Friday, August 14, 2009

Bolaño Madness

We here at Green Apple Books strive to provide the highest quality service and books. We're also incredibly silly. Today Green Applers were racking their brains trying to come up with a clever sign for the Annex's new Roberto Bolaño shelf. Here's the list they came up with:

Bolaño, Inc.
Bolaño, Not Bombs
Bolaño Without Borders
Bowl Años
Bobby's Bolaños
It's Raining Bolaño
Bolaño: Breakfast of Champions
Bolaño's Big Boy (he'll be pictured holding 2666)
Ring My Bolaño
Multigrain Bolañ-O's
Diving Bolaño and the Butterfly
Saved by the Bolaño
Saved by the Bolaño: The College Years
Big Daddy Bolaño
Bolaño Boulebard
Bolaño!! MTV Raps!

Thoughts? We'll post the winner soon. I'm sure you're on the edge of your Bolaño.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Book vs. the Kindle, Round 10: an Unfortunate Event

What happens when author Daniel Handler is confronted by a Kindle-toting fan at a signing at Green Apple Books? Hold on tight, folks. It's the final round of the Smackdown between The Book and Amazon's Kindle e-reader. Special thanks to today's "talent," Mr. Handler. What a gamer, eh?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Book vs. the Kindle, Round 9: Oops

In the penultimate round of Green Apple's smackdown of The Book vs. Amazon's Kindle, let's explore fragility and resiliency, shall we?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Book vs. the Kindle, Round 8: Staff Favorites

Welcome to Round 8. It may be too late for the Kindle to come back, but there's still reason to watch: Sparks and Nick get saltier every time, if nothing else. . . .

Herein we pit Green Apple's Staff Favorites display (the best-selling bookcase in the store, mind you) against Amazon's inventory for Kindle. You may be surprised at how few of the 35 or so titles on our display are available on the Kindle. . . .

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Dress an Orangutan

"What's your favorite?"

That's such a difficult question to answer no matter the topic. Hell, a favorite anything can depend on what mood you're in. I swear, I think last week I thought my favorite food might have been peanut butter.

I embarked on a quest of sorts. I wanted to figure out what my favorite book might be. Seeing that I spend five days a week or more in a bookstore, it occurred to me that having an answer to that question might be a good thing. Of course therein lay a problem. To work at Green Apple Books is to be near drowned in a din of miscellany. From section to section I could select a new favorite at any moment, there's just too much good to be dug up, so I sought aid.
As I wandered around the store, haplessly seeking a way to narrow down my search, I happened across Henry Miller's The Books in My Life. Over the period of a few lunch breaks I skimmed it for what seemed the most interesting. I figured if Henry Miller saw fit to write about it, it had to be good. I skipped over his thoughts on Krishnamurti titles and the Greek and Roman tragedies. Important as they may be I'm just not ready to pour over that stuff, be consumed by Aeschylus and Euripides and Eastern thought. At twenty-five I am not so prolific of a reader as I'd like to be, not with so much mischief to be made.

Moving on though, what I did find was Blaise Cendrars Moravagine (that picture at the top is an older, out of print cover that I happen to like a little better than the current edition). I cannot shut up about Moravagine presently. It is the best and weirdest piece of literature that I have picked up in years. Henry Miller was hugely inspired by it and in reading it there is no question as to why. It's at once violent and hilarious, about a doctor on a world tour with a mad prince. A raw, stinking, crawling hunk of fantasy indeed.

I suppose I didn't pick a new favorite in the long run. I merely read a great and relatively obscure book. Thanks to Henry though I've found another contender to place high in an ever growing list. Perhaps the world of literature is too large for just one favorite anyway. One can't love nothing but peanut butter forever.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Halfway House by Guillermo Rosales

I have found one of my new favorite authors. Unfortunately I will be able to read little of his work. New Directions recently released The Halfway House- one of two surviving novels by Guillermo Rosales, & the only one translated into English thus far- & it is a haunting & extraordinarily beautiful piece of writing.

Rosales was a double-exile in his life, first from his native Cuba where as Rosales puts it, "Twenty years ago, I finished writing a novel in Cuba that told a love story. It was the story of an affair between a communist and a member of the bourgeoisie, and ended with both of them committing suicide. The novel was never published and my love story was never known by the public at large. The government's literary specialists said my novel was morose, pornographic, and also irreverent, because dealt harshly with the Communist Party. After that, I went crazy."

Though the character's name in The Halfway House is William Figueras, we know from Rosales own tragic biography that this is not far off from his real life story. After fighting with Castro to make Cuba a better place Rosales, & many others, fled for Miami & freedom in 1979. On his arrival though he is shunned by his well-to-do family & bounces around halfway, "those marginal refuges where the desperate and hopeless go," for as his aunt tells him in the beginning of the novel, "you'll be fine here...You'll understand that nothing more can be done." These halfway houses that Rosales was in & out of in Miami (though he did win the Golden Letters Award judged by Octavio Paz) is the bases for the decrepit, disgusting, & brutal setting in The Halfway house.

We still think of Nurse Hatchett & the sterile world of the insane asylum in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest but that world is completely different then the abuse of those with power in the Halfway House & the 'trapped bestial inhabitants' who have nowhere else to go. This book will open your eyes to the Regan-era disregard for the mentally ill.

As I stated before, it is too bad that I will be able to read little of Rosales work, since he destroyed all but two manuscripts before he committed suicide in 1993. Thankfully we have small presses such as New Directions to help preserve those that did survive.

I give this book my highest of recomendations, it is a quick read, & well worth reading a second or third time.