Shaken and Stirred
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great bookstore closing and time warp stuff
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Just received a note from Gavin that Avenue Victor Hugo Books in Boston will be closing in May, after nearly 30 years in business. Very sad news. They have posted the news on their website, along with a list of 12 reasons for the death of small and independent bookstores written by John Usher. Book buyers are third on the list and writers are fourth:

3. Book buyers--those who want the ‘convenience’ and ‘cost savings’ of shopping in malls, over the quaint, the dusty, or the unique; who buy books according to price instead of content, and prefer what is popular over what is good--for creating a mass market of the cheap, the loud, and the shiny.

4. Writers--who sell their souls to be published, write what is already being written or choose the new for its own sake, opt to feed the demands of editors rather than do their own best work, place style over substance, and bear no standards--for boring their readers unto television.

Read the whole list, it's important and there is truth there. They will be having a sale, and they do have books up online -- send this wonderful bookstore out with a bang and buy some.

I only ever got to visit AVH once, when visiting Kelly and Barb in Boston some years ago. (I only met Gavin when I got there, but I suppose I was visiting him too.) I thought it was one of the nicest bookshops I'd ever been in and still do, full of wonderful books and thoughtful workers and with one of the all-time great bookshop cats. It's a huge loss. Go buy books, esp. if you live in Boston.

Time warp links I didn't post yesterday:

Profile of Mayor Newsom in the Washington Post -- they even interviewed his hairdresser.

WP Book World review of Lucasta Miller's new book THE BRONTE MYTH, which sounds dead interesting and worth checking out.

NYTimes reviews two new books on flu, one particularly a huge study of the great 1918 pandemic. Which is what is really keeping all the infectious disease experts up nights right now, what with all the virulent strains of bird flu popping up.

A nice piece on whisky at Slate. Mmmm, whiskey. Mmmm, excerpt:

My obsession with the stuff is a story of extremes. As a kid in the suburbs of Connecticut in the '60s and '70s, I was weaned on all things bland and homogenized: Wonder Bread, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, fish sticks, and, in high school, Budweiser. I never liked beer until I tasted the robust, hoppy ales of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Big California wines—bruiser zinfandels, with a touch of loaminess—followed. Sourdough from what was alleged to be a yeast culture born before the Civil War tantalized me with what I'll call its … offness. Off like certain cheeses. Off like Asian sauces ladled out of barrels of decomposing fish. I became a freak for all things "off." When you put something strongly flavored or "off" in your mouth, your most primitive instincts tell you to spit it out, yet the perception of danger heightens the senses and makes the pleasure more intense. A design for living, that.

NYTimes profile on Kerry Conran, and how he ended up getting to make SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, at least so it's being released in theaters and didn't take 100 hundred years at his computer alone to do. It's a nice story. Geek power!

That is all.

worm: "How to Be a Lady," Erin McKeown

namecheck: The cat of AVH (Blue Bart)

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