Tuesday, September 07, 2010

booker prize shortlist

Whittled down from 13 titles, here are the 2010 Booker Prize finalists:

Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
Emma Donoghue Room (Picador - Pan Macmillan)
Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books - Grove Atlantic)
Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Review - Headline Publishing Group)
Tom McCarthy  (Jonathan Cape - Random House)
I haven't read any of these books nor heard much buzz, which isn't unusual since many of the books nominated for the Booker haven't been published yet in the states. Peter Carey has won the Booker twice, and, if he wins again, he will be the first author to have won three times. Whee. The winners will be announced on October 12.

Monday, September 06, 2010

back to school books

Tomorrow I return to school as a full-time design student. I’m pretty excited, but also a little nervous. Last year, school was challenging, especially the shift from working primarily with words to art and creating things. The constant projects and deadlines were dizzying. But, I got good grades and did good work and passed portfolio review—and I cannot forget that. There is no time or room for self-doubt in this program.

It’s hard to say how much pleasure reading I’ll do over the next 16 weeks. Over the long weekend I finished reading The Hobbit aloud to the boys. My friend Caryl brought me a gift from Kansas City—An Expert in Murder: A Josephine Tey mystery, which I’m pretty excited to start. And, I recently picked up Jonathan Franzen’s latest, Freedom, which is set in St. Paul.

Nor do I think I’ll have many opportunities to blog here. I’m not going dark, however, because I remain just deluded enough to picture myself keeping up with everything.

Hold tight until mid December and happy reading!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Persephone Books

Earlier this summer, while on vacation in London, I made a pilgrimage to Persephone Books. My friend Caryl introduced me to Persephone a few years ago, and I have been a huge fan since. Thank you, Caryl!!
Stateside, Persephone isn’t widely known, sadly. They’ve published 88 books ranging from serious fare, such as Etty Hillum’s Holocaust journals, to unique selections, such as Miss Ranskill Comes Home, a novel about a woman who was swept overboard and lived on a desert island for three years. But, Persephone published Winnifred Watson’s Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which is even more delightful than the movie version with Amy Adams and Frances McDormand.

There is so much to love about Persephone.
~The packaging: French flaps and hefty high-quality paper make these books more substantial than most paperbacks. Dove gray covers look like a classics library when you have multiple books lined up on the shelf. But, the real treat is the beautiful endpapers and matching bookmark, which are inspired by vintage textiles that mirror the mood of each title.
~The content: “neglected” and rediscovered 20th century fiction, mostly by women, for women. They also publish select nonfiction, such as short memoirs and cookbooks. I groove on the nostalgia factor. Persephone describes their choices as not too literary but not commercial and definitely unforgettable.

~The catalog: the Biannually, which Persephone mails to me free. It doesn’t only have the newest books, wonderfully described, but the catalog also has articles so it’s meaty.
Not surprising, I loved the store. It’s located in my old stomping grounds, Bloomsbury, just on the other side of Russell Square from the British Museum. The store is tiny and softly lit and brimming with books. This is also the location from which Persephone ships books so all around the store tidy piles were waiting to be packaged. I thought about all the lucky recipients. My favorite feature of the store was a display table with piles of books and a sign that read: Books We Wished We Had Published.

Naturally I bought a few souvenirs. I had a hard time choosing just one so I took advantage of Persephone’s special—three books for a flat, slightly discounted rate—and picked up Good Food on the Aga, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, and, for Caryl, Dimanche and Other Stories (Irene Nemirovsky).