Four Books and Four Authors--next week at The Regulator
I've been having a fine time these last 10 days or so reading books by the authors who are visiting The Regulator in the coming week. Three books of non-fiction, one of fiction. Each as different from the others as can be, but each completely engrossing. How about I tell you something about them?
The first is Lesser Beasts: A Snout to Tail History of the Humble Pig by Mark Essig. Mark Essig moved to Asheville in 2006, to teach at nearby Warren Wilson College. His curiosity peaked by a historical marker that said that "livestock drovers" once traversed a road near his home, he tried to find out more. It turned out the livestock in question was pigs, giant herds of them, which were driven from Tennessee to South Carolina and Georgia, where they fed slaves and sharecroppers. Fascinated, Essig set out to learn all about pigs-and he shares the fruits of his labors in his engaging new book. Pigs were so important in early America that in 1845 it was noted that a family "is in a desperate way when the mother can see the bottom of the pork-barrel." Thus the phrase "scraping the bottom of the barrel" To say nothing of "pork barrel spending."
Incredibly efficient at converting almost any organic matter into nourishing, delectable protein, pigs are nothing short of a gastronomic godsend yet their flesh is banned in many cultures, and the animals themselves are maligned as filthy, lazy brutes. As Essig reveals in "Lesser Beasts," swine have such a bad reputation for precisely the same reasons they are so valuable as a source of food: they are intelligent, self-sufficient, and omnivorous.
Even in some odd corners of the developed world there are folks who still eat a lot of pork. (We'll take a vote Monday night on who has the best barbecue in the Triangle-and hope that no fights break out!). All you "true cue" fanatics out there will enjoy hearing from Mark Essig, Monday night, 7:00, at The Regulator.
Next up is our friend Charlie Thompson, "farmer turned activist and Duke University professor" (at the Center for Documentary Studies). Charlie's new book isBorder Odyssey: Travels Along the U.S. Mexico Divide. Fluent in Spanish, Charlie and his wife Hope traveled the length of the U.S./Mexico border, talking with and taking pictures of folks on both sides. What emerged is a tapestry of stories-some sad, some terrible, some surprising, some heartening. And though Charlie has clearly done his research, he doesn't write like an academic. He engages with people from all walks of life, Mexican and American, and tells their stories. Stories of how the border, the wall, and the policies of both the U.S. ad Mexico have changed their lives. As Thompson says in the book:
"We needed to go to the place where countless innocent people had been kicked, cussed, spit on, arrested, detained, trafficked, and killed. It would become clear that the border, la frontera,was more multifaceted and profound than anything we could have invented about it from afar."
This is a wonderful, clear-sighted book. Your thinking about the border will be changed by reading it. Charles Thompson will read from and discuss his new book Tuesday at 7:00 at the Durham County Main Library, downtown at 300 North Roxboro St.
Wednesday evening brings Joel K. Bourne Jr. with his new book,The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World.I don't often call a book "important," but I feel the need to use that word with this book. Bourne begins The End of Plenty with some pretty scary facts. Thanks to the "Green Revolution" that got underway in the 1960's, world-wide food production between 1960 and 2000 was able to roughly keep pace with a doubling of planetary population during that time, from 3 billion to 6 billion. But since 2000, the world has consumed more grain than it has produced 8 years out of 12, whittling down global stockpiles to less than 70 days of consumption. Going forward, we need to factor in global population growth of nearly 80 million people a year and the disruptive agricultural effects of global warming. Hmm...
Bourne's book though is not all doom and gloom. Much of the book is taken up with stories of people all around the world who are doing things that can be part of the solution to the end of plenty. (And Bourne is clear that there is not one solution, but that many will be needed). Joel Bourne, a contributing writer for National Geographic, has traveled the world researching this book. His travels bring him to The Regulator Wednesday at 7:00. Everyone who likes to eat should consider coming to hear him.
OK, now we're ready for a little fictional break. Thursday night we host Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook, who will read from his new novel, Love May Fail. Kirkus Reviews may have the best summary of this new novel's plot: "When a metal head princess, a reformed junkie, a fast-talking woman of God, and a despondent retired teacher walk into a book, unpredictable chaos ensues." But how could Kirkus leave out the dog named Albert Camus?
Love May Fail follows forty-something Portia Kane and some of her former high school buddies as they try to help their inspiring old high school English teacher, who is now down on his luck. Meanwhile, of course, Portia and her friends all have issues of their own. Portia, for example, has just escaped her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, and is now living with her hoarder mother in southern New Jersey. The movie rights to Love May Fail have already been sold. Come by the bookshop Thursday at 7:00 to hear who Mathew Quick thinks would make a good Portia!
Next weekend, (Friday June 12 through Sunday June 14) we'll be holding a big sale for everyone in our discount club. All books in the store*-new books, used books, sale books--will be 20% off. Our Regulator/Roz Chast tote bags will be marked down from $15.00 to $9.95, and a table full of great non-book items will be likewise be 1/3 off.
And if you spend $50.00, before tax, and we'll give you one of our tote bags for free, to help you carry off all your goodies!
Can't make it to the store? On-line orders will be 20% off as well, for most books.
* Except for some special orders for books that come in at a low discount.
It's nice to feel appreciated...
And we do! Thanks so much to our wonderful customers for once again voting us the Indyweek's "Best Bookstore in the Triangle." This is the 7th year in a row we've won this award, which is pretty darn special, given all the fine bookstores in the Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill area. We've always felt that the only way to run a bookstore is through a partnership with our community. It looks like you-our partners-continue to be on board with us. Thank you! May we long continue our dance together.
Award Winning Children's Books and My Lunch with Sal
I was in New York the last week in May attending publishing and bookselling meetings. Meeting with editors, authors, publishers and publicists. Attending lunches and dinners and parties and receptions. A tough job--but somebody had to do it! A highlight was a luncheon where the Association of Booksellers for Children presented their E.B. White Awards for the best children's books published in the last year. If you're looking for a good book for someone aged 3 to 15, the books nominated for these awards are a great place to start. (see below)
But first, a brief story. One of the award categories added three classic titles to the "Picture Book Hall of Fame." The three books were Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. When these awards were announced, a woman at the table next to me stood up and said a few words in an emotion-filled voice. She was Robert McCloskey's daughter, now in her 70's. Her name was...Sally.
Sally had been just 4 or 5 years old in 1948 when her dad wrote the now classic tale of his wife and daughter hunting for blueberries one fine spring day in Maine. Sally still lives in rural Maine, and she choked up remembering her father writing and drawing the book. Sitting just a few feet from her, I was choking up myself. Like millions of parents since 1948, we read Blueberries for Sal to all three of our children, and it remains one of my all-time favorite picture books. And now the charming, mischievous little girl from that book had come to life, and I was going to get to shake her hand and thank her-thank her for being Sal.
I met a lot of fine and famous folks at the meetings, dinners, and receptions I attended that week in New York. But none of them could top meeting Sal.
On a hot summer night in a midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents become victims-with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive. Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, Ghosting, is an unforgettable, haunting tale.
Edith Pattou is the author of three award-winning fantasy novels for young adults - East, a retelling of the Norwegian folk tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and the two Songs of Eirren, Hero's Song and Fire Arrow. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling picture book, Mrs. Spitzer's Garden.
Tuesday, June 9, 7 p.m.
The Doors You Mark Are Your Ownis a sweeping literary epic-the result of years of painstaking writing and world-building by two brilliantly imaginative minds (Raul Clement and Okla Elliott)-that readers will get lost in and never want to end. The book begins in Joshua City, one of seven city-states in a post-apocalyptic world where water is scarce and technology is at mid-twentieth-century Soviet levels. As the novel opens, the Baikal Sea has been poisoned, causing a major outbreak of a flesh-eating disease called nekrosis. Against this backdrop of political corruption, violence and oppression, a struggle for control of Joshua City ensues, and a revolutionary group called The Underground emerges.
Raul Clement lives in Urbana, IL. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in Blue Mesa Review, Coe Review, As It Ought to Be, and theSurreal South '09 anthology. He is an editor at New American Press and Mayday Magazine.