Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Defense of Cranky Bookstore Owners

Came across this article recently that had been reposted in a trade blog. It's about a fellow named Jim Toole, who runs a store called Capitol Hill Books in our nation's capitol. Jim is a cranky guy. Here is a short example of his retail philosophy:

"And then, there are the rules of the store. First, you can only get in when it is open. Second, no cell phones. This is a book store and not a phone booth. Third, there are words and phrases that you can’t use in my store: like, oh my God, neat, sweet, have a good one, that’s a good question, totally, whatever, perfect, Kindle or Amazon. These words give me brain damage. I’m serious. When people use them in here, I tell them to get a thesaurus and stop being so mentally lame."

Remember old Bruno at Persian Aub Zam Zam? People reveled in his crankiness (until they fell victim to it themselves, in some cases), though you've got to admit it's not bad being able to actually sit at one of the tables if the bar is full. I used to visit a bookstore down in Pasadena called something like The Oriental Book Company. The guy kept most of his lights turned off, and if you wanted to see a particular section, he would huff in frustration that he had to go through the trouble of turning the lights on. That guy was a crank. You might not like shopping at his store, but there was no doubt that it was his store. In this world of Bed Bath & Beyond blandness, a retail approach like that can be....refreshing.

A note of caution: this is a defense of cranky owners, not staffers. I find cranky staffers a lot less romanticizable. In fact, I almost couldn't watch the movie High Fidelity after Jack Black abused that customer for wanting, what was it, Paul Simon? My retail owner's hackles were raised.

At Green Apple, we place a high value on hiring people who are nice, people who are passionate about books and passionate about sharing them with our customers. We're not going to start writing down arbitrary "store rules." But Green Apple does have a store personality- a bit disheveled, little rough around the edges. When you walk in here, you know you're not in Barnes & Noble. But people seem to like us, check out our Yelp reviews.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Some links for a Friday night

Paul Madonna's GAB postcard

We don't often post series of links on the Green Apple Core, but I don't often work Friday nights and right now I'm covering a co-worker's break in the Annex (to clarify: the Annex is home to both new and used fiction, science fiction, and mysteries; new and used graphic novels; a display of literature in translation; a new-ish display of Staff Picks; books (new and used) on music, theater, film (including television), magazines; and CDs, LPs, and DVDs) and want to share with you a few bookish things around the internet and elsewhere that have caught my attention.
  • Do you recognize the name Gordon Lish? Lish was a(n in)famous editor at Knopf during the 1970s and 80s, the man responsible, some say, for creating (by severe and creative editing) Raymond Carver's signature style. Besides introducing to the American reading public such writers as Cynthia Ozick, Amy Hempel, and Barry Hannah, Lish also wrote fiction himself, the shorter pieces of which are included in O/R Books recent Collected Fictions (which despite not being on our website is on our shelves). The first installment of Carla Blumenkranz's profile of Lish is included in the latest issue of N+1.
  • Also of note from the new N+1 is Richard Beck's appraisal of indie music website/cultural taste-maker/love-to-hate-'em Pitchfork.
  • Writer Ted Gioia (who's got a mustache to die for) just launched a new website dedicated to what he calls The Postmodern Mystery Reading List. Included on the list are such GAB favorites Thomas Bernhard, Jonathan Lethem, and Patricia Highsmith. Worth a glance, an argument, an addendum.
  • And finally, because it's just about time for me to head on back to the main store, please read Charles Simic's essay on the Lost Art of Postcard Writing and remember: we sell postcards.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Infinite Jest and its Offspring

I read an article in the New York Times the other day about Michael Schur, co-creator of the television series Parks & Recreation directing a music video for the band The Decemberists based on a passage from Infinite Jest involving the fictional game, Eschaton. Thinking the idea was promising I sought it out, and Mike/everyone in The Decemberists, I'm sorry, but I wasn't feeling it. Why couldn't you have made it as fun to watch and listen to as it was to read? Nice try? I suppose the track record hasn't been to good for book to film adaptations. I'm not sure why I bothered to get my hopes up. Oh well.

made an attempt, the times wrote about his work and I was incensed enough to write about his work, and all press is good press, right? Now I've got to pondering though, what is a good book to film adaptation? I liked the 1965 version of A High Wind in Jamaica despite certain qualities severely lacking, but what else is there? Fight Club? ...I'm kidding about that. I hardly have the patience for movies, so you tell me.


Oh, by the way, pictured up at the top of this post is a piece of Infinite Jest inspired art that I do like by Cody Hoyt. It was part of a series done by a small collection of artists for the Kitsune Noir Poster Club back in 2009. You should check it out if you've never heard of it. It's pretty neat.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer (reading) at last!

Well, it had to happen. . .today is August 23rd, and we finally have a day of sunshine in the Inner Richmond. So, with only 7 days left in the month I think it's a fine time to make another pitch for the August book of the month: The Magician King by Lev Grossmann. But don't just take my word for it:

Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing : The Magician King is at once an existential exercise that angrily shakes escapism by its shoulders and demands that life have a purpose, and a story about extraordinary deeds, heroism, magic and love -- all the stuff that makes escapism go. (Full Review Here)

Alexander Chee of NPR : ...a spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power and the limits of being human. The Magician King is a triumphant sequel, surpassing, I think, the original. (Full Review Here)

Kevin Hunsanger of Green Apple Books: Ok, so this is when the ‘happily ever after’ part is supposed to kick-in, right? Well, if you know Fillroy, and the magicians that populate this enchanted land, then you already know that it just isn’t going to be that easy. . .(Full Review Here)

Don't forget - All of our Book of the Month selections come with a money back guarantee.

Now go and enjoy this fabulous weather while it lasts!