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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Moving Ahead, Bookishly and Resolutely

Reading and Writing

My concern over how much of my life would have to be given over to Tolstoy has abated considerably. Anna Karenina, while very long (closer to 800 pages than to 700 in the edition we’re reading), clips right along. That may be in part because I’ve read it before, but also Tolstoy’s style is very modern, in that he jumps right into the story without elaborate, preliminary scene-setting. The last chapter I read last night was the horse race. I didn’t exactly remember but still pretty much knew what would happen, as the mare’s sensitivity was so like Anna’s.

My winter writing is underway. So far I feel I'm warming up rather than producing, practicing scales rather than composing anything of lasting worth, and that feels okay. Sooner or later, I'll hit my stride and stop thinking about what I'm doing. That's when writing is delicious, when it just happens, like weather, and I happen to be in the right place to experience it. But that's what "showing up for work" is all about, being in that place, ready for the miracle.

Another Resolution

I knew I was forgetting something else I’d resolved, but it is this: From now on, I’m only buying fair trade coffee, and a trip to Oryana, the food co-op in Traverse City, on Monday took care of getting that resolution off on the right foot.

Still Ordering Books

For the last two winters, Dog Ears Books was closed for three months. This year, we’re staying open! Hours are shorter (and only four days a week--see calendar at right), but we are very much in business during Snow Season and still ordering new books for our customers, too. This is my plan—to welcome orders in person (in the store), by phone or by e-mail and to process (i.e., actually send in) orders on Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings, for delivery that same week. I’m writing this on Tuesday and sent in my first book order of the year this morning. (That felt good.) Later in the week I’ll tell you what was in that order.

Summer Reading 2011 Is On the Way

You’ve already read about Loreen Niewenhuis’s book, A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach, coming out in March. Loreen has promised to come sign books in March, and we’re plotting a bigger event for the summer, details to be posted when I have them. You’ll want to read this book, and yes, you’ll have to wait until March. Now word comes of another occasion for summer reading enjoyment, the fourth Emily Kincaid mystery from Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, Dead Dogs and Englishmen, coming out in July. Not until July, Elizabeth? Yes, we have to wait that long for the latest from the lives of Emily Kincaid and the intrepid Deputy Dolly. Well, anticipation is a good thing, and delaying gratification builds character. Keep telling yourself.

New Links to Other Blogs

Please note a couple of new book-related sites in the blog list at right, Lifetime Reading Plan and Wynken de Werde. (Don’t worry—both sites are in English.) Check them out and get back to me. Were you inspired? Intrigued? Enlightened? Intimidated? (What do all these words have in common?


Hannah said...

Thanks so much for linking to my project. I'm excited to go explore Wynken de Worde--and pleased to see that you are another reader of Sharon Astyk's Casaubon's Book. Hope you keep enjoying Anna Karenina. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say.

P. J. Grath said...

Welcome, Lifetime Reader! The group of us reading ANNA KARENINA originally got together to read James Joyce's ULYSSES. We enjoyed our meetings and discussions so much we read three plays together this past fall, AS YOU LIKE IT, THE MISANTHROPE, and WAITING FOR GODOT. On my own in the fall I began reading Dante's DIVINE COMEDY but feel I must not have the best translation, as I'm not feeling the power of the poetry at all. Any suggestions? I was happy to find your blog, too, and to direct others to it.

Hannah said...

Sounds like a great group. I don't know much about translations of Dante yet, but when I get a little closer, I will definitely be exploring my options and will be happy to share whatever I discover with you. Happy reading!

Dawn said...

Both blogs were interesting. I had no idea that pricing was so disparate between delivery channels. I don't get how independent book stores are going to provide ebooks...but I guess, like you, I'll wait and see.

Meanwhile, I very much want to read the 1000 mile walk on the beach book...and can't wait till March...but how cool would it be to make it up to Northport in the summer if she's coming by your store. Probably couldn't though unless it's a weekend...but on the other hand, maybe by then I'll have some vacation days unaccounted for. Never know.

Gerry said...

I have been reading pineapple casserole rather than pot roast. This is not good. Maybe I should look for the children's edition of Gilgamesh--lots of pictures. I could sort of ease into pot roast.

I am curious about whether there are e-book discussion groups. I can see the dim outline - a gathering at the internet cafe where people clutching tablets google answers to the questions that inevitably arise. Wait, wait - they could stay at home and use Skype to participate in the conversation. All of this is neither pineapple casserole nor pot roast. It is an imaginary tea party.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, Loreen and I are looking at the July calendar to find a good date for her to come to Dog Ears Books. I will surely announce the date in plenty of time for you to plan a visit, too. It would be such fun!

Bottom line on Google offering e-books through indies is that Google matches Amazon's prices, and both are pricing below cost to gain market share, which is hardly a viable strategy for independent bookstores. Why does this "rest of the story" not surprise me at all?

Gerry, I remember a science fiction writer coming to Traverse City 15 or 16 years ago and predicting that people would soon be "meeting" only in the virtual world. I thought it was a pretty funny prediction, because he'd flown to Michigan from Texas when a teleconference could have been arranged to save him the long trip, and everyone in the audience had turned out on a cold winter night to come and see and hear him in person, when it would have been possible, feasible and in many ways more comfortable for us to stay home and listen to him on the radio. The book discussion groups in which I participate (three altogether) enjoy reading books and getting together to talk about their reading, though I can see where pineapple casserole would add a lot to the meetings. Good idea! Recipe?

Karen Casebeer said...

Pamela...In case you want to "buy local" :-), Trinity sells Higher Grounds coffee, which, I believe is a fair trade coffee. Karen

dmarks said...

Do you remember which science fiction writer that was?

P. J. Grath said...

Karen, thanks for the tip. Higher Grounds is the brand I want. When I need to restock, how do I buy through Trinity? Is there a "store" up at the church?

dmarks, you’re making me do research I’d hoped to get away without doing! (When memory fails, there’s always research, but it takes a lot longer.) You were probably in the audience that night, too. Okay, to reconstruct: the speaker in Traverse City was mainly known as a scientist; he had, however, collaborated on a novel with a very well-known science fiction writer. Question is, who was the well-known sci-fi writer so that one could work from that to the name of the visiting writer/scientist? I’m pretty sure the famous writer was Arthur C. Clarke, and looking at his bibliography, the only name I see there that rings a bell at all is Gentry Lee, so that’s my best guess. What do you think? Were you there, too?

Gerry said...

Face time is good. Pineapple casserole is extremely naughty, but here is a link:

Science fiction writers turn out to be pretty good at understanding how human beings deal with new machines. Pretty much the key question ever since the development of the catapult, isn't it?

P. J. Grath said...

Thank you for the link, Gerry. You are now an accomplice in my downfall!

Machines, hmmm. For several years now I've made a big distinction between objects that work mechanically and objects that work digitally. While I do love my laptop (you and I might not have met without it!), I find that I prefer many things that work mechanically, with moving parts rather than little sealed mystery boxes. I like a clock I can wind up, a radio whose dial I can cruise infinitely (rather than from one hot spot to the next), etc. But that's a long topic, and I'll stop here for now.

Karen Casebeer said...

Pamela...The coffee is in Fellowship Hall on a table right near where you did your last book signing. Janet, our church secretary, would be happy to take your money, I'm sure. Karen

P. J. Grath said...

Thanks for the information, Karen. I'm glad it came up here, too, where others in Northport can see it.