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.
When last we blogged, Cambridge, Mass., writer Katherine A. Powers had tried to donate a copy of her new book, "Suitable Accommodations," to her hometown library and had been refused. Why do we care? Because her book is a collection of letters written by her father, Minnesota writer (and National Book Award winner) J.F. Powers.
Powers had noticed that the library system she had patronized for 40 years didn't own a copy--other Massachusetts library systems had the book in their collections, including Boston, but not Cambridge. So she brought a copy down to the library and offered it to them.
And they said no.
The reason, they said, was that they only accept donations of books that are on the New York Times best-seller list, and while the Powers book had been published by FSG and had been widely reviewed, it was not a best-seller.
The library director was out of town when all of this happened, and Monday was a holiday, and it wasn't until yesterday that the whole thing was resolved--more or less.
Powers and the director met, the director said that refusing the book had been a mistake, and that the staff member who had rejected the book had made a mistake. (But the library policy apparently says otherwise.)
In any case, the director agreed to now accept the donation of the book, but it was too late; Powers had already donated the book to a more willing library, the one in nearby Maiden, Mass.
So will the Cambridge library now pay to add a copy to its collection? Stay tuned for a possible Chapter Three...
Because we are Flyover Country, and thus aw-shucks dirt-kicking provincial, we are allowed to claim every author who not only was born here and lived here for a time (or lives here still), but also every author who was educated here, is here on fellowship, or who has summered up the Shore. (This would include Pat Conroy, whose sister lived in Minneapolis for awhile--he'd visit her, and then head up the Shore.)
We draw the line at including writers who have simply spent the night or changed planes at MSP International. We do have some pride.
So in that vein, we should all be bursting with pride at the number of Minnesota authors who have made it to the semi-finals in the annual Goodreads Best Books competition. There are perhaps overly many genres, but we won't argue with that--all the better for highlighting more and more books! (Though the books don't always seem to quite belong with the genre--is Colum McCann's "TransAtlantic" really "historical fiction"? And is Joyce Carol Oates' "The Accursed" really "horror"? Well, maybe.)
It should be no surprise that the busy and prolific Neil Gaiman is a finalist -- in three categories. (Fantasy, middle-grade and picture book.) Fortunately, because he lives in western Wisconsin and flies in and out of the Twin Cities, we get to claim him.
So. To the list. If you are a member of Goodreads (and it's easy to join, though controversial, since they were acquired by Amazon) you can vote. There are 25 semifinalists in each of 20 categories--a lot of books! Though some, such as Helene Wecker's highly praised "The Golem and the Jinni," are in multiple categories. (Fantasy, and Debut Novel.) (Wecker is a Carleton grad, and, thus, one of us.)
I'm not going to give you all the titles. You can find those yourself on Goodreads.com. But here are the Minnesota books (or Minnesota-tinged books). More than a million votes have been cast already, so it's quite impressive to make the seminfinals. Be proud!
Fiction: "The Orphan Train," by Christina Baker Kline. (She summers in Minnesota, and the book is partially set here.)
Mystery and thriller: "Ordinary Grace," by William Kent Kruger. (A resident of St. Paul.)
Fantasy: "The Golem and the Jinni," by Helene Wecker, and "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," by Neil Gaiman.
Nonfiction: "I Wear the Black Hat," by Chuck Klosterman. (Born here!)
Poetry: "Black Aperture," by Matt Rasmussen. "Incarnadine," by Mary Szybist (published by Minnesota's Graywolf Press). (We'll find out next week about the National Book Award -- both are in the running.)
Middle grade: "Fortunately, the Milk," by Neil Gaiman
Picture book: "Chu's Day," by Neil Gaiman.
Now go do your civic duty, and vote! Voting ends Saturday, and you can vote on the finalists beginning Monday. Good luck.
For writer Katherine Powers, getting published might have been the easy part. Then she tried to get her book placed in the public library. Now THAT was hard. And, so far, impossible.
Powers is the oldest daughter of writer J.F. Powers, the first Minnesota writer to win a National Book Award in fiction (in 1963, for "Morte d'Urban"). He and his wife, Betty Wahl, also a writer, raised a big family in Collegeville, Minn., near St. Cloud, where Powers taught at St. John's University. Powers was a prodigious writer of fascinating, troubled letters that revealed his angst and apprehensions about family life. He was troubled by spending so much time making money to support his children when, he felt, he should be writing. ("Should a giraffe have to dig dandelions, or a worm have to fly a kite?" he wondered.)
His daughter collected several hundred of these letters in a new book, "Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J.F. Powers, 1942-1963," published this fall by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of the most prestigious of the big New York Publishers.
It is a book both scholarly and interesting, and it has been widely reviewed (the Strib review is here), in the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, and elsewhere.
Recently, Powers noticed that her own library--the one in Cambridge, Mass., where she lives--didn't have a copy. Other libraries in the system had it, and all of them were checked out. So she brought a copy down to the Cambridge library and offered it to them.
No go. She explained the significance of the book. Not interested.
"They asked me if the book is on the NYT best-seller list and when I confessed that it wasn't, they said they didn't want it," Powers wrote on Facebook. "Go away, was the dynamic, community-oriented message."
Library officials declined to comment for this blog. The library director is out until Tuesday, they said, and she is the only person who can speak publicly on the matter. When asked for the policy--is it true that a book must be on the New York Times best-seller list to qualify for donation?--they again declined to comment. We must wait until Tuesday.
Powers, meanwhile, has written a letter to the library trustees and the director, which she also shared on Facebook. it says, in part, "The idea that a local author's book, published by a reputable publisher, which has been widely reviewed, should not be in her local library—and is, in fact, refused a place in it—would be unbelievable except that it is simply another instance of highhanded bureaucratic rationale trumping commonsense and, not to put too fine a point on it, decency."
This whole business, she added, "is, among other things ... a perfect example of 'policy-making' trumping common sense."
Tuesday. Perhaps it will all become clear on Tuesday.
Is there anyone left who hasn't read "Wild" yet? Well, after World Book Night next spring, thousands more will get the chance. The best-selling memoir is one of the 35 titles named Wednesday as one to be handed out at random on April 23, 2014, on the third annual World Book Night USA.
Books by two other Minnesota authors--"The Lighthouse Road," by Peter Geye, and "Pontoon" by Garrison Keillor--were also selected, as well as "The Weird Sisters," by Eleanor Brown, a graduate of Macalester College.
Here's the list, with links to Star Tribune reviews when available.
"The Zookeeper's Wife," by Diane Ackerman
"Kitchen Confidential," by Anthony Bourdain
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower," by Stephen Chbosky
"After the Funeral," by Agatha Christie
"Rangers Apprentice: Book One, The Ruins of Gorlan," by John Flanagan
"Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," by Jamie Ford (In both regular print and large-print)
"The Lighthouse Road," by Peter Geye
"The Tipping Point," by Malcolm Gladwell
"Wait Til Next Year," by Doris Kearns Goodwin
"Catch-22," by Joseph Heller
"The Dog Stars," by Peter Heller
"Hoot," by Carl Hiaasen
"Pontoon" by Garrison Keillor
"Same Difference," by Derek Kirk Kim
"Enchanted," by Alethea Kontis
"Miss Darcy Falls in Love," by Sharon Lathan
"Bobcat and Other Stories," by Rebecca Lee
"Young Men and Fire," by Norman Maclean
"Tales of the City," by Armistead Maupin
"Waiting to Exhale," by Terry McMillan
"Sunrise Over Fallujah," by Walter Dean Myers
"Bridge to Terabithia," by Katherine Paterson
"The Botany of Desire," by Michael Pollan
"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," by Ransom Riggs
"When I was Puerto Rican: A Memoir," by Esmerelda Santiago (English, and Spanish editions)
"Where'd You Go, Bernadette," by Maria Semple (also in large print format)
"Wild," by Cheryl Strayed
"Presumed Innocent," by Scott Turow
"Code Name Verity," by Elizabeth Wein
"This Boy's Life," by Tobias Wolff
"100 Best-Loved Poems," edited by Philip Smith.
The books to be given away were chosen by a panel of booksellers and librarians. Two Minnesota authors--Kate DiCamillo and Leif Enger--had books chosen the first year. Last year, Minnesota was passed over, but Wisconsin writer Michael Perry made the list.
World Book Night is a mostly volunteer effort to spread books and reading across the country. Every year, volunteers give away 500,000 books at random. To learn more, go to www.us.worldbooknight.org
|Books (36)||Movies (1)|
|Theater (1)||People (1)|
|Books and resources (5)||Awards (10)|
|Behind the scenes (3)||Book news (218)|
|Galleries (1)||Minnesota authors (12)|
|Museums (1)||St. Paul Como Park (1)|
|Television (1)||Author events (157)|
|Best sellers (6)||Book reviews (8)|
|Book stores (44)||Local authors (133)|
|Readings (60)||Book awards (83)|
|Illustrators (8)||Workshops and conferences (30)|
|Libraries (28)||Local publishers (31)|
|Minnesota Book Awards (7)||World Book Night (4)|
|Club Book (5)||Pen Pals (3)|
|Talk of the Stacks (6)||Talking Volumes (2)|
|E-books (2)||Coffee House Press (3)|
|Garrison Keillor (1)||Graywolf Press (11)|
|Louise Erdrich (8)||Milkweed Editions (1)|
|Poetry (11)||Robert Bly (4)|