Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric on the Bill Bennett Show

Professor Ward Farnsworth was recently featured on The Bill Bennett Show, where he discussed his new book, Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric (published by yours truly). Go to the Podcast to listen to Professor Farnsworth and Bill Bennett talk about history's most persuasive rhetoriticians and what made them so (that's an ellipsis!)

Praise for Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric: 

"So, dear reader, I say it even if I say it myself—get this book! No, really, get this book! Read clever Farnsworth, and read him again, and you may become more clever yourself."
—Carlin Romano, 
The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Many things, from dictators to advertising, have made modern people suspicious of and cynical about language mobilized to move us. Fortunately, Ward Farnsworth's delightful swim in a sea of well-chosen words should help to rehabilitate the reputation of rhetoric."
— George F. Will, syndicated columnist

And more!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Somnifacient a. Conducive to the onset of sleep; having a hypnotic effect. Also somniferous, a slightly stronger expression of the same sense, meaning sleep-inducing or narcotic.  A televised golf tournament, a line dancing display in the mall, white goods comparison shopping, etc., etc.

"This couch is so somnifacie....zzzz."

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. Somnifacient appears in the Third

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ring of Bright Water - Top Nature Book!

The Wall Street Journal just named Ring of Bright Water: A Trilogy by Gavin Maxwell one of the top five best nature books alongside such classics as Walden by Henry David Thoreau and A Book of Hours by Donald Culross Peattie:

No shelf of nature books would be complete without a volume examining the bond between people and those animal species we have invited into our homes—that rich, reciprocal process of domestication for which the term "pet" seems trivializing. I know no author who writes more satisfyingly about pets than the Scottish writer Gavin Maxwell. After World War II, having failed as a portrait painter in London, he retreated to a remote stretch of Highland coastline and began to write. In "Ring of Bright Water," Maxwell spends the first 70 pages convincing the reader that he's basically a dour and misanthropic fellow—until he makes a whimsical decision "to keep an otter instead of a dog." And so Mijbal enters his life. A sleek master of gyrating, torpedoing, somersaulting "aquabatics," Mijbal becomes an indefatigable symbol of everything that is playful and self-delighting in the universe. And Maxwell enters a "thralldom to otters." The book offers us a lovely, unlikely metamorphosis: an otter turning a man into a pussycat.

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Supernaculum n. A liquor of high quality, fit for drinking to the last drop. "It is a sad thing, Burnaby, that the custom of attending to one's religious devotions, upon arising in the morning and before retiring at night, has fallen into desuetude. In my own little way I try to compensate for that. I pride myself upon the fact that the sun does not rise upon a new day without my giving thanks with a supernaculum, in the privacy of my bedchamber."

And here's a clip from Who Framed Roger Rabbit:

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. Supernaculum appears in the Second.

All My Dogs Giveaway

My name is Hector Ramirez, and among other things I’m an unabashed dog lover. So when I heard that Godine was publishing the upcoming memoir All My Dogs: A Life by Bill Henderson (he founded the Pushcart Press, one of the most influential publishers in the country), I jumped at the chance to read it. Great book, but was it a bad call to read it so soon after leaving my beautiful German Shepherd back in Los Angeles to live in Providence, RI for the summer? Probably. But aside from the fact that it made me miss my dog like crazy, I did enjoy the book immensely: it’s a charming memoir about family, individuality, spirituality, and the way dogs help us bring all of that stuff together. Reader be warned, however — it is also a book about coping with the loss of these wonderful friends. It’s a tearjerker to say the very least, but I think Henderson really gets it right in this memoir by insisting that dogs are remarkably good at helping us move on. It’s a simple formula really: they understand what it is we need most, and then they give it to us, in a way that is the very definition of selfless, unconditional love.

As for my own dog, Penny became a part of the Ramirez family on July 17, 2010, and right away she started changing us all for the better. It’s kind of hard not to be affected by this little fur ball just by looking at her, but we quickly discovered that she is as affectionate as she is adorable, and that once you become her friend, she is fiercer in her companionship than any person you’ll ever meet. Dogs have this way of bringing out the best in people no matter what, and we were no exception. It turns out our pack was incomplete all along, and we didn’t even know it. On the car ride back to our house, with Penny asleep in my lap, I wondered how we ever got on without her.


But showing off my amazing dog was only part of my motivation for writing this blog post. A big part, I admit, but the other reason is a bit more exciting. I get to announce the Official David R. Godine All My Dogs Giveaway! Yay!

How does one become eligible to win a free copy of this wonderful book, you ask? Well I’m glad you did. First I should mention that the giveaway only applies to those of you who have or have had a dog in your life. That’s right folks — we’re having a cute-dog-picture showdown. Email us a picture of yourself with your dog(s), along with a short message (which could be just about anything really, from a favorite memory of you and your dog to a simple note about what makes him or her special), and you’re in! It’s that simple. Our email address is, and if you could write “All My Dogs Giveaway” in the subject heading that would be swell.

Be sure to send those pictures and stories in! I’ll go ahead and kick things off with a recent picture of Penny (setting the bar very, very high). The contest begins right … wait for it … now, and it ends on September 15th. We’re giving away two copies of this book, so be sure to check the blog on the 15th to see if you’ve won one!

Penny on a road trip, rocking her stunnah shades.

Monday, August 22, 2011

William Morgan – Monadnock Summer

David R. Godine has put the romance back into writing books and publishing them.

Many of us writers have endured the book signing at the mega-store at the suburban mall. You sell maybe seven copies in two hours, and are rewarded with a cup of tepid coffee. Or worse, I once signed books at a pleasant independent bookseller's in Providence, RI. But it was snowing, hard, and no one showed at all, much less bought books. Too often meeting the public in this way is just something to be endured in the vague and vain hope of sales and fame.

But my book signing experience left the realm of the dreary and morphed into the wonderful with an event in August. Monadnock Summer: The Architectural Legacy of Dublin, New Hampshire was launched at the annual meeting of the local historical society. Just as Dublin is not your average rural town, its historical society is rather special, having among other things a fireproof archives building. For example, the society's president, Henry James, is the son of a modern architect, Sandy James, who worked in town; his grandfather, Alexander James, was an important painter in Dublin; his great-grandfather was William James, the philosopher and brother of Henry James. The histo
rical society supported my research and then my book. And now they were offering a limited edition of hardbound copies of Monadnock Summer to their members.

Knollwood, the house where the meeting was held, is a rambling shingle-covered estate built for President Taft's Treasury Secretary, Chicago grocery mogul Franklin MacVeagh, in 1899. (Taft visited twice while president and planted a tree here.) The architects were Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the successor firm to the great H.H. Richardson of Trinity Church fame. One of the largest houses in town, Knollwood has an 180º distant view, including an unparalleled prospect of the mountain. The desk where I sat to autograph books had been Secretary MacVeagh's. After the festivities at Knollwood, I spent the night at David Godine's Dublin house, one time summer home of Mark Twain.

Book signing at Knollwood, August 12th, 2011, with Henry James
(photo by Sharron Monaghan)

If we put aside the circumstances of a visit to a most unusual town (hence the need for a book about its architecture), all of this would not have happened were it not for Godine himself. I knew of David at Dartmouth – one of the Ray Nash circle, a budding letterpress master – but I did not know him. Years later, Godine turned down one of my book proposals (rightly so, I know now). About the time the publisher to whom I was contractually bound expressed puzzlement at the value of an architectural history of one village in New Hampshire, I reconnected with David at a supper party in Dublin. When I sent him the manuscript, he replied within a few days: "This is well researched, well written, is about a subject I love, and why wouldn't I want to publish it."

The publisher-author experience from that point on was one of the best ever. Carl Scarbrough is a meticulous editor and a talented designer. That Monadnock Summer is a beautiful book reflects the entire David R. Godine aesthetic. Why wouldn’t I be happy?

William Morgan, among the preeminent chroniclers of New England's built environment, has documented the patrimony of this rich region in numerous books and teaches at Princeton and Brown. David R. Godine, Publisher is proud to publish his latest, Monadnock Summer: The Architectural Legacy of Dublin, New Hampshire, in August 2011.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Woman in Black trailer is out!

Watch out Daniel Radcliffe!

The film is due out February 3, 2012. David R. Godine, Publisher is thrilled to publish the US edition of The Woman in Black.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Chaetiferous a. Bearing bristles. Also chaetigerous and chaetopherous. If your boyfriend must start growing a beard, at least you ought to know what to call him.

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. Chaetiferous appears in the Second.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Philogyny a. The love of, indeed devotion to, women. The most understandable of idiosyncrasies.


(Proof for anyone who doubts that Animal is the original ladies' man)

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. Philogyny appears in the Third.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wanda Coleman's new book of poetry

The incomparable Wanda Coleman, a beloved Black Sparrow poet, has a new book of poetry forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in September 2011. The collection, The World Falls Away, has already received incredible praise:

"Wanda Coleman's poems glow with an almost radioactive edginess. Yet there is also range and substance giving her intense American voice staying power. To use Whitman's word, her work has 'amplitude'."
– Diane Wakoski

"Wanda Coleman's hard-edged new collection interrogates death's nearsightedness. Mother outlives son. Feet wear out before the heart. And the truth teller dies before truth frees her. These poems don't go gently."
– Douglas Kearney

"What strikes me first about The World Falls Away is Wanda Coleman's musical inventiveness. These poems are sonically complex and technically riveting. But along with this musical dexterity comes a poetic mind of great subtlety."
– Kevin Prufer

Wanda Coleman is a poet and writer from Los Angeles, California. Black Sparrow is proud to have published Mercurochrome, nominated for the National Book Award, and Bathwater Wine, winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, along with several other of Coleman's titles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interview with Aram Saroyan

In an interview with Yvonne Georgina Puig for the online culture and arts magazine This Recording, Black Sparrow author Aram Saroyan discusses his early literary influences (“for me,” Saroyan says, “the initiating figure was Robert Creeley”), his writing process (“these days I usually do a first draft in hand in one of those lined school notebooks that you can buy at Staples”), his perspective on the difficulties facing an author in modern America (“Artists are like window dressing on the main action, and I think it’s easy to lose your balance or paint yourself into a corner”), and many of the essays and critical pieces that appear in the 2010 collection Door To The River. Saroyan responds to Puig’s questions with the same unfussy, candid thoughtfulness that I personally admire in his writing:

Yvonne Georgina Puig: Is it more important to write well or love well?

Aram Saroyan: The best writing surely has love in some form in it and surely loving relationships play a part in bringing that into one’s writing. I don’t think it’s either/or, and both can be hard at times. But given the choice anybody’s going to want to choose loving over writing, no contest, right?”

The rest of the interview can be found here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Superior Person's Tuesday!

Clinomania n. Excessive desire to stay in bed. Not a bad mania, as manias go; and a reasonably plausible excuse for taking Monday off.

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. Clinomania appears in the Third.