Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local Author Wins Locus Award

Winners of the 2009 Locus Awards, sponsored by Locus Magazine, were announced at a ceremony and banquet Saturday night in Seattle during the Science Fiction Awards Weekend. One of the winners was Oregon's own Ursula K. Le Guin, whose novel Lavinia was named Best Fantasy Novel. Neal Stephenson's Anathem was named Best Science Fiction Novel, Neil Gaiman won Best Young-Adult Novel for The Graveyard Book, and Kelly Link won the Best Novella award for Pretty Monsters.

Locus Magazine has been covering the science fiction and fantasy field since 1968. The monthly publication provides news of the science fiction/fantasy field and extensive reviews and listings of books and magazines. The magazine is published from Oakland, California. The publisher and editor-in-chief is Charles N. Brown. You can read more about the awards at the magazine's Web site.

In related sci-fi news, Cory Doctorow's Little Brother and Ian R. MacLeod's Song of Time tied to win the 2008 John W. Campbell Memorial Award. This is only the third tie in the award's history. The awards will be presented at a banquet July 10, 2009, held during the Campbell Conference in Lawrence KS, from July 9-12.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year is one of the three major annual awards for science fiction. The first Campbell Award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1973. The Award was created to honor the late editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, now named Analog. Campbell, who edited the magazine from 1937 until his death in 1971, is called by many writers and scholars the father of modern science fiction. Writers and critics Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss established the award in Campbell's name as a way of continuing his efforts to encourage writers to produce their best possible work.

The Campbell Award differs from the other two major awards in the field by being restricted to the novel and by its method of selection. The Hugo Awards are voted on by some thousand of the several thousand members who pay advance fees to attend the World Science Fiction Convention, which meets annually at different locations on Labor Day weekend. The Nebula Awards are voted on by some hundred of the nearly three thousand members of the Science Fiction Writers of America and presented at the annual Nebula Award meeting usually held late in the Spring. The Campbell Award is the only award of the three selected by a committee small enough to discuss among its members all of the nominated novels. You can read more about The Campbell Award here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Paintings

Syd McCutcheon was in town this week and left us more of her colorful and engaging art to sell. We now have eight new paintings, from large (30" X 30") to small (10" X 10"), hung in the store. Prices range from $55 to $550. Come in and have a look!

Border Songs a Big Hit at Broadway Books

It was a packed house and a happy house at Broadway Books last night to hear Jim Lynch read from his wonderful second novel, Border Songs. Jim has been a big favorite at BB since the publication of his first novel, The Highest Tide, and people were eager to hear from his new one. Jim read a few passages -- some of which were hysterical, all of which were beautiful -- and talked about the process of writing the book. As a long-time journalist, Jim is well-versed in research and investigation, which served him well in the writing of this book, for which he had to learn about birding, autism, dairy farming, the US/Canadian border, and other subjects. After taking questions from the audience, Jim gladly sat and signed book after book for his enthusiastic audience. And then he signed some more books. All of the books we have in the store, in fact. So come on down and get your very own signed copy of Border Songs, before they fly away. My prediction? Brandon Vanderkool will become as well-loved a literary character as Miles O'Malley has been. And now we know: Jim can write short and tall. A huge thank you to Jim and all who attended for a truly wonderful night!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Paperbacks Just in Today!

It's Tuesday, which is the day that many publishers release their new titles. Why Tuesday, you might ask? And the answer is I have no earthly idea. I'm sure it stems from some very important publishing tradition, but I haven't a clue what it is. Perhaps someone can educate me on that score. But, what I DO know, is that we got a couple of great titles in paperback today. The first, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson, is the first in the trilogy by the Swedish author who died shortly after delivering the manuscripts for the three books. The book is a spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue, and by all accounts it is spectacular. Even more impressive, the early reports on the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire (due out in hardback next month), are even MORE positive. So get started on the first book now so you're ready for #2!

The second book that arrived in paperback today is one of my favorites this year, from one of my favorite authors: The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars, by Andrew X. Pham. Pham is the author of Catfish and Mandala, one of our consistent top-selling memoirs at the store. [If you haven't read it yet, come in and we'll tell you all about it.] His second book is the story of his father, told in the father's voice but written by the son. The Oregonian named it one of the Top Ten National Books of 2008, when it first came out in hardback, and The New York Times Book Review had this to say: "Few books have combined the historical scope and the literary skill to give the foreign reader a sense of events from a Vietnamese perspective....Now we can add Andrew Pham's Eaves of Heaven to this list of indispensable books." Read it for the history it teaches, for the compelling portrait of Vietnam it provides, for the story it tells of the tragedies of a family, but mostly read it for the beautiful, vivid prose it uses to do all of the above.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sale Books, Oh My!

I just finished unloading our brand new shipment of sale books this very moment, and I gotta tell ya, there are some sweet, sweet deals to be had. "Like what?" you ask? Well, like a hardcover Silver Palate cookbook for $15.50! Or, how about Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje's newest novel, in hardcover for a mere $6.50. "But that's like stealing!" you say. No, no...think of it as our gift to you, lovely customers. There's also a slew of other great novels, mysteries, kids' books, cookbooks, gardening books, and a whole host of fascinating non-fiction (well, I think it's fascinating anyway, even though I'm biased because I'm the one who orders the sale books), like Eric Larson's Thunderstruck for $6.50. I would suggest, though, that you make quick tracks down here before Sally buys up all the good ones :-)


Don't forget--tomorrow is Father's Day. And what better way to celebrate (and honor) your dad's supreme awesomeness than with a book. Does your dad like edgy fiction, perhaps? Maybe he would like Chuck Palahniuk's new book, Pygmy. Is he a golfer? A chef? A couch potato? A walker? A runner? A gardener? A kid at heart? A writer? A mountain climber? A ballet dancer? A fly fisherman? A bird watcher? Or, maybe all of the above? We've got the book for him, and you'll be promoted to favorite kid status. It's win-win. Feel free to ask for suggestions if you feel overwhelmed by all the amazing titles we have here at the store.

White-Knuckling it For Father's Day

Tick tock...Father's Day rapidly approaches -- it's Sunday, in case you've forgotten. THIS Sunday. Yikes! Here's another book idea for Daddio: Halfway to Heaven: My White-Knuckled--and Knuckleheaded--Quest for the Rocky Mountain High, in which author Mark Obmascik, inspired by his son's climbing bug, attempts to climb all 54 peaks higher than 14,000 feet in Colorado -- known as "The Fourteeners." Given the author's physical conditioning at the start, it was a pretty ambitious undertaking -- especially since The Colorado Fourteeners have killed more climbers than Mount Everest! Think Bryson's A Walk in the Woods meets Krakauer's Into Thin Air, but probably a little more Bryson than Krakauer.

His wife's only insistence in this whole endeavor was that he never climb alone, so while many of his favorite climbs were in the company of his oldest son, he also trolled the internet for potential climbing partners when his son wasn't available, resulting in what Obmascik calls his hiking "man-dates," which he says turned out to be his favorite part of climbing the Fourteeners.

Besides being an entertaining account of his quest, the book offers historical tidbits about previous Fourteeners and portrayals of his various hiking man-dates.

Mark Obmascik has been a journalist for two decades, most recently at the Denver Post, where he was lead writer for the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and winner of the 2003 National Press Club Award for environmental journalism. His freelance stories have been published in Outside and other magazines, and he has aired numerous political stories on public affairs and television news programs.His most recent book was The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession An obsessed birder himself, he lives in Denver with his wife and sons.

We've got lots of other great suggestions for you for gifting Dad on Sunday, including Michael's Lewis's new book about fatherhood, which Ron Charles of The Washington Post recently described as the Dad's version of Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. Come see us!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Your Oregon Wine-Touring Companion

I'm heading to Walla Walla this weekend, for a little family meet-up time, albeit short. As you must know by now, Walla Walla is the hot new wine capital -- a far cry from the small wheat-and-onion-and-strawberry town that I grew up in. When I left WW for college (more than a decade ago, less than a century), there were ZERO wineries in WW; at last count there were more than a hundred, many of them producing top-notch wines. Sure makes coming home for the family visitation even more exhilarating! And along with all those wines and wineries comes four-star restaurants and wine bars. Yeehaw!!! Hmmmm. I might have to come home with a bottle or two....

But Oregon ain't no slouch in the wine department either. And as summer approaches -- although the rain and hail I see through the store window would say otherwise -- it's a good time to start planning some winery tours. A newly published book might be the perfect companion for those trips, Wine Trails of Oregon: A Guide for Uncorking Your Memorable Wine Tour, by Steve Roberts. This book is chalkful of photographs and maps to guide you through the entire state (including Zerba Cellars, one of my favorites, which is in Milton-Freewater -- spitting distance from the actual town of WW). While it doesn't have every winery in Oregon, at almost 500 pages it's got enough to keep you amply saturated. Cheers!

Farming in Downtown Oakland, For Real!

You don't usually put "farm" and "downtown Oakland" into the same thought bubble. I've lived in Oakland, and I've been to farms, and I never would have thought the two could be mixed. But Novella Carpenter has proved me wrong, and we have the book that documents it -- Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter.

Novella grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State, the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables. Yet she also loves cities -- the culture, the crowds, the energy. So she decides to try to have it both ways. When she moves to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovers a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door, she closes her eyes and pictures heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop. And she makes it happen. The result is Ghost Town Farm. My friend Luan, who owns a wonderful little independent bookstore in Oakland (Laurel Book Store), actually got to tour Novella's farm as part of the book launch -- and I saw with my own eyes the pictures of Luan with Novella's baby goats -- so I know it's the real deal.

Farm City is an unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer's tips, and a great deal of heart. It is about the battle between urban life and the natural world, as well as a beautiful meditation on what we have given up to live the way we do. This book just arrived on our shelves this week, and it looks terrific. Come on down and check it out for yourself!

Stone Offerings in Machu Picchu

In June of 2007, Mike Torrey, an accomplished architectural photographer, received an offer that would fulfill a life-long-dream: to travel to Machu Picchu at the solstice. Torry processed this life-affecting experience through the lens of his camera. The result is a collection of breathtaking photographs that capture at once the wonder and the universal and timeless significance of this enchanted and inspirational place. That collection of photographs, along with a passionate and sweeping introduction in both English and Spanish by Peruvian-born author Maria Arana, constitutes the book Stone Offerings: Machu Picchu's Terraces of Enlightment.

On Monday, June 22nd, at 7 pm, Mike Torrey and his Portland-based photo editor, Kirsten Rian, will be at Broadway Books to talk about his experience, the place, and the making of this gorgeous coffee-table book. And of course to sign books and answer questions. According to one reviewer, "The pages of Stone Offerings flow like an Incan pathway, images splicing together this most evocative of ancient wonders." Another concludes that "the poetic lens of Mike Torrey is an inspiration for us to make our own offerings for a better and more beautiful world." What a great gift this book would make -- we hope you can join us!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bi-Coastal Love Fest

We've long been fans of Jim Lynch, and his beautifully written debut novel, The Highest Tide. And I'm sure you're all tired by now of my telling you about his wonderful second novel, Border Songs -- which just hit stores yesterday!!! I'm happy to report that we in the West are not alone in our admiration for Jim's beautiful writing and storytelling. Today, Ron Charles, writing in The Washington Post, gives a big thumbs up to Border Songs. You can read the full review here. And don't forget (although how could you possibly) that Jim will be at Broadway Books on Thursday, June 25th, at 7 pm to read from his new book and sign. (What a great gift a signed copy of Border Songs would make -- perhaps an armload or two to gift all of your friends??) Come early -- we're expecting a crowd. See you there!

A Gift for a Graduate

The literary world lost one of its most brilliant players last September when David Foster Wallace (author of the novel Infinite Jest and the essay collection Consider the Lobster, among others) took his own life. The son of a philosophy professor and an English teacher, Wallace grew up in a family where language took center stage.

In March, The New Yorker published a lengthy piece about Wallace by journalist D.T. Max. I've just learned that Viking Press (a division of Penguin) intends to publish Max's book about Wallace, likely in 2011. The biography is intended to be a "cradle-to-the-grave narrative about Wallace’s life and the historical-cultural backdrop against which he produced his work."

In his New Yorker piece, Max wrote that Wallace believed that good writing should help readers to “become less alone inside.” He quoted Wallace's sister Amy as saying “I think he was always afraid that the last thing he wrote would be the last thing he wrote.

Max also tells us that from 1997 on, Wallace worked on a third novel, entitled The Pale King, which he never finished. His drafts, which his wife found in their garage after his death, amount to several hundred thousand words, and tell of a group of employees at an Internal Revenue Service center in Illinois, and how they deal with the tediousness of their work. The partial manuscript—which is structured as a mock memoir and which Little, Brown plans to publish next year—expands on the virtues of mindfulness and sustained concentration.

In a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005, Wallace told graduates that true freedom “means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.” That speech has recently been published in book form: This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. Perhaps you know a graduate for whom this would make a good gift.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hanging with Marc

Jennie and I had a wonderful visit yesterday afternoon with author Marc Fitten, who stopped by for a visit on his combination reading tour/Indie100 Tour of 100 independent bookstores across the country. What a great guy! Marc is the author of the debut novel Valeria's Last Stand, which I've written about here before. And here. You can read about his tour of bookstores at his blog. Marc is on his way to the Oregon Coast today, then over to Sunriver, then moving down south to the Bay Area, hitting independent bookstores along the way.

It was great talking to Marc, because he was able to share lots of interesting ideas that other independent bookstores are implementing in these challenging economic times -- and he sold a copy of his book to the first customer who walked in the store! How about that! We've got a few more signed copies of his terrific novel, so come check it out for yourself.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another Great Week Ahead!

What an exciting week next week promises to be -- like this week wasn't wild enough! In fact, Tuesday promises to be a day among days, truly. First, in the morning, we will have the new novel from dearly loved Jim Lynch (The Highest Tide), Border Songs, as well as the "prequel" to The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel's Game. Then, as if that wasn't enough, Tuesday night we're gathering with fellow booklovers at Broadway Books to talk about great reads and about what's coming out over the next several months. There's still time to register for this event - check out our website for details. And here's to a great June 16th!

I have been a HUGE fan of The Highest Tide, ever since it first came out. And Jim is about as nice an author as you could ask for. [Don't forget about his reading here on June 25th!] I was worried that I might not like Border Songs as much (you know, overly high expectations and all that rot), but no, I am happy to say that I loved it just as much. Maybe more (I'm shallow that way -- last read, most loved). And I thought I was really screwing up by not getting around to reading The Shadow of the Wind sooner, and in a sense I was -- what a spectacular book! But, because I cleverly just read it last week for the first time I didn't have to wait nearly a decade for his next book, like the on-top-of-their-game early readers of Shadow. Hmmmm. You decide: brilliant or just paralyzed by procrastination, or perhaps merely suffering from an overly optimistic idea of getting through the "books I want to read" stack.

Making Art and a Little Whoopee

So sorry I've been lax in posting this week. I've been READING! What a concept! Just finished the new first novel by Marc Fitten, Valeria's Last Stand. What a thoroughly enjoyable read. I encourage you to read it too. Set in a small Hungarian village, the book is about love, art, progress, and, well, tomfoolery. And who doesn't like tomfoolery??? Fabulous characters.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What a Great Night!

Wow! What an awesome crowd for last night's reading of the new anthology Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City! Thanks, everyone, for being flexible about the seating arrangements (especially those who had none - but note Tom's creativity in finding a place to hunker down). Big thanks to our readers -- Dexter, Sage, Colleen, and Tom. And an especially big thanks to Ariel for making it all happen, starting with the book. So exciting to have an anthology that is totally Portland-produced: editor, authors, publisher, distributor. Broadway Books is proud to have hosted the first reading for this wonderful collection of first-person narratives. If you missed last night's reading, come on down and get your own copy of the book; you won't want to miss these stories!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Portland Queer on Monday

Next week we celebrate Gay Pride in Portland, and we kick it off with a reading at Broadway Books from the recently published anthology Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City, edited by Ariel Gore. This anthology of short pieces is both a love letter to the Rose City and a dream of escape, offering first-person narratives that reveal the contradictions and commonalities of life in one of the world's greatest queer meccas. Featured authors reading here include Tom Spanbauer, Dexter Flowers, Michael Sage Ricci, Colleen Siviter, and Ariel Gore. The reading takes place Monday, June 8th, at 7 pm. Hope you can join us!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

Many of our regulars here at Broadway Books are fans of Alexandra Fuller's writing. Her first book, Don't Let's go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, about growing up in South Africa, was followed by Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier, about her adolescence. Both of these books are very popular with our customers, to a great extent because of Fuller's writing: sharp, insightful portraits presented in prose that borders on poetry in its beauty and essence.

Her most recent book, while tackling different terrain, is similarly beautifully written. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant tells the story of a young Wyoming roughneck, working on the oil rigs in Wyoming's high plains, who falls to his death from a rig while only in his mid-20s. The book tells Colton's story beautifully, but it also tells the story of a land that has shifted from cowboy-dense to roughneck-dense, and of a country whose unceasing demand for energy drives the growth of oil production. (Then again, maybe roughnecks are cowboys, but the landscape changes.) The book grew out of an article Fuller wrote for the New Yorker in 2007 about the costs and consequences of the energy boom.

The chapters are short, the prose breathtaking, and the story pulls you along. While acknowledging that she has taken some narrative liberties with the book in the interest of storytelling, the book tells a real story: a story of a real person who died in the interest of greater profits. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and even though I knew from the beginning how the story would end, it still found myself moved to literal tears at the book's conclusion. (I should acknowledge, however, that my brother works on oil rigs -- usually in the Gulf of Mexico but most recently on the high plains of Wyoming, so the story hit me personally.)

Fuller was born in England in 1969 and moved with her family to a farm in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1972. After that country's civil war in 1981, the Fullers moved first to Malawai, then to Zambia. She met her husband-to-be when he was working as a safari guide in Zambia. After the birth of their first child, they moved to Wyoming in 1994, where they live now and are the parents of three children. She wrote several novels about life in South Africa, but none were accepted for publication. When she turned to nonfiction, and wrote about her life and her parents -- warts and all, without judgment -- she had found her true form.

The Sounds of Birds in Spring

Hey blog-watchers, did you know that we're Tweeting now? Yes, it's true, you'll find bookbroads posting Tweets of interest to book lovers almost every day! Many have links to reviews of new books and interviews with authors. You can sign up on Twitter to follow our Tweets, or you can view our Tweets on our home page. Ah, the joyous sounds of springtime tweets.

Learning to Be a Dad


Still not sure what to get Dad for Father's Day? Here's a great new book about fatherhood from Michael Lewis, known primarily for his books about sports and money -- including Liar's Poker and Moneyball. Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood began as a series for the online magazine Slate. Lewis had begun keeping a journal about his experiences of fatherhood seven months after the birth of his first child, Quinn. He kept writing, he says, because of "this persistent and disturbing gap between what I was meant to feel and what I actually felt."

Lewis's role model as a father was his own father, who took a fairly hands-off approach to parenting and left the "dirty work" to mom. In fact, his father quips that he didn't even start speaking to Lewis until he went away to college. Despite this distant approach, Lewis adored his dad and didn't resent him for not being present in the same way that his mom was. And mom didn't get "extra credit" for being there: "Small children are ungrateful; to do one a favor is, from the business point of view, about as shrewd as making a subprime mortgage loan."

The book is organized into three parts, one for each child: daughters Quinn and Dixie and son Walker. The dedication is great: "For Quinn & Dixie & Walker: If you don't want to see it in print, don't do it." The book is funny and moving and unsparing. Below you'll find an interview with Lewis by Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." If Home Game isn't quite what you're looking for in a gift for Dad, come on by and get other ideas from us -- we've got tons! (And he really doesn't need another tie.)

Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis

Monday, June 1, 2009


One of the best parts of my job -- besides talking to all of the interesting customers who frequent Broadway Books -- is opening up boxes of new books from publishers! It's always so exciting -- I want to buy them all! It might be the first day of June, but it feels like Christmas to me!!! Here's a taste of what I opened tonight -- and that will be ready for you to buy tomorrow:

The paperback versions of When I Was Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris ("Solutions to Saturday's Puzzle" left me in tears -- the good kind -- but all of the essays are typical-David-hysterical. If you want to know about the cover, click here.), David Guterson's novel The Other (he of Snow Falling on Cedars fame), Me of Little Faith, by the irascible Lewis Black, and The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins, the award-winning account of America's conflict with Islamic fundamentalism, described as an instant classic of war reporting; the latest from local mystery writer Phillip Margolin, The Fugitive, and from Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work; and the fourth installment of The 39 Clues series for kids, Beyond the Grave, by Jude Watson.

I also unwrapped a little treasure from Chronicle Books called A Bloom A Day: A Fortune-Telling Birthday Book, which tells me that my flower is the "Flame" tulip, which is at once flamboyant and delicate. Hmmm. I'm betting most who know me would say I favor one over the other; I'll let you guess. Also a person of "ambiguous and paradoxical behavior" who has a "tendency towards luxury" but seldom spoils myself. Perhaps true now; not so much in the past. My partner is a Colmanara wildcat "Golden Red Star" orchid (wow!), who might find it "hard to resist outbursts of emotion" that usually result in "extravagant displays of love rather than anger." (Whew! And so true.) Also aspires to "luxury and may have difficulty in practicing self-control." Hmm. We might be in trouble. (just kidding, honey....)

I can't wait to see what tomorrow's deliveries bring! Come on down and see for yourself....