Saturday, June 6, 2009

BookExpo America Part II

As noted in a previous post, the big national convention for people in the book biz was held last weekend in NYC. BookExpo (BEA) is generally a circus for the publishing/bookselling community. Publishers give away tchotchkes, throw parties, and generally endeavor to whip up interest in their forthcoming titles. My favorite part of this is running across celebrities big and small at the show. In years past I have bumped into Amy Sedaris sitting by her lonesome signing previews of I Like You; the guy who played Bobby Bacala hawking his Goomba's Guide to Life; Barbara Boxer; Scooby-Doo. I once got as close as I ever want to get to Oliver North, but couldn't muster the courage to tell him what I thought of him. And a few years ago I bumped into Richard Ford wandering alone through the Random House booth. He said that he had been up until 4 a.m. the previous night. When I (inappropriately) asked him what he'd been doing until 4 a.m., he drawled in that gentlemanly southern way, "Oh, I was just doing what a man does until 4 in the morning."

This year felt a little thin on star sightings. Sure, there was Mary Jo Buttafuoco, and isn't that Nancy Grace signing her forthcoming book? I did manage to get my picture snapped with the great James Ellroy, who has a big book coming out this Fall called Blood's A Rover.

But that gets me to the heart of this posting: the books. Reader, you should know that there is a tsunami of books by authors great and small heading towards your local bookstore in the next 4 or 5 months. Just to name a few: we've got two books by local favorite Dave Eggers, Zeitoun coming in a few weeks, which fleshes out the story of this Katrina survivor from a 2006 McSweeney's article; and his novelization of Where the Wild Things Are coming in October. Also heading this way are books by authors named Pynchon, Hornby, Doctorow, Irving, Alexie, Vonnegut, Atwood, Krakauer, Lethem, etc. Throw in a novel by the great Lorrie Moore, and there will be no reason to leave the house.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book of the Month: K Blows Top!

Our June Book of the Month ad is here for Peter Carlson's K Blows Top! See Pete's entry below for more on the book.

And look for the acting debuts of Shoe-bashin' Pete and Kevin "What's My Motivation?" Ryan. Thanks, guys!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My New Hero (maybe)

Maybe you've heard about the kid who is keeping a lending library of banned books in an appropriated private school locker, so that he can freely distribute them to interested classmates? As reported by BoingBoing here last week, I would love to believe that there really is a high-school student passionate enough about reading to put himself trouble's way for the benefit of others, but I fear that this may be another one of those internet hoaxes...

Still, it raises interesting points. Like, can you believe that school libraries are still worried enough about a four letter word from the pen of canonized authors corrupting the minds of kids who can freely access pornography with a Google search and the click of a mouse? But even if this was a hoax, we still need to realize that artists of every discipline are in danger of having their voices silenced, stifled or at the very least, changed - even today.

Try finding the best-selling new album from Green Day (which sprung to #1 on the charts in 14 countries upon its release last month) at WalMart. Seems that they won't carry anything with a parental warning sticker on it, and Green Day refused to change some of their 'objectionable language' to suit the suits' tastes. Sorry folks - if WalMart is your community's only music retailer, then you're are out of luck with this one. Read more on this travesty in Howie Klein's piece in The Huffington Post.

Where does this leave us now? Well, the locker may well be a fanciful notion, but the threat to our freedom of speach (or our freedom to read or to listen or to watch) is still a very real and present danger.

So how about we take a small moment here and celebrate our favorite banned things, and then join the EFF. My favorite banned book would have to be Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, if only for the hysterical irony of banning a book about the dangers of book banning. How about you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June's Book of the Month: K Blows Top

Almost every month, we present Green Apple's Book of the Month, a brand-new book that we're so crazy about, we zealously guarantee it 100%.

Our Book of the Month is usually a novel; we're not sure why. Maybe we assume that most non-fiction readers are only interested in certain topics. Either way, June's Book of the Month transcends normal boundaries, though. It's history and it's funny.

Try K Blows Top by Peter Carlson and thank me later.

k blows top
Here's my pitch:

I am not usually a reader of history, but the promise of laughs in this book piqued my interest, and Carlson delivered in spades. Night after night I told my wife, "schmoopy, listen to this!" (She has refused to comment on this habit here, citing the continued need for marital harmony. Suffice it to say that she's glad I'm done with that book. Also, I was kidding about "schmoopy." Really.)

At the height of the Cold War, Soviet Premier Khrushchev was invited on a two-week tour of the US by an ambassador (who misunderstood instructions from President Eisenhower--oops). The resulting trip was a frenzy of fear, absurdity, grandstanding, vodka, and comedy.

Watch Nixon debate Khrushchev in a demo kitchen at the World's Fair in Moscow (they were lured therein by a young PR man named William Safire!). See Hollywood turn out greet the Premier. Watch "K" try to sneak off to Disneyland. Witness Khrushchev fall in love with San Francisco (while starting a riot in a grocery store). Watch the press evolve from observers into part of the story. Enjoy the infamous shoe-banging rant at the United Nations.

As fun to read as a page-turning novel, this slice of American history is served up with energy, insight, and humor. Highly recommended even to those who don't usually read history (or non-fiction at all, for that matter).

Click here to buy a copy or stop by the store soon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Book Expo America...Green Apple in the Big Apple

I’m sure you have all noticed that we haven’t posted for almost a week now. Part of the reason is that a few of us were at the Book Expo of America in New York this past week. Well I’m back & so I thought I might tell you a little of what I saw back east…
The first day is always remainder buying day, this involves jumping from hotel to hotel & to showrooms…many of which aren’t always close together. We saw a lot of books & there will be some great remainder deals coming to you in the next month or so (to go along with the already great titles in the store currently) so be sure to check out the tables.

Day 2 was pretty much the same with Kevin Ryan attending meeting & education seminars while I hit the last of the remainder companies. That night Sparks arrived & it was off to the Melville House party (picture to the left is the Manhattan bridge on the Brooklyn side from the steps of the Melville House Bookstore) who publish the very popular Bonsai on our Staff Favorites.
From there on out is was time to see Book Expo in all its glory…row after row of booth after booth of publisher after publisher. It’s a long day with a lot to see, & though it was different than the last couple years it was worth the time.
I just got back yesterday & am very tired so I apologize for there not being too much content here worth reading...