Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Debut Novelist to Read at Broadway Books

We hope you can join us on Tuesday, June 29, at 7 pm to hear Loretta Stinson read from her debut novel, Little Green. Stinson's stunning, redemptive novel, set in 1976, follows a runaway who ends up working in a strip club and falls for a drug dealer, who spirals into addiction and becomes physically abusive. Stinson is the recipient of a 2008 Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Fiction. In 2007, she was a winner of the national Doug Fir Fiction prize. Her stories have appeared in The Bear Deluxe and Ooligan Press’ online literary magazine. She is currently working on her second novel. Stinson received a Master's in Publishing from Portland State University in 2007 and an MFA in Creative Writing in 2009. She currently teaches writing at PSU.

Debra Gwartney said that the book "had me in its grip after the first sentence and didn't let me go until the end," while Cheryl Strayed called the book "tender and tough, equal parts grit and grace," adding "It's a riveting and unforgettable debut."

Little Green is published by Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, a local -- and wonderful -- publishing company established in 2001. Some of the other books Hawthorne has published recently include Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink story, as told to Jody M. Roy; Clown Girl (recently optioned by Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig), by Monica Drake; The Tsar's Dwarf, by Peter H. Fogtdal; and The Well and the Mine, by Gin Phillips.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Puzzle Me This!

Come see the great new jigsaw puzzles we just got in at Broadway Books! We have both 1000-piece and 500-piece puzzles, for $15 each. The puzzles are magazine covers from past issues of The New Yorker, House Beautiful, Popular Mechanics, and Good Housekeeping. They range from as early as 1925 to as recent as 2000.

We also have a few smaller puzzles left, with 250 pieces, for $8. And we have some great puzzle decks from Will Shortz -- perfect for road trips or when you're gathered around the beach fire. I'm hoping the weather prediction for July in the northwest of "wetter and colder" than usual is WAY off the mark, but either way, jigsaw puzzles are great vacation fun. Come soon for the best selection!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Creepy Vampires for Dad...or Others

Holy cats! I forgot a very important book in my last posting about possible titles for Dad for Father's Day. Not counting the Stieg Larsson books, it's probably destined to be the hottest book of the summer: The Passage, by Justin Cronin.This book, the first of a planned trilogy, is a door-stopping apocolyptic literary thriller with government secrets, vampires, and humanity's future hanging in the balance.

Stephen King says "Read this book and the ordinary world disappears."

The Library Journal says "Although the novel runs 700 pages, Cronin is a master at building tension, and he never wastes words."

Ron Charles of The Washington Post said ""by the third chapter, trash was piling up in our house because I was too scared to take out the garbage at night."

Cronin, a professor of English at Rice University, definitely has writing chops.  He is the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and Stephen Crane Prize for his 2001 short-story collection, Mary and O’Neil, and he also wrote the novel The Summer Guest.

Grand Gifts For Daddy-O!

Father's Day quickly approaches. It's this Sunday, June 20th -- which, come to think of it, is also my brother's birthday, so I'd really better get cracking!

We've got a store full of great possibilities for gifts for Dad this year, and we've put together a table with some specific ideas -- the problem is that the table isn't nearly big enough to hold all of our ideas for great gifts, but it's a start. Here are just a few titles that might appeal to your papa:

  • Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth, James Tabor. A fascinating book just published this week about caving -- basically upside-down mountaineering.
  • The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Nathaniel Philbrick. I'm reading this right now -- it's terrific.
  • The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, David Remnick. Detailed account of our president's historic ascent from the editor of The New Yorker.
  • The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, Timothy Egan. Fascinating account of the largest forest fire in America and how it saved the US Forest Service.
  • Halfway to Heaven: My White-Knuckled -- and Knuckled-Headed -- Quest for the Rocky Mountain High, Mark Obamscik. Author in midlife tackles ambitious adventure of climbing Colorado's famous Fourteeners.
  • Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, Larry Tye. The definitive biography of Satchel Paige, an African-American pitcher in a segregated America.
  • The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, Howard Bryant. Revelatory portrait of a complicated, private man who through sports became an enduring American icon.
  • Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, Michael Lewis. "The good, the bad, and the merely baffling about having kids."
  • Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, Michael Chabon. These autobiographical essays are a series of reflections, regrets, and reexaminations.
  • A Son of the Game: A Story of Golf and Fatherhood, James Dodson. Acclaimed golf writer returns to Pinehurst, North Carolina, where his father taught him the sport and rediscovers the joy he initially found in the game.
  • Sh*t My Dad Says, Justin Halpern. Chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship. Soon to be a TV series starring William Shatner.
  • The Father of all Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam, Tom Bissell. A veteran and his son's journey through Vietnam.
  • The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, David Grann. New Yorker writer ventures to the Amazon to find out what happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett when he disappeared in the Amazon jungle in 1925.
  • Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, Ben MacIntyre. Another fascinating and true WWII espionage story from the author of Agent Zigzag.
Or perhaps you might want to get Dad a novel. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall -- reading about someone with 4 wives, 28 children and a failing construction business ought to make Dad feel pretty good about his life.
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest -- The third book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium Triology
  • The Lion, the newest book from Nelson DeMille
  • Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes -- a novel of the Vietnam War 30 years in the making, from an author who grew up in Seaside, Oregon.
  • The Imperfectionists, a novel-in-stories by Tom Rachman about an international English-language newspaper's struggle to stay afloat.
  • Tell-All, Chuck Palahniuk's Hollywood-inflected latest novel.
  • 61 Hours, the latest Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child.
These are just a few ideas. We've got lots more -- gardening books, BBQ books, poetry books, biographies, mysteries, or even a good old Broadway Books Gift Certificate. Dad is sure to be pleased with whatever you pick out for him at Broadway Books.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Sale Books have Arrived!

It's always a very happy day here at Broadway Books when we get a new shipment of sale books. As you can see from the photograph, it's happy time! Our shelves are bursting with a newly arrived selection of great reads at remarkable prices. In fact, we got so many great books this time around we can't fit them all on the shelves. We even got some cool new booklights -- for only $4.50!

Here's just a tiny taste of the wonderful bargains in store for you: On the fiction side, you can get The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike, The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander, and The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman -- only $6.50 each! Or you can get Marilynne Robinson's novel Home, which won about a zillion prizes, for only $7.50. Or, as you can (sort of) see in this photo, one of my favorite books  -- The Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier -- is a mere $5.50! What a deal!

On the nonfiction side equally delightful treasures await, including The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester for $7.50, Janis Ian's memoir Society's Child for $6.50, The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Great Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick for $6.50. We've also got The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield for a mere $6.50, and if Buddhist psychology doesn't solve what ails you, you can try The Perfect Drink for Every Occasion for only $5.50.

In most cases we only have one or two copies of each of these treasures, so come quickly while you have the best selection to choose from. Jennie has really outdone herself this time!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

This is Your Brain on Technology

I came inside from reading in the sun to have a little nosh. Flipped on the TV and discovered a fascinating panel discussion on C-SPAN's Book TV, broadcasting from The Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Lit Fest. I came in just in time to catch the last half of the technology panel with Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter; Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains; and Jack Fuller, author of What Is Happening to News: The Information Explosion and the Crisis in Journalism, in conversation with Owen Youngman.

I just started peeking into The Shallows last week, and it's quite intriguing; a book that will likely get added to my heaping "to be read" stack. I'm a big fan of Tom Bissell's writing, especially his narrative nonfiction writing. He recently joined the faculty of the English Department at Portland State University. His new book takes him in a totally new direction, talking about the creative and artistic legitimacy of video games as a popular art form. Bissell was recently awarded a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in creative arts for general nonfiction, which he plans to use to finish a nonfiction travel book about early Christianity that he has been working on for five years, with the working title The Tombs of the Twelve Apostles. You might also remember him as the host of last fall's Oregon Book Awards ceremony.

I'm not familiar with Mr. Fuller's book, but it sounds intriguing as well. Like Carr, he delves into the latest discoveries in neuroscience, drawing a clear and startling picture of a human brain that is simply lagging behind our information-rich times. He has written several novels and nonfiction books on journalism and won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1986 for his editorials on constitutional issues in the Chicago Tribune.

Great timing for heading inside to eat -- now back outside to the sunshine to continue reading The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver, who last week won The Orange Prize for her novel. And it's terrific!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kingsolver Wins Orange Prize for Fiction

Barbara Kingsolver's most recent novel, The Lacuna, has just been named the winner of this year's Orange Prize for Fiction. The novel tells the story of Harrison Shepherd, taking the reader on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover, highlighting the estrangement of art and politics in the US. "We chose The Lacuna because it is a book of breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy," said Daisy Goodwin, chair of judges. Kingsolver was previously shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1999 for her novel, The Poisonwood Bible (it was also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize that year).

In an interview with Cynthia Crossen in The Wall Street Journal last year, Kingsolver talked about her passion for research: "The best research gets your fingers dusty and your shoes dirty, especially because a novel is made of details. I had to translate places through my senses into the senses of my readers. I had to know what a place smelled like, what it sounded like when it rained in Mexico City. There's no substitute for that. I've been steeped in evidence-based truth."

The other finalists for this year's fiction prize were Rosie Alison, The Very Thought of You; Attica Locke, Black Water Rising; Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall; Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs; and Monique Roffey, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.You can read more about the Orange Prize at our previous blog posts here and here.

Kingsolver is the author of six other novels, two collections of essays, a book of poetry, and three nonfiction books, including the bestselling book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, published by Harper Collins in 2007. In 2002 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. In 1998 she established the Bellwether Prize, honoring fiction addressing issues of social justice. [Sidenote: The most recent winner of the Bellwether Prize is former Portland resident Heidi Durrow, for her novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.]

Kingsolver rew up in rural Kentucky and earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to southwestern Virginia where she currently lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

There is a great quote from the author on her website: "What keeps me awake at the wheel is the thrill of trying something completely new with each book. I’m not a risk-taker in life, generally speaking, but as a writer I definitely choose the fast car, the impossible rock face, the free fall."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Stieg Larsson Stories Found

Stieg Larsson is the talk of the town -- every town -- these days. His three-book "The Girl Who..." series (although was it intended to be longer than three???) is selling like hotcakes. Roberta just finished reading the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and says it's even better than the first two. She said she had to force herself to put down the book so she could come to work!

And now we've just learned that two early science fiction stories by the late crime novelist have been uncovered at the Swedish National Library in Stockholm. Larsson sent them to a Swedish science fiction magazine when he was 17, hoping to have them published, but the magazine rejected them. The museum received them as a donation in 2007. Larsson was 50 when he died in 2004, not living long enough to experience the wild success of his Millenium series.

I'm willing to bet there will be something more by Stieg Larsson published within the next few years. After all, publishing books by dead people is relatively common in the book world. For example, we lost the wonderful Robert B. Parker in January, but his books are still coming -- the newest (and sadly last, I think) Spenser novel, Painted Ladies, will be published in October.

We'll let you know if we hear news about anything new from Stieg Larsson!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Drash IV Unveiled!

We hope you can join us at 7 pm on Tuesday, June 8th, to hear readings from Volume IV of Drash: Northwest Mosaic. Drash is a Seattle-based literary review filled with poetry, prose and photos encouraging the redemptive nature of life from Jewish and other perspectives. It provides a vehicle for writers and artists -- using Jewish, Northwest and universal themes -- to comment on the world, to illuminate and provide connection in Jewish lives, and to educate and entertain both Jews and non-Jews. Wendy Marcus, the editor of Drash, is a former reporter with the Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian, and University of Washington Daily. In 1983 she co-founded (with Rabbi James Mirel) the Mazeltones, the Northwest’s pioneering klezmer band, which had a 16-year run. Currently, in addition to serving as editor of Drash, Marcus is the music director at Temple Beth Am in Seattle’s North End. She is also the author of Polyglot: Stories of the West's Wet Edge.

In the newest volume of Drash, thieves, Nobel Prize winners, bus riders, and prophets spring off the pages. Joining Marcus to read on Tuesday will be Diana Brement, Jeanne Krinsley, Willa Schneberg, Devan Schwartz, Scot Siegel, Jack Turteltaub, and Sharon Lask Muson. Marcus’s goal is for this annual publication is to reflect the feel of the Jewish Northwest, but she is open to work from outside the region and even from non-Jews who write on Jewish themes or culture.

It's sure to be a great evening -- please join us!

Another Meloy to Write for Young Readers

A while back we wrote in this blog that Colin Meloy, lead singer/songwriter for the Portland-based band The Decemberists, had signed a contract with Harper Collins to write a three-book adventure series for kids, illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. Now we've just learned that his sister, Maile Meloy, has also signed to write a kids book.

Maile, the author of two interconnected novels (Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter) and two collections of short stories (Half in Love and Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It) has signed a contract with G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers for a Young Adult novel, The Apothecary, set during the cold war that follows a teenage girl who moves to London. While there, a chance meeting with a strange apothecary draws her into a scheme to save the world from nuclear destruction.

Maile's most recent book, Both Ways..., was cited in the Top Ten Books of 2009 by The New York Times Book Review and was named a Best Book of 2009 by The LA Times. The stories focus on big moments in small, isolated lives, featuring decent people with tragic flaws that lead them to try to have it both ways, which of course they can't.

She was born in Helena, Montana, and currently lives in LA. She earned her MFA in fiction writing from UC-Irvine. Some of the books that influenced her early on were Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins, and The Monkeywrench Gang, by Edward Abbey. Some of the books she's loved lately include Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, by David Eagleman; Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann; and Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. She's also a big fan of The Collected Stories of John Cheever and Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger.

Maile likes going back and forth between writing short stories and writing novels: "It's like the difference between a long marriage and dating, and there are advantages to each." Her advice to writers is to "set aside a time to write, even if it's only an hour or two a day, and think of the time as the requirement....I start many, many stories and abandon most of them, but eventually some pay off."

Not too surprisingly, Maile lists The Decemberists as one of her favorite bands. And now we will be treated to books for young readers from both Meloys!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Summer Book Talk is On!

I'm a bit of a stubborn reader. NOT a reluctant reader, not that at all. But stubborn in that I don't particularly like having to read a specific book on a specific schedule. I like to read whatever I'm in the mood to read at any particular time. Perhaps it's a lack of self-discipline. I prefer to think of it as my Renaissance side, and my independent nature. But that's up for debate.

Because of that, my idea of the ideal book club is one in which the members gather periodically to rave about the best books they've read recently, or the ones that made them think, or made them cry, or made them shout "YES" out loud. It's made even more appealing if it involves yummy treats and possibly even adult beverages of some sort. If that meshes with your way of thinking, or if you're actually in a real book club because you're a real grown-up, have we got a treat for you!

On Tuesday, June 15th, at 7 pm, Broadway Books will be offering its annual Summer Book Talk, where we'll talk about good books to read and discuss, tell you about some new books coming out soon and what books are coming out in paperback,  give you some ideas to shake a reading group out of a rut, and take recommendations for good reads from attendees. We'll offer sips and snacks, and there will be prizes!! Does it get any better than that? I think not.

All are invited, but seating is limited, so you must register in advance by paying a $5 per person fee, which will be refunded toward any purchase you make during the evening. We plan on having a great deal of fun and sharing a lot of terrific ideas. Come join us!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Jean Auel Book Announced!

Calling all Jean Auel fans -- you have less than a year to wait for the sixth and final book in her Earth's Children series! This week at Book Expo America Crown Publishers announced that The Land of Painted Caves will be published on March 29, 2011, thirty-one years after the first book in this epic prehistoric series. According to the publisher, the novel will see Ayla struggling "to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni – one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers." In a rare move in the publishing world, the book will be published simultaneously in all the countries in which it will initially appear, including the US, the UK, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Sweden.

Auel’s groundbreaking Earth’s Children series has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, and more than 22 million copies in the US alone. The series began in 1980 with the classic The Clan of Cave Bear, followed by The Valley of Horses. In 1985, the third book in the series, The Mammoth Hunters, was the first hardcover novel to achieve a one million-copy printing. The fourth book in the series is The Plains of Passage, and the fifth and most recent installment is The Shelters of Stones, published in 2002.

Auel was born in Chicago and moved to Portland with her husband Ray when she was pregnant with their second child -- they eventually raised five children. The storyline for the series was born in the Multnomah County Library system, when Jean went there to do research for a short story and came home with stacks and stacks of books. The series is acclaimed for the prodigious research behind it -- both in libraries and in person -- as well as for its inspired storytelling and meticulous attention to detail.

The books are set in prehistoric Europe, in the Dordogne region of France. In 2008 Auel was named an Office of the Order of Arts & Letters by the French Minister of Culture & Communication. She has also received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Portland, from which she received her MBA in 1976.

Here is a link to a brief article by Jeff Baker of The Oregonian announcing the new title and offering more information about the author and the new book.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Could You Live in the Woods with No "Conveniences"?

This morning I listened to David and Evelyn Hess being interviewed on OPB's "Think Out Loud," as they talked about living in harmony with nature. Unfortunately, I missed some of what they said because at the same time I was dealing with the guy from the environmentally sounding pest solution company who had come to help me get rid of my infestation of sugar ants. Made me feel a little guilty, I must confess. Then again, not many people I know could have chosen the same path as the Hess's and done it so successfully and gracefully.

Seventeen years ago, while in their late 50s, they made the decision to leave their home in Eugene with all of its comfort and modern conveniences and live full-time on their twenty-one acres in the foothills of the Coast Range, near the community of Lorane. While they now have a real house nearing completion, they have lived the majority of the time in a one-time storage trailer ("2-1/2 good paces across and less than 5 times that long") with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Now, more than seventeen years later, they can't really think of anything they would do differently in the move.

Tonight Evelyn Searle Hess joins us at 7 pm to read from her memoir about the decision and the experience, To the Woods: Sinking Roots, Living Lightly, and Finding True Home, published by Oregon State University Press.

They were excited when they first decided to make the move, knowing that it would provide not only a solution to their financial woes but also "a great adventure," " a tantalizing challenge," and "a respite from the noise and pace" of city living. But it turns out there was more: "We didn't guess what it would teach us about ourselves and our relationships, not only with each other but with the whole world."

While the trailer provided some basic shelter, their lives were really lived outdoors. They shared their land with voles, rabbits, chipmunks, crickets, bullfrogs, blue herons, hawks, ants (!!!), millipedes, slugs, worms, ducks, bats, raccoons, coyotes, deer, turkey vultures, porcupines (not seen but the evidence brought home by the dogs in their noses), mice, snakes, hummingbirds, and bugs of all sorts -- and even bear!

Without plumbing, they carried their water as they needed it: "I loved the inconvenience of having to carry water. It was a constant reminder to use as little as possible...and to appreciate water as not only vital, but as a blessing." Although Evelyn did acknowledge that the inconvenience was made a little easier to love by the fact that David did most of the carrying of water.

They lived without a telephone for years as well, until David suffered a brain hemorrhage that led to a long hospital stay and a couple of years of recovery out on the property. Now they have a cell phone that enables them to check messages and to make calls in the event of an emergency. David later told Evelyn that the main thing he learned from his hemorrhage was not to fear death. "The main thing I learned is that life is precarious and brief; and all the more precious on that account."

Now in their 70s -- they met in 1954 as college freshman -- David and Evelyn are preparing to move into the house they mostly built themselves, after many frustrating years of trying to satisfy land-use building plans, fire-break requirements, and other necessary approvals.

Before making this move, Evelyn managed the University of Oregon's greenhouse for ten years, taught native-plant gardening classes, established an operated a plant nursery, and served as a gardening consultant. "I had many years of gardening, schooling in horticulture and landscape architecture, respect for ecology, a life-time love of nature -- I thought I knew what I was doing." "I had always considered myself a student of nature, but it turned out I was a very young student -- a kindergartener."  Later, Evelyn notes that "I slowly and erratically began to accept the creatures that ate my garden, which pointed the way also to respect for the humanity of people I didn't agree with or understand."

Both David and Evelyn have learned a lot through this on-going experience and have reestablished a deeper communication and stronger bond with each other. It has also enabled them to see more clearly the differences between wants and needs. Most of all, "Living out in the woods we learned to see life as it is, not as we might dream it or see it on T.V. We became less caught up in ourselves and more tuned into the world. We began to see each other, along with the bugs and flowers and voles, as what we each were, our contributions, habits, needs -- not good or bad, just there. Pieces of life. Part of the whole."

Please join us tonight at 7 to hear more from Evelyn about why they made this move and what they have learned thus far along the way. It is a story both thought-provoking and engaging.