Friday, February 27, 2009

New locally edited art/architecture/urban planning/design anthology published by our friends over at Blueimprint. Highlights: Stacey Moriarty's photographs of blackberry vines busily colonizing vacant lots, deserted building sites & etc., and Lindsay Sung's pictures of anthropomorphic hedges. Plus essays on volcanic rock, mountain skylines, Expo 86 relics, mirrored glass, "ghost buildings," and more. Full list of contributors here. Highly recommended!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Photos from Jan Guenther Braun's reading

(All photographs by and courtesy of Marlis Funk)

Best of the City

Thanks to the readers of the West Ender newspaper for once again voting us "Best Place to Buy Used Books in Vancouver" in their annual Readers' Choice Awards.

George Stanley's Vancouver: A Poem

The Tyee's Stan Persky reviews George Stanley's Vancouver: A Poem (New Star, 2008), which was launched in the front room of our Main Street store last fall, along with Peter Culley's new book of poems, The Age of Briggs and Stratton.

"Stanley's Vancouver is a book about the mind of a poet -- a poet in Vancouver, as it happens -- and about Vancouver, a city that appears in passing glances, by refraction, sometimes from a distance (say, from an office window at the North Vancouver college, on the far side of Burrard Inlet, where Stanley taught literature), most often from within the city's busses, pubs, restaurants and department stores, and in such ordinary places as the lobby of an apartment building in Kitsilano, a building where 'the seniors in their apartments' are 'waiting for a moment' in the late afternoon.

At other times the city sits there in stolid silence, its buildings weighty as the mountains north of Vancouver in which 'we see two rocks, & call them Lions,' Stanley says, and later notes, 'like lions sculpted by some Assyrian or Henry Moore.' Then looking away from the mountains, back toward Vancouver, he adds, 'City of death, city of friends.'"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

RIP Philip Jose Farmer

Philip Jose Farmer, author of the Riverworld books, good critical biographies of Doc Savage and Tarzan, and (as Kilgore Trout) Venus on The Half Shell, a book that most people think was actually written by Kurt Vonnegut, died today aged 91. Like his fellow science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, Farmer coupled his love of pulpy subject matter with good critical judgment. And his comparison of assorted Doc Savage villains to William S. Burroughs' Nova Mob got me from Kenneth Robeson to Burroughs' Nova Trilogy aged fourteen or thereabouts, a gift I'll always be gratetful for.

Edgar Rice Burroughs: Mars, Venus, Westerns & More

We just bought a nice collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs titles, including some uncommon Westerns and some old Ace Books F-series mass market paperbacks from the early 1960s. About 30 titles in all, many with Frank Frazetta cover art. Burroughs' Tarzan titles seem to have had their day, but his John Carter of Mars series still sells well, perhaps because its characters make cameo appearances in Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Andrew Stanton, writer/director of Wall-E, is also apparently working on an animated John Carter movie. A related Burroughs series, Carson Napier of Venus, also sells well; again, many of the early Ace Venus books sport beautiful pastel-colored painted covers.

There are some pretty ugly print-on-demand versions of Burroughs' work available at the moment, so it's unsurprising that most readers prefer the classier old Ace editions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We just finished helping a lost delivery driver find the Main Street store. In the back of his truck was a pallet of remainders (new books returned to publishers and sold by us at approximately one-third to one-half their original Canadian cover price) to be divided between the Main Street and Kitsilano stores, including titles by Lacan, Rilke, Ryu Murakami, and about a hundred pounds of miscellaneous Shambhala Press books on Zen Buddhism, Japanese swordsmanship, and Asian martial arts.

It's pretty full in here this afternoon.

Top Ten

We started ordering new books for customers in 2005, and for shelf stock in mid-2007. As of this morning, we have around 1400 different new titles on the shelves. All our new books are 20% off Canadian cover price, and are a mix of books that we get asked for every day, books that we've read and liked ourselves or that friends of the store have recommended to us, or books that looked really appealing in a publisher's catalog.

Just for fun, here's our current top ten best sellers of all time:

1. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
2. Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
3. Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
4. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
5. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
6. Post Office, by Charles Bukowski
7. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson
8. The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
9. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks
10. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Arrivals x 1500

One of our favorite book scouts just returned from a public sale on Vancouver Island with over 1500 titles in tow, which will be hitting the shelves over the next few days. Lots of science fiction, fantasy, contemporary literature and pocketbook classics. Highlights so far: a trade paperback original (TPBO) of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash ($29.95, as opposed to the $2500+ USD hardcover printing), an obscure Bulgakov study on Moliere, and a nice run of vintage Graham Greene Penguin paperbacks with the attractive orange spines.

(Illustrated: Snow Crash's super-pricy, super-rare hardcover first edition)

New issue of Robin Bougie's Cinemasewer, one of our favorite zines, devoted to "classic films in the exploitation, blaxploitation, sexploitation, horror, and porn genres" (Wikipedia). Launch party on February 28th at the JEM Gallery, 225 East Broadway, just around the corner from PFB Main Street. Copies available from us any time after March 1st.

Jan Guenther Braun reads at Main Street

Queer Mennonite author Jan Guenther Braun reads from her new novel Somewhere Else in Main Street's front room (2422 Main Street @ Broadway) on Tuesday February 24th from 7-9pm. Miriam Toews likes the book and so do we. Free admission; books and beverages available for sale. If you can't attend but would like a signed copy held for you, please drop us a line.