My Emily Dickinson (and a book by the same title)

My dad took me to see Emily Dickinson's grave one day. I remember the wet chill of morning in western Massachusetts in early April and crunching icy mud under my high-tops. The car was a rental. I was a teenager and we were visiting the town in which I was born, which borders the town in which Dickinson was born, which is the town in which she died. She hardly left.

Map of Hampshire County Massachusetts, 1854

I just read and loved My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe, a poet's book about the life and work of a fellow poet. And "fellow poets" is, fittingly, one of the themes of the book. Through her examination of Dickinson's influence and correspondence -- largely through the lens of one of her best-known poems, My Life had stood a Loaded Gun -- Howe reveals Dickinson to have been astutely aware of the literary community and tradition in which she wrote, even though she famously did so from the confines of her room. While her reclusive habits were likely a result of severe agoraphobia, Dickinson's failure to publish during her life was not, as the story goes, a result of timid self-doubt, lack of awareness of the possibilities of the outside world, or a socially crippling side effect of her spinsterdom. It was, Howe argues, a result of the Calvinist values Dickinson deeply held, learned from her readings and her circles (which, being from a wealthy and well-connected family, she certainly had without having to leave the house). She sent her poems and countless letters to friends, many of whom encouraged her to publish, which she refused on the grounds that fame is an earthly reward and therefore a sin. She was just one of many terrified and freezing New Englanders saving their tokens to cash in in the next realm. But the most interesting point here, as I see it, is this: Emily Dickinson knew quite well that she was a poet. To my understanding of her mythology, this revelation was huge.

It's not an easy book. Howe writes both as a scholar and as a poet herself, her essay style being a cross between densely academic and windy in its transitions between thoughts, brimming with allusions and citations to the point where even the most footnote-conscious reader eventually has to let go of the treasure hunt therein and let text be text. The biggest trouble I had with the book at first, though, was in its often cold treatment of its subject -- for a book called My Emily Dickinson, Howe's is startlingly lacking in the first person. In fact, there is hardly an "I" statement in the entire book, and only the most intellectual sentimentality.

Until now, I hadn't much thought about my own E.D sentimentality. As a reader growing up near her home, I didn't have to think much about Emily to feel like she was just around, enshrined in brick libraries, a field trip destination, wafting spookily past the icicle-laden windows behind which I read. But upon reading this account of the practiced and self-aware craft she refined indoors but with plenty of company, I realized that the Emily Dickinson distinction lies at the crux of something I've struggled with personally for years: is one a writer simply because one writes? Or, in this case, was Emily Dickinson a poet before she died and was immortalized as one? And, if so, is that because she wrote poems, or because she endeavored to be and identified as a poet? Susan Howe's account was revelatory in a way that I didn't realize would unearth my own interest in Dickinson's ghosts.

In my frustration with the lack of an equally personal story in the book, I realized the power, deliberate of course, of its title. Dickinson fits a lot of the criteria for mythologized writers -- a woman in a difficult time to be one, posthumous fame, mental instability, a museum, not to mention the Puritanical tendencies of small New England towns to preserve and be haunted by their centuries-old claims to fame. Because of all this mystery about and evidence of her existence, and because we hardly see proof of her having lived as the person we now know her to be (a poet), definitions of Emily Dickinson are both pervasive and difficult to pin down-- and so, like any myth, they become our own. What's common, perhaps, is that anyone who encounters her has had blanks to fill in, narratives to believe or make up. Even the book's cover reflects this: one of the only and most famous images of our heroine, with her face cut out of it, reduced to the hands she wrote with. It's both inarguably and hardly her, and, perhaps, the only thing that my Emily Dickinson and Susan Howe's have in common.

Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

That, and this. I'm glad to have been there. I'm glad to have read this book about her. We turned back to the car and left her that day right where she actually is, in the ground.

An Afternoon of Leisure

A slow day at the bookshop affords the discerning clerk an extended opportunity for further exploration of the store itself. Spare moments to bask in the niceties and eccentricities of Green Apple is truly one of the finer points of spending so many weeks of the year here. The other day while casually shelving the 'sex and relationships' section I came across this title-

Nothing so special about this standard guide to S&M? Perhaps, but do you recognize that pseudonym? Why it's Race Bannon (pictured below w/ a couple of rascals), famous bodyguard of Johnny Quest, star of the groundbreaking Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same title! I suppose a special agent bodyguard/pilot working for Intelligence One would have to know a little something about ropes as well. Wow! Bless SF for keeping it legal.


This fancy lady from the cover of If You Enjoy The Pleasures of Cocaine This Book May Save Your Life looks like the perfect match for Eustace Tilley, New York's famed dandy. I imagine a short relationship reeling at once between heaven and hell. A sordid tale of rich people with problems. Now what novel does that remind me of? Hm. Maybe it was a memoir...

Now it's your turn.

They're Back!

Delicious oatmeal scones at Schubert's Bakery across the street from the store. For years, these sweet treats were a necessary part of my morning. Then, inexplicably, about a year ago they disappeared. Inquiries into the matter proved unsatisfying: maybe the baker who made them each morning had absconded with the recipe? In any event, my persistent whining has finally paid off, as they reappeared recently amongst the croissants and the cheese puffs and the raspberry rings. A cup of hot fair trade Sumatran and an oatmeal scone. To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss to Schubert's, and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls."

Paul Madonna and Green Apple

In a lovely convergence, Green Apple is pleased to announce the arrival of two noteworthy items by beloved local artist Paul Madonna.

First, there's his new collection of artwork: Everything Is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee Collection. It's sublime and reasonably priced for such a handsome tome at $27.95. We have plenty of copies on hand, and Mr. Madonna agreed to drop by soon to sign them for us, so stay tuned. Or if you can't wait, meet him at the FREE book release party this Friday, April 29.

Meanwhile, our latest t-shirt has arrived, and it features a Paul Madonna rendering of the main store. These are, of course, high quality shirts in charcoal for men and something between plum and eggplant for women. Check them out (or heck, buy them) here. Just $14.95.

The end (of books)

Sean Kernan, The Secret Books

The Los Angeles Review of Books "is the first major, full-service book review to launch in the 21st century, and is designed to exploit the latest online technologies in ways that respond to a significantly transformed publishing world."

While the Review's website is being finalized they've created a teaser: a Tumblr on which they're sharing some of the kinds of pieces we can expect from the full review. judging by Ben Ehrenreich's excellent contextualizing essay on The Death of the Book, from which I've quoted below, I'm pretty excited about this new venture:

All of our words for book refer, at root, to forms no longer recognizable as such: biblos being the Greek word for the pith of the papyrus stalk (on which texts in the Greco-Roman world were inscribed); libri being Latin for the inner bark of a tree, just as the Old English bóc and Old Norse bók referred to the beech tree. Likewise “tome” is from a Greek word for a cutting (of papyrus) and “volume” is from the Latin for a rolled-up thing—a scroll, which is the form most texts took until they were replaced by folded parchment codices. Prior to the late 13th century, when paper was first brought to Europe from China, the great works of Western civilization were recorded on the skins of animals. The Inca wrote by knotting strings. The ancient Chinese scrawled calligraphy on cliffs. (Do mountains count as books?) The printed, paper book, as we know it, dates only to the mid-fifteenth century, but those early Gutenberg exemplars were hardly something you’d curl up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The book as an affordable object of mass production—as something directly kin to the books that line our shelves—was not born until the 19th century, just in time for the early announcements of its death.

Read more

Death / Modern Times / Comic Books / Drama / The Gnome

I've been absent from the Green Apple blog for a couple of weeks. I'm sorry. I've just been busy as a beast around the old bookshop lately. I really hope that didn't mess anything up for you. People are really serious about the internet nowadays, using it to synchronize their daily routines, bank, read books, schedule optometry appointments, and I'm kinda all like 'whaaa?' I mean I haven't been to the optometrist in years. I've got a twitter account and all, but that's just because I was hoping to get kinda famous (and maybe meet Shatner) like that Sh*t My Dad Says guy did. In the parlance of our times I am, for the most part, 'out of the conversation.'

So what have I got to blog about after a two week hiatus? Well, a bunch of things I guess. Here we go:

First off, on April 6th L.J. Davis died. At was seventy years old he had been a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, husband, journalist, father, landlord, divorcee and a relatively obscure novelist. Oddly enough through what some would call a strange sort of serendipity I purchased my own copy of what is perhaps Davis' most famous novel, A Meaningful Life, on the very date of his death. Perhaps even at the same instant? Who knows? Not me. What I do know is that the novel was an excellent light read, a dry humor on banal attempts at middle class redemption (I relate!), and that we've got remaindered copies of it here at Green Apple for $5.98. Come in and buy it with one of those ScoutMob thingies that we've been promoting and that's like practically free. Daaaang.

Next item. Modern Times Bookstore. In just ten days Modern Times will have moved on from it's 40 year old seat at 888 Valencia Street and will be settled in a new location at 2919 24th Street between Alabama and Florida. This will certainly be complicated for all invested parties, probably much more than it even sounds, so in an effort to help our bibliophile friends across town we at Green Apple encourage you, please, to buy books from them if you find yourself out that way. Hell, maybe even make the trip. I hear there are a lot of places to get cupcakes around there too. They've got new and used books at slashed prices and will be hosting a party moving out this coming Saturday. More information HERE.

A requisite mention here, not to belittle any excitement I may have by using the word 'requisite.' Maybe that sounds too terse... er... I am really caffeinated right now. Notable new arrivals in my section, the "graphic novel" section, as the sobriquet stands:

-Mister Wonderful: A new-ish book by the ever reliable modern master, Dan Clowes. Although this has only now been collected, it serves a bit as a conceptual precursor to his other recent release, Wilson. Originally this was published as a serial in The New Yorker Magazine.
-POWER MASTRS III: A month or so ago I wrote a big fat post on how amazing and insane I think C.F.'s books is. It's not up on our website yet but I assure you that we've got it. I can see it from where I'm standing right now. Call me. 415-387-2272. I'll put it on hold for you.
-Mesmo Delivery: Rafael Grampá is an Eisner Award winning illustrator and author from Brazil, and his comic Mesmo Delivery is a colorful and mesmerizing display of graphic violence akin to Paul Pope or Moebius.
-Strange Tales II: The second collected volume of Marvel comic characters re-envisioned by indie artists, including a particularly hilarious take on Captain America by one of my new current favorites, Ben Marra.

I've got a new staff favorite. The Magic Tower. It's a collection of one act plays by Tennessee Williams, many of which have never before seen publication. If you don't already have a grasp on how incredible the work of Tennessee Williams is, well then let me emphasize his brilliance. Williams was a friggin' baller. We should be calling him Tennessee Chill-iams he is so cool. His presentation, slang, and many other things about his work can come off as antiquated, especially true for a child of the 90s like myself, but the guy understood some things about girls, dudes, ludes and bad attitudes. These plays range from in tone from Williams' two best sides as an author, both stinking drunk and hilarious drunk. I cannot encourage people enough to take a look at this awesome new collection, especially if your only contact with his work is the already critically lauded.

All the classic info. I would like to note just how difficult it is to incur Mergatroid's visage without making him look like a criminal. It is important to see that his hands are full. Then the tension is eased...

Help us sell eBooks

Crowd-sourcing time!

We're starting to brag to our customers about how Green Apple now sells Google eBooks, how we match the big boys on price, how you can Go Digital and still Buy Local.

What we need are some creative in-store signs. This is where you come in.

What would the people below say if they were pitching eBooks at Green Apple? Enter via comment for your chance to win a snazzy new Green Apple t-shirt featuring artwork by Paul Madonna.

Here are the blanks for you to fill in.

Here's on that we came up with to give you an idea of what we're looking for:

1. This book is hilarious, but it’s so darned heavy, and turning pages is so tiresome!

2. Gosh Mary, don’t you have an iPad or anything? You can buy Google e-books from Green Apple! And most of them cost the same as at Amazon!

3. I can’t wait until someone figures out how to deliver books intravenously.

4. I prefer to rocky my reading old skool!

And here's the shirt you could win (men's shown; women's is eggplant and lovely).

A new book I really like: Fire Season

Fittingly enough, I reached the peak of my Kerouac phase at sixteen, when I read Desolation Angels, his account of a summer spent as a fire lookout in the North Cascades in Washington. Although I’ve long since outgrown this phase, the romantic daydream sparked by that novel—of retreating into the wild to spend a season in solitude—continues to smolder on. Kept largely in check by my (reluctantly admitted) reliance on creature comforts, there are still moments when this desire bursts into a bright conflagration, leaving me ready abandon all these coffee shops and wireless devices, these sidewalks and brunches and the dust of bookstores to go off into the wild for what promises to be an experience unobtainable elsewhere (or in our virtual age, at secondhand).

It should come as no surprise, then, that the publication of Fire Season, Philip Connors’ memoir of a season spent as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico (an area of over 5,000 square miles), rekindled my interest in this solitary and, as seems a sadly common fate of many of the things I cherish, increasingly rare profession.

Connors’ book offers several lessons in what it takes to survive a season in the wild. (As well as a dose of reality: a fire lookout works in ten day stretches, taking four days off between.) To be a successful fire lookout (i.e., one who returns season after season), a person must possess a curious mixture of character traits. One must be equal parts dreamer and pragmatist, be tough and sensitive, patient and persevering. Even this rare combination may prove inadequate when you realize just what the job entails: a fire lookout perches in a metal tower designed to attract lightning strikes on the peak of a mountain, exposed to buffeting and clamoring winds, alone in a true wilderness (full of bears, mountain lions, and rattle snakes), left largely to fend for him or herself through hours, days, and months of tedium and idleness.

My youthful daydreams were tinged with romance and grandiose aspirations. I was certain a few months secluded in a cabin would be all I needed to get writing a great novel or tap into some heretofore unexplored region of my psyche. By virtue of experience, Connors, who admits to being temperamentally inclined to similar fantasies, tempers his philosophical speculations and instead focuses his attention to the contours of the land and sky, the changes in his dog’s demeanor from timid suburban pup to fearless mountain wanderer, to stories he’s accumulated over the course of his eight seasons as a lookout... and to frisbee golf. This isn’t to say he completely lacks self-reflection: looking out so insistently naturally leads one to correlate the outer with the inner.

One of the great pleasures of Fire Season is the manner in which Connors’ strikes a balance between the outer (captivating descriptions of a rugged and remote wilderness, a history of the changing relationship between humans and fire) and inner (the effects of weeks of isolation). In a genre prone to self-indulgence, this is the highest praise I can think of and, coupled with its important ecological message, is a reason why this book feels vital and necessary.

Nota bene
: excerpts of Connors' lookout diaries have been published in the latest issue of The Paris Review and are available here.

Amazon Agrees To Collect Sales Tax!

...uh, well, not for them to collect sales tax, as retailers generally do at the time of purchase, but for you to keep track of your Amazon purchases and remit that sales tax on your own.

Here is a link to the story from WISTV News 10, Columbia South Carolina's news leader. Apparently even Republicans in that state are thinking it is time for Amazon to contribute to the local coffers. But here is the quote from the story that caught my eye: "A coalition of community and business leaders gathered Thursday afternoon at the Lexington County administration building to show their support for Amazon. They said Amazon is not attempting to avoid charging sales tax on items. They said it is the responsibility of shoppers to pay that tax on their own." Those italics are definitely my own.

So Californians, here is how it works: after every purchase you make from, write a check for 9.5% of the purchase amount made out to the Board of Equalization. Send that check to P.O. Box 942879 Sacramento CA 94279. If we all do our part, maybe our schools will stay open and our roads will get paved and there will be firefighters there to get our cat down from that tree. All those little things that make life in the Golden State worth living.

A new book I really like: GALORE

Winner of many prizes (and finalist for the coveted International Impac Dublin Literary Award), Galore is a sprawling yet precise novel that walks the mysterious line between the everyday and the otherworldly. It's somehow both stark and sublime.

Be the first among your pals or book group to discover this unusual and rewarding Canadian gem of a book. Then pass it on, as you'll want to talk about it. Plenty more kudos from reviewers here.

Also worth noting, this is a paperback original--kudos to Other Press for debuting an excellent book in an affordable paperback!

OK, readergirlz - we'll rock the drop with you!

Even though Green Apple Books isn't a library, there is excitement afoot on Thursday, April 14th when the American Library Association joins together with Figment and Readergirlz to show their support to Teen Literature Day and 'Rock the Drop'. The list of suggested ways for folks to participate is found here, but let me tell you what Green Apple is going to bring to the table. . .

On Thursday, April 14th we will be having a ONE DAY SALE on young adult books, when each and every book in our young adult section will be 20% off! Just mention 'Rock the Drop' at the front counter and the discount will be yours!

This discount will apply to age-appropriate material only, and will be at the discretion of our staff, so stick to the books on the mezzanine, please.

Read On!

Northern California Book Awards

On Sunday, the Northern California Book Awards were held in the Koret Auditorium at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. This was the 30th annual awards ceremony honoring books published by Northern Californian authors, translators, and poets. We tip our caps to the deserving winners.

Poetry in translation
Demosthenes Agrafiotis
Translated from Greek
by John Sakkis and Angelos Sakkis
Post-Apollo Press

Fiction in translation
A Thousand Peaceful Cities
Jerzy Pilch
Translated from Polish
by David Frick
Open Letter Books

Children's literature
The Haunting of Charles Dickens
Lewis Buzbee
Feiwel and Friends

Creative non-fiction
Infinite City:
A San Francisco Atlas
Rebecca Solnit
University of California Press

General non-fiction
Winner-Take-All Politics:
How Washington Made the Rich Richer
—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
Simon & Schuster

Suck on the Marrow
Camille T. Dungy
Red Hen Press

Ivan and Misha, stories
Michael Alenyikov
TriQuarterly Book

(Clicking on each cover will bring you to the book's page on our website.)

April is National Poetry Month

... it is also:
  • African American Women’s Fitness Month
  • Amateur Radio Month
  • Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month
  • Community Service Month
  • Confederate History Month
  • Emotional Overeating Awareness Month
  • Fresh Florida Tomato Month
  • Grange Month
  • International Guitar Month
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Awareness Month
  • Jazz Appreciation Month
  • Jewish-American Heritage Month
  • National Arab American Heritage Month
  • National Better Hearing and Speech Month
  • National Financial Literacy Month (new!)
  • National Food Month
  • National Garden Month
  • National Kite Month
  • National Landscape Architecture Month
  • National Occupational Therapy Month
  • National Older Americans Month
  • National Pecan Month
  • National Poetry Writing Month
  • National Soy Foods Month
  • National STDs Education and Awareness Month
  • National Tomatillo and Asian Pear Month
  • Pets are Wonderful Month
  • Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • Straw Hat Month
  • Stress Awareness Month
  • Thai Heritage Month
  • The Cruelest Month
  • Workplace Conflict Awareness Month
  • Zero Tolerance for Distracted Drivers Month

...and National Grilled Cheese Month

Opening Day!

The Giants bring major league baseball back to San Francisco today, when they will raise the World Championship banner high above AT&T Park like conquering pirates. Along with the start of a new baseball season come a couple of recent books about the Giants, one a celebration of last season's misery, one an examination of a classic game from the '60's.

A Band of Misfits is by longtime San Jose Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly. No less a Giant than Rich Aurelia says of this tome: "After being a part of the Giants organization for so many years, it was an honor - and excruciatingly fun -- to watch this team in 2010. I was as happy for them as if I'd won the World Series myself, and there's no better writer to cover this great season than Andy Baggarly. He is one of the few members of the media who is there day in and day out and who truly understands the game of baseball."

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched recounts a 1963 pitching duel between 42-year-old Warren Spahn and 25-year-old Juan Marichal. The Braves and Giants took the field on July 2, 1963 at 8:21 PM in cold and windy Candlestick Park. Four hours later, the two pitching legends were deadlocked in a scoreless tie when Willie Mays, with one out and no one on, hit a walk-off home run to end the game. Marichal and Spahn each threw more than 200 pitches and went 16 innings without relief.

Green Apple chats with Gabrielle Hamilton

Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef/owner of Prune in New York City. She’s also a writer, with an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and publication in lots of fine magazines. That unusual combination—a successful restaurant and writing skills—have made her food memoir a must-read for anyone who loves to cook or eat. It’s called Blood, Bones, and Butter: the Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. The book is HERE and the eBook for $12.99 is HERE.

During her whirlwind Bay Area tour a few weeks ago, Ms. Hamilton graciously answered questioned posed by Green Apple Books, while signing books in the office and in a follow up call while headed to the airport. Here is the slightly condensed interview.

Green Apple: You were obviously an astute and thorough journal keeper. Could you tell me about your journaling practice? Did you use your journals to jog your memory, or transfer whole parts into these chapters? Do you still journal?

Gabrielle Hamilton: “I journal un-religiously, without a system or routine and often that journaling happens on pieces of brown paper, whatever I can shove into an envelope. I did not use my journals with the exception of trying to recollect my backpacking journey through Europe, and relied on it heavily. I couldn’t remember in what order I traveled. At first I wanted to get every part of that journey in, then thought, this is not a travelogue, just get a few details.”

GAB: When did you find time to write?

GH: “It was really excruciating. I had to write often in the middle of the night with one baby on one side of me and the other on the other side, or in brief bits on the line during service with a Sharpie, or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It was a real sort of guerrilla writing. It was not like Yaddo.”

GAB: What’s it like reading reviews of your memoir?

GH: “I love it. It’s so delicious to get feedback. I’ve been working alone in a room and had only my head to bounce ideas around. To find what readers bring to this is gratifying. Even if they don’t like it I’m happy.”

GAB: What about criticisms of what you left out—more about the ex-girlfriend, your parents’ divorce.

GH: “I only wrote about people as they pertain to food in my life. It’s supposed to be about food. Of course I snuck in some life in there, a bait and switch. As soon as a relationship didn’t drive the narrative they had to exit. Maybe my skill set didn’t let them exit gracefully. An astute reader is going to catch it. I didn’t want to over-expose myself. I didn’t want to write one of those ‘me me me’ memoirs. I wanted something more graceful.”

GAB: Your relish for a spotless mise en place and organizing a walk-in makes diners feel safe and eat confidently, but biographies by restaurant workers also demystify what happens beyond the pass, for diners, and shows that it’s not as pretty a scene as the dining room, sometimes grossing them out.

GH: “The beauty and horror live in such close proximity to each other, minute by minute, so you get such sensual delicious experience butting right up against unsavory experience. You have to be flexible.”

GAB: You’ve done food writing for the New York Times food section, and now your life story, but why haven’t you aimed to become a name across other media platforms with cookbook, cooking show, and more restaurants?

GH: “That does not appeal to me, that kind of life. I don’t want to be on a cooking game show. It seems television about my industry, it’s no longer about cooking. It’s entertainment.”

GAB: Doesn’t a show like “Kitchen Nightmares" show viewers what not to do?

GH: “I haven’t seen 'Kitchen Nightmares.' I don’t have a television.”

GAB: What do you think of our city?

GH: “I’m happily familiar with the city and I have very dear friends here. I regret I’m allotted an hour and thirty minutes (between events). I did manage to get a quick breakfast at (Charles) Phan’s take out place. I got together at Zuni with girls I know-- Elizabeth Falkner, Traci Des Jardins. I stopped in at Orson.”

GAB: Falkner is the city’s most famous lesbian chef.

GH: “Maybe I have honorary lesbian status. I’ve definitely gotten arrested with ACT UP enough, even if I did marry a man. I blew it. Lesbians are a tough crowd.” (With irony in her voice and a smile). “I just recently applied for Italian citizenship. They’re very thorough in researching (one’s legal record). I had eleven arrests, mostly misdemeanors for resisting arrest, trumped up. I’ve sat in the back of a paddy wagon more times than I’d like to remember.”

GAB: At Camino, where you’ll be tonight, even the bar uses locavore spirits and juices; does Prune strive for that?

GH: “I grew up locavore, which was not a phrase at the time. I live this way. My mother had a garden. We ate nose to tail. I can’t get into the commodification of the lifestyle. It’s used as marketing talk. What they’re doing at Camino is excellent, superior.”

GAB: What does San Francisco do better than New York, food-wise?

GH: “As everyone knows you have much better produce and a longer growing period. This is my kind of cooking and eating.”

GAB: How about Mission burritos?

GH: “I’ve had plenty of tongue taco. I love to hang out in Dolores Park. I always stop off at BiRite, Swan Oyster Depot, and Zuni.”

GAB: Has the book garnered movie interest?

GH: “Apparently that’s starting. I haven’t had a chance to let that settle into my brain. My father is very interested in who should play him.”

eBooks are cool, but. . .

. . .they can't hold a candle to good ol' long-playing records.

LPs, slabs of wax, or whatever you still call them are the medium of choice again these days for both serious music buffs and the uninitiated hipster alike; and Green Apple Books and Music has both factions covered. Not only have we been increasing our stock of newly released albums - yes, there are still many fresh releases a month - but we just shook on a deal that will leave collectors of the classics drooling. Yes, drooling.

Green Apple has just introduced the first few hundred 33 1/3 Long Playing Records into our inventory from the respectable folks of Open Mind Music. Sadly, the Open Mind storefront closed its doors a couple of years ago, but Green Apple and Open Mind are joining forces to bring you the finest used vinyl in the Bay. OK, maybe the second finest used vinyl selection in the Bay, but we're working on it!

Green Mind? Open Apple? (OK, I guess we're still working on that, too.)

Check in with us regularly as we will be indroducing batches of hundred of records at a time.

Ahhhh, the good life. . .

An amusement

Found on the Internet today, thanks to our pals at Shelf Awareness, an industry newsletter. We try not to just re-post cool things we find on the Internet, but I think the coolness factor here is high enough. Like Green Apple selling Google eBooks: a literary marriage of old and new.

Pale King: an editorial

I get the feeling someone at Hachette wanted an excuse to create a widget.

For months, Hachette Book Group has been counting down to the April 15 release of the late David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King. (A gimmick, see: the plot revolves around the IRS and, as everyone knows, April 15 is tax day.) Hence the counter above, which can be downloaded from the book page at Hachette.

So when word began spreading Wednesday morning that the novel was available on Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website two weeks before its "official" publication date, independent booksellers--yours truly among them--were left to wonder why the book was not yet on our shelves. (As if Amazon, with its predatory pricing scheme, needs the boost it surely got by having an in-demand book available before most retailers.)

So much for fair competition.

While it's not uncommon for books to be shipped and sold before their official publication date, there's reason enough in this case, given the cult status DFW has attained since his suicide in 2007, for even the NY Times to wade into the controversy with this article, in which several booksellers express their dismay at Hachette's seemingly underhanded (or, at best, willfully naive) act. In its defense, the publisher's representatives state that the official on-sale date of the book was, in fact, March 22, while the official publication date remained April 15. Confused yet?

What does this mean, other than the fact that you could buy the book online before you could buy it in your local bookstore? Should you, as a reader, be concerned that a publisher seems to be favoring corporations with histories of driving out locally owned businesses and bullying state governments in an effort to avoid paying state sales tax? Is the fact that an employee at Melville House, a publishing house led by the staunchly anti-Amazon Dennis Johnson, felt the need to confess (though I hope this is his April Fool's joke) to ordering the book from Amazon indicative of anything other than a guilty conscience over just how desperate we've become for instant gratification?

A few weeks back, Pete blogged about Borders' demise and the efforts independent booksellers everywhere are making to remain viable, vital businesses--places, really--within their communities, places where people meet, where ideas are discussed and serendipity encouraged, and one of the few retail environments that invites its customers to spend hours at a time browsing. Hachette's seeming disregard for this aspect of bookselling and community has left a bad taste in my mouth. If you feel the same, I encourage you to voice your displeasure to the publisher's Customer Service department.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with an anecdote: earlier this afternoon, while restocking the displays, I overheard a conversation between two strangers standing in front of The Pale King (yes, we got our copies--on Friday) about how they'd been waiting for this book for months. Turns out this is the sort of thing that washes a bit of that bad taste out of my mouth.