Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gregory Maguire's New Novel: Free!

The Next Queen of Heaven, "the best novel money can't buy."

While They Last: Signed Copies of 8 x 10

Michael Turner dropped into Main Street yesterday to dry off, and kindly signed all our copies of 8 x 10. First come, first served, while they last. He also showed off the UK paperback edition of Faulkner's New Orleans Sketches recently mentioned in passing on his blog: red and black cover, sans serif typography, a little crystalline piece of British industrial modernism, unscathed by the years.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Phoebe Tsang Reads @ PFB

Toronto's Phoebe Tsang will read from her new collection of poems, Contents of a Mermaid's Purse (Tightrope Books), this Thursday, November 26th, in Main Street's front room at 7pm. Please join us for the usual books and beverages.

Phoebe’s poetry can be found in the anthologies Garden Variety (Quattro Books) and Not a Muse (Haven Books). Journal credits include Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong), Atlas 02 (UK & India), Brand (UK), Room and Freefall (Canada). Her chapbooks are Solitaires (Lyrical Myrical Press, 2006) and To Kiss the Ground (Press On! 2007). A professional violinist, she is a multi-genre artist who holds a BSc in Architecture from the University of London. Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse is Tsang’s first full-length collection.

New vinyl record, coming soon.

"These days it seems as though everyone is constantly checking to see which of their friends came of age in a tenuous time and discovered their mentors and role models were not who they thought they were."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Elliott Bay Book Company On the Move

The Elliott Bay Book Company, my favorite independent book store in Seattle, and one of the best bookstores on the West Coast, has all but moved from their Pioneer Square home in the historic Globe Building to Capitol Hill, according to the Seattle Times. Noteworthy in the article is the fact that the bookstore has apparently been financed by the owner's line of credit for the last few years.

When I visit -- maybe six times a year -- I almost always buy a book, even though that purchase is pretty much guaranteed to be more expensive than it would be back home @PFB. Elliott Bay's astounding selection helps me find things that I couldn't have found any other way, and that service -- exposing me to books that I might otherwise never have seen; "curating" the stock so I don't have to wade through endless shelves of NASCAR books, entertainment biographies, communicate-with-your-dead-pet books & etc., is worth paying for.

Last time I was in EBBC, I walked behind a couple making notes of books they wanted to buy on a Blackberry, in order to buy them later, at a discount, from Amazon. Which will work just fine for them until EBBC and everything like it is gone, at which point Amazon, which is no slouch in the competition theory department, will be more than happy to jack their so-called "bargain prices" right back up to full retail.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Now in Stock: More New Books Than Ever!

A month or two ago, we decided to start stocking new releases from most major publishers, in addition to the usual assortment of used books, out-of-print books, and publisher's remainders. Mornings now routinely begin with a parade of courier vans arriving at Main Street's front door, and we've built new shelves at both stores to handle the influx.

Our new book ordering guidelines are very simple: will anyone still care about the book a year from now? If someone buys a book from us, reads it carefully, and brings it back for store credit or cash, will we want to see it again? Questions like this eliminate 90% of the new releases in most major publishers' catalogs. We will happily sell what remains for years to come.

So, no thanks to Sarah Palin's ghostwritten autobiography. Yes please to Barabara Kingsolver's first novel in nine years (above), and Anthony Beevor's history of D-Day, and the Momofuku Cookbook, a new edition of Wade Davis' perennially requested The Serpent and the Rainbow, & etc.

Also noteworthy: the strengthening Canadian dollar means that many of our new books are now priced way below US cover price. Just saying.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cormac McCarthy Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal

On the occasion of the release of the film version of The Road, semi-reclusive Mr. McCarthy jousts with the press.

"Q: Didn't you start No Country for Old Men as a screenplay?

CORMAC MCCARTHY: Yeah, I wrote it. I showed it to a few people and they didn't seem to be interested. In fact, they said, 'That will never work.' Years later I got it out and turned it into a novel. Didn't take long. I was at the Academy Awards with the Coens. They had a table full of awards before the evening was over, sitting there like beer cans. One of the first awards that they got was for Best Screenplay, and Ethan came back and he said to me, 'Well, I didn't do anything, but I'm keeping it.'"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Still Standing

We didn't burn down in last night's big fire. Main Street is open for business, with lots of firefighters and other emergency personnel still in evidence. Our thoughts go out to the staff of Kishu Island, Zocalo, Slickety Jim's and Lugz Coffee Lounge, all destroyed in the fire. Also to the bingo-playing spare-change guy on the corner, who's going to have to find somewhere else to stand for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kate Braid Reads @ PFB

Kate Braid, poet and winner of the Pat Lowther Award, will be reading as part of the UBC Creative Writing Department's Locution series tomorrow night, November 5th, in Main Street's front room at 7 pm. Other readers include Jay Torrence, Tenille Campbell, Kevin Spenst and Christine Leclerc. Limited seating; if you don't want to be sitting on the floor in the front row, better plan to arrive by 6:45 pm or so. Books and beverages will be available for purchase; the event itself is free.

Richard K. Morgan Video Games

[posted by James N.]

Science fiction author Richard K. Morgan is writing 3 video games for Electronic Arts (the same company adapting Dante's Inferno into a game).

All 3 games are described as works of science fiction, which makes sense.

I, personally, would play the crap out of an Altered Carbon game. Or a Market Forces racing game!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shop Class as Soulcraft

This book is really good; I'm rereading it now for a third time. Crawford, who holds a PhD. in philosophy, disliked managerial and administrative work, and took up fixing motorcycles as an antidote to frustration and boredom, and then as a permanent career. Crawford writes plainly and directly about the value of working with one's hands, and how manual labor is, at its heart, a kind of philosophical practice, a means of engagement with the world.

Crawford's work took on special relevance for me last week as Main Street's toilet breathed its last. Confronted with a $125 estimate to repair it, I opted for a visit to Home Depot, followed by several hours of monkeying around on the bathroom floor with brass washers, hoses, and a big pink rubber gasket that looked like something that had recently escaped from a tide pool. No flood, and Main Street's bathroom looks better than it has in years.