Saturday, October 30, 2010

Got Ink?

I just did!

Alon Shalev, author of The Accidential Activist, is also the man behind my new favorite blog, "Left Coast Voices." Earlier this week, Left Coast Voices published an interview between Alon and myself, focusing on community ties and, well. . . books! Enjoy it HERE.

Thanks for the interest Alon, and keep up the good work!

(oh yea - GO GIANTS!!!)

The Page 99 Test

I came across this article in the Guardian UK recently about what is apparently a well-known test devised by Ford Madox Ford to help readers determine if a book they're interested in is worthwhile. FMF (his friends called him "Fordy," I bet) wrote that if a reader were to "open [a] book to page 99 and read. . . the quality of the whole will be revealed to you."

While it seems to me that this is a sort of a rule of thumb that has more exceptions than applications, I wondered: how do we determine what's worth reading, especially when we're inundated with so many books? Covers sometimes do the trick, I think, as do recommendations from friends, critics, and booksellers (I hope). But how do you, a browser with nothing particular in mind but a desire to read something new, decide? Do you have an idiosyncratic method? Do you smell a book, judge its heft or flop (which I define as a book's ability to stay open in one hand or on a flat surface), sample paragraphs or sentences throughout, look at an author photo?

Maybe this test is more practical after all.

That's what the founders of the soon-to-be launched Page99Test site hope, at least. The site offers unpublished authors (and, one suspects, curious published writers as well) a chance to upload their page 99s and lets users rate whether they'd be willing to continue reading based on the contents of that page.

Out of curiosity, I scanned a handful of page 99s from recently released books. Judge for yourself:

. . . she thinks, now she has to get home, and has to make sure there's a lot of wood in the stove, she thinks and she walks up the little road and she stops and she turns around, because didn't she hear something behind her? footsteps? she heard something, she thinks. . .
. . . Haley Joel Osment went in the bathroom and removed his clothes and stood naked in the bathtub in sunlight. "I just need to feel good all the time," he thought. "When I'm happy everything seems okay. I feel happy when I'm happy. I don't know. I'll just keep going."
Tao Lin, Richard Yates
. . . The old woman clumped from the room to adjust her teeth in the pantry, and when she returned the dining-room was empty. She stood there for a moment gazing at the remains of the tea on the table and the hastily-pushed-back chairs. Her jaw started to tremble . . .
Barbara Comyns, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
Barry and I and Fred and Ivan and A.J. Sims sat in the kitchen nook at the little table and took shots of the whiskey. It was strong and burned, and I felt powerful at that little table. When people would wander through the kitchen we'd get smart with them because the whiskey was working on us.
James Franco, "The Rainbow Goblins," from Palo Alto


Thursday, October 28, 2010


Here's a link to a great interview with Johnny Ryan on his new series, Prison Pit, a book I've been pushing over the last couple of months. It is probably one of the most gruesome, insane things we carry in the store, which is one of many reasons it's so interesting to read the creator's thoughts on the work's origin (horror manga and WWE as it turns out). The interview also gives nods to the works of C.F. (Powr Mastrs) and Benjamin Marra (Night Business), a couple of guys who are putting out some strange and inventive new books which really deserve more recognition than they're probably getting. Anyhow, I won't spoil the whole thing for you. Have a look yourself.

Note: Night Business is only out in single issue format, so visit your local comic shop!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Poem of the Week by Denise Newman

Happy Monday. Glad to see the sun is back in the Richmond District today. Here's a poem to start your week, from The New Make Believe by Denise Newman (The Post-Apollo Press, 2010).

The First Rip

then I went out new in my accident to see
if humankind looked new
and it did
looking up at people moving freely above the station
each living thing influential in its ability to move freely
along more or less the same lines
not that I was new but I was shiny and well tuned
with a new buoyancy limb, that is, my accident,
which hasn't happened but I know it
on instinct as I once was my animal,
animate, breath in that way
when it ripped through me going up the escalator
only lips moving at the tip of
a long spasm triggered from bottom like saturated
ground holding
all the dark water without
breaking and they thought I was drunk when I cried out
but this was the poem
and this is documentation, for now

Sunday, October 24, 2010

WTF Is Up With Your Love Life?!

I couldn't really tell ya what's, er, up with your love life, but maybe Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand could. The two ladies behind WTF Is Up With My Love Life?! will be stopping by the store on Monday night (October 25, 7pm) for a lively reading of favorites from their blog, as well as a "love advice" Q+A session. There will be wine. There will probably be awkwardness. There will definitely be laughter. See you tomorrow evening!