Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy International Workers Day

Over one hundred years since The Haymarket Affair (1886), since founding of the IWW (1905), since the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906), and still no living wage in the United States. I'm lucky to work at a place like Green Apple where my labor is rewarding to me and respected by my employers. San Francisco, I hope you called out sick today and got some sun. This is no day to be cooped up, acting the oxen, riding the slage wave.

On the topic of labor and profit (and a whole lot more), Here's Chris Ware's rejected cover illustration for the May 2010 issue of Fortune 500. Click the picture to make it bigger and take a close look. Hilarious, heartbreaking, and all too true.

Yes, we don't!

Green Apple is so much more than books. We sell all manner of music on both CD and LP. Movies? We stock thousands of new and used DVDs and even a well-selected batch of VHS. Journals? Check! Calendars when the time is right and board games when the time is right for playing. Our kids section just expanded and with it our selection of Ugly Dolls...

So imagine my surprise this morning when I spotted a sign in the front window of our annex letting potential customers know that Green Apple doesn't sell jousting gear. That's right, no lances, no shields and no horses.

Maybe someone asked? Maybe I need to find more work for the annex staff? Or maybe just saving everyone a little bit of time for jigsaw puzzles (which we DO sell).

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Books

A woman came into the store the other day and asked for a suggestion for something to read. She had been reading a lot of heavy, dark books, and asked if we could recommend a "happy book." Not funny, necessarily, but uplifting, affirming. It got me thinking. The best book I read in the last year, Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada, certainly didn't fall into that category. The last book I read that I really liked does have a happy ending, but the reader has to get past a lot of distress to get to that point. And the oeuvre of the great Cormac doesn't contain a lot of sunny, carefree moments. Just like comedies never winning the best-picture Oscar, happy books mostly don't get the respect they probably deserve. The book I finally landed on was Timbuktu by Paul Auster , the story of a homeless man as told from the point of view of his only friend, a dog. I read it a long time ago (and now it is out of print, it would seem), but I remember it as a book that left me with a happy glow. Any other suggestions?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


We would always prefer to sell you a book, but we are pleased to announce that Green Apple is now ready to meet all your head warming needs.

That's right, come spring winds, summer fog, fall fun, or winter winds, the Green Apple beanie will keep you warm AND help keep Green Apple's brilliant booksellers employed.

At only $9.95, it's the perfect gift for any literate San Franciscan with a cold head.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why I Read by Peter Carlson

A few years ago, we started an occasional series in our email newsletter: an original essay by a writer called "Why I Read." We've been reprinting them on the blog on occasion (see below for links to others).

Today's comes from Peter Carlson, who wrote a fine and funny book called K Blows Top. It was our Book of the Month back in June 2009 (my blurb on the book is here; or pre-order the paperback here--it's due in about a month). Without further ado, here's why Peter Carlson reads:

I read to be entertained and enlightened, amazed and amused.

I read to hear great stories and encounter fascinating minds. I read to fall asleep and I read to wake up. I read to learn how the world works, how the other half lives, how we got in this mess and how we can get out. I read to find out what happened yesterday, and also to find out what happened in the Big Bang and the Black Plague and the Black Sox scandal. I read because reading transports me through time and space and I don’t even have to get out of my chair, except to pour more coffee.

When I was in kindergarten, I fell in love with the delightful rhythm and music and wordplay of Dr. Seuss and ever since then I’ve been reading in the hopes of finding a book that made me feel as ecstatic as the good Dr. did. Seuss led me to the zany comic verse of my next literary hero, Ogden Nash. My search for Nash poems led me to anthologies of American humor, where I discovered Mark Twain and William Saroyan, and I haven’t been the same since.

I love how one book leads to another and another and another in a never-ending chain of discovery. I read to satisfy my curiosity, but my curiosity is insatiable, so I keep on reading.

I read everything--newspapers, magazines, novels, poems, biographies, history, e-mail, junk mail, and the backs of cereal boxes, although the quality of cereal box literature ain’t what it used to be. I also read the wisdom inside fortune cookies, always adding the customary implied ending “in bed,” which inevitably improves the message. I also enjoy reading FBI files, in which words, lines, sometimes entire pages are blacked out by G-man censors—a heavy-handed, backhanded tribute to the power of words.

I love the moment when something an author wrote in another time and place makes me burst out laughing. And I treasure the moments when I’ve watched people riding the Metro in Washington read my newspaper stories and laugh out loud. That’s a better award than a Pulitzer Prize, although less lucrative.

Of course, it was my love of reading that led me to start writing in the first place. And attempting to write inevitably gives you a deeper appreciation for what you read. But there is a downside, as any honest writer will admit: You read something that’s really good and you think, Damn, I wish I’d written that.

I‘ve just published a new book —“K Blows Top,” a non-fiction comedy about Nikita Khrushchev’s bizarre adventures in America. I’ll be thrilled if readers think, Damn, I wish I’d written that. The only thing better would be hearing them laugh out loud.

Thanks, Mr. Carlson. Want to read others? On the blog so far: Beth Lisick, Susan Choi, Peter Rock, Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, T.C. Boyle, and Joyce Maynard.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Poem of the Week by Kim Addonizio

Happy Monday. Today's poem comes from Oakland poet Kim Addonizio's new book Lucifer at the Starlite. Enjoy.

Where Childhood Went

The teeth sold to the fairies
are tombstones in the graveyard of the fireflies.

By their cold caught light
you can make out the big house submerged

in the backyard creek,
thought-minnows spinning in motes in the attic.

The lovely young parents, so long preserved,
are showing signs of rot;

the kitten named Princess, signs
of invisibility. But look, the old dolls

are doing well; they smile and smile.
And the witch? Darling, the witch was real.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Fist Roberto Bolaño...

I know, I know more Roberto Bolaño recommendations from Green Apple...

But this is his first book ever! The book he waited twenty years into his career to publish. The book Bolaño himself said, "the only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp."

Here is what I will say: Just today opened my locker to see a small, black, hardcover book with gold foil stamping on the front (the picture to the left does no justice). I turned the book to look at the spine to see in the same gold foil stamping ND.

So I spent my breaks reading the first 20 pages of this magical book and trying to figure out just what to make of it. . . .

Well, I'm loving it, though I can see what Bolaño means in his introduction when he says, "I never brought this novel to any publishing house, of course. They would've slammed the door in my face and I'd have lost the copy."

All that
Bolaño will later write is in this small, concise, beautiful surrealist murder mystery that travels countries and continents and literary borders.