Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kittens of the Week

Three kittens appeared at the store a couple of days ago. This is the official start of Free Kitten season. I think I prefer the aloof one.


Oh, who am I kidding. I like the two snuggling on the sheep skin. Look at those two!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dog of the Week

Usually, I declare Dog of the Week on Thursdays. Above is Pascal. He's a big dog.

Therefore, I think you may need a couple of extra days with him.

He is pictured with a copy of Leo Tolstoy's very large book, War and Peace. It has been included for scale. My wager? His head is four times the size of War and Peace.

That is a big dog, readers. A big, big dog.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dead Fish Museum

I loved Dead Fish Museum. I'm sure I've said this before. And I love to see Charles D'Ambrosio get accolades.

He got more. This is the list of recipients of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards in Literature:

Joan Acocella
Charles D’Ambrosio
Barbara Ehrenreich
David Markson
Robert Morgan
Joan Silber
William T. Vollmann
Dean Young

Congratulations, Charlie. Good looking group!

Dog of the Week

Readers, please say hello to Lev. Lev is a labradoodle, and when you say hello to him, he sits on your feet.

He looks a little coy in this photo, but it's purely pretense. He's shamelessly affectionate.

Good boy, Lev.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mom of the Week with a Dog

(Photo removed.)

Behold! The sainted mother of the Shelver and a pleasant dog named Stuart Little.

The sainted mother of the Shelver, by the bye, recommends Willa Cather's My Antonia. She likes Cather's strong female characters.

Happy Belated Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dog of the Week

No photo this week. I've decided to make last week's alternate Dog of the Week this week's official Dog of the Week. So everyone say a quiet "good boy," to George, the New Zealand Jack Russell terrier who saved five kids from two much larger attacking pit bulls. (And, sadly, gave his life in the process.)

A Texas war veteran is sending George's family his purple heart, which he earned in Vietnam in 1967. To quote the vet, "Yes ma'am, he was a brave little doggy."

Sure was.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

To be specific, today I would be reading for the purposes of finishing. Last night I went out to a reading at a rival bookstore. (This is not a Sharks/Jets, Cubs/Cardinals, Jonathan Franzen/Ben Marcus-type rivalry...more of a chess team/mathletes fight for brilliant new recruits sort of rivalry.)

I betrayed my University Book Store masters—and my legally questionable loyalty oath—to see Amy Fusselman read from her new book, 8.

Was it worth it? Was it worth the hairshirt they are making me wear as I shelve for the rest of the week? Heck yes!

Many years ago I worked in Events here at University Book Store, and Amy Fusselman was the very first person I ever introduced. I'm, therefore, partial to her work. It's been far too long since she published something, too, so this was a reading I just couldn't miss, possible reprisals or not.

Since last night, I've read about half of 8, and it's quite beautiful. It's a series of meditations on family, childhood, the healing of trauma, motorcycles, monster trucks, and the Beastie Boys. Fusselman writes with humor and grace, and has the deep observational powers of the domestic work of Nicholson Baker at its very best.

Here's a bit from a section I read waiting for the bus. It concerns Amy's attempts to sleep train her son. For those unfamiliar with the technique (as I was) sleep training involves taking a child who, after being put to bed (a real bed without the confining bars of a crib) celebrates their newfound bedtime freedom by getting up to play a game of "I'm awake and walking around, and I'm going to do it again after you return me to my room!", taking said child by the hand, not speaking to or looking at said child, walking said child to bedroom, putting said child to bed, and repeating every time said child leaves said bedroom. [Wow. How's that for a sentence? Internal Ed.] The ellipses are mine. The material that occurred between them is not superfluous, and I apologize for acting as editor. I am trying to save space and time—which, coincidentally, are two more issues addressed in the book.

"So he surprised me when, about half an hour into it, instead of coming all the way out into the light of the kitchen where I could see (though I chose not to) him, he kept his body in the shadows of the hallway and extended, into the light, his left hand, the one I had been taking in mine all these times...

"It was very moving to me because it showed how much he understood this strange thing we were doing: he knew that I was not looking at his face or body, but that I was permitting myself to look at his hand in order that I might hold it. His gesture not only said that he understood what I was doing, but that he wanted to take part in it, too—to withhold himself, as I was withholding my vision—and to present me with this smallified version of himself...It was such a beautiful mirroring gesture, and told me that he understood these strange rules we had cooked up and was willing to play along."

Here's a link to a video of the monster truck Grave Digger going ballistic. It comes up in the book.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

But I'm not reading. I'm shelving.

But if I was reading I wouldn't really be reading. I'd be rereading.

I'd really like to be rereading Ben Greenman's book A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both. Ben's a very funny writer, and a very talented one. There's always a lot more going on than you notice at first, too. They are human and humane comic tales.

Ben was nice enough to allow me to interview him for an online journal.

University Book Store Oddities

Okay, so we have new paper towel holders at the store. This is a picture of one.

I don't mean to cast aspersions on anyone's technical writing skills. I really don't.

But the text on it reads: FOR EMERGENCY FEED, TURN KNOB.

"Emergency feed."

Yes, my hands are wet. Yes, the towels are stuck inside the dispenser. Let's not get overly dramatic about it, though. It's just a little water.

A fellow shelver notes: "The knob is red, too, so we won't miss it."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dog of the Week

Dog of the Week fans, meet Rigel. One of his humans works here at the store.

He has very attractive droopy eyes. Note that there is a little blur at the tip of his tail. He wants very much to get up and say hello, but also knows that he is having his picture taken and must be patient. Tail blur is the sign of a very polite dog.

Good boy, Rigel.

There is also a Dog of the Week alternate. (No offense, Rigel. You rule.) A warning: the story at this link is heartbreaking if you are a dog-lover.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

But how can I read when I have so much shelving to do? Above, you see an image of four titles available today.

1) Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk. Do we call Chuck Palahniuk a "cult" writer anymore? Sure, his fans are devoted, but doesn't the word also suggest that the number of people buying his books is small? I was working the night he signed copies of Choke until 1am. Devoted? Heck yes. Small? Not even close.

2) The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. I'm a sucker for anyone who mentions Matter-Eater Lad in a story. Stesha, our Events Coördinator, loved this book.

3) The Pesthouse by Jim Crace. The fact that the notorious, attention-seeking critic (and, to give him his due, really talented novelist) Dale Peck doesn't like Jim Crace's books makes me love them all the more. But I loved them from the first page of Being Dead.

4) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver gets back to the land and she and family start growing their own food. She chronicles the experience in her new book.

tell all your friends!