‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘bookstore

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puppetmasterIt is always pleasant when someone you love recommends a book for you. I told Erin that I was in the mood for something short and light, and she advised me that maybe a children’s book would be appropriate for the end of the summer. I have picked up a novel by a first time writer, Joanne Owen, who has written Puppet Master. Here is the description on the back:

When Milena meets the charismatic Puppet Master and his menacing proteges, the twins Zdenko and Zdenka, in Prague’s Old Town Square she has no idea quite how much her life is about to change. In a story rich in the traditions of circus and theatre, myth mingles with the mystery of a missing heiress, Milena’s mother, and her daughter’s magical legacy is revealed.

How cool does that sound? I know that I’m intrigued and it’s a short 200 pages, so should be just the right thing to pass a few days. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

September 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm

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Miss Erin gifted me with a book recently, a collection of short stories by South American writer Francisco Coloane, Tierra Del Fuego. We were browsing at the Crapters the other day and Miss Erin playfully hid a book behind her back and turned to me, “You’re going to hate me for showing you this.” [ Reason being that we both should not purchase books for one because we have so much already to read and the second because we cannot afford it. ] She shows me the back of the book where the following is written:

Long arms, arms like rivers, are necessary to fully embrace Francisco Coloane. Or perhaps it’s necessary to be a squall of wind, gusting over him beard and all. Otherwise, take a seat across the table from him and analyze the question, study him deeply; you will surely end by drinking a bottle of wine with Francisco and happily postponing the matter to some later date. – Pablo Neruda

Now I don’t know about you but I tend to trust authors implicitly. Authors I enjoy who recommend other authors or mention authors that have influenced their own writings become mandatory reading for me. I have discovered so many wonderful authors as a result of writers who mention other writers or works that they find fascinating for one reason or another. I think that one of my favorite discoveries was through Graham Greene who recommended Patricia Highsmith’s collection of short stories as he wrote of her: “Highsmith is a poet of apprehension.” I recently wrote a paper on Patricia Highsmith and my relationship with Erin began with Patricia, so I owe Graham quite a bit.

So feel free to share stories or commentaries on authors you’ve discovered through blurbs. I think that for the most part, authors usually have a good sense of what is good literature and what is great. Here’s hoping Pablo, if your taste in literature is anything close to your style of writing and poetry, I nothing but good times ahead of me. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

May 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm

The Day of the Locust

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“Scattered among these masquerades were people of a different type. Their clothing was somber and badly cut, bought from mail-order houses. While the others moved rapidly, darting into stores and cocktail bars, they loitered on the corners or stood with their backs to the show windows and stared at everyone who passed. When their stare was returned, their eyes filled with hatred. At this time Tod knew very little about them except that they had come to California to die.” – The Day of the Locust – Nathanael West –

n1800251 The story centers around a group of misfit individuals who work on the outside of the Hollywood Film Industry. The real sadness is that these individuals seem to be unaware, if not unaware, then at least willfully blind of their condition.  The artist, the fading vaudevillian, the starlet, the everyman, the gangster, the cowboy, the child star/prima donna, and the doting mother.

Set in the late 1930’s, just before WWII. What this book presents is the exact opposite of what Hollywood is touted to be for so much of the time. B-Movie stars stuck in a land that only privileges the A.

Despite these sad figures that dominate the landscape of the novel, there is something beautiful, beautiful and vulgar about the way that these characters insist on living their life, in fighting for their dream. I am not sure if that is a hopeful image or a tragic one.

It’s a quick read and well worth your time. There was a definite Hemingway The Sun Also Rises feel to this novel. Some of that same bleak sit around and wander, not really sure where to go. The pacing of the novel was a bit slow but I found it allowed for a more in depth exploration of the characters. The ending of the novel is quite disturbing and presents an image that will not go away anytime soon. Check it out at the library or bookstore. Worth it and as I said, a fairly quick read. I finished this in one day. Penguin: 183 pp.

Just Ordered:

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I love ordering books online. Do not have to deal with long lines or ridiculous people and their stupid commentary. Can’t wait for these to arrive, cheers.


Written by thebeliever07

March 31, 2009 at 10:56 am

Richard Price

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I just picked up Richard Price’s Lush Life, and I’m not sure what to classify this book as. Fiction, Literature, Thriller, Mystery? If his name sounds familiar it is because he helped co-write The Wire as well as having written several other novels and their subsequent film screenplay adaptations (Clockers & Freedomland). I was in the bookstore this afternoon with Kari and Erin and they were buying books so I felt obligated to pick up something as well, but I also wanted to read something different. Lately I’ve been reading far too much Literature (Capital L – – academia), sometimes that can get to be a bit rough. I am still not sure what this falls under, is it an airport read? Who knows? Will review shortly, cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

March 24, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Purchases, Susan Sontag, etc..

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  • Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag
  • If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • Candide by Voltaire

susansontag1As I leaf through the personal journals of Susan Sontag I feel myself become instantly smaller and less poetic. Is it even possible for me to display the power and energy that is evoked from her thoughts and words, I wonder.

“I know now a little of my capacity…I know what I want to do with my life, all of this being so simple, but so difficult for me in the past to know. I want to sleep with many people–I want to live and hate to die–I will not teach, or get a master’s after I get my B.A…..I don’t intend to let my intellect dominate me, and the last thing I want to do is worship knowledge or people who have knowledge! I don’t give a damn for anyone’s aggregation of facts, except in that it be a reflection [of] basic sensitivity which I do demand…I intend to do everything–does it cause me pleasure or pain, and I shall be very cautious about rejecting the painful–I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere and find it, too, for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly..everything matters! The only thing I resign is the power to resign, to retreat: the acceptance of sameness and the intellect. I am alive..I am beautiful..what else is there?” 5/23/49

Such possibility and future is written there and all of it is hers, she ‘takes’ what she wants from life and I respect the fuck out of that. I aspire to be this passionate about my life and the things I do [intend to].

Written by thebeliever07

February 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Bookstore Adventures

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Just returned from a delightful visit to the bookstore. Met up with Erin and Emi and had a wonderful time, a perfect way to enjoy the pleasant labour day weather we’re having, sitting out and enjoying the breeze.

Picked up a new book which I’m excited about reading.

Paul Auster’s latest novel, Man In The Dark, a story about a father who lives with his daughter and grand-daughter, both dealing with relationship trauma, set against a post 9/11 world as he struggles to deal with his growing insomnia. Looks to be a sad read, but I’ve been reading lots of sad stories lately and enjoying all of them. But I guess this is one of the reasons we read: tragedy, pain, drama, suffering, etc… all of these subjects are important to us, we can empathise and relate to such issues. We’re attracted to those around us who also share the same world we inhabit, a world filled with all of these melancholy subjects. That’s not to say that the world is lacking in positive subjects, of course there is love, happiness, joy, but these are only given value because of those darker subjects that we so often encounter.

Will review the book soon, as it is a fairly short read at 180 pages. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

August 30, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Bookstore Reminiscing

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One thing I miss about working at the Crapters is how I used to be fairly well informed about new reads or new editions of books that were coming into the store. I was always familiar with the best selling novels, the most discussed or controversial books. But let us be clear, that is probably the only thing I miss. I could certainly do without inane conversations about the latest ‘Oprah Reads Picks’, or people who conflate fiction with literature.

I am glad to say though that the feeling of walking into a bookstore with a hot cup of coffee, that wonderful feeling has returned. Years ago when I worked at the bookstore, I soon realized that this feeling had vanished. Ask most workers who are in the book selling industry and they’ll attest that once you start to work at a bookstore that wonderful feeling of walking down an aisle with coffee and browsing is lost. What happens is that you tend to see only the worst of the bookstore. People who pick up books and then file them in the wrong sections, or even worse, simply leave them laying around for another worker to refile at the end of a long night. It would be nice if people had more bookstore etiquette, but alas the vast majority of shoppers at the particular store I worked at did not have such manners.

It’s surprising the types of behavior and acts that I’ve witnessed at this store.

  • Two women planning a wedding, pulled 47 magazines off of the magazine racks and spent two hours looking at them and then walked away leaving the magazines in a pile.
  • This next one I found to be most amusing. There is a book entitled “The Pagan Christ” by Tom Harpur which is shelved under Christianity. This one person, someone we never actually caught, would consistently walk to this section, to this particular book and move each copy of “The Pagan Christ” into the paranormal section. Apparently this customer was displeased with the categorization of this particular book.
  • Two children were left in the Children’s section of our store for a period of six hours. The lady in charge of this section noticed the children, a little boy and a little girl, aged 5 and 7 and inquired about their parents as she had noticed them sitting in this section for a significant period of time. The children were unaware of their parents whereabouts and after making several store announcements asking for the parents, the police were called at which point the parents some how showed up informing our store manager that they had been shopping at the Zehrs grocery store which is attached to the fairview mall. They apologized and all of that but by then the police had already arrived and were filling out a report, so regardless of the fact that the children were now safely with their parents, a formal investigation would be undertaken. I’d like to feel bad for these parents but screw that, how is it that people will leave their children for hours and hours in a public place and wander off, but if they lose their cell phone for a minute, they start to panic. We need to get our priorities straightened out here, ugh.
  • Being one of the few males working at this store, whenever there was an issue relating to the men’s room, I was usually called into check it out. This job consisted of wiping down the counter around the sink as it seems most men cannot use the washroom without throwing water all over the floor, the mirror, the sink, the counter, etc. This one time we were informed of a mess within the bathroom stall. Whenever I hear this I become frightened. I walked into the washroom and there on the floor were discarded pieces of bologna. Now I do not know about your own personal eating habits, my fellow bloggers, but I am not normally in the habit of eating bologna from a package within a public stall at a washroom in a bookstore.

So all in all, I miss the workers, my friends at the bookstore, but not the customers. Remember, pick up after yourselves while in the bookstore, if not, you’re simply pissing off an employee at the end of the night, and they have enough to deal with as you can see from above.

Written by thebeliever07

August 27, 2008 at 6:07 pm

William Faulkner:

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I’ve been reading quite a bit of William Faulkner this summer. At first I found his prose a bit difficult, but if you’re persistent then you’ll find yourself pleasantly rewarded. Here is an author that delights in the vernacular of disenfranchised peoples: natives, Negroes, women, and the disabled. For those interested, I’d suggest starting with The Portable Faulkner.

Just picked up the Snopes Trilogy which comprises: The Hamlet, The Town, & The Mansion at one of my favorite used bookstores, Bridgeburg Books located in Fort Erie, owned and operated by Annie. If you have a day to just relax and pick up some books, I’d suggest making a day trip to the Fort Erie, well worth your time.

And just for your amusement, my devoted blog readers: Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home. Take a virtual tour and see the home that housed one of America’s greatest literary giants.

Written by thebeliever07

August 11, 2008 at 7:19 pm