Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview With Rick Glaze

On Wednesday, June 3rd at 7pm we'll welcome Rick Glaze, author of The Middle Fork, A Political Novel, to the store to kick off our June Author Series. I sat down with Mr. Glaze to ask him a little about the writer's life, and his inspiration.

How did you get started writing?
I started writing financial articles for the local papers more than 20 years ago. A decade back, I became a columnist for the Los Altos Town Crier, and this year for the Nob Hill Gazette in San Francisco. Five years ago, I went on a trip to Jamaica and started writing a kind of impressionistic, fictitious travel journal, part of which appears in The Middle Fork as dreams of the narrator, Jonathan. That fall I headed over to Stanford University to start 2 years of study in the Creative Writing Program. A few short stories followed and then The Middle Fork emerged.

Where did you get the idea for The Middle Fork?
Everybody brings a little bit of themselves on these trips, biases, anxieties and prejudices. Politics has become contentious and personal and many people are very stuck on their ideologies. Dan Brown elicited huge emotions about religion in his book, The Da Vinci Code. The same intense feelings float down a swollen river in my story as politics.

What’s your writing process like?
I wrote The Middle Fork very fast to get the flow of the river and the story on paper. That process makes the action and the dialogue very snappy, or, as a reviewer called it, “well paced.” The first draft was finished in 6 months, mostly from nights and weekends, but the rewrites took two more years. During that process I took several kayaking trips, for research, down the Grand Canyon, and the Rogue. The last rapid in the book is actually one on the North Umpqua River in Oregon. I work-shopped the early drafts at Stanford under the working title, The Purple River.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Meg Waite Clayton loves our store!

One of our favorite authors, Meg Waite Clayton, who wrote The Wednesday Sisters and lives just around the corner from us, recently wrote a lovely piece on our store for the bibliophile website She Is Too Fond Of Books.

You can find her article here. Thanks for the kind words, Meg!


June is Superhero Month!

Calling all superheroes: boys & girls, cats & dogs!

Books Inc. Palo Alto is celebrating the superhero in all of us! Don't want to wait for Halloween to dress up as your favorite cartoon superhero? Join me on Saturday June 27th @ 11am for a super-tastic story time! Boots, capes & superhero masks encouraged! Ages 3-7

P.S. Each fabulously costumed hero will receive a special prize!

Looking for an adventure that's a bit more challenging? Submit a drawing of your favorite superhero, & enter our heroic drawing contest! Drop your entry off at the store with your name, age, & phone number, and we'll proudly display your drawing throughout the entire month of June for all to see! Ages 4-10. Please contact me for more information!


Upcoming Events in June

Wednesday, June 3rd at 7pm Rick Glaze, The Middle Fork
Los Altos author, and columnist for the Los Altos Town Crier discusses his novel that navigates through river rafting and political discourse.

Saturday, June 6th at 11am Picture Book Pals Presents Sharelee Igelhart, Three Cheers for Kangarooslow
Story time with a special puppet show! For kids under 7.

Saturday, June 6th at 3pm Sally Mallum, Dende Maro, The Golden Prince
Join us for a reading of Dende Maro, an African creation story with art inspired by African Rock Painting. After we hear the story we'll do some of our own rock painting with motifs inspired by the book! For kids 5 to 10.

Tuesday, June 9th at 6pm New Middle Reader Book Club
Join us for lively discussion, treats, giveaways, and tons of fun! This month's selection is Tunnels, by Roderick Gordon. It's a thrilling tale of a secret subterranean society and a boy in search of his father.

Thursday, June 11th at 4pm Inked Books, The Graphic Novel Book Club
Drop in on our graphic novel group for discussion and good times. This month's selection is Top 10 by Allen Moore, creator of Watchmen. It's the story of a superhero police squad, in a city overstuffed with superheros, on the trail of a superhero serial killer.

Thursday, June 18th at 7pm Elizabeth Chapman, Light Thickens
We're thrilled to host poet Elizabeth Chapman. She'll read from her latest collection.

Saturday, June 20th at 11am Picture Book Pals presents the Fabulous Judy Sierra!
Join us for a reading of The Sleepy Little Alphabet, by longtime favorite Judy Sierra, who is Books Inc.'s "What's So Great About..." author for the month of June.

Tuesday, June 23rd at 7pm The Fourth Tuesday Book Club discusses The God of War by Marisa Silver
Drop in on the fourth Tuesday book club for lively discussion of the best in literary fiction.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Great Time Had by All at our Kids Otter Read Day

Saturday, May 16th, was the first Kids Otter Read Day, when twelve independent bookstores all across the Bay Area hosted more than fifty authors. We were one of those lucky stores. The whole shindig was put on by the Northern California Children's Booksellers Association. We at the store all had a great time, so thanks for coming!

If you missed out on the good times, or if you just want to relive the experience, here are few pictures.

Betsy Franco, a long time favorite of the store, recited from her fabulous new collection of poetry, A Curious Collection of Cats! She also brought in pictures of her own silly kitties helping her write.

Store favorite, Jim LaMarche, sketches a member of the audience, after talking about how he got started as an artist. He showed us some original art from his story Lost & Found.

Dorina Lazo Gilmore drove all the way down from Fresno to share her book Cora Cooks Pancit. She also brought a pot of pancit for everyone to taste. Yummy!

Next up, Cynthia Chin-Lee treated us to a reading from her alphabet books Ameila to Zora, about amazing women who fought to make the world a better place, and Akira to Zoltan, about men who did the same.

Last up for the day was middle reader author Susan Taylor Brown, to read from her book Hugging the Rock, which is a novel writen in poetry. She told us all about growing up with a love for telling stories.

A huge thanks to all our authors for taking the time to come in. It was great fun! Hope to see you at our next event.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Lee Konstantinou - Pop Apocalypse

The Lee Konstantinou event, celebrating the first printing of his debut novel Pop Apocalypse, was as beguiling an event as I have participated in. It was a small event, at which the attendees consisted mainly of Lee's fellow Stanford graduate students that produced no dearth of intellectual commentary and social dissection. And while the conversation was at once stimulating, it also seethed with illicit and cerebral-tingling humor. On a satirical scale, Lee's writing fomented with an exceptional amount of caustic wit. Waggish material was drawn from the plethora of contemporary pop culture that is strewn about us in this our day and age. Lee has collected the absurdities that lurk behind every corner of our cities and has portrayed them in a manner relentlessly amusing, and all his own. From the addlepating assimilation of all things trendy-secular by religious subscribers to the befuddling commodification of name and personhood, one is all but beside themselves at such confounding concoctions that Lee has created in his world on the eve of apocalypse.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tim Winton: One of my Favorite authors

A few years back, during a trip to Australia, I picked up a novel called Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton in a bookshop in Brisbane. Right away, I was completely enthralled by this sprawling family saga. I took it everywhere I went, and if I had any kind of a break, I had to open it up.

It tells the story of the chaotic Pickles, a working-class family touched by tragedy. To make ends meet they take on the pious, and super industrious Lamb family as lodgers in their over-sized house on Cloudstreet. The sparks begin to fly. The prose is really adventurous, but highly readable--at times it has the feel of Magic Realism, but then it swings into a gritty elegance. And Winton knows his characters! We get to look right into their hearts. It's been a while, but I still think about the people in this book.

But really, the great thing about Winton's novels is how he writes about the land. The coast of Western Australia, with its beaches, rivers, sloughs, and outback, is always as central as any character. It's a hard and unforgiving land which transforms its inhabitants. Winton has said, "The place comes first. If the place isn't interesting to me then I can't feel it. I can't feel any people in it. I can't feel what the people are on about or likely to get up to." These stories are all about how the land and the people meet, under the best of circumstances and the worst: how they depend on each other, destroy each other, and defy each other. Some of the most memorable passages in Cloudstreet are about fishing on the Swan River in Perth.

At the end of May, Winton's latest novel is coming out in paperback, which is what brought his books to mind. His latest is called Breath. It was a New York Times Notable Book last year.

Breath is a coming-of-age story, about two friends, Pikelet and Loonie, who will do anything for a thrill. The background is big wave surfing on the west coast of Australia. It's a short, brutal, and amazing book. In the scenes out on the water, I felt like I was there, sliding up and down the waves, with my heart in my throat, being sucked under in the harrowing wipe-outs, my lungs bursting for a breath: that's some viceral writing. This book is a real gem!

If you want to go a little deeper into this great authors list, here's a little bit about the other books of his that I've read:

The Turning is a collection of interlocking short stories all about people making a transition--turning towards, or away, from their past, or their future; discovering their convictions, or sliding back on them. Winton is a master of the novel, but he's really on the game when it comes to the short story.

These stories are great, because you can read one in at a single stretch, but then once you're done, you're done--there's nothing to do but mull over what you just went through in silence. There's nothing to compare to that kind of an experience.

That Eye, the Sky: It tells the story of young Ort Flack, as he tries to come to grips with the world around him after the death of his father, and his family becomes entangled with that of a religious conman. It's written from a young boys perspective. It's a strange mix of idyllic childhood experiences, such as Ort sailing on an old car hood down a flood creek with his buddy, and a dark unfathomable world blazing from the adults in Ort's life. This is a startling and beautiful book!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New book from China Mieville

China Mieville's latest, The City & The City will be in the store Tuesday, May 26th.

The City & The City is an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other--real or imagined.

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined.

Borlu must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. There he teams up with detective Qussim Dhatt. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

If that sounds good to you, and how could it not, check out this interview with the author:


Monday, May 11, 2009

Read The Missing, By Tim Gautreausx

Check out Eric's review of The Missing, by Tim Gautreaux:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Don't miss Russell Howze here in the store, Tuesday, May 19th at 7pm. He'll have a slide presentation of stencil art from his book Stencil Nation.

While you wait here's a sneak peak at the book:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Saxon Holt - Grasses and Hardy Succulents

I am a day or so late on this event update, but it was an interesting enough event with such a great guest that I feel it deserving of a quick posting, better late than never anyways.
Saxon Holt, a garden photographer with many publications under his belt, those among them including Grasses and Hardy Succulents, graced a small crowd with an event appearance at Books Inc. in Palo Alto Tuesday May 5th. The event ran more as a discussion about, and critique of the artist's work than a presentation of materials. Composition, lighting, filtering, texture, and the "60-Mintutes" technique were all discussed as the essentials of garden shooting. Old photographs were shown aside new one's exemplifying Saxon's maturation as a photographer and how having a vision can change the possibilities of one's shoot. I was, and am impressed how much passion and humility this artist has retained throughout his career and displayed in his discussion with the aspiring and interested. This was a great event to take part in, and it was a pleasure to converse with such an individual.