(Leap Year Edition!)
Hope everyone is enjoying the extra day. I’m spending it doing what I love the most,
sleeping, drinking coffee, drinking liquor, reading, writing.
It’s been a busy month with lots of traveling, so I’m definitely lucking out on having the extra day to squeeze in the newsletter. Despite the shorter month, there’s been a lot going on. So, let’s dive in.
New Bookstore Adds
Fiction: The Revisionaries by A.R. Moxon
This book is a little hard to define and categorize. The cover doesn’t really give anything away, neither does the description on the back…my wife bought it for me on Christmas Eve but I have no idea what attracted her to it (maybe the cat on the book sleeve…(wife: it was absolutely the cat on the book sleeve)).
No matter what caused her to buy it, I’m glad she did…I think…Part of me loves the book and was blown away by the expert level writing and original style. The guy (A.R. Moxon) not only knows how to tell a story, but he can make every single sentence pure poetry. The writing really was brilliant.
Another part of me, however, thinks it’s a convoluted mess that is about 300 pages too long. It’s a beautiful mess, but still a mess. Either way, as soon as I opened it, I couldn’t put it down, so I guess that makes it a good book.
The story starts out in a slum neighborhood of a nameless city in the US. Thanks to a new law, the local loony bin lets loose all of its patients on the unsuspecting, impoverished denizens, gangsters, and a priest, who holds the whole place together by sheer will of his prayer.
But, then…God shows up. And so does an army of mysterious people dressed up as cardinals, and a traveling carnival with a bearded lady that is the love interest of a young man who has the power of invincibility but suffers from a broken memory and…
It gets confusing.
All in all, however, the book was wildly fun, witty, and just the right amount of dark humor all waxing philosophical. Honestly, I just need you to read this book so I have someone to stare bewildered into the abyss with me while we discuss what we just experienced.
Nonfiction: Bookshops by Jorge Carrión
Anyone who enjoys basking in the magic of a good bookstore, wandering through its shelves, picking stories at random, and getting lost in titles and covers will love this book.
Jorge Carrión takes you on a globe trotting adventure through bookshops all around the world, from the US to South America, Europe, Asia, and more. He captures the soul of a bookstore, discussing the ancient history of knowledge sharing, book collecting, binding, and selling. As he goes through each location, he shows how they’re all connected—how the lost and beat generation influenced shops across continents and through wars, both civil and global. You’ll read about the unique relationship between bookstores and libraries, and famous bookshops that have burned down or closed. This book even inspired me to visit the oldest continuously running bookshop in the world while I was visiting Portugal—the Livraria Bertrand (Bertrand Bookstore) in Lisbon.
I’ll confess, it’s a little bit more dense of a read, but well worth the newfound appreciation you’ll gain for the subculture of bookshops.
Not going to lie, it was hard to find an artist this month because I’m still listening pretty heavily to Colleen Green. But, let’s take a left turn this month and talk about a great band from down under, Flight Facilities.
FF isn’t your typical “band” but more of an electronic producer. You may have heard a remix of one of their more popular songs called “Crave You” on the radio. It was fairly popular among extreme sports videos and montages on the web. However, their original version of the song is pure, classy magic that makes you feel like you’re at a posh lounge and in a dance club at the same time. I highly encourage you to search past all the dubstep remixes to listen to the original which features female singer Giselle on the vocals. It’s beautiful. Also, I’d be hugely remiss if I didn’t recommend “Claire De Lune” featuring Christine Hoberg. It’s a deeply relaxing yet head-bopping song for any setting.
Lastly, their intro to the album Down to Earth makes for the perfect theme song for a set of serialized short stories I’m writing…more on that later this year…
February Drink Menu
Scotch. In a cup. With a drop of water.
I watched a documentary called Scotch: The Golden Dream this month (you can watch it on Amazon Prime). While I’ve always loved the earthy, peaty flavors of scotch (reminds me of being out in nature, and campfire nights in the mountains under the stars) this movie magnified my appreciation not only for the liquor in all its smoky goodness, but also the good people of Islay (a little, windswept island with a more intimate history with scotch than any other place in the world), and the impact that the drink has had all over the globe. This month I’ve been trying out Bruichladdich (the brand that the documentary primarily focuses on) and Laphroaig, which has become my favorite Islay scotch so far.
So warm up this winter with a small pour of the golden drink, and try it the traditional way—with a drop or two of water.
(Featured photo this month: Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, South Carolina. I was passing through the charming southern town recently and couldn’t pass up the chance to get this picture of the bookshop’s icon sitting out in front of their store. Give the place a visit it you’re ever nearby, you won’t regret it.)
– Liam Brodentel