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Archive for the 'Miscellany' Category

Books for Darfur Refugees

In lieu of our regular Book News — Brockman will return on Monday — and in honor of Boxing Day (here's an interesting Op-Ed piece about the day's origins from today's New York Times), we call attention to a novel organization that provides "reading relief to people in crisis."

Book Wish Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity, in partnership with organizations that work on the ground in some of the most distressed places around the world, supports reading to improve education, mental health, and occupational training. A campaign is now underway on behalf of Darfur refugees, asking readers to donate $1 for each book that you received this holiday season.

More information, straight from the Book Wish Foundation web site:

Reading relief is a concept much broader than providing books. It encompasses all of the aid for community institutions and individuals that makes reading possible. This includes, for example, support for libraries, schools, informal literacy and language programs, and vision care. To provide relief, this aid must match the specific needs that exist, which vary according to the crisis situation, culture, language, demographics, educational history, and aspirations of the people being served.

...


Powell’s City of Books Drives the Food!

If you're heading downtown to our flagship Burnside store, why not grab a can of those beets you're never actually going to eat and donate it to the food drive?

Between now and January 5th, Powell's Books on Burnside is working with the Oregon Food Bank to collect canned and non-perishable boxed items for those in need. (But please, nothing that's homemade or opened!)

Since we are now OFFICIALLY in a recession that started last December, the number of those in need is growing all the time.

You'll find drop-off barrels in the Orange and Green rooms. Here's a store map to guide you — and if you get confused, just find a smiling face at an Info desk to help.

And don't try pawning off Aunt Mathilda's 300-pound fruitcake on us! If it's not in an unopened can or box, please don't donate it.


Preview of Bat-Manga!

Graphic designer extraordinaire (and former Powells.com guest blogger) Chip Kidd presents Bat-Manga!, the first collection of Japanese Batman comics anywhere in the world!

Originally published in 1966, at the height of the first worldwide Batman craze, and written and illustrated by manga legend Jiro Kuwata, these adventures were never collected in Japan, and had never been translated into English.

More than just an object of historical curiosity, Bat-Manga! is deliriously entertaining — not only more fun and hyperkinetic (and, well, kind of insane) than the American comics of the time, but even more enjoyable than most superhero comics being published today!

Don't take my word for it — check out this six-page preview of the first "Lord Death Man" comic! Keep in mind that this is Japanese manga, so you read the pages from right to left. If you get lost, just follow the numbers on the panels.

(Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.)

Continue »


Happy National Park(ing) Day!

Today is almost over for many of you, but there's still plenty of time to celebrate National Park(ing) Day!

If you can't find the holiday on your calendar, well... it's not there yet. But neither is Talk Like a Pirate Day, and you still hear lots of "Arrrr!" and "Avast, ye swabby!" as you traverse the streets of any fair city.

National Park(ing) Day is an opportunity to celebrate parks in cities and promote the need for more parks by creating temporary public parks in public parking spaces.

If that sounds like the kind of lunacy Powell's would jump right into... well, guess what? Good call!

According to Powell's own Bruce Burkhardt, operations manager of our flagship Burnside store: "This is not the 'Powell's Park.' It is a project by PSU students. The 'park' is displaying plants that are native to the Pacific Northwest."

The above photo is of the "Powell's Park" and the newly installed bike corral at the corner of 11th and Couch.

Got some National Park(ing) Day pics of your own to share? Send 'em our way!


INK Q&A: The Reader

In our last newsletter, we turned the tables on our readers:

Why should published authors have all the fun? Answer any three of the following questions from our beloved INK Q&A and send your responses to newsletter@powells.com. We want to hear what you have to say!

Readers responded in droves — many more responses than we'd imagined, in fact — and certainly far too many to print them all. We were even more surprised at how good some of these answers were... too good to keep to ourselves!

Here, then, are some of our favorites.

1. If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?

  • "A Life in Training: Four Decades Learning and No Time to Do Anything"
  • "She Wrote It Down to Remember: Now, Where Did That Book Go???"
  • "On the Outside Looking In: How the Kid With His Face Pressed Against the Bakery Window of Life Still Got to Taste the Donuts"
  • "State of Denial, House of Horrors: How I Survived Growing Up in a Family Bathed in Alcohol in Ohio"
  • "All About Beth: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, or How to Live with a Target on your Back"
  • "Sugar and Spice, A Life of Many Flavors." There would be a chapter titled, "...and when she was good, she was very, very good," and another chapter, "...and when she was bad, she was better..."
  • "Bridesmaid Revisited: Life in Second Place"
  • The title of my biography would be: "The Angry White Dwarf in Black." The subtitle would be: "If You're the Smallest, You Gotta be the Meanest."


Bill James Bobblehead Dolls — Now, but Not for Long

Can you live without a Bill James bobblehead doll? Probably you can. But why would you want to?

Order Scott Gray's new book, The Mind of Bill James, and while they last we'll throw in the bobblehead for free. Not a bad deal, eh?

A bit about the book:

The Mind of Bill James tells the story of how a gifted outsider inspired a new understanding of baseball. It delves deeply into James's essential wisdom — including the significance of a player's stolen-base record, the influence of batting-order performance, and why teams tend to develop the characteristics that are least favored by their home parks. It also brings together his best writing, some of it long unavailable, as well as insights from new interviews. Written with James's full cooperation, it is at once an eye-opening portrait of baseball's virtuoso analyst and a treasury of his idiosyncratic genius.

One day this past winter the book and bobblehead showed up together in my mail. As soon as I stopped playing with it and showing it around the office — quite a bit later, in other words — I shot off an email to friends around the country. ...


An Ode to Mom

I can still hear her voice on the phone. It was March 1st, 2001, my Mom's birthday. "Beth? I just opened my present." The pleasure in her tone was apparent. I imagined her sitting at the kitchen table in her robe, coffee and crossword at her elbow.

"Do you like it?"

"Of course! Which one should I read first?"

We chatted about the books I'd sent: about a dozen mass market murder mysteries. There were some old favorites (ones I didn't think she'd read in years, like early Agatha Christie) and some new finds — a Jane Austen mystery by Stephanie Barron; Silver Pigs, Lindsey Davis's first ancient Rome mystery; High Five by Janet Evanovich, which was out in paperback by then; and others.

When we lived in my hometown, I'd see Mom twice a week, at least, for dinner, Scrabble, movies. Once I moved to Portland — 3,000 miles away — we talked on the phone at least once a week. She sounded fine that morning. I had no idea anything was wrong.

My partner is a film editor and writer, and a few days after Mom and I talked, we were in Austin, Texas, for ...


Small Is Beautiful (and Other News)

Warning: Footnotes ahead!

Last year, a new small press out of L.A. sent me some of the most beautiful little books I've ever seen. Cloverfield Press publishes small pocket-sized books (they really are the size of a shirt pocket) with beautiful letter-pressed covers that fit like dust jackets around their simple-but-elegant chapbooks. Inspired by Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press, the folks behind the press have published work by new writers like Portlander Mary Rechner as well as indie superstar Miranda July*. They are now taking pre-orders for a Haruki Murakami story that comes out in May. Beware: the print run is only 1,000.

Another Californian doing interesting things is Don Waters. Mr. Waters published a few books under the name Versus Press back in the early '00s. His latest endeavor is an impressive and strange CD release that swirls around a short fiction by Dennis Cooper. It includes music by Guided by Voices' Bob Pollard**, Richard Hell, New Wet Kojak***, and others. It also includes a deliciously creepy spoken word track by Mr. Cooper himself.

On the local front, Portland Alt-country-rock singer Willy Vlautin, a burgeoning writer who had a computer full of ...


With the Happy and the Birthday and the Cake and the Hey, Hey, Hey!

And a happy (slightly belated — at least, on the East Coast and everywhere else in the world) birthday to Matt Groening, our very favorite Portland ex-pat and creator of some TV cartoon show no one's ever heard of. (Certainly not this correspondent!)


Sweeping Depth Into the Dustpan

In response to Alexis's entry, "Are You Listening, Oprah?" LSJ commented:

I think some of the best written books in the world are for children, not adults.

I honestly can't agree more... except to add that some of the best pure storytelling can be found in children's and young adult's books.

Unfortunately, as we get older, I think it's pounded into our heads that our themes must be bigger and the language must be loftier, and the simple act of telling a good, strong story in an engaging way becomes forgotten entirely. Or is considered too simplistic a goal for a work of capital-L "Literature."

I would argue that a lot of the "bigger" themes in adult literature really aren't as profound as the authors and many critics would like us to believe. Burying a trite theme beneath acres of tangled, overly self-conscious prose doesn't actually make the theme more meaningful, does it?

When I look at the first paragraphs that Dave has posted on this very blog, I find myself thinking, No WONDER the Harry Potter books are so popular among adults!

I don't mean to pick on the authors of these two books — the same holds true for any number of titles that fill the New York Times Book Review each week. It's come to the point that I feel like much adult literature is actually an endurance test: Do you dare admit defeat?


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