Monday, September 29, 2008

This week, Bookseller Ryan reviews The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway:

Not since "Catcher in the Rye" have I felt that a book was written specifically for me. Not that much is really shared between them, except they are those rare books that brim with complete and utter awesomeness. They were also that exact book I needed to read at that exact point in life.

Upon reading the cover flap I thought I was in store for something a bit pulpy and moderately derivative. This is something I usually don't mind since I am very fond of genre fiction. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while getting the gist of the story absolutely right the flap-writers also got is wrong. Rarely have I been happier.

Why read this book?

Why not?

The writing style is fun, yet serious. The characters are multi-dimensional and well utilized. The plotting perfectly navigates that dangerous ground between the fields of literary and (believable?
understandable?) science fiction. Unfortunately, this may be a flaw, as unimaginative readers of both stripes may just give this one a skip.

What else, Ryan? Tell us.

Sure thing, no problem.

Perfectly placed comedic gems are liberally scattered through the book, even as horrific events unfold. There is love and war and kung fu scenes never before found between such day-glo covers. More importantly there is terrible sadness and friendship and that wonderful all-that-matters-at-the-end-of-the-day trait called loyalty.

Now, I don't like to beg (not true), but I implore you to give this one a chance. Step out of your comfort zone, grab this pink, fuzzy book and hold on for dear life. When you are finished reading you will approach me. I will nod calmly and knowingly as you offer your neverending thanks for making you read "The Gone Away World".


If you didn't have a pulse this book would give you one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Some Staff Recommends

From the shelves of the Colfax Avenue store, here are a few new titles members of our staff are recommending:

Jon C says, "A charming fantasy novel that any book lover will enjoy."

This book has recently come out in paperback. To purchase it, or for more information, click here: City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers.

Mindy is recommending this new short essay collection with: "Some are funny. Some poignant. Some will kinda make your skin crawl. All worth reading."

For more information, or to purchase Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, edited by Ellen Sussmann, click on the title.

Pat W. is recommending "This 'user-friendly', 'non-partisan' book that will help all with the issues, positions and TERMS."

This new, and topical, paperback can be purchased here: What You Should Know About Politics...But Don't: ANon-Partisan Guide to the Issues by Jessamyn Conrad.

Pat H recommends this new paperback: Q & A by Vikas Swarup.

"A great story about a man's 'alternative education'." This new paperback novel is set in modern day Mumbai, India, and set to be an upcoming movie titled "Slumdog Millionaire."

Rob is recommending Forgery of Venus, by Michael Gruber, a new book in hardcover.

He says: "Another fun read by the author of Book of Air and Shadows. You may find yourself in Italy scrutinizing paintings after reading this."

For even more staff recommends, check out our Goodreads site, or come in to visit any one of our stores!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sometimes, It's Not About the Book...

A report from bookseller Neil Strandberg on the Nancy Pelosi Event at the Tattered Cover, 20 August 2008

Predictably, the man stood up and shouted, “What about ‘Thou Shall Not Kill?’” “What about the Constitution?” He continued to shout these questions as he casually shuffled sideways down the aisle of chairs and into my arms. I spun him around and pushed him toward the exit.

“Shut up or I’ll have you arrested,” I hissed to the back of his left ear that was close enough for my nose to brush.

I was trying to be quiet. Up on stage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper were engaged in pleasant conversation. They acted as though they did not notice the disruption as I was doing my best to be sure everyone remained undisturbed. Happy even. I smiled as much as I could.

“Arrested?” he shouted as we moved together, our feet entwined, stumbling out of the room. “You can’t have me arrested! I have free speech! Free speech!”

“That’s it,” I hissed again, then offered the countdown I practice every day with my 4-year-old daughter: “3-2-1.” Still shouting. Okay. I faced a colleague, Derek, and more loudly commanded, “Trespass this guy.” Derek and a police officer hired for the occasion each reached a hand out for the arms of this man and led him downstairs. Finding a smile I turned, re-entered the event and waited for the next person to rise and shout. Predictably, it came in a few minutes.

That was on Wednesday, August 20th, and part of the run up to the Democratic National Convention here in Denver. I’ve had many, many opportunities while at Tattered Cover to help with celebrity author events, be they household names from Washington, D.C. or Hollywood, and people sometimes behave strangely at such events. We knew there would be trouble during Speaker Pelosi’s visit, so we weren’t caught flat-footed. We had time to prepare and I think we did a pretty good job, all things considered. In fact, in the days since I’ve been offered thanks by some of the others who also attended that night.

But I’ve been mulling it over because one of the people I hissed at left his business card with Derek and asked that I write and explain myself. Explain myself? WTF. “Dude,” I want to jab at him, “you showed up at my store for my author with the intent of making scene, ignored my request for respectful conversation, ignored my instruction to shut up and used “free speech” like a permission slip to be a dork. What did you think was going to happen? Rule number 1 of civil disobedience – not that being a dork rises to that level, but still – make your statement, take your lumps.

But let me tell you all something else. That’s my work-self talking. That’s the guy who showed up to an author event heavily leveraged by law-enforcement wearing a beige three-button suit, dark blue shirt and shiny blue tie. In fact, I think I was the only guy in the room not paid a salary by the federal government wearing a tie. Jokingly (maybe?), one of the Capitol Police special agents remarked to me, “What are you doing in that get up? Who fights in a suit?” I didn’t come to fight, of course, I came to “manage” but even then, this is the indie bookselling business. Who the hell wears a tie? Ever?

You’ve already guessed that I’m going to declare possession of another self, and this other self is, even as I write, looking out my office window above Denver’s 16th Street Mall with jealousy as young demonstrators parade down the street exhorting me, you, the Democratic Party and the nation to do this and to do that. I feel the same. There are things I want to shout, too. Indeed, years ago, before the setting #1 buzz cut from Floyd’s, came army surplus clothing and street demonstrations against Ronald Reagan’s policies in Central America and the first Gulf War. My cohorts and I lamented the fact that we were mere tots during the most tumultuous days of the Sixties and had thus missed out as actors in one of the country’s coolest moments.

I don’t exactly feel that way now, though, and have scratched my head repeatedly over the organizers of “Recreate 68.” What fresh lunacy is that? But I do possess the urge to shout, to speak truth to power, to disrupt the status quo – though as often as not I am a daily, active participant in the status quo. Hell, I help define it: witness the beige Hugo Boss from Nordstrom Rack.

But somewhere between desires for extreme action to shouting at the Speaker of the House
in my bookstore to maintaining the status quo lies something essential to the American story: we must all find a moment to break a few rules or the rule mongers will be our masters. If that guy comes back to the store I will throw him out. That’s part of the deal. But all the same I’m glad he’s out there.

I am most impressed by one young man, living some black-clad post-Che bicycle-punk aesthetic, who walked below my window yesterday demanding a return of Crystal Pepsi. “You know you want it,” he hollers, “But you have to demand it.” Yep, that about sums it up. His friends laughed with him, as did the riot cops on the corner. Brilliant. I love that guy.