The request arrived to let the publisher representative know how I liked Lee Smith's new book Guests on Earth. Lee Smith is one of those authors I want to hear read their own words because of the timbre and lull of their speech. Once I have that in my head I am so much more delighted and rewarded by my reading. I attend many events at our store because of the special voices of authors. Listen to Lee Smith read at Malaprop’s on October 8th.
There are also books that just show up in my mailbox and won't leave me be till I turn the pages and start at it. Such a book is The Humans by Matt Haig. I am totally surprised by this new author who dazzles me with words, concepts and demands for an open, bright-eyed mind. Open this book if you are willing to be inspired into new thinking.
I spent last weekend in Winston-Salem at the 2013 North Carolina Writer Conference (64th) honoring Robert Morgan and remembering Doris Betts. (Tsk tsk , I missed perhaps the last Bele Chere in Asheville). It's good to see old friends and meet new writers and poets and hear their voices and support their work. John Ehle and Rosemary Harris, Keith Flynn, David Brandon Hopes, Dale Neal, Wayne Caldwell, Ann Deagon, Emily Herring Wilson, Ruth Moose, Margaret Bauer of North Carolina Literary Review, Kevin Morgan Watson of 53 Press to mention a few of the many very well-thought of NC writers and poets, including Susan Chappell's husband, Fred who attended.
Finding authors as old friends is always gratifying but to find new words that thrill the soul is a blessing. So I find in Seriously Dangerous by Helen Losse the following lines from “In Retrospect”:
Remember how the wind
Held yellow leaves in airy fingers?
and in “Shadows That Steep in Dreams of the New Ground” by Hilda Downer from her Sky Under the Roof:
Dream, dream to sleep.
Rock infant softness to my shoulder.
Dream of not only the land we give you,
but the mountains' blue trill toward words.
Sometimes it is not the whole story that knocks your socks off. I only need a few words to start a desire to be part of the writer’s creative rush at the reader. Such a life is promised to all who are willing to explore through reading. Come and join us in such a journey. We are bursting with recommendations of books and their authors to throw in your reading path. We desire to be here to recommend good books even to your grandchildren, so when you see it here, buy it here!
“every little thing is everything”
A Word From Downtown Books & News
The News Gallery located in Downtown Books & News is thrilled to announce its newest exhibit, Neon Froth: A Sci-fi Painting Exhibition of Rabid Proportions. The opening will be Friday, August 2nd at 7 p.m. and will feature the work of some of Asheville's most inventive artists: Alli Good, Sarah Cavalieri, Madd Maxx, and Justine and Zach Briggs.
Alli Good’s paintings and works are a quasi-autobiographical exploration of family, social anxiety and feminism, tackled in the dark, surreal, but often humorous style for which she’s known. Her paintings, influenced by comic and pop art, depict large, fleshy females in unsparing and sometimes grotesque nudity, exploring deeply-ingrained issues of female body-image. It’s a kaleidoscopic journey in which women sprout ice-cream cone hands and have halos made of unicorns, where female trolls cling to the legs of a woman and flesh turns to fish scales. Ultimately, the images are both disturbing and strangely poignant, forming a jagged path to beauty and self-knowledge.
Sarah Cavalieri moved to Asheville in 2002 to earn a BFA from UNCA in mixed media. She currently paints, carves and burns wood on flat panels, creating textural narratives of a subtly sinister universe pregnant with animalistic hallucinations. Her work explores the ritualistic consumption of feminine mental space and energy, displayed through the back and forth dialogue of tedious line work, layers of paint and patterns, and rendering of low relief sculpture. She is currently pushing her work to larger dimensions for the upcoming group show at Downtown Books & News.
Maxx Feist aka Madd Maxx draws, paints, eats, and sleeps in Asheville. Maxx is a self-taught artist whose work relates themes of struggle and redemption, humanity and inhumanity depicted through whimsical scenes and fanciful creatures.
Justine and Zach Briggs are Asheville-based artists who have been working alongside each other for the past seven years. While they both have been working to cultivate their own personal style, they share very similar interests and influences. They’ve begun to experiment with collaboration and going forward plan to do several shows under the name Terror Drag.
About the exhibit’s opening night audiovisual performance: Oliver Kelley will perform the Ganzfeld Effect using modified goggles, red lights, and visual projections by Jason Scott Furr. The show will include drone music with correct frequencies involving white, brown, and pink noise mixed with a dark horror soundtrack.
And of course complimentary libation and edibles will be provided.
Fun With the Time-Space Continuum
As a bookseller and a buyer of some of the kids’ books here at the store, you can imagine that I must read quite a bit. I generally average about a book a week, sometimes more (I am on book 37 for the year at this writing!). Because of that volume, it takes something very special to really stand out, and so far this year the absolute hands-down winner is a little book called The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick.
The story begins when eighth-grader Edward picks up what he thinks is an ordinary rock, which is really a Time Fetch, and causes a dangerous rip in time.
I cannot recall the last time a book captivated me so completely. It felt fresh, smart, clever and, perhaps best of all, genuine and sweet in the best sense of both those things. What a fabulous adventure and a wonderful group of friends, and how refreshing to read about kids embracing each other's quirks so unconditionally yet totally realistically. I finished the last few pages with goose bumps and a couple of tears simply because I was so captivated by the entire thing.
The characters are believable and likable. The story line is beautifully original and combines many fascinating concepts and ideas. The combination of folklore and science is amazing. Who would have thought that the second law of thermodynamics could be presented in such a fun context ?!! I'll never think of entropy in quite the same way again. I did not lose interest at any point along the way. In fact, I found myself drawn in more and more as I continued reading all the way to the pitch perfect conclusion!
The book is for readers age 10 and up, although I highly recommend it for anyone! It is due out August 13th but you can pre-order a copy now at www.malaprops.com. Don’t miss this original new voice in middle grade reading!! See you in the kids section!!!
- Laura Donoho-
|Dream Boats is stunning! The dreams of children float languorously through this exquisite picture book, woven with lyrical comparisons of dreams to water. Kirsti Anne Wakelin's gorgeous mixed media illustrations convey the magic and possibility of dreams while Dan Bar-El's story calls forth the fluid quality of the unconscious mind. Young Parvati floats on a fishing boat while Aljuu adventures by cedar canoe and little Babatunde steers his raft down the Niger River. Dream Boats is a fantastic bedtime read! Just make sure to have enough light to see the pictures!
In March of this year, Caroline and I (your happy sidelines buying team) attended our first ever Gift Show at the Atlanta Gift Mart. It was an education—at turns frightening, fascinating, and exciting. The Mart is three buildings, multiple floors apiece, with showroom after showroom of furniture, jewelry, gifts, whozits, whatzits, and more. We looked and schmoozed (something we both love to do) as much as we could and came home exhausted, but with new contacts and new finds to make the non-book section of Malaprop’s better.
One of the best things about that show was getting to see things with my own two eyes. I love looking at catalogs and hearing about new products from our reps, but nothing beats seeing something in person. Being able to see something in 3D and know its weight and texture is worth a lot. One of the showrooms that caught my eye in Atlanta showcased a line called Punch Studio. The journals, file folders, cards, and everything else were lovely. The imagery was lush, the colors bold, and the quality was good, so I met with the sales rep and—voila—we now have Punch Studio here at Malaprop’s .
One of my first barometers for sidelines coming into the store is the staff. If they see the new things coming out of the box and onto the shelves and immediately like them and want them for themselves, I think that’s a pretty good sign. When the Punch Studio boxes were opened, there was an immediate surge to take home the beautiful magazine holders, file folders, and storage boxes. Sadly, or wonderfully, as the case may be, only ONE of the storage boxes I ordered made it out to the floor at Malaprop’s. I happen to think that’s good news, so I’ll be ordering more to share with the rest of you. I think you’ll find them as intriguing as the rest of us did.
Keeping it local. Really, really local.
This may or may not come as a surprise, but the booksellers and baristas at Malaprop’s are really talented individuals in a lot of different areas. We have photographers, painters, crafters, writers, singers, musicians, runners, educators, philosophers, jewelry makers, and more. One of the great pleasures of my time in the sidelines department has been to see what my coworkers create and setting those creations out on the Malaprop’s shelves to share with the world. Recently, we’ve had an influx of great postcards from staff members and I’m so proud to show them off to our regular customers and our visitors. I hope you’ll take a look next time you’re in and, if you want to know what else is locally made, please ask us and we’ll be happy to show you.
William Matthews Poetry Prize with Keith Flynn
Nathan Ballingrud & Marly Youmans