in Helena MT, with no legs and scant medical assistance, his parent decided to raise him to be a problem solver. When his wheel chair became too awkward and cumbersome, he decided to take up skateboarding. As someone who has been looked at all his life, he decided to start photographing people as they viewed him. He has traveled around the world on a longboard, and writes of how we look at people who are different. Far from bitter, he offers insightful essays on how people's reactions vary by locale and age. This is one young man I'll be keeping an eye on. Read this first chapter at HarperCollin's website, and look around at the photography. (twitter!)
Back at the bar, and here's Jess Walter and Timothy Egan. I eagerly read Jess' The Financial Lives of Poets the minute we got home. Jess was determined to write a comedy this time, and he has, although it's a very dark comedy. It's set amid today's financial collapse and centers on one man's mis-steps and over-stretched accounts. This will be next week's book report, so you'll have to wait till then for more. Timothy Egan follows up The Worst Hard Time with The Big Burn, which chronicles the August 1910 fire that blazed across Washington, Idaho and Montana. In the space of two days 3 million acres of forest and small towns were destroyed in its wake and America mobilized the largest ever firefighting team to try and fight the blaze. The aftermath of this fire allowed Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot to make their dream of a national forest a reality. The Big Burn publishes in October.
Home again, and time to put the books on a shelf and admire them. The face outs in the pictures below show authors who will be reading at Jackson Street Books in Second Life. First up: Marijuana is SAFER, Oct 5th 6pm(Pacific) Mason Tvert, director of SAFER will discuss his recent book on marijuana facts and legislation. (twitter!)

Most of these books aren't published yet, but send us an email at info@jacksonst-books.com to pre-order. We'll be happy to get you a copy.