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Olsson's: Buyer's Corner
Olsson's is a locally Owned & Operated, Independent chain of six book and recorded music stores in the Washington, D.C. area, started by John Olsson in 1972. Each week the Head Book Buyer blogs about interesting new books that are available.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Joe Murphy on Black Swan Green
Hope your Spring is going well. The weather has allowed me to sit in my back yard in the evenings and get some reading done, so I thought I'd mention a recent favorite: David Mitchell's new novel Black Swan Green. I had not previously read Mitchell's work, although both Ghostwritten and the Booker-nominated Cloud Atlas were staff favorites here at Olsson's. They were works of enticing postmodern fabulation, and this new novel is a bit of a departure. It covers a year in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, living in a small British village in the 1980's, and in short, it's a witty, charming, and deeply felt coming-of-age story worthy of the great picaresque novels. Its chapters form a series of perfect vignettes which give us a look at Jason's dawning intelligence, creative ability, and hard-won sense of morality. The novel is populated with deliciously crazy shut-ins, overly helpful teachers, well-meaning if dysfunctional parents, completely believable bullies, and one very peculiar, if captivating, German emigre. It is also, of course, a Buyer's Choice, featured at 20% off.
And don't forget: there's still a week left on our April of the Penguins promotion! To give you your weekly memory refresher: if you buy any two Penguin, Plume, or Riverhead paperbacks, you get the third (of equal or lesser value) FREE! I've already mentioned too many great Penguin titles to repeat here but here's one more: the terrific The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a literary mystery featuring a mysterious book of which only one copy exists. It's fun, literary and highly diverting -- think of it as The Name of the Rose without all the Latin (Did I actually just write that?).
Hope all is well and you're enjoying your Spring. I went out to the Eastern Shore to visit my parents (and the rest of my family). It was a nice, restful visit, and I finished reading a galley of a terrific novel: Water for Elephants, a suprisingly gripping travelling circus (I'm serious!) story. I'll tell you more about that as the publication date (June) approaches.
In the meantime, I just wanted to mention the fact that the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded this week. Longtime Olsson's favorite Geraldine Brooks won the fiction prize for her novel March. And here's some good news: March is now available in paperback from Penguin, and therefore available as part of our April of the Penguins buy two-get one free program. So pick up March and another Penguin, Plume, or Riverhead book and get a third free. We still have stock for now, and we have a large back-up order in with the publisher, which is due in stores by April 26th. Our Penguin sale goes through May 4th, so in any event, you can still by the new Pulitzer Prize winner and take advantage of the sale! Some stock updates on other Pulitzer winners: American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, the masterful portrait of Robert Oppenheimer (and former Buyer's Choice in hardback!) is now available and in stock in paperback. Caroline Elkin's Imperial Reckoning, a thoughful and troubling study of the British occupation of Kenya (also a former Buyer's Choice), the winner for general fiction, is also now available and in stock; we're waiting on a reprint of the history winner Polio by David Oshinsky (the paperback is also due this summer) and the poetry winner Late Wife by Claudia Emerson.
Stop by our stores soon and pick up these worthy winners. And don't forget the April of the Penguins!
Well, my trip to Mississippi was great fun: Sam, our accounts person, Alicia, our marketing director, and I all had a terrific tour of the region. We visited Graceland, toured the Stax Records Museum of Soul Music (especially fantastic), checked out the Blues Museum, had lunch at Morgan Freeman's Blues Bar, and even went to a juke joint! Alicia and I also had a very congenial and productive meeting with our colleagues from the Independent Bookseller's Consortium. It included a tour of the wonderful Square Books in Oxford: if you ever make it down there, I highly recommend you pay a visit.
For those of you remaining in the DC region, now's the time to make it to our stores! Our April of the Penguins promotion continues, and you still have time to make it in to take advantage of this great sale. If you buy two Penguin, Penguin Classic, Plume, or Riverhead paperbacks, you'll receive the third (of equal or lesser value) free. We have huge displays of these terrific books at all our stores, but be sure to tour the shelves, too! Penguin has one of the largest list of paperbacks in print, and you'll be dazzled by the titles they feature.
I also want to mention a brand new Buyer's Choice: 31 Days by Barry Werth. It's the story of a (perhaps unexpectedly) dramatic moment in history: the first month of the Ford administration, from Nixon's resignation to Ford's pardon of Nixon. It's an astonishingly suspenseful story, broken down day by day, with some surprisingly familiar figures from today's political scene working behind the scenes in 1974 to engineer the pardon that cost Ford both the nation's goodwill and the next election. We don't usually pick any political books as Buyer's Choices - they tend to be very topical, and not for your permanent personal library - but this is actually an engaging and important historical document. Mr. Werth signed copies for us this week, so we have signed copies available, and as always, our Buyer's Choices are all 20% off. Pick up your autographed copy today.
As you read this, I am continuing on my massive road/business trip to Oxford, Mississippi. I'll write about my wacky adventures when I get back, but in the meantime I wanted to mention a major new promotion starting this Friday, the 7th, in all our stores.
Here's how it works: when you buy two paperbacks from Penguin (or its sister publishers, Plume and Riverhead), you get a third (of equal or lesser value, natch) for free! And these folks publish some fantastic books: Penguin has its great classics line, featuring the very finest in literature, such as the brilliant recent translation of Anna Karenina, Borges' kaleidoscopic Collected Fictions, and all three volumes of Robertson Davies' beloved Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders.
Penguin's contemporary books include dazzlers like Mark Kurlansky's Cod, Jared Diamond's massive bestseller Collapse, Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair, and Geraldine Brooks' newest novel March. Plume featues great work like the recent Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike. And Riverhead publishes favorites like The Color of Water, the compelling medieval mystery An Instance of the Fingerpost, and Sarah Waters' new novel Fingersmith.
We've ordered in a bunch of extra Penguin titles for you to peruse. There'll be lots of up-front displays in our stores (you can't miss them), but feel free to browse the shelves as well, or to ask our staff for suggestions. It's a huge promotion for us, and a fantastic deal for you, so shop early and often, starting Friday, and enjoy the April of the Penguins.
Alexis Akre, a DC-area native, has worked at Olsson's for almost six years. She received her BA in English from Barnard College,
and lived in New York for several years. Since her return to her home town, Alexis has honed her gift for skewering both vapidity and
pretension with concise, well-worded psychological assessment. She can be seen tooling around town on her minty green bike, reading
one of the hundreds of books she has stacked in her home, and teaching her cat to do tricks.