Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Susan Fillion - Events in Baltimore and Cambridge!

Susan Fillion, author of the new Godine title Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America, has two forthcoming events on the East Coast:

Wednesday, June 1st at 4:30pm
The Children's Bookstore
737 Deepdene Road
Baltimore, MD 21210
Tel: 410-532-2000

Tuesday, June 7th at 7:00pm
Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: 617-491-2220

Fillion will present her new book which chronicles the lives and prodigious art collections of the Cone sisters of Baltimore, take audience questions, and, of course, be more than happy to sign copies.

Several members of the Godine staff are planning to attend the Cambridge event. If you're in the area, we hope to see you there!

Superior Person's Tuesday!

We hope everyone had a nice long weekend!

suffix The Superior Person should be alert not only to the conversational potential of words and word-forms but also to their potential for written use. A nice effect can be obtained by the addition of the archaic "k" to otherwise uninteresting "ic" suffixes. Thus "comick," not "comic"; "physickal" (or better still, "physickall"), not "physical"; "garlick," not "garlic." Mind you, like the garlick itself, this little device should be used sparingly. Once per missive, at the most. You want to gain a reputation as a lovable eccentric, not a laughably bad speller.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of
our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. -ICK appears in the Second.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Elizabeth David - A New Collection of Recipes

If we were to bushwack our way back to the true source of modern American food culture, we would find that it is not Julia Child, but Elizabeth David. (Her) recipes are all charm. . .
The New Yorker

We just adore Elizabeth David so we were very pleased to hear that Ecco just released a new recipe collection from this witty, brilliant British food writer.

T. Susan Chang of the Boston Globe was kind enough to review it today:

The great British food writer Elizabeth David, who died in 1992, was opinionated, practical, curious, and full of appreciation for the good things of the table. So it is not surprising that the new edition of her collected recipes is as well.

At first glance, you suspect you’re in for a nostalgic venture — the highly styled weathered farmstead crockery, the travelogue excerpts from 1958. The subtitle promises us “classic’’ and “timeless’’ fare, but those words have nearly lost their meaning from overuse. After all, there would be no reason to publish this book, whose every recipe has been previously published, if it were not classic and timeless.

But on closer inspection, this volume turns out to be an intriguing fusion of what cookbooks used to be like and what they are today. Today’s instructions tend to come in two styles: laconic (“cook 5 minutes on high’’) or discursive (“My niece’s best friend inspired this recipe after a ski party four years ago’’). David’s are neither. They are concisely written, but not what I’d call vague. These recipes may not tell you exactly how many minutes the pan requires, but they tell you what to look for. In short, they make you focus, and judgment calls are often necessary (which may make the book a challenge for some new cooks). Where things aren’t spelled out, there is always the photograph to which to refer. When I made David’s coriander mushrooms, I was careful to observe her directions about using very low heat and including the bay leaf in the dish for its fragrance; the mushrooms come out simple, but impeccable. She applies a similarly fastidious technique to spinach with golden raisins, which offer up a delicate visual pun alongside their near-twins, golden pine nuts.

Mascarpone, with instructions to “gently heat, not boil,’’ is far easier to get today than it was in David’s time, making penne with mascarpone and walnuts a delicious and dead-easy weeknight meal. Equally straightforward is her spaghetti with clams, which barely amounts to more than a few fresh tomatoes, a handful of aromatics, and the clams. At the end of the recipe, David characteristically steps in before you can commit an iniquity: “Cheese is never served with spaghetti alle vongole.’’

The rest of the review can be found here.

Godine is proud to publish Elizabeth David's Christmas with 150 recipes and a selection of David's own articles (foreword by Alice Waters) along with South Wind Through the Kitchen: The Best of Elizabeth David which features essays on the food of Provence and Paris, on Italian fish markets, Middle Eastern herb gardens, and nearly 200 recipes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Metagnostic a. Beyond human understanding. Instructions for Assemble-It-Yourself furniture, the Menu function on your mobile phone, any Help programme in any computer application, the International Date Line, etc.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Metagnostic appears in the Third.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Juliana Spahr in Oakland

We are proud to publish Juliana Spahr's third collection of poetry, Well Then There Now, which was just released as a Black Sparrow title in mid-May.

From her first poem, written in Honolulu, Hawaii, to the last, written in Berkeley, California, about her childhood in Appalachia, in the collection Spahr takes us on a wild patchwork journey backwards and forwards in time and space, tracking change – in ecology, society, economies, herself. Through a collage of "found language," a deep curiosity about place, and a restless intelligence, Spahr demonstrates the vibrant possibilities of an investigatory poetics. This verse is more inclusive than exclusive; consistently Spahr includes grape varietals, the shrinking of public beachfront in Hawaii, endangered plant, fish, and wildlife species, the melting of the polar ice caps, and comparative poverty rates in her eclectic repertoire. She also knows how to sing – in the oldest tradition of poetry – of loss, and her lament for nature is the most keen.

Spahr will be reading at the next installment of Poetry Flash at Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland, CA with Genine Lentine on Sunday, May 29th at 3pm.

If you're in the area, we urge you to attend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Do you need an excuse to trek through Spain?

If so, follow Bob Carr's lead and gain inspiration from reading As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. In his memoir, Lee walks from his tiny village in a remote corner of Gloucestershire to London, and knowing one Spanish phrase, he decides to take the ferry to Spain. Unbeknownst to Lee, Spain in 1934 was on the verge of war, and, inexorably, he becomes entangled in the passionate, violent and bloody confusion that was the Spanish Civil War.

Carr, a native of Basingstoke in south central England, is now taking off in Lee's footsteps:

Reading a book has inspired a Basingstoke man to quit his job and take on the challenge of a lifetime.

Bob Carr, 53, has left his job as an IT consultant at the AA in order to complete a 810-mile trek through the length of Spain.

He started off in the northern town of Santander on Saturday, May 7, and aims to finish in the southern port of Algeciras, near the British enclave of Gibraltar, on Saturday, July 30.

Before leaving, he told The Gazette: “It’s a demanding challenge. There’s a certain amount of fear and trepidation but I cannot wait to get started. I am bound to get lost. It is going to be boiling hot so I need to keep myself hydrated.”

Mr Carr said he came up with the idea after reading Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning – a memoir of a year spent walking around Spain just before the outbreak of the civil war in 1936.

He aims to walk 70 miles a week, with occasional rest days, and stay in villages and camp out in fields along the way.

Mr Carr also hopes to have company on sections of the route, and has advertised for companions on his website.

Money raised from the trek will go towards Cancer Research and its Spanish equivalent, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas.

To donate money, visit walkwithmethroughspain.co.uk.

(Article by Chris Gregory, from the Basingstoke Gazette)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What They Loved and What They Bought

Karen Rosenberg at the New York Times reviews the current “Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore” exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City (1109 Fifth Ave at 92nd Street):

“Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore,” at the Jewish Museum, samples the extraordinary trove of European art amassed by two American spinsters in the first half of the 20th century. The Baltimore Museum of Art owns their collection — all 3,000 pieces, including some 500 Matisses — but others are free to tell the Cones’ story.

Gertrude Stein, who knew them well, fashioned a pithy literary portrait of them in “Two Women”: “There were two of them, they were sisters, they were large women, they were rich, they were very different one from the other one.” The Jewish Museum’s version offers a more traditional biography, though it too is incomplete.

Claribel Cone (1864-1929), the 5th of 13 children, and Etta Cone (1870-1949), the 9th, came from a family of successful German-Jewish immigrants. Their father ran a cigar and grocery business, but it was their brothers’ flourishing textile company that financed most of their art collecting. (It supplied denim to Levi Strauss, among others.)

The sisters were well educated (Claribel, who attended Johns Hopkins medical school, was a pathologist) and well traveled. On frequent trips to Europe, often in the company of Stein and her brother Leo, they attended salons and visited the studios of Picasso and Matisse. They bought feverishly, not only art but also decorative objects and exotica. At one point Claribel had to take a second apartment because the first was piled so high with acquisitions, there was nowhere to sleep.

The show takes to heart an observation by the Cones’ nephew, who described the sisters’ adjoining apartments in Baltimore as “a collection of collections.” Karen Levitov, the Jewish Museum’s associate curator, has chosen to present the works in order of acquisition. This leads to some curious pairings: Fauvist Matisses pop up alongside his later odalisques, and a Gauguin faces off with a Delacroix.

The idea is to generate a portrait of the Cones as collectors. This point may seem obvious, but the sisters have often been dismissed as mere shoppers — two rich ladies on a European spree, snapping up Matisses alongside rare textiles, jewelry and other luxury objects. (For some reason this label has rarely been applied to men who buy art in addition to boats, wine, real estate and other trophies.)

To read the rest of the piece click here.

Godine's new title Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America was just released this week and features vibrant original illustrations by author Susan Fillion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Hypnophobia n. The morbid dread of falling asleep. Especially when you're sitting right across the table from the guest speaker.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Hypnophobia appears in the Third.

The Cone Sisters of Baltimore

“People in Baltimore couldn’t help notice the sisters when they ventured out to the Lyric Theatre. Claribel would enter first, head held high, carrying her considerable girth forward at a regal pace. The light of the low-hanging chandeliers illuminated her colorful scarves and outsized silver hat pin. Etta followed a minute or so later, her eyes fixed on the floor several paces ahead of her sturdy flat shoes.”
(Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel)

May of 2011 will play host to two exhibition openings, both of which relate to Godine's new title Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel: Bringing Matisse to America. The book, written by Susan Fillion (who also provides vibrant original illustrations), is available starting today and tells the tale of the Cone sisters, two women from Baltimore who, with amazing foresight, amassed large quantities of the fresh, edgy artwork of their time. This artwork just so happened to come from then-budding experimental artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Gauguin, to name a few. Etta and Claribel’s nephew, Edward, described their apartment, saying, “The pictures covered every available inch of wall space, even in the bathrooms . . . They bought only what they really wanted, and they loved all that they owned.”

Miss Etta and Dr. Claribel brings these two quirky characters to life. The beauty of the book, however, is in its paired visual and written story-telling techniques, which weave the fascinating history of the women into the pieces that they acquired. The words give a glimpse into the characters of the sisters, making them personal and accessible, and the illustrations bring whimsy and excitement to their tale, also serving as a means of threading together the master works included in the pages.

For those who wish to see more of the artwork that Etta and Claribel gathered during their travels, the Jewish Museum in New York is currently showing an exhibition about the sisters. This display shows 51 pieces of what was once “unconventional” artwork collected by the two unconventional sisters. Not only will the art be available for perusal, but a virtual tour of Etta and Claribel's apartments (in their native Baltimore) will also provide further insight into their lives.

Their complete collection was bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art, where it has been on view as a permanent installation since 1957. This exhibition provides an even more comprehensive understanding of the work that the Cones did, and is certainly worth a visit as well. Additionally, beginning May 21st the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is featuring artwork gathered by the Steins, long-time friends of the Cones, who helped fuel Etta and Claribel’s appreciation for art.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair

On this beautiful Friday please enjoy this video of Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair's remarks at the 2011 Poetry Celebration at the Blaine House in Augusta, ME on April 20, 2011.

Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair: Blaine House Remarks from David Turner on Vimeo.

"The ultimate goal of every single poem is a change of mind or a change of heart, not only for the reader but for the writer. You can’t write a poem without experiencing that change yourself, and if you’ve written enough of them, you come to realize also that every poem is a love poem, because every poem, no matter what its subject or mood, asks us to explore, cherish and care about something that might otherwise be lost."

The full text can be found here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Michael Dirda on Correspondence

A big thank you goes to Michael Dirda today at The Washington Post for his great review of Correspondence: An Adventure in Letters which Godine just released. Here's an excerpt:

If you loved Helene Hanff’s “84, Charing Cross Road,” this is the summer book for you. As you may recall, Hanff’s little classic of bibliophilia presents the letters between a feisty New York writer and a gentlemanly English bookseller, the result being a kind of epistolary romance, with sidelights on many of the older classics of English literature. N. John Hall – the world’s leading authority on Anthony Trollope and Max Beer­bohm, as well as a longtime New Yorker – has adopted this format for his comparably delightful, if fictional, Correspondence: An Adventure in Letters.

Larry Dickerson, “as American as you can get,” is a retired bank clerk who has inherited a cache of letters written to his great-great-grandfather, a 19th-century English bookseller. But these aren’t just any letters. Jeremy MacDowell corresponded with the greatest novelists of the day: Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, George Eliot, Trollope, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Butler. As the baseball fan Larry boasts, “How’s that for a line up?” From all of these authors, MacDowell elicited frank statements of their literary aims and opinions. He also managed to snag two letters from Charles Darwin and several from the critic George Henry Lewes, the consort of George Eliot, as well as a few from the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell about the Brontes.

Having decided to sell this amazing archive, Larry writes to Christie’s auction house in London and soon initiates a series of e-mails with Stephen Nicholls of the books and manuscripts department. The two men – the unread, slightly vulgar but intelligent American and the suave, well-educated Englishman – gradually come to like and trust each other. Before long, Larry decides he wants to transcribe all the letters himself, partly with the idea of producing a little book in honor of his great-great-grandfather. This leads to an intense course of reading and study, enrollment in a class on the Victorian novel at the New School, and a series of discussions with Stephen about book illustrations, 19th-century publishing practices, the nature of narrative and the impact of Darwinism.

But that’s just the contemporary thread of Correspondence. Inspired no doubt by the example of Beerbohm’s virtuosity as a pasticheur, Hall boldly re-creates a dozen or so seemingly genuine letters from Dickens, Hardy and others. In these, Hall mimics the various authors’ styles convincingly, while the opinions they express reflect our modern knowledge of their lives and work.

To read the rest of the review, please click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mark Doty @ MA Poetry Festival

Back when we were both very young, Godine had the honor of publishing the first two poetry books of Mark Doty, who has since gone on to considerable and deserved fame and fortune, winning the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008, as well as honors from the National Book Critics Circle, the LA Times Book Prize, a Whiting Award, and (as the first American in its history) the T.S. Eliot Prize.

Doty is the headliner for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival this year which will be held in Salem, MA on May 13th and 14th. He will participate in two programs at the Festival on Saturday, May 14th. In the afternoon, a presentation at the Peabody Essex Museum that will coincide with his recent book Still Life with Oysters and Lemon and in the evening he will participate in the headline performance with singer/songwriter Kim Richey and other poets.

This summer Godine will publish Paragon Park, a collection with the complete texts of Doty's Turtle, Swan and Bethleham in Broad Daylight along with almost two dozen poems that have appeared in small magazines but have never before been collected.

For your enjoyment this Wednesday afternoon, here's Doty's "The Pink Palace" from Turtle, Swan:

My father would take me, Saturdays,
to an unfinished mansion: a rich eccentric
had built a few rooms and a facade
of pink granite before the money ran out
and the fragments became property of the state,
a museum for children. Of what
I’m not sure—I remember only one room,
a wall of tiny doors, some at floor level,
others all the way up to the ceiling.
I would open the lowest; he would hoist me
to others so I could stare inside until
he grew tired of holding me. Behind the doors,
behind glass, a tree, huge in memory,
hung with all the glory of taxidermy: robin
and jay, squirrels racing or paused, sitting upright,
everything that lived overhead.

Many windows: each would yield
a little. I thought if I could see it all
the tree would spread like a Sunday school story
of paradise, bearing up on its branches
all the finished houses of heaven. And these
were the citizens: openmouthed blackbird
fixed in the position of cry, eggs
arranged in the nest, incapable of change.
I know I magnified the tree.
Maybe if I’d seen it all at once
it could never have held so many—
the visible, the mostly hidden,
glowing feathers behind the leaves.
Were there leaves at all?

That summer the outings with my father ended.
The Pink Palace, and then nothing.
Whatever he intended, what he showed me
seemed a lesson—that no single view will hold.
As if he knew I’d need to tell myself
a story—one strong enough to carry me,
and not in his favor—and whatever I told myself
would be incomplete, that nothing will ever
be finished except the past, which is too large
to apprehend at once. All that changes
is the frame we choose. And so he said
as he clutched my waist between his two big hands, See,
look at this one
, and held me higher.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Neotenyn. An indefinite prolongation of the period of immaturity, with the retention of infantile or juvenile qualities into adulthood. Classic condition of the sports commentator, the lexicographer, and of course the schoolteacher.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Neoteny appears in the Second.

A Common Error

When a writer identifies with a character, especially with a protagonist who stands in for him/herself, the tendency is to protect the character in the same way that one protects one's self. The readers (like the writer) don't really know what's wrong but they sense that nothing really bad will happen to this character. The result: no dramatic tension in the story, a situation that usually leads to boredom in readers and a sense of unease in the writer that he is not doing his best work.

When I call attention to this problem with students they often go the other way and inflict terrible psychological pain on their protagonists, or even kill them off. But it's not what the author does to the character; it's a feeling he must convey in the fiction that the character will succumb to the fate of the story. That could well be a happy ending. Just what is this feeling that must inhabit the fiction? It's that feeling of the unknown and the uncanny that haunts us all at one time or another. The only way to create this condition in your fiction is tell your protagonist that you don't love him, that he has make his way in the story without your protection.

The reverse is also true. Writers will often punish certain characters who they believe deserve punishment because those characters resemble someone who has hurt them in their own lives. The solution to this problem is in point of view. The writer must inhabit the mind and soul of the antagonist, as well as the protagonist, indeed all the characters, and see the world as they see it, even if that worldview never actually makes it on the page. The writer must always know more than the readers. It's the only way you can gain their respect.

So much of good fiction writing is like good acting. It requires the writer to get into the emotions of his characters, to feel with them (as well as with real people), to empathize with the terrible predicaments of human life. You love your characters, you just can't protect them. The writer is like a dead parent whose ghost follows his children's actions, loves them and feels with them, but cannot act on their behalf in the material world.

Hebert lives in New Hampshire and teaches writing at Dartmouth College. His novels in­clude The Old American and the acclaimed six-volume Darby series. Godine will publish his forthcoming novel, Never Back Down, in June 2011.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Louisa May Alcott

In honor of Women’s History Month (which I recognize ended a month ago – I’m dreadfully behind, okay?), I picked up Miss Alcott’s E-mail: Yours for Reform of All Kinds by Kit Baake. The cover looked intriguing – Alcott’s face blown up to life-size with a peace sign tattooed on her cheek – and Little Women was a staple piece of literature during my childhood. I must confess that, reading through the introduction, I thought Ms. Baake might be crazy. She explains the premise of her book – she has happened upon a way to communicate with Louisa via email! And she will use this means of communication (that mysteriously spans hundreds of years and enters a world where the most technologically advanced object in use is the steamboat) to ask Louisa questions about her life. Then I realized the book was clearly labeled as fiction, and Baake is using this imaginary correspondence to highlight Louisa’s numerous accomplishments and fiery spirit in an engaging and relatable way.

Although most people think of Louisa as simply the author of a few excellent children’s books, she achieved much more. In Miss Alcott’s E-mail, Baake guides us through Louisa’s life, incorporating Louisa herself in a way that, although fictional, encourages the reader to feel more intimately acquainted with Louisa. Baake completed extensive research on the entire Alcott family before writing this book, and once you step back to contemplate what you’re reading, you realize that, essentially, this book is a biography. But the personable style in which she presents her knowledge fools readers into thinking this is more story-like, pleasure reading. Or at least, she fooled me.

Despite being a big fan of Little Women’s Jo growing up, I knew very little about Louisa, the real-life Jo. I was vaguely aware that she was a suffragette, but had no idea the extensive reform work she did “of all kinds,” as Baake so aptly puts it. From being the first woman registered to vote in her hometown of Concord, to supporting the abolitionist John Brown, to expounding on the incompetence of Civil War hospital staff in Hospital Sketches, Louisa used her energy to bring about change, all while financially supporting her family. Baake also touches on questions that Louisa explored in her lifetime that still relate to today’s women, such as “Can a productive and creative single woman be happy?” and “Can a married woman maintain her personal life and friends?” The book is also chock full of fun facts about Louisa. Example: she had a crush on her neighbor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. What excellent taste.

As a reader, I personally connected to Louisa and hated to leave her at the end. So, as I live 30 minutes away from Concord, I made a pilgrimage there to visit The Orchard House, where Louisa lived for much of her adult life, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where the Alcott family is buried. It made for an excellent day trip, and I’ve included my pictures of her gravesite and house. And yes, one of those pennies heaped on her gravestone is from me.

Now, back to my belated celebration of Women’s History Month. Louisa offers an excellent piece of advice for women via Marmee in Little Women: “Don’t shut yourself up in a bandbox because you are a woman, but understand what is going on, and educate yourself to take part in the world’s work, for it all affects you and yours.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

David on Publishers Weekly "ShelfTalker"

Josie Leavitt from The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, VT offers a great post on a recent meeting with David R. Godine on PW's "ShelfTalker" today:

I think it’s safe to say that David R. Godine is not like other publishers for a variety of reasons. His books are small print-run gems. The paper, the craftsmanship, the quality and the eclectic catalog, all make for a lovely buying session. What makes it even better for me is that David calls on us himself.

David loves books and that shines through from the moment you start talking about books with him. He is passionate about all his titles, but also honest. Often he’ll say, as I’m lingering over catalog copy, “You don’t need that. Turn the page, this you need. You need three of them.” If I look hesitant, he looks imploring and then he takes out the F&G and goes through it page by page and tells me, not only about the book, the author and the art, but about the paper and how good it feels. I spend a lot of my meetings with David rubbing paper between my thumb and forefinger exclaiming, “That paper does feel great.” He also convinced me that I desperately needed to restock Ferdinand the Bull in Latin. I resisted, but it was for naught. David’s argument was compelling, “You just need it.” So, now I have one lovely copy of Ferdinandus Taurus. And I’m sure someone will buy it by the end of the month.

I suspect that times are tough for a small publisher of high-quality books. I am always happy to buy Godine books. When we first opened, people judged us as a good or a bad bookstore by how many in the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome we carried; we carried them all from day one, we try never to be out. One of my all-time favorite books for summer, The Worry Week by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, just sets the perfect tone for a summer reading adventure with sisters. Full of humor and real family situations, it’s a lovely book that most customers don’t know about.

David does one thing that’s so smart: he brings a few seasonal backlist titles to the meeting to refresh your memory. This worked really well for me, as I tend to forget titles. So now, I’m fully stocked in new Godine titles and have a good stash of summer titles that I know I’ll need as the weather gets better.

My favorite part of the meeting was the “Let’s bargain for this book” segment. David pointed to a backlist catalog page and asked how much would I pay for a particular book I had been eyeing. I looked at the list price of $24.95 and rounded it to 50% off, and suggested $12. “Lower!” he implored. I said, “Nine.” I just didn’t want to suggest an insultingly low number. “Lower,” he said again, with a gleam in his eye. I looked at him and said, “Seven fifty.” I felt brave. He slapped his hand on the table and pretty much called me a sucker. “Five dollars.” I looked incredulously at him. He told me the book was newly remaindered and he could afford to sell it for so little. What fun.

I took two and treated him to coffee, but the barista would take none of my “I’ll pay you $3.75 for both.” He just looked at me like I was crazy. I snickered to myself and forked over eight bucks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

These are a few of my favorite . . . Godine Children titles

This week is National Children's Book Week so to celebrate I thought I would serve up a few of my favorite Godine children titles. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

DeZert Isle by Claude Ponti
A humorous love story about Jules the Zert from DeZert Isle. Life on DeZert Isle isn't always easy; there's the villainous SledgeHead who is out to nail anyone on the head who crosses his path. BigMouth is also someone to avoid as he swallows poor Zerts whole until he fills up and explodes. Despite these gnarly characters, we are also met with love at the sight of Romeotte and true friendship with dear Ned the nail. Charming illustrations fill this book with laughter and amusement as we journey through the mysterious DeZert Isle.
Recommended for Shakespeare-philes, adventurers, and those interested in the field of demolition

The Lonely Phone Booth by Peter Ackerman
The title says it all. With the advent of technological devices such as cell phones, is there a place for phone booths in this world? Apparently there is on West Avenue and West 100th Street in New York. The last existing phone booth in New York City is beloved by all in the community, until a new shiny object comes to replace it. What's an unused phone booth to do? The Lonely Phone Booth is a dazzling picture book about neglect and our quickly changing society. It is a heartwarming tale that clings on to a slightly simpler time and brings a community together.
Recommended for sentimentalists, cell phone users (all of us?), operators, and New Yorkers

Little Mook & Dwarf Longnose by Wilhelm Hauff, illustrated by Boris Pak
Little Mook, a resourceful orphan gnome, outwits the king and his court with magic slippers and a powerful walking stick. Mook overcomes abject poverty and becomes a man with great wealth. Each page has an ornate flourish that dazzles the eye and keeps readers entranced.
Recommended for wisenheimers, fairytale enthusiasts, and owners of magic slippers

Dwarf Longnose is a tale of vanity and sorcery. Jacob, an attractive and spritely boy, is transformed into a grotesque dwarf by an unseemly sorceress. This young boy who was once the face to his parents' businesses becomes unrecognizable to them. Thus living in anonymity, Dwarf Longnose goes to work for the duke thanks to his refined culinary skills, passed down from the sorceress. The story conveys the difficulties in overcoming hardship and the superficiality of conceit.
Recommended for those who have ever been charmed or cursed by good story-telling – hopefully the former

The Great Piratical Rumbustification & The Librarian and the Robbers
by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Quick! You and your wife are cordially invited to a fanciful dinner across town, but what to do with your three lads? Call the Mother Goose baby-sitting service, of course. The Great Piratical Rumbustification is a quirk some cautionary tale of what happens when you leave your children with a pirate babysitter.
Recommended for pirates (both current and former), buccaneers and mateys from lands far and wide, and for anyone who has used the Mother Goose baby-sitting service

Since I work in a library this second story struck a particular chord with me. A librarian is kidnapped by robbers and develops what appears to be Stockholm syndrome upon her return to the library. The Librarian and the Robbers is a highly implausible, yet, comical portrayal of reformed criminals and the librarian who saves them. The playful illustrations by none other than Quentin Blake of Roald Dahl book fame set the light tone of the book.
Recommended for bibliophiles, librarians, and followers of the Dewey Decimal System

The Old Man Mad About Drawing by François Place, translated by William Rodarmor
The Old Man Mad about Drawing tells the story of Japanese illustrator and printmaker Gakyorojin Hokusai and life in 19th century Japan. Rich with Japanese tradition, The Old Man Mad About Drawing is a magnificent display of the intricacies of printmaking – with truly extraordinary illustrations. Enter the book through the eyes of Tojiro, a child rice cake merchant. This enchanting story about one’s passions, mentorship and aspirations will surely excite readers of all ages.
Recommended for young, old, and those spurred by their dreams and passions

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Zori n. (pl.) The Superior Person's word for thongs, that peculiarly aestival form of footwear commonly employed for the purpose of jamming the wearer's foot underneath the brake pedals, tripping him up in public places and upon acutely serrated seaside rock formations, and rendering the sound of his coming and going akin to that of a flock of migrating ducks.

Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of
our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Zori appears in the First.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Clayton Eshleman in NYC

Clayton Eshleman will be reading at the Americas Society in New York, NY (680 Park Avenue) on Tuesday, May 10th at 7pm for the book presentation Cuba Inside and Out: Aimé Césaire’s Solar Throat Slashed.

Eshleman, the foremost translator of Martinican poet Césaire (1913–2008), and A. James Arnold, the leading editor of Césaire’s French works, read from their translation of the poet’s Soleil cou coupe (Wesleyan University Press). Arnold will discuss the importance of Cuba and Cubans—including Lydia Cabrera and Wifredo Lam—in launching Césaire´s poetic career during WWII.

For more details visit the Americas Society website.

Eshleman is one of our beloved Black Sparrow Poets and author of Fracture, Hotel Cro-Magnon, My Devotion, and several other titles. All of his poetry titles are part of our one-time 50–80% off poetry sale happening now until May 20th, 2011.