Wednesday, June 30, 2010

San Diego Community Arts & Culture Forum

With the recent restructuring of the San Diego Union Tribune under new editor Jeff Light’s leadership - especially the recent dismissal of veteran art critic and Books editor Robert Pincus - we are responding to mounting community concern about the future of arts and culture coverage in our newspaper by scheduling a community forum. Please join us at Warwick’s on Friday, July 9th at 7:30pm for a San Diego Community Arts and Culture Forum.

The discussion panel will be moderated by author Richard Farson and will include Jeff Light, editor of the Union Tribune, Bob Pincus, former art critic and editor of the UT Books section, Sandy Dijkstra of the Dijkstra Literary Agency, Hugh Davies, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and Angela Carone, KPBS Arts and Culture Producer.

This forum is free and open to the public – we would encourage all who are concerned with the local media coverage of the arts to attend and add your voice to the discussion.

Support Bob Pincus at, at, and follow him on Twitter!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Are You Seth? vol.10

The Day has finally arrived - Tuesday, June 29th is the release day for David Mitchell's new novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.  Why is this important, you ask?  Besides the fact that Mitchell is my favorite author - a fact that you should be fully aware of - this is the best novel I have read yet so far this year. 

Mitchell is the author of four previous books, two of which (Number9dream and Cloud Atlas) were short-listed for the Booker Prize (his fourth, Black Swan Green, made the Longlist).  Born in England, he spent about a decade living in Japan (where he married his wife and started his family) before moving to Ireland in 2002.  He has been named one of the Granta's best young novelists and Time magazine picked him as the lone literary novelist on their 2007 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  Whadda-ya think of that?  Where've you been?  Cloud Atlas has long been one of my favorite books - it has resided comfortably on the bestseller display at Warwick's since its release in August 2004.  Granted, that's mostly because I won't allow it to be removed, but still, we've sold almost 500 copies in that timespan.  And where Cloud Atlas is a complex, multi-layered force of nature - featuring 6 different storylines that intertwine and merge into one conhesive portrait of humanity - Thousand Autumns is rather straightforward in its narration and scope.

It is set in 1799 on the manmade, Dutch trading post island of Dejima off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. Incredibly, Dejima was a very real place - in the 16th & 17th centuries, foreign traders were not allowed to set foot onto the actual mainland of Japan and were relegated to life on this fabricated island.  Jacob de Zoet is a clerk for the Dutch East India Company assigned to Dejima who just wants to do an honest job, make a little money, and work his way back home to his future bride. If only life in a David Mitchell novel were that simple.

The Dutch survive as Japan's sole trading partner through an uneasy alliance based on the certainty of supplies from the outside world - what happens when something goes wrong on the supply chain?  Jacob is faced with internal corruption and vicious political manuevering, the delicate balancing act of the Japanese partnership, a daunting language barrier, the mysterious banishment of the woman he loves, the hushed-up financial collapse of his employer, and an imminent attack by foreign invaders, all of which test the limits of his faith - a faith strictly forbidden in Japan on the cusp of the 19th century. There are multiple narrators throughout, as is Mitchell's wont, but it is structurally done in such a subtle way that you hardly notice - you are just swept along in the flow, wondering, as a foreigner like Jacob, how much of the lush, inner world of Japan you will be allowed to glimpse.

This is really fantastic, fully-rendered historical fiction - if that's your bag, check this out for sure.  If you're a David Mitchell fan, there should be no question of which book you purchase from your local, friendly independent bookstore on Tuesday.  For more on Mitchell, check out his interview in the current edition of The Paris Review (there's an excerpt available on their website.)  Or for even more, come to Warwick's and Steven and I'll tell you all about him.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Short Life of Bree Tanner

by Heather

Another book by Stephenie Meyer. You would think that crowds of Twihards would be rushing to the store to pick up the latest from the reigning queen of vampires, but sadly this is not the case. Now, while I don’t want to classify myself as a Twihard (way too obsessive for me) I am a fan of the Twilight saga, I've sat through the two disappointing films, and am one of the few who has actually purchased this new Eclipse-based novella. Why aren’t these books selling? Well, it could be that it is a mere 192 pages, and anyone who has read the series knows the ending. Actually, even if you haven’t read the series you know the ending, gasp…Bree dies. Don’t get mad at me if you haven’t figured that out yet, I mean hello, it’s in the title. Really, it’s most likely because the author has posted the book for free at  Now don’t get too excited, the book is only available online until July 5th, you can’t download it, and you cannot print it. That’s nice, but not exactly what I as a Twilight saga fan want to hear and certainly not what I want to hear as a representative of an independent bookstore. No, I want a copy for my library. You know, to complete my shelf of Stephenie Meyer. You can’t do that with a digital version that you can’t even save to disk. So why aren’t fans picking up on this?

For starters The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is such a small piece of the Twilight puzzle that setting it up on its own doesn’t really work. It would have been much better to include it in some compendium or a large and extravagant Twilight encyclopedia. This would give it more meat and put the story within the context of the series. Instead, this story seems to have arrived from nowhere and is quickly floating off into the distant world of “who cares” and “why bother”.

This is unfortunate because the story is interesting, providing a whole new way to see the characters of Twilight. While it’s a quick and easy read, it provided a little bit of new insight to what was actually my least favorite books of the series and it got me a bit more excited for the movie (yes, even though the first two films were abysmal, I will go see Eclipse, let’s hope the third time is the charm). I thought I was done with the series, but Bree Tanner reminded me why I enjoyed it in the first place. Now, whenever it is that I decide to reread the series (and I will) I am happy to have this little nugget on the shelf adding to my reading enjoyment. And if you just read it for free online you miss that.

Just a note, one dollar from each book purchased goes to The Red Cross, so not only are you expanded your Twilight palette and supporting your local bookstore, but you're also contributing to a worthy organization.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Here's the Truth:

We've actually been so busy shelving new books at the store in recent weeks that I haven't been able to post anything to the blog about those new books.  With an impending Coffee with a Bookseller coming this Tuesday (be there or be square), I figured now's a good time to offer a recap of recent weeks and to take a look at the new stuff coming this week:

Recent new hardcovers:
Blockade Billy by Stephen King
Truth by Peter Temple (a book I loved - follow the link for my recommends)
Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens
61 Hours by Lee Child
Steve Martini's The Rule of Nine
The Madonnas of Echo Park by debut novelist Brando Skyhorse (who will be at Warwick's on June 14th to discuss)
and The Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann, which has been a buzz book for years, as the author originally self-published before getting picked up by Spiegel & Grau.

And of course, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson arrived May 25th. Where've you been? This is by far the hottest title of the year - the conclusion to the late-Larsson's internationally bestselling trilogy of mystery novels. There's a Swedish movie version (with subtitles) of the first book and a rumored upcoming American version, directed by David Fincher and starring Carey Mulligan (of Twilight fame) and Viggo Mortenson. Like I said, where've you been?

There has also been a riduculous abundance of new paperbacks arriving in the last few weeks - Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn (highly, highly recommended by John) and three that I heartilly recommend:  Iain Pears' Stone's Fall (A challenging, unfolding onion of a novel and a fascinating, meticulously researched, multi-layered masterpiece by the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost), Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga (click for my recommends), and Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Angel's Game - here's my take: "This much-anticipated follow up to The Shadow of the Wind is a sprawling, labyrinthine novel that evokes the rich, vivid atmosphere of pre-Civil War Barcelona’s culture of literacy (leaving the modern reader pining for such days) yet cleverly provokes the reader with a narrator of dubious reliability & sanity. The clack of the typewriter, the smell of the dusty old bookshop, the very idea of pulp short stories being printed in the newspaper - all are evocative of a lost era of literature and a culture surrounding the printed page. The vastness of the narrative layering is astounding, showcasing Ruiz Zafon’s remarkable storytelling abilities & inherent sense of time & place. A great escapist read, especially for those looking to re-enter the Cemetery of Forgotten Books…."

This week:
  • The "Twilight" mention reminds me, there's a Stephenie Meyer novella set in the Twilight universe due out this Saturday. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a result of Meyer fleshing out one of her minor characters from the other books.  If you're into the whole Twilight thing, there's nothing new I can tell you, as you know all this (and more) already.
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin - this is going to be a HUGE book, I guarantee. (*Guarantee not valid in California.)  Ballantine won the publishing rights with a $3.75 million contract to the author, it's 766 pages long and weighs 2.4 pounds, Ridley Scott bought the film rights for $1.75 million, and it's about vampires!  Even more incredible (at least to me) is that Cronin is a product of the prestigious literary factory, the Iowa Writer's Workshop.  Take that, Stephenie Meyer.  Here's the New York Times piece on the hypeAnd the Huffington Post's take.
  • Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain - the long-anticipated follow-up to Kitchen Confidential, the book that put Tony on the map.  If you watch No Reservations, it's gotta be good - I can't wait to read it.
  • The Lion by Nelson DeMille - always a bestseller, this is the sequel to The Lion's Game.
And, we are just two short weeks away from the release of David Mitchell's new novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. (Due Tuesday, June 29th.)  My favorite book of the year so far - here is my early take, just after I read the manuscript 6 months ago. Ahh, the perks of bookselling!