Thursday, November 30, 2006
Every month, our own Nick DiMartino chooses his favorite recent title and crafts a more indepth review than our regular staff favorites.
His November pick? Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain .
Here's what Nick says about it:
"I have been hearing critics rave about the stories in Ben Fountain's
Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, but up until a couple weeks ago I hadn't even picked it up for a simple reason: I'm not that crazy about short stories.
"What possessed me to read the first one? I don't know. I've already
told you that it literally drove me to peek at the ending, and I still
wasn't right. What an exhilarating reading experience! Well, the whole dang book is that good.
"Along with great plotting and an honest look at the real world today,
these stories are so gorgeously written that the language would have
been enough. And there's so much more!
"Of the eight stories, I think four are flat-out masterpieces. What's
He has a repetoire of maybe four tunes. "Lean on Me" is a biggie.
It seems he's added "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the singing of a patriotic number. But now, every 20 minutes, I have to stop what I'm doing, stand up, and put my hand over my heart. It's really killing my productivity.
Monday, November 27, 2006
To find out the answer, read the book. But for now, read the interview:
1) Of the books you've read recently, which one made you angriest because someone else wrote it instead of you? Why?
That’s easy. John Hodgman’s The Areas Of My Expertise. Screamingly, shockingly, alarmingly funny and so damn smart as well. But beyond that, it’s a book of fearless humor. It’s so extreme, so bizarre, and so brave. A lot of the time with joke making, you start to riff on something and end up pretty far down a dark and weird hallway of humor and then you try to bring it back to some sort of conventional reality and applicability. Hodgman, however, goes further down that hallway and through the doors and into the laundry chute and then out into space.
2) A literary feud is a great way to get some publicity for a book. Who will you be starting a feud with and why?
I thought about taking on Obama since he was on tour at the same time as me. I was going to declare my possible inkling of beginning to think about the option of perhaps running for President maybe, and then launching a series of vicious personal attack ads that were both untrue and libelous. But my 6-year-old is a huge Obama fan so I’'ll leave him alone.
I’m tempted to start a feud with Lee Greenwood, who I talk about a lot in Conservatize Me. I’d feud with him because he sucks so bad and his singing sounds like a donkey being strangled with an electrical cord. If I met Lee Greenwood there would be two hits: me hitting him and him hitting the floor. And then there would be one more hit: me hitting him again while he’'s on the floor.
But he’s not a writer. So I’m left with once again calling out that jerk Chaucer. You and me, Geoffrey. Octagon.
3) During your time hanging out with conservatives, how many heads of prominent evangelical organizations and influential congressmen came on to you?
Weirdly, none. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. In fact, it’s funny, just last night I nudged Trent Lott awake and asked him that same thing.
4) Say something nice about University Book Store.
The University Book Store has a highly imaginative name. See, when you think about it, it is located near the University of Washington and sells books. So there you go!
Also, it’s a place that my sisters used to talk about as if it were a holy shrine. I’m the youngest of four and had two sisters who went to UW. They would describe this store as this big cool place where all the cool people went to get their cool things. I dreamed that some day I would visit it. Now I have a book for sale there and it’s just as cool. Of course my sisters would also talk about how cool the Last Exit coffeehouse and the Lox Stock and Bagel were also and we see what happened to them. Sorry, U Book Store. Your days are numbered!
5) Any closing remarks?
I have two adorable children who need food. Buy my book. Plus, it’s funny and insightful and makes a great gift and all that. But really, do it for my kids.
Monday, November 20, 2006
"Look," I said, sounding much too angry, "I didn't send that note. An ex-friend of mine did it as a joke." I looked at her, felt ugly and stupid.
She said, "Oh," and stared at the ground with her lips slightly apart, wounded possibly.
I wanted to cry now. I turned completely around and watched the soccer game. Margie's brother Donny smacked Pat Doolan in the neck with his cast and O'Leary blew the whistle.
"I just wanted you to know I didn't write it," I said. I dug a heel into the new wispy grass and turned it, grinding. I glanced back at her. She nodded without looking at me and her hands tightened in her lap.
"I didn't really think you wrote it," she said.
"Well, I didn't. See you around." I hunched my shoulders and walked away, hands in pockets, sick in love with her and furious now at myself. I whirled and stared. Margie brushed her hair back, twisting it over gold with a little turn of her hand, an awkward, innocent imitation of what a woman would do, and she looked very small and vulnerable and I wanted to hold her. I walked back to her.
I kept my eyes on her hands. "I'm real sorry, I mean if I sounded real mean just then," I bumbled. "I was only mad about the joke."
"It's okay. Thanks for being honest, Francis."
My name, softening out of her mouth, the magic little combination of teeth, lips, and tongue, stunned me like a cherry bomb did once, too near, the world exploding into clear, startling quiet. My attraction to her at that moment tugged so heavily I was actually leaning down towards her, and her least gesture became unbearably precious, the delicate closing of her mouth, her fingers relaxing in her lap, the sudden soothing green of her upturned eyes. Her awareness of me made the entire universe a shimmering drunken joy.
It's from The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys by Chris Fuhrman, a book about a 14-year-old Catholic School boy in the 70's.
Fuhrman died of cancer in 1991. He was 29, and had just finished his first novel.
I love that book, Doc. Thanks for introducing me to it.
Friday, November 17, 2006
But I did walk away from my cart full of books for a few minutes to listen to a band play on our loading dock.
They were called Meisce. They're from right here in Seattle. They rule. Go see them.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The other winners are:
Poetry - Splay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey
Non-fiction - The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by (Seattleite!) Timothy Egan
Fiction - The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
Way to go, gentlemen!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Come on out to our U District store on November 16 from 5pm – 9pm, and let us show you what you mean to us. Campus Thank You Night is a celebration of and for the students, staff, and faculty at the University of Washington—our most important customers.
Get to the store early for a free water bottle (they’re only available while supplies last!), enjoy refreshments and tastings from Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream and Yoguccino® AND enter for a chance to win prizes.
We’ll have an Apple MacBook, custom Gold and Purple iPods, a DVD player, gift cards—even a kayak!—in the prize pool this year, along with gift baskets galore. And with multiple places to enter, you’ll have multiple chances to win.
All your favorite games will be going, too: Putting for Textbooks, Uphill® backpacks Snag It & Bag It , and Let’s Make a Deal.
And while you’re hanging out, playing games, and waiting for the next prize drawing, enjoy a 20% savings* (with UW ID) on some new books, gifts, supplies, and Husky gear.
And here's a brand new addition to the festivities: the good people at Apple computers have decided to pay the taxes on any Apple purchase made during Campus Thank You Night 2006! So, if you buy a MacBook during the event (5pm - 9pm), it'll be tax free. (Some terms: this offer is good at the Technology Center in the U District only. You have to come in, and be making the purchase for personal use to receive the discount. It does not apply to Mac Minis, iPod nanos, iPod shuffles, or iTunes Gift Cards.)
It’s our biggest night of the year. Don’t miss it!
Tacoma & Bothell
UW Tacoma and UW Bothell students, don’t think we’ve forgotten about you! On November 16, both our Tacoma and Bothell stores will be celebrating with Campus Thank You Day.
All day, students will save 20% on purchases (with UW ID, of course) and be able to enter for chances to win iPods, gift baskets, and other fantastic prizes.
Tacoma Campus Thank You Day
9am – 7pm
Bothell Campus Thank You Day
9am – 8pm
There are always discliamers, friends. Here are ours:
* May not be applied to your account. Excludes gift cards, shipping services, textbooks, Technology Center products, Clinique, short discount book titles, food or beverages from the book store café, and online orders. May not be combined with other discounts or special offers and applies only to stock on hand. Valid November 16, 5pm - 9pm at our U District store, and all day during store hours at our Tacoma and Bothell stores.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
It's not yet Noon, and control of the House of Representitives has been decided.
The Senate has come down to a single race. George Allen versus the author of the book pictured above.
Can I get away with rooting for James Webb if I swear I am doing so not for partisan reasons, but simply because, as a bookseller, I just love it when good writers win stuff?
Here's a blurb about Born Fighting from nattily dressed literary luminary Tom Wolfe:
"A bombshell—or else the most brilliant battle flare ever launched by a book. James Webb reveals the all-but-invisible ethnic group that has created the core beliefs of democracy, American-style...not only an engrossing story, but also an important work of sociological history."
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The University Bookstore is an amazing place. It promotes reading...yet the instore security team continues to harass and follow minority students and staff members around the store to the point that it is easier to buy from amazon.com than to deal with being guilty of being a minority in a whites only store.
Our CEO, Bryan Pearce, was made aware of this message, and offered the following response:
Bryan Pearce, CEO U Book Store said...
University Book Store welcomes everyone into its stores. Since 1900, we have celebrated and reflected the diversity of our UW campus communities, the surrounding communities we serve, our staff, and the authors, subject matter and products we present every day.
I am always pleased to talk with our customers about the Book Store and address any questions or concerns.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Have you purchased your 2007 calendar yet? If not, might I suggest you consider picking up a copy of Monster Catfish 2007?
Because I'm going to.
Monster Catfish 2007 features 12 photographs of the most monstrous catfish you will ever see, dear readers. And it features 12 photographs of a guy who apparently has a different two-tone baseball cap for every one of his outfits!
So if you love giant, whiskered fish and color-coordinating sportsmen, you should stop by University Book Store and lay out $12.99 and tax for your very own Monster Catfish 2007 calendar!
I would, you know. I'd much rather be reading.
If I was reading, I think I'd be reading Gaza Blues: Different Stories, a book of short pieces by Isreali fabulist Etgar Keret (whose work I love) and Palestinian author Samir El-Youssef (who I haven't read).
Alas, instead, I am shelving.
(via Bookshelves of Doom - one of our kids book blog crushes)
Mr. Gabler will be in conversation with our friend Warren Etheredge on Tuesday, November 14 @ 7pm. They will appear at The Warren Report Headquarters, Carnegie Free Public Library, 2026 NW Market Street, Seattle.