Con or Bust: New Orleans style

I was the lucky winner in the recent Con or Bust fundraiser auction and I have to post this photo because the Care Package from New Orleans is one of the best packages I’ve ever gotten. It was stuffed full of goodies: some of the pralines are already gone gone gone (so rich, so tooth unfriendly, so gone!), and one set of beads has already been overplayed with by Ursula (so the rest might disappear for a bit until she’s more careful).

Everything’s vegetarian, yay!, although not everything scores high on the healthy index: beignets are healthy, right? Time to pull out the old deepfryer! And there’s lots of cajun spice mixes so everything’s going to be spicy for a while. Thank you, Con or Bust, and especially to superdonor Maria!

So, next year, when the Con or Bust auction comes around again, remember: don’t bid for the NOLA Care Package. Ha! In the meantime, if you missed the auction, pick up a Con or Bust T-shirt here.

Con or Bust auction FTW!

The State of the Book in the Digital Age

I’m delighted to say that on Friday April 26th I’m on a panel at the Massachusetts Library Association conference—although I’m gutted I’ll miss the library cart drill teams on Wednesday. The conference runs from 4/24 – 26 at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge and our (Western Mass. transplants!) panel is:

9:15 – 10:30am

The State of the Book in the Digital Age

What’s up with books these days? Books are ordered online, created on demand, and distributed in digital form to individuals and libraries. Many bookstores have closed in recent years, and publishers have had to drastically downsize, retool or go out of business. How have individuals and businesses responded to this new environment? Are books giving a last gasp or being reinvented? An author, a book artist, a publisher and a bookstore owner will give their thoughts on the changing environment for books.  Co-presented by the Western Massachusetts Library Advocates

Speakers:  Susan Stinson, Author, Writer in Residence at Forbes Library, Northampton; Daniel E. Kelm, Book Artist;  Gavin J. Grant, Publisher, Small Beer Press; Nancy Felton, Co-owner, Broadside Bookshop.

Read an excerpt from A Stranger in Olondria

One of the real pleasures of the last year has been spreading the word on Sofia Samatar’s debut novel A Stranger in Olondria. It is an incredibly rich novel, dense, and welcoming and from the very first time I read it, I loved it and it reminded me to slow down and enjoy all parts of the novel: the story, writing, the characters, the world, the poetry, the language, and always the story. Sometimes it’s hard to step back and take that time: there are so many things that need or must be done and then there are all the shiny things out there.

Now you can read an excerpt on and if you’d like more, you can download a pdf of the first 70 pages from Weightless.


Small Beer Podcast 17: Angélica Gorodischer’s “The González Family’s Fight for a Better World”

Trafalgar cover - click to view full size

I don’t always take authors very seriously, but when Angélica Gorodischer indicated in Trafalgar’s foreword that the stories should be read in order, something in her tone made me pay attention. And something in her writing. She amused me right from the beginning, and so I decided to take her at her word and allow the journey to unfold over the course of the novel. Honestly, it was no hardship. Once I started the first story, I realized nothing less than mainlining the entire book would satisfy.

Angélica Gorodischer is the recipient of the 2011 World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. She has published over nineteen award-winning books in her native Spanish. Still, for me, an English-only reader, Gorodischer feels like a “new author” discovery. Trafalgar may have been written in 1979, but it’s already one of my top five books for 2013.

A fix-up novel, a mosaic novel, or as the book copy suggests “a novel-in-stories:” whatever the term you choose to describe Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar, it is funny, dry, and always engaging. Trafalgar feels like some sort of Douglas Adams, Gabriel Garcia Marquez hybrid. The narrator of Trafalgar is Trafalgar Medrano’s coffee-shop companion. It is she who transcribes the various intergalactic adventures Trafalgar describes over cups of strong, black coffee. And it is she who understands Trafalgar and his foibles enough to fill in the blanks he might have left in these stories. Unlike Dr. Watson, this biographer has no misapprehensions about human nature.

And now we have one of these stories available on the podcast. When Amalia Gladhart offered to read for the podcast, I was thrilled. Amalia translated Trafalgar; she read the original novel and she shepherded that novel from Spanish to English. What better person to read the English translation?

Episode 17: In which Amalia Gladhart reads Angélica Gorodischer’s “The González Family’s Fight for a Better World” from Trafalgar.

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