A regular customer walked in and handed me a tote bag. Inside were two itty-bitty baby kittens, both gray tabbies. “Can you babysit until Friday? It’s a surprise birthday present for my daughter!” Well, who can say no to temporary kittens?! Everyone wants to play with some kittens, they just don’t necessarily need a 20-year commitment. So…
Kittens. Lovely little things. I hope the birthday girl is giving them a good home!
I’m pleased to let you know that Karen Joy Fowler’s next novel WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES will come out on May 30th! The Kirkus review says: “Rosemary’s voice—vulnerable, angry, shockingly honest—is so compelling and the cast of characters, including Fern, irresistible. A fantastic novel: technically and intellectually complex, while emotionally gripping.”
What the book is about should be discovered as you read it, so I won’t spoil that pleasure.
Karen is a wonderful writer and for years taught workshops through Imagination at Cleveland State University, so she has many grateful students and friends in Cleveland. I know they are all looking forward to her newest book, so I’m pre-ordering copies for everyone. If you want me to pre-order a copy for you, e-mail me at Sarah@Loganberrybooks. com
We’ve toyed with the idea of late hours on Fridays for a while now, but we needed to juice it up some to get your attention. So, we are pleased to announce that we will be open until 8:30pm every Friday, from May 10–October 25, 2013. With music!
Kicking off the new Friday night series on May 10 is The Halo Ensemble, freshly home from an East Coast tour. The Bach Project is a musical conversation between the compositions of J.S. Bach and free improvisation. The concert will be performed by a quartet of musicians from Halo on violin, guitar, cello, and bass. Tickets are $12.
See the Friday Music webpage for more information on upcoming events, too. Happy May!
FLORA by Gail Godwin
Bloomsbury, May 2013
If this book were a fable, it would be “How Helen Learns to Feel Remorse.” There are stories from the past told by Nonnie and Flora and Finn, but mostly there is the story told by Helen herself about the summer of 1945 when she was isolated at home in NC with her dead mother’s cousin Flora as guardian while her father went to work over the mountain in Oak Ridge, TN. Flora is an innocent from Alabama, a 22-year-old graduate of teacher’s college preparing for her first classroom, glad to have a summer job looking after her cousin’s 10 year old daughter, and eager to do everything just right. But there is no pleasing Helen that summer. Her beloved paternal grandmother, Nonnie, has just died, her father has gone away to work on a secret government project, and the polio scare has quarantined her at home with Flora. Home is “Old One Thousand”, a big crumbling house that her grandparents and their son shared with the Recoverers, former patients of local sanatoriums for TB, alcoholic, and mental patients. These are long gone, but Helen knows them all from Nonnie’s stories. She first meets Flora at Nonnie’s funeral, where she is embarrassed by the easy and constant tears of her mother’s cousin. A 70-year-old Helen narrates the story in the voice of her 10-year-old self, a grumpy self-important child with a great imagination. Helen feels superior to Flora, and indeed to everyone else. But she is sorely tested by this summer, and it does not end well. One outsider who visits their mountain top home is Finn, an Irish-American veteran who delivers the groceries on his motorcycle and stays for dinner and draws their portraits. Both Helen and Flora fall in love with him. He tries to teach Helen to be adventurous, and Flora to drive Nonnie’s car. Seeing Flora through Helen’s eyes, it takes a long time to discover the value of her kindness, simplicity and “single-heartedness”. Flora tries to tell Helen stories about her mother’s people in AL, but Helen does not want to listen or understand; she never knew her mother, and she is determined to demean Flora. Poor Helen. She’s a child and she just does not see with an adult’s comprehension how she is both instigator and victim of tragic events that close the novel. There are other characters whose portraits are skillfully drawn in this book, such as Beryl Jones, Harry Anstruther and Old Mongrel Earl Quarles, but Nonnie, Helen and Flora are the focus. Helen gets to keep the letters Nonnie wrote to encourage Flora to have the self-confidence she needed (“Others judge you at your own estimation”) and she absorbs material for her career as a writer. Helen is smart, so she knows that remorse is necessary, and it follows her throughout her life. Readers will enjoy meeting these people and seeing life in a time that now seems incredibly remote, and they too will learn something valuable.
I just thought I should tell you about a book I loved and reviewed for the Plain Dealer. It’s called Schroder and it’s by a wonderful writer, Amity Gaige. A fascinating look into the mind of a man who has invented his own past. Here’s the link. http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2013/01/amity_gaiges_schroder_a_haunti.html
We were thrilled by a surprise visit by the owners of Saturn Press, Jim vanPernis and Jane Goodrich. I know their operation is on Swan’s Island, Maine, so it was indeed a treat to see them in Cleveland! Saturn Press is one of our very favorite card lines here, and we carry a lot of them. Jane is the art director and business manager, and Jim is the printer. They bought an old letterpress printing press decades ago when they were considered old and obsolete, instead of the current reputation of cool and classy. One look at their cards and you know it was a good investment. We enjoyed talking about artists and books, and the biz. A treat to meet friends you didn’t know.
Posted in Book Biz
It’s true, we’re hiring. We’re specifically hiring data entry people this time around, so if you’ve got typing fingers and a detail-oriented mind, and you like books, then this might be a good match!
The task is huge, so we won’t dwell on that, but the idea of completing our inventory in a modern inventory-control system is rather sexy, is it not? Plus, you get to play with the books. The real deal.
Please check out the details in our Job Description, pass the word along to your friends, and let us know if you’re interested. We look forward to hearing from you!
A GIRL CALLED PROBLEM by Katie Quirk
Eerdmans Books, April 2013
Exotic location and sympathetic, real characters combine to provide excellent entertainment in a book aimed at students aged 10-14. Grandmothers might enjoy it too, as did I. The place is Litongo, Tanzania, Africa, in 1970. Residents of this rural village speak Sukuma as well as Swahili, and the heroine is a 13-year-old girl called Shida, which means “Problem”. Superstitions and traditions rule their lives, but Shida has a natural ability to heal and a yearning for an education. A politically dictated move of the entire village to another one called Nija Panda promises opportunities for Shida, but problems follow her there and escalate. These problems are blamed on a curse that began with Shida’s birth. Her chance to go to school and to study with a nurse depend on her ability to solve the mystery of this curse and its effect on her family and village, which include sad losses and real challenges for Shida. History and anthropology are backgrounds here for getting to know a remarkable young woman and watching her grow.
It’s fun working in a bookstore and getting ARCs! (The pre-publication galley.) We can read what will be coming out in the next few months, ahead of the general reader. Recently I read, “When We Wake” by Karen Healey. It’s advertised as a Young Adult book—for 12 year-olds and up, but I find that surprising. It feels more appropriate for older teens. Themes about global warming, sexuality, and governmental controls seem a bit advanced for the younger reader.
The narrator, Tegan is 16, and she has just woken up in a hospital, a hundred years after she was killed by a terrorist’s bullet that was meant for someone else. She has to figure out how to survive in this strange world, where many of the rules have changed. She also has to discover why she was cryonically frozen—and why they have revived her and no one else. Strong writing and a strong plot will keep you turning the pages.
Posted in Book Reviews