OCTOBER 29TH - HARD WORD BOOK CLUB DISCUSSES RJ ROZAN'S ABSENT FRIENDS WITH CALL IN FROM AUTHOR One of the things crime fiction conveys better than any genre is loss. A human being's extinguished existence is what usually sets the plot in motion. Whether a detective questioning those who knew the victim or a hard boiled hero out for revenge, the protagonist tours through a void, seeking tangible answers to give some sense of meaning. SJ Rozan's Absent Friends is a prime example of this.
On September 13, we lost a good friend in David Thompson who suffered a heart attack at age 38. He was a bookstore manager, publisher, and a person to know in the mystery scene. All of these things were tied to the fact he was one of the best booksellers around. He was synonymous with his store Murder By The Book in Houston, where he started as teenager with a salesperson's job and worked his way up to his assistant manager. He ran publicity, getting many of the world's crime fiction authors to come to the store. It is were where he met a lovely coworker, McKenna Jordan, who married him not long after she bought the store. Talk about knowing how to get what you want.
The Voyage Out Book Group reads regional fiction. We focus on a certain locale for three months, and then we pack our bags and move on. I’ve always been excited to start the next region. From the American South, to Japan, to Africa, and many more, we’ve had a great trip, so far. But I have to say, I was a little weary of our newest region, California. With the exception of In &Out Burgers and burritos, I’m not a big fan of the left coast. I don’t want to read about San Francisco Beatniks, and I don’t care about surfing. What do you read about a culture that is paper thin and incredibly young? But then we chose our three books: “Play It As It Lays” by Joan Didion, “The People of Paper” by Salvador Plascencia, and “Ask the Dust” by John Fante.
I like talking about books. Nothing makes me happier than having a customer walk into the store and ask me for a recommendation. I also love it when customers recommend books to me. Please come into BookPeople and interact with us. It’s a long day, and we get lonely. That being said, we get some tough questions. "I’m traveling to Indonesia, do you know any uplifting Indonesian fiction?" or "I’m looking for a mixture of Robert Jordan and Flannery O’Connor, what do you suggest?" Usually these questions lead to great conversations, and usually I end up leaving with a new book, and, hopefully, the customer leaves with, at least, a smile. Some questions are harder than others, but one question has tormented me for a long time, and only recently (about an hour ago) have I come to what I consider a quality answer: "I want something really smart, highly challenging, fresh, and funny. It has to be funny. Got anything like that?" Yes, I do. Thanks to Melville House Publishing, we now have a place to go for Literature that makes you laugh, Literature that doesn’t make you want to put your head in the oven. I should say that Melville House puts out a variety of titles, so they don’t simply put out humor, but in 2010 with releases like T Cooper’s art project/Hollywood fable The Beaufort Diaries and Tao Lin’s enigmatic novel Richard Yates, this Brooklyn based company has found the mysterious funny bone of American writing.