Saturday, February 27, 2010

Standing the Test of Time

My associate Pete wrote last week about books in the "1,000 copy club," that is, books that Green Apple has sold more than a thousand copies of over time. The book in question was If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, first published in 1938. Published over 70 years ago, it still outsells (at least here at the Apple) every other writing book published since, including books by much more successful authors like Stephen King and and Elmore Leonard.

So what other books are there like that, written over 50 years ago but still setting the standard in their field? The first one that comes to mind is The Joy of Cooking, originally written in 1936 (and revised a few times since then), it
continues to be one of our top 5 cookbooks every year, year in and year out, no matter what other cookbooks come along and catch the public's fancy and sell well for a while and then disappear.

Another candidate would be Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. This one is from 1918, and though other usage guides have come and gone, nobody seems to have said it as well as these boys.

My last candidate is a bit more obscure- Calculus Made Easy (as if). While we don't sell nearly as many copies of this as we do of the above-mentioned books, it still sells a few copies every year, exactly 100 years after it was originally published.

I'm not saying these are the best books in their respective categories. It's just that, for whatever reason, they have caught the book-buying public's fancy. Friends recommend them to friends, generation upon generation. Can anyone think of other books that fall into this category?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Join me for a drink?

I’m growing more and more impressed with the quality and uniqueness of literary events in the Bay Area these days - impressed yes, but not surprised… In a city that leads the rest in dollars spent per capita on books and booze, I’ve come to expect (and also work hard to organize) authors from far and wide pimping their wares in watering holes that range from dive bars to speakeasies to penthouses to cafes. If there’s a table and a stage – OK, maybe some haven’t had a stage, but still – literature in The City flows like fine wine; or at least MD2020.

Over the past couple of months I’ve attended sold-out Literary Death Matches, a packed Porchlight and a really rambunctious Quiet Lightning. Sad that I missed the most recent Writers With Drinks, but I do believethat I'll be there next time...

So when I encourage you to brave the rain tonight and join me at The Knockout for another in the continuing Drinks With Tony series, you know that I know what I’m talking about. Tony Dushane has been recording a live talk-radio show there for some time now, but tonight’s scene will be a bit different, as we’re celebrating the release of Tony’s new book, Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk – his memoir of growing up Jehovah Witness. Interesting, indeed! Joining Tony on stage this evening will be Alan Black, Harmon Leon and Marisa Matarazzo with musical guests Vagabondage.
Tonight's event is FREE, so please try and make it down and support your local scene!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've been pretty heavily in to the work of Anders Nilsen for a little over a year now, and since I just can't get every little thing of his in to the store (much is out of print) I'm putting the spotlight on his work today. You might recognize his illustrations from a book cover or three, such as Ron Currie Jr.'s book God is Dead, his award winning cover (at the NY Book Fair) for Armitage's translation of The Odyssey, or perhaps the recent Penguin reissue of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. Whether you have or haven't heard his name I highly recommend you look further in to his work. Green Apple carries his most recent graphic novel Dogs & Water, which I can attest for myself is mighty good.

For a little more info on the guy, his website is here. His blog, in which he writes on his own work as well as others, is here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Poem of the Week by e.e. cummings

One of my favorite poets is e.e. cummings. I'm drawn to his playfulness with language and his humor, and also to the occasional lustyness of his poetry. A newly released collection called Erotic Poems gathers 50 of his romantic and lusty poems along with 12 drawings by the poet.

there is a
moon sole
in the blue

amorous of waters
blinded with silence the
undulous heaven yearns where

in tense starlessness
anoint with ardor
the yellow lover

stands in the dumb dark

love i slowly
of thy languorous mouth the


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Literary Quotes

One of my favorite all time quotes from Herman Melville's Moby Dick: "All our arguing with him would not avail; let him be, I say: and Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending."

From John Steinbeck's East of Eden: "It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome but if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth."I'm not sure which of the English translations has this Georges Perec quote, in French the book was L'Infra-ordinaire: "What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we go downstairs, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed on order to sleep. How? Where? When? Why?"