Posts filed under ‘Site News’
We are excited to announce the launch of Book Culture’s brand new and improved website, which also features a new home for our blog! We are keeping our wordpress space until archived posts can be transferred to the new site, but we hope to eventually transfer everything over to the new blog. So be sure to look out for new posts at bookculture.com/blog or follow us on twitter and tumblr for updates.
In answer to why we have put the posters in our window with Je Suis Charlie.
We must stand firm in defense of free speech. It is one thing to not sell or read or ally ourselves with what we see as destructive imagery or language, it is another to say nothing when there is a fundamental attack on free speech. Book Culture is in the publishing business and as such we are obligated, without equivocation, to support that right.
We are not defending “Charlie Hebdo” or any idea or publication no matter how offensive or acceptable to us. We are defenders of the right to free speech.
Standing for the rights of only ourselves, our views of what is acceptable, proper, meritorious or warranting the right to publication, is not standing for the right at all. We are committed enough to stand up for the right to free speech for others. This is the commitment we must make if we are to uphold free speech as a right.
It is perfectly right and just that somewhere at the far edges of decency where Charlie Hebdo and super right wing literature exists we find ourselves deeply offended. We can see the devastating effect that inciting anger can have in Rwanda or Bosnia or Nazi Germany for example and we can make sense of the idea that some of this stuff ought to be censored.
But it is only in those places where censorship has won that day that we see the awful results of living in a place where the fundamental rights are not guaranteed to all. Every genocide in history has come in a land without the right to free speech.
We stand with Charlie Hebdo now because free speech has been attacked, and those attackers are asking for our complicity.
Je suis Charlie means we believe in democracy, human rights, the right to dialogue and the power of ideas and writing over violence and coercion. Je suis Charlie means that we will not review the content of our book shops to ensure we are not offending someone. Je suis Charlie means that as coworkers in the business of publishing and books we support, above the ideas themselves, the right of those ideas to be published. Je suis Charlie means that we’re booksellers and it’s a badge of honor. I say- wear it well.
In 1988 Salman Rushdie had published Satanic Verses in England and was almost immediately condemned and threatened with death because in an Ayatollah’s view it was blasphemy. Penguin in New York almost withdrew the publication and when it was eventually published the major chains and many smaller bookselling outlets didn’t offer to sell the book because they were afraid. Many indie booksellers, including the founders of your shops, did sell it. Because we were one of the few outlets that did, we put a mountain of 500 copies in the front of the store and sold 800 copies in a weekend because people didn’t want to be threatened and have their rights infringed upon. Another of the stores that did in Berkeley, Cody’s, was bombed. The question of offensiveness in the book was without question.
If the few outlets that sold the book didn’t what would that say about our democracy, about our commitment to the first amendment?
Where would we be without the first amendment?
We never have issues of free speech when the material being defended is without critics and universally regarded as culturally beneficial or innocuous.
We only have to defend free speech when it is being attacked, that is the nature of the right. If we don’t defend others rights to free speech we cannot claim it for ourselves.
As booksellers, as independent booksellers, we are committed to free speech. It is what we do. We offer a place to criticize governments, religions, ideas, each other. We do not condone or agree with all the ideas, nor do we purvey language that we do find hurtful or denigrating to others without merit.
We do however stand firm on the right to Free Speech.
We are thrilled to have MB Caschetta launch her debut novel, Miracle Girls, at our Columbus store this Sunday, January 18th, at 3pm. MB Caschetta is the recipient of a W.K. Rose Fellowship for Emerging Artists, a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Writing Award, and a Seattle Review Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in the Mississippi Review, Del Sol Review,3:AM Magazine, New York Times, and Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.
We’d like to thank her for taking the time to share her work with us and hope you enjoy the Q&A!
How did you come to write Miracle Girls?
I was actually writing a very different novel when Miracle Girls emerged and took over. It’s been quite a long and unexpected process; I’ve been writing the novel since my last book (a short story collection) was published in 1996. It’s not at all the novel I expected it to be, which is kind of amazing. And it took me on a kind of surprising spiritual journey, which is a lofty way of saying it was rejected a lot! The lesson I learned about novels (and maybe life) is that you have to accept it on its own terms. Resisting just makes for a lot of unhappiness and road blocks. Mostly, this book has taught me to go with the flow and to not give up hope. It’s a happy ending for me, since the book has been so graciously received with wonderful reviews from Kirkus and People Magazine.
Do you have a personal favorite book of all time? If so, can you share it and tell us why?
I have so many favorite books, it’s difficult to say. My favorite book of all time is probably a tie between Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which I somehow read in part in Russian in college, though I couldn’t do that now, and Nabokov’s Lolita. But more importantly my current favorite book is Elizabeth McCracken’s new short story collection, THUNDERSTRUCK. I think I’m going to read it a second time. I feel like I loved the experience of reading it so much that I went too fast. I think I can take it in more deeply on a second read.
What’s next? Any upcoming book projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I am writing a non-fiction book about the experience and the cultural phenomenon of disinheritance. A few years ago I published a personal essay in the New York Times about having found out as a surprise that I was disinherited by my father (nyti.ms/vmZcxa). It’s been a difficult book to write; I am on a third draft, and still struggling to get the right even-handed tone and a voice that is more deeply my own. My family is unhappy about my writing on the topic, so that adds another layer of complication. Like Miracle Girls, though, it feels like a book I have to write: I have no choice in the matter, since it won’t leave me alone otherwise. After that, though, I hope I get to write a fun book. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
We are thrilled to have author Atticus Lish read and discuss his first novel, Preparation for the Next Life, at our Columbus store this Wednesday, December 10th, at 7pm. Lish will be joined in conversation with Lynn Lurie, author of Corner of the Dead, winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction, and Quick Kills. Though both writers are based in New York City, critics have pointed out that their books read unlike any typical New York novel. In Dwight Garner’s rave review of Preparation for the Next Life in the New York Times, he admires Lish’s “intricate comprehension of, and deep feeling for, life at the margins.” And in Jesse Barron’s interview BOMB Magazine, he writes, “It’s been a while since we had a great novel about being poor in New York where poor did not mean broke. The difference between the two conditions may be how reasonably you can hope they’ll change, and Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life is a book about people hoping to change their lives in a city that will not let them.”
On a related note, Nicole Cliffe’s two part interview with Lynn Lurie in The Toast (check out part I and II), talks about how Lurie’s unconventional writing is influenced and complicated by her time spent living and traveling in rural South America. While volunteering with the Peace Corps in a remote village in Ecuador, Lurie recalls that in witnessing and experiencing intense social and economic inequality, she “had felt the weight of being less than, of being the other.” It is precisely the complex “status of the outsider” that Lurie explores through the narrator of Quick Kills.
For more information about Wednesday’s event, be sure to visit our website.
If you haven’t already heard, this year’s fifth annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day falls on Saturday, December 6th. We are so pleased to be a part of the holiday again and hope you will join us at Book Culture (including Book Culture on Columbus!) to celebrate the joy of reading and, of course, the magic of bookstores for children. This past week we had the chance to interview Jenny Milchman, the founder of TYCBD, about the roots and development of the holiday. We’d like to thank Jenny for taking the time to answer our questions and we look forward to seeing you all December 6th!
On your website you mention that the idea for TYCBD came about while taking your own children to story time at different bookstores each week. Can you speak a little bit more about what inspired you to create TYCBD? What were the early stages of development like?
In 2010 I had two young children whom I was bringing to story hour at our local bookstore almost every week. After all, what better activity to do with kids? It was enriching, fun, even relaxing. I didn’t have to feel guilty when I drank that 700 calorie butterscotch latte from the coffee bar. I was running back and forth between adult fiction and the flower-flocked children’s section—working off the calories for sure. My kids probably didn’t realize it was as much of a treat for me as for them. Which started me thinking—were other parents in on this secret? How many children knew the pleasure of spending time in a bookstore?
I frequent the mystery listserv, DorothyL, and a more avid group of readers you couldn’t hope to find. When I floated the idea for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, DLers spread the word. My husband designed a poster, a website, and bookmarks, and we designated the first Saturday in December as Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. This would coincide with holiday gift giving, hopefully giving people the idea that books make great presents. Just two weeks later, 80 bookstores were celebrating. (more…)
I’ve been working at Book Culture for almost two years now—one year at the 112th St. location and one at Broadway. I’m a refugee from academia (with a PhD in Archaeology) and have taken quite a shine to bookslinging. Oh, and I also play rugby with the New York Rugby Club women’s team.
What is your role as the manager for Book Culture?
Behind the scenes, I do the backlist buying for Broadway and help order sidelines and cards for both Broadway and Columbus. On the floor, I’m a Jill of All Trades—customer service, merchandizing, restocking, receiving, &c. &c.
How did you come to join the Book Culture family?
I moved to New York three years ago and started at Book Culture as a way to structure my time during the final stages of my dissertation. Fast forward to now, and I’m still here! I love learning the ins and outs of the book business, and it’s been an exciting experience to help open a new store.
What are your areas of expertise?
Academically speaking, you can come to me for questions about Ancient History, Classics and Archaeology. In my spare time, I read a lot of Sci-Fi & Fantasy, and I’ve been working to catch up on the years of literary fiction I missed out on during the PhD slog.
What are you currently reading?
The Peripheral, William Gibson’s latest—it’s fantastic!
What you’re looking forward to most at Book Culture on Columbus?
I’m a total sales numbers nerd, so I’m excited to get to know our new neighbors and learn about the kinds of things they like or dislike. Buying is a lot like gambling, and I’m looking forward to seeing how our bets are going to play out!