February 26, 2007

New things: YELLOW CAKE by Ann Cummins. LUCKY by Garielle Bell. EXQUISITE by Laird Hunt. BLACK HOLE by Charles Burns. ELECTRIC FLESH by Claro. MY GIRLFRIEND COMES TO THE CITY AND BEATS ME UP by Stephen Elliot. NEW LIFE by Omar Pamuk. LA PERDIDA by Jessica Abel. And THE OPEN CURTAIN by Brian Evenson. On that note, Brian Evenson and Matthew Derby(The Pride of Pawtucket) will be reading at Myopic Books this Wednesday evening at seven of clock. I insist that you be there, whoever you are.

February 24, 2007

Whenever I'm not reading or working or reading at work; whenever I'm not sleeping or walking or walking in my sleep; whenever I'm not at a party or at a movie or doing something fun, I am watching the teevee. And though it might look as if I'm 'relaxing' or 'spacing off' I am, in fact, studying. Because the teevee is a profound font of trivia. There is, if I may reinforce my last statement, nothing more trivial than the teevee. It has much to teach me. And I am and have been its eager student. So what rewards have my many thousands of hours of learning brought me? Well, only one, recently, unless you count poor eyesight, middling conversational skills and a tendency to drift into fantasy as rewards. (It's been said, usually by advertising executives posing as self-help pundits, that the watching, or rather 'the journey' is reward enough.) What the teevee has (finally) beknighted me with is the envy and the respect (possibly) of twenty-five or thirty members of The Providence Athenaeum. That, and one third of a bottle of sparkling wine. It was at The PA, last night, that my wife and I (and Jonathan and Sarah, friends of friends; kindly, wise strangers), under the sobriquet TEAM POUTINE, took first place in what's called a Pub Quiz. To me, it was like any other game show, where the 'fabulous prizes' have been replaced by (diaphanous) 'prestige.' Still, there was the sparkling wine. And the gloating (disguised as aw-shucks humility). You may not believe this but I get few opportunities to gloat and I like to make the most of them. So thank you, teammates, we could not have done it without each other. And thank you, The Providence Athenaeum, for giving us a forum for glory (and to you, Christina, for the Ada Books shout-out). And thanks to you, the teevee, for making me appear smarter than I am.

February 23, 2007

Yesterday it was just raining rain; today it is raining books. I'm not talking a biblical deluge of newts or even your everyday downpour of frog-eyed toads. What I'm talking about is a rather small (and chalk-dry) cloudburst of calamari, specifically, Calamari Press. I just received (Thank you, Derek!) several titles from their catalogue, which are now elegantly(!) displayed on my countertop. If you like contemporary fiction, if you like contemplative poetry, if you like contempestuous art, and if you like even more a mix of these things or pieces of each of these things fashioned into a smart and surprising cocktail or cockatrice of words, chances are you'll like the work of Robert Lopez, Peter Markus, Miranda Mellis, John Olson and James Wagner, among others. As Peter Markus writes in THE SINGING FISH: The rain, when it drums down on the tops of our boy heads, the sound of it falling, it makes music in our ears. We lift our hands, our mouths, up to the sky. Like this, with our hands held high, our faces facing the rain, us brothers, we start to sing. We sing and we sing and we do not stop singing until the rain stops drumming down. When the rain stops drumming down, us brothers, we drop down, onto our hands and knees, down in mud, and we begin to eat. We eat until our bellies are big with mud. Let that sink into your pores. Or better yet, come in and have a look at it yourself. I promise I won't make you eat any mud.

February 22, 2007

It's raining in Providence and the atmosphere at Ada Books has taken on a Lovecraftian gloom. It would be a great day for the half-fish, half-human creatures to rise up from the sea. . .or for the less amphibian, it would be a good day for a rousing run of Rock, Paper, Scissors. If you don't have a partner, you can play online. Just click the l'appareil link at your right and you'll find all sorts of rainy day games. They have art and music, too. It's put together, in part, by the little known (and so rarely understood) Davide Balula -- whose music, by the way, makes an excellent soundtrack for the grey, the moist, and the chill of a New England Winter.

February 20, 2007

I took yesterday off, both on-line and in-shop. I sat at home with my wife and a scrabble board and fought the cold with thoughts of my favorite president, Millard Fillmore (I guess a space heater would have worked better). Millard Fillmore came to the office by accident and he only served for two years and as far as I know (I've done no research) he got nothing done but his outlandish name has always had a place in my private pantheon. I know I should have had Washington or Lincoln in mind on this observational celebration, but I (and everyone else) think about them or at least acknowledge them in some unconscious manner every time we put a dollar in a vending machine or throw another penny into an old mayonaise jar. Millard Fillmore gets no such royalties. So it was to Millard's memory that I stayed at home and accomplished nothing yesterday. I like to think that he'd've been proud.

February 18, 2007

Through the soapy scrim of a mild hangover (you're soaking in it), I see that it was worthwhile to open the doors on this Sunday. Thanks, strangers! I love your book-buying ways. Wait, did someone say hangover? Yes, it was me. And it's more of a rumour of hangover; more of a persistant yawn and grape-skin glazing of the eyes. My throat, too, sounds meaner than usual. It's a noise I can't duplicate in text. Not without adding none-too-silent z's and w's and g's to words that would otherwise look like good English. My throat took a pounding last night at the dank karaoke club on Empire street, next to AS220. It was my rendition of Belefonte's Day-O that did me in, I think. I only hope it didn't infect me with Belefonte's recent and inexplicable madness. Or perhaps I'm long since immune. Either way, I'd like to thank Ashly and Anthony (you know who you are) for dragging me down there last night. Books make for good company but they are not always the best Saturday night companions.

February 17, 2007

I have lived, apparantly, a spare and insular life. The breadth of my ignorance is chilling and the sum of what I don't understand would clutter up an entire continent were it ever revealed to me all at once. Fortunately, what I'm ignorant of unravels itself only a fragment at a time. Today it coughed up the belated knowledge of Calamari Press, a small Manhatten publisher with a catalogue of brave and bewildering genius. I encourage you to check out the link on the list at your right. There you will see, among other things, that Brown University's own Brian Evenson will be reading with Calamari Press's Robert Lopez in New York (New School) this Wednesday. And for those of you that are interested in good books rather than the good book, Ada Books will be open this Sunday from noon till four.

February 16, 2007

If the laws of poetic justice were as incontrovertable as the fundamental laws of physics, than the city of North Reading should be overwraught with good books and good book lovers. But it isn't. And they aren't. The Reading in North Reading is pronounced Redding, by the way. (I'd have known that I if I were from around here, I was told.) And so maybe there are some unseen acts of poetic justice, or rather, poetic irony at work in the universe (or at least in New England) because this morning, after I spent a hundred minutes on perilous Massachusettes freeways to get from my Providence book shop to a North Reading book sale, a sale that advertised itself as having "over 45,000 items", my face, already pink from the cold, turned red with embarassment at the "items" that were offered for sale. Nominally books, but more accurately trash. Even more accurately, a once vibrant forest slaughtered to make coffins for the deadest of dead prose. These books deserved the torch. They were the saddest bunch of rejects, the sorriest collection of also-rans and never-weres I'd seen a long time. I felt pity for them and for myself and my fellow North Reading readers. It was an angry pity. A jaw-locked pity that followed me all the way home. I couldn't wait to get back to the sanity of Ada's shelves and to see the bright faces and proud spines of all my old friends (Nabokov, Joyce, Amis, etc.).

February 15, 2007

On a cold day like this one, when I have few customers to distract me, it's nice to get a visit from a friendly neighborhood poet. Mr. Blazer dropped by awhile ago, in part to buy books(much appreciated) and in part to share a poem. If I had a perfect memory and his permission, I'd recite or rewrite it here. But I don't. And I dare not paraphrase. But I will say that it was the first poem I've heard that was inspired by the death of (and perhaps dedicated to the coverage of) Anna Nicole Smith. The poem was not nearly as kitchy as its subject and a thousand times as eloquent, even when it refered to her boobs. Thanks, Mr. Blazer, for warming my cockles on an ice-thick afternoon.

February 14, 2007

It is Valentine's Day, after all. And besides my dear and lovely wife who has already been showered with my love and saliva, I'd like to send a love-tipped arrow at the two fine men who put this site together for me. Stuart? Paul? Will you be my (platonic) Valentines'? I don't mean to put you on the spot. It's just that you've done so much for me and I feel I owe you, at the very least, a heart-shaped steak (extra bloody) and couple cases of beer. Thanks, champs!