Celebrate Small Press Month with APRIL

Seattle’s annual springtime celebration of independent literature is again upon us, offering a stupefying assortment of small press things to do.  Last year’s festivities included a veggie potluck and reading at Pilot Books, a chapbook making workshop at Scenic Drive Factory, and an evening of live poetry from Copper Canyon Press, among other activities.  This year, though the name may be different (SPF has become APRIL: Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature), the calendar is just as jam-packed. Yessir, the sun is out, the air is warm, and a rose by any other name most certainly smells as sweet… Take a look!

Friday, March 23: HOARSE Issue 6 Release Party: UNDERCOVER, at the Electric Tea Garden, Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.

The 6th release of HOARSE will be filled with surprises, disguises, and song.

Event to include select readings from the latest issue and local bands including LAKE, Blue Light Curtain, and Tenderfoot rocking some top-secret cover songs. There are no visible signs for the Electric Tea Garden (they are, literally, undercover, and the secret backdoor entrance is located on 14th Ave. The space is small and may fill up, so show up early in your best trench coat. Entry for this event is $5 at the door—cash only. Issue 6 will be available for $9.

PANK Literary JournalSaturday, March 24: [PANK] Invasion, at Kaleidoscope Vision, 7 p.m.

APRIL is proud to work with [PANK], recently lauded as one of the ten best literary magazines in the country by the New York Times Magazine, on a reading bonanza. Poetry and prose from Erik Evenson, Jeffrey Morgan, M. Bartley Seigel, Summer Robinson, Gregory Laynor, Morris Stegosaurus w/ Fiddleback, & friends.

Sunday, March 25: Chapbook-making workshop at ZAPP (the Richard Hugo House), 2 p.m.

Enjoy a crafty/bookish Sunday at one of the city’s finest repositories of all things DIY. Led by Amber Nelson, of Alice Blue Review, learn how to bind your own chapbooks, and get inspiration from decades of handmade literature.

Monday, March 26: A Poet, a Playwright and a Drag Queen, 8 p.m. in the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Room

A competitive storytelling event with an emphatic twist. Author Debra Di Blasi (Drought), playwright Mallery Avidon, and the incomparable Jackie Hell receive a secret theme, which they’ll use to create an original, 7-10 minute piece. A jury of three randomly selected audience members will select the winner, who will receive a sash, a cash prize, and probably something covered in gold spray paint. Tickets are $7 at the door—cash only.

Tuesday, March 27: Paper and Words at Cullom Gallery, 7 p.m.

A reading curated by Pilot Books’ Summer Robinson, featuring original books arts curated by Sharon Alexander. Heather Folsom, author of Philosophie Thinly Clothed and other books, will read. Artists Martine Workman, Garek Druss, Jesse Lortz and Alexander will have work on display.

Wednesday, March 28: A Jello Horse at the Hedreen Gallery, 8 p.m.

An evening of music, multimedia and a reading from Seattle’s own Matthew Simmons.

Matthew Simmons is the author of A Jello Horse. He is the editor of interviews at Hobart Literary Journal and is a regular contributor to HTMLGiant. In addition to the reading, there will be a screening of the short film “Powder House (2011),” written by Molly Gallentine and directed by Brandon Covey, and musical performance by Levi Fuller, who makes and compiles music – often inspired by books – in Seattle, Washington.

Thursday, March 29: Readings from Ryan Call and Chelsea Martin, 8 p.m. at Porchlight Coffee and Records

A night of readings from two of independent literature’s brightest young talents. Ryan Call is the author of The Weather Stations. His stories appear in Mid-American Review, New York TyrantConjunctions, Annalemma, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award. He teaches English and coaches cross-country at a high school in Houston.

Chelsea Martin is the author of Everything Was Fine Until Whatever and the forthcoming Kramer Sutra. She contributes to HTMLGiant and runs Universal Error.

Friday, March 30: Seattle LitCrawl, starting 7:30 p.m. at Bluebird Microcreamery and Brewery on Pike, with further locations TBA.

An evening of readings scattered throughout Capitol Hill, featuring Stacey Levine, Doug Nufer, Paulette Gaudet, Diana Salier, Kate Lebo, Jamey Braden von Mooter, Greg Bem, Sarah Galvin and Ed Skoog. Organized in collaboration with Seattle’s PageBoy Magazine.

Hugo HouseSaturday, March 31 — Recto Verso: an Independent Press Expo, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Richard Hugo House

Dozens of the finest small presses from the Northwest and beyond converge on the epicenter of Seattle’s literary world for a one-of-a-kind book fair. Book-buyers’ best chance to see a bevy of small press books rarely seen on bookstore shelves. The first twenty people get a free APRIL tote bag. Readings throughout the day in the Hugo House Theater. The Hugo House bar will be open.

Closing Party, 8 p.m. at Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar

Come close out APRIL with fine drink and hobnobbing. No readings—just good folks, plenty of booze, and maybe some embarrassing pictures projected on the wall.

Check out APRIL‘s calendar for more info.

Spring Booknotes from our Staff – Memoir and Essay

The Lifespan of a Fact
by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal (Norton)

Is it acceptable for a writer of non-fiction to alter the facts of an article in order to make it more readable? After an essay written by John D’Agata had been accepted for publication by The Believer magazine, it was handed over to one of their fact checkers, Jim Fingal. This book is the correspondence between the two men over a period of seven years. It includes the original essay plus their correspondence, which is often terse, passive-aggressive, and amusing. The book itself is short (a mere 123 pages) and worthy of long table-pounding, fist-pumping discussions on the ethics of journalism. –Jillian


The Guardians: An Elegy
by Sarah Manguso (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The life of Harris—close friend to writer and poet Sarah Manguso—could read like so many faceless deaths of the mentally ill: after years of suffering from schizophrenic breakdowns for much of his adult life, Harris finally surrendered in a violent, public way. In The Guardians, Manguso pulls her beloved friend from the obscurity of “an unidentified white man” with this personal and moving elegy. Writing with the distinct gifts of a poet, she introduces us to her friend as she knew him and illustrates the oftentimes inadequate ways we have of expressing love and the “insufficiency of explanation.” –Molly


Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
by Jeanette Winterson (Grove)

Winterson’s semi-autobiographical novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, told the story of a young girl’s abusive childhood dominated by a fanatical, Pentecostal, adoptive mother with a special fondness for the Apocalypse. This memoir, written twenty-seven years later, fleshes out the details of those harrowing early years and leads us through the breakdowns and breakthroughs of the second chapter of her life. In her boldest stroke, Winterson, determined to vanquish the ever present shadow of her early abandonment, embarks on a quest to find her birth mother. This is a gripping, fierce, and deeply moving memoir of a woman in search of her own truth. –Laurie


The Mountain and the Fathers
by Joe Wilkins (Counterpoint)

Joe Wilkins grew up in a water-starved stretch of eastern Montana known as the Big Dry. With his new book, he returns to the unforgiving landscape of his youth in a series of wistful vignettes culled from vivid, often violent childhood memories.  The Mountain and the Fathers is a wonderfully rendered portrait of starkly beautiful rural life and a haunting search for what it means to be a man in the American West. Wilkins is a poet; his eye for detail is clear and he writes with the narrative grace of high lonesome prairie wind. –Matthew

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

World Book Night: A Million Reasons to Read a Book

Registration for World Book Night – an ambitious literary event that seeks to put a million books in the hands of a million people, for free – is fast approaching. You have until Monday, February 6th, at midnight (EST) to submit your name as a possible book giver. Those selected will receive 20 free paperbacks to distribute throughout their community on April 23rd, this year’s chosen night of book giving.


World Book Night first took place in the United Kingdom on March 5th, 2011, with a particularly massive (and enviable) literary celebration occurring in London’s Trafalgar Square  – who wouldn’t love to hear Nick Cave read from Lolita, or receive a free book from Brian Eno and Margaret Atwood? It was a tremendous success: thousands of book lovers attended the festivities in London and, as promised, over a million books were given away throughout England and Ireland. This year, Germany and the United States will join in on the celebration.

World Book Night, looking less like a book festival and more like a Flaming Lips performance - Trafalgar Square, March 2011

How do you sign up? Simple. Head over WBN’s registration page and plug in your name, address, and contact info. You’ll be asked to pick three of your favorite books from a stellar list of thirty titles for distribution. This, to me, proves that there are real book lovers running the show backstage. WBN isn’t looking to indiscriminately disperse a box full of flimsy and unread paperbacks. They want their volunteers to love what they’re giving out, to tell each person, “you have got to read this,” as they hand them a particular book. Bibliophiles worldwide know the magic of this moment; there’s nothing better than sharing a novel that knocked you off your feet.

Despite the sheer scope of their operation, WBN is surprisingly modest in explaining why they do what they do. To “spread the love of reading and books” they say, simply. They’re also out to promote the merit of bookstores and libraries, which, ahem, I wholeheartedly endorse. Still, I’d say what makes World Book Night such a spectacular program, such a valuable program, is that it creates new readers. Over a million people received free books last year. This year, that number will triple. So here’s to falling in love with literature – both for the first time and all over again.

Take a look at just a few of the excellent titles to be given away this year:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Become a book giver today!

Dethawing with The Flame Alphabet

Having emerged from another dim December winter, now is a great time to peruse what’s new in the world of literature. More daylight means more reading light, after all, and while I’m told the weather is getting better, a couch and some coffee plus a couple of books still sounds just fine to me.


The Flame Alphabet
By Ben Marcus

With his mesmerizing new novel, The Flame Alphabet, Ben Marcus envisions a world in which the speech of children literally kills their parents.

Language itself becomes a tool for excruciating destruction and malice in this stunning, horrific and yet funny novel – funny like the serrated edge of a knife. Fast-paced and quick-witted, Ben Marcus is a true mastermind. Not to be missed.



The Fallback Plan
By Leigh Stein

Leigh Stein paints an uncomfortably accurate portrait of twenty-somethings adrift in the twenty-first century with The Fallback Plan.

A subtle depiction of the rather anxious, very unglamorous fate that awaits recent college graduate Esther Kohler. Stein has created a moving, hilarious, and honest character who will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered what the hell they’re going to do with a degree in Drama. A great read. – Casey O.


By Alan Bennett

Celebrated English novelist Alan Bennett peers into the uncomfortable space between people’s public appearance and their private desires with Smut.

Official charade, superficial appearances, gossip, and secrets. Alan Bennett delivers it all in this funny, surprising, and slightly peculiar duo of stories. And smutty? Yes. – Karen



By Marie Lu

Marie Lu imagines a dystopian American future in which the nation has split into two separate countries with her debut YA novel, Legend.

In a distant future, the United States has collapsed into two separate lands – the Republic, a country of order and class, and the colonies, a land in perpetual war with its neighbor. Day and June both live in the Republic but lead very different lives. June is a prodigy brought up to take her place among the nation’s elite. Day, a child of the slums, was destined to die before his wits led him to the top of the Republic’s most wanted criminal list. When an act of murder throws their worlds together, Day and June discover that the Republic may not be all that it seems. – Casey S.

Short Run Fest this Saturday!

On Saturday, November 12th, Vera Project plays host to the first-ever Short Run Festival – an excellently curated small press exhibition featuring regional small press publications and individual makers of art books, zines, comics, literary works, and animation. Doors open at 10:30am with over 70 exhibitors, including showstoppers like Hoarse, Filter, Microcosm Publishing, Jason T. Miles from Profanity Hill, Stumptown Underground, Bureau of Drawers Collective, Sam Lohman with Peaches & Bats, and representatives from the ZAPP archives at Hugo House.


Organizers see Short Run as an “alternative to large-scale commercial conventions,” with particular attention paid to limited edition, handmade literature and unconventional programming. So, in addition to endless rows of beautiful saddle stitched books, expect a day-long drawing competition inspired by Ryan Molenkamp’s “The Portrait Challenge,” and a series of animation screenings from SEAT (Seattle Experimental Animation Team), David Nixon, and Julie Alpert and Andy Arkley. Also, there’s a bake sale. Honestly, now. Why would you not go to this?


Short Run is free and open to the public. Doors open at 10:30am and close at 4:30pm. After which, festivities move to Fantagraphics in Georgetown for an after party art show with the exhibitors. Click here for more info!

The sprawling and lovely River scroll by Martine Workman, one of the featured presenters.

Fall Booknotes from Our Staff – Biography

Blue Nights
by Joan Didion (Knopf)

Six years after the publication of her stunning memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion brings us a deeply moving account of the loss of her thirty-nine-year-old daughter, Quintana. Didion begins with what would be the seven-year anniversary of Quintana’s wedding, and moves back and forth through time to reflect on her daughter’s life and her own role as a parent. The deaths of her husband and daughter forced Didion to face her own mortality, and to acknowledge the majesty of what she once considered ordinary blessings. Didion once again gives us an unflinching chronicle written in her signature succinct prose. –Laurie

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin)

With the fortuitous combination of Alexandra Fuller’s adventurous and charismatic family, and her terrific storytelling skills, this memoir (following Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight) presents the story of her mother’s remarkable life. Born in Scotland and raised in Kenya, Nicola Fuller’s passion, bravery, and uniquely wry sense of humor are evident throughout, from settling onto four different farms in southern Africa, to the heart-breaking personal and political challenges that threaten her mental stability. This tribute to an exceptional woman, who, with a bit of wine, her beloved animals nearby, and an occasional song to fit the moment, agreed to be the subject of another (revealing) “awful book,” returns us to the fabulous Fullers with renewed curiosity and pleasure. –Erica

by Jim Ottaviani
illus. by Leland Myrick (First Second)

One difference between the genius mind and the average mind is the ability to view the world from unexpected angles. According to this biographical graphic novel, that ability paired with a great sense of humor are physicist Richard Feynman’s gifts. They undoubtedly helped the scientist with his contribution to the Nobel Prize winning work on the theory of quantum electrodynamics. However, the author also makes a point of showing that they helped Feynman improve the teaching of physics. His desire to make physics more accessible spurred a series of popular lectures. In the end, this achievement vies with those scientific feats as his single greatest work. –Pamela

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life
by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt)

Acclaimed biographer Charles Shields shines an unprecedented light onto Kurt Vonnegut Jr.—that smirking master of American letters. Working directly with the author before his death, Shields seamlessly weaves together a wealth of personal letters and first-hand anecdotes, interviews, and photographs. From Vonnegut’s early days of anonymity as a struggling short-story writer and his grappling with success and life as a family man to a horrific recreation of the bombings in Dresden and tracing how those events gave rise to Slaughterhouse-Five. Intimate and heartfelt without pulling punches, And So it Goes is a fittingly scribbly sketch of this off beat literary icon, both on and off the page. –Matthew

And So It Goes will be published on Tuesday, November 8th.

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

A Weekend of International Poetry with Wave Books

On November 4th, Wave Books kicks off their 2nd annual Poetry Festival at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. This year, their theme is Poetry in Translation, which already has me running around in circles like an over-excited pet. Each day is packed with fifteen separate events, ranging from art exhibitions to lectures and discussions, to readings held in the beatific James Turrell Skyspace. Friday night is looking mighty fine: from 7pm to 9pm over a dozen festival participants are assembling at the Henry Art Gallery Auditorium for a gigantic  group reading. And Sunday’s grand finale sounds phenomenal: at 7:30 pm, MacArthur grant winning poet Peter Cole, preeminent translator of Chinese and Buddhist texts Bill Porter (aka Red Pine), and James Joyce translator/scholar Nikolai Popov gather to speak at the Neptune Theatre. The lecture, entitled, “Translators on Translation,” is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures and will be moderated by poet Matthew Zapruder.

The sheer scope of this festival is flabbergasting; especially when one considers just how little international literature we have access to in America. As publishing house Open Letter points out, only 3 percent of books published in the U.S. are works in translation (when you run those numbers for literary fiction and poetry, it’s more like 0.7 percent).  So thank you, Wave, for organizing such a singular and edifying weekend. Here’s a glimpse at just a few of the poets, translators, and editors scheduled to attend:

John Beer, Don Mee Choi, Zhang Er, Jonathan Way, Alejandro de Acosta, Deborah Woodard, Michael Biggins, Sarah Valentine, Maged Zaher, Joshua Beckman, Michael Wiegers, Graham Foust, Samuel Frederick, Anthony McCann, Cole Heinowitz, Summer Robinson, Kevin Craft, Annie Janusch, Giuseppe Leporace, Laura Jensen, Anthony Geist, and Alissa Valles.

The schedule:

(11/4) Friday’s schedule of events is here

(11/5) Saturday’s schedule of events is here

(11/6) Sunday’s schedule of events is here

Purchasing a pass gains you entry to all three days of the festival, plus a welcome packet including, among other delights: a handmade book, pamphlets, festival ephemera, and a ticket to Sunday night’s grand finale.

Visit Wave Books for more info and pick up your pass today!