Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Videos from BB Events are Up!

Recently I've been busy catching up with editing and posting videos from events at the store this summer. You'll find a whole bunch of new videos of several wonderful events, which you can access through our YouTube channel, the events page on our website, or at our Facebook page -- whatever works for you!

I've also had the "pleasure" of editing a video in which I appear. There are few things less pleasant than watching yourself on video. What's even worse than when I'm talking in the video (hard to imagine that there could be something worse) is when I'm in the background when Roberta or Kate is talking. I'm always futzing with my hair or making screwy faces. What's up with that? And what's worse is that having this knowledge probably won't make me do these things any less. Instead, next time I'll probably be standing in the background, listening intently to what someone else is saying and absently mindedly futzing with my hair, and then I'll think jeez, there I go again. But it won't stop. C'est la vie.

Matt Love and Willy Vlautin Tonight!

Matt Love and Willy Vlautin can't help themselves. It's in their blood. They're both born story tellers for whom place plays an integral role in their stories. But one has chosen the route of nonfiction writing, while the other has opted for writing fiction.

After earning his master's degree from Lewis and Clark College in 1988, Matt set off on his teaching career. After about a decade he became dissatisfied with the life he was living and moved to the Oregon Coast to take a teaching job at Neskowin Valley School, an independent country day school. The manager of the 600-acre Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge was the father of one of his students, and he asked Matt if he would be interested in the caretaker's position at the refuge, which offered the use of a small house in exchange for performing work at the refuge, a former dairy farm in dire need of restoration.

"The opportunity to become caretaker of this refuge was the greatest thing that ever happened to me," Matt says. "It was the opportunity to get connected to the land, to get myself physically and mentally in shape." It also gave him time to write. And, when not hacking lots and lots of Himalayan blackberries from the refuge property, Matt began to write, working on his own books and writing for a variety of publications.

In 2003 he launched Nestucca Spit Press. Matt has written five books, including his most recent, Gimme Refuge: The Education of a Caretaker, and has edited several, including Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon's Sesquicentennial Anthology. In 2004 he realized that he was ready to teach again, that it was all coming together -- the environmentalism, the teaching, and the writing -- and since then he's been teaching English and journalism at Newport High School. This fall he will be teaching a photography course (using cameras with film, I think!) --  the first time in 20 years the class has been offered at NHS. Matt left his caretaker's position at the refuge after losing a fight to limit public access to the grounds.

Matt was awarded the 2009 Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award from Oregon Literary Arts for his contributions on behalf of Oregon's literary and historical legacy.

About writing, Matt says, "Work hard, tap your passions for material, embrace solitude and put your ass to the chair are the only credos that seem to have worked for me." Matt is all about passion, and when you read his books and columns, his passions are abundantly clear. Speaking about the new editor at the high school's paper he says, "She seemd fired up. That's what I like about her and other people who share this same trait...They get fired up. Whatever is not in their vocabulary." I am pretty sure that "whatever" is not in Matt's vocabulary either.

Willy Vlautin was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. He picked up a guitar and got into music, and at 20 became a big fan of the Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly. Kelly used Raymond Carver's short story "So Much Water So Close to Home" to inspire the writing of lyrics for one of his albums, and Willy soon became hooked on Raymond Carver's stories as well. Shortly after that he started writing stories himself, and he hasn't stopped since. And his songwriting became story telling as well.

Willy moved to Portland and founded the band Richmond Fontaine in 1994. The band (whose name comes from an ex-pat hippie living in Mexico who rescued a bandmate in his pickup truck when his car broke down in the middle of the Baja California desert) has produced nine albums and a handful of live recordings and EPs. He chose Portland because he wanted to be in a "gentle" big city, and he wanted to be close enough to Reno that he could drive back in a day. After he moved here he became entranced by the Portland music scene. He also became very fond of the Portland Meadows racetrack, and spends a lot of his time writing there.

In his latest book, Lean on Pete, told through the eyes of 15-year-old Charley Thompson, a boy left to fend for himself by his wayward single father, Portland Meadows is the setting for much of the action. At the track, Charley befriends an aging quarter horse named Lean on Pete.

Willy has published two previous novels, The Motel Life and Northline -- Northline comes packaged with its own soundtrack on CD. His books feature people with an edge, hardscrabble people living in the shadows, and he shows an empathy toward people whom life has beaten up and broken down. One reviewer said this about Willy's writing: "The guys writes like the secret love child of Raymond Carver and Flannery O'Connor -- just plain, true, tough, irony-free, heartrending American fiction about people living in the third-world sections of our country." When I read Willy's books I often want to shake his characters and say no don't go there, because you can often see they're heading down a bad path, but you can't stop watching. And caring.

Willy says that "writing stories is what I do to keep my head straight, much more than caring about whether they get published."

Like I said at the beginning, these guys can't help it; they're both born to write and to tell us stories. And lucky us, they're both reading tonight at Broadway Books at 7 pm! So we hope you can join us. Come early to get a seat!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Guide to Portland's Hidden Stairways

Laura O. Foster's books about walks in and around Portland are some of our bestselling books. Her first book was Portland Hill Walks: Twenty Explorations in Parks and Neighborhoods. Her next book was Portland City Walks: Twenty Explorations in and around Town. Now comes her long-awaited stairs book: The Portland Stairs Book: Walks, View, Stories, just published by Timber Press.

This charming, pocket-size guide offers a guide to the intriguing and heart-pumping hidden stairways found throughout Portland. From Mount Tabor's 282-step climb, to the glass cupola atop 115 steps in the old Pioner Courthouse, Laura guides you through them all, providing trivia, stories, and stair vocabulary along the way.

Laura, who moved here in the 1980s from the midwest and discovered Portland's treasure trove of stairs, has this to say about neighborhood staircases: "There is something ineffably 'other' about a neighborhood staircase. It's not a road. Not a trail. Not a multi-use path. A staircase is a tangible concession that no, indeed, roads cannot be carved wherever humans want them. Their slightly subversive, escapist nature attracts urban explorers, runners, walkers, and anyone else who cannot comprehend how mall-walking could be a pleasurable activity."

The book offers helpful maps and directions, as well as photographs that make you want to be there now. The stair list at the back of the book covers a total of 207 public exterior staircases -- 10,155 steps in all. And in case you're wondering if Laura walked every stair in the book, the answer is yes, she did!

We're expecting this book to fly out of the store, like a ball tumbling down a flight of stairs tucked away in a tree-lined neighborhood, so don't delay coming in for yours.You might want to buy a few -- they'll make perfect gifts!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's A Book!

This pretty much says it all, perfectly.

Cute New Carry-All

Come check out the fun new oilcloth tote bags made by a local artist. They come with a special hook for your keys, along with handy inside pockets for wallets, writing utensils, phone, or whatever else you want to tuck into them. Just the right size for carrying two or three great books on your next outing!

Heartland Prize to Rebecca Skloot

Portland's own Rebecca Skloot was recently awarded one of two 2010 Heartland Prizes by the Chicago Tribune for her wonderful book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Rebecca, daughter of local poet and memoirist Floyd Skloot, has written a book that has taken the world by storm -- currently it's standing at #7 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. We wrote about the book extensively when it first came out, so you can read more about it here. The past two recipients of the nonfiction Heartland Prize were Nick Reding for Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town and Garry Wills for Head and Heart: American Christianities.

The Tribune also awarded the 2010 Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement to Sam Shepard, playwright, screenwriter, author, stage and film director, musician, songwriter, and actor. His most recent book is a collection of short stories, Days Out of Days: Stories, set mainly in the West.

The Heartland Prize for Fiction went to E.O. Wilson for his first novel, Anthill, the story of an Alabama boy who becomes fascinated with ants. He is the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes for his earlier nonfiction work. The two previous winners of the Heartland Prize for Fiction were Jayne Anne Phillips for Lark & Termite and Aleksander Hemon for The Lazarus Project.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is one of the most interesting and well told stories I've read in a long time. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly encourage you to do so; it's well worth your time. Congratulations, Rebecca!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Business Book of the Year

The longlist was just announced for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. The award, in its sixth year, aims to identify the book providing the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.

Many of the books on this list come as no surprise. One, however, stood out from the others because it is the only novel on the list: Union Atlantic, by Adam Haslett. The Union Atlantic of the title is a Boston bank that senior manager Doug Fanning has built into an international powerhouse through a series of elaborate gambles. Although this is Haslett's debut novel, his short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.  Here's what one reviewer had to say about Union Atlantic: "Haslett's novel is smart and carefully constructed, and his characters are brilliantly flawed."

Here is the full longlist:
  • The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations, Ian Bremmer
  • How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities, John Cassidy
  • Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to its Knees, Patrick Dillon and Carl M. Cannon
  • Fortune's Fool: Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Warner Music, and an Industry in Crisis, Fred Goodman
  • Union Atlantic: A Novel, Adam Haslett
  • The Art of Chossing, Sheena Iyengar
  • The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World, Walter Kiechel
  • The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World, David Kirkpatrick
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis
  • More Money than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite, Sebastian Mallaby
  • All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera
  • What Works: Success in Stressful Times, Harnish McRae
  • Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, Raghuram Rajan
  • The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, Matt Ridley
  • Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System -- and Themselves, Andrew Ross Sorkin
  • MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams

Wonderful New Books on Sale Today!

It's another big release day in the publishing world. All kinds of exciting new books arriving in the store today. Here's just a sampling of what's just arrived:

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, is the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. You know the author has something good going on when you have a quote from Stephen King on the back along these lines: "...a novel that generates nearly constant suspense....I couldn't stop reading." Technically a young adult novel, but the series is being enjoyed by all ages and all genders. [If you blew through Book Three this morning and are looking for another YA dystopic novel, try the series by James Dashner. Book One, The Maze Runner, just came out in paperback.]

A Gate at the Stairs, by one of my all-time favorite short story writers, Lorrie Moore, just came out in paperback today. A finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the novel was also named one of the Best Books of the Year by several major publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and The Christian Science Monitor. Set in the shadow on 9/11 on a midwestern college campus.

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, by John Vaillant, just came out in hardcover today. In this gripping true tale of man and nature, Vaillant tells the story of a man-eating tiger on the prowl in Russia's Far East in 1997, and the team of men and dogs hunting for the tiger. Vaillant wrote another great book, The Golden Spruce, that is available in paperback. The Tiger is going on my to-be-read stack today! [We also have an audio version of the book -- perfect for your end-of-summer road trip.]

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins, has just been released in paperback. After transforming our view of God in The God Delusion, Dawkins takes on the proponents of "intelligent design," clearly and beautifully delineating the evidence behind evolutionary theory, from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay is Here!

Haven't yet picked up your copy of Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins? Here's the author reading from the first chapter to whet your appetite. We've got the book! This trilogy is terrific.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thoughts on Books & Bookstores

Yesterday's Portland Tribune offered an article on e-books and their impact on bookstores, in particular small local independent bookstores. Our very own Book Broad Roberta Dyer was quoted in the article, and in fact the article ended with this wonderful quote from Roberta:

“You can display it on your bookshelf,” Dyer says. “You can loan them out, and you can make notes in the margins. You can throw it across the room if it makes you mad, and if you drop it in the bathtub you’ve just lost one book, not every book that is on there.”

To read the whole article, click here. Clearly I am not an unbiased observer of this discussion, but I personally cannot imagine a house without books, real books, ink-on-paper with pages that you turn. When I select a book and when I'm reading a book, the physical look and feel of the book matter to me. I appreciate beautiful typography, and well-created covers. I've looked at books on electronic readers, and I just don't get the same pleasure from reading the same words that way.

I think e-books have a place in our world -- especially, perhaps, for textbooks and reference works, and for people who fly frequently and like to take lots of books with them -- but I can't imagine them ever replacing the printed book. The format of the book has functioned so simply and beautifully for years. I hope they will always be a major part of our world, and that there will always be value to the local independent neighborhood bookstore.

What's your opinion?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Longlist of 2010 Man Booker Finalists

Last week the judges for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction announced the longlist for this year's prize, selected from a total of 138 books considered. The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, September 7, and the winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 12. Booker winners and finalists tend to be some of my favorite books --  Simon Mawer's The Glass Room, for example. I'm not as familiar with many on this year's list, but I intend to become familiar with more of them. Because this is a British prize, not all of the books on the longlist are available (at least yet) in this country. I've indicated where I know about availability at our store. Without further ado, here's the list:
  • Peter Cary, Parrot and Olivier in America, an inventive reimagining of Alexis de Tocqueville's famous journey (available in hardcover).
  • Emma Donoghue, Room. Based on a true story and told from the point of view of 5-year-old Jack, tells the story of an abducted young woman held captive for years in a 12-foot-square room. (available in hardcover September 13)
  • Helen Dunmore, The Betrayal. Dunmore is the winner of the first Orange Prize for fiction by a woman (A Spell of Winter). The Betrayal is set in Leningrad in 1952, in Stalin's post-war Russia.
  • Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room. Tells about relationships between people thrown together in the course of journeys (to Lesotho, Central Africa, and India).
  • Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question, a comic novel about a man obsessed with Jews and Jewishness.
  • Andrea Levy, The Long Song. Levy is the author of one of my favorite novels, Small Island, which was recently adapted for television by the BBC.  The Long Song tells the story of the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom in 19th-century Jamaica. (available in hardcover)
  • Tom McCarthy, C -- historical fantasy, sometimes witty and sometimes eerie, built around the early years of radio transmission. (available in hardcover September 7)
  • David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. This is one of the hottest-selling books at the store right now, from the author of Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten. A majestic historical romance set in turn-of-the-19th-century Japan and focusing on a Dutch East Indies trading official. The book was recently reviewed in The Oregonian by Vernon Peterson. (available in hardcover)
  • Lisa Moore, February, a fictional exploration of the impact on one family of the 1982 sinking of the oil rig Ocean Ranger, in which 84 men died, most of them Newfoundlanders. (available in paperback)
  • Paul Murray, Skippy Dies, a darkly comic novel of adolescence set in Dublin. Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Games) has just been signed to write and direct a big screen version. (available in hardcover August 31)
  • Rose Tremain, Trespass, an electrifying novel about disputed territory, sibling love, and devastating revenge by the author of The Road Home and Restoration. (available in hardcover October 18)
  • Christos Tsialkas, The Slap. When a man slaps a child who is not his own at a neighborhood barbeque, the act triggers a series of repercussions in the lives of those who witnessed the slap. (available in paperback)
  • Alan Warner, The Stars in the Bright Sky, a darkly comic tale of six hard-drinking ex-schoolgirls in Scotland heading out on holiday.
This is what the chair of the judges, Andrew Motion, had to say about the list: "Here are thirteen exceptional novels -- books we have chosen for their intrinsic quality, without reference to the past work of their authors. Wide-ranging in their geography and their concern, they tell powerful stories which make the familiar strange and cover an enormous range of history and feeling. We feel confident that they will provoke and entertain.

Peter Carey is one of only two authors to have won the prize twice (Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang). He has also had a book shortlisted and another longlisted. David Mitchell has hit the shortlist twice, and Damon Galgut and Rose Tremain have hit it once. Tremain also served as a judge for the Booker Prize in 1988 and 2000. Howard Jacobson has been longlisted twice.