(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 31, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Happy New Year.

The very exhausted bookstore people wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. We're looking forward to talking about good books next year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Department of Book Reports: A Christmas Carol

It has become our tradition to post this passage from A Christmas Carol every Saturday before Christmas here at the General's place. It remains as relevant today as it was when Dickens first had it published in 1843. This year I will add this passage from the first Stave, as it may have reflected English society then, and may soon again.
"At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, ... it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." "Are there no prisons?" "Plenty of prisons..." "And the Union workhouses." demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?" "Both very busy, sir..." "Those who are badly off must go there." "Many can't go there; and many would rather die." "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
The following is, of course, from the climax of Stave Three, as Dickens called it, when Scrooge is abandoned by the Spirit of Christmas Present. Among my English major friends, Charles Dickens is regarded as a rank sentimentalist, and, worse, a writer who achieved popularity with the reading public of his time. At the same time, I argue that he was also one of the most acute social critics of the 19th Century, and a critic that helped transform that world for the better.

The scene below contains one of the most powerful images in English Literature. And it still holds true today.

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. "Oh, Man, look here! Look, look, down here!" exclaimed the Ghost. They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. "Spirit, are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more. "They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end."
"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.
"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"
The bell struck twelve.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Marshmallows

We're very busy this week, as I'm sure all of your households are too. I hope you find the time to relax with some cocoa and a good book. Perhaps you might even find time to make your own marshmallows for that cocoa. Here's a delightful interview from a book I recently told you about, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.

Of course, I do urge you to shop locally and Shift your Shopping. You may just discover the perfect gift that will delight its recipient. The folks inside those stores will genuinely be delighted to see you, and I'm sure you will get a much-felt "Thank You!" rather than a bored "have a nice day."
"Our choices of what and where to buy impact not only us and the people we give to, but the prosperity of our community and even our country. Along with helping your neighbors and community, you might find “going local” turns holiday shopping into a far more enjoyable experience." via

Have a wonderful week! What's on your night stand?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Happy War on Christmas

All the talk this week has been about this mornings eclipse, so I thought I'd showcase our Science Bookshelf. Here are a couple fun science lessons I found in my reading this week. In Seattle (and locations at the same latitude)the time of sunset moves up early each day until we get to Winter Solstice. The effect has to do with the tilt of the Earth's axis and you can read more here.
Did anybody get to see the eclipse? We we too cloudy to be able to watch it. At certain latitudes, you might have been able to see the Sun & the Moon in the sky again at the same time (!)

It's been an exciting week in our small town. The local paper, Seniors Sunset Times, ran an front page article about the bookstore and it certainly has gotten us some local notice.

This past Saturday was the First Annual Ho Ho Hoquiam with a cocoa & tree stroll so that folks could vote on the best decorated tree in several categories. I had had the idea of decorating with birds and bird titles, but it was the hand knitted Angry Red Bird that helped me snag the title of "Funniest Tree".

And, finally, if you'd like to keep up with news of the publishing industry and whatever catches his fancy, check out Dan's Book Booth column at thepoliticalcarnival.net

I'll leave you with appropriate Seasonal Salutations. How's your War on Christmas going?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Department of Book Reports: We're Making a List and Checking It Twice

It has come to our attention that the authors you'll find on this list have turned out to be no-good commie rats. I'll bet some of your favorite writers are on this list. I'm shocked! Shocked!

Occupy Writers

And, most assuredly, many of these authors and their books can be found at Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores.

Today is Take your Child to a Bookstore Day, and the first annual Ho Ho Hoquiam. Here's hoping to see you in a bookstore today, perhaps even ours!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (Random House, tp $15)I hadn't had a chance to read this back when it came out, and recently a customer was telling me how much her whole book club enjoyed reading it together. Carol was right! This is, as the title says, a bitter sweet love story set in Seattle's Chinatown and Nihonmachi district. Henry Lee has just lost his wife Ethel to cancer in 1986, when he learns that the belongings of 37 families have been discovered in the basement of The Panama Hotel. On the eve of relocating to the Japanese internment camps of WWII, people had stored their possessions in hopes of returning someday to start their lives over again. This part of the story is entirely true, The Panama Hotel stands today, and you can see the trunks and cartons through a piece of plexiglass set into the floor of the renovated Tea Room.

Henry was a scholarship student at an exclusive all-white school in the lead up to Pearl Harbor, and his best friend was the only other Asian "scholarshipping" student, Keiko Okabe. Henry's father hates the Japanese and feels the deportment is "Better them than us", and he makes Henry wear an "I am Chinese" button whenever he goes out. Henry has to hide his friendship and later love of Kieko from his family. Sheldon, a sax playing street busker protects Henry & Kieko from teasing and abuse as they walk to school or sneak into the after hours Jazz clubs along Jackson Street. When Sheldon gets a gig with Oscar Holden at the Black Elks Club, he gets to play on the only recording ever made of the band, and this album will a longlost touchstone for Henry & Keiko. Sheldon will come to help Henry visit Keiko at Minidoka, a very long trip those days in the belly of the big dog (Greyhound). Later, back in Seattle, Henry thinks Keiko has forgotten him, never suspecting his father of intercepting her letters. It won't be until the mid-eighties that Henry & Keiko will hear the Alley Cat song again that Oscar Holden had dedicated to the young couple.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a love story during one of America's most horrible episodes and a touching examination of father and son dynamics, both the staunch autocrat of his father and Henry's relationship with his own most modern son, Marty. The setting is historically accurate as you can see by the links I included above.

The book, of course, is available at Jackson Street Books, as well as other fine independent bookstores.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Department of Book Reports:The Man in The Moon

Children's Literature, I have to admit, is not my strong suit when it comes to bookselling. Oh, I'm acquainted with much of it, for sure. I read voraciously when I was child myself, and when our son came along, I rediscovered much of it. Not that I'm disparaging of KiddieLit; there are some fine authors and great stories out there, that go on beyond Zebra, and make it fun to have fun, though you have to know how. (Also some of the best book people I know are devoted to children's books). But since my maturity (or some would say my lack therof), I've tended to read books meant for adults.

But several years ago, I stumbled across the work of William Joyce. Specifically, I read his book Santa Calls and was enthralled by both his art and his story. Naturally, being the fine father I am, and with my son at an appropriate age, I brought Santa Calls home and read it to him many times. So when William Joyce produces a new book, I will read it, even if my son is no longer at a convenient age to be read to.

So I was excited when in the last month a new book by William Joyce was published. It is called The Man in the Moon (Atheneum $17.99) and it does not disappoint. It is a boldy illustrated tale, the first in a projected series Joyce is writing entitled The Guardians of Childhood. The book (and the other titles to come) explain the origins of some of our best loved symbols of childhood, like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The Man in the Moon, then, tells the tale of how the Man in the Moon got there, his parentage, his friend, Nightlight and nemesis, Pitch, who is aided by his henchmen, the Nightmare Men.

Joyce has a wonderful sense of what appeals to the young mind and it is no wonder that he has worked with Disney Studios and Pixar on many of their pictures, including Toy Story, as well as the PBS series George Shrinks. Even if you have no taste for children's stories, his illustrations are breath-taking and it is worth having this book and others by him just for the sheer beauty of them. And if you do have a young child in your life, I highly recommend you check out The Man in the Moon. That child will love it.

The Man in the Moon is available at Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores throughout the land, and, perhaps, even on the moon itself. What are some of your favorite books of childhood?

UFO Collides With Author William Joyce from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Department of Book Reports: New to the shelves

It's been an exciting week in Hoquiam's smallest bookstore: we kicked off the week with a Monday night party for the much anticipated release of Christopher Paolini's 4th book, Inheritance, from his Eragon series. The story of these books is remarkable in itself: as a home-schooled student, Christopher wrote the first book and self published it. He had good success locally and Carl Hiassen's son picked up a copy at an indie bookstore while vacationing in Montana. He loved it and told his dad, who was able to present it to his Knopf editor, and the rest is publishing history.

We also have a couple new cookbooks on the shelves. Pacific Feast tells you what to do with fiddle head fern sprouts, nettles, dandelions and many other roots & shoots. I've tangled with nettles in my youth, so I appreciate the author's instructions on how to not be stung, and also not to put the stems into your food processor (the fiber of the stems are so strong that they are used by native tribes to twine into fishing nets and baskets). I'm going to try some of the seaweed recipes soon. Be sure to visit her website for more inspiration.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter comes from the blogger at The Tipsy Baker. I recommend you bookmark that site for all the recipes she cooks from her collection of thousands of cookbooks. Often opinionated, and constantly delightful, the book examines what you can make at home, and what you really shouldn't.

These books and more are available at (Jackson Street) Books On 7th and fine Independent bookstores everywhere. Visit us on Facebook Jackson Street Books.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Department of Book Reports:We Were Stardust

We Were Stardust by Kathrin King Segal (Bucket List, $15.00) Today's book is from a dear Second Life pal, Seacat, whose first novel Wild Again (link to hilarious vid) was published by Dutton way back when I worked for the publisher. (Wild Again is an erotic thriller set in NYC and long out of print, but Kathrin does have some copies available & we can put you in touch with her.)

"I found my grandmother on eBay." Juliette, our young narrator tells of finding bits from her grandmother's life, unknown to her family after she put her baby, Juliette's father up for adoption in 1971. Juliette catalogs her finds for us, the posters, the newspaper clippings, the glossy photos and LPs, and uses them to piece together the years in smoking night clubs and coffee houses. Juliette assures us the story is "mostly true".

We Were Stardust follows a cast of friends as they each try to find their place in the early Rock and Roll years. Julie will dazzle and spin through their lives, her bi-polar depression will spin her further and further from their lives, even as she worries it will be they who abandon her. She is madly in love with Luke, who will go onto the record deals and platinum records. Elliott who wants to be a music producer and finds himself partnered with Mafia, Arlene who will become his dutiful wife, and Rochelle, who ends up being the sensible business woman. Record deals and betrayals will split them up and reunite them in unexpected ways.

The world of music is lovingly re-imagined here, all the major points and places will have you remembering those days from Woodstock to the day Peter Thorkelson mentions he has a call-back from his audition for this new television show just being cast: The Monkees. New York to the L.A. scene, real life events reverberate this novel. Juliette gives us the proof in her eBay purchases, the ticket stubs and forty-fives and their winning bid price.

This is a world Kathrin, a writer, singer, songwriter and actor knows well, her own music and voice grew up in New York and she really did meet the many musicians who flicker across the pages in cameos. Kathrin was part of these early scenes and, as she says: She can remember the 60's! I recommend this as a great read for anyone looking for characters you come to love and a story you really wish wouldn't end. I just hope we don't have to wait another 20 years to read Juliette's story.

Jackson Street Books has signed copies of We Were Stardust, and you can find out more at Kathrin's website and purchase copies of her CDs. Her novel's FB page is here.

Congratulations, Kathrin! We are so happy to see this book in print!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero

Continuing in our biography binge, and with the playoffs being played and the World Series looming, I thought I'd look at Leigh Montville's Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero (Broadway Books $18.00), a book published originally in 2004. It is a fascinating book about a fascinating man.

Williams grew up in San Diego, the son of an unhappily married couple. His mother was a Mexican-American, who devoted her life to the Salvation Army and pretty much neglected both Ted and his brother, Danny. His father seemed to be mostly a non-presence in their lives. Ted early on, with some adult mentors, focussed his life on baseball and especially hitting a baseball. (Danny ended up a ne'er-do-well, whose life was tragic.) Ted seemed to miss getting much in the way of social graces, and throughout his life was loud, brash, and supremely confident in his abilities, whether it was in baseball, or hunting and fishing which he also excelled at. His cockiness probably cost him an extra year in the minor leagues, as the Red Sox management felt he need a year to mature.

Williams won the Triple Crown twice (leading the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in), but his most famous season in 1941, when he hit .406, the last time any major league player has hit over .400 for the season. It was the year before the United States entered the Second World War; it was also the year that Joe DiMaggio had his 56 game hitting streak. (The naturalist Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay some years back on why no one will ever have a .400 season again; it's likely no one will soon break the Joltin' Joe's record either). Montville has a nice little riff, paraphrasing Robert Creamer, on DiMaggio and Williams. DiMaggio was champagne; Williams was beer; Joe was the New Yorker; Ted was Field and Stream.

Ted was politically conservative, but his life belied whatever political stances he took. He was generous to a fault, especially with children and the Jimmy Fund in Boston was special to him. He was also a soft touch and aghast whenever confronted by abject poverty. And he was one of the primary movers in getting Organized Baseball to take note of the Negro Leagues and the many stars it had. He took the occasion of his induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame to say: "I've been a very lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, and I hope some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way can be added as a symbol of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren't given a chance."

Williams later managed the Washington Senators and then the Texas Rangers, the first year the franchise was shifted. His later years were complicated by his relationship with his only son, John Henry, who had problems with money. Montville writes with great authority and easy style and without academic pedantry, that makes the book accessible to all, even those with little interest in baseball. I'm sorry it took me so long to get to this book, but I'm glad I have. The book is available from Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Autobiographies

We've had a busy week here in our little town. Garth Stein's visit & reading was a lovely evening, enjoyed by all attendees. Many thanks to our wonderful Timberland Regional Library for sponsoring this event.
I finally got the big old Neon sign going Thursday afternoon. I had 2 people in who said I saw the sign! I didn't know there was a bookstore here! On Friday, 4 people came in because they saw those shiny red letters. I want to get some shelving set up so that it is at the top of the window, but it's kinda tricky in such an old building.

Lately, I've been reading memoirs. What I had thought would be a bit of popcorn reading has turned out to actually have timely lessons.
Cecil Beaton was given his first camera at age 11, and preferred to use it the rest of his life. Son of a lumber and coal family fortune, this book could have been way too twee in anyone else's hands. Lavishly illustrated with his iconic photographs, this volume centers on his longtime love of Greta Garbo. His devotion is evident in every sentence.
Charlie Chaplin provides quite a contrast, being born into abject poverty and spent much of his childhood in and out of London's Workhouses before his stage work became popular. He remains acutely aware of class struggles and bristles when introduced to someone with the assurance "he comes from a very good family." Chaplin had no patience for the romanticizing of poverty and resented what he called Somerset Maugham's annoying nonsense. This is a great read, which much insight into old Hollywood. I'm going to track down more of his writings, especially the unexpurgated volumes that were published posthumously. It was his great desire that Hitler be laughed at which gives us this most timeless speech:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Department of Book Reports: The Art of Racing in the Rain in Hoquiam

I've got big news for Hoquiam! Next Wednesday evening, Garth Stein will be in town & will read and sign his books at the 7th Street Theatre at 7pm along with many other events around the county. Timberland Library is hosting Garth for their annual Timberland Reads Together program. Local folks can come meet Garth and get a book from us, and those of you reading along at home can order one & we'll get Garth to personalize it for you! The Holidays will be on us before you know it, and this would be a perfect gift! Just tell us how you'd like it inscribed in the "ask a question of the bookseller" box when you order, or drop us an email. In the 3 years this book has been out, it has become my all-purpose recommend, I have never met anyone who didn't absolutely love it, and I really cannot tel you how many people have come back and made a point to let me know it is now their all time favorite too!

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein (Harper, $24.95) Narrated by the big hearted Enzo, this story reminds us of the grace of everyday, the preciousness of each moment. “In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog's master whispers into the dog's ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life." Enzo, watches everything, the untimely death of Denny's wife and the 3 year battle with his inlaws for custody of their daughter, doing all he can to keep this family intact. Heartbreaking and achingly perfect this book is really impossible to describe. Enzo is a dog who can explain what it is to be human.

This is a book I'm going to be evangelical about! Really. You must read this one. Yes, it's about car racing. Yes, it's narrated by the dog. Trust me here. There is plenty of heart in this novel, and a compelling story with characters that will stay with you long after the read. Don't forget the Kleenex™.

The Northwest Booksellers gave Garth the annual book award for his last novel, How Evan Broke his Head. That's another recommended read.

Garth has been busy since I last talked about his books, this past summer he got 36 authors to co-write a novel over a 4 day period at Hugo House, a Writer's Resource in Seattle. The Novel: LIVE! has some videos you can watch here and was given the finished title Hotel Evangeline.

In case you are wondering what the book with the puppy is about, this is a Young Adult version of the story, so that Garth could address some of the issues for younger readers.
These fine books are available at (Jackson Street) Books On 7th which has been open in Hoquiam for a whole year now!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Banned Books Week

Image via ABFFE

For the past thirty years, the last week of September has been Banned Books Week, a celebration of the Freedom to Read and the First Amendment, and this year is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Experession, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the PEN American Center, among others. Libraries and bookstores across our great land will have displays of the many books that have, at one time or another, been suppressed in some fashion.

What are some of these tomes? Some examples:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been challenged many times, including in 1980 by the Vernon Verona Sherill New York School District as a "filthy, trashy novel". I've read it a few times, and I guess I missed that part.

Alice Walker's The Color Purple has also been challenged and banned. The Souderton PA School District banned it as "smut" in 1992 as inappropriate 10th grade reading.

Ulysses by James Joyce was banned from the United States, England and Ireland for obscenity during the 1920's and not because it was deemed "too long".

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was banned as obsecne in France from 1956-1959, England in 1959, and Argentina that same year. Florida's Marion County had its DA office look into the book for ideas of incest and pedophilia.

Even winning Nobel Prize in literature does not keep a writer from censorial minds. Toni Morrison's Beloved has also been challenged many times. In 2007 two parents objected to the use of the book in an AP high school English class because it addressed issues of bestiality, racism and sex. The Principal of the school ordered it replaced by Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, which, of course, has nothing to do with sex. Other Nobel Prize winners whose books have been banned include John Steinbeck (both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men); Ernest Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls...did the Earth move for you, too?); William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying); and F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby).

This past Monday the School Board of Monarch, Kansas voted to end the ban in the school library of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Kind of. The kids cant really check it out, but it is available in certain portion there for their parents to check it out for them. The Vonnegut Library has made an offer to help kids decide for themselves.

These obscene books are available from Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores.

What are your favorite banned books?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Alcoa's Book of Decorations

Maybe it's the change in the weather, there's no denying Fall is here, after a week or so of summer. Maybe it's the folks who open my door & cackle "is this a Liberry??" Or, demand I find out just what the hell is going on with our shipping department, because Dover Publications has not delivered the book he ordered with that last tear out page in his book... (Turns out, he thinks I'm a subsidiary of the publisher... because I have a Dover rack in the front window.) Lately, the arching Eyebrow of Death just hasn't had it's usual withering power. Maybe you feel like me... In need of a new hat. Well, I have just the book for you!

Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up on Monday. In Second Life, we'll be partying at Redwood Rhiahdra's place. If you are stuck in RL, perhaps this hat would help.

Tin Foil is so versatile, you can fulfill all your childhood fantasies with your very own Pippi hat. Be the Pippi!

Maybe you'd just like to be a Space Cadet.. on your own little world.

Did you hear Henry Winkler got honorarily Knighted for his Hank Zipfer books?

There just isn't any holiday this book can't turn into a nightmare.

I trust I have not infringed on copyright here, but if Alcoa does decide to pursue photo useage, I'm pretty sure Dave vonE can successfully argue it was a bad idea to produce this book in the first place.
I hope that you have found your very own Fall hat here. Which one will you be wearing? Alcoa's Book of Decorations is available at Jackson Street Books. I'm pretty sure the other Fine Independent Bookstores have the good sense not to stock it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Department of Book Reports: In the Garden of Beasts

In 1933, freshly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt named William Dodds Ambassador to Germany. Dodds was not FDR's first choice. Two other men had turned down the post, as Germany seemed to be to embroiled in becoming a fascist state. Nor was Dodds a typical choice. Most Ambassadors were chosen from America's wealthy elites, usually big political donors to the President's Party. FDR's choice was sneered at by many in the State Department. Dodds was unusual in that he was an Academic, the chair of the History Department at the University of Chicago, who had hoped to use his years in Berlin to write his magnum opus, a history of the Ante-Bellum South.

Erik Larson, who I reported on some years ago when his book Thunderstruck was published, has written a fascinating account of Dodds' years as Ambassador in In the Garden of Beasts: Love,Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (Crown Books $26.00). He brings to life the years before World War 2, years when Hitler had many admirers in the United States. Dodds brought his family to Berlin with him, and central to the story is his daughter, Martha, a young woman at the time, who proceeded to take on a number of lovers, including many Nazi officials, as she was initially enthralled by the glitz and the parties. But as the family stayed on, and Hitler's intentions to the Jews became more and more apparent, she reeled from those previous affairs, and eventually aided the Soviets in their espionage against the Fascists. (She continued to take on lovers, notably Thomas Wolfe, author of Look Homeward Angel, as well as Carl Sandburg.) Dodds himself continued to warn his superiors at the State of his concerns, to no avail, and he left Berlin in 1937.

One of Larson's greatest skills is that he has a novelist's eye for telling history. He writes lucidly, develops the characters into flesh and blood, and has knack for keeping the narrative flowing. In the Garden of Beasts (the name of the street near the Ambassador's home) is not only popular history at its best, it is also great story telling. The book, of course, is available at Jackson Street Books, as well as other fine independent bookstores.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Department of Book Reports: The Man Who Never Died

Happy Labor Day to all the "parlor radicals", leftists, anarchists, unionists, Socialists, nihilists, ordinary "wage slaves", bums and hoboes out there! Here's the perfect book, a new biography of Joe Hill, songwriter of the IWW, the Wobblies. The Man Who Never Died, The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon by William M. Adler (Bloomsbury, $30.00) Adler has spent 5 years researching this and his painstaking attention to detail bring out new evidence of Hill's innocence in the murder case he was accused, tried and executed for.

Joel Hagglund's childhood in Sweden was during a time of political and social upheaval of Sweden from the Theocratic government into a socialist democratic society. (It is important to note that his mothers birth certificate was labeled "oakta", or "whore's child" and his grandmother had been marked as "slampa", or slut.) He came from a very musical family, singing in their Church choir and learning piano at an early age. After the death of his mother, the siblings went various ways. Joel and his brother Paul had caught "America Fever", they immigrated to America in 1902, where Joel assumed the New World name of Joe Hillstrom, which was later shortened to Joe Hill. Joe's early life was itinerant, traveling across the new country from job to job, until he found the Industrial Workers of the World in the labor camps of the West. Hill was in San Francisco during the great earthquake and his account was printed in his hometown newspaper in Sweden. After being pressed into service as a fireman, he then traveled by rail to Portland Oregon, where he worked as a longshoreman and was recruited into the Wobblie movement and participated in a 40 day mill strike. This was to be the first of many strikes and labor organizing efforts he participated in, including the Mexican Revolution. Adler has done an amazing job of laying out the history and background of each of these momentous battles, showing all the players and their own particular self-interests. From Los Angeles Times owner Harrison Gray Otis and his Baja empire to Utah Governor William Spry who would ultimately ignore Woodrow Wilson's request for a stay to allow the Swedish ambassador to review the case.

The IWW ignited his sense of social justice and equality and his songs gave voice to those beliefs and a voice to the workers. His songs were parodied gospels, rewritten hymns that the Salvation Army (or, the Starvation Army as Hill would call them) used to drown out the worker's protests. As he explained in a letter from jail:
"A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over; and I maintain that if a person can put a few cold, common sense facts into a song, and dress them... up in a cloak of humor to take the dryness off them, he will succeed in reaching a great number of workers who are too unintelligent or too indifferent to read a pamphlet or an editorial in economic science."

Hill was accused of attempting to rob and then killing Salt Lake City shopkeep John G Morrison and his 17 year old son January 10th, 1914. Ignoring evidence of other suspects, the legal system was as determined to convict Joe Hill as he was adamant of not providing himself an alibi. Adler gives us three possible reasons, his conviction of his presumption of innocence, his romantic devotion to Hilda Erickson (given the history of how women in his own family were labeled), and his need to shoulder the expectations of the labor movement. Hilda Erickson was the girlfriend of Hill's long-time friend Otto Appelquist, they had argued over her that January night and Otto had shot Hill in the shoulder. Hill refused to explain this to the court and maintained his demands for a new trial after being sentenced to death by firing squad.

And here is the heart of this book. Bill Adler's research led him to Hilda Erickson's daughter, who had in her attic old letters of Hilda's, including one from 1949 in which she explains the incident to an earlier biographer. Why she never came forward at the time of the trial is still unknown.
One particular detail that I found delightful, Hilda Erickson moved to Aberdeen, WA after Joe Hill's execution. Bill told me that there was a plaque to her located at 1620 Simpson, but the house address is used as storage for the Aro Glass Company and I was unable to find it. This definitely calls for more research!

This is a particularly resonant book for our times. That this Labor Day weekend a columnist would opine that "Registering the poor to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals" tells me it's time to get out the Little Red Song Book and raise your voice:

While we would love you to buy the book from us, if you are near any of the cities Bill will be speaking at, I urge you to attend an event. There will be singing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day

it's complicated.

As progressive booksellers, we are all for a day off for working stiffs & bindle-bums. It's not a 3 day off weekend for us. But then again, there never really is a 3 day weekend when you have to run the joint. Robert Gray had a very thoughtful meditation on
Bookselling Is Harder than It Looks

They say it all the time. Right this minute, somewhere in the world, a customer is waiting at the POS counter, chatting with a bookseller while purchases are rung up, appropriate currency exchanged and selections bagged (or not, depending upon local custom and environmental awareness). They may be talking about one of the chosen titles or the weather, favorite authors or town politics. But sooner or later the customer will be compelled by some mysterious cosmic force to embark on the requisite traditional litany.

"It must be so wonderful to be surrounded by books all day," he or she will say. "You have the best job in the world. I've always wanted to work in a bookstore."

Of course you do, dear.

Part of the magic and mystery of bookselling is never letting customers see below the surface. Who wants to look at a duck's feet when they can just watch the tranquil pond? The other part is that you wouldn't have it any other way because, for the lucky ones, bookselling is a vocation as much as a job. You could have done something else and certainly made more money. You chose this profession. If you're one of the best, it also chose you.

For Dan & I.. there really was no choice. We sell books. We'll be here all weekend. Try the veal & tip your waitress. We will be closed Monday.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Department of Book Reports: I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive

I thoroughly enjoyed Singer/Songwriter Steve Earle's first novel, the recently published I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (Houghton Mifflin $26.00), It is 1963 and Doc Ebersole has his problems. Doc has a twice-a-day heroin habit; he lives in the red-light district of San Antonio, where he performs illegal abortions, and patches up the occasional knife or gun wound, as he has lost his license to practice medicine; and he is haunted by the ghost of country legend Hank Williams, to whom it is rumored that Doc delivered the fatal morphine shot. Doc spends his days 'straight', haggling with his dope dealer, Manny, having conversations with Hank's ghost, and drinking at the bar next door to his rooming house. A young Mexican woman, Graciela, is brought to him one day in need of his services; she's been knocked up by a sweet-talking Mexican-American who needs no further use of her. Doc performs the abortion, almost losing his patient to bleeding; but Graciela recovers and never leaves. Doc takes a shining to the girl. They go to see JFK's arrival in San Antonio and before the President's fateful trip to Dallas, where the girl, who very much wants to see 'Yackie', sustains a wound to her wrist, that never seems to heal. But she herself has her own gifts of healing others. Her presence turns Doc's life around, as well as Hank's ghost, as he strongly disapproves of her preoccupying Doc's time.

Earle, as you'd think, has a gift of straight forward narrative and storytelling. The dialogue is natural and his characterizations are true and empathetic. I'm certain that in his portrayal of Doc's habit, Earle drew on his own personal experience of using. Outside of William Burroughs' novel of addiction, Junky, it is the most vivid description of a lifestyle and evocation of desperation I've read. The book begins:
"Doc woke up sick, every cell in his body screaming for morphine- head pounding- eyes, nose, and throat burning. His back and legs ached deep down inside and when he tried to sit up he immediately doubled over, racked with abdominal cramps. He barely managed to make it to the toliet down the hall before his guts turned inside out.
Just like every day. Day in, Day out. No pardon, no parole. Until he got a shot of dope in him, it wasn't going to get better...."

The title of the book is from one of the last songs Hank Williams wrote. It was true for Hank, as it is for all of us. Some of us manage to get out in better shape. Some of us can experience the hope that someone like Graciela provides.

I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive is available from Jackson Street Books as well as other fine independent bookstores.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm going to post a re-run today. We're busy getting ready to run up to Seattle this afternoon. Myrtle Edwards Park is so nice this time of year. See ya there tomorrow!

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

This book report was originally published Oct, 2009

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Department of Book Reports: The Joy of Short Stories

I've been in a short story binge lately, so I thought I'd point out a couple of the gems. I was especially taken by the story set in Brazil of Leiningen Versus the Ants in 21 Great Stories. Interestingly, someone else was thinking about this story this week too, in terms of it being an apocalyptic ecology story. Leiningen has carved out a plantation in Brazil, and faced with an army of ants scouring the countryside, decides to remain and protect his farm. This is a wonderful story, which quickly establishes place, characters and conflict.

In Aiiieeeee! An anthology of Asian Writers, John Okada's No No Boy gives us insight into the Seattle Japanese community as they confront feelings of guilt and shame during WWII.

I really thought I had read every story ever written about horses in my youth, so I was pleasantly surprised to find I had not read National Velvet, from Stories to Remember. This is actually a novella sized work. This story of Velvet and her poor family's life in rural England and how she came to posses her 5 horses and become the champion jumper at the annual exclusively male jockied National Hunt really puts you on the back of the horse.

I've talked with authors about short stories, and it seems half love writing them and half are horrified at the prospect. Everything that is in a novel, needs to be present in a short story. But the elements need to be put in position and the drama played out in a much shorter span. A full length novel gives the author time to draw out these details, where as the short story writer must accomplish that in 5 to 7 pages. In that, the form is a bit like poetry.

I would like to take a moment to remember a great bookseller who passed this past week of cancer. Enid Schantz and her husband Tom ran Rue Morgue Bookstore in Boulder, and later established Rue Morgue Press so that they could publish their favorite mysteries from the 30s 40s & 50s. She was a wise and generous woman and she will be missed.
Happier days in Key West.

These books and more are available at (Jackson Street) Books on 7th and fine Independent bookstores everywhere. Visit us on Facebook Jackson Street Books.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Incognito

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman (Pantheon, $) A recent discussion in Second life led us to this title. It sounded very intriguing and based on the author's website, we ordered in a copy in order to write this book report. I mentioned it when we received our copy on FB, and it sold immediately! So, I'll have to rely on that same material to tell you now.

"This book will shine light on some of the hard-to-reach places in the brain, showing the ways in which we are not the ones driving the boat. In the following chapters we will see why our brains are wired to think the way they do. Why does the conscious mind know so little? What do visual illusions unmask about the machinery running under the hood? How much of our lives are determined by choices and behaviors that are hard-wired, unconscious, and beyond our control? Do we have any management over who we find gorgeous or repugnant? How is it possible to get angry at yourself: who, exactly, is mad at whom? If the drunk Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite and the sober of Mel Gibson is authentically apologetic, is there a real Mel Gibson? Why did Supreme Court Justice William Douglas claim that he was able to play football and go hiking, when everyone could see that he was paralyzed after his stroke? Why do people willingly give up their money to banks for Christmas accounts (and why don't monkeys do this)? Why do patients on Parkinson's medications become compulsive gamblers? Why do athletes follow routines, like bouncing the ball three times before taking a free throw? Why did Charles Whitman suddenly kill his family and shoot forty six others from the UT Austin tower, and what did this have to do with his brain? How much of who we are is in the genes, and how much in the environment? Does free will exist or not, and how does that affect our view of blameworthiness and credit?"

Table of contents
1. There's someone in my head, but it's not me
2. The testimony of the senses: what is experience really like?
3. Mind: The Gap
4. The kinds of thoughts you can think
5. How the brain is like a team of rivals
6. Why blameworthiness is the wrong question
7. Life after the monarchy

The author makes some interesting points, re: criminal behaviors and our justice system. "The Brain on Trial" is posted at this month's Atlantic magazine. This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in how our brain functions to make us, us.

And I have found a special treat for the cooks in the audience. Yes, here is the book you have been waiting all summer for... On A Stick! by Matt Armendariz (Quirk Books, $16.95) As you know, everything is better On A Stick, and this book will enable you to re-create these time honored State Fair staples at your next dinner party.
These books and more are available at (Jackson Street) Books on 7th and fine Independent bookstores everywhere. Visit us on Facebook Jackson Street Books.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Department of Book Reports: What's New

SeattleTammy had hope to prepare a celebration of the short story this week with a report on some anthologies she has been reading, but, unfortunately, some family business has come up at the last minute. Instead, I want to bring to your attention a couple of new book titles that we just received and are anxious to read.

In these days where you cannot go to the bookstore without stumbling over the latest vampire and/or zombie book, Knopf has just published a novel by Londoner Glen Duncan entitled The Last Werewolf (Knopf, $25.95). The book appears to be a literary attempt to look at the werewolf legend as told in a first person narrative by Jake Marlowe. Jake is 201 years old and is the last of his kind, his last compatriot having recently been killed. Jake has settled into a state of despair, and plans to do himself in, ending once and for all, the legend of the werewolf. But it appears he is also being pursued by two different groups who are determined to keep him alive. Duncan is being compared to Bram Stoker. Having loved the Wolfman movies in my youth, I'm eager to read this one.

And for us Science for the Layman geeks, David Kaiser has written How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (Norton $26.95). Kaiser tells the tale of some Berkeley physicists formed the "Fundamental Fysiks Group" in the 1970's. Delving into and using ideas of Eastern mysticical thought, and New Age ideas, this group transformed the then moribund field of Quantum mechanics with new insights. Kaiser himself is a professor at MIT and a historian of science.

And back in stock is Adam Mansbach's picture book for every exasperated parent in the world Go the F**k to Sleep (Akashic Books $14.95). It is very funny and will bring a smile to your face.

These books are available at Jackson Street Books as well as other fine independent bookstores.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Ernest Hemingway

When I was a lad, not yet SeattleDan, but more like EncinoBoy, I thought myself sophisticated as compared to my peers, when it came to politics and literature. After all, I spent a summer reading Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and Hemingway (interspersed, of course, by the James Bond books). I watched the Jack Paar show, That Was the Week That Was, and made forays into the Tonight Show. My parents had introduced to the satirical stylings of Tom Lehrer.These were the heady days following the Assassination of JFK, the first years of the Great Society, and the great marches for freedom in the South. I was on top of it. I could name all 100 US Senators, the Cabinet heads, and, heck, even many of our Ambassadors abroad.

Of course, to help me keep abreast of the world, I had a subscription to Time Magazine. And my grandmother had one to Life that she would pass onto me when she was finished. I knew that they were Luce publications, and not without much bias. Still, the news was the news, and long before the days of cable TV. On a weekly basis, I was one well-informed adolescent. And so it came to be that I had in my hands one fine Saturday morning a copy of the Life Magazine that contained many of the excerpts from the recently and posthumously published A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, the memoir of his days in Paris and the Lost Generation.

The book was a revelation to me. Hemingway had, of course, known anyone who was anyone in Paris. He knew their brothers and sisters, their wives, their mistresses, as well as their uncles and aunts. And many of them ended up fictionalized in his first important novel, The Sun Also Rises. The revelation was two-fold. First, I became acquainted with many writers from that time whom I hadn't known about before reading Hemingway. His chapters are vignettes of the people he had known. He tells of a rather blustry Ford Madox Ford, who claims to be snubbing the writer Hilare Belloc. He describes the charm of visiting the Gertrude Stein household, and his later "break' with her (which seemed to come upon realizing that Ms. Stein was a lesbian, though I probably misread it at the time, as I don't think Hemingway was that naive). Hemingway tells the story of Ezra Pound's work to get T.S. Eliot out from under his job in the bank, which was unseemly, to Pound; poets did not and should not work for banks. (Pound himself was getting wrapped up in the monetary theories of one Major Douglas and would soon move onto Fascism once he'd made his move to Italy.) There is a lovely story of being with James Joyce and watching a puppet show on a Parisian street corner. Or, in Joyce's case, listening to the show, as his eyesight had significantly deteriorated by this time. His longest story concerns F. Scot Fitzgerald before he had become "poor Scott Fitzgerald" and a long car trip the two took across France. Hemingway relates along the way of Fitzgerald's many insecurites, including about the size of his penis, which prompted an apparent bathroom check for comparison's sake. And of the even sadder Zelda Fitzgerald whom Hemingway "realizes" was crazy when, at a dinner party, Zelda asks him, "Don't you think Al Jolson is greater than God?".

The other revelation for me was the tone of the stories Hemingway tells. He is gentle, wistful, and almost nostalgic. One writer friend once described Hemingway to me as "that bully" and in many ways my friend was right. Hemingway had created his own public personae that included a brusque way of conducting himself; of a kind of machismo that would be called out for what it was these days; and an insensitivity to other people that bordered on the cruel. A lot of that 'Grace under pressure" is crap, and in his better moments, Heminway probably knew that. But the stories in A Moveable Feast belie all that. He remembers those days in Paris with a fondness and kindness that is remarkable, considering his usual public displays. He recalls the days with his first wife, Hadley, whom he eventually divorced when he fell in love with someone else. Reading of his marriage here, i got the impression he was sorry that he hadn't stayed married to her.

Finally, I think it fairly remarkable that Hemingway achieved this tone here, when his personal life was going to Hell. I'm pretty sure he'd always been somewhat manic, but his later years he had become a complete paranoid.He was certain that he was being followed and had had his phones tapped by the FBI and CIA But, as his friend A.E. Hotchner recently pointed out, his paranoia was not without foundation. The FBI was tapping his phone and watching his every move. (A hat tip to my friend Brian for pointing out this article to me). That Hemingway was able to write such a fine book (he believed you could consider it a "fiction") under these very trying circumstances is remarkable to me. A Moveable Feast, in my very humble opinion, is Hemingway's best and most mature book.

Ernest Hemingway's books remain in print and as always can be obtained from Jackson Street Books as well as other fine independent bookstores. A Hello to other Oak Park denizen, Dave Von Ebers and Democommie, don't be a stranger. You are missed in these here parts.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Department of Book Reports: More This and That

I've found many more fascinating books in the "42 Cartons". What wide ranging interests these folks had!
Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, BOMC edition Another book from the actresses' collection. This is a nice little hardback with some chipping to the dust jacket, but still bright with a bit of sunfading to the spine. June Moore wrote on the front end paper: To Judy, My Beloved Daughter. And Margaret Landon's Cousin. From Mama on 7-29-79. Family history notes are written on a solicitation card from President Carter that is still tucked into the front of the book.

Best Russian Short Stories, Modern Library, Compiled and edited by Thomas Seltzer Including stories by Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Tchekov, Gorky, Gogol, Bunin, Andreyev and more. This 1925 volume is in fantastic shape. The dust jacket is near perfect, and when taken off the book, has the entire list of ML editions to date: "Which of These 415 Outstanding Books Do You Want to Read?"

The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book, Illustrated by Milton Glaser, 1st printing 1960, Simon and Schuster. This oversize folio is a hardback over spiral binding with a slipcase. The slipcase has wear to the bottom opening, else this is in great shape. The Glaser graphics are eye-poppingly bright throughout the sheet music.

200 Omnibus of Jazz by Leonard Feather, Hansen House 1974. A very good copy, with minimal wear and slight creasing to back cover. Jazz bios and sheet music. This copy has newspaper clippings from the mid-80s on how to select a stereo system.

The Center Magazine, Vol I Number 3, March 1968: Harvey Wheeler on the Politics of Revolution. This magazine was published by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, located in Santa Barbara, and was a leading think tank from 1959 to 1977, ultimately closing in 1987. At one time William O. Douglas was the Chair of its board. This issue includes the aforementioned Harvey Wheeler article, as well as an interview with nuclear scientist, Hans Bethe, an article by Thomas Merton, as well as many others.

Of course, there are more cookbooks! Innards and Other Variety Meats by Jana Allen 101 Productions, 1974. I think the title tells you all you need to know.

Uncle John's Original Bread Book by John Rahn Braue, 3rd Printing Exposition Banner Books. The author here is a third generation Baker, and shares his family recipes and a really good explanation of the different rising techniques and results. Charmingly, his essays are sprinkled with corny German jokes.

Future Food by Colin Tudge, Harmony Books, 1st printing TPB 1980. An early look at food politics. From the back:
"By growing or buying good things and cooking them well, you, and your neighbor, can effect the small but collectively crucial changes that could easily take the human race, and its fellow creatures, safely through the twenty-first century. People often ask me, when I proselytize in public places: 'But what can I do?'
Cook, is the answer, Cook with knowledge. Cook and evangelize."

These and other fine volumes can be found at (Jackson Street) Books on 7th. As always, as a gift to our online pals we'll include a free bonus book from our stash of publisher's Advance Reading Copies.