Chatter's blog

Photo Gallery: World Book Night

Thanks to all who made World Book Night 2012 a great success!


Happy Short Story Month!

Of all the arbitrarily assigned, date-oriented celebration-periods, Short Story Month is my favorite (except Talk-Like-A-Pirate-Day, which I think goes without saying). This is the month where we celebrate the short and sweet; those authors who possess great economy with words; those who waste not and, therefore, leave us wanting for nothing. I will not sully the concise spirit of Sho-Sto-Mo (better abbrv. forthcoming) by rambling on--instead I will share with you two of my favorite short-short stories: the first from Auguston Monterros and the second from Ernest Hemingway.




Three Good Things: Bookart, Bookbrain, Booktalk.


1. Booksculpting. I recently culled a few bags of books from my collection; call it Spring Cleaning. They're now sitting by the front door, watching me as I come and go, accusing. It's very uncomfortable. I try to tell them that they're going to good homes--to be loved by good, careful readers. They say: "We do not want the mediocrity of the home-bookshelf. We want immortality!" So maybe I'll send them to Alicia Martin for one of her book installations.

Books can be so pushy...

especially fiction.


2. Fiction Addiction. "Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters.  Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life."

Read the rest of this op-ed from the New York Times, which offers scientific evidence that reading fiction makes us better human beings. 


3. The Conversational Stylings of Evison and Mohr. Jonathan Evision, author of West of Here, and Joshua Mohr, author of Damascus, came to Diesel, Oakland for a chat and I caught it on film at a rather odd angle. They cover such sundry topics as bodybuilding, Bigfoot hunting, and the health benefits of acid, so, maybe the camera angle is appropriate, I don't know. 


Algonquin's Lucky 7: Make your reading light jealous

 The staff over at Algonquin Books has picked seven of their favorite titles from past years and, until March 25th, are offering the e-book format for only $1.99. 

And did you know that you can buy your e-books through DIESEL, Online? Look at our list of all seven titles HERE.


Bonus: Two of my favorite Algonquin titles happen to be on the list. For non-fiction, I'd recommend Robert Goolrick’s memoir, The End of the World as We Know It. And, for fiction, The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell. 





Three Good Things: Stache, Slate, and Signed Copies


1. Litstache. Authors have long been purveyors of style, one of the many responsibilities of those who cultivate culture. I would like to share a recent feature from HuffPo, which celebrates the facial hair stylings of several great authors. My personal favorite is William Faulkner's mustache (right), but check out the whole slide show to find the perfect lit-stache for you or a loved one.


2. Slate's Book Review. The folks over at Slate noticed that many news sources were cutting down on book coverage so, to be contrary, they decided to devote their home page to book reviews for the first weekend of every month. With its attention to diverse subject matter and reputation for quick, pithy reporting, I turn to Slate for 90% of my information anyhow. This is just going to make my morning web-surfing easier. Read more.


3. Author Drop-Ins.  Sometimes authors stop by to sign books for us. Sometimes I embarrass them by taking photos. Left, Matt Ruff signing The Mirage and Richard Mason, right, with History of a Pleasure Seeker.

March Madness - The Tournament of Books


March: Time to fill out your brackets and trash-talk with co-workers. TIme to squish a you-shaped imprint in your side of the couch. Time to practice the rhythm of team cheer and the nimble acrobatics of creative insult. Time to wear that sweatband at the breakfast table. That's because it is time, once again, for The Tournament of Books! (What? Is there some other nation-wide competition in March?)

For those of you who don't know, tomorrow begins the 8th Annual TMN Tournament of Books, a fight to the death between 16 of the year's best and brightest novels, as decided by a panel of fiction's best and brightest reviewers.

You can follow the tournament HERE

You can (and should) print your own bracket HERE

And these are your champions:

Nathacha Appanah - The Last Brother
Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending
Teju Cole - Open City
Helen DeWitt - Lightning Rods
Patrick deWitt - The Sisters Brothers
Jeffrey Eugenides - The Marriage Plot
Chad Harbach - The Art of Fielding
Alan Hollinghurst - Stranger’s Child
Jesmyn Ward - Salvage the Bones
Haruki Murakami - 1Q84
Téa Obreht - The Tiger’s Wife
Michael Ondaatje - The Cat’s Table
Ann Patchett - State of Wonder
Donald Ray Pollock - Devil All the Time
Karen Russell - Swamplandia
Kate Zambreno - Green Girl

 All of these titles are available for purchase online through DIESEL or in any of our three locations! We'll be reporting on the tournament all month and would love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook page.


Three Good Things: Bad Blurbs, Backlash, and Love for Booklovers.

1. Good Writers, Bad Blurbs. A great feature from Greg Zimmerman: 8 Bad Book Blurbs By Good Writers. He's gathered eight exceptionally odd, off, or over-the-top reviews from otherwise technically sound authors and provided generally demeaning commentary on each. Nothing quite like taking Jeffrey Eugenides to task for abusing a colloquialism...

2. Slash-and-Burn Bookselling. Cory Doctorow (author of one of my favorite young adult novels, Little Brother) wrote this post about Jim C. Hines and the tyranny of self-published e-book contacts with Amazon. Says Hines:

"With my DAW books, if a bookstore offers a sale, I still get my royalties based on the cover price. Amazon is selling Libriomancer for pre-order at almost half-off, but I’ll get paid my full amount for every copy sold. Not so with self-published titles. Looking at my reports for last week, my royalties were slashed by 2/3 for every copy sold, because Amazon paid me 70% of the $.99 sale price, not my list price."

Read the rest.

3. Girls Who Read.
I thought my favorite ode to book-loving girls was Charles Warnke's "You Should Date An Illiterate Girl", but that was before I came across this video of Mark Grist performing his spoken word piece on girls who read. I blush every time I watch it.

DIESEL A.V. Club: Ausubel, Patchett, and Sendak

We here in the audio-visual club at Diesel would like to share a few videos with you. We have a Q&A from a recent reading and a couple great Colbert interviews--just hang on a sec while I run a few cables, just, yeah, but move your chair to the right, your head is blocking the projector.

Thomas Peele comes to Diesel, Oakland


Last night we hosted Thomas Peele and Martin Reynolds, in dialogue about Peele's new book, Killing The Messenger. Look for the full reading, to air on Book TV within the next two weeks. 




About the book: On the morning of August 2, 2007, journalist Chauncey Bailey was walking to his office at the Oakland Post, a weekly newspaper. As he reached the corner of 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland, a masked gunman ran up to Bailey and shot him at point blank range.  Investigating police would soon uncover the motive behind Bailey’s shocking murder: it was ordered by Yusef Bey IV, leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, and was intended to stop Bailey's forthcoming story on the organization.

Outraged by Bailey's murder, a group of California journalists banded together to finish his work. Known as the Chauncey Bailey Project, this group of reporters and editors has worked together to see that justice for Bailey is served and his work completed. In Killing the Messenger, award-winning investigative reporter Thomas Peele provides the first comprehensive narrative examination of Bailey's murder, and finally brings the whole, tragic story to light.


Diesel Loves You.


 --Just in case you had any doubts--