Saturday, August 6, 2011

Books We're Excited About (and you should be too)

It might be the middle of a cool foggy summer outside the store, but inside, up in our buyer's office, the holiday season is well nigh here. Almost daily, sales representatives from publishers big and small come by the store to show us their wares, and what they are presenting to us now are the books we will be stacking up come November and December. Here are a half dozen books coming out this Fall that we think our customers will be most excited about. Feel free to pre-order anything you see and we'll have it waiting for you on publication day.

He might be a celebrity chef to the rest of the world, but to us he's the guy running that awesome restaurant on the corner of 22nd & Geary. Aziza's Mourad Lahlou shares his food and his philosophy in this lovely book, due out in late October. And good news: Aziza will not be closing their Richmond District restaurant when they open downtown.

Daniel Handler's first novel in a long time to be published under his non-nom de plume is written for the teen audience, but we think bigger kids are going to want to grab a copy for themselves. It is the story of the breakup of Ed and Min. Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Best of all, these objects are all illustrated by Maira Kalman. Due in store right around Christmas Day.

There's a lot of buzz for this title due from McSweeney's in mid-November. It is the story of Miranda July's fascination with the PennySaver, that relic of classified advertising that seems to be a holdover from the pre-internet age. July tracks down thirteen folks selling their wares and tells their stories, along with photographs.

What else is there to say? We've had people asking for this book since rumors of its existence began crossing the Pacific a few years ago. At almost a thousand pages, this is Murakami as we haven't seen him since the magnificent Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. October 25 is the official pub date for this one.

Written in 1989 and found among Roberto BolaƱo's papers after his death, The Third Reich is a stunning exploration of memory and violence. Reading this quick, visceral novel, we see a world-class writer coming into his own—and exploring for the first time the themes that would define his masterpieces The Savage Detectives and 2666. Should be arriving in late November.

Another big (over 1000 pages) ambitious fantasy thriller from the author of Cryptonomicon and Anathem. This one is the story of an internet virus that hits an online gaming community, and the violence spills over from the virtual to the real. Look for this one on Sept. 20.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Roads to Green Apple

It's weird when I am at work and people ask me to watch their car while they run in to the store. I have received this request in all seriousness multiple times, enough for it to be worth mentioning and now publicly respond, hollering into this echoing internet void, "I'm sorry, but you'll just have to find parking somewhere close by."


Green Apple Books is fortunate enough to be located mere feet away from multiple stops for a few major bus routes (2 & 44 right out front, 1 & 38 a couple of blocks away, and the 33 a few more) and hosts ample bicycle parking right in front of the store, but Clement St. being the hectic and heavily trafficked that it is can pose problems for drivers. Especially those who just wish to come to sell a handful of used books. Finding parking around these parts can sometimes take longer than your planned trip to the store, but unless you're expecting to make upwards of $253.00 on a book sale I recommend avoiding parking in the bus zone... and in the event that SF's parking policies ever catch up with those of Lithuania, well, the recommendation stands even a bit more firm.

Oh, and as a final note, if you really want to impress make your way here on a Pedersen. Don't know? Read this.

Monday, August 1, 2011


New Directions, the innovative, trailblazing, super awesome publishing house that's introduced American readers some of the best international and experimental literature from the 19th to the 21st centuries, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. From early-to-mid-century stalwarts like Henry Miller, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Dylan Thomas, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine (the first ND book I read was Celine's Journey to the End of the Night) to contemporaries Cesar Aira, Anne Carson, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Laszlo Krasznahorkai, New Directions is proving itself quite the feisty septuagenarian.

We've always had a deep and abiding love for New Directions here at Green Apple and would like to offer our gratitude and best wishes for another 75 years by offering you, gentle reader, a selection of our current favorites.

My Emily Dickinson is a poet's book about the life and work of a fellow poet. Largely through the lens of one of her best-known poems, Howe reveals Dickinson to have been astutely aware of the literary community and tradition in which she wrote, even as she famously did so from the confines of her room, raising some profound questions about fame, isolation, and what defines a writer in life and in death. It's not an easy book; Howe writes both as a scholar and as a poet herself, her style a windy mix between academic and poetic as she weaves together pieces of Dickinson's influences and wide-reaching world. The result is a breathtaking and revelatory examination of a poet, a poem, and a life.

If you don't already have a grasp on how incredible the work of Tennessee Williams is, well then let me emphasize his brilliance. Williams was a friggin' baller. We should be calling him Tennessee Chill-iams he is so cool. His presentation, slang, and many other things about his work can come off as antiquated, especially true for a child of the 90s like myself, but the guy understood some things about girls, dudes, ludes and bad attitudes. The plays in The Magic Tower range in tone from Williams' two best sides as an author, both stinking drunk and hilarious drunk. I cannot encourage people enough to take a look at this awesome new collection, especially if your only contact with his work is the already critically lauded.

I made the mistake of reading my first Bolano novel (By Night in Chile) on a flight to London in early 2008. As I finished the book somewhere over the mid-Atlantic, I realized with a sinking feeling that it would be weeks until I was able to race through the rest of his theretofore published work. And as soon as I returned home, I did just that: reading Amulet, Distant Star, Nazi Literature in the Americas, and Last Evenings on Earth all in about a week and a half.

The stories in Last Evenings on Earth are among the finest pieces he ever wrote. Concise, abrupt, and compulsively readable, they form a fine counterpoint to his later sprawling novels.

Each novel that I read by Queneau quickly becomes my favorite. Not just my favorite work by Queneau, but my favorite novel period. The Flight of Icarus is no exception. A novel masquerading as a play in which a cast of unruly characters decide they have better places to be than in this story promises--and delivers--on its riotous premise.

The first part of Vila-Matas' title refers of course to Melville's laconic clerk who answers all questions and demands with a mysterious and vexing "I prefer not to." The Co. refers to a cast of writers who, for reasons often mysterious (J.D. Salinger, or a lookalike, makes an appearance), sometimes heartbreaking (Juan Ramon Jimenez), and yes, even vexing, have become "artists of the refusal" or artists who prefer not to. Some of the names are familiar, some deserve to be more familiar, and others, in a fittingly Borgesian manner, never existed. Bartleby & Co. is that perfect book: one that leads to another, that leads to another, and another...

Carson's fans know her interest in deconstructing and reappropriating all things ancient--Greek myth, Sappho's poetry, the tango...--in her haunting poetic verse. And so it is fitting, while tragic, that her latest work Nox is a scrapbook of sorts eulogizing her late brother. Aside from being an eerily gorgeous object, this uniquely bound book will surely resonate with anyone who has lost someone and attempted to piece together what they left behind.

For more of our selections and recommendations, please visit the store or see our Staff Picks page (you'll see why most of us agonized over selecting just one book for this post).

And once again, Happy Anniversary, New Directions!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Untitled by Anonymous!

Weird things happen in any business sometimes. Here's my favorite of late, a "sell sheet" from a major publisher giving us the opportunity to buy what may be a hot book this fall. Or what might be a total dud.

How many should we order? Who do you think this book is about? Madoff? DSK? Oprah? Biden?!