Happy March from Malaprop's!
|There are books that just cannot be repeated. This has been the case with Categories on the Beauty of Physics, by Hilary Thayer Hamann, slices of art and physics and literature on shared pages filled with short bursts of fine and thought-provoking information. The editor was in our store many years ago, and since then I have treasured this collection and will continue to do so. At times I am convinced that great writing happens or arrives from the space between contemplation, art and science. Or maybe I just resonate with writing that arrives from that direction. |
I like art that allows the viewer to "fall into" a painting; that is how I came to follow Gerhard Richter's art and later his writing in The Daily Practice of Painting. I wish MIT Press would reissue this book so everyone could have access to his landscapes, both inner and painted, in the answers he provides to questions posed by critics. The Q and A style of presentation feels truer, since spontaneity is priceless and unique.
Both titles above are out of print, but used copies are available through our Out-of-Print service at Malaprop’s or Downtown Books and News.
Now, there are also many exciting books that are readily available, and I need to bring your attention to a few authors in particular. While these aren’t new books, they stand the test of time (at least for me)
Ellen Gilchrist’s In the Land of Dreamy Dreams….Leslie Marmon Silko’s Delicacy and Strength of Lace…Gretel Ehrlich’s Solace of Open Spaces and This Cold Heaven…I cannot imagine my life without the contribution these books have made to it. I owe to these books my appreciation of the beauty of wonderful writing that keeps me centered. Hold Still and Deep South by Sally Mann are not only visual beauties but exemplify thought-provoking writing that makes me jump around in my brain for joy. Sylvia Plachy’s photo essay of Hungary, When Will It Be Tomorrow, invited me into a world where the camera’s captured moment allows me to travel through decades of memories both true and created.
This is truly one of the most important results of reading. Books can be fodder for a reader’s creativity….that reader being you, me, and all of us. For independent booksellers this is the greatest gift we can give, and we gladly give it.
Speaking of giving…imagine this scene as it unfolded recently: as I am ordering books for next fall from university presses at our front counter, a smiling gentleman purchases a gift certificate for $100 and proceeds to give it to a family with 5 children in the store. The noise level from those children when they realize they are able to choose and take home a book is deafening in a joyful way! Now that is what I call a great day in our store. Come see us, because you never know what good thing will come about.
|Guest newsletter post from authors Tegan Wren and Samantha Bryant!|
|**Coming to Malaprop’s March 9 at 7 pm**|
What do you get when you combine women’s health issues with superpowers and royalty? You get a novel about menopausal superheroes and a romance novel about an infertile royal couple. Join regional authors Samantha Bryant and Tegan Wren at our downtown location at 7 p.m. on March 9 for a discussion about their unique approaches to writing works of fiction about two women’s health issues that rarely garner serious attention. Both have debut novels available from Curiosity Quills Press that are available to purchase in store at Malaprop’s and online at malaprops.com.
Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant
Menopause can be a pretty scary word. In a world that values youth and physical perfection above experience and knowledge, especially for women, getting older is fraught with psychic landmines. The process can make you doubt your own self worth.
Besides what the world thinks, there's that feeling that your body is betraying you, changing physical shape around you and surprising you with new changes in function. You can start to feel like you can't trust your own senses. Is it hot in here? No? Guess it's just me, then.
As a writer, when something scares me, it comes out on the page. In the stories and characters I create, I can deal with the things that worry or upset me. I always tell my husband that it's cheaper than therapy. That's exactly what happened with Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. The novel follows five women as their journey through the change of life takes some unexpected turns: superheroic turns.
While the subject matter is definitely the stuff of comic books--human flight, wielding fire, and transformations are unlikely to be a problem for any of us here in the real world--the book also explores the heart's truths of this time of life. One of my characters, Helen Braeburn, is taking it especially hard.
"Sometimes, Helen felt like she had spent her whole life waiting to be 'old enough' and then had crossed over into 'too old' without finding out what it was she had been waiting for."
"It was a truth of life that as a woman aged, Helen thought, people tended to treat her more and more like a child. Salesclerks called older women honey, just like they might a child. Senior food and movie tickets were sold at a reduced price, just like a child's. Discounts and nicknames weren't so bad in the scheme of things, but the assumption of incompetence was hard to take."
Even in her lighter moments, Helen still struggles with aging.
"Getting old sucked. Of course, so did being beaten up by a giant lizard with red hair, and strangled by a cheerleader."
Writing this book definitely has helped me deal with all my anxieties about aging and menopause. I hope my readers will find connections with the experiences of these characters, too.
Inconceivable! by Tegan Wren
There’s so much emphasis placed on having biological children as a way to measure the success of a marriage. But what happens when that doesn’t happen right away or at all? Infertility is a medical challenge that interrupts a couple’s happily ever after. It’s a reality I know all too well.
When my husband and I experienced infertility as otherwise healthy 20-somethings, we desperately wanted to connect with other couples who were going through this anguishing experience. We craved a community of people who understood the monthly hope and heartbreak that characterizes the infertility journey.
When we looked to television, movies, and books to find a story similar to ours, we instead found stories about single women using surrogates, women in their 40’s struggling to conceive after delaying child-bearing, and couples finding out that they’re pregnant after they adopt. None of these stories, all of which are important, reflected our experiences. So, I decided to write about a young, healthy couple full of love and anticipation, and how infertility forces them to reimagine their happily ever after. Framing the story around an affable prince in a fictional European country and a mouthy gal from the Ozarks seemed like the ideal set-up to dramatize the experience.
Ultimately, my novel is one of hope, which turns out to be the most important aspect of maintaining your sanity and relationship with your partner through this ordeal. As my novel’s main character, Hatty, reminds us, “There is no Plan B. There’s just life… Here’s to endings that are really beginnings, much happier and more beautiful than we could ever write for ourselves.”
From Director of Marketing Nikki Tetreault: It’s important to us at CQ [Curiosity Quills Press] to find the stories that aren’t always popular, but important to be told. Books often appeal to the adventurous, heroic, or romantic side of readers, but what about the more taboo topics in life—sexuality, diversity, weight, gender identification, old age, etc—that often seem to get glossed over in the publishing industry. We’ve seen brilliant movements such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks that have catalyzed a change in writing and reading, this is only one of countless small steps towards a more enlightened, relatable industry.
|A Great Day at the Bookstore…when you receive a hand-written letter from a favorite author!|
|1 Feb 2016|
Thanks so much for your support of Room. I’ve been having a whirlwind year promoting the film—off to the Oscars soon!
Right now I’m most excited to be sending you an early copy of my next novel, The Wonder. Another claustrophobic drama about an adult and a child, set this time in my homeland of Ireland in the 1850s, it’s a psychological thriller and a love story.
I do hope you like it.
|A questionnaire with Linda-Marie Barrett, Malaprop’s General Manager!|
|1) How did you get into the business of bookselling?|
When I moved to Asheville I was on a leave of absence from Cornell University. I had just completed my Masters in Russian Literature and Slavic Linguistics. Though I was on a fellowship to complete my Ph.D, I was ambivalent about continuing in that field of study. I took a year off and eventually found my way to Asheville. As soon as I stepped through Malaprop's' doors at 61 Haywood St., her magic took hold of me. I loved the sight of thousands of books crammed into a maze of wooden bookcases, the eclectic fashion of the booksellers, and the European vibe. At the time, the owner and a couple of other booksellers sipped espressos and smoked at the front counter, which felt very French and intellectual. I was smitten. I began working there in 1988 and haven't stopped since!
2) When did you come to Malaprop's? What was it like then (vs. now)?
I began work in the late 80s, when the store was young and not a lot was happening on Haywood St. It was a Harry Potterish experience to walk down a sleepy, neglected street and open the door to our store, a reading environment hot with life. Malaprop's was on two floors; the street-level upper floor housed the bookstore, the bottom the cafe. The space was very elegant--with wooden floors and a pressed tin ceiling, but it was too small to hold all the books our customers craved. I loved the intimacy, but immediately fell in love with our current location when we moved in 1997. Our corner spot at 55 Haywood features huge street-facing windows that let the sun stream in. We also can accommodate lots of fixtures while leaving room for customers to negotiate the aisles without bumping into each other. We spread our wings when we moved, and we keep improving.
Many of our long-term customers remember our former cafe fondly as it served a full menu, including the best nachos in town. It also had its own personality and its own crowd, which gathered on warm evenings on the back porch. I love our new cafe, though, as we still serve delicious coffee and sweet and savory treats. Parents can enjoy their lattes while their children leaf through books in the adjacent children's section.
3) If you could only take one book with you to a deserted island, what would it be?
Shakespeare's Complete Works. Wisdom, laughter, tears, romance, regret, jealousy and treachery--everything that we humans celebrate and struggle with lie within the covers of this magnificent work. With Shakespeare to keep me company, I would not be alone, and I'd find my inspiration to get back to civilization.
4) What was the first book you remember that really changed your life/your view of the world?
The Chronicles of Narnia introduced the idea of magic and the possibility of other realms. I used to run through the fields behind Brown School, the elementary school just beyond the fence of our backyard, hoping that I would suddenly pop up into a world with centaurs and fauns and talking badgers. Harold and the Purple Crayon sparked the idea that I could be the agent of my destiny, drawing images that became real. Inspired by reading, from a very early age I wanted to be a writer. At around 8 years old I developed a morning ritual of coffee (I'd make a cup of instant before my parents got up) and writing poetry. I got away from this ritual when I moved to Asheville, but want to get back to it. What a lovely way to start the day!
5) If you could live in any fictional universe/world (or inhabit any book/setting), what would you pick and why?
I would love to live in a world where magic was possible, where I could fly, cast spells, breathe underwater, live an almost immortal life so that I could read all I wanted to, learn to play instruments with mastery, write books that moved people, explore whatever my curious mind wanted to. Travel, travel, travel. Never have to worry about money. Is there such a world in any book? For now, I settle for my dreams at night which allow me to do most of these things!
6) What has been your favorite author event hosted by Malaprop's?
Such a hard question! I have had the pleasure to see so many wonderful authors and each event is special for its own reasons! When I was the event coordinator I felt a special thrill when Elizabeth Gilbert came to the store for the first time for The Last American Man, Bill Bryson for A Walk in the Woods, and Deepak Chopra for several events we held at Jubilee. I loved crafting unique events with authors--a parade across Haywood Street with Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne, wine and cheese pairings with Master Sommelier Andrea Immer, and a French-themed reception for Peter Mayle. Most recent standout events included Mohsin Hamid, Khaled Hosseini, Azar Nafisi, David Payne, and Joni Tevis. I've experienced many life moments over the years, when you suddenly realize you're witnessing something extraordinary, like the midnight release parties for the final Harry Potter books and the times we hosted Warren Wilson College's MFA faculty doing the world's fastest readings.
Robert Olen Butler reading from his novel Mr. Spaceman was similarly remarkable, because of the passage he selected and his skill as a reader. A character, Minnie Butterworth, watched the Wright brothers' first flight in Kitty Hawk and was immediately consumed with a desire to fly a plane. This was impossible because of her life circumstances. Instead of becoming an aviator, she married young and raised a family. She couldn't completely bury her dream though, as every night she went to bed longing to fly. At the end of her long life she is in a spaceship with the alien narrator. He offers her the chance to pilot his ship. Robert Olen Butler read on,
"Minnie said to me in a faint voice, ‘Is it possible?’ I replied, ‘The World is Your Oyster. This is the New Thrill in Travel Planning.’ And I passed my hand over the navigation panel before Minnie and it came alive…And she took her hand and she moved it and she saw her planet slide easily under her and she laughed and she wept and she flew. She flew around her planet many times that night and out into the darkness, out past the moon and around and back again. Minnie Butterworth flew farther and faster than anyone had ever flown in the history of her species and I sit now quaking in the dark at the thought of her and I feel that I am close to understanding something. Close."
Tears ran down my face as I listened to Minnie finally realizing her dream. I flew right beside her in that magical moment when an author transports the reader into a greater, wiser space.
7) Do you have any reading rituals? Examples: reading before bed, reading outdoors, reading with tea, reading to music, etc etc.
Every night when I'm ready to retire, I pour a glass of wine into a special cup, prop myself up with pillows in bed, and read until I fall asleep. I also love reading while taking a bath, and when lying on the couch in the sunroom. Reading is one of the greatest pleasures of my life and always has been.
8) When you're not reading or working at Malaprop's, how do you most love to spend your time?
My favorite pastimes are hiking, gardening, getting together with friends, yoga, cooking, and organizing my space. I love evenings spent snuggling on the couch with my partner while we watch a movie or tv show. I enjoy writing and playing the flute, but haven't been doing either much lately. I have a wonderful life right now; I'm very blessed!
9) What (fictional or non-fictional, human or otherwise) characters are your role models, if any?
Fictional characters have influenced me so much--I believe I've learned as much about human nature from books as I have from actual humans. A signed (!) movie poster of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn hangs in my guest room. He's holding a sword, looking heroic and fearless. I try to embody Aragorn's determination and courage in the face of horrible odds when I'm in a tough spot (his plight always makes mine seem so minor anyway). A more recent role model comes in the form of author Elizabeth Gilbert. She is on fire with a mission to empower women to live every moment fearlessly and creatively. I'd like to do that.
10) What was the last book you loved and would recommend to readers?
I read The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and the Stories for our WILD book club meeting in February. I was unfamiliar with this major writer of the Harlem Renaissance and marveled at her stories of women's struggles with race, class, and the entrapments of romantic relationships. Larsen deftly brings the reader into a world that is suffocating and often hopeless, that really does feel like sinking into quicksand. Not an easy read emotionally, but one I needed to journey through, to better understand.
11) You are a buyer for the store and a lot passes through your hands before it gets to the shelf. What's the weirdest, wackiest, or neatest thing that has come your way?
One of the pleasures of being a buyer for an independent bookstore in Asheville is having free rein to buy for our reading audience. Asheville and the surrounding community nurtures a thousand and one faith traditions, dietary and health concerns, fetishes, recreational pursuits, fashion senses, decor fancies, husbandry and farm setups, political affinities, relationship paradigms, and literary sensibilities. When I first moved to Asheville, I had no idea what New Age meant. Twenty-eight years later I feel like my eyes, and hopefully my spirit, are wide open to different ways of thinking and living in the world. To be a good bookseller means embracing diversity in all her forms and trying to not judge something other as "less".
|When the World is Puddle Wonderful by Ali McGhee|
|Today was the first day when it really felt like spring was in the air. The moment I stepped outside, I could feel a freshness that wasn’t there yesterday, a newness that seemed tinged with possibility. Winter has its own pristine, icy smell, as well as its own sound, like the quiet tinkling of bells. But spring smells like mud, like green shoots of grass. There’s a sweetness to it that seems to me to be an integral part of the growing process. I love that it starts to smell like flowers before they’re even up. And the world seems to come alive with sound—the birds, too, are celebrating.|
As the weather gets warmer, I find myself pulled outdoors for longer stretches of time, excited to make the most of the longer days and the sunlight (or the soft spring rain). I am reminded of a favorite e.e. cummings poem, “[in Just—]”:
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
My picks this month help me make the most of this mud-luscious world awakening to the new season.
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
Sandor Katz has become the leading voice in fermentation, and the coming harvest is a great time to start experimenting with making your own kimchi, miso, kombucha, yogurt, mead, and breads. It’s an accessible book that details processes of fermentation and culturing clearly and concisely. Katz credits fermented, live foods with vastly improving his health. Beat the winter blues by seeing what living foods can do for you!
Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry
I love this gorgeous cookbook. It also focuses on preservation and offers recipes for dishes that would look beautiful on a spring table, including pink grapefruit marmalade, apple and lavender jelly, wild mushrooms in olive oil, wok-smoked trout with dill, and rhubarb schnapps. The beautiful pictures will make you even hungrier.
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation by Tradd Cotter
Spring is the perfect time to start hunting for wild mushrooms and thinking about growing your own supply. This is an in-depth instructional guide to the latter that breaks down the process of mushroom cultivation. It also has sections on marketing, extracts, tools, and troubleshooting your culture if mold takes hold. Popular species are discussed in depth to ensure that you have all the information you need to identify and grow your own mushrooms.
The Guide to Getting It On by Paul Joannides
A guide of a different sort, Paul Joannides’ bestselling book is a humorous, light, and incredibly useful book about being intimate. It is spring, after all!
Erotic Poems by e.e. cummings
A great companion to Joannides’ book, this slim collection offers lesser-known cummings poems as well as erotic drawings that will give you a new perspective on a beloved poet. cummings brings his signature loveliness to the subject of sex and connection. “you asked me to come:it was raining a little,/ and the spring;a clumsy brightness of air/wonderfully stumbled above the square,/ little amorous-tadpole people wiggled/ battered by stuttering pearl,/ leaves jiggled/ to the tightening fragrance of newness/--and then. […]”
Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
Abram worked with various shamanic traditions and magicians across the globe while researching this book, a lovely meditation on humanity’s place in a vast and perceptive natural cosmos in which we are all connected. Grounded in the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, anthropology, linguistics, and the natural sciences, this is a gorgeous, supple treatment of nature that beckons us back into the embrace of the elegant world.
|Love and turbulent romance, anyone? Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You and Matthew Green's Home are new out in hardcover. Paul Lisicky's The Narrow Door is a beautiful memoir of friendship, love, and loss. All of these great authors will come through town to read this spring, so check our events calendar so you don't miss them. |
For something a little different, check out Maggie Nelson's genre bending The Red Parts, coming out in paperback in April. It is part memoir, part reporting on the trial of her aunt's murder 35 years after the fact, and part cultural criticism.
|Hannah: Getting my Spring back in my step!|
|Growing up, March 1st always marked the first day of spring for me. It was the day spring sport practices began, daffodils were coming up in full force, and I no longer had the long-running “coat” battle with my mother each morning before school. Spring also marks the time where my reading becomes a porch activity and I look for books that match my spring yearning for growth, adventure and light, fresh foods. That said, below are a few of my favorites:|
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. It’s over 30 years old at this point, but this beautiful childhood classic still rings true. It tells the tale of Great Aunt Rumphius’ worldly adventures as she seeks to make the world a more beautiful place.
When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. I read the last paragraph and was instantly hooked to this poetic meditation on her life, her family, and the natural world around her. She writes with such ease and grace that you are forced to slow down your reading and take each paragraph in like it’s its own reflection.
The Taco Cleanse Soups, stews, dense breads and heavy desserts are what make my world go ‘round. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so I reach for The Taco Cleanse: Part detox diet, part humorous food blog, part delicious taco extravaganza. Nothing will prepare your mind and body for summer romping like a few months of taco cleansing….and it even comes with a certificate of completion!
This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring. While perhaps not a literary masterpiece, this all-inspiring true story speaks so honestly to my adventuring nature that I have come away believing that cycling solo around the world can’t really be THAT difficult, right? What makes this truly remarkable is her sheer doggedness; especially given the fact that she’d never been a cyclist before this journey. This is perfect for those us who dream of big, athletic adventures but perhaps don’t have the time or tenacity to make it happen on our own. This book will be released in May, just in time for cycling season!
|Beautiful, intriguing illustrations are as important as content when it comes to family favorite children's books. You know, the ones you can't bear to part with, no matter how old your kids are. Books that you'll still catch your kids poring over, no matter how 'cool' they've become. Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature written by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Mark Hearld, is just such a book for my family. Layers of collage, stunningly vibrant colors alongside elegant neutrals, with lots of texture, create a mirror of our world that children can dive into. Exploring the life cycle of frogs, the mysteries of tide pools, and bird prints in the snow are all contained in its pages. A yummy recipe, poems, lyrical language, and science lead your imagination, and your child's, to want to explore your backyard, whether you live in a city or out on a farm.|
|Kaia's Young Reader Reviews|
Bee was a normal orphan just a little while ago but now she is one of the greatest bakers in the town of Zeewal. An exciting adventure full of pirates, magic, and trees. Yes, trees. It will leave you hungry for more. One of those books that you read over and over again. (tweens and teens) Rating: Obsessed with this book!
Riley Cavanaugh is a girl… and a boy… gender fluid, but no one knows. Riley’s therapist advises beginning an anonymous blog to vent and release feelings, but what happens when someone connects the dots between Riley and Alix, the gender fluid blogger. Follow Riley on an adventure of being comfortable in your own skin and showing the world the real Riley. (teens) Rating: Obsessed with this book!
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