Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Sunny Day In the Richmond?

It's a slow day here at the Green Apple blog, since it's beautiful out. Hope you're out and about in this sunny weather! Hit up the Bluegrass Fest in the Park! Give Emmylou and ol' Billy Bragg my regards!

And now: a picture of a cat reading. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Everybody Poops

Though it may be a bit on the smelly side, poop is the topic of today's post. It's kind of gross, not very cute to look at, but everyone poops (Taro Gomi agrees with this last statement) and Green Apple, surprisingly or not, stocks quite a few books about it. What inspired my musings on this topic stems from reading probably the best...taking-a-dump scene I've ever come across in literature. Poop and literature, you ask? Yes, it's true.

Stefano Benni's Timeskipper tells the story of a young boy who is lucky to have a duoclock, or the ability to speed time up or down into the future or the past as he pleases. About three pages into the book, Timeskipper describes this scene as he hop-skips down the hill to school (and my apologies if anyone finds the following too lewd):

The cloud-man smiles at me straight away, and it is clear that only a god could smile like that. Then he squats down on the hillock, silhouetted against the light, surrounded by heliotrope and chicory, and tugs down three or four different varieties of trousers and underpants, and then he starts taking a crap. And not just any old crap, the mother of all dumps: it looks like an anaconda unwinding, or kernels of corn pouring out of a combine harvester, or warm polenta being tipped out of a huge pot; it's a spectacular triumph of lukewarm shit, and when it spreads out on the ground it unleashes an immense and aromatic mist of steam, and the more he craps the more the steam spreads, settling onto the meadow and the trees and fogging up the shells of the snails. And still he craps, a volume of shit that is just unbelievable, while the dog looks over at me as if to say, ah, this is nothing and by now you can't even see the man anymore, just a huge cloud of steam with a rainbow running through the center of it. From the mist comes a labored, rapid panting that means he is still shitting, and birds fly around the cloud, chirping festively (Benni, 16).

A rainbow? Birds chirping festively? I bet this just ruined your appetite for polenta! Even though your appetite may be ruined, one must admit that Benni's described act-of-crap paints quite the picture.

A big seller at the store is What's Your Poo Telling You? (courtesy of Chronicle Books), which has an illustrated description of at least two dozen dookies and discusses what can be learned about health based on what ends up in the bowl.

Want to know the history about poop? Take a look at Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable by Nicola Davies. According to Davies, "hippos navigate by it, sloths keep in touch through it, dung beetles eat it." The inside cover of this book should also be noted, as it's the most magnificent shade of poop brown.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned books week

It's Banned Books Week. We're on board. Here's a map to remind you that our Freedom of Speech should not be taken for granted. The most recent local flap was in Burlingame, CA, two years ago, as detailed on the Banned Books Week site:
"Mark Mathabane's Kaffir Boy [a Green Apple staff favorite a few years ago] was banned from the Burlingame Intermediate School because of two graphic paragraphs describing men preparing to engage in anal sex with young boys. The book won the 1987 Christopher Award for Literature and was a finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Award for books representing 'concern for the poor and the powerless.'"
It should be noted that Green Apple sometimes get accused of censorship for choosing which of the 200,000+ books published each year we carry. Here's our new book buyer's explanation.

Oh, and we WILL have Sarah Palin's book on its release date of 11/17/09--our buyer's birthday, no less. I miss following her folksy tweets on Twitter. . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Campy cookbooks

One of the joys of being a used book buyer is a first look at the books that make it onto our shelves (and many that don't). As my co-workers (and my wife) will tell you, I have a weakness for cookbooks. Mostly I like cookbooks I can use, those with scrumptious recipes, clear instructions, or mouth-watering narratives. But some cookbooks are just plain cute.

Last week, we got in a half dozen books from the Better Homes and Gardens "Creative Cooking Library." The photgraphy, if not the recipes, date these books firmly in the wholesome early 1960s, right between the advent of "ingredients" like "sharp process American cheese" and the Alice Waters food revolution. If you want to cook from these books, perhaps you should first stock your larder with "cocktail franks," gelatin, and monosodium glutamate.

I think my favorite is the Birthdays and Family Celebrations volume--the Fountain Fix-ups, especially the Mint Malt, look tempting. The front and back covers are at left.

Each volume is just $5 if you're interested. Or just drop by to look at the pictures before some other nostalgic foodie gets hold of them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

3 New books From South of the Border

We all only have so much time to read & as our Canvas Bag says: So Many Books, So Little Time.
So I thought I would offer up some new books, just released that are quick, intense, & newly translated into English...

The first author is Horacio Castellanos Moya, author of Senselessness, She-Devil in the Mirror (both from New Directions) & Dance With Snakes (Biblioasis). We are lucky that in the past year these three of his novels have now been translated into English.

Roberto BolaƱo
says of Castellanos Moya: The acid humor of Horacio Castellanos Moya, resembling that of a Buster Keaton movie or a time-bomb, threatens the hormonal stability of imbeciles, who when they read him feel the irrepressible desire to hang the author in the town square. I can't think of a higher honour for a real writer.

I think out of She-Devil & Dance With Snakes I choose She-Devil as my favorite but they are both very quick, twisted reads that will make you smile & shiver at the same time. Senselessness will be an upcoming post as it will be my new staff-favorite soon.

The Armies is another new novel by Colombian author Evelio Rosero & is also a New Directions Paperback that has just been released. At 215 pages it is a quick & powerful read. It is NOT a lighthearted read though. Rosero deftly & masterfully tells the tales of a fictional town in Columbia from the viewpoint of Ismail, a retired teacher, who spends his days spying on his neighbor.

Soon the town is overrun by the violence that plagued Colombia for so long.

The Armies also just won the the Independent's Foreign Fiction Prize for excellence in translation.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

For the Kids

When I think of my mother and father reading to me as a kid there are two books that stand out aside from the standard Seuss, Scarry, and assortment of Golden Books that every early reader should see at some point. Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, which my father presented to me at an age where I was getting over being read to and trying to puzzle out the big words by my lonesome; a bit before that, Jan Pienkowski's Dinner Time, a pop up book my mother read to me that I at once both loved and feared. The memory of the latter stuck with me long enough to order it here at Green Apple and place it on the kids staff picks. Oddly enough both books juxtapose each other quite a bit, Kipling's stories each featuring concrete morals whereas Pienkowski's is distinctly lacking in that department. If you haven't already, read them both and you'll see what I mean.

Here we see my dear mother reading Dinner Time to me way back in 1985 as I look on in horror.