Friday, January 30, 2009

What I Read - January 2009

The following are the books that peaked my random interests this month . . .

~Curious Men by Frank Buckland. This arrived as part of McSweeney's Book Release Club. This book is part of the Collins Library, a series of newly edited and typeset editions of unusual out-of-print books. I'm really digging the Collins Library reprints (especially English As She Is Spoke, and To Ruhleben - And Back by Geoffrey Pike, and Banvard's Folly: Tales of Renowned Obscurity, Famous Anonymity, and Rotten Luck by Paul Collins). Curious Men is a series of 18 essays regarding the side show types of freaks that so obsessed large portions of Victorian Londoners. Buckland is at very matter-of-fact when describing the fossilized mermaid, guano mummy, and especially the man who walked upside down. Not every story is compelling but still a fascinating glimpse at a freakish past.

~Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. There probably isn't much I could say about this book that hasn't been said before (and much has been said, here and here and here). I was unprepared for the total awesomeness of this novel. My youngest son has been determined to have me read my own books to him and Lolita was by far my favorite read-out-loud book. Stunning sentences, tripped off the tongue. My only regret is I didn't read this book sooner.

~The Book of Lost Things by Michael Connolly. I'd had this on my Shelfari wish list for sometime now based upon The Onion review. Well, the book finally arrived this month and only took two days to read. Connolly is known for his adult criminal thriller books, however, The Book of Lost Things, falls more on the side of young adult fiction. The story delves into that special time when childhood is left behind but adulthood is still far away. Twelve-year-old, David, who is thrust into a world where stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality. David's childhood fell apart upon the death of his mother, the start of WWII, his father's remarriage, and his stepmother's pregnancy. As David withdraws into himself, a physical land of beasts and monsters opens to him. While the quest tale is familiar, paying homage to the great fairy tales and legends, Connolly makes this fantasy world something so much darker and frightening. I was mesmerized by David's tale, and passed this on to my teenager.

The New Kings of Nonfiction - Edited by Ira Glass. I'd read anything with Ira's name on it, see below blog for my somewhat creepy love of all things Ira. Thankfully the book was full totally great works of Nonfiction (hence the name, right?). While all the articles were great, I really enjoyed my first taste of Michael Pollen. His following a calf from birth to meat/consumption was so information and complete. I really appreciated his lack of shock, and just-the-facts ma'am style. Also, even more sorry for the death of David Foster Wallace. I didn't always enjoy his fiction, he was a great nonfiction writer and his complete analysis of the Talk-Radio world was something that I've cited at least three times this month. And while I didn't know most of what the poker guy was talking about, I certainly felt his passion and was rooting for him in the end. Thanks Ira, edit something else, I'm sure I'll love it.

The Year of Living Biblically (One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible) by A. J. Jacobs. Appealing to those with a philosophical, historical, and religious bent in addition to being quite funny. This was a strange one in that I liked reading the book but I'm not really sure what I got out of it. I kinda got the feeling Jacobs wasn't sure what he got out of it either. Compare this one to The Know it All (One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs or Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler. I often look to Tyler for stability. I trust her books will take me into other lives, not necessarily so different from my own, and handle them with respect and care. She is simply, just a really nice writer and didn't disappoint me with this work. Read most anything else, although, The Accident Tourist, Back When We Were Grownups, Breathing Lessons and A Patchwork Planet are a few of my favorites.

The Sound of Building Coffins - Louis Maistros. I am SO lucky to have received this as my first official Blue Cypress Books Advanced Reading Copy. From the back: "It is 1891 in New Orleans, and a young Typhus Morningstar cycles under the light of the half-moon to fulfill his calling, rebirthing aborted fetuses in the fecund waters of the Mississippi River. He cannot know that nearby, events are unfolding that will change his life forever - events that were set in motion by a Vodou curse gone wrong, forty years before he was born." All the characters' lives are interwoven with each other, no one further away from another by more than one degree of separation, an all too real New Orleans phenomenon. This novel has so many elements, compelling story, music, love, hate, and true heartbreak. The story's greatest strength is the literal water rebirth and the redemption that hopes to follow, something intimately known by New Orleanians. With elements of Katrina indelibly on this book, I'd love to know if the author, a previously unpublished writer, had this book in mind before The Storm or if it only came into being post Storm. Maistros' book is this month's favorite read (okay, second but only to Lolita). So glad this one was sent my way. Look for the official release this month!

What's ahead: I swore that upon opening the store, I wouldn't make a pile, okay a HUGE pile, of books for myself. So far, so good. I put on my little shelf behind my desk the following: Indignation - Phillip Roth (signed!); A Mercy - Toni Morrison (signed!!); Villa Incognito - Tom Robbins; The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinski; Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans (The Best of McSweeney's Humor Category); Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre; The Monster of Florence - Douglas Preston w/Mario Spezi; Maus - Art Spiegleman; How to Lie With Statistics - Darrell Huff; Sway (The Irrestible Pull of Irrational Behavior); Principia Discordia; 1 Dead in Attic (Updated) - Chris Rose. Whew! Sure to get all that reading done next month, right? Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Anyone who has known me for a few minutes, probably knows of my undying love for one Mr. Ira Glass. A little taste for the uninitiated (Babysitting). I even named a cat after him (R.I.P. dear dear Ira). Well, The Onion (another favorite) has a new article re: the release of the TV version of This American Life. I actually purchased the 1st season some time ago but have been way to busy to watch it so I will reserve comment for on the experimental radio/tv show idea. I'm leaning towards this being a good thing as I've been blessed enough to have seen Ira in person not once, but twice! Once in D.C. and another, when Ira did a live version of his show here in NOLA a few months before HK. Anyway, just wanted to reiterate my deep and abiding affection for Mr. Glass. *Sigh*

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mississippi ahead on Katrina Cottages . . . and fraud?

Miss. Mayor Indicted on Katrina Fraud Charges

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- The mayor of a Mississippi city hit hard by Hurricane Katrina has been indicted after federal officials say he filed a false claim for disaster assistance. The indictment alleges Warr and his wife, Laura, sought a grant for a hurricane-damaged beachfront house they did not live in. Gulfport is on the coast about 80 miles east of New Orleans. The Warrs pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Charges include conspiring to defraud the federal government and filing a false claim for disaster assistance. Brent Warr is the highest-ranking municipal official indicted for Katrina fraud to date.

Now taking bets on how soon an NOLA official is indicted . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike 1932-2009

Prolific, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike has died of lung cancer at the age of 76. Updike died at a hospice not far from his home in Beverly Farms, Mass. Several of his works wound up in Hollywood hands, The Witches of Eastwick. Updike's final work, My Father's Tears and Other Stories, his first collection of new short fiction since 2000, is scheduled for release on June 2.

Monday, January 26, 2009

National Book Critics Circle Finalists

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2008 awards. The winners will be announced on Thursday, March 12, 2009

The complete list can be found here:

Secretary of the Arts

From World Music Central:

Musicians, artists and numerous arts lovers are participating in a campaign to support the creation of a Secretary of the Arts in the United States. The United States is one of the few western democracies that does not have a higher cabinet level minister or secretary in charge of the arts or cultural affairs.

In a recent radio interview with John Schaefer on WNYC’s Soundcheck, renowned musician and producer Quincy Jones mentioned that he plans to request from president elect Barack Obama the creation of a Secretary of the Arts. Quincy Jones’ call for a U.S. secretary of the arts inspired an online petition. “The next conversation I have with President elect Barack Obama is to beg for a secretary of the arts,” he said.

An online petition was started by classical and jazz bassist Jaime Austria, inspired by Quincy Jones' interview. According to Quincy Jones' official website, during his travels Quincy Jones has observed that people in other countries seem to have greater appreciation for American music than Americans. He hopes the creation of a secretary of the arts in the U.S. will help preserve American music and other U.S. arts and ensure that they remain a vital part of American schools’ curriculum.

Sign the online petition here.

Thanks to Funky New Orleans for the email/link!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bookmark This

Welcoming this week the Blue Cypress Books Frequent Reader bookmark! Come on in, make a purchase, fill up the little boxes and receive a FREE book.

Also, it's a bookmark and totally does its job.

Thanks to Laredo Printing for helping with the design and for the super fast printing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Decision of the Day

I'm driving the mister crazy every time I call him excited about some recent Obama Administration decision. So I've decided to just post my favorite Decision of the Day. I'll probably still call him anyway.
This morning, the House approved The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 11) clarifying that every paycheck or compensation resulting from an earlier discriminatory pay decision constituted a violation under the Civil Rights Act. Workers are now required to file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck. This Act is a clear legislative repudiation of the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, which ruled employees who believe they've been paid less because of their race, sex, religion or national origin (my own note: where's protection for sexual orientation?) have 180 days after an employer makes a discriminatory pay decision to file a complaint with the EEOC.

The SCOTUS decision was impractical (and frankly out of touch with employee reality) considering an employee is rarely privy to the inner workings of the HR department. It often takes time and employee gossip to realize when you've been shafted.

Thanks Lilly for taking this case to court and sorry you didn't get the compensation you deserved. For legal reasons, fairness, and my own personal experience of work place pay discrimination based solely on my sex, this is my favorite Decision of the Day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wasn't working too hard yesterday.

Only took my eyes of the Live CNN feed long enough to pull out all the George Bush specific books and put them in the window. They are SERIOUSLY discounted, hell, ask me nice and I'll just give you one or two.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Book club acoming

Per requests, been tossing around time/date/titles for an upcoming book club. Lack of concrete information sound promising to you? Me too! Shoot me an email if you want to know the details as they formed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Twelfth Night!

Happy Twelfth Night! Stinks about the rain as I was really looking forward to seeing the Phunny Phorty Phellows roll tonight. Unfortunately the kids don't take too kindly to cruddy weather.

So screw the diet, I want to know (seriously) what local bakery has the best King Cake?

David's House Event

Thanks to Avi for bringing in a flyer on this event. I'd read the article in The Times-Picayune and was moved by Willow's grief and the resulting beauty.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

BCB Updates

* Today is the last day to get 50% off Christmas, Hanukkah, and Yule books.

* We've had so many requests for a Book Club. If you are interested in joining a book club, let me know, and I'll be happy to help get this started.

* Congrats to John * on winning the 3nd drawing of a Blue Cypress Books gift certificate. Come on down to register!

* Need a recommendation? We would love to make suggestions! Check out the front bookcase for New & Notable in addition to Blue Cypress Books "Recommends."

* We don't have it in right now? Leave your request and you will have first dibs when it comes in. Can't wait for the newest thing? We are always glad to place special orders.

And as always, we continue to being committed to providing New Orleans with high quality and affordable secondhand books. Thank you so much for the continued support!

Music & Wine

Today is the day to come on down and hear Laurie McConnell play some beautiful tunes on her harp. Also, thanks to some generous gift giving, I have several bottles of wine to open (thanks to Ms. Kay at On The Other Hand for providing a wine opener as mine has somehow disappeared).

See you from 2-4!