Friday, August 31, 2007

Found in a Book

Our used book buyers will occasionally find notes, lists, or photos in books they purchase for our stock. Below is a set of photos of a girl named Lee. They were taken in 1953.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dog of the Week

Look here, Dog of the Week fans: it's the lovely Willow! She happened to stop by today at the same time the first ever Dog of the Week (Harris) was in and much to Harris' consternation, we were mooning all over Willow.

Our apologies Harris. You're still number one.

Speaking of number one, our bestselling book in the store is...

Drum roll, please...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No big surprise, I suppose. The train keeps a rollin'.

Rounding out the top five are: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer, Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, and our University of Washington Common Book Field Notes From A Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dog of the Week

Say hello to Annie. One of her humans works at University Book Store.

She comes in to the store to pick her human up now and then, but hasn't been by to have her photo taken. So I photoshopped a stack of books in with her. See? It's like she's in the store!

Good girl, Annie. Shelve those books a little later.

How to Write the Great American Novel

Here's an instructional film from Morris Hill Pictures. Watch it and get to work!


Sad news for lovers of the short story (like me): Grace Paley has passed away.

In her life, she published three short volumes; 45 stories is the entirety of her fictional output. All of them are available in a single collected edition.

This is the opening to a story called "Living," which runs only three pages in the collection. That makes it, what, 800 words?

"Two weeks before Christmas, Ellen called me and said, 'Faith, I'm dying." That week, I was dying, too.

"After we talked, I felt worse. I left the kids alone and ran down to the corner for a quick sip among living creatures. But Julie's and all the other bars were full of men and women gulping a hot whiskey before hustling off to make love.

"People require strengthening before the acts of life."

There are some wonderful things going on in those three, brief paragraphs. The first two sentences are really effective hook. Who can stop reading after they discover the possibility of two immanent deaths? And there's the cynical eye of the narrator in the second paragraph, assuming that as she sits dying in a local bar, around her are only couples preparing for romance. The multiple meanings in the third paragraph—the humor of it, the unintentional confession—are a nice touch, too.

(I also like that a woman named Grace named her narrator Faith.)

Merely 45 stories. We should spend the next month reading them over and over, don't you think?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Reading Recommendation

I enjoy a good graphic novel now and again. Kevin Huizenga's Curses came out in September of 2006, but I only recently got a chance to read it.

Huizenga's work is a sort of suburban fabulism*. My favorite story in Curses is called "28th Street," and it follows Glenn Ganges (Huizenga's everyman protagonist) as he attempts to lift the curse that is keeping he and his wife from having a child. To do so, he must find an ogre and pluck a feather from him. He finds the ogre behind a grocery store, after spraying gasoline from an enchanted gas station into his eyes so he can have visions.

Suburban fabulism, as I said. If this story sounds in any way familiar, it is because it is a retelling of an Italian folktale that appeared in a book by Italo Calvino.

The stories in Curses are loosely linked. Glenn appears in all but one—a beautiful, minimalist pairing of simple landscapes and text from "actual adoption papers" called "Case 0003128-24"*. The feathered ogre of "28th Street" explodes into a flock of birds at the end of that story, and the piece that follows ("The Curse") concerns an infestation of starlings. That cover image, with its little lower case letter "v"s and hyphens and crosses, is a flock of starlings, powerfully rendered in its simplicity. (Follow this link to see a flock of starlings in action.)

* A good example of suburban fabulism would be this story by the wonderful Stacey Richter.

** Though it occurs to me Glenn Ganges may be a character her implicitly.

Liam Rector...

Liam Rector, director of the fine Bennington MFA program took his own life a couple of days ago. His recent book, The Executive Director of the Fallen World, is well worth a read if you like contemporary poetry.

Here's a very short poem of Rector's called Larkin:

The most even-
Tempered man
Ever known:

Always in a rage.

Nice economy, there. Good line breaks. Funny. Sorry to lose him.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dog of the Week

This week's Dog of the Week is a sort of classic Dog of the Week. Meet Petunia. Someone at the store took a photo of Petunia a few of years ago. I was going through some old pictures, and found this one. Petunia, like Rigel, has a blurred tail in the photo, which—as I said—means she very much wants to say hello to the person with the camera, but has been asked to stay, and is politely doing so.

Petunia, Dog of the Week fans, has very pretty eyes.

Good girl Petunia. Hope you are doing well, wherever you are.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Remainders of the Day

Our remainder (bargain books) tables runneth over, readers. One of my thus far silent partners here at The Shelf Life (the one who calls himself The Remainer) grabbed a coupel of promising titles from his tables. He thinks you might enjoy them.

One is Seamus Heaney's translation of Sophocles' Antigone. It's called The Burial at Thebes and a copy is yours for merely $6.98.

The other is a paperback copy of John Hodgman's very funny The Areas of My Expertise for only $5.98.

Remember, all bargain books are in limited quantities. By the time you read this, there may only be one or two left of each...or, none, really.

If you miss out on these two titles, though, I'm sure we have a dozen more books to tempt you.

Vonnegut on Bookworm

Yesterday's episode of KCRW's Bookworm was a rebroadcast of an April 6, 2006 interview with Kurt Vonnegut. You can listen online at that link, or download a podcast.

I'd suggest doing it. It's nice to spend a half hour in Vonnegut's company.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dog of the Week

This is Schmitz. Bask in his glory.

Smart-looking dog, isn't he? I believe when I took this photo, he was considering how best to herd our customers to the cash registers.

We really could've used him at the Harry Potter Party.

Speaking of our huge Harry Potter Party, let me extend a heartfelt thank you to the "additional" reporter who was kind enough to refer to our modified egg and spoon race—which we called our Quidditch Time Trials—as "fairly pathetic" for Entertainment Weekly.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dog of the Week

Dog people, meet Sirius. Sirius, meet dog people.

For such a young dog, Sirius does a heck of a sit, I'll tell you that.

This week's Dog of the Week would like to encourage all those considering a shared pet ownership service called Flexpetz to maybe admit to themselves that they need to try to get over their fear of commitment. Seriously. I mean, look at that face. Do you really only want to look at it a couple of times a week?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sideburns, Glorious Sideburns

This is one of our bus ads from the '70s. I started working here in 2001, but I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be me.

Reader of Depressing Books

Tonight, Tao Lin will be reading at University Book Store. It will be good. There will be no people in bear suits. But there may be someone in an owl suit.

Follow this link to read a description of the Literary Death Match that Tao participated in a little while ago. Tao represented a really good journal called Opium. (The description is by a wonderful writer named Richard Grayson who more people should know about and obsess over.)

Tao reads in a strange monotone that accentuates his surrealist humor.

tell all your friends!