Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Son of Massive Science Fiction Collection

Another 40+ boxes of mint condition science fiction pocket books and hardcovers just arrived up at Main Street, many originally purchased from my old employer, the Granville Book Company, c. 1986-2001. Shelves stuffed full; lumber for new shelves ordered and on the way.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Arrivals: Rick Steves, Jhumpa Lahiri & More

Just arrived: a new assortment of publishers' hurts and remainders, including a dozen different recent (2008/9) Rick Steves European guidebooks, just in time for the spring travel season, nicely illustrated kids' books by Beatrix Potter, Jhumpa Lahiri's acclaimed short story collection Unaccustomed Earth, Edward Bunker's long-lost novel Stark, with a new James Ellroy introduction, hardcover copies of The 100 Mile Diet, books on the history of modern graphic design, & etc. All at 50% or more off original Canadian list price. Plus a collection of approximately 400 recent mystery and thriller pocketbooks, which we haven't even had time to touch yet.

It's busy here today!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Genre Fiction March Madness

No kidding. Great Cthulhu v. Philip Pullman's Lyra; Elric v. Roland Deschain; George R.R. Martin's Jaimie Lannister v. Hermione Granger, & etc.

(Some wag writes: "Honestly? Jaime vs. Hermione? I'm not perturbed about the matchup, but for the love of God, the TV version was just greenlit, and you flat out expose one of the best twists in the story? How the hell do you justify that?")

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Massive SF Paperback Collection in @ Main Street

We just bought a 700 piece science fiction paperback collection, which includes 30+ vintage Philip K. Dick titles, c. 1968-1984, about a dozen H.P. Lovecraft Ballantine reprints, many Harlan Ellisons, a number of scarce Glen Cook mass market paperback originals, & etc. All of the books are in immaculate, as new, unread condition. If you collect high-grade vintage SF/fantasy, or are just looking for a particularly scarce title, now might be a good time to stop by.

(Update, 4pm: 16 linear feet of science fiction pocket books!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rudy Rucker's FLURB

Webzine of astonishing all-new tales of various shapes & sizes, by John Kessel, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow, John Shirley, Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross, Richard Kadrey, Eileen Gunn, and numerous other PFB science-fiction wall favorites.

R.A. Lafferty, being dead, isn't on the contributors list. But he should be.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Peter Straub's A DARK MATTER

New Peter Straub novel, a long tale narrated from multiple unreliable points of view which describes, with much stopping and starting and chronological back-and-forth, an act of ritual magic carried out by a group of university kids and a slightly older guru-figure in the late 1960s, its repercussions on their later lives, and, as with all of Straub's novels, the intrusion of the supernatural into the clearly-delineated present day. A contemporary riff on Arthur Machen's 1894 novella "The Great God Pan," one of the creepiest and most deeply ambiguous horror stories ever written, echoes of which crop up in M. John Harrison's excellent, but now sadly out-of-print novel The Course Of The Heart, and in frequent Straub collaborator Stephen King's recent novella "N." (collected in Just After Sunset).

Spurred by A Dark Matter's wonky potboiler plot, gorgeously crafted sentences, and genuine air of supernatural unease, I'm currently rereading his 1999 Lovecraft pastiche, Mr X., which was one of the first books I ever ordered new for the shop, which attracted exactly zero attention and no sales upon its release on our shelves. We still have maybe half a dozen copies of this complexly plotted doppelganger tale in the back room, which turns out to be a very enjoyable read: a tale of a young man, his "evil shadow," and their time-travelling psychopathic killer father, the "Mr. X" of the book's title, who imagines himself the servant of H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones, and communicates in a kind of pidgin Lovecraftese (Exclamation marks! Deeply purple prose!) that's as dead-on its target as Don DeLillo's Lenny Bruce riffs in Underworld. Funny, scary, and suspenseful in turn, Mr. X is that rarest of creatures, a truly great genre novel.

(Recent short interview with Straub here, plus some pictures of his writing desk and the manuscript of A Dark Matter)

(New Straub-edited Library of America volume of American weird, uncanny & fantastic tales, which we should have in early next week)

If You Can't Find The Book You Want Here, You're Probably in the...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jump Start Your Professional Reading Program

A six-pack of suggestions for platoon leaders, courtesy Small Wars Journal.

I find suggestions for new books to carry in many places. Lists of books professionals in any field are recommending to other professionals are often far more useful to me than mass-media bestseller lists. This is one of the more specialized and interesting reading lists I've recently found online.

(Image credit: US Army Center for Company-level Leaders)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Paul Auster's INVISIBLE

Paul Auster's new novel Invisible, his best since The Invention of Solitude. It's 1967. Adam Walker, a young New York City student and poet-in-training meets, then becomes hopelessly entangled with, a professor who may or may not be an American intelligence operative and his slinky French girlfriend. The shock of a brief affair with the slinky girlfriend either does or doesn't cause Adam to sleep with his own sister. Murder possibly occurs. Adam Walker may actually be "Adam Walker," that is to say, John Smith or John Doe. Adam's story may be a nonfiction memoir that's purposely ambiguous on key details, or a novel-in-parts in which "Adam Walker" is a character created by "Paul Auster." Memoir blends with twice-removed third-party recollections and other texts that keep interrupting, and rewriting, Walker's story. A thoughtfully conceived and gracefully written psychological mystery that keeps you in suspense right up until its ambiguous final page. Disturbing and highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Top Ten

Top ten bestsellers, January-early March 2010:

1. Food Rules: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan

2. In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Mate

3. The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, trans. Peavar and Volokhonsky

4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris

6. The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

7. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris

8. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

9. In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

10. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

Surprise #1: Michael Pollan and David Sedaris have a pretty firm lock on 50% of the list.

Surprise #2: no women writers on the list, though we do carry plenty of books by and about women. Some recent favorites: Zadie Smith's terrific essay collection Changing My Mind; Zoe Heller's just-released-in-paperback The Believers; Kelly Link's collections of short fantastic stories, which we specially imported from the US after discovering that no one in town seemed to have ever heard of her; and Nicole Krauss' breakthrough novel The History of Love, which just sells and sells and sells, new or used, has been read by at least half a dozen local book clubs, and is definitely one of the bestselling books in the shop's history.

Live in Person: Peter Carey & Ian McEwan

Via our friends at the Vancouver International Writers Festival:


The acclaimed author of Atonement and On Chesil Beach will make his eagerly anticipated Vancouver appearance. In conversation with Jerry Wasserman.

His new novel Solar, is a darkly comic, satirical look at climate change—a stylish new work by one of the world’s greatest living writers.

VIWF members: Receive a $2 member discount for Ian McEwan event tickets. (If you have not received an email with your special member discount code, please call 604 681 6330.)

Author website

7:30pm April 15, 2010
St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (Burrard at Nelson)
$20 general / $18 students & seniors (plus service charges)
For tickets, phone Vancouver Tix at 604 629 8849 or purchase online.


The Man Booker Prize for Fiction winner and the author of Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang in conversation with Hal Wake.

Peter Carey’s new novel Parrot and Olivier in America is a dazzlingly inventive reimagining of Alexis de Tocqueville's famous journey, brilliantly evoking the Old World colliding with the New.

Author website

7:30pm May 7, 2010
Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC (6354 Crescent Road)
$20 general / $18 students & seniors (plus service charges)
For tickets, phone Vancouver Tix at 604 629 8849 or purchase online.

We'll have new, discounted copies of both titles as soon as they are published by Random House of Canada.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Now Arriving: More Remainders

Late-in-the-day phone call from the customers broker, notifying us of the first of approximately 250 boxes of publisher's remainders that will be arriving some time tomorrow morning. A mix of better quality art, architecture, cultural studies, and cookbooks. Photos coming once everything's unpacked and divvied up between the two stores.

PFB to World: Special Orders? Absolutely!

Lots of phone calls recently from West Side residents lamenting Duthie Books' recent closure and wondering if we carry new books. Short three part answer: yes; more of them all the time; and we can usually now obtain any in-print book in no more than a week. Even better, special orders are 20% or more off of Canadian list price, making them as inexpensive as the new books we already carry in the store.

We special order all kinds of books -- cookbooks (as above); scholarly books on gardening and anarchy and economics; obscure 19th century British horror writers and illustrated kids' books; first novels and poetry chapbooks and books on graphic design and photoconceptual art. We like carrying new books; it makes our job more challenging and interesting, and helps us keep abreast of what's actually in print these days, which, with the advent of print-on-demand publishing, seems like more titles than ever before. (It's also fun to procure books for our customers more quickly, and often more cheaply, than a large Canadian chain or an online merchant can).