the approval of seals

“Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.” John Steinbeck


The Devil’s FootballH.L. Mencken remembered.
Speak of the Devil – Richard Hawke
PersepolisMarjane Satrapi

VeronicaMary Gaitskill
Götz and Meyer David Albahari
Twilight of the Superheroes – Deborah Eisenberg
World as Laboratory: Experiments With Mice, Mazes, and Men by Rebecca Lemov
Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres – William T. Vollmann
Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations – Karen Tate
Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor – Paul Beatty ed.

Jay McInerney The Good Life
African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Legacy of Language
the lighter side of African-American literature

Richard and Linda Guillis shot these guys.
along several beaches just north of San Simeon, CA. the beaches were fenced off from people.
we stayed up upon the bluff.
there were hundreds of people and some Park Rangers. one said the pups were one to two weeks old

TJbible has some seal lion images up.

a funny story: Curtis Sittenfeld about book clubs.

I kid you not: Bible erotica from the Chicago Sun-Times.

what’ll they think of net? a Literary Salon for kids

WOD: Link rot : the process by which links on a website gradually become irrelevant or broken as time goes on, because websites that they link to disappear, change their content or redirect to new locations.

bank toaster: John Updike poetry download

deadhorses: James Frey gave the Hollywood folks a hard time cause they wanted to play fast and loose with the stuff in his book. Now it looks like the jokes on him. How much schradenfreude can you get off on before it becomes sadism?

war effort:

Bullpen Book Club vol 1

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” Oscar Wilde

The Guinness Drinking Companion by Leslie Dunkling. New York: Lyons & Burford, 1992, 224 pages 1585746177.

Everything you ever wanted to know about booze but where afraid to ask. Clever and entertaining little reference book that provides a general introduction to the history and range of alcoholic beverages. HOWEVER, that’s not why I picked it….the damn thing is riddled with literary references. Nearly every paragraph traces the love affair between literature and alcohol, both pro and con, Dickens, Dos Passos, Garrison Keillor..etc. I finally found out what Malmsey is, I have always wondered that since I read that the Duke of Clarence got drowned in some. It’s a lovely little volume, which is both OOP and remaindered, you can find it disgustingly cheap.

Hmm…this reminds me to dig out my copy of Compton Mackenzie‘s Whiskey Galore.

The 1st of what I hope will be a long list of titles chosen to entertain the drunken masses that flock to this waterhole to drown their boobseller sorrows. Feel free to suggest titles for the Bullpen Bookclub, preferably nothing new, popular or that Oprah® has ever heard of.

stupid selling tricks

I love this, I really do….it just expresses my entire view of selling books on the internet..somewhere between an Escher painting and a Kafka Novel.

Title of Book: Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Mysteries (Paperback))
ASIN: 0743451791
Condition: Used – Like New
Condition comments:
Your price: $2.00
Quantity: 1
Amazon commission (if sold): ($2.52) for standard shipping
Shipping credit (if sold): $3.49 for standard shipping
Total you will receive (if sold): $2.97 for standard shipping (U.S. buyers)

they explained to me that the commission was for sales fees for the NON-pro merchant sellers. yeah whatever.

ship of paper


MV Doulos is owned by Gute Bücher für Alle e.V. (Good Books for All), a private, non-profit, charitable organisation registered in Germany, basically it’s a floating book fair.Over 18 million visitors have been welcomed on board for tours, programmes and visits to the floating book fair. With stops in over 500 ports of call, this unique ship has visited more than 100 countries in including Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and many island nations. Sounds like the Peace Corps for Books!… damnit i wish i was a twenty something with no responsibilities, i would be SOOOO all over this.

MV Doulos will be docking in Qatar next week. hmm…how much is a ticket to Qatar?

kid stuff: online books for rug rats, they may not be classics but they are indeed free and speaking of that the folks at University of Calgary have an index to children’s ebooks on the net.
This is super nifty for the underfoots, an alphabetizing game disguised as bookshelving!! Scholastic, inc. has some online games, as well as Nickleodeon.

true lives:
P. L. Travers, Walt Disney, and the making of a myth.

obits worth reading: Tana Hoban illustrated books for children.

bib-dating! Speed dating with books in Belgium

Cartoon war salvo: Danish Author Profiles from the Danish Literature index Of which I am particularly ignorant, I think I have only read Hans Christian Anderson and Karen Blixen. well I saw the movies…does that count?

I miss being naughty

“There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

So, I was introducing a couple of friends of mine to the BBC-MYSTERY! Mrs Bradley Mysteries and it occured to me that I miss being naughty. Okay, that does need some explanation, as everyone knows I have demerit badges in naughty. The Mrs Bradley character is a ridiculously liberated middle-aged detective of the ’20s era, who has a habit of surprising with her friends with books that have been brought into the country at the bottom of her luggage wrapped in brown paper: Radclyffe Hall‘s Well of Loneliness
, D.H.Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, you get the idea…..long story short…our literary culture lost something when people stopped having to smuggle books into the country in order to enjoy them. (there still is some stuff that’s illegal to traffic in: kiddie porn, hitman howtos, harry potter knockoffs etc…but nothing really worth READING certainly) Surely it must have been deliciously tingly knowing you had a copy of Joyce‘s Ulysses wrapped inside your pajamas when you came back from your Parisian sojourn or even a ratty copy of Voltaire‘s Candide. Reading these books for the first time while they were still proscribed must have made them all the more satisfying, perhaps even appearing better than they were. It stands to reason that a book wrapped in brown paper is infinitely more enticing than one that isn’t. Personally I don’t know…the closest i ever came was stealing my brother’s dogeared Zebra copy of Steal this Book by Abby Hoffman, I don’t even think he missed it. Luckily even though we still have narrow-minded guardians of public morality expunging things from high school curriculums left and right and center, none can TRULY be called banned; since owning it and walking around with it and bringing in and out of the country doesn’t make you a target for prosecution. Granted that is nothing to be sneezed at. There are still countries on this planet where women have to wear burkas for chrissakes! and children are sold as slaves to harvest cocoa to make hershey’s kisses, I would get down on my knees and kiss the ground my public librarian walks on, IF I thought that getting up would easily follow. But damn it….I do miss being naughty.

oh in case you were wondering: Banned Books Week runs September 24th to October 1st. which I think is ridiculous, who the hell can finish all the Banned Books in ONE week a year?

Here’s a lovely article from the old AB Bookman’s Weekly about collecting banned books.

WTF? I didn’t even know they had archived all this stuff from the AB BW! check it out. You will probably see me blog more stuff from there..

“Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions: when it ceases to be dangerous you don’t want it.” – Anthony Burgess

this fragment of life

“I am persuaded that every time a man smiles – but much more so when he laughs – it adds something to this fragment of life” – Laurence Sterne

I can’t remember if I blogged about this or not, perhaps i did…but i am too lazy to scroll back to check.. I had a job interview with a kid half my age who knows nothing about books and is making money hand over fist selling them.. So in the end I bought a nice bottle of port on the way home – beware latenight blogging..

Tristram Shandy has been made into a movie..or rather a movie about making a movie of Tristram Shandy – take your pick. Here’s a nice little think piece about it and other meta-movies. Orchid Thief is an example of a metamovie, here’s a nice piece on that one.

todays fatwa: interview with Kåre Bluitgen Danish childen’s book author

naughty naughty: Baltimore Book thief gets 3 years. Hopefully most of that was for stupidity.

something french: tasty interview with French detective novelist Fred Vargas.

worth waiting for: The Strand sells $100K backlist title.

worth watching: C-Span2’s BookTV Book Club: All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. Scheduled on Saturday, February 11 at 3:00 pm and Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 am. BTW their BookTV bus (i kid you not) will be visiting Baton Rouge in the near future.

Multi-region DVD players don’t care how a dvd is encoded…they generally play anything you stick in them: dvds, cds, cd-rs, dvd-rs, region 0, 1, 2, 3, dirty hubcaps, whatever. SUPPOSEDLY you can’t buy a multi-region player off the rack here in the USofA. But there are many models sold here can be ‘hacked’ by simply entering code combinations into the remote. You can Google your own model and see if there IS a region free hack for it. Beware some models are booby trapped. So, search the region free dvd players on eBay to see what is available. I got mine from OneonTarget off ebay, nice guy, good deal, reasonable shipping from Canada.

Black Books

Manny: I want the weekend off. I want a life.
Bernard: This is life! We suffer and slave and expire. That’s it!

Bernard Black is a bookseller, Bernard spends his day in his bookshop sanctuary reading good books, swilling screwcap wine and driving away anyone who even smells like a customer. Manny is his clerk. Manny is a good bookseller. Manny is utterly mad. Fran is Bernard’s best friend. Fran dates losers, chain smokes and drinks like a fish. Black Books was a BBC-TV series that ran for 3 seasons. It’s available as a complete 3 disc set in Region 2(UK) and only now season 1 is available on R1(US) BTW Multi-region players are ridiculously cheap now.

Rich Guy: Those books. How much?
Bernard: Hmmm?
Rich Guy: Those books. The leather-bound ones.
Bernard: Yes, Dickens, the Collected Works of Charles Dickens.
Rich Guy: Are they real leather?
Bernard: They’re real Dickens.
Rich Guy: I have to know if they’re real leather because they have to go with the sofa.
[Bernard looks confused]
Rich Guy: Everything else in my house is real. I’ll give you two hundred for them.
Bernard: Two hundred what?
Rich Guy: Two hundred pounds.
Bernard: Are they leather-bound pounds?
Rich Guy: No.
Bernard: Sorry. I need leather bound pounds to go with my wallet. Next.

what do bookseller's watch?

From Forrest Proper @ Joslin Hall

The Office. If you enjoy reading Evelyn Waugh for his subtle but deadly satire then you will enjoy The Office. It is well written and superbly cast. It’s like a chapter of Waugh a week, but brought up to date and set in a modern corporate office. Great fun.

My Name is Earl. A wonderfully quirky show, which reminds me a bit of a Vladimir Voinovich novel, and which definitely draws on the influence of Magnus Mills‘ “The Restraint of Beasts” and “All Quiet on the Orient Express“.

Project Runway. Good [fill in the name of your favorite trash novelist here]-type fun.

Desperate Housewives. The televisual equivalent of reading ‘Peoplemagazine, and fun for the same reasons.

Arrested Development. What do you get when you combine elements of Fernando Arrabal‘s “The Compass Stone”, William Monahan‘s “Lighthouse“, Evelyn Waugh’s “The Loved One“, along with a pinch of Edgar Allan Poe, and make a television series out of it? That’s right- something quirky, confusing and brilliant which very few people care to watch.

Boston Red Sox – anyone who follows their seasons on tv often finds themselves descending into something resembling a Kafka novel along about mid-August/early September.


bits n'pieces

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” Charles Dickens

I was cruising around for something, I can’t remember what now….and found the UT-Austin conservation department’s site…which is surprisingly well put together.
They usually ain’t this nice.

P. Scott Brown and the fine folks at Fine Books and Collections have created Collegiate Book-Collecting Championship. Where the hell were things like this when I was in college?

technical tease: nice little heads up think piece about the Sony Reader. I REALLY want one..but i’m not sure what i would DO with it.

Bank has got some exclusive content going on their site: Confessions of an American Bookstore Junkie by . Worth an eyeball. BTW I downloaded and listened to that little Don Winslow story from the BMW was VERY entertaining.

Role call of the gutless wonders in the US who won’t publish a few dumb cartoons. My guess is that if we would do it in a heartbeat, IF we didn’t have 30,000 men and women wondering aimlessly in the middle east.

Is it Finnished? The guardian’s Culture Vulture started a world tour of Literature and there’s a lenghthy list of Finnish books worth reading…who knew? Finland one of those norse places right?

Unshelved is a nice little book related comic – even offering an RSS feed.
what’s an RSS feed?

report from the front – england/silverman

Something happened recently that gave me a nervous breakdown. Some say it was a panic attack, but maybe it was months of built up tension and stress finally exploding.

A dealer we know wanted to buy a whole bunch of our books. We needed the money because we were in tight financial spot. Of course we said yes to the deal as it was good deal for both parties. He bought walls of books and we didn’t have to get into a serious legal fight to pay off a big debt. Everyone was happy.

I started breathing hard when my partner and I went upstairs to discuss it. He said, “Honey; you’ve got to stop breathing like that.” I tried but I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I kept telling myself, we have to do it, if I want to keep doing this, I have to let these books go. I had a complete meltdown. I sank into the cushy chair on the second floor and cried, and then I cried again, and after that I cried some more. I cried for about three or four hours, I’m not even sure, I lost track of time.

I couldn’t move out the chair. I had used up a whole box of tissues. The bookseller’s wife came up and held my hand. Richard came up and gave me several hugs. I called my boyfriend on the phone and he was no help, he’s too damn practical. David, one of my best friends, who’s been acting as our clerk, came up and tried to crack jokes with me. David called another one of our friends, Paul, a mortician, adept at a handling the grief-stricken (as I certainly was) in his job. He came upstairs after he got off work and made me take some Tylenol. I had cried so hard and so much that I had given myself a stress headache.

Eventually, The bookseller and his wife left, and David had to go home, and Paul and Richard took me up the street to the local pub for dinner. I knew I was supposed to be happy, but I was heartbroken and very sad and frustrated about selling these books.

Isn’t always what we booksellers joke about when we’re at fairs? That we’d be glad to sell the whole set up and not have anything to take home but the books that we’ve purchased at the fair? If that really happened (I only know one dealer who actually really did this at the Akron Bookfair) We’re supposed to be happy that we now have ‘a pocket full of money’ – as someone said to me when I told them about this experience. Another friend, a retailer who owns the ladies clothing shop up the street said “isn’t that what you have the books for? to sell?” “Well, yes,” I said “but somehow it’s easier when they go in small stacks and not complete walls all at once.” how would we react?

from Aimee England @ Volume I Books

Collectors have anxiety attacks, too.

Aimee, I feel your pain. And I’d have added this as a comment to your post except that my circumstance is sorta’ different and has its own unique considerations.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, I collect oriental rug books (and magazines and auction catalogs and the occasional tasty bit of ephemera) – probably about 1,000 of them. I’ve had special bookcases with glass door and extra-sturdy shelves to bear the weight of these big, dense things – five, so far. I’ve even used the e-mail address “” for the past decade to remind people of my collecting obsession. This is all by way of testifying to how seriously I’ve taken my collecting.

That said, a couple months ago I stumbled on a newspaper story about a very successful local rug dealer who just bought an old mansion in the Prairie Avenue historic district here in Chicago. Prairie Avenue was where the rich people (Armours, McCormicks, and the like) lived in Victorian times before the migration to the near north side/Gold Coast neighborhood. Apparently he really did a great job at restoring it and was now living in it.

I know the guy pretty well, having done some advertising and p.r. for him in the past. One of the things I know about him is that he has made tentative efforts toward accumulating a library of rug books. I’ve even helped him find a thing or two. But he still doesn’t have anywhere near what he (or any of the people he’d hope to impress with them) might consider a “library”.

That’s when the thought occurred to me to offer to sell my collection to him. I mean, he’s got the interest and the space and the money. And I’m semi-retired and could use a big influx of cash to put in the retirement portfolio…not that it’s really necessary.

And that’s when the hyperventilating started. What would I do with all the vacant space? Where would I go to look up stuff? The books are in my office where I spend about 10 hours a day surrounded by them: what would I look at when I stared off? Oh, yeah, and there’s that issue of what would be left to define myself if “rug book collector” were suddenly subtracted from my resume?

{{pause until I resume normal breathing}}

See? Even the rhetorical questions get me panicky.

So I decided I’d put off making the offer for a while. I’ll let his relatively empty library weigh on him for a year or two, let his desperation build, wait until he’s frantic. Then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be ready.



Jerry Silverman, Chicago, IL