Poem of the Week by Leslie Scalapino

Leslie Scalapino

what it





she doesn't

[doesn't want it]

[is no ascendancy]

from The Animal is in the World like Water in Water, a collaboration between Leslie Scalapino and Kiki Smith (Granary Books, 2009), excerpted in War and Peace #4: Vision and Text (O Books, 2009).

Highlights From BookExpo America 2010...

This year BookExpo America was busy, a good time, and a lot of work. Everywhere we went people were spotting Pete from the Green Apple Book vs. the Kindle Videos, commenting on how much they like the store, or ignoring us to stand in very long lines to get some random author to sign some random book that may or may not be worth the time.

As for myself I was trying to find the few small press booths around to see what the Fall will bring. Some of what I saw just came out, some is set for the Summer. Here are the books that look like great reads to me...

Anne Carson's
Nox hit our display table just as I was getting ready to leave for B.E.A. and it is beautiful. I haven't had time to dissect and enjoy this book yet, but what I have read is amazing. New Directions was prominently displaying this and Antwerp, which I previously wrote about here.
New Directions says of
Nox, "Anne Carson’s haunting and beautiful Nox is her first book of poetry in five years — a unique, illustrated, accordion-fold-out 'book in a box.'
Nox is an epitaph in the form of a book, a facsimile of a handmade book Anne Carson wrote and created after the death of her brother. The poem describes coming to terms with his loss through the lens of her translation of Poem 101 by Catullus 'for his brother who died in the Troad.' Nox
is a work of poetry, but arrives as a fascinating and unique physical object. Carson pasted old letters, family photos, collages and sketches on pages. The poems, typed on a computer, were added to this illustrated 'book,' creating a visual and reading experience so amazing as to open up our concept of poetry."

Along with the new release of Joshua Cohen's book Witz, Dalkey Archive is getting ready for the release of Best European Fiction 2011, in their annual Best European Fiction series. I, for one, cannot wait for this collection, as 2010 was amazing.

Green Apple also got a big thank you for our Running Away video!

(Also check out Self-Portrait Abroad: A Novel Toussaint's newest release from Dalkey)

One of my new friends in the publishing world is Graywolf Press. They have been putting out quality books since the mid-seventies, but have really come into their own. What were they touting for the Summer/Fall? Well it shouldn't be too hard to guess since I put a picture of the cover just to the left of this...

That's right a new Per Petterson novel, I Curse the River of Time. It's short but this galley has already been making the rounds and looks to be just what it is...another fantastic book from Per Petterson!

I also got to meet Jessica Francis Kane, who's first novel,
The Report, will be released in September.

And lastly (though there were a lot of great books to be seen this year I will update you on more later) The good people of Coffee House Press are very excited by Andrew Ervin's Extraordinary Renditions.

So stay tuned to thegreenapplecore and always check out our display shelves for the best in small press new releases.

John Waters Drops By

The great John Waters dropped in today and signed copies of his just released book, Role Models, a collection of profiles of the director's favorite personalities. George Washington? Not so much. Martin Luther King? Uh-uhn. Perfect gift for dad, if your dad is a bit twisted.

Books on TV

LOST is over. Were you following it? Well, I don't blame ya' if you don't watch TV. Amid the myriad of total crap out there I can hardly understand why most people turn the damn thing on in the first place. I mean, I enjoy the absurdity that is commercial programming, but I don't think you can even find real news on it anymore, can you? I'm skeptical, but that's beside the point. What I'm meaning to get at is LOST.

I don't think there's been such a game changer on TV since the X-Files. LOST was challenging the ugly paradigm that is prime time programming. What other show today, albeit through the veil of sci-fi action/entertainment, was questioning the unknown and pushing an interest in physics and literature? The series is littered with books and literary references, usually featuring specific works in episodes in which they might pertain. They range from the obvious (Huxley's Island or Hawking's A Brief History of Time), to the slightly more obscure (Casares' The Invention of Morel or A. Merritt's The Moon Pool). So if you're hurting for something to read, it might not be a bad idea to take a look at this list of literary references in the series. There's a hell of a lot of gems in it. Also, if you didn't watch the show, pick it up on DVD from our fiction annex. It'll screw you up with island fever!

Woulda, coulda, shoulda...

As mentioned in a post here last week, Green Apple and Daniel Handler became finalists in the 1st Annual Moby Awards for Best and Worst Book Trailers, sponsored by Melville House Publishers. I'm saddened, however, to have to mention that the grand Mr. Handler was not victorious. Claiming the blue ribbon in the catagory of 'Best Author Appearance' was instead the highly deserving Head Case with Dennis Cass.

When I mentioned to Daniel that he / we were finalists for this award, he replied that," This is not one of those things where it's an honor to be nominated. I MUST WIN!"

So, if you see Daniel around town this week, please be nice him - I can only imagine how his heart is breaking...

Happy Day of Special Significance

Yes, today would have been Harvey Milk's 80th birthday, and the state of California is honoring the man's memory with a "Day of Special Significance." What is that? Sounds vaguely Communist, like something they might celebrate in North Korea to honor The Dear Leader. I saw in the paper where the Traditional Values Coalition objected to the proclamation because Milk hadn't done enough to deserve the honor. Ummm, maybe that's because someone shot him (?). Anyway, we at Green Apple salute you, Harvey. We know you would have been a loyal customer.

And as long as we're offering salutations, I would like to send out some mad props to Green Apple's corps of sign-makers. We do all of our signage at the store by hand, and being blessed with a creative and multi-talented staff, some of them turn out some pretty cool signs. Maybe you've walked by some of them without noticing, seeing as we are a working bookstore and not an art gallery. But I wanted to take a second and feature some of the more artistic signs that have appeared around the store of late.

Not a sign, but still pretty darn awesome.

Happy Books II (Positive Mental Attitude)

KPR wrote a short post on 'happy books' a couple of weeks back, leaving me with a kind of challenge, that being just to name a couple. Being an avid reader of tales mostly involving poverty, woe, and soul rending existential disquiet, it's tough to track down something upbeat outside of maybe a Henry Miller book in my personal library, and his mode of happiness is a little more insane than what I think falls in the realm of just plain old normal 'happy.'

So here's the best I could do:

Schertenleib's A Happy Man, published in Melville House's immediately recognizable New Novella series is, quite possibly the happiest books I've read in my life. Not in a cheesy life affirming my-name-is-Sark-and-I-love-to-nap kind of way, the lyrical prose is warm and charming as the book details the life of a man named 'This' and his deep affection for the world around him, despite being surrounded by a literal world of discontent. I recommend the book not only based on the hope that it might inspire a sort of good feeling inside some sad reader out there, but just the idea that there exists a compelling story of a person who cannot seem to recognize sadness as an option is a point of curiosity as well. PMA.

Daniel Handler is a finalist. . . .

for perhaps the least rewarding (for him) but most exciting (for us) award a writer can win.

Here's the story: Melville House--a wonderful, smallish publisher who produces a lot of literature in translation that we really like (among other good books)--is running a contest to recognize the best (and worst) video trailers for books: the 2010 Moby Awards.

Someone was smart enough to nominate local author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) for his appearance in The Book vs. the Kindle, Round 10: a Seriously Unfortunate Event. And it has been chosen as one of five finalists.

So how could we not re-broadcast that hilarious two minutes and one second? Good luck with the award, Mr Handler. We'll update the blog Friday with the (inevitable?) results. Oh, and here are all the finalists.

Poem of the Week by Aram Saroyan

As Lord Polonius put it so well in Hamlet, "brevity is the soul of wit." So here's this week's poem, from Complete Minimal Poems by Aram Saroyan (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2007).

Two Sentences

1. I'm trying to write a poem.

2. The broom is in the corner.

Friends with ink

No, I'm not talking about the spiky, dyed and dirty punkrock pals of mine with new tattoos... Yes, I'm going to take a second and give a virtual pat on the back to a couple of chums who have been garnering high praise for their recent efforts.

This morning's edition of The Chronicle offered a sterling review of Domenic Stansberry's newest novel, "Naked Moon," the fourth and final installment of his recent series featuring ex-CIA agent Dante Mancuso. Domenic has already pocketed one Edgar Award, and the other titles in this series have also been finalists for that, as well as the Shamus and Hammett Awards. If you've ever read Domenic's work, that's not really a surprise, and if you haven't discovered this Bay Area heavyweight of noir, now is a fine time; I recommend starting at the beginning with "Chasing the Dragon." Each novel in this quartet is set in North Beach, and as The Chronicle puts it, "Reading Stansberry's books is a cross between eating a box of marzipan and watching a car wreck: page-turning and irresistibly voyeuristic." I couldn't have said it better myself, except that I would have opted for cannoli.

Robert Mailer Anderson, author of the cult-classic novel, "Boonville" (which hasn't budged from our staff favorite section in close to a decade) also made headlines of a different sort this week. Robert is the chair of SFJazz and last week he, and his closest 300 friends, took over The Four Seasons for the 6th annual SFJazz Gala. Yes, I was there. Yes, it was quite a bash. But we'll let The Chronicle's Miss Biggelo and her Social City column take it from here. Full disclosure...I don't look half bad in a suit!

Keep up the good work, guys - you make a city proud!

Frazetta & the Death Dealer

My dad used to have a print of Frank Frazetta's werewolf painting up near his workspace in the garage. It scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Real, genuine fear. I remember running from it on more than one occasion. Like I thought the thing was gonna' spring out of the painting and start gnawing on me for a minute. It wasn't until I was almost ten or so that I started to actually kind of like the picture, and it took another five years after that to appreciate what a masterpiece it really was.

If you hadn't already heard, last Monday Frazetta died. His work has been around the world commercially, has been the inspiration for everything from movies to cologne, and probably shaped countless childhood imaginations. Despite a plague of health problems in the last ten years of his life, including a number of strokes which forced him to begin illustrating and painting with his left hand, he continued to create up until the very end. He was a powerful imaginative force to be reckoned with, and his presence will be sorely missed.

Frank Frazetta February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010
No more barbarians. No more space babes.
The Death Dealer cometh unto us all.

New on our Staff Favorite Display

The single best-selling bookcase in our store is the Staff Favorites Display on the first floor of the main store. We put our heart and soul on the line in the titles we select for this case. Since our website is not, um, great, we will occasionally feature a book from the Staff Favorites display here, for all the world to see.

Today, let's take a peak at a newly added title: Howard Norman's The Bird Artist. Here's my blurb below, and here's a link to buy the book. You won't regret it.

And the opening paragraph reads:

My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me. Obscurity is not necessarily a failure, though; I am a bird artist, and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself.

Poem of the Week by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Happy Monday. Here's a poem to start your week.
Originally published in Third Coast, as reprinted in
the 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses.

Love in the Orangery

When you see a seventy-pound octopus squeeze
through a hole the size of a half-dollar coin, you

finally understand that everything you learn about
the sea will only make people you love say You lie.

There are land truths that scare me: a purple orchid
that only blooms underground. A German poet

buried in the heart of an oak tree. The lighthouse man
who used to walk around the streets at night

with a lighted candle stuck into his skull. But winters
in Florida--all the street corners have sad fruit

tucked into the curb, fallen from orangery truckers
who take corners too fast. The air is sick with citrus

and yet you love the small spots of orange in walls
of leafy green as we drive. Your love is a concrete canoe

that floats in the lake like a lead balloon, improbable
as a steel wool cloud, a metal feather. This is the truth:

I once believed nothing on earth could make me say magic.
You believe in the orange blossom tucked behind my ear.

--by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Punks not dead (yet, anyway)

It seems that the historic Gilman Street venue in Berkeley is about to slam into hard times in the next few months, as the rent at this DIY, all-ages haven is skyrocketing an additional $31,000 a year! ZOINKS!!! I don't think that even a new Green Day 7" can make-up a difference like that... Well, maybe that can, but let's not hold our breath.

You don't have to be a rock star to be able to contribute toward keeping this landmark up and running, however. Jack Boulware, top dog of the Litquake Festival and author of various tomes has organized a grassroots benefit for Gilman Street involving his most recent release, Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk From Dead Kennedys to Green Day and various Bay Area bookstores.

During the month of May, Green Apple Books will be donating 20% from every copy we sell of Gimme Something Better to the Gilman benefit. Not only will you get the inside dope on all the dirt kicked-up during Bay Area punk's heyday, but you will be doing your part to keep the gromits off the streets and skanking in a supportive pit. Can I get an Oimen? (sorry)
Get your copy of Gimme Something Better from Green Apple HERE

Graphic Language of Today

Graphic language is the oldest, and arguably the most important form of communication in the history of humankind. It has made its transgression from caves, to pyramids, to paper to LCD screens over the course of thousands of years, depicting the world in the time which it was created, beauties and squalors alike. It is one of the most versatile and boundless forms of talk there is, with the ability to make vague to specific points without being arrested by the authority of dialect.

Of course, as with any form of media different classes will have varying voices, and as I feel is so often the case, the truest depiction coming mostly from the unsung. Those who have not yet been pressured with the fear or responsibility of the spotlight.

So without any further ado, I am proud to announce that Green Apple now presents to you a blossoming shelf of zines and otherwise small press works, generally of the art and comic variety. The display is a prominent centerpiece in the graphic novel section of our fiction annex at 520 Clement St. Come in and check it out soon. The majority of the featured items are handmade locally, make unique gifts, and are usually somewhere in the five dollar and below price range.

The pictures in this post, as you can imagine, are by a few of the artists we're supporting (and certainly more to come!). Enjoy 'em while you can. Life isn't long enough.

"What people don't realize is comics can change the world. We can end world hunger and dishonest marriages with comics. They are about as important as the Blues. They are visual spirit food and I am going to feed it to you like Moses would feed it to a mystic raven."
-Aaron Kaneshiro


It's been a big month for comics (well, last month). New, long awaited releases from both Peter Bagge and Dan Clowes, some tough to track down underground arrivals at Green Apple, a couple of new collections of classics, and the return of a both Old Man Logan and Dogs & Water, two books I was worried we wouldn't get back in stock. So without too much ado, here's the lowdown:

- Peter Bagge's Other Lives is a story about identity. It's focus is on the lives of three men, former outcast college students, geeks as it were, once obsessed with role playing games now living in a real world where technology has developed in a way that they may finally pursue their fantasies, albeit from behind a laptop. Perhaps that synopsis makes the book sound a bit slow (who wants to read about a bunch of losers?), but once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. The story is not truly about geeks, but more about a crippling culture over-saturated with multimedia. Bagge remains one of the best contemporary voices in graphic fiction.

- Dan Clowes' Wilson is presented in a single gag-per-page, almost Sunday strip format with an odd connectivity between strips to create the book's story arc. It is an episodic journey through the life of a middle aged egoist, masterfully illustrated in an array of different styles. I recommend this article posted on Blog Flume entitled A Few Ways to Think About Wilson if you're interested in reading more. It was written by Ken Parille, editor of the upcoming book Daniel Clowes: Conversations (Conversations With Comic Artists).

[ A quick note before continuing- Dan Clowes will be appearing at The Booksmith on Haight Street, on May 13th. I believe you need to buy tickets? I'm sure the folks at The Booksmith will be happy to give you all the information you need. ]

- Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Black Blizzard has finally been reprinted, with a new cover design by Adrian Tomine & Tim Hensley. Basically the story is a hard boiled crime kind of novel. It was written about fifty years ago, but what I'd like to highlight is the fact that it's one of the very few Manga comics I've ever found myself invested in. Tatsumi's style was groundbreaking in its time, and he's influenced generations of Japanese artists since his initial debut. Very much worth taking a look at.

- The Complete Milt Gross is not only one of the most fascinating collections of work by an original American comic genius, but it features a fold in introduction by Al Jaffe! Remember MAD fold ins?! Classic!

Okay, that's all for now. I've been away for a month and the work sure has piled up. More comic news next time. All right? Good luck.

James Beard Awards 2010

Winners of the James Beard Foundation awards were announced Sunday night in New York City. We're proud to note that we already had at least one copy of every winning book when the awards were announced, save one (Pasta Sfoglia, which should be here in a few days).

The honorees included:

Cookbook of the Year: The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews
American Cooking: Real Cajun by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe
Baking and Dessert:
Baking by James Peterson
Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology by Randall Grahm
Cooking from a Professional Point of View:
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate
General Cooking: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Healthy Focus:
Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Thomas
Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, photographs by Santiago Solo Monllor
Reference and Scholarship: Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita, translated by Maureen B. Fant
Single Subject:
Pasta Sfoglia by Ron Suhanosky and Colleen Suhanosky
Writing and Literature:
Save the Deli by David Sax
Cookbook Hall of Fame:
A Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

Poem of the Week by Luljeta Lleshanaku

Happy Monday. This week's poem is from Child of Nature by Luljeta Lleshanaku (New Directions Press, 2010). Translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli and Shpresa Qatipi. Enjoy.

Shadows on the Snow

The snow comes late this year. Violet shadows
doze like shepherds around
a white fire.
The swaying shadow of a fence looks like a woman's clavicle--
a woman who dreams of her lover's journey home through the snow,
his late return.

Thin trails lead to the doorway.
A car parked for hours
compresses black earth.
Radio signals float out of earshot.
A boat with its eel fishers
in luminous raincoats skims by.
A child--his little hands trembling--
casts slanting trees across the table.

The choir kneels.
The moment has come to speak
in a voice I have never known before.

I raise my head and see a single star in the night sky
shapeless and fearful like the shard of a broken bottleneck,
a star I have for years foolishly followed.
Perhaps the shadow of my infinite persistence
looks like a large hill
on the moon, a camel bent over a puddle
preparing for a new stretch of thirst.

From mediabisto.com's Galleycat...

Bill Murray at the construction site for Poet's House droppin' some science. Check it out!

Happy International Workers Day

Over one hundred years since The Haymarket Affair (1886), since founding of the IWW (1905), since the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906), and still no living wage in the United States. I'm lucky to work at a place like Green Apple where my labor is rewarding to me and respected by my employers. San Francisco, I hope you called out sick today and got some sun. This is no day to be cooped up, acting the oxen, riding the slage wave.

On the topic of labor and profit (and a whole lot more), Here's Chris Ware's rejected cover illustration for the May 2010 issue of Fortune 500. Click the picture to make it bigger and take a close look. Hilarious, heartbreaking, and all too true.

Yes, we don't!

Green Apple is so much more than books. We sell all manner of music on both CD and LP. Movies? We stock thousands of new and used DVDs and even a well-selected batch of VHS. Journals? Check! Calendars when the time is right and board games when the time is right for playing. Our kids section just expanded and with it our selection of Ugly Dolls...

So imagine my surprise this morning when I spotted a sign in the front window of our annex letting potential customers know that Green Apple doesn't sell jousting gear. That's right, no lances, no shields and no horses.

Maybe someone asked? Maybe I need to find more work for the annex staff? Or maybe just saving everyone a little bit of time for jigsaw puzzles (which we DO sell).