Friday, August 31, 2012

An Election Year Message from Green Apple Books

The evolution of a Green Apple commercial:

1. It's campaign season. We should do something political.

2. We have this major online competitor, and we think people should buy their books from us rather than from them for a lot of reasonable reasons.

3. Reasonable is boring.

4. This happens:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August's Apple-a-Month Club Selection: Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura

Wait, where did August go? I swear I left it around here somewhere.

Well, now that another month has snuck by without my noticing, it's high time we updated you dear readers on the exploits of the Apple-a-Month Club by introducing our August selection, Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura.

We first heard tell of Gone to the Forest months ago -- first from a sales rep whose enthusiasm for the book seemed particularly noteworthy, then over drinks with a fellow bookseller and longtime book buyer who works for a certain other legendary San Francisco bookstore. His raving about Kitamura's novel really sealed the deal, and we got on hands on it as soon as we could (this persuasiveness having nothing to do with the aforementioned drinks involved, I promise).

And then there was Julie Orringer:
“Gone to the Forest is a mesmerizing novel, one whose force builds inexorably as its story unfolds in daring, unexpected strokes.  Kitamura’s prose brings to mind Cormac McCarthy or Jean Rhys, but the music of these lines is all her own—lyrical, sharp-edged, spare, and unafraid. Be warned: you’ll find yourself reading long past midnight, out of breath and wide awake.  This is a bold and powerful book.”
And then there was Salman Rushdie:
One thinks at times of both Coetzee and Gordimer, but Kitamura is very much her own writer, and makes you feel keenly the tragedy of her three lost souls.” 
And THEN we found out that Katie Kitamura loves Green Apple (I hear the phrase "bookstore crush" was used), and while we had already made the decision by that point to send it to our subscribers so clearly we're not just being biased here, flattery never hurts.

Long story of accumulating book-buzz made short, in August, our subscribers were among the first to have a copy of Gone to the Forest put in their hands. Here's our pitch, to add to the chorus of deserved praise this novel has received:
Gone to the Forest is the story of a family in an unnamed colonial country  in an unspecified time, drawing the reader's attention directly to the riveting events taking place in a family in turmoil, with only hints of awareness that the larger world they inhabit is on the brink of civil war. The novel begins with a slow burn; Kitamura's pose, mesmerizing in its sparse, curt description, is a perfect vehicle for this tension as she conveys the complexities of fear, love, and home in the briefest of momentsGone to the Forest offers what few novels can: a story that feels at once eerily familiar and completely singular. In Kitamura's expert hand, it's a story that's sure to spellbind you.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Means Ice Cream

As “summer” nears its end, the warmest days of the year are finally here, at least for those of us who live in western San Francisco.  So let’s talk ice cream.

We have a dozen or so ice cream recipe books on the shelves at any given time here, but of local interest are two newish additions to the shelf, both with a distinctly local flavor: Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book and Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones (the Bi-Rite Creamery’s entry).

They have a lot in common, from a predictable passion for good ingredients to clearly written recipes, from lavish full-color photographs to quirky flavors.  Both even feature mostly custard-based ice creams (vs. Philadelphia style ice cream, which is uncooked).  Mostly, the differences are in the tone and attitudes of the authors and in the details of specific recipes.  It’s almost as if one is the punk rock dude’s guide to making ice cream and the other comes from your smart, friendly, capable girlfriend.

Let’s start with Humphry Slocombe.  As I said, the roughly 40 recipes are clear and feature all the shop’s hottest flavors, plus some that rarely appear, from their top seller—Secret Breakfast, which includes bourbon and corn flakes cookies—through the rarely appearing strawberry (or, as they call it, “Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream.”).  The really unusual recipes are those involving veggies, beer, meat, and cheese. The book also includes a few sorbets, sundaes, sauces, etc.  Overall, it’s a solid book and fairly priced at $19.95 from Chronicle Books.

The Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones lacks the attitude, and makes up for it with thoroughness and 90 recipes.  There’s no lack of creativity, though—the book includes flavors like Earl Grey, Crème Fraiche, and Salted Caramel.  There are also a good number of non-ice cream recipes, including sorbets, cookies, sauces, ice pops, and more.  It is also a good deal—nicely produced, clearly illustrated, and bound in a hardcover for $24.99 from Ten Speed Press.

Take your pick—the edgy recipe book or the sweet one?  You won’t regret either one, so maybe just get them both.