Friday, March 27, 2009

Author Events? At Green Apple?

Yeah, Green Apple Books is not known for our regular author appearances. We tried it a few years back, but realized that there's just no room. Plus with the noise from the registers and the phones and the intercom system....just didn't work. But with the recent creation of The Philosophy Room upstairs, we realized we had a quiet space that might work for smaller events. Intimate. Not more than, say 15 people. 20 at most. If we land a David Sedaris event, it probably won't be in The Philosophy Room.

We decided to start doing some readings and call it
The Sideroom Series. We kicked it off last Saturday with Brad Warner. Last night we hosted Dashiell Hammett expert Don Herron. This coming Thursday night (April 2), we have Peter Rock coming in to read his latest. Details here. Our hope is to do an event a week, though we don't have any more scheduled at the moment. If you don't get our email newsletter, you should, it's one of the better bookstore newsletters, and we don't pester you about it. You could sign up here if you were inclined. I leave you with a essay on "Why I Read" that Peter Rock wrote for our newsletter.

In Yasunari Kawata’s story, “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket,” our adult narrator follows a group of children out capturing insects. (“Each day, with cardboard, paper, brush, scissors, pen-knife and glue, the children made new lanterns out of their hearts and minds.”) A boy, offering what he thinks is a grasshopper to a girl, stands close to her. Our narrator witnesses what they do not: “The boy’s lantern, which he held up alongside the girl’s insect cage, inscribed his name, cut out in the green papered aperture, onto her white cotton kimono. The girl’s lantern, which dangled loosely from her wrist, did not project its pattern so clearly, but still one could make out, in a trembling patch of red on the boy’s waist, the name ‘Kiyoko.’”

When I read these words, when I was caught in this moment, I cried. This was even before the narrator infuses what he’s seen into a crushing meditation; I think it was simply the way he looked on, in and out of the world he described (“Wide-eyed, I loitered near them.”), and the straight wonder of his description. This was just the other day; I was on an airplane, flying between Salt Lake City and Portland. Tears running down my face, I was overcome.

--Peter Rock

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Green Apple Merch!

Hey lookie! We've got a new fancy design (just a little inspired by a certain someone), featuring the our favorite bookstore gnome Mergatroid. They come available in toddler pink and blue (as modeled above), and adult sizes in brown and heather blue!

We got a couple of new tote bags in as well! They're available in fancy red (above, duh), and forest green.

Green Apple represent!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Lost City of Z

David Grann has written about many strange and fantastic subjects for the New Yorker. From the hunt for the Giant Squid to the mysterious death of the world's greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. Now you can enjoy his equally exciting new book.

The Lost City of Z is Grann's attempt to figure out what happened to Victorian explorer Percy Fawcett and his son as they tried, in 1925, to find an ancient mythical kingdom, El Dorado, in the depths of the Amazon jungle.

This an exciting book: part travel narrative, part history, part science, and mostly mystery. Grann's narrative is well written, at times brutally descriptive, and always entertaining. Reading this book made me want to explore the jungles of the Amazon to see for myself what might have happened to Fawcett. His obsession quickly becomes yours.

(movie fans: Brad Pitt has bought the rights & will star in the movie of The Lost City of Z).

Interesting bookstores of the world

We kind of feel this way sometimes after a busy day at the used book buy counter:

We discovered this interesting link to "The Most Interesting Bookstores in the World" through an industry contact. Any bookstore lover will appreciate this, though it accentuates quality photography, quirky cats, and stunning architecture over the books themselves, which is what we think makes a bookstore interesting. Any other candidates? Better yet, anyone have photos of Green Apple that could get us on this list? This one?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Earlier this month, translator extraordinaire Barbara Wright passed away at 94. Best-known for rendering the works of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Raymond Queneau into English, Wright's most remarkable feat was her translation of the latter's Exercices de Style - of which the easiest thing to translate was undoubtedly the title.

Exercises in Style (New Directions) is a collection of 99 renditions of the same, rather banal story of a man getting on a bus and being jostled by another passenger. No synopsis does this volume justice, but a sampling of its contents may entice the reader to explore Queneau's elaborate and far-ranging brilliance.

There's a Cockney version that begins: "So A'm stand'n' n' ahtsoider vis frog bus when A sees vis young Froggy bloke, caw bloimey...."

There's a "You know" variation: "Well, you know, the bus arrived, so you know, I got on."

And, for the legally-minded, a "Cross examination": "At what time did the 12.23 p.m. S-line bus proceeding in the direction of the Porte de Champerret arive on that day?"

Wright's version of this seemingly impossible-to-translate work was placed atop the Society of Authors list of "50 Outstanding Translations from the Last 50 Years": well-deserved recognition for the invisible art of literary translation and fitting legacy for a master of her art.