Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who is this Metal Head?

The Book Trout's weekly treat is to sneak out in between customers to grab a slice of pizza and have a quick scan at our community thrift shop, Second Hand Rose. There are always great finds, some bookish, some just plain interesting, and all of them bargains. I've gotten wonderful book ends, cool retro Christmas ornaments, sweaters, Fabric, a few book treasures, funky old plates and doodads and last month, this Metal Head dude.

The Metal Man is wearing mid-1800's garb with turned-up collar flopping over his frock coat lapels. He has the brushed-forward sideburns and hairstyle of a stylish man of the mid-19th century, but I am unsure who he might be. He doesn't look like an American president (although perhaps Andrew Johnson could be fit into his features), and he's not resembling any literary figure I can think of, so if anyone has any great ideas, please send them on. The Metal Man plaque seems to be made of pot metal and measures 7.5 x 5 inches.

I bought him to hang on the wall of the bookstore(there are two nail holes on the reverse side for mounting) but would like to place him in the right section. Thanks in advance for any and all detective work.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Book Trout Lives Under Rock

The Book Trout apparently lives under a rock, because it was news to me when I read in the newspaper recently that "The Education of Little Tree" by Forrest Carter is not a fictionalized memoir of a Cherokee Indian's boyhood but a tale spun out of wholecloth by a white KKK kook and George Wallace speechwriter. The book showed up on an Oprah website suggested reading list and was summarily ejected when this was pointed out publicly. To her credit, Oprah had, in 1994, talked about her ambivalence about the book after hearing about Carter's wacko past and discussed ow she removed it from her personal bookshelves, unable to reconcile its beautiful spirituality with the ugliness of its racist author.

I somehow missed this whole brouhaha when it was revealed not long after the book won the first ABBY Award, bestowed by the American Booksellers Award for literary gems most beloved by independent booksellers. Although I have not read the book myself, I had many customers who raved about what a poignant story it is and so I would pick up copies when I was out book scouting because of its popularity and its presence on many a high school reading list. There are at least two book buddies who will be crestfallen when I let them in on its Hall of Shame provenance.

A far better Native American coming of age story would seem to be Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian", which yesterday won a National Book Award. It is a semi-autobiographical young adult novel, following the path of a young Native American hydrocephalic teen, who decides to leave his family and Reservation to seek education and challenges in the white world. The Seattle Times has a great article here about Alexie's book.

Alexie, incidentally, was quoted by the Associated Press after the Oprah website incident as saying
"'Little Tree' is a lovely little book, and I sometimes wonder if it is an act of romantic atonement by a guilt-ridden white supremacist, but ultimately I think it is the racial hypocrisy of a white supremacist,"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Waves of Grain

Joyce over at the Bibliophile Bullpen introduced me to the vocabulary word challenge that helps the hungry. The Free Rice website challenges visitors to guess the correct definition of a word. If you guess correctly, you have earned ten grains of rice to donate to the United Nations World Food Program and you get a harder word to try next time. The goal is to keep guessing correctly to fill your rice bowl and accumulate higher donations, while testing your brain power. I keep trying to hit the highest vocabulary level (50) and have kissed it a couple of times in the last few days, but basically I hover around the 47 mark. It's a great way to bone up on some vocabulary, while helping a good cause. It has certainly replaced solitaire as my favorite timewaster.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Book Trout Poem


Come live with mee, and bee my love,

And wee will some new pleasures prove,

Of golden sands, and christall brookes,

With silken lines, and silver hookes.

There will the river whispering runne

Warm’d by thy eyes, more than the Sunne,

And there the’inamored fish will stay,

Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swimme in that live bath,

Each fish, which every channel hath,

Will amorously to thee swimme,

Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seene, beest loath,

By Sunne, or Moone, thous darknest both,

And if my selfe have leave to see,

I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,

And cut their legges, with shells and weeds,

Or treacherously poore fish beset,

With strangling snare, or windowie net:

Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest

The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,

Or curious traitors, sleavesilke flies

Bewitch poore fishes wandring eyes.

For thee, thous needst no such deceit,

For thou thy selfe art thine owne baite;

That fish, that is not catch’d thereby,

Alas, is wiser farre than I.

-John Donne

Monday, November 5, 2007

OverReaders Anonymous

While surfing the web I came across the blog for New York Stories, an English language bookstore in Stockholm, Sweden. It's an interesting look at the doings of a bookstore carrying new titles. One of their clever promotions is to offer enrollment in their "ten-step" OverReaders Anonymous self-help program, with book prizes for the OverReader of the Month and benefits for all enrolled OverReaders, such as bookstore discounts and reserved seating at literary events.

Here is the clever New York Stories OverReaders Anonymous program:

Welcome to OverReaders Anonymous

Becoming an OverReader is easy! While most addictions are helped by a 12-step program, only 10 simple steps will prepare you for a happy & fulfilling life as an OverReader.

New York Stories 10-step program for diagnosis as an OverReader:

O Cultivate an Obsession with books and the places they are found: bookshops, libraries, book fairs, flea markets, car boot sales, the bookshelves of your friends and families.

V Variety is the spice of life. Understand that an OverReader will (and must!) read whatever happens to be at hand: the backs of cereal boxes, random flyers found on the bus or subway, 10 year old boring magazines found in the dentist’s waiting room, good literature, bad literature and everything in-between!

E Adopt the wise words of the Dutch humanist and theologian Erasmus as your motto: ”When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

R Read entirely too much. Refuse to define ”too much”.

R Realize that you are powerless over your bibliophilia. Let it control your life.

E Enjoy your role as an OverReader and take pride in being a bibliophile.

A Make receiving the ”OverReader of the Month” Award one of your primary goals. Once you have won, nominate a fellow OverReader!

D Desire every book you see.

E Embrace your Excess need for the written word.

R Remember to support your local independent bookshop

– New York Stories!

Are you already an OverReader? Take this test created by Tom Raabe, author of ”Biblioholism” to determine the level of your addiction.

  1. When you go to a bookstore with a friend, are you usually carrying more books when you leave than your friend is?
  2. Do you wake up the morning after, unable to remember how many books you bought or how much you spent on them?
  3. Do you, inexplicably, yank down a volume from the store shelves, open it, and shove your nose deeply into the binding, hungrily inhaling the ink and paper smells?
  4. Have you ever bought the same book twice without knowing it?
  5. When you go into a bookstore after work, thus arriving home late at night, do you lie about where you have been, telling your spouse you were at a bar?
  6. At Christmastime, do you buy your loved ones books that you want to read?
  7. Have you ever given up on a book before you started it?
  8. Are you unable to walk through a mall without stopping at a bookstore?
  9. Do you have a personal library on an entire subject, none of which you have read?
  10. Do you ever buy books simply because they were on sale?
  11. Have you ever bought a book because you liked the cover design?
  12. When at a garage sale, is the first thing you look at the books?
  13. Have you ever been fired from a job, or reprimanded, for reading?
  14. Have you and your immediate family ever ”discussed” your book-buying and reading habits?
  15. When you watch TV, do you always have a book in your lap for slow parts and commercials?
  16. Do you ”watch” television sports with the sound off?
  17. Does panic set in when you find yourself in a barber’s chair or at the salon with nothing to read?
  18. Have you ever suddenly become deeply interested in an obscure topic and immediately bought six or more books on that topic?
  19. Do you ever lie about how many books you’ve bought?
  20. Do you devise grand and devious strategies for getting your books into the house to avoid your spouse’s or family’s scrutiny?
  21. Has your book buying ever embarrassed your family or friends?
  22. When a stranger walks into your house or apartment, are his or her first words usually a comment about your books?
  23. If someone asks you for a reading list of the twenty most influential books you’ve ever read, do you happen to have such a list on your person?
  24. Do you have at least six books next to your bed?
  25. When a bookstore clerk has been unable to locate a certain book in the stacks, have you ever been able to find that book?

Count up the number of yes answers. If you answered yes to more than four questions, you are looking down into the deep and woeful pit of biblioholism. If you answered yes to more than eight, you are hanging by your fingernails on the edge, your legs kicking in the emptiness and your eyes imploringly turned heavenward for rescue.

Congratulations – you are an OverReader!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cooking the Books

This is not a post on illegal accounting practices at the old bookshop, but a consideration of that interesting breed, the Edible Book. I had never considered such an animal until I saw Book Patrol's report about the Deep Fried Books of artists John LaFalce and Drew Matott. The pair battered and fried up platters of books as part of Columbia College's Manifest Urban Arts Festival in Chicago this past May and have done this kind of performance art/cookery at several other venues. The results are certainly interesting and in the example shown here, somewhat disturbingly like a human ribcage.

The samurai-haired Matott has launched his own Deep Fried Book Blog where you can read about the subject more in-depth. No information on shelf life or whether trans fats were involved with these erstwhile edibles. I should think in their vacuum-sealed wrappers they might last longer than a Twinkie but less than the cockroach species. The Blog also contains video footage of other Book Fries and solicits book donations for upcoming events, should one be so inclined.

Prowling other biblio-culinary websites, I came across the Festival International Du Livre Mangeable (International Festival of Edible Books) where one can feast one's eyes on bookish characters and scenes made out of food and book-shaped food, mostly cake and chocolate constructions, from all over the world. This annual festival is celebrated each year around April 1st, the birthdate of French culinarian and author of "The Physiology of Taste", Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Each year many libraries, museums, and artists collaborate on this visual feast and produce these fanciful book and food sculptures.

Rebecca Federman's Cooked Books blog explores all things culinary at the New York Public Library. There are tidbits about cookbooks, cooking-related art exhibits and and other biblio-canapes which are worth sampling.

Eat. Read. Love.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Book Number 20,000

In between snacking on chocolate eyeballs intended for trick-or-treaters that never arrived at our rural home, I managed to catalogue our 20,000th Internet book title. I started Internet sales when my youngest daughter entered full-day kindergarten and now that she is in the seventh grade, I've accomplished this book listing milestone. Book number 20000 is a Dalziel/Pascoe mystery, "Recalled to Life" by the ever-wonderful Reginald Hill.

In celebration of this eight-year-long achievement, Old Saratoga Books will be having a 20% discount on all Internet books throughout the month of November. You can go to our website, and enter the coupon code "Hooray" and your purchase will be discounted by 20%. All books are included and you can use the coupon code repeatedly.