Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goat-Faced Girl Event in St. Paul

Author Leah Marinsky Sharpe will be reading from and signing her new book, The Goat-Faced Girl, at The Red Balloon Bookstore (891 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105) on Saturday, January 16, 2010, at 2:00 p.m.

In this witty, modern interpretation of a classic Italian folktale, Leah Marinsky Sharpe has crafted a light-hearted mother-daughter fable with a moral that is sure to strike a chord with readers of all ages. The illustrations by Jane Marinsky glow with rich color and playful humor. Together, words and pictures provide a zesty treat for parents and children alike.

From the Reviews
“Children ages 5-10 will relish Jane Marinsky's colorful, naïve-style paintings of Isabella learning to persevere, especially the image of her determinedly stirring a bowl of batter, unaware of the dab of chocolate on her goaty nose.” – The Wall Street Journal

"Rich storytelling and intricately imagined artwork make this debut a standout. [...] Marinsky's paintings, in the chalky, sun-bleached colors of the Italian renaissance, contain many small pleasures: the woods and flowers of medieval tapestries, the goat-headed princess licking cupcake batter off her goat nose, and a portrait of the shallow prince's just fate. A must for anyone who would rather be a sorceress than a princess." – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The cast of characters in this reinterpretation of an Italian folktale includes a lizard and witch, deserted baby, and a lovely, lazy girl troubled by a bout of goathead-itis. Not to mention a finicky prince who is shocked to discover a faun-like face on his girlfriend’s body. The story is rich with subtle reminders to be self-reliant, productive, authentic, and watchful of the motivations of others. Marinsky’s rich, renaissance-inspired artwork captures just the right imagery." – Foreword Magazine

Monday, December 28, 2009

More on Miss Alcott Herself

Hope everyone had a great holiday! We know we shouldn't be showing videos of authors talking about other books and such — bad marketing, all that — but things just aren't as stiff around here as they are in other companies, and we wanted to share this fine presentation about one of the house's heroines. So check out this C-Span video of author Harriet Reisen discussing her book, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (Henry Holt and Co.; October) at the Boston Public Library. (And if you're interested, we humbly recommend Kit Bakke's Miss Alcott's Email as well.) Along with the new PBS special on Miss Alcott, it appears that Kit Bakke was at the verge of an absolute tidal wave!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Andrew Motion Interview

Check out this great interview between Sir Andrew Motion and Chris Lydon at the podcast Whose Words These Are. Motion tells his interviewer, “A lot of the subjects of my poems are on the face of it very personal — they’re poems about my partner, they’re poems about my childhood, they’re poems about my mother in particular, they’re poems about my father, they’re poems about what happens to me in a rolling way — but I’ve always thought that the very large amount of my time that I spend engaged with the political things around my writing is evident here . . . a sense of England mutating from being one kind of society into another one. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m sort of lingeringly, damp-eyedly peering back at a golden age and wishing that it would come back again. That’s very much not my political position. I feel very much engaged with the here and now. As I say that, I also feel very struck of course by living at the moment where the old imperial idea of the UK gave way to something else.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Andrew Motion this Week in New York

Former British poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion will be appearing this week in New York City to read from and discuss his first American collection, The Mower. The Barnes & Noble Review describes Motion's work as "poems where time textures us, where time stands in for all the forces that take in trust our youth and joys and all we have, as Raleigh put it somewhere around the turn of the 17th century. In Motion's work, this harrowing truth — long the province of the best lyric poetry — remains constant."

Tomorrow (Tuesday), December 15, at 7:00 pm, Andrew Motion will read from his collection The Mower: New and Selected Poems, at 192 Books (192 10th Avenue)

Wednesday, December 16, at 7:00 pm, Andrew Motion will appear at the National Arts Club in conversation with Alice Quinn, sponsored by the Poetry Society of America (Marquis Gallery, 15 Gramercy Park South)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Louisa May Alcott on PBS

Humanities Magazine has an insightful article by John Matteson on Louisa May Alcott, and reports, 'NEH-funded documentary Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, to be aired December 28 on PBS'. Mark your calendars! I'm sure it will be great.

In the article Matteson writes, 'The Alcotts’ idealism reached its pinnacle in 1843, when Bronson and an English reformer, Charles Lane, cofounded a utopian community called Fruitlands, whose members swore off all animal products, as well as coffee, tea, and any commodity generated by slavery. The Fruitlands community called itself a “consociate family,” meaning that all its members were entitled to an equal claim on one another’s loyalties and affections. Ill-planned from the start, Fruitlands foundered in less than a year, but not before Bronson and Lane had proposed that the men imitate the Shakers by segregating themselves from the women. Since the only women left at Fruitlands by this time were Abigail and her daughters, the plan essentially meant that Bronson would leave his family. Eleven-year-old Louisa responded with tearful prayers. In her journal, she begged God to keep her family together. The Alcotts did not separate. However, Louisa’s experience of first gaining a larger family and then watching her biological family nearly dissolve left a tremendous impression. It both convinced her of the importance of family unity as a bulwark against misfortune and opened her mind to the possibility of forming close attachments on some basis other than blood or marriage. Both the centrality of the family and a willingness to redefine family on broadly inclusive terms were to characterize much of her later writing.'

Of course, we at Godine know all about it, thanks to Kit Bakke's extraordinary and engaging book, Miss Alcott's Email: Yours for Reforms of All Kinds. It is particularly popular with book groups, and we've offered a selection of resources as well as a special offer if you decide to make it next month's pick.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Local Bookstores Just a Click Away

Clicking around the New York Times' Best Books of 2009 lists, I noticed their snappy new integration of IndieBound's database of local bookstores. Maybe this has been up for awhile and I haven't noticed, but it seems like a great addition for the season. Buying local seems that much more sensible when it's a mere click below Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I've already used IndieBound's local bookstore finder when I'm hunting for new bookstores in unfamiliar areas, and they've proven handy because their extensive database is consistently updated by taking submissions from local customers, not to mentioned their integrated Google maps.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Life a User's Manual: a Recommendation

At the Oxford University Press blog's Holiday Book Bonanza, Simon Winchester, the printer and typophile, writes, 'Georges Perec is my absolute literary hero because of one giant, magical, marvelous, sprawling, irredeemably clever and unforgettable book published just before he died, translated into English by another genius-figure named David Bellos (and who also wrote Perec’s biography) and which came out in Britain and America under the title Life A User’s Manual. This majestic monster of a book remains, year after year, now decade after decade, my single favourite book – the Everest which I constantly aspire to climb, the model of literary accomplishment which lies before me on each occasion that I write one of my own books, and which goads me to hope that in time I might achieve such mad and magical excellence.'

New York Times Best of 2009

David R. Godine, Publisher, is proud and excited to announce that Genius of Common Sense, the young adult biography of Jane Jacobs written by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch, has been chosen as one of the eight New York Times' Notable Children's Titles of 2009! It is the first book for young people about Jane Jacobs, this heroine of common sense and author of the groundbreaking work The Death & Life of Great American Cities, a woman who never attended college but whose observations, determination, and independent spirit led her to far different conclusions than those of the academics who surrounded her.

Through her tireless efforts, Jacobs helped save neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village in New York City and the historic North End of Boston from destruction by bold city planners, and helped change the way we think about cities and the people who actually live in them. The New York Times writes, "No stodgy history text . . . Genius of Common Sense [is] loaded with primary sources like photographs and contemporary news accounts that bring alive [this story] for any teenager wondering how she can make a difference in the world."

Bound to find a place among modern children's classics, Genius of Common Sense makes the perfect holiday present for that inquisitive, obstreperous young lady or lad in your life — and is available now through the Godine website or wherever fine books are sold!

Monday, December 7, 2009

People Say We're Crazy

The first thing that people usually say at trade shows or conferences is, "Godine makes such beautiful books!" We take great pride in that, from the page margins, to the typography (call us crazy, but over digital types like Georgia and Arial, we prefer Minion or Miller, Bulmer or Bell), to the printing quality, and — perhaps most important to the public — the cover or jacket design. Some say they aren't all gems though. At The New York Times, Joe Queenan describes the effect of book design on his reading habits:

"It all added up. Until now, I’d thought that I had set these books aside for so many years because they were too daunting or, in the case of Thomas Mann, too dull. Now I realized that what these books had in common was that they were ugly. Really, really ugly. The 1987 hardback of George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual [ed: edition in question pictured to the left, & no longer available; our new edition pictured to the right] is a dreary reimagining of a Balthus street scene. The shabby 1991 hardback edition of the Thomas C. Reeves biography A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy looks as if somebody in the design department got desperate and pasted clip art onto the cover seconds before it was shipped to the printer. A 1997 edition of The Bad Seed comes adorned with a photograph of a macabre doll that bears an odd resemblance to a girl I sat next to in fifth grade. A girl who creeped me out.

"Gradually, I realized that the books I had put off reading for so long all had covers that screamed: “Pulp me! Pulp me!” I’d owned Jorge Luis Borges’s Personal Anthology for 35 years, but had never opened it because the cover looked like somebody had smeared mustard all over it. This may also be the reason I’d never taken a crack at Wallace Markfield’s unjustly overlooked novel Teitlebaum’s Window, or Don DeLillo’s Libra. Graphic vileness was also the common denominator linking Stock Market Logic; Three Plays, by Sean O’Casey; Can You Drill a Hole Through Your Head and Survive?; History of the Conquest of Peru; The Crying of Lot 49; L’Assomoir and even The Satanic Verses."

Ah, the best laid plans . . . but at least we're in good company!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Godine Authors in “PEN America”

The new issue of PEN America landed on my desk the other week with its surreal collaged cover and enticing topic: “Make Believe.” While I always enjoy finding new writers in translation between the covers of PEN’s semi-annual journal, I was especially pleased to recognize in the contents of Issue #11 two names of our very own: Damion Searls and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Searls is the translator of a new volume of poems and prose by Rainer Maria Rilke, The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams, due out early next year from Godine, and Le Clézio is of course the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize and author of the recently published Desert, as well as The Prospector (Godine, 1993, 2008).

In response to a question from PEN to imagine a book one wished had been written, Searls considers the eighty-eight plays by Aeschylus lost in the fire that destroyed the Library of Alexandria, all the books Walter Benjamin did not live to write, and a thousand-page mystical Jewish treatise on the aleph, among others. The brilliant thing about this question of PEN’s is the creative challenge it lays down for the author, after all, in dreams begin responsibilities…

And if you missed Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio’s last-minute appearance at the 2009 PEN World Voices Festival in New York last year, you’ll be happy to know Issue #11 includes a transcript of Le Clézio’s public conversation with Adam Gopnik at the Festival — enjoyable reading covering topics from Creolization, to the bibliophilic delights of the Larousse dictionary, to living a life of action versus one of contemplation. Thank you PEN for yet another vital contribution to the world of letters.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Child's Holiday

Elizabeth Bluemle, the children's book buyer at Flying Pig Bookstore in Vermont, points out Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales as one of her reliable "go-to" Christmas books in her blog post at Publisher's Weekly. She writes, "It's the sheer acrobatic brilliance of the language here that we most love. This is the most delicious read-aloud for having words trip off the tongue." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

If you're in the Boston area, you can also catch a performance of Thomas' classic story at BCA Plaza Theatre in the South End through December 23rd!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh Garden! Review at The Patriot Ledger

At The Patriot Ledger, master gardener and college professor Thomas Mickey has a very complementary review of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! by Kim Smith. He writes, 'This book is a joy to read for anyone looking for inspiration for a garden, small or large. Plant lists, plant habits, plant history, plant care, all find space within these pages. The color and the fragrance of the plant’s flower most captivates the author. She chooses certain plants because of their colors, mostly white, and then shades of rose and light blue. A flower’s fragrance welcomes a visitor to the garden during any season.'

You can browse the book and buy a copy at our website.