SHERMAN ALEXIE on Wednesday, December 11th

Sherman Alexie on Wednesday, December 11th at 7:00 p.m.

sherman

Seattle writer Sherman Alexie is the author of over two dozen books, including 7 volumes of poetry. His newest, What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned was published by Brooklyn based Hanging Loose Press, publishers of his poetry since his break out collection The Business of Fancy Dancing (1992). While Sherman Alexie is best known for his short stories, novels and for his National Book Award-winning young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little Brown), for many of us the publication of a new book of his poetry is the highlight of any year. Don’t miss this. Sherman Alexie’s previous collections of poetry include First Indian on the MoonThe Summer of Black WidowsOne Stick Song, and Face, all published by Hanging Loose Press.

If you are unable to attend the event you can always give us a call at (206) 624-6600 or email us at orders@elliottbaybook.com to request an autographed copy of What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned.

Sundays In: Nobody Likes Clip Shows, Dave

by Dave Wheeler

photo by ST Katz
photo by ST Katz

Last year I started out on this venture. It seemed reasonable enough: Blog every two weeks about what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been thinking of while I’ve been reading. Nothing fancy, nothing particularly erudite or mind-blowing or life-changing, just a journal, from one reader to others.

Well, I’ve arrived at the year marker, and I have to say it’s a lot of fun! Most of the time I can recall only as much of what I read as what I eat, but it’s nice to be able to look back and see the kinds of things I read in the last twelve months. And what a year it’s been! Such highs, such lows: We celebrated the big four-oh. The Orphan Master’s Son won the Pulitzer (tragically, at the exact moment the world was learning of the Boston Marathon bombings). Hurricane Sandy hit our friends on the East CoastI met Chuck Palahniuk, and I fell in love with Alex Dimitrov. If you don’t keep a record of what you read, you might enjoy trying for a while; it’s amazing to look back on sometimes.

When I peer back on the beginning of this blog series, though, I’m reminded that one of my most cherished authors is at the center of that initial post: David Rakoff. He passed precisely one year ago from an ongoing and very public battle with cancer, taking whatever slot I’d reserved for Celebrity Death That Most Impacted My Life.

Love Dishonor Marry Die Cherish Perish, RakoffBut I’m happy to say that, just before entering that great, big public radio in the sky, Rakoff finished writing his final book. The improbably titled and thoroughly magnificent Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish is his sole book of fiction and a slender epic in verse. The whole story is written in iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets (because, what the hell, right?), paired with illustrations by Seth, all bound into a gorgeous artifact designed by Chip Kidd.

I love this book. It’s not only a stunning work of fiction, of poetry, of art, but it’s also one of so few books that I want to read aloud. Always. Like I never want to stop reading it aloud, so I can always feel the rhythm and rhymes and be swept away in the magic of it all. It’s like a Broadway musical for readers.

But the magic doesn’t end there, and you should listen close to this: I have one (1), beautifully illustrated, limited edition, 8.5 x 11”, letterpress broadside with an excerpt from Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish to give away (courtesy of Rakoff’s publisher) to whoever writes the best rhyming couplet about David Rakoff. (Iambic pentameter not necessary. “Best” is defined solely as “Dave’s favorite.”) Email your name and couplet to contest@elliottbaybook.com before 11pm (PST) on 8/24/13, for your chance to win. The winner will be announced on or around September 1.

In the meantime, we’ve got lots of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish in stock. Happy reading!

Win this! (courtesy of Doubleday)
Win this! (courtesy of Doubleday)

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Susan H., who sent in this supremely poignant couplet:

I miss David Rakoff, who left us to soon
His art and his writing were never jejune

Thanks, Susan. And enjoy your broadside!

Small Press at Elliott Bay Book Co.

In addition to the thousands titles published by the larger publishing houses, we here at Elliott Bay are also proud to support several small publishers and self published authors from all over the world. Here are just a few of the titles that we’ve received within the last month or so.

Tale of Cloran HastingsTale Of Cloran Hastings, by Brandon M. Dennis

Cloran is an old seafarer who is set to retire and finally settle down with his fiancee Adaire when his king sends him on one last mission to the far off island of Miotes. Telling himself that it’s only one last journey, Cloran gathers his shipmates and heads out on his ship Wavegazer. Unfortunately, the sea itself seems to have other plans for this captain and his crew.

Bubble CollectorThe Bubble Collector, by Vikram Madan

This wonderfully illustrated collection of poems that poke fun at a wide range of subjects, Madan’s book is reminiscent of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. Almost every style of poem is represented here, from hilarious haiku to parodies of popular poems, The Bubble Collector is a great book to introduce children to the joys of poetry.

Chicago Center for Literature and PhotographyThe Chicago Center for Literature & Photography

We are proud to present the complete catalog of titles published by The Chicago Center for Literature & Photography. Each small, hand-bound book is an original work and would make a welcome addition to any library. Topics range from travel memoir to post-apocalyptic science fiction and feature authors that I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about in the near future.

For more information on Elliott Bay’s consignment program please visit our website http://www.elliottbaybook.com or email us at consignment@elliottbaybook.com

A Pride Parade of Books!

Letter QThe Letter Q, by Sarah Moon (ed.)
In The Letter Q, award-winning queer authors share hope to their younger selves. They write a love letter of sorts about life…relationships, sex, exes, addiction, marriage, pain, crushes, self-harm, secrets, not fitting in, and being queer. A remarkable anthology that is honest and forthright about being queer and what to expect. The letters are funny, inspiring, tender, heartbreaking, and frank. – Seth

.

On Being DifferentOn Being Different, by Merle Miller
In 1971, Merle Miller (biographer of Ike Eisenhower and hardly a radical) was fed up with keeping silent in the face of constant slights, slurs, discrimination, and violence…so he came out in The New York Times. If you wonder why we needed a gay rights movement or if you think nothing changes, read this. With a foreword by Dan Savage. Thank you! – Karen

.

Queer and Pleasant DangerA Queer & Pleasant Danger, by Kate Bornstein
Despite more than a decade in dubious Scientology, Kate Bornstein musters a level of grace and compassion all but unimaginable to me. Her memoir bowled me over! It’s funny, surprising, sexy, and shocking. If there is any greater pioneer more deeply devoted to queer rights and solidarity, I don’t know who they are! – Dave

.

Gender and Sexuality for Beginners

Gender & Sexuality for Beginners, by Jaimee Garbacik

A documentary resource guide meets comic book in this fantastic, engaging primer on gender and sexuality. Whether you are new to the topics or already well-versed, you’ll find yourself engrossed in this book as it takes you through history, current culture, theory, biology, neuroscience, and other elements of the sex-gender system. Challenging and thought-provoking, this is a book we’ve needed for a while! – Justus

.

CrushBad IndiansBad Indians, by Deborah Miranda
Beloved poet, essayist, and writing teacher now has a most unconventional poetic, illustrated memoir! – Karen

Crush, by Richard Siken
Surreal yet tactile, dark yet playful. Long sustained lines in a belief that the right margin was “greatness,” and revolving images that charge shape and meaning within the poems and overall collection. A book alive on every line! – Amanda

End of San FranciscoThe End of San Francisco, by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
This memoir oozes devastation and glamour, twirling around the Nineties like it’s San Francisco, and San Francisco like it’s the Nineties! Back when queers and anarchists and vegans fueled the political momentum in the Mission District. But, honey, things are different now. The Nineties are over, and so is San Francisco. Maybe disillusionment and rejuvenation aren’t so different when you’re ready to go deeper still. – Dave

No Straight LinesTrevorTrevor: A Novella, by James Lescene
A most familiar story for many kids who struggle with being “different” from the supposed norm. Trevor struggles with his sexual identity and is bullied because of it. With a positive outcome, Trevor is a must-read!! – Seth

No Straight Lines, by Justin Hall (ed.)
Thank our glittering stars for the incomparable efforts that brought together forty ravishing years of camp, critique, drama, and wit! This anthology of queer comics has so much to offer: queens, dykes, transmen, transwomen, bisexuals — Oh my! It’s a thing of beauty. – Dave

AdaptationAdaptation, by Malinda Lo
Twenty-seven days after the world took a turn for the worse, Reese wakes up in a military hospital without any memories of the time she spent there. When she’s released a few days later, she’s told she can’t tell anyone what happened to her and that she’s fine. Except she’s not fine. She’s different and doesn’t know how or why. Adaptation kept me riveted from beginning to end! This is one sci-fi novel that will keep you in suspense to the very end. – Justus

Does Jesus Really Love Me

.

Does Jesus Really Love Me?, by Jeff Chu
How do Christians feel about homosexuality–it’s not as cut and dried as you might think and even Evangelicals are shifting in their thinking. Many powerful stories here in a book well worth reading, regardless of your point of view or religious orientation. – Karen

.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be NormalWhy Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, by Jeanette Winterson
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 27 years later, fleshes out the details of those harrowing early years and walks 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

History of a Pleasure SeekerHistory of a Pleasure Seeker, by Richard Mason
This book isn’t just sexy; it’s decadent! Pleasure comes in all forms for one wealthy Dutch family and their rakish new tutor, Piet Barol, whose trysts are not always constrained by gender or privilege. The line between house staff and patricians is soon left beneath a surreptitious pile of pettycoats. Like Downton Abbey with a delightfully sultry twist! A perfect book for summer. – Dave

Sundays In: Poetry Trivia Night

Madness, Rack, and Honey, Ruefle
One of many stellar Wave Books titles

by Dave Wheeler

Nothing is quite as potent a dose of humility as pub trivia. Ubiquitous bits of knowledge swirling like dust motes on a sunny afternoon are picked at random to be used as weapons to bludgeon anyone’s mind foolish enough to participate. And yet, we all do. (Have you been answering our anniversary trivia questions on our blog?)

Quick! What continent has never observed a tornado?

We don’t just want to know stuff. We want to know we know stuff, and we want others to know we know we know stuff, in a way that stuffs stuff we know in their faces.

Normally, I’m the team expert on books and literature. But when my co-workers invited me to local poetry press Wave Books‘s poetry trivia night, that badge was put to agonized shame. It was like that comprehensive final exam you knew pulling an all-nighter wouldn’t help with, so you didn’t study at all.

Meditations in an Emergency, O'Hara

Round after round barraged us with questions like, What poet’s father invented Life Savers hard candy? (Oh, you know it was Hart Crane? I’m sure.) What type of vehicle killed Frank O’Hara on Fire Island in 1966? (Dune buggy? *eyebrow raise*) Who was the first African American to publish a collection of poems? (Of course it’s Phyllis Wheatley!) All right, smart kid, name all the poets who read at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on the night Allen Ginsberg premiered Howl.

The questions gushed from the heyday when people paid much closer attention to poets and their lives. I mean, I can tell you that Kathleen Flenniken is our Washington State Poet Laureate, but I’ll be damned if I know what she had for breakfast this morning. If you watch Mad Men you might know that tons of people were not only reading but talking — really talking — about O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency in the late Fifties.

Here’s a tough one: What contemporary book of poetry has had as broad an impact as that?

Like with ninety-nine percent of Wave Book’s questions the other night, I have no idea. Sure I can tick off today’s prize-winners, name backlist like a son of a gun, and spell Wisława Szymborska correctly, but it’s not so easy to see which contemporaries will live on in the revered tradition of their forebears.

Belmont, BurtAnd maybe that’s why I felt I should have known the answers to more questions. The people and times and places and poems have already been distilled by history into a concentrated tier of significance the years may never diminish. Strip away the retrospective lens of Fitzgeraldian romanticism, and you have poets who have stood the greatest test: time.

Sure. It was just trivia. Wave put on a spectacular evening, complete with Randy Newman cover band Lonely At The Top, and everyone — myself included — had a superb time. My ego hurt for a few hours afterward, though, and I went home and ate ice cream. But I made sure to read a few poems from Stephen Burt’s new book Belmont before I turned on the next episode of Scandal. Because when you aren’t paying attention, you might miss the question.

Sundays In: My Day With Alex Dimitrov

by Dave Wheeler

Begging for It, DimitrovIt begins with a tweet. Or, no. It begins with Arthur Rimbaud — a photocopy of Arthur Rimbaud — rather, his face on a figure near a glass dessert case — rather, a photo David Wojnarowicz (new object of my obsession) took of someone wearing Rimbaud’s face.

Anyway, I was vaguely sure I’d heard of Alex Dimitrov’s debut book of poetry when my colleague, Kenny, foisted it upon me. And whether it was Twitter or the melancholy cover tableau or the eager, near-militant recommendation that got me reading Begging For It we’ll never know. It was probably all three (it usually is).

Because I didn’t just read Begging For It: I set aside an afternoon, made sure no one else was home, poured a heavy glass of wine, and read aloud. To the dog. (She’s a good listener.) Line by line I uttered these delectable syllables saturated with sass, sorrow, sex, and sometimes all three. It felt like the oral equivalent to automatic writing. Like I was possessed with Dimitrov’s spirit, at once incisive and visceral.

I prefer to read poetry aloud. When I read silently, I often overlook the aural dimension to its pleasure. And I’ve never really “devoured” a book of poems. I usually take them like small, soft hits of intoxicants. To buoy me just so.

My day with Alex Dimitrov, though, I took gluttonous, decadent swallows, recklessly reaching a powerful high I haven’t come down from yet. Dimitrov is a smart young poet, as promising as a guy in his late-twenties can say of someone else in his late-twenties, and exhibits a preternatural enough ingenuity to cultivate a queer salon of poets and writers in the heart of New York City, called Wilde Boys.

Kenny’s not getting his book back anytime soon, because I’m reading it again. Because I’m crushing as hard as I did when I was a schoolboy. Laws of diminishing returns do not apply here. Dimitrov’s book is aptly titled, Begging For It, as in: once you try it, you will be.

(This book trailer may not be suitable for all ages or work environments. But live a little why don’t you.)

Read Aloud Favorites

When I was growing up, my family had a “special book drawer,” and when we, the children, were particularly good (we were often particularly good), we were allowed to select a book from drawer and my mother would read the book aloud to us.

Among my favorites were the following:

Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

A friend of mine picked up a copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day while at my house and started to read aloud from it (really, it is a book that demands to be read aloud), and I was surprised to find the words being read differently.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Read aloud, books beget tradition. For me, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has always been voiced with a particular rhythm and cadence every member of my family is able to recite by heart. If I could post an audio clip I’d share it with you (although there’s a chance it would shock you as much as listening to my friend read the book shocked me).

Working in a bookstore, you can’t help but listen to stories and read passages aloud to others.

“Oh, listen to this!” is a common phrase here among the booksellers, and we all wait, in rapt attention, for the reading that follows.

I’ve never outgrown my need to listen to stories. I don’t think any of us have. Whether it’s listening to clips on This American Life, The Wire, audio books, or attending a reading, this need is pretty easy to see.

In my house we are currently reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit aloud. I think it’s a book that was meant to be read that way. Here are a few of my other read-aloud favorites and staff read-aloud recommendations for the older readers and listeners in your life:

 

DublinersDubliners by James Joyce
This novella has words and phrases you want to eat, and really, the closest you’re going to get to that experience is to read it aloud. A classic well worth sharing.

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brallier
This one is a choose-your-own-adventure story for adults. It’s scary (no, really), offers many opportunities for discussion, and features zombies. What more could you want (aside from a blanket to hide under)?

The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I just finished listening–yes, listening–to this book, and I am smitten. This story tells of Achilles through the eyes of his companion and lover Patroclus. Epic hardly begins to describe the wonder of this book.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
If you haven’t yet heard a Sedaris story read aloud, you haven’t yet experienced the stories fully. Seemingly made for audible enjoyment, these stories will have you chortling if not laughing aloud.

The Thing Around Your NeckThe Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adichie
If you want to share a bit of brain food, this book is great! Expect to read fantastic stories you’ll need to discuss after you’ve finished.

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Volume ISherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With all the Sherlock-based movies and stories being produced, going back to the original stories is a wonderful way to delve further into the world of one of the best-loved detectives. The stories themselves sound great read aloud and promote great discussions!

My Family and Other AnimalsMy Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
This book is a nature essay meets family memoir and will have you and your audience laughing and shaking your head in turns. A great family great for those who understand that one’s kin are often a source many oddities.

The Feather RoomThe Feather Room by Anis Mojgani
This poetry book is written by a slam poet, which means the work is meant to be read aloud or performed. Both energetic and tender, this is a wonderful collection well worth sharing.

Letters to Kelly Clarkson by Julia Bloch
We first came upon this book when a customer ordered it as a special order. Since then, we’ve become fascinated with this collection of unrequited correspondence, these prose poems addressed to Kelly Clarkson. There’s a certain intimacy in these pages we can’t quite put our fingers on but adore.

Alright, so there are a few read aloud recommends from our staff. What are your favorite read-aloud books?

-Justus