Monday, March 29, 2010

Porter Square Books On Twitter

You can now follow Porter Square Books on Twitter. We're @PorterSqBooks. We'll be tweeting about events, new books in stock, signed copies, and whatever else happens to be going on in the store. And look for us on Facebook around April 9th.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lambda Literary

The Lambda Literary Foundation has recently launched Lambda Literary, a redesigned website to serve the literary interests of the LGBTQ community. The site is filled with new book announcements, reviews, interviews and feature articles. It's a terrific resource.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cambridge Public Library

On Friday two of us from Porter Square Books were invited to the new Cambridge Library to participate in their staff development day. Having read and heard so much good press about the new addition we were anxious to see it for ourselves. Well, we were blown away. If you haven't seen the addition I strongly urge you to make a trip with your children, spouse, friend or just go alone. It is fabulous. Allow enough time to take a good look at all the wonderful new areas. The colors are extraordinary, the layout invites you to stroll through all the departments. The Children's desk, with its own live-in hamster will delight young and old. If you have young children with you be sure to visit the bathroom, your little guys will love it. I wish I was a teenager again so I could meet my friends at the young adult room, or go alone and curl up with a good book in this appealing area. Being in the book business for so many years I'd forgotten how good it feels to have a library book in hand. From the top down there is such enthusiasm among the staff. Be a part of this great new addition to your neighborhood.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lebowski Studies

"Metonymic Hats and Metaphoric Tumbleweeds: Noir Literary Aesthetics in Miller's Crossing and The Big Lebowski." "No Literal Connection: Mass Commodification, U.S. Militarism, and the Oil Industry in The Big Lebowski." "What Condition the Postmodern Condition Is In: Collection Culture in The Big Lebowski." These are all titles of essays in the new collection The Year's Work In Lebowski Studies. Some people might think a book like this is another example of postmodern tendency to ridiculously over-analyze everything, but you've got to remember, The Big Lebowski is a very complicated movie, you know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, and the essays in this collection actually say a lot of smart, fun things about said what-have-yous. It's one of the few movies I've ever seen that is as much fun watching to examine the relationship between The Dude and the New Left as it is watching to cope with a hangover. Pick up I'm a Lewbowski, You're a Lebowski, by the founders of Lebowski Fest, as well, and your library will have a very respectable Lebowski Studies section.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The End of Publishing

Penguin's Global Chairman John Makinson presented this very clever video recently to his company regarding the future of publishing. It's important though that you stay with it until the very end.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kids Read! @ Porter Square Books

With summer reading just around the corner, what better time than the Cambridge and Somerville Spring Break to kick off a brand new book club just for middle grade readers? That's what we thought!

Kids Read!@ Porter Square Books is for all readers between the ages of 9 and 12.

Our first book discussion is on Tuesday, April 20 at, you guessed it, Porter Square Books. Natalie Babbitt's, Tuck Everlasting is the club's first selection. There will be plenty of snacks on hand and one very eager bookseller who can't wait to hear what readers have to say.

Widely read and loved, yet overlooked by award committees, Tuck Everlasting is an unforgettable story that asks as many questions as it answers.

If you want to read with us, by all means, grab a copy and get started. If you already love the book come for the food. Talking isn't required, but it's definitely encouraged!

If all goes according to plan, this will be the first of many great books we share in the coming months.

If you have questions, feel free to email Amy:

Hope to see you there!

Based on the Book

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Shutter Island, Green Zone, The Road, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Playing the Enemy; sometimes it seems as if there are no writers in Hollywood, as if all we ever see are remakes or adaptations, particularly movies based on books. I'll admit that I've been fairly critical of Hollywood's effort so far, some might even say I've been a hidebound curmudgeon about the subject.

But I've had a change of heart. Recently I was shelving yet another stack of the Sherlock Holmes: the Complete Novel and Stories when I realized that this renewed interest in the Great Detective must be -- at least partly -- due to the new Sherlock Holmes film and that whatever I think of the movie, more people reading the original is a capital development! I still think most movies fall far short of the book, but the quality of the movie is beside the point. Be it misinterpreted, over-simplified, cheapened, or commercialized, it's all so much free advertising.

So, Hollywood, keep providing us with multimillion-dollar commercials. And gentle viewer, next time you leave a movie thinking, "well it wasn't all bad," or even , "wow, that was great! I wish I could get more of that", stop by your friendly neighborhood bookstore, there's a decent chance it was a book first.

(I'm still morally outraged over the Dante's Inferno video game, though.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Viking in the Wheat Field Event

For anyone who was interested in our event on March 3, with Susan Dworkin discussing her book The Viking in the Wheat Field, but couldn't make it, or anyone interested in the science and politics of seed banks, one of the attendees of the event put up a great summary of the discussion. You can read it here: From Garden Project to Seed Banks.

The Surrendered

Chang-Rae Lee stopped by the store yesterday after his interview on WBUR's "On Point". Meeting him was a real pleasure. His new novel The Surrendered (his fourth) is garnering all kinds of serious review attention. It was the lead review in last Sunday's Boston Globe, was reviewed by Michiko Kakutani in Monday's New York Times, will be reviewed this Sunday in the NY Times Book Review, and was reviewed by James Wood in the current New Yorker.

We have a limited number of signed copies available in store. As always, if you're ordering online and wish a signed copy, please leave us a note in the comment field.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gary Snyder Reads in Acton

On Tuesday, March 16 at 7:30pm at the Acton-Boxborough Regional Hight School, poet Gary Snyder will read from his work and be presented the 10th Annual Robert Creeley Award. Admission is free and open to the public. Though the event is not in our store we think it merits bringing to your attention. We've set up a display with some of Snyder's work in case you'd like to peruse or purchase one before you attend.

If you're asking yourself what is the Robert Creeley Award and why Acton - Creeley grew up in Acton and as further explained on the Robert Creeley Foundation website:

"Acton rediscovered Creeley’s connection to the town through his chance meeting with Acton resident and poet Robert Clawson in late 2000. On April 11, 2001, Creeley returned to Acton to read to and interact with students in the Acton Boxborough Regional High School. Acton officially proclaimed this day to be “Robert Creeley Day,” and thus began the annual awarding of the “Robert Creeley Award.” Each year, the award winning poet reads to a community audience and a student audience."

More information about the event, past winners, and directions can be found at the Creeley Foundation.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March’s Featured SciFi Author

Frank Herbert was born on October 8, 1920 in Tacoma, Washington. He was a journalist, an editor, a war-time photographer, and a renowned writer. He died – too soon – on February 11, 1986.

Herbert was the author of many short stories, essays, poems and science fiction novels but he is rightly remembered for the landmark Dune series. Written in 1965, Dune was the first hardcover science fiction bestseller. Dune, along with its sequels -- Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and the forever penultimate Chapterhouse: Dune -- was one of the first literary scifi novels. The Dune books are set in the impossibly far future and span light years and eons. With their marvelous world-building, complex religious and ecological themes, and emphasis on humanity over technology, they are often considered the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vasily Grossman

Vasily Grossman might be the most important unread writer in the 20th century; important because his two novels Life and Fate and Everything Flows, are intelligent, beautiful, compelling stories of fascism, freedom, love, fear, and humanity, that present fearless portraits of life in Soviet Russia under Stalin; unread because his works were censored for decades. They were first published in 1980 in Switzerland from smuggled photographed draft pages and still only reached the US in 2006.

Grossman worked as a war correspondent during WWII and translated much of his experience into Life and Fate. This massive novel follows a number of characters living in different circumstances with different relationships to the fascism of the Soviet Union and the war against Germany. These include Victor Shtrum, a theoretical physicist with a conscience; Captain Grekov, a commander of a small hold out in Stalingrad; Pavlovich Novikov, a dynamic tank commander; and Nikolay Krymov a member of the political branch of the military whose job is to ensure that the proper communist philosophy is being practiced by soldiers and officials. There are also historical characters like the German General Friedrich Paulus and the Soviet Lieutenant-General Yeremenko. The story moves from the streets of Stalingrad, to Moscow, to eastern Russian beyond the reach of the German invasion, all the way to concentration camps and gas chambers. Somehow, despite the deprivation that surrounded him and the story he told, Grossman still maintained a faith in the fundamental good of the human character and told everything with a profound empathy and compassion.

Everything Flows, is set after the death of Stalin. The main story follows Ivan Grigoryevich, a political prisoner released after thirty years in gulags. As Ivan tries to make sense of everything, not just the unfamiliar world he has been thrust into, but also the world that imprisoned him for thirty years, the nature of fear and fascism, the politics of slavery and freedom, and the emotions of informing and loyalty, are brilliantly and beautifully elucidated. Everything Flows is shorter and more philosophical than Life and Fate but it has no lack of the beautiful and heartbreaking images that make Grossman one of the century's best writers.

Grossman is also the author of Writer at War: A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941-1945 and The Road, a collection of short stories, essays and other writings coming out this September.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Signed Books

Recently John Banville and Howard Frank Mosher separately stopped by the local office of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and signed copies of their new books. So you'll currently find a limited supply of signed copies of The Infinities and Walking To Gatlinburg on our shelves. If you're ordering via the web, make sure you note that you'd like the signed copy in the comments box.

If you'd like to meet Howard Frank Mosher in person he will once again be at our store for an author event on May 11.

Abraham Verghese doing informal signing on Saturday

The author of Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese, will be stopping by the store on Saturday, March 6 at 2 pm. He will be happy to sign your copy(ies)and have a chat. Come and bring your book group! He will also be signing copies for the store so if you can't make it in then we will have some extras.

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