Friday, March 4, 2016
The Letters From Harper Lee to Berkeley Breathed
The cartoonist Berkeley Breathed shared a correspondence with the author Harper Lee. After her death on Friday at the age of 89, Mr. Breathed wrote on Facebook of the letters they had exchanged over the years. Later, he shared with The New York Times four letters he had received from Ms. Lee over the span of 14 years, with the first coming in 1994 and the last arriving in 2008. FEB. 21, 2016 Related Article
The links above lead to interesting details regarding Harper Lee and her fondness for Opus the penguin - one of the creations of cartoonist Berk Breathed (Bloom County and Opus). the cartoon panel above appeared in 1995, while below is a letter Lee wrote regarding the impending demise of opus in 2008. Breathed was always one of my favorites and I miss Opus too.
However, Breathed says the letter below helped inspire him to bring back his cartoons anew as Bloom County 2015 - an online only return of his famous characters.
Monday, December 7, 2015
We will begin mailing our hard-copy Catalogue 31 tomorrow and will have a pdf posted at our web site by the coming weekend. Our themes for the listings this Holiday Season are prize-winning books and books-into-film.
If anyone would like a hard-copy via snail-mail, please send me an e-mail at:
Saturday, October 17, 2015
We visited the Bookmans store in Flagstaff on Friday, October 9th. Katie and I both felt like it was the nicest, and most well-organized, Bookmans we’ve visited. Bookman Bob (Bob Oldfather founder and head of Bookmans) has six stores in the state now (3 here in Tucson, 2 in the Phoenix area, and 1 in Flagstaff – at one time he had a store in Sierra Vista but that has been closed for several years now). We had a nice chat with the Manager of Books at the Flagstaff store (Matt Christiansen) who was most interesting and very helpful.
Bookmans has been trending away from its original main focus on books and CDs for a couple of years now, and this has resulted in considerable disarray in the Tucson stores, where antiques, collectibles, musical instruments, and miscellaneous junk has been squeezed into the stores. It has reached a point where I actually curse to myself whenever I walk into the store on Grant. I am not quite sure what has motivated this helter-skelter diversification, except a desire to make more money. But the loss of focus seems serious to me, and Bookman Bob should consider some reorganization for the Tucson stores – the used sporting goods and outdoor equipment store he opened on Speedway could be a model for returning at least one of the stores back to a focus on books.
Books that came home with us:
These two books by Martin Cruz Smith were both signed and I picked them up for a collection of novels by Smith. I am hoping to get all his books signed and perhaps write an article about collecting his first editions. Wolves Eat Dogs is an Arkady Renko novel – Renko first appeared in Gorky Park and has been featured in a recurring series of eight mysteries, usually appearing in every other Smith novel during recent years. Much of this novel is set in the Ukraine around Kiev, especially in the Zone of Exclusion around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear-reactor disaster. This zone has been mostly reclaimed by nature and wildlife, including packs of wolves. I felt that this was one of the better Renko novels, ranking it with Gorky Park as a good read.
December 6 is a stand-alone novel that is set in Tokyo in the weeks leading up to Pearl Harbor. The main character is an American who grew up in Japan – is he a spy? As in most of Smith’s novel, his research results in interesting history being interwoven into his plots. As usual, I learned much reading this book, but felt that it dragged some and didn’t quite work as well as most of Smith’s novels.
Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City – Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - has been hard to find locally in a first edition. His nonfiction has become very popular with and following this title. It is about the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and revolves around both the architect who made the fair a marvelous reality, and also a serial killer who stalked victims among the fair-goers. This book won a 2004 Edgar Award for nonfiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
We went up to Winslow from October 8th to 10th to celebrate our anniversary a bit early (it’s actually on the 11th). We visit Winslow several times a year and stay at the historic La Posada Hotel – designed by Mary Colter and the last of the famous Fred Harvey Hotels. The Turquoise Room restaurant there is our Arizona favorite.
The Hotel also has a small bookstore that features mostly regional books on topics ranging from Mary Colter, to the Navajo and Hopi, to the Santa Fe railroad and Fred Harvey, to Route 66. The entire hotel complex is an interesting place to stop, if you're out looking for kicks on old 66.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Squid Ink's Catalogue number 30 is available for viewing on-line at:
Part of the first page is shown above and photos of six of the titles available from the catalogue are shown below.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
On a recent trip to California we visited Book Town Books, which is in historic Grass Valley, a town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The map here shows Grass Valley’s location (northern portion near center), other foothills towns, and Calaveras County (shaded pink near bottom). The gold rush was focused in these foothills and many of towns have their roots in the mining activities of the middle and late 1800s. There are many literary links to this area and period. Examples include: Bret Harte and his stories: “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” and “The Outcasts of Poker Flats.” Calaveras County is where Mark Twain set his famous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” This story gained Twain national notice and was the featured story in his first published book, a collection of stories, in 1867.
Although we visited only Book Town Books, the brochure pictured above lists 20 independent booksellers in the area of Grass Valley and Nevada City. Book Town Books is a cooperative with 21 dealers having booths within the building. There is a rare book room and a huge variety of topics are covered within the various booths. Some photos of Book Town Books are shown below.
Although there was not as much focus on collectible first editions as I had hoped, the browsing experience was quite interesting. The books pictured below came home with us. I picked these titles up to read, or reread, and none of them are particularly collectible. Although the 1956 Eric Ambler mystery could fetch a fair amount if it were signed.
Finally, we had an excellent lunch to start our Grass Valley adventure at Cirino’s – see photo below and
All-in-all our brief visit to Grass Valley was a completely enjoyable outing.