They'll be working all weekend, shlepping books out the door, up the street and around the corner, but Brian and Sue Roegge will be happy to do so. The owners of the three-year-old Chapter2 Books in Hudson, Wis., had lost their lease and up until two days ago had figured their indie bookstore was going to have to close. They'd been looking for a new space in Hudson's little riverfront downtown, but with no luck.
On Tuesday, their luck turned. They have signed a lease with a landlord in the Star Observer building, next floor to a flower shop and a chocolate shop. (That side of the street must be very busy on Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day, and Christmas.)
The new spot is what you might call "garden level"--it's down six steps-- but "it is a spacious 1,250 square feet with great lighting," Sue Roegge said, and it has big windows.
So on Friday night, the store will close for the last time in its current location, and the plan is to be up and running again by early next week in the new place. Sue Roegge suggested that interested customers might call the store at 1-715-220-8818 for updates.
And that's not the Roegges' only bit of good news: On Tuesday a publicist for Candlewick Press called the store, asking if they would be interested in hosting Minneapolis author Kate DiCamillo in May. It would be DiCamillo's first trip to Chapter2.
Interested? "I am bursting with excitment right now," Sue Roegge said. "I can't believe what a change from a few weeks ago."
The new store will be at 226 Locust Street, Suite 3, Hudson, Wis.
Chapter 2 Books in Hudson, Wis., which has been a friend of writers and readers for many years, hosting events and story time and writing workshops as well as selling all the latest national and regional titles (in print and in Kobo), has lost its lease and is almost certain to close.
Owners Brian and Sue Roegge of St. Paul have tried to find other space in Hudson's little downtown, but their last effort--Tuesday night--came up short. "I think we're done," a deeply discouraged Sue Roegge said in an e-mail. Even presenting the potential new landlord with a petition signed by more than 300 people who want the bookstore to remain in Hudson made no difference. "Goodbye, bookstore," Roegge said. "It's hard to think positive."
To show their gratitude to customers and authors, the store will host an author appreciation day on Saturday. Between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., more than 15 local writers will come by the store to sign books, chat with customers and say goodbye to the Roegges. "We invited nearly every author who has ever been in the store," Roegge said. Some, she noted, are regional, some are national best-sellers, "and some are both!"
A partial list includes William Kent Krueger, David Housewright, Kate Hopper, Sarah Stonich, Barbara Deese, Susan Sims Moody, and many others. A full list is on the store's website here.
Chapter 2 Books is at 422 2nd St. in Hudson.
Author Olivia Laing, whose nonfiction account of writers and drinking, "The Trip to Echo Spring," was widely reviewed, has canceled her book tour. Laing was scheduled to appear at Common Good Books this Thursday. Her book traces the lives of six male writers--John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, John Berryman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Tennessee Williams, and the effect alcohol had on their output, lives, and prose.
Laing's publicist said today that Laing had suffered a medical emergency and had undergone emergency surgery while on tour in Portland, Ore. At first doctors thought she could continue the tour, but later they suggested it would be better for her to return home and recuperate.
"All involved (especially Olivia) are terribly disappointed," her publicist said in an e-mail. We are wishing Laing a speedy recovery and hope she can come to Minnesota some time in future--perhaps when it's not eleven degrees below zero.
Here's the Star Tribune's review of her book.
When you’re out shopping for books the Saturday after Thanksgiving (as of course you will be), do not be surprised if some of your favorite writers are manning the cash registers or tidying up displays. Walk up to them. Ask for a recommendation. That’s why they’re there.
Saturday, Nov. 30, is not just "Small Business Saturday," but it's also “indies first” day — a day when writers show support for independent bookstores by helping out for a few hours. Writer Sherman Alexie came up with the plan, which has been embraced by hundreds of authors across the country. ("Hello, hello, you gorgeous book nerds," his open letter begins.)
Lists are still being firmed up, but here’s what we know so far (and you can check the map to find out what's going on in your favorite store):
Chapter 2 Books in Hudson, Wis., Michael Norman and Stephanie Bodeen;
Red Balloon, Saint Paul: Debra Frasier, Nancy Carlson, Kurtis Scalleta, David LaRochelle, Brian Farrey, Lauren Stringer, John Coy
Addendum Books, Saint Paul (in a corner of SubText Bookstore): Dawn Klehr, William Alexander, Nancy Carlson, Catherine Clark, John Coy, Brian Farrey, Kevin Kling, Christopher Lincoln ("Billy Bones"), Mary Losure, Carrie Mesrobian, Chris Monroe, Laura Purdie Salas, Kurtis Scaletta, Pat Schmatz, Lauren Stringer, Stephanie Watson, Jacqueline West
Micawber's, Saint Paul: Peter Geye and Nicole Helget
Birchbark Books, Mpls: Heid Erdrich
Common Good Books, Saint Paul: Mary Losure and Sarah Stonich
Magers & Quinn, Mpls: Andy Sturdevant
SubText, Saint Paul: Sarah Stonich.
Valley Booksellers, Stillwater: Julie Kramer, Erin Hart, Colleen Baldrica, Stephanie Landsem, Charlie Quimby
Monkey See, Monkey Read in Northfield. Benjamin Percy
The Bookstore at Fitger's in Duluth: Erin Soderberg.
How does it go when the tables are turned and the interviewer becomes the interviewee? Judging by Wednesday night's conversation at Magers & Quinn Bookstore in Minneapolis, a little shy, a little sweet, and very interesting.
Book critic, editor and author John Freeman was in town promoting his new book, "How to Read a Novelist," a collection of author interviews he conducted for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Star Tribune, and elsewhere. (In his interview with Erdrich, he calls her "quiet and self-effacing," words that could have been used to describe Freeman himself last night.)
So during his book tour, novelists have been seizing the opportunity to query him ("It's an obscure form of therapy," Freeman joked)--in Seattle, Nicola Griffith; in Brooklyn, Geoff Dyer; and in Minneapolis, Erdrich, who was respectful and admiring. "This book is absolutely wonderful," she said. "I read some of the pieces over and over."
But she had plenty of questions. For instance: Was there any author Freeman interviewed that he didn't like?
He didn't allow that there was ("I like most people, because I'm from California," he said), but then he went on to talk about John Irving's pugnaciousness and ego, the wrestling ring built right into his house, his hallway of books, "and they're all John Irving books, in various languages."
The evening was a festival of names of authors Freeman has reviewed and interviewed--Irving, Geraldine Brooks, Edmund White, Richard Russo: "I never understood the anger in [Russo's] work. When he does it with humor you almost forget you're swallowing a bitter pill."
Throughout the conversation, Freeman almost reflexively tried to turn the questions back on Erdrich, who was having none of it. Each time, she'd smile a serene Mona Lisa smile and remind Freeman that she wasn't the one being interviewed this time.
In interviewing, "There is this performance anxiety," Freeman said. "And you want to be liked. But as an interviewer, you can't do that." He doesn't see the interviewer and subject as having an adversarial relationship. "As an interviewer, your job is not to try to catch someone with food in their teeth. Your job is to catch them as they really are. In the best interviews, you never see the questions, only the answers. Critics and novelists are often put at odds with each other, but we both use the same tools."
Freeman was not a reader as a child. "Some time at 8, or 7 I stopped reading on my own," he said. But later, when he was reintroduced to literature, "It just cracked my head open," he said. After college and after a few failed jobs in finance, he began reviewing books--first for Publishers Weekly, and then for newspapers and magazines around the country.He became American editor of Granta, a British literary magazine, and then editor, dividing his time between London and New York and expanding the journal's presence around the globe, highlighting writers from Spain, South America, Pakistan and elsewhere.
Though his life is now books he must read--keeping up with what's new, reviewing what's about to come out--are there books he re-reads, Erdrich asked. "Mostly poetry," Freeman said. "Because poetry is meant to be read over and over. Adrienne Rich--I just don't know how she makes those shifts in voice. James Wright--there's a bare-knuckled sadness to his poems."
And what about the dedication, Erdrich asked. "For my father, who asked the right questions." What questions did he ask?
"He just kept asking me from a very early age what I wanted to do with myself," Freeman said. "I took from him that life was extremely serious, at a young age."
Freeman's parents were social workers, "and they looked at weakness not as weakness, but as the human condition, and that's the job of a novelist."
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