Chatter's blog

Three Good Things: Experiments in Theater, Workspace, and on the Home Front



1. Page to Stage.

 Hebbel am Ufer, an experimental theater group based in Berlin, has taken on a 24-hour-performance-project of adapting David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, not just for the stage, but for the city of Berlin. Slate's Aaron Wiener writes: "This isn’t entertainment in the traditional sense. It’s Wallace-style capital-E Entertainment, whose primary purpose isn’t to bring enjoyment—though it can be enjoyable—but to captivate, to incapacitate, like the novel’s deadly eponymous film whose viewers are so thoroughly entertained that they cease to eat, drink, sleep and, eventually, live."

Read more.


2. Getting Out More.

 There's a general consensus, when it comes to the myth of the productive writer, that one can only battle writer's block in a Kaczynski-chic cabin with a fifth of whiskey. I'm not saying that that doesn't sound like fun, but a new study from the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the moderate commotion of, say, a crowded coffee shop actually boosts creativity. It has something to do with the mind's natural response to distraction--or perhaps it is the by-product of fighting distraction--it's very scientific. Read the article in The Atlantic


3. Building a Child's (digital) Library.

 Every year it gets more and more difficult for books to compete for a child's attention. These aren't the green-slime evils of Nickelodeon anymore, friends, kids have their own iPads and those iPads have Angry Birds. Here are some great tips for re-purposing those touch screens as e-readers in a productive way. I love that the second tip is "co-reading," that is, reading with your child. We may find entertaining substitutes for a good book, but there's no substitute for story time, just the two of you.

On Display: The School's Out for the Summer Book Review


Many thanks to Mr. Villarreal's 5th grade class from Chabot Elementary School (also known as "The Crazy Bald Guy Clones") for all their wonderful book reviews. Each student wrote a recommendation for a book they read this past year and helped us build a "School's-Out-For-The-Summer" Book Review display in our Oakland store. The class visited us last week to check out their handiwork--a great time was had by all!


The display will be up all month. Come by and see what all the hip kids are reading.

The Short Story Month Takeaway


Short Story Month might be over, but that doesn't make short fiction any less sweet. Check out these links and keep up with shorts all year round.

1. Glimmer Train: Glimmer Train started in 1990 to publish great literary fiction by established and emerging short-story writers. They've launched many a career by paying unknown authors for their unsolicited stories. Subscribe. Submit.

2. HOOT: Hoot is a miniature literary review, featuring artwork, poetry, quotes, and works of fiction under 150 words on a postcard. You get a whole year's subscription for just $14. Order it for yourself or send it to a friend!

3. NYC Midnight: This organization hosts competitions for filmmakers, playwrights, and all manner of storyteller (they just finished their 2012 Short Story Writing Comp)--challenging them to produce original work under constraints of time and topic. The competition is fierce and the payout is pretty decent. Enter.

4. Coppyblogger: Here are the results of the Twitter Writing Contest, a challenge to tell a whole story in just 140 characters. If you have the gift of Tweet, consider entering next year.

5. Best American: You can scour the internet for great short stories, or you can put your trust in the people who do that sort of thing for a living. Last year's The Best American Short Stories , edited by Geraldine Brooks, is particularly stunning, featuring authors who are both masters and innovators.

6. The New Yorker: The other old stand-by, of course, is The New Yorker...and Harper's, and The Atlantic, etc...magazines with a commitment to great writing, the support of great authors, and the health of the literary community. Read this story from Maile Meloy and then renew your subscription.

Video from World Book Night


World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. This year, it saw tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.

Below are some videos starring a few of the many people who came through to World Book Night at all three DIESEL Bookstores. Check 'em out!

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.