Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, out in paperback (finally!)
Friday, March 27, 2009
It will be interesting to see how HBO does with its adaptation of the wildly popular series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. The series premieres Sunday night with a two-hour episode directed by Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley"), who died last March. On the small screen, private investigator Precious Ramotswe -- Botswana's first female detective -- will be played by Jill Scott, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter.
If the series -- filmed on location in Botswana -- remains true to the feel of the books, it will have a more languorous pacing than the nonstop action and edginess we often see in TV mysteries. The series excels at exploring the tension between tradition and modernity and at portraying the everyday lives of black Africans. Mr. Smith has said this about the country where he used to live: "...when you visit Botswana that you are likely to be impressed by the spirituality of the place. Not in a religious sense, but just a sense of human spirituality, and spiritual possibilities. And, you can't help but be bowled over by the magnificence of the country, by the sense of being in this great natural theater of light and wonderful expanses of countryside and intense natural beauty. It's very moving. It's overwhelming. I fell in love with it."
Alexander McCall Smith was born in 1948 in what is now known as Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He was working as a distinguished bioethicist -- serving on British and international bioethics committees -- and as a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, when the idea for the Precious Ramotswe character came to him. He chose to set the series in Botswana, where he used to teach law. He has now written more than 60 books, including academic texts and books for both children and adults, including two series featuring women who solve problems (Precious and Isabel Dalhousie, the main character in The Sunday Philosophy Club series set in Edinburgh.) He plays the bassoon in The Really Terrible Orchestra, an Edinburgh band he founded in which his wife, a physician, plays the horn. (The tag line for the orchestra is "The cream of Edinburgh's musically disadvantaged.")
The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency has been translated into more than xx languages and has sold more than xx million copies in English. [There's really no point in quoting actual numbers here, because his books are so wildly popular the numbers change pretty much daily!] The tenth book in the series, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (what a fabulous title) will publish next month in hardcover. The Miracle at Speedy Motors, the ninth book, just came out in paperback.
Since I don't have HBO, I'll have to stick to reading the books for now to keep up with Precious. But maybe someone who catches the premiere can let me know what they think.
This year's winner of the The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, sponsored by The Bookseller magazine, has just been announced. And the winner is....(requisite drum roll)...The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. Other finalists for this year's award were Curbside Consultation of the Colon, The Large Sieve and Its Applications, Strip and Knit with Style, Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring, and Baboon Metaphysics.
Not happy about this year's outcome? Be sure to go on line next spring (The Bookseller) and vote! Anyone can nominate a title (except publishers are not allowed to nominate their own books to prevent them from giving books willfully odd names -- I guess The Diagram Prize is a big deal if they have a rule to prevent people from playing the system!), and the public is invited to vote.
Past winners include The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Reusing Old Graves, How to Avoid Huge Ships, People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About it, and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories. Titles shortlisted in the past but not winning the Big Prize include Waterproofing Your Child, How to Write a How to Write Book, and I was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen.
The Diagram Prize began in 1978. The Diagram Group is an information and graphics company. The Bookseller magazine has been UK's leading business magazine for the book industry since 1858. Judges are discouraged from actually reading any of the nominated titles, because doing so might cloud their judgment.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
April is National Poetry Month -- hurrah! And it's just around the corner. So it's time to make your poetry plans. Here's some things you should know.
First off, at Broadway Books, we get absolutely potty for poetry year-round, but especially in April. And a big part of that craziness is our annual poetry sale, in which our entire poetry section is on sale for the entire month. Yes, you heard me right. Here's how it works: buy one book of poetry at regular price, and you'll get a second volume of poetry (of equal or lesser value) for HALF PRICE! Repeat as desired, all month long (no pink card punches, however). This is a great opportunity to replenish your own poetry shelves and choose some wonderful gifts for cherished friends.
We also have a couple of poetry events taking place in April. On Tuesday, April 7th, at 7 pm, Judith Arcana and Judith Barrington, two Portland poets and friends of the late, great Grace Paley, will read from Paley's posthumously published collection of poetry, Fidelity, as well as read some of their own pieces. They will also play a recording of Grace reading one of her best-loved poems. On Thursday, April 16th, also at 7 pm, Beverly Butterworth, former reporter and columnist for The Oregonian, will read from her second collection of poems, Where the Blackberries Grew. Check out our Web site for more details on these and other April readings.
Finally, the publisher Random House is offering you the gift of a poem a day in April. Just click here to register, and each day, through the miracle of technology, you will be sent a poem to savor from such poets as Mary Jo Salter, W.S. Merwin, Rudyard Kipling, Sharon Olds, Langston Hughes, and Katha Pollitt. Check it out!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Next month the winner of The Orion Book Award will be announced in New York City. The Orion Book Award is given annually to a book that has achieved excellence in addressing a growing ecological awareness and the need for a healthier relationship between humans and the natural world. Nominations for the award are made by advisors, writers, editors, and contributing editors of Orion. Selection of the winning book and four finalists are made by a five-person selection committee, which changes annually.
Here are the finalists for the 2009 award:
- Trespass, by Amy Irvine (North Point Press)
- The Wild Places, by Robert Macfarlane (Penguin Books)
- The Bridge at the Edge of the World, by James Gustave Speth (Yale)
- Inventing Niagara, by Ginger Strand (Simon & Schuster)
- Finding Beauty in a Broken World, by Terry Tempest Williams (Pantheon Books)
Previous winners of The Orion Book Award include The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, by Diane Ackerman (WW Norton) and Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin)
The first issue of Orion Nature Quarterly was published in June, 1982, and in its first-page editorial, George Russell, the publication’s first Editor-in-Chief, boldly stated Orion’s values:
“It is Orion‘s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.”
In the intervening twenty-five years, Orion has been a focal point in an extraordinarily rich period of nature writing, and it has remained true to that core conviction, though the magazine has evolved into a bimonthly, in larger format, and the range of its interests has broadened to include not only environmental but cultural concerns.
One of this nation's best-loved poets -- and a long-time favorite of Broadway Bookers -- is Mary Oliver, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and author of more than two dozen books, including eighteen collections of poetry. We are so happy that her newest collection of poetry -- Evidence -- has just been published.
Evidence is a collection of forty-seven new poems on all of Mary Oliver's classic themes. She writes perceptively about grief and mortality, love and nature, and the spiritual sustenance she draws from their gifts. Ever grateful for the bounty that is offered to us daily by the natural world, Oliver is attentive to the mysteries it imparts. The arresting beauty she finds in rivers and stones, willows and field corn, the mockingbirds' embellishments or the last hours of darkness permeates her poems. Her newest volume is imbued through and through with the power of nature to, in Oliver's words, excite the viewers toward sublime thought. And she reminds us that, in spite of anguish and loss, to have loved is everything.
Comments our very own Brian Doyle: "The work of Mary Oliver is one of those rare and lovely convergences. She is a lyric artist with a riveted eye and an enormous heart, one of the nation's great spiritual sentinels." And Katherine Hollander has this to say: "I should be clear that Mary Oliver is, to my mind, one of the most gifted American poets working in English today....the accuracy of her vision and the precision of her voice are unique in their refreshing simplicity."
I will offer you one little tidbit, "Prayer," but there are oh-so-many-more to enjoy:
May I never not be risque.
May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,
leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,
still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.
Also newly available is the paperback version of her previous book, Red Bird, offering sixty-one poems -- the most ever in a single volume of her work. Overflowing with her keen observation of the natural world and her gratitude for its gifts, for the many people she has loved in her seventy years, as well as for her disobedient dog Percy, Red Bird is a quintessential collection of Oliver's finest lyrics.
Monday, March 23, 2009
We hope you'll join us tomorrow night as we celebrate Oregon's sesquicentennial -- our 150th birthday! Matt Love, editor of Citadel of the Spirit, will be joined by two local authors represented in the anthology: Monica Drake and Cheryl Strayed. Matt has promised us a rockin' time, and there are rumors of cake. No better way to spend a rainy Tuesday night than celebrating Oregon with friends.
Over the past several months, more than 44 million people have seen the YouTube video clip of the reunion between Christian the Lion and his friends, Ace Bourke and John Rendall. The story of the men who adopted the lion cub from Harrods, lived with him in London, then released him into a free life in Kenya with the help of George Adamson, the "Father of Lions," has captured the hearts of people around the world. A Lion Called Christian, by Bourke and Rendall, is the definitive account of Christian's life, written by the men who raised him. From their early days in London, riding around town with a lion cub in the back of their car, to their time spent with George Adamson working to reintegrate Christian into the wild, to their heartwarming reunion with their beloved friend and the bittersweet story of the last time they saw him, this fully revised and updated edition of their 1971 memoir will bring new light to Christian's unusual and unexpected story. The book is illustrated with more 40 photographs, many of them never before published.
Also available is a version of the story for younger readers, in the 7 to 10 age range, also written by Bourke and Rendall. This version includes a 16-page insert of color and black&white photographs, as well as an insert of fun facts about Christian and lions in general
Friday, March 20, 2009
Tis the season for literary biographies. Three of the four cover reviews in March in the Sunday Book Review of the New York Times (including the one coming this Sunday, the 22nd) feature new biographies of famous American authors.
Brad Gooch's new book, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (Little, Brown & Co), reviewed by Joy Williams, started the literary parade on March 1st. O'Connor, who died in 1964, was a novelist and short story writer, perhaps best known for her collection A Good Man is Hard to Find.
On March 15th, Geoffrey Wolf reviewed Cheever: A Life (Knopf), by Blake Blailey, author of the fascinating biography of Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road). Cheever, who died in 1982, was also best known for his short fiction but also published several novels, including The Wapshot Chronicle, Bullet Park, and Falconer.
And this Sunday we get Colm Toibin's review of Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme (St. Martin's Press), written by Tracy Daugherty, professor of English at Oregon State University. Barthelme, who died in 1989, published 126 short stories in The New Yorker in his career and published sixteen books in his lifetime, including four novels. Toibin calls this book an "admiring, comprehensive, and painstaking" biography of Barthelme.
We have all these books, so come read up on these great and interesting American authors.
Local web site Reading Local is running a contest: vote for your favorite bookstore. As the Temptations said it oh-so-very-well, I ain't too proud to beg, so give us a shout out! Gabe has all sorts of interesting and useful information for readers on his site, so it's definitely worth checking out.
One of the most compelling YA novels I've read recently is The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Imagine "Survivor," except with teenagers and instead of competing to stay on the island they're competing to stay alive! The book is well written and offers interesting characters and is definitely a page-turner.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
I'm happy to report that the follow-up to this book, Catching Fire, will be published on September 1st. And, naturally, there will be a movie. Lionsgate has recently aquired worldwide film rights to The Hunger Games, and the author has been asked to develop a screenplay.
Stephenie Meyer, of humongous Twilight fame, is a big fan of this book. Here's what she had to say about her experience reading it: "I was so obsessed with this book I had to take it with me out to dinner and hide it under the edge of the table so I wouldn't have to stop reading. The story kept me up for several nights in a row, because even after I was finished, I just lay in bed wide awake thinking about it." And she's right; the book really does grip you.
Before writing The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was best known for her Underland Chronicles series, starting withg Gregor the Overlander, written for younger readers. She says she was strongly influenced by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in the writing of The Hunger Games. It's essentially an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, in which a ruthless government forces people to fight to the death as popular entertainment.
Any young reader interested in a private lunch with Suzanne Collins -- including the travel and accommmodations to go to New York City, where Scholastic, the book's publisher is headquartered -- can enter a writing contest where the Grand Prize is the trip and lunch. Just tell in 500 words or less how you would survive the Hunger Games. For details go to The Hunger Games web site. The contest runs until mid-may.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Fans of The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger -- and judging by our sales of the book there are an awful lot of them in Portland -- finally have a new novel to look forward to. Scribner (a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster) recently signed Niffenegger's newest novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, and publication is scheduled for the end of September 2009. (A movie based on The Time Traveler's Wife is scheduled for release in February 2010.)
Here is the author describing her forthcoming novel: "The novel concerns a pair of mirror-image twins, Julia and Valentina Poole. The twins are young, sheltered American girls who inherit a flat on the edge of Highgate Cemetery in London, bequeathed to them by their recently deceased aunt. Julia and Valentina are inseparable, and function almost as one being, although in temperament they are opposites. As the story begins, they arrive in London to live in their aunt's apartment. Their presence disrupts the lives of their upstairs and downstairs neighbors. Martin Wells is a translator who never leaves his apartment and struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Robert Fanshaw works as a guide in Highgate Cemetery and is devoted to all things associated with death. Julia takes it upon herself to "cure" Martin; Robert falls in love with Valentina and begins to pry her away from her twin. Valentina starts to crave autonomy. Julia becomes more demanding and possessive. Things get out of control, as you might imagine."
The author, a visual artist who is also a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, Center for Book and Paper Arts, has also written two graphic novels, or "novels in pictures," as she refers to them: Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. According to Niffenegger, "The thing that unites all my work is narrative. I'm interested in telling stories, and I'm interested in creating a world that's recognizable to us as ours, but is filled with strangeness and slight changes in the rules of the universe."
Another book that has been hard to get recently is The History of Albina, by Roy Roos, which tells a detailed history of historic architecture in neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland. Not to worry! We have recently received more copies of this book. Roy's first book, The History and Development of Portland's Irvington Neighborhood, published in 1997, has long been out of print, with used copies rare and highly coveted, so don't miss your chance to nab a copy of this book before it's in the same position.