Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friends with ink

No, I'm not talking about the spiky, dyed and dirty punkrock pals of mine with new tattoos... Yes, I'm going to take a second and give a virtual pat on the back to a couple of chums who have been garnering high praise for their recent efforts.

This morning's edition of The Chronicle offered a sterling review of Domenic Stansberry's newest novel, "Naked Moon," the fourth and final installment of his recent series featuring ex-CIA agent Dante Mancuso. Domenic has already pocketed one Edgar Award, and the other titles in this series have also been finalists for that, as well as the Shamus and Hammett Awards. If you've ever read Domenic's work, that's not really a surprise, and if you haven't discovered this Bay Area heavyweight of noir, now is a fine time; I recommend starting at the beginning with "Chasing the Dragon." Each novel in this quartet is set in North Beach, and as The Chronicle puts it, "Reading Stansberry's books is a cross between eating a box of marzipan and watching a car wreck: page-turning and irresistibly voyeuristic." I couldn't have said it better myself, except that I would have opted for cannoli.

Robert Mailer Anderson, author of the cult-classic novel, "Boonville" (which hasn't budged from our staff favorite section in close to a decade) also made headlines of a different sort this week. Robert is the chair of SFJazz and last week he, and his closest 300 friends, took over The Four Seasons for the 6th annual SFJazz Gala. Yes, I was there. Yes, it was quite a bash. But we'll let The Chronicle's Miss Biggelo and her Social City column take it from here. Full disclosure...I don't look half bad in a suit!

Keep up the good work, guys - you make a city proud!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Frazetta & the Death Dealer

My dad used to have a print of Frank Frazetta's werewolf painting up near his workspace in the garage. It scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Real, genuine fear. I remember running from it on more than one occasion. Like I thought the thing was gonna' spring out of the painting and start gnawing on me for a minute. It wasn't until I was almost ten or so that I started to actually kind of like the picture, and it took another five years after that to appreciate what a masterpiece it really was.

If you hadn't already heard, last Monday Frazetta died. His work has been around the world commercially, has been the inspiration for everything from movies to cologne, and probably shaped countless childhood imaginations. Despite a plague of health problems in the last ten years of his life, including a number of strokes which forced him to begin illustrating and painting with his left hand, he continued to create up until the very end. He was a powerful imaginative force to be reckoned with, and his presence will be sorely missed.

Frank Frazetta February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010
No more barbarians. No more space babes.
The Death Dealer cometh unto us all.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New on our Staff Favorite Display

The single best-selling bookcase in our store is the Staff Favorites Display on the first floor of the main store. We put our heart and soul on the line in the titles we select for this case. Since our website is not, um, great, we will occasionally feature a book from the Staff Favorites display here, for all the world to see.

Today, let's take a peak at a newly added title: Howard Norman's The Bird Artist. Here's my blurb below, and here's a link to buy the book. You won't regret it.

And the opening paragraph reads:

My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me. Obscurity is not necessarily a failure, though; I am a bird artist, and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poem of the Week by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Happy Monday. Here's a poem to start your week.
Originally published in Third Coast, as reprinted in
the 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses.

Love in the Orangery

When you see a seventy-pound octopus squeeze
through a hole the size of a half-dollar coin, you

finally understand that everything you learn about
the sea will only make people you love say You lie.

There are land truths that scare me: a purple orchid
that only blooms underground. A German poet

buried in the heart of an oak tree. The lighthouse man
who used to walk around the streets at night

with a lighted candle stuck into his skull. But winters
in Florida--all the street corners have sad fruit

tucked into the curb, fallen from orangery truckers
who take corners too fast. The air is sick with citrus

and yet you love the small spots of orange in walls
of leafy green as we drive. Your love is a concrete canoe

that floats in the lake like a lead balloon, improbable
as a steel wool cloud, a metal feather. This is the truth:

I once believed nothing on earth could make me say magic.
You believe in the orange blossom tucked behind my ear.

--by Aimee Nezhukumatathil