Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Playing Detective! (Standing in Another Man's Grave)

Standing in Another Man's Grave
Ian Rankin

Lovers of police procedurals and thrillers are very thorough and also easily addicted. The most common question when looking for a new author is “Which is the first in the series?”  They don’t want to miss any details and enjoy building their understanding of the detective, often an anti-hero who has no boundaries, is anti-establishment and misanthropic, and relishes jazz and processed meat sandwiches. 

But here’s the problem. There are often ten or twenty titles in the ongoing drama of any detective and some of them might be out of print. Publishers seem to have a problem putting the number in the series on the spine or cover of the book. Bookstores may not be able to stock all titles of all writers. Sometimes publishers even change the name of some of the books so people think that they are buying a new title, but really they’re not. Also, some authors have more than one living and breathing detective.

Last month I decided to take the plunge with Ian Rankin, one of our most popular writers. I’ve been meaning to read him for a long time so I went to the shelf and chose Standing in Another Man's Grave, which turned out to be the most recent book. Looked good to me, so I didn’t bother looking for the first. Rankin’s character Rebus is a prickly old guy who basically pisses off almost everyone he comes into contact with. But he’s obsessed with his job and, to the consternation of higher-ups, always gets his man.

It becomes pretty obvious as the story progresses that Rebus has a nemesis and his name is Cafferty. Cafferty is a gangster who has been causing havoc in Edinburgh for years. So now I’m pretty committed to going backwards and putting the pieces together in this very fraught relationship. It probably won’t be in backwards numerical order though. This just makes my detective work slightly more challenging!

- Barb

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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Bookshelf Open Writing Room (Mondays 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

It’s been a year since I’ve written anything, save a sloppy email, a saucy Facebook update. Nothing worth nothing. I’d had a writing practice once. I’ve romanticized it now, I know. I’m aching for it. Truly aching to write about something I care about. Maybe something you care about. But I never find the time to compose a thing. No matter the desire, it’s too easy for me to let myself down

A few months back, I dropped hours at my job to make space for writing. It was time I needed. A cut in pay to drive up the stakes. Not high enough. It was summer. There were fires to build, children to hose, lawn to lay on.

It’s come to the point where thinking about writing feels like the chest pangs, the stomach flutters you get in the presence of a crush. Something so desirable and so unattainable. Crushed hope.

The stakes need to be higher. That’s where you come in. I need your peer pressure.
Starting this writing room at the Bookshelf is strictly selfish. If I host three hours on a Monday morning where I make you sit and write and shush you if you start chatting, I better be writing, too.

Maybe you need the Writing Room?

Here’s how it works:
  • It’s free and open to anyone who wants to write. No commitment except to yourself.
  • Come up the front stairs to the Greenroom.
  • You bring your tools (pencils sharpened, laptops charged, as there are only a few outlets--an extension cord would help us out).
  • Show up any time you like between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Mondays, except holidays.
  • Please be quiet. Write first, chat later.
  • We have wifi.
  • I’ll make coffee and tea (please make a small donation when you can).
  • At 11:30, anyone who wishes to share his or her work with others can move next door to the eBar
That’s it!

Thanks. You are already helping—I wrote my first blog.

- Dawn

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mary Swan Launches My Ghosts at The Bookshelf

It's a bonkers season for launches and readings here at the Bookshelf, and we really couldn't have gotten off on a better foot than we did with Mary Swan. Last night, the eBar was stuffed to the gills with family, friends, and fans who came out to celebrate Mary's new novel, My Ghosts. Seeing the space that full and alive is just about the best reminder of what we've been striving to do at The Bookshelf for the past forty years: celebrate the hell out of authors and artists (local or otherwise) and connect them with the community.

The fall is likewise a busy release season. There's an embarrassment of great new titles coming into the store on a daily basis. For me, My Ghosts really stands out. Mary's first book, the Scotiabank Giller-nominated The Boys in the Trees, used a community's worth of lives to digest a single, confounding crime. In My Ghosts Mary continues to challenge linear narrative, telling the story of family expansion over a decade while also exploring the meaning and implications of time, of heritage, of stories, and of how all three can shape a person. Mary's storytelling is subtle, complex, and always compelling. The book is like nothing else, but always feels familiar—familial, even.

The success of an individual in a community can't help but rub off on that community, and certainly everyone left last night's reading a little bit buffed by Mary's achievement.

- Andrew


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

The October Bookshelf Non-Fiction Book Club Winner

The Bookshelf Non-Fiction Book Club has been running for over a year, and we've read some great books. We read about eight books a year and discuss them in the Greenroom over food and drinks. It's a terrific opportunity to engage with people who have been absorbing the same information from a different perspective.

Our book for the October book club was chosen via an online poll. The contenders included
Lawrence Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Douglas Rushkoff's Present Shock, Chuck Klosterman's I Wear the Black Hat, Nelson Mandela's Conversations With Myself,  and Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian. The poll was open for a week, and it was a very tight race between Nelson Mandela, Douglas Rushkoff, and Guelph local Thomas King.

The eventual winner, by a hair's breadth, was The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King. King offers a very personal meditation on the history of Native people in North America and on his own experience of being an Aboriginal person in both the United States and Canada. The book club will be meeting on Thursday, October 10, at 7:00 pm in the Greenroom. If you're looking for an intriguing alternative to fiction book clubs, come out and talk politics, philosophy, and memoirs with us. Reality is far more interesting than reality TV!

- Ben

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