Saturday, May 30, 2009

ATTN: The Nation, et al.

The doom and gloom journalistic capitalists need to cease their sad panda death rattlings. Seriously, it's driving me to rage. Start talking about Daniel Goldin and Lanora Hurley instead of writing obits for a living culture.

Bricks and mortar, baby.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Sanctity of the Staff Rec Shelf

by Sarah Marine

I'm stressing over my staff rec shelf. Fiction or non-fiction? Nothing seems to be selling either way, which I find majorly disappointing. For a bookseller, the rec shelf becomes an obsessive area, the high concentration of beloved titles pulsing with the sacred potential bond between seller and reader. Oy, nobody is buying my books. Perhaps I'm out of touch, I need to broaden the approach and throw on a sure sell. But the impetus for staff rec placement on that narrow wooden altar is an honor of highest elevation reserved for that book that you have chosen to champion above all others. What would the motive of SELL do to the delicate tension of waiting for readerly discovery? I love walking into a bookshop, sidling up to the staff picks and noticing the absent-minded shelving that suddenly crops up in the surrounding area, the booksellers stealing glances in your direction as you lift a book off the labeled shelves and you hear the minutely audible quick intake of breath.

Children at Play: An American History by Howard P. Chudacoff
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks (USED)
The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren by Iona and Peter Opie
Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children's Literature
by Julia L. Mickenberg, Philip Nel
American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry by Cole Swenson
The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein (used)
Born in Flames: Termite Dreams, Dialectical Fairy Tales and Pop Apocalypses by Howard Hampton

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beach Reads from Wisconsinites

This list was compiled by Sarah and Conrad. The only criteria we could come up with that "Beach Reads" must have in common, is that the people in these books do a lot of sweating (because it's, you know, hot ... not because of other things). In general, as Wisconsinites with little means for vacations, we remain unfamiliar with beachy things or sweat. We are a clean-smelling people, thank you very much- not musky at all.

Breath by Tim Winton
The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard
Killing Mister Watson by Peter Matthiesen
One DOA, One on the Way by Mary Robison
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes
House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Lamb by Christopher Moore

Keep in mind that I will always recommend the Robison and Conrad will never pass up Lamb.

In closing, a piece written by Ander Monson, If I Had a Heart I'd Die In It: Writing the Writing the Midwest, a Michigander recently transplanted to Arizona. His work is the opposite of beachy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SMONK songs and Romance Town

Well, it seems there's been a SMONK resurgence in Milwaukee, the likes of which haven't been seen since 2007 when the Downer Schwartz team was shoving it in everyone's faces yellin' about veined balloons and seeping carbuncles. I even have a friend, Susan, who's currently reading it aloud with her boyfriend. Ah, romance.

Now a song written by our dear friend from CEO-Read, Mr. Aaron Schleicher or The Off Key. The Off Key is a project he started where he challenges himself to write one new song a week. Back in February he used a part, verbatim from SMONK, and set it to music. Check it, here. Milwaukeeans have been on Facebook assaulting Tom Franklin with flattery for awhile now and about this adaptation he writes, "Wow, I listened to this, three times, in Brazil, in the north, at Trancoso. Great music."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mapping Future Bookshop Migration Patterns

by Sarah Marine

Come August, I will be living in a town 71miles from the nearest indie bookshop. In preparation I have been mapping the routes to Three Dog Books & Booked Up in Archer City, Texas, The Bookseller in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City. Full Circle Books seems to be the most similar to Schwartz/Boswell and if you click through to their website prepare for heart palpitations as the floor to ceiling bookshelves are clearly adorned with wheeled ladders.

Also, in preparation, I have begun to compile a summer reading list to help prepare for the culture and clime, which will prove to be a far cry from the East Side Milwaukee shores of Lake Michigan. I'm currently reading Dirt Music by Tim Winton and am beginning to fear that my mind, that which has difficulty wrapping itself around even an eighty-degree day, has begun to morph what little I know of OK environs with that of northern Australia.

The reading list so far includes:
Great Plains by Ian Frazier
O Pioneers! by Will Cather
Books on Trial: Red Scare in the Heartland by Shirley Wiegand
Ancient Child by N. Scott Momaday
Falling Dark by Tim Tharp
something/anything by Larry McMurtry

The closest bookshop according to Indiebound is Larry McMurtry's Booked Up in Archer City, TX. There is a superb 2007 article about the man and his shop here. The website for Booked Up also includes a FAQ section. I chose a couple examples to share with you:

Q. When will Mr. McMurtry be here?
A. At his whim.

Q. Where are Mr. McMurtry's books?
A. We no longer sell any of his work.

Q. Will he sign a book I bring in?
A. He is not signing at this time.

I like curmudgeons.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Daniel Handler & Me + Sharks

Daniel Handler and I are clearly potential best friends already engaged in a secret two person book club. This book club, so far, has read and loved Mary Robison's ONE DOA ONE ON THE WAY and Joshua Beckman's TAKE IT. You can read about Handler's love for TAKE IT, here.

I just started reading this galley of a book called EYE OF THE WHALE by Douglas Carlton Abrams. The first scenes of the book are a remarkable account of a woman snorkeling in Carribean waters who while recording the songs of whales happens to witness the birth of one and while attempting to jumpstart the breathing of the calf, is caught in a shark feeding frenzy set off by the expulsion of massive whale afterbirth. She is not bothered because she knows reef sharks aren't really a threat to humans but then she sees a tiger shark and the guy she is with, who is in a boat, starts to freak out and she gets bumped (a sure sign of a shark attack) and then miraculously the male whale blows the shark out of the water with his blowhole, thereby saving the lady. Ummmm, it may be the best thing I've ever read. I'm terrified (never stepped foot in an ocean) and fascinated (I check the global shark attack file, weekly-why don't these fishermen in South Africa learn their lesson and stay out of the damn water?!) by sharks and can be lulled into submissive fascination at even the mention of the fish.


Thursday, May 7, 2009


Yesterday I found out that my husband-in-a-month is going to be the newest faculty member at Cameron University in Oklahoma. That means, come August, we're cruising down to OK and setting up shop on the prairie. Is there anything to do in Oklahoma? I feel like I should buy some aprons and bandanas maybe. I've already decided to stalk Wayne Coyne and there seems to be a righteous food co-op in Norman...but what about books? I can't seem to find anything about Oklahoma book culture. Anyone ever been there?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Grand Opening Get-Alongs/You Keep Telling us About Your Bookshop Love. Walk the walk!

Now begins our Boswell Book Company week of Grand Opening events. Yes, it's week-long and if our local weatherpeoples spin any kind of tale to rely on, the weather will be co-operating sublimely.

The line-up be like this:
Jane Hamilton Wednesday @ 7pm
He new book LAURA RIDERS MASTERPIECE is getting weirdly mixed reviews in the local press (and she's sorta local) which has been tempting me to give the book a look. It seems that she has remarkably ventured outside her reader's comfort zone, a quality I look for in an author.

UW-Milwaukee vs. Marquette Undergraduate Reading Series: The Inaugural Bout @ 7pm. CJ Hribal and Liam Callanan have chosen their brightest undergrad writers for this unique opportunity. To quote an authorly friend of mine, "It's amazing what not having a PH.D. can do for your writing."

Elinor Lipman, Anita Shreve & Mameve Medwed will be at Boswell's on Friday afternoon, working as booksellers. Then, after dinner they will be back at 7pm for their reading. Daniel Goldin has nicenice friends and hella connections.

To round out the festivities, Dwellephant invades Saturday @ 2pm. He has informally anointed this day as the Milwaukee Get-Along- a special event wherein creative types from all over Milwaukee will set up shop within the bookstore in support of Dwellephant's new graphic novel for all ages, MISSING THE BOAT. WMSE's Dori Zori will even be nestled cozily in the music section, spinning records. As so many of Milwaukee's unique shops and collectives shutter their doors, it is important to remember that indies of all kinds need lend support to each other. Dwellephant has also hand-painted some old hardcovers for us to promote his event which will then become part of an instore scavenger hunt and raffle. ooo-wee.

see you this week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

20-somethings read. they do!

by Sarah Marine

It is not impossible to corral a bunch of twenty-somethings into a book group. I know because last night eight people came out to discuss discussing SMONK by Tom Franklin, who, by way of Facebook, will also be participating/receiving our praises and answering our questions. There was also heated conversation about LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, Fleur Jaeggy and BATTLE ROYALE. A good time, I assure you.

and now, Geoff Dyer on the internet:

How does the Web help — or hinder — your work?

It helps in all the obvious ways but mainly it hinders. Where it used to gnaw and nibble away at my ability to concentrate, now it is taking huge great chomps and I fear that soon I will have absolutely no ability to concentrate on anything, will be floundering in a state of endless distraction for the rest of my days and will never accomplish anything again.

and back to me...
New favorite children's title: HURRY AND THE MONARCH