Friday, August 22, 2014

A Literary Pair

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward browse the book carts outside the Strand Bookstore, c. 1950s.
Image via the Strand's Facebook page

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Book Illustrates Labor Strife at the Strand

The Strand Bookstore in New York City is famous for being a destination for book lovers from all over the world. With its "18 miles of books," the Strand attracts customers who feel nothing but love for the bookstore, which has been in business since 1927. However, those who work at the Strand can tell a different story.
Image via

Back in 2012, employees of the Strand were embroiled in a labor dispute that arose when the store's owners proposed a new contract that the employees felt would reduce their wages and benefits. Exacerbating matters, non-unionized workers were being hired at an increasing rate, causing concern for the unionized workers already on staff. 

One of the workers on staff during this tumultuous period was Greg Farrell, who is still employed at the bookstore. Farrell, a comic artist and rapper who resides in Brooklyn, has documented the 2012 labor struggle of he and his coworkers in a new book. Titled On the Books, it's a comic strip account that tells the story of the struggle from the inside.

For On the Books, Farrell interviewed his fellow workers at the Strand, adding further depth to the story of the Strand's steady transformation "into a worker-unfriendly, corporate-style environment," as described by John Farley in a March 23, 2012, article for MetroFocus. In addition, Farrell inserts his own interpretation of the labor strife at the Strand, and in doing so, allows readers a peek into the struggles of a young working person in the recent economic environment.

On the Books was just released by Microcosm Publishing as part of its World Around Us series. At 128 pages, the paperback is now available for $11.95 through the Microcosm website. Although it's newly released, On the Books is already getting praise. One of Farrell's coworkers at the Strand said the following about the book on his website:

"This is a completely important, brilliant, and informative nonfiction work. Our struggle is real, [and] Greg nailed it. He's a primary source to what happened in the last contract negotiations, he did extensive research from primary and secondary sources for other events in the Strand's and the union's history, and at no point did I feel like his criticism was unfair. If you love the Strand and its employees, you need to read this."

On the Books by Greg Farrell can be purchased directly from the author at the Strand, as well as from Forbidden Planet and online through Microcosm, Amazon, and elsewhere. It can also be downloaded as a PDF or e-book at Farrell filmed two trailers for On the Books. You can view the first trailer on YouTube and the second one below:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Queer Book Dioramas on Display at NY Public Library

In the heart of Greenwich Village, a historically gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, is a never-before-seen display of miniature.
Michelle Brennan's diorama of Roving Pack, by Sassafras Lowrey.
Image via

The Queer Book Diorama Show is currently on view at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library. The library, located on 6th Avenue, between West 9th and 10th Streets, is housing dioramas that were assembled by thirteen LBGTQ artists. Hailing from the United States, Canada, and South Africa, these artists have chosen to explore the relationship between LGBTQ readers and literature through the construction of their dioramas.

The artists, and books they interpreted as dioramas, are: Melissa Sky and Jennifer Corbett, Beebo Brinker Chronicles by Ann Bannon; Michelle Morgan, Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles; Michael Moran, Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran; Jenny Lin, Female Masculinity by Jack Halberstam; Jacky Flagg, Fun Home by Allison Bechdel; Jason Bishop and Tim McMath, Mommy Dearest by Christina Crawford; Kate Conroy, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Rubyfruit Jungle by Jeanette Winterson and Rita Mae Brown, respectively; Michelle Brennan, Roving Pack by Sassafras Lowrey; Victoria Baker, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown; Daniel Roza Lang, Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones by Samuel R. Delany; and Ketch Wehr, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.
Jason Bishop and Tim McMath's diorama of Mommy Dearest, by Christina Crawford.
Image via 

The Queer Book Diorama Show was curated by writers Sassafras Lowrey and Hugh Ryan. Speaking to the Daily Beast, Ryan said, "Sassafras and I wrote a call inviting people to create a diorama based on a book that was meaningful to them in their development of their queer identity. We received nearly 100 proposals from around the world - including Canada, South Africa, Ireland, and the Czech Republic - for dioramas that ranged from pocket-sized to life-sized, on everything from picture books to dense philosophy. Had we not been limited by the space of the gallery, we would have included all of them!"

In addition to the dioramas, there will be panel discussions with the artists. Melissa Sky, Michelle Moran, Jacky Flagg, Kate Conroy, and others will shed light on their artistic process, as well as converse about queer art and literature and explain the relationship between author and reader. The panel discussions will take place at the Jefferson Market Library and will be free to attend for the general public. Sassafras Lowrey and Hugh Ryan will moderate the discussions, which are scheduled to begin at 7PM on Friday, September 5, and Friday, September 19. For more details on the scheduled events, go to THIS LINK.

The Queer Book Diorama Show was made possible through the sponsorship of the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, MIX NYC, and the New York Public Library.

"It has been amazing to see the outpouring of inspiration," Ryan told the Daily Beast, "as well as the crucial institutional support from the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, the Lambda Literary Foundation, MIX NYC, and the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library! In our own small way, this show is a gift to the community and an offering to all other queers who, like us, stood before a card catalog or library shelf looking for belonging."

The Queer Book Diorama Show will be at the Jefferson Market Library through September. For more information on the show, see THIS LINK and THIS LINK.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Street Art Inspired by William Blake

Graffiti inspired by William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in Sydney, Australia.
Image via

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jack White Embarks on Book Publishing

Jack White, musician (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Dead Weather). Jack White, producer (Wanda Jackson, Soledad Brothers, The Greenhornes). Jack publisher? Beginning this month, yes. Third Man Records, the music label that White founded in 2001, has officially launched a book division.
Jack White, in front of Third Man Records, based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Image via Jack White LOVE/Pinterest

Called Third Man Books, this division is releasing a poetry and prose collection co-edited by Chet Weise and Ben Swank, both of Third Man Records. Language Lessons: Volume 1 is a hardbound book that contains 321 pages of new work from more than 20 acclaimed authors. Among the authors are Dale Ray Phillips, C.D. Wright, Tav Falco, and Richard Hell. The book is part of a cloth-bound box set that included two vinyl LPs and five frameable posters of poems.

Third Man Books is releasing Language Lessons: Volume 1 on Tuesday, August 5. However, the title is already available for fans to pre-order through the Third Man Records website. Each copy of Language Lessons: Volume 1 costs $50, and all pre-ordered copies of the title will be shipped after the sale date of August 5. It will also be sold "at certain bookstores and record shops upon its release," according to a article.
Language Lessons: Volume 1, soon to be released by Third Man Books.
Image via Third Man Records' website

"LL:VI will be Third Man Books' first commercially available tome and signifies a strong intent for Third Man entering the universe of publishing," according to the Third Man Music website. "Third Man Books, like Language Lessons, will be fearless, imaginative, and eclectic. We hope to be a welcome addition to what is already a very compelling and thrilling independent American literary landscape."

For more on Jack White's Third Man Records entering book publishing, read the article at THIS LINK and an article from GalleyCat at THIS LINK.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Great Tips for Packing Books for a Move

In anticipation of my move at the end of August, I weeded my personal library, removing books that I knew I wouldn't read again or could otherwise do without. I ended up with four grocery bags full of books that I donated to a local nonprofit.
Packing books for a big move can actually be a sunny chore.
Image via

"Culling your shelves" is one of "8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books," offered by Kim Ukura in an article for BookRiot. "One of the best things about moving," says Ukura, "is that it provides the perfect motivation to clear some of those books that have been lingering on your shelves. Take a few runs through your bookshelves and ask yourself whether you really want to carry this book to a new place. More often than not the answer will be a resounding no." 

Having already gone over my bookshelf, I know the next step is to start packing my books. The other day, I picked up a bunch of small boxes that were discarded by the liquor store around the corner. "Use small boxes" is another of Ukura's tips for moving your books. "This seems fairly obvious," she says, "but it's a mistake I always make. I've found that liquor store boxes, banana boxes, and old shipping boxes work well for books." If you must use larger boxes, Ukura advises that you only fill them partially with books in order to keep them from being heavy. You can fill the rest of the large box space with clothes and other lightweight items.

In her timely article for BookRiot, Ukura also presents ways to "Think creatively about packing options," "Pack strategically and label judiciously" and "Pack carefully." One especially great piece of advice Ukura has is to "Box the books early." I think it's human nature to wait until the last minute and then scramble to get stuff done, but I've got so much going on in the upcoming weeks that the more I can get done earlier, the better. So I'm beginning to pack up my books now. Doing so now will allow me the time to get more boxes for my books if needed.

Another bit of wisdom that Ukura shares is to "Remember your emergency reading materials." Really great idea. What if I finish my current book before my move, but all of my other books are already packed up? Ukura cautions, "Don't pack all of your books! Make sure you leave out a few options to read before or after your move, especially if you'll be without your full library for any length of time. Put these books in the same box you put all of your other 'emergency' supplies like medication and cell phone chargers." I will most definitely do that.

For "8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books," see Kim Ukura's article for BookRiot at THIS LINK. (Be sure to check out the reader comments section for additional tips, especially pertaining to packing and shipping options.) If you're moving soon, too, then the very best of luck to you (and to me)! Now I'm off to pick up more boxes from the liquor store.