I was probably asleep at the wheel in years past, but I think it’s really cool that Publishers Weekly announced the names of the five finalists for 2014 Bookstore of the Year.
Here’s the list of the finalists with some commentary on why they should win:
Do you have any idea how many Open Letter books are on display in this store? Pets (in multiple places), High Tide (a staff favorite), and Elsewhere, were three of the first books I noticed when I walked in there last week. If Elliott Bay takes it, I think it’s because of the “More Open Letter Books = Great Store” hypothesis. Also, they get bonus points for being “The” Elliot Bay Book Company.
I’ve never been to McLean & Eakin, but as a Michigander, I spent a week every year from K through 5th Grade polishing Petoskey stones. So smooth and pretty! Given that Petoskey has a population of under 6,000 (although they do attract the tourists!), it would be kind of cool for McLean & Eakin to win. The real question: How many Open Letter books do they have already? I think they better stock up.
Prairie Lights is pretty much the only thing that people from the University of Iowa talk about. I’m pretty sure Iowa City consists of a river, this bookstore, and a bunch of mediocre football players. (GO MICHIGAN STATE!) It’s almost unfair that this city gets such a fantastic bookstore. Paul Ingram is wonderful to talk to (and my height, which is always a bonus), and this store is the quintessential charming small-town bookstore. They very well could win this.
Women & Children First is helping sell books at an upcoming Open Letter/Black Balloon event celebrating Bulgarian literature—for that alone, they’re probably going to receive this award. But seriously, this is a great store that does what it does better than any store in the country, and has succeeded for years. When I was working for Dalkey, one of my favorite buyers to visit was at WCF . . . She’s since left the store, but I’ll forever respect the hell out of this place.
The winning store will be announced by PW just before BEA, and will be featured in the pre-BEA issue.
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .