Fall Festival Fun

September 21, 2014 at 8:55 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Yesterday was the 2nd Annual Fall Festival at Good Books in the Woods.  A picture paints a thousand words, so here ye be:

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#DidntMakeItToTheFestival raffles happening today (and possibly later this week) on twitter.

If you’re interested in being a vendor next year, contact Good Books in the Woods on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GoodBooksintheWoods

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Cheever Books

July 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

This weekend I had three book signings in San Antonio. Each signing was at a Half Price Books location.

When I wasn’t haunting Half Price Books stores selling and signing my own books, however, I found myself being a tourist and stumbled into quiet places like Cheever Books.

P1020562This is the back parking lot, you actually walk around to the front to enter.  It still looks appropriately quaint and historic from any direction.  And once inside, you are greeted with this:

P1020568The online reviews of this store run fifty-fifty.  It seems most people either love it or hate it.  I’m here to give my honest assessment.  I love it, but they aren’t perfect.

So here’s the scoop on Cheever Books…

You might want to spend hours here.  Don’t come for a quick peek.  Things aren’t organized well, but the experience is magical.  If you have the time to go on a treasure hunt you’re bound to find Gabriel Garcia Marquez in three different places within the M’s as opposed to one place in the G’s.

The poetry wall is extensive – and full of short story anthologies.  There’s a lot along this wall you won’t find anywhere else though.

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If I had had enough money, I would have bought this book.  It isn’t common.  It was in good condition.  It looks exciting.

However, I settled on something more affordable.

I found these hiding underneath a stack of Horatio Hornblower books that I already own.  I couldn’t get the whole set, they were roughly $10 a piece, but I did get the one on the far left and I hope to find the others again one day.

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Upon any visit you are bound to find three things: a magical gem over priced, a magical gem appropriately priced, and a great book that is neither magical nor appropriately priced.  Relish the ambiance and the appropriately priced gem, don’t allow your rose colored lenses to be clouded by the rest.  In a book hunter’s world, it is still a marvelous visit.

There’s a review about the owner being “creepy,” but I met two out of the what I believe to be three employees for the company, and both were pleasant.  I enjoyed my time in Cheever Books and would readily visit again with cash in hand to spend.

It’s not as clean and easy a shopping experience as what you will have at Good Books in the Woods (where you will find similar treasures at more affordable prices), but it is most excellent.  That is not to say it’s dirty either.  By “not as clean” I mean that you will find books piled in your path, much of the inventory is peppered along the floors.  There are a few dust bunnies, but not nearly what you would expect among such a haphazard collection of books.

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So, San Antonio residents who adore Cheever Books – when you visit Houston and you need your  book fix, your store is Good Books in the Woods.  Houstonians who love Good Books, when in San Antonio, the stores on Broadway are for you.  (The Broadway HPB gives our Kirby location a run for its money in the awesome department.)

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Texas Tour Interview with S. Smith

May 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

1. You came to Texas for the first time for an Earth Day celebration book signing tour. Let’s recap, what stores and schools did you visit?

P1010693Bookstores:
Good Books in the Woods, Spring TX

Half Price Books in Houston at these locations:
Clear Lake
Humble
Montrose

Half Price Books in San Antonio at these locations:
Broadway
North Central
Huebner
Bandera

Half Price Books Austin area:
Round Rock
South Lamar
Southpark Meadows
North Lamar

Half Price Books in Dallas area:
Lewisville
Mesquite
Flagship (hpb.com/001)

Schools:
Claughton Middle School in Houston
Austin Jewish Academy in Austin

2. Did you meet any memorable customers you’d like to send a shout out to?

P1010713Oh my gosh—so many! The young woman from Spain studying in the futures program, sorry I can’t remember the name of the program and don’t know if I got hers. What a long, great conversation. There was Rob who was interested in knowing more about publishing. Marie Senter, “Viva la Fiesta!” in San Antonio who blessed me with my own pair of cowboy boot earrings. Lots of excited and, alternately, very shy kids. I met kindred spirits in the food movement who were very encouraging about the theme of my books. Answering these questions is helping me remember all the good times. 🙂

3. Where did you visit when you weren’t at bookstores and schools?
Unfortunately, my husband and I did not get to do too much touristy stuff, but we got in a little. Of course, first, I got to meet my number one fan in Texas and her family, and visit her woods—you! We also got to visit Old Spring. In San Antonio we ran into a spring festival called Fiesta that we hadn’t a clue was happening! We also were staying in an old part of town with historic homes, many included on the “walking tour.” We met the owner of one of those homes (shout out to Victoria!), who gave us an inside tour of the home. I also got to have dinner with an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in 30 years! And of course we did the Riverwalk and had dinner there the first night. Unfortunately, in Austin and Dallas it was just busy, busy, busy. On the way home we got in a quick visit to Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico and the Grand Canyon. We were sort of on a deadline to get back.

4. Do you have a favorite city or region, now that you’ve been here?san-antonio-visitor-bureau
I think we both enjoyed San Antonio the most. But it might have been because we were staying at a very good location. Close to downtown and in a cool, older neighborhood.

5. Did you learn anything new on your tour?
Sure. I learned how cool Half Price Books bookstores are, for one. Besides books, records, etc., they have lots of very nice stationery products which I am a sucker for. I also learned what the sky looks like when it’s full of dust. I got to see a lot of new terrain. We drove through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and a touch of Utah. Some of those were for the first time. And the Hoover dam is huge.

6. Did you try any new foods?
No, I don’t think so. Unless you count McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger. Although there were a different kind of beans being served with the Mexican meals than we usually have here. Charro beans?

8. Your trip ran into the Easter weekend. How did celebrating Easter on the road differ than how you celebrate it at home?

DSC00844Normally at home we would go to church in the morning and in the afternoon my family would get together, have a traditional meal where I would bring my homemade egg noodles, my sister-in-law would bring her fried rice, and five or six layer jello, my sister would bring her green or pink creamy salads, mom a pie or two, and whoever is hosting filling in with the rest (ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, more pies…). Then the kids would do an Easter egg hunt until nobody wanted to hunt anymore and everyone wanted to hide the eggs. Sometimes we use plastic eggs, but I like to use the real boiled and colored ones. It would be a lot like the scene in Heirloom where it is Easter. This year we drove from Houston to San Antonio on Easter. We managed to get to a church service late and then we were offered some food that they had eaten in the morning before the service. Since we were on the road we ate some. So I had two tamales and an orange for Easter noon dinner this year. But I guess the Riverwalk dinner at night was also on Easter. It just didn’t seem like Easter, but periodically someone would wish us a happy Easter.

9. What would you tell non-Texans to expect from a visit to Texas?

Texas_FlagIt’s hot, there are a lot of big roads around the major cities, lots of Texas flags flying, Houston people drive too fast, but folks are friendly.

10. In the third installment of the series, the story takes readers to Florida. Do you see a Florida trip in your future?

Well, I have been to Florida, just not out and about much. A reader in Florida recently invited me down, so you never know….:)

 

Even if you missed the tour, don’t miss out on the books:

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April Events 2014!

April 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The month of April is full of Earth Day celebrations. More specifically, S. Smith, author of a dystopian young adult series that I can’t seem to rave enough about, has planned a trip to Texas from Oregon!  I’m so excited!

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Earth Day 2014 revisedShe will also be at the Montrose HPB (hpb.com/011) on Saturday, April 19th, 6pm-9pm.

Then she’ll be making rounds in San Antonio, Austin, and finally Dallas!  Check out her website for more details on events in those cities: http://authorssmith.com/book-news-and-events/

seed savers book marketingAlso, although I am based out of Houston, this is a Dallas event that I support with all my heart and would love to attend if I were able:

Deep Ellum Karyna

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Literary Journal Monday – Gatsby Love

March 25, 2014 at 12:00 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

All About Additional Literary Journal Adventures at Good Books in the Woods

I got to peek at some incoming journals today, they were hanging out on the owner’s desk…

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P1010434The American Mercury

The American Mercury was an American magazine published from 1924[1] to 1981. It was founded as the brainchild of H. L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan. The magazine featured writing by some of the most important writers in the United States through the 1920s and 1930s. After a change in ownership in the 1940s, the magazine attracted conservative writers. The magazine went out of print in 1981, having spent the last 25 years of its existence in decline and controversy. – from Wikipedia

So that’s cool, but the real juice is this, here in the June 1924 edition…

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For those who don’t know, “Absolution” is important to fans of The Great Gatsby.  Why?  Well, you see, the writing of The Great Gatsby has a rich history.  It may have been published by Scribner in 1925, but Fitzgerald had several previous versions of the literary classic.

In 1923, he had written 18k words for the book that was destined to become The Great Gatsby but scrapped most of what he had written and began again.  These scraps can be found peppered throughout literature under different headings and titles – titles like “Absolution.”

“I’m glad you liked Absolution.  As you know it was to have been the prologue of the novel but it interfered with the neatness of the plan,” Fitzgerald wrote his editor.  The novel in question was none other than The Great Gatsby.

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The above letter is a page from Dear Scott/ Dear Max: The Fitzgerald – Perkins Correspondence.

So many neat things can be found inside the pages of literary journals and I’m enjoying discovering the treasures.

Somewhat unrelated, but definitely something for the Fitzgerald collector that I found while researching this post, are some wonderful embellished journals.  The creators have taken the first handwritten page of The Great Gatsby and imprinted it on the cover of leatherbound journals.  So beautiful:  http://blog.paperblanks.com/2012/09/f-scott-fitzgerald/

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Literary Journal Monday – The Black Cat

March 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1010396It may have been a whole week since my last post, but the discovery I made today has made the whole week of dry reading worth it.  In fact, what I discovered today at Good Books in the Woods made this entire series of Literary Journal Mondays worth it.

Today I found The Black Cat.

Tucked away, just two hardbound volumes (collections of the actual magazine), hidden in the Literary Journal room.

It was a beautiful, thrilling moment, opening the jacket to a random page and finding this:

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“The Black Cat” is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1843 – it was a horror piece about a murderer similar to The Tell-Tale Heart.  It’s no wonder that in 1895, a literary journal called The Black Cat was born, dedicating itself to short stories of an “unusual nature.”  Of course, I don’t know for sure that the founders of The Black Cat were referencing Poe, but I can’t help but jump to that conclusion.  It’s something I would do.

The original mThe Black Cat coveragazine covers varied from month to month, like most magazine covers do, but they all have a spunky contemporary Gothic look that I imagine was hard for people to pass up.  The publication ran until 1922 and featured some surprising contributors.  Rupert Hughes, Susan Glaspell, Ellis Parker Butler, Alice Hegan Rice, Holman Day, Rex Stout, O. Henry, Charles Edward Barns, and Octavus Roy Cohen all made appearances in the journal. For Jack London collectors it has become a bit of marvelous legend, as London attributed his “A Thousand Deaths” story being printed there to saving his life.  They paid him when no one else would, and when he really needed the cash.  London is quoted having said, “literally and literarily I was saved.”

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It is so coveted by collectors that the original edition featuring London sells at auction for more than the above hardbound books go for in antiquities stores.

Jack London The Black Cat

Were I a millionaire, I would not hesitate to buy them all up.  Standing in the store today I remembered Nicholas Basbaines’ A Gentle Madness as I salivated over the two collectibles on the shelf.  This is true beauty, I thought, this in my hand.

I read Jack London’s contribution, it is only a few pages, then continued to snap photos as I carefully turned the pages, my eyes thirsty for old fonts and typesetting.

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Literary Journal Monday – Mapping My Mind

March 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am not ADD, but my mind is often many places at once. It goes and goes… it races… it is unstoppable.

hungerI’ve been reading Hunger by Michael Grant.  It’s one of my niece’s books – the second in a series she introduced me to.  No, that’s not how I want to start this post – is it?

I was craving a little bit of dystopian society literature after reading Herodotus.  My brain spinning in a circular momentum about democracies, oligarchies, and dictatorships.  Darius and then Xerxes tyrading around ancient lands building the Persian Empire.  A thousand utopian and dystopian variations of all societies throughout history – a million possible outcomes for our modern world – twisting about in my mind.  Conveniently, it was at this moment that a trailer for the movie Divergent came on and I thought, “It’s about time I read Veronica Roth.”

Cue discussion of autism I’ve been having on and off with people since reading Not Even Wrong written by Paul Collins. Collins is an amazing author and obscure historian. Still suffering from story hangovers from Divergent and the movie Tonight You’re Mine (all about instantaneous human connections) – I found myself thinking about my niece’s Gone series.

Set in a town in California, all the kids fifteen and under have been left in a supernatural bubble – all adults over puberty have vanished, leaving kids and babies to fend for themselves and create a new government. Not unlike Lord of the Flies, different factions have formed. One is under the leadership of Sam Temple, another under his half brother Caine (the biblical implications of Caine and Abel not to be lost on readers, of course). Sam and his new girlfriend, Astrid, are two of the oldest left behind. They have formed a parental union for the younger kids, caring for all the helpless, including Astrid’s autistic brother.

Like bumper pool – or pinball, if you missed out on the bumper pool phenomena – the synapses in my brain spark and twitch and leap bringing me back to Paul Collins/Not Even Wrong/ McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Then, I find myself thinking, “Goodness, it’s Literary Journal Monday.

tonight you're mineTonight You’re Mine still echoing in my gut (I’m pretty sure I love that movie far more than what is considered healthy or normal), I veer toward the London Magazine when selecting my Literary Journal Monday feature. (Tonight You’re Mine is set in Scotland – not England, but for an American like me, it is the closest I can get in Literary Journals once I mentally cross the pond.)

London Magazine February/March 1981 Vol. 20 Nos. 11 &12

The Private Letters of Tennessee Williams and a piece on Gore Vidal catch my eye. I flip through the first few ads, the table of contents, then stop dead on a heading: FINAL REMINDER.

“If we are to survive the next issue we need 1,000 new subscribers or their equivalent, and we need them immediately […]”

P1010303My reading screeches to a halt and I turn to the shelf. Were there more? Did they have to cancel the magazine? Did they get their 1,000 readers? Ah, sigh, they survived. At least until 1989 where the collection at the bookstore stops. So clearly, they got their 1,000. I wonder who these 1,000 were and if this final reminder is what provoked them to officially subscribe. Or were they friends and family of existing subscribers, terrified their favorite magazine would cease to exist if they didn’t recruit others to love what they loved?

My thoughts have veered so far off track that I forget what I was reading altogether. I flip through the journal in my hand trying to grasp the reason I had sat down to look at this in the first place.

It’s March. St. Patty’s Day is coming up. Irish authors keep popping in and out of my mind. Ireland… Scotland… Tonight You’re Mine… music… poetry… Derek Mahon, an Irish poet’s name blinks at me from the page of the literary journal in my hand. Literary Journal Monday, of course. I read the poem “The Elephants” first. I love elephants. Then my eyes skip over to “April in Moscow” and I read “Spring burst into our houses…” It does, doesn’t it? Just bursts right in and none too soon. At the end of the poems there is an ad for the Poetry Society Bookshop at 21 Earls Court Square in London. I wonder if it is still there.

If they do still exist, I bet they have a copy of Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure. I’m dying for a copy. Leav has been speaking to my soul lately. Misadventures stuck in the cogs of the mind of a woman turned 30.

A line from Grant’s book swings into full view of my mind’s eye:

“He buried his face in her hair. She could feel his breath on her neck, tickling her ear. She enjoyed the feel of his body against hers. Enjoyed the fact that he needed to hold her. But there was nothing romantic about this embrace.” – pg. 21

There rarely is when a hug is really needed. It’s that moment Leav writes about…

When words run dry,
he does not try,
nor do I.

We are on par.

He just is,
I just am
and we just are.

– Lang Leav

The lack of selfishness between the characters at this point is refreshing in fiction and real life.

In a 2014 American Society of infantile adults who never learned to fend for themselves and work hard without constant praise, we are fascinated by literature and movies where children and teens are forced to grow up overnight and be adults.

It’s sad when the idea of fifteen-year-olds co-leading a community and making wise, unselfish decisions for themselves and each other sounds absurd and fictional. My associative mind leaps back to all the ancient history I’ve been studying, back to the likes of King Tut – pharaoh at age nine – dead by nineteen, married somewhere in between.

We believe in responsible marriages like the Romans, but we chase telepathic connections like the Greeks. What a very convoluted and contradictory way to live – the reality of a dystopian society is that every society is a dystopia – even a society of one. Our minds are everywhere and nowhere. Of course we are in conflict.

I suppose you Literary Journal Monday followers got a little more than you wanted. I bit off more than I could chew today. I attempted to map my own mind and identify all the associations and patterns, leaving myself somewhat exhausted from chasing whimsies.

At least I got to spend a few stolen moments in this room…

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Literary Journal Monday

February 25, 2014 at 1:42 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

P1010137Today, I picked up The Arizona Quarterly.  It was Volume 37 from the Winter of 1981, Number 4.  The ISBN is 004-1610.  I chose this one for the first essay listed on the cover – one on Montaigne, Melville, and The Cannibals.  It’s by one Gorman Beauchamp (what a name) and spells out what I now realize it is that keeps me coming back to Melville time and time again, even though I’m always slightly dissatisfied with his work.

“[…] being a work of intrinsic interest and inventiveness as fiction-autobiography-anthropology-travelogue […]”

Beauchamp identifies all my favorite subjects and genres, then attributes them to Melville.  Ah, I see now.

This entire installment is dedicated to Melville – every essay.  A poem by a Housman piqued my interest, briefly, but it wasn’t A.E., it was another Housman.

If I were to purchase this (roughly $5), I’d house it next to The Secret of Lost Things so the Melville cronies can bond… so it can be near something else that reminds me to tackle Melville with more zeal. After all, it is something to revisit once I have tackled Melville more thoroughly.

Until then, I’ve tucked it back on the shelf at Good Books in the Woods – with the rest of the A’s in the Literary Journal area in the back of the Gallery – to be revisited as long as it remains there while my child frolics in the rock garden out back.

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Literary Journal Mondays

February 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Granta

Remember the zine movement? (No? Visit Snapdragon Zine Fair) Ah, the 90’s and early 2000’s.  Except that’s not where it started.  No, it began long ago, and still goes on, in Literary Journals.

McSweeneys9McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern comes to mind.

But do you remember Granta? (or Paris Review, or Soho Square, or The Quarterly, or countless others?)

My eyes tend to rest on Granta when I’m in a bookstore.  Such colorful spines… printed by Penguin.

Today, #24 Inside Intelligence pops out at me… “Her Majesty’s Government does not want you to know about the life of Anthony Cavendish,” the cover reads.  There’s a huge circular stamp in the bottom right corner: BANNED IN BRITAIN.  How do you pass that up?

What follows is a spirited and creative journalistic effort to share news in the form of intelligent literature.  Photographs and interviews you wouldn’t get in a newspaper, writing worthy of Pulitzers (and sometimes even written by Pulitzer winners).  Just in Granta #24 alone, Philip Roth, Peter Carey, Tobias Wolff, Bruce Chatwin, and E.L. Doctorow all grace us with their presence.

The world of literary journals is a fascinating and amazing one that goes back centuries.

Notes and QueriesPaul Collins wrote an essay called “121 Years of Solitude” for Bookmark Now about his own journeys through a literary journal called Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men – a weekly magazine from the Victorian era.  Collins’ memoir-like essay of his time spent in the Portland, Oregon library is one I dive into regularly, envious of his access and ability to take time to develop a daily library routine.  Bus rides downtown, coffee, grand staircases, Notes and Queries, the entire endeavor sounds heavenly to me.

I don’t have time in my life – or the ability, as a mom of a three year old – to replicate a similar endeavor right now.   But, the idea of taking an extra 30 minutes to an hour each Monday to peruse a literary journal that graces the shelves of my existing Monday routine (Good Books in the Woods) sounds plausible.

So here’s to Literary Journal Mondays – may they be more consistent than my Weekly Low Down of Kids Books (which happens sporadically throughout most months instead).

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February 2014 Events!

January 17, 2014 at 9:36 pm (Events) (, , , , , , )

Stores and coordinators take a little bit of a break from extra events around the winter solstice holidays and let the holidays be the holidays.  But it’s a new year! Here’s to February 2014.

Kurt Vonnegut

Jennifer Theriot

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