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From Emöke: Downtown Books & News Art Exhibit
Thirty-five years at Malaprop’s and twenty-nine years for Downtown Books & News.
I look back and it seems at times like it was yesterday, and there are times when it seems like… “did it really happen this well?” I love both bookstores. Over the years, there have been many fabulous people who chose to be part of the creation either of our community bookstore/café or of the best selection of well loved books at really affordable prices down the street from us. No one online can beat what we offer--selection- or price-wise--at Downtown Books & News. We are happy to be here for you and all the tourists who come into the store and exclaim …”whoa, a real bookstore! or “I grew up in this bookstore and now I bring in my children so they can experience it.” We are so glad to be here for all of our readers.
This month, Downtown Books & News (DBN) celebrates its 29th anniversary. I started the store in response to comments from Malaprop’s customers that they could not always afford to buy new books. I wanted to create a place that shared Malaprop’s values and high standards, but with gently-used books, newspapers, and magazines. Over the years, DBN has grown to hold nearly 30,000 used and rare books(!).
Malaprop’s and DBN have a sisterly relationship. If a customer comes to Malaprop’s looking for a book that’s not currently on our shelves and that the customer wants right away, we call DBN to see if it’s in stock. It feels good to be able to provide that extra service and get a book into our customers’ hands quickly.
A few years ago we decided to take advantage of our tall walls and high ceilings at DBN to host art exhibits. As part of our anniversary celebration, DBN is hosting an exhibit of some of the B’Racz family’s mixed media work during the month of July. The pieces in the exhibit were created by me, my sister, Piri B’Racz Gibson, Piri’s husband, Andrew Gibson, and Piri and Andrew’s son, Gareth Jesse Gibson. Much of the work was created during family “play dates” similar to the ones that Piri, my brother Istvan, and I had as young people. Andrew and Gareth joined us later. We gathered to talk and listen to music and to paint and draw. It brought us great joy and supported us when any of us was in low spirits. I remember similar happy evenings at our family home with my parents and their friends when I was a child in Hungary. Sitting around the table, they discussed everything from politics to art. My mother, in particular, loved poetry, so reciting poetry was a part of the evenings. Looking back, I’m sure that this is where I first felt the joy of joining art and community. Stop by Downtown Books & News during July and take a look at some of the results of those “play dates.”
Naturally, I can’t leave you without telling you what I’ve been reading. Right now I am reading a book from Hub City Press, The Wooden King, that will come out in 2018. It is a beautiful burden to read this master writer’ s tale. At times I feel it is a true story since you can not imagine the lives lived, but then again, I know from personal experience that these “stories” in The Wooden King are truer than any truth you can ever imagine. It is a blessing and a challenge to be reading books that are coming out in the future. If I do not tell you about them as I am reading them it might not have the proper weight for you when you finally see The Wooden King on my “staff favorites” shelf in 2018.
The Wooden King is set in Czechoslovakia. A Bulgarian counterpart, available now, is Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadow Land. The language is crafted with love and precision and helps us understand that the past forms the future. We must know our history in order not to repeat it, no? I am learning from these historical novels what horrors can shape our lives and future if we do not stand up against tyranny.
It is such a delight when I hear from our readers: “I just read a book from Christine’s shelf, or Justin’s…or the book club shelves.” It is always interesting and rewarding. Yep, we have many book clubs where we engage our passion both for reading unique subjects and for great writing. Most of all, I’m grateful for your support of our endeavors, and grateful to my staff at Malaprop’s and Downtown Books & News for their dedication, creativity, and contribution. It is the recipe for a good life.
Read and reap the goodness in words and imagination.
Find Waldo Local!
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Where’s Waldo? books. Stop by Malaprop’s and pick up your Where’s Waldo Passport and join the summer’s greatest game of hide-and-seek. When your spot Waldo at any one of the local businesses listed on the passport, collect a store stamp (or signature). When you’ve collected at least 10 different store stamps/signatures, bring them to Malaprop’s, your FIND WALDO LOCAL headquarters, to claim an “I Found Waldo” button and a “$1 Off” coupon (limited to first 125 Waldo spotters). If you collect at least 20 of the 25 possible store stamps/signatures, bring your passport to Malaprop’s to get a button and a coupon PLUS be entered in a drawing for a deluxe set of Waldo books and other great prizes. Plan to attend the Waldo grand celebration and prize drawing at 2PM on Saturday, August 5th at Malaprop’s!
Hub City Press Announces $10,000 Short Story Book Prize
Hub City Press in Spartanburg, SC is thrilled to announce the inaugural C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize. We hope you will share this exciting news with the readers and writers of the Malaprop's community.
The prize includes an award of $10,000 and book publication, and is made possible by an anonymous contribution from a South Carolina donor. It will be judged in its first year by Lee K. Abbott, author of seven collections of short stories. The prize is named in honor of C. Michael Curtis, who has served as editor of The Atlantic since 1963 and as fiction editor since 1982.
Please visit our website for more information, or contact us at
Science-fiction book review by native Ashevillian (yes, he’s like a unicorn) Mark West
Harry Turtledove, Fallout: The Hot War from the Hot War series (Book 2 of 3)
To describe Harry Turtledove, as the cover of Fallout does, as the master of alternative history' isn't just a publisher's hyperbole. Since the publication of Guns of the South, in 1992, Turtledove has been one of the most popular authors of alternative history, and Publisher's Weekly, at least, was the first to call Turtledove "The Master of Alternate History."
All that aside, the question for a reader of Fallout isn't about Turtledove or his status; it's about the book itself. And, as a reader coming to Turtledove from Guns of the South and his other, earlier works, I can offer the reader considering the book a guarded recommendation.
Alternative history isn't science-fiction, nor is it fantasy; it has evolved -- largely under Turtledove's influence -- into its own genre, with its own conventions. The books are long, often so long that they split into multiple volumes. They have grand scope, such that they have many viewpoint characters who see the events which change the entire world from different nations as they move about, buffeted by epochal events. And the main characters are familiar faces, names from history books, but facing unfamiliar events.
Here, the main character is Harry S. Truman, who has made a choice in the Korean War which has led to a tit-for-tat nuclear war with the Soviet Union. As in his prior books, Turtledove's greatest, and remarkable, strength is in creating a realistic world which is entirely counterfactual.
Of course, I knew that the United States of the early 1950s didn't undergo any nuclear attacks; but I was led into the fictional world by Turtledove's extraordinary, and strangely invisible, ability to create a plausible counterfactual world. Unlike many modern authors, whose virtuosity is on display, it's hard to say when and where Turtledove makes the magic happen; but within a few pages, I found myself caring about the characters, wondering what would happen next, and reading with interest.
But then comes the great disappointment. Fallout is novel number two, in a series of three. The hardback that concludes the series, entitled Armistice, is to be released in the middle of July. I'll have to wait until then to see how this benighted world Turtledove has created fares.
My recommendation, then, is to begin the series with Bombs Away, the first in the series; then proceed as the author intended. For those for whom alternative fiction is a new genre, it is well worth a try; what might have happened is a way of considering what did happened through a new lens, just as traditional fiction is a way of considering what has happened in your own life through what has happened in a fictional life. And aren't such reconsiderations what fiction is about?
Jacob's Reviews

About mid-way through June, I took a short trip to Vermont, for a translator’s conference, and then, on my way back stopped in D.C. to visit my parents and, naturally, the bookstore in their neighborhood! The bookstore is Politics & Prose (a fellow indie!) and they were having their store anniversary sale not long after we had our own!
I decided to pop in, looking for a couple books I'd had recommended to me during the conference, as well as books by small publishers I like.
Of course, I ended up buying more books than I'd originally planned to, starting off modestly with one of the books I'd come there to find: The Door by Magda Szabó (New York Review of Books) , and then, one from the wonderful Coffee House Press, and one I'd actually been meaning to read for a long time: Fish in Exile by Vi Khi Nao. Afterwards, I found a book by Open Letter press, L'amour by Marguerite Duras, and I finished my literary plundering with a copy of Atlantic Hotel by João Gilberto Noll, published by Two Lines Press. (You might comment here that four books is not so many to buy at one time, especially during a sale, but I'd just like to point out that I was boarding a plane the next day, with an already bulging suitcase!)
Of the four, the only one I've yet finished is Atlantic Hotel, a short, wonderful novella by the acclaimed Brazilian author. It's an extremely strange book, with a narrator who has no fixed identity--he gets mistaken, or not, for a famous actor, claims to have been a priest, changes his story about his origins, all as he makes his way on buses and hitchhikes through Brazil and the variety of characters he encounters. Oh, and, over the course of the book, multiple people just happen to die while he's around. It's not the kind of work preoccupied with giving explanations for all of the strange things that happen within its pages, but I think that's what makes it so fun, and what keeps it bouncing around in your mind for a good while after, not the kind of book you finish and forget about immediately!
I hope to make it through the other three (and more...) within the next month or so, but I'm confident I'll love them too (follow the good small presses, and you'll never be lacking for good books!) But maybe I should have recommended a beach read...
Dear Patty

Dear Patty,
I’m thinking a lot leadership today. I’m worried that there’s a lot of information out there about leadership: ideas about styles, how to be a good one, wonderful examples of what not to do, self-assessments, and so on. But, if you were going to suggest where to turn, what would say you?
Thank you,
Leaderless in Leicester
Dear Leaderless in Leicester,
First, don’t ask me to lead you anywhere, unless it’s to my favorite restaurant. I remember one time, I was distraught over the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and I showed up at the Red Cross to help. A woman said to me, straight out of Platitudes-R-Us, that sometimes people need to know how to be a good leader and but also how to be a good follower. I think about that woman once in awhile--a law enforcement person, no doubt. But I digress.

Al Franken has a new book about called Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. He was elected in Minnesota by one of the closest margins in U.S. Senate history, and one that triggered a mandatory recount. As a leader, of sorts, his chapter on Ted Cruz fascinates me. My question was: why is Texas senator Ted Cruz, a leader of sorts, so roundly disliked by his colleagues? What bothered Franken about Cruz was that he used “SAT words” in regular speech like “sophistry,” and he was “singularly dishonest” in policy debates on gun control. Are these the marks of a poor leader? Folks say, “Lead by example,” another platitude (is that an SAT word?).
Look, L in L, if you are you looking for a leader, go to history for examples. Think of Hitler and his cronies on drugs all the time, based on the research that appears in the book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler. Looking for leaders today? Sociology nerd alert! Keep in mind the Peter Principle. Maybe that’s an SAT concept, but sometimes those can come in handy.
Featured July Events
Wednesday, Jul 5 at 7pm
David Madden presents Marble Goddesses and Mortal Flesh
Tuesday, July 18 at 7pm
Joshilyn Jackson presents Almost Sisters
Wednesday, Jul 19 at 7pm
Matthew Quick presents The Reason You're Alive
Tuesday, July 25 at 7pm
Drew Magary presents The Hike
See Full Calendar 

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Malaprops Bookstore/Café  •  55 Haywood Street  •  Asheville, NC 28801

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