Friday, June 30, 2017

Now reading at the Green Hand: Night Marchers by Daniel Braum!

Hello everyone -- here is the latest weekly report on what the heck I'm reading when I'm not doing hard labor in the bookmines.

In spite of the books already in my current reading pile, I set everything aside this week when my copy of Daniel Braum's The Night Marchers arrived.  I started reading, curious to find out what he'd been up to.  A couple stories in, I was pleasantly surprised.  Now, seven stories in, more than halfway through, I am CONVINCED.  This is a fantastic book.

Whether it's the glorious but haunting hues of ghostfish appearing in the dark corners of the room, or the burning aftermath of grief, or strange death slithering through the thatched jungle roof, there is something in each of these stories that makes it impossible to stop reading them. 

But what something is that?

Maybe it's the way the reader finds themselves so immediately immersed in each new story.  The entry is sharp and complete and vivid, a spell only the best short stories are able to snare us with.

Maybe it is the voice of each character, crystal clear in the reader's mind, so clear that no matter what they are telling the reader, it is immediately real, no matter how strange or unfamiliar.  This is because no matter how fantastical the details, the human element at the heart of the story is so strong it pervades everything within.

Maybe it is the velocity of each story, a living current that sweeps the reader along -- you are caught, you are part of that moment in that world, you are led into the jungle, the ratty apartment building, the ocean, the burning building.

Whatever these dark and magical ingredients are that he's been playing with to achieve this wondrous collection of tales, Daniel Braum has succeeded in mixing them in new and different combinations that surprise and captivate, startle and thrill.

I'll be getting copies of the book into the shop soon, but if you're not in the Portland, Maine area and you would like to order from the publisher, it's easy to check out The Night Marchers and a bunch of other titles in the Grey Matter Press shop online:

Alright, I've gotta go -- more stories to read before I'm done!!!

UPDATE:  WE HAVE COPIES of The Night Marchers at the Green Hand Bookshop now!  Come visit!  😃💀😃

Friday, June 23, 2017

Now reading at the Green Hand, No.2

Picture This! READ IT!!!
There are some books that do something that no other books will do for you, personally.

Lynda Barry has rescued me in times of need more than once.  I puzzled over her Marlys/Ernie Pook comic strips in the Casco Bay Weekly over 2 decades ago.  I found the characters annoying, but couldn't stop reading them week after week.  I eventually grew to love them.

Several years ago a certain someone bought me a copy of Lynda Barry's What It Is, and I loved it.  Then a couple of years ago I bought myself her next book, Picture This.  "Learn how to ART with the Near-Sighted Monkey!"  Who could resist?  Not me. 

Time and time again, Lynda Barry saves my bacon and puts it back in the creative fire.  There is something about the way she thinks/writes/draws that my deep-down brain understands, even when it is at its most broken (hello, the last 12 months).
Lynda Barry on the wilfulness of monsters and our need for their unpredictability.

There is an air of the dream-logic to her pages.  It makes sense to the part of your brain that you can't talk to directly.

Besides all that, she is absolutely, heartbreakingly funny.

If you are a creative-minded person (I don't care how long it is since you've done "art" -- maybe even since you were a kid -- you know you have a creative brain regardless), do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books the next time you have a chance!

 💘  I promise, you won't regret it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Coming soon... SUMMER HOURS!

YEAH THAT'S RIGHT!!!  Starting June 27th, we will be open 6 days a week again!  FINALLY!!!  Whohooooo!!!!!
Tues-Thurs 11:00-5:00
Fridays 11:00-6:00
Saturdays 11:00-7:00
Sundays 12:00-5:00

soon soon soon!  😃

Friday, June 16, 2017

Now reading at the Green Hand!

Hi folks!  I'm going to try something new.  While I don't read as much as folks imagine I read ("...because when you're at the shop you just sit there and read, right?"), I do make a serious effort to at least chip away at a few of the many books on my to-read shelf on a regular basis.  So I thought it might be fun to just jot down a couple of the most recent books I'm reading each week, in case some of you are curious about them.  Most of these are in-process reads, so -- no spoilers in the comments please!  😉

I'm inaugurating this feature on the blog in honor of going back to a regular full-time schedule at the shop starting the last week in June.  Hooray!  Cheers to you, cheers to reading, and cheers to books and writing!!!  ...and HAPPY SUMMER!

1.  Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
Last year at ReaderCon, the posthumous Guest of Honor was Diana Wynne Jones.  I had never read any of her books, but knew her work from a gazillion recommendations from friends and customers, and watching Miyazaki's adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle.  One of the things I love about ReaderCon is being able to go to panel discussions about authors I haven't read yet -- it's like getting an inside window into the author and their work from people who a) really love them and (if you're lucky) b) people that actually know them in person.  It's a phenomenal alchemy that occurs when one of these panels takes off like a rocket, and the Diana Wynne Jones discussion was one of these. 

This is now the 4th* Diana Wynne Jones book I've read since last summer, and once again I am charmed.  The cool thing about these books, though, is that it is not a treacly charm -- she writes smart, she writes witty, she writes delightfully absurd in the most unexpected places.  Throughout the book, the story and characters are compelling, and I find myself really wanting to know what happens next at every page.

*:  I started with Howl's Moving Castle (even more to love than the movie!), moved onto Deep Secret (a very ReaderCon-ish setting!), then Witch Week (good witch? bad witch? which witch?).

2.  The Comedians by Graham Greene
Graham Greene is another author I have waffled about reading for years now.  Not waffled about reading him, you understand -- I waffled about what book to start with.  Then a copy of The Comedians came across my desk, and suddenly it clicked.  Voodoo?  Haiti during the shadowy period of the Tontons Macoute?  A tale wound between characters with commitment and those with none, those who "if they die, they die by accident." 

So far the novel is excellent.  Sparse prose that paints a foreign scene, and introduces characters without belabored exposition.  Greene drops in details as deftly as any artist with a brush -- here a dab, there a wash, and gradually the foreground and background are filled in.  There is a stunning poignancy in the world painted through the people in this story, told with deceptive simplicity, revealed moment by moment, year by year, painless except for in sudden moments of surprise when Greene catches at you intentionally. 

Here is where I started with Graham Greene.  I think I'll read Travels with My Aunt next. 

Thanks for reading along with me!  Hope your summer reading is going as well as mine is!