Items tagged with 'books'

Coming soon: The history of a house, a neighborhood, and Albany

The History of Here Akum Norder coverCheck it out: The History of Here -- Akum Norder's book about "A House, the Pine Hills Neighborhood, and the City of Albany" -- is available for pre-order from SUNY Press.

Blurbage:

The History of Here follows Albany, New York's, Pine Hills neighborhood through more than one hundred years of change. At its heart is the story of Norder's 1912 house and the people who built and lived in it. As Norder traced their histories, she came to see the development of her house, her street, and her neighborhood as a piece of Albany's story. In the lives of its residents, their struggles and triumphs, she saw a reflection of twentieth-century America.
Drawing on interviews, city records, newspapers, out-of-print books, and other sources, Norder's narrative makes a case for city neighborhoods: their value, their preservation, and the grassroots involvement that turns a jumble of houses into a community. Funny and thought-provoking, readable and relevant, The History of Here celebrates the sense of place that fuels the new urbanism.

We've been looking forward to this book since we heard Norder was working on it. She's a wonderful writer who has a keen eye for details and stories. (We were lucky to have her write for AOA many years ago.) Also, according to sources, she is "kind of a local celebrity in the nerd world."

The History of Here is set to be published in February. It's $19.95 pre-ordered on the SUNY Press website.

Matthew Weiner at Skidmore

Matthew Weiner Heather The Totality

The creator/writer/director of Mad Men -- Matthew Weiner -- will be at Skidmore November 11. The Northshire Bookstore-organized event will be an on-stage conversation between Weiner and Yaddo president Elaina Richardson.

Weiner is touring in support of his new novel, Heather, The Totality, which is being released in early November. Weiner wrote a portion of the book at Yaddo.

In addition to Mad Men, Weiner was also a writer and producer for The Sopranos.

The event is Saturday, November 11 at 7:30 pm Palamountain Hall. Tickets are $34 for one book and one seat / $47 for two seats and one book / $30 for one seat and one book for seniors, students, active-duty military.

There's also a VIP reception that's doubling as a fundraiser for Yaddo. Tickets for that start are $75 / $125 for two.

photo: Jeff Vespa

Welcome to Night Vale creators at Skidmore

nightvale it devours coverJoseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor -- the creators of the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast -- will be at Skidmore November 16 to talk about their new Night Vale novel It Devours!. The event is organized by Northshire Bookstore. Blurbage:

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

The event -- at 7 pm on Thursday, November 16 in Palamountain Hall -- will include a book signing.

Tickets are $23.52 and include a copy of the book (the ticket price is the price of the book). They're available online.

I, Eliza Hamilton at SCPL

I Eliza Hamilton Susan Holloway Scott

Susan Holloway Scott -- author of the new book I, Eliza Hamilton -- will be at the Schenectady County Public Library this Saturday, October 14 at 1 pm for a talk. It's free.

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was, of course, the wife of Alexander Hamilton and the daughter of Philip Schuyler. She grew up in Albany at the Schuyler Mansion, which still stands today in the city.

I, Eliza Hamilton is a novel of historical fiction. From a comment by a Holloway Scott on Good Reads:

I grew up in the NYC area, where Alexander Hamilton has always been something of a hero. But it was his wife Eliza who interested me more, and I loved being able to tell her side of the Hamilton story. Yes, my book is fiction, but I relied on primary sources - letters, journals, and contemporary accounts - to bring Eliza, Alexander, and their world to life. (Eliza herself didn't make it easy by destroying - or having one of her sons destroy - nearly all of her own letters.) "I, Eliza Hamilton" is not only her story, but the story of her marriage to Alexander, who must have been a wonderfully easy man to love, but also a challenging man to be married to.

Susan Holloway Scott has written many historical novels. And she's of the writers of the Two Nerdy History Girls blog.

Earlier: "You maintain your empire in spite of all my efforts..."

photo: David Campli

An award-winning tale of Victorian robot sex

Chester5000 Isabelle and George coverCheck it out: Local artist/author Jess Fink won the 2017 Ignatz Award for outstanding series for her comic Chester 5000 XYV.

The annual Ignatz Awards are the festival prize for the annual Small Press Expo, which was this past weekend in the DC area. "The Ignatz recognizes exceptional work that challenges popular notions of what comics can achieve, both as an art form and as a means of personal expression." (The actual award is a brick, in honor of the character Ignatz from Krazy Kat.)

Chester is an erotic, Victorian, sci-fi, romance comic. As she told us a few years back of the story's origins:

I've been interested in how people in eras past have dealt with sexuality for some time. A big inspiration was the Tijuana Bibles which were these little dirty comics people sold illegally in the 20s-50s.
I also had an interest in early erotic photography. Basically the Victorians are famous for being prudes, having no knowledge of the female orgasm and little sex education, yet there is a lot of erotic art from that era. I thought the juxtaposition of sexual discovery and prudish Victorian values would be fun.

The story has been collected into two books, which are both available for sale.

Sarah Jaffe at Northshire Saratoga

Sarah Jaffe Necessary Trouble book

The September slate of events at Northshire Saratoga is out, and it includes an appearance by journalist Sarah Jaffe to talk about her book Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt on September 29.

Jaffe's book is about the recent waves of activism around the country. Publisher blurbage:

Necessary Trouble is the definitive book on the movements that are poised to permanently remake American politics. We are witnessing a moment of unprecedented political turmoil and social activism. Over the last few years, we've seen the growth of the Tea Party, a twenty-first-century black freedom struggle with BlackLivesMatter, Occupy Wall Street, and the grassroots networks supporting presidential candidates in defiance of the traditional party elites.
Sarah Jaffe leads readers into the heart of these movements, explaining what has made ordinary Americans become activists. As Jaffe argues, the financial crisis in 2008 was the spark, the moment that crystallized that something was wrong. For years, Jaffe crisscrossed the country, asking people what they were angry about, and what they were doing to take power back. She attended a people's assembly in a church gymnasium in Ferguson, Missouri; walked a picket line at an Atlanta Burger King; rode a bus from New York to Ohio with student organizers; and went door-to-door in Queens days after Hurricane Sandy.

Here are reviews in NYT and the Washington Post.

The Northshire event is Friday, September 29 at 7 pm in the book store in downtown Saratoga Springs. It's free.

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers fall 2017

rapper comedian actress Awkwafina

Rapper, comedian, actress -- and UAlbany alum -- Awkwafina opens the new season August 31.

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And holy moly, is it packed with events featuring high-profile authors, writers, filmmakers, and journalists.

Here's a quick overview of the schedule...

(there's more)

New app for Albany Public Library and other local libraries

UHLS library app screenshots

Screenshots from the app.

Check it out: The Upper Hudson Library System has moved to a new app, which includes the Albany Public Library and many other local libraries.

Features blurbage:

Access the entire library catalog:
* Search for books, movies, music and more.
* With your library card, you can:
* Place, check the status, or cancel holds.
* Check due dates.
* Renew items.
* View your account balance.
Access library digital resources:
*OverDrive
*Flipster
*Mango Languages

There's also info in the app about library locations and events.

Another feature that's fun: The app can scan a book's barcode (via the phone's camera) and check the availability of the book in the library.

The app is available for both iOS and Android. It's free.

APL advertises on AOA.

Selected Shorts at Skidmore

selected shorts skidmore 2017 promo

James Naughton, Richard Masur, and Mia Dillon

The touring version of the popular public radio program Selected Shorts will be at the Zankel Center at Skidmore July 22. Blurbage (links added):

Readings will include "Yancey" by Ann Beattie, performed by Mia Dillon; "The Caul" by Russell Banks, performed by Richard Masur; and "Election Eve' by Evan S. Connell, performed by James Naughton.

The performance is in conjunction with the New York State Summer Writers Institute, which is currently at Skidmore.

The evening starts at 7 pm on Saturday, July 22. Tickets are $25 / $20 seniors / $15 students.

And speaking of Skidmore...
+ The Upbeat on the Roof series of free concerts at The Tang starts this evening (July 13) with at 7 pm with a performance by Decoda.
+ And The Tang's annual open house -- Frances Day -- is this Saturday, July 15.

Stay Interesting: I Don't Always Tell Stories About My Life But When I Do They're True and Amazing at Northshire Saratoga

jonathan goldsmith stay interesting coverNorthshire Saratoga released a list of upcoming events for June that includes a handful of notable authors... but we have to admit this is the one that made us smile:

Jonathan Goldsmith -- formerly The Most Interesting Man in the World -- will be at the bookstore June 15 for a happy hour and talk. Goldsmith has a new memoir, Stay Interesting: I Don't Always Tell Stories About My Life But When I Do They're True and Amazing, out this summer.

The event starts at 6 pm that day with sample cocktails from High Rock Distillery and a bookstore trivia challenge. Then at 7 pm Goldsmith will tell stories from the book. Or maybe the stories will tell stories about him. He is that interesting, presumably.

Also: Maybe he'll tell the story about why he gets sighted around this area so much, at The Track or the Albany/Rensselaer train station, or wherever. Perhaps TMTMW has been in our midst the entire time.

Ian Frazier at Saratoga Springs Public Library

journalist Ian Frazier

Journalist Ian Frazier will be at the Saratoga Springs Public Library March 15 as the capstone event for the Saratoga Reads season. Free tickets will be available starting this Wednesday, March 1.

Event blurbage:

Reporter, Thurber-Prize-winning humorist, and The New Yorker staff writer, Ian Frazier joins us to cap off the Saratoga Reads! season with a discussion of his work, including his take on The New Yorker's "Greetings Friends" Christmas poem. Among his eleven books are works of short fiction, short-form reporting, and long-form narrative nonfiction, including Coyote vs. Acme, Great Plains, On the Rez, Travels in Siberia, and Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces.

Frazier has been contributing to the New Yorker for more than four decades. (A few years back he wrote a profile of Ecovative, the Green Island-based company, for the magazine.)

The Saratoga Reads event starts at 7 pm in the Saratoga Springs Public Library on Henry Street. There will be a book sale and signing after the talk.

photo via Ian Frazier Facebook

Lindy West at Northshire Saratoga

author Lindy West

Author Lindy West will be at Northshire Saratoga April 6 to talk about her memoir. Tickets are $5 and available online. (The ticket also gets you $5 off the book.)

It's an "Off the Shelf" event -- West will be talking with WAMC's Joe Donahue for a segment that will later air on the radio.

West is a columnist for the Guardian, and a contributor to This American Life among other media outlets. She recently got a lot of attention for a column in which she explained why she deactivated her Twitter account, criticizing the platform for allowing abuse to flourish there.

Here's blurbage about West's memoir, Shrill, which is out in paperback this week:

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible--like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you--writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. ...
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

The event at Northshire's store on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs starts at 7 pm on April 6.

photo: Jenny Jimenez

Talking with Albany artist Elizabeth Zunon about illustrating a legend, drawing on her family's history, and stoking her creativity

elizabeth zunon legendary lena horne

Check it out: A new children's book about Lena Horne -- The Legendary Miss Lena Horne -- was illustrated by Albany artist Elizabeth Zunon.

She's illustrated a handful of children's books. And like her other work, the images in The Legendary Miss Lena Horne are beautiful -- warm and textured, incorporating illustration and collage.

We bounced a few questions to Zunon this week about working on the book, an upcoming project based on her family's history, and local spots where she stokes her creativity.

(there's more)

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers spring 2017

nys writers institute 2017 spring visiting writers book cover composite

The spring lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And is the case each season, it includes notable, award-winning writers and events.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

(there's more)

Maybe judging a book by its cover isn't so bad...

american girls novel cover design by Phil PascuzzoCheck it out: A cover by local designer Phil Pascuzzo -- for American Girls by Alison Umminger -- made Paste's list of the 30 best book covers of 2016.

American Girls is YA novel released this past summer. Blurbage:

Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.
As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls--and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

Phil Pascuzzo has designed a bunch of book covers -- you've almost certainly seen at least a few of them, even if you didn't recognize them as a PepCo work at the time (his website includes a gallery). He sometimes posts new ones on his Instagram feed.

He's also done a ton of local design work -- band art, event posters, identity for orgs... including a bunch of the special AOA banners, such as the current holiday banner above.

[via @MsMansfield]

Earlier on AOA: The book on Phil Pascuzzo

Tracy Kidder at Schenectady High School

tracy kidder truck full of money

Journalist Tracy Kidder will be at Schenectady High School November 17 for a talk that's free and open to the public.

Kidder is an acclaimed non-fiction writer and author of many books, including the classic work The Soul of a New Machine, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He has a new book out this fall called A Truck Full of Money, which is about Paul English, the founder of multiple software companies. Blurbage:

In A Truck Full of Money, Tracy Kidder gives us a window on the paradoxical world of software engineering and internet commerce, where genius and artistry often mingle with vulgarity and greed, and where Paul English, for all his his success, seems at times almost an innocent. Kidder casts a fresh, critical, and often humorous eye on the way new ideas and new money are reshaping our culture and the world, often frivolous and yet vital to the functioning of virtually aspect of modern society.

Kidder's talk at Schenectady High School is Thursday, November 17 at 7 pm. It's first come, first seat. (Doors open at 6:30 pm.) The event is part of a series for the Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library's 50th Anniversary.

photo: Gabriel Amadeus Cooney

Creative Every Day book launch

creative every day book cover

Earlier this year we mentioned Creative Every Day, a series of illustrated mini-biographies of local people created by artist Ira Marcks as a project aimed at inspiring kids to explore careers in the creative economy.

Well, the book of those tiny stories is now finished and it's great -- interesting, beautiful, and fun! You can check out a pdf of the book online at the first link above. We've also clipped a few pages after the jump in case you'd like to take a quick look. (But, really, go check out the whole thing.)

The book's creation was sponsored by the Work Force Development Institute. And Marcks says the institute and Proctors will be distributing the book for free to schools around the region as part of program to help kids learn about how artistic skills can be applied to a wide range of jobs.

There's a party to celebrate the release of Creative Every Day Thursday, October 27 at Troy Kitchen from 6-9 pm. There will be music from Jecco Trio, Sudharsana Srinivasan, Taina Asili, and Jamel Mosely. And everyone who attends will get a free copy of the book.

(there's more)

Good used bookstores for children's books?

books stacked on deskVal emails:

I'm looking for some good used bookstores in the area - particularly ones that have a good selection of children's books.
It looks like this question was asked once before but it was 4+ years ago and it seems that a few of those places have closed since then. :(

We're especially interested in the the part of Val's question about children's books -- we're curious if there's some place that specializes in used books for kids.

Got a suggestion for Val? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're suggesting a place can be a big help.

Graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier will be in Saratoga Springs for a Northshire event

raina telgemeier ghosts book cover

Best-selling, award-winning cartoonist/author Raina Telgemeier will be in Saratoga Springs for an illustrated talk and Q&A October 21. The Northshire Bookstore-organized event is at the Bethesda Episcopal Church (41 Washington Street).

Telgemeier won the 2015 Eisner Award -- it's like the Oscars of comics -- for best writer/artist for her graphic novel Sisters. Her latest work -- Ghosts -- was released earlier this month and is already a best seller. As she told NPR this month about how the book deals with the subject of death:

I think most kids -- most people probably -- have some sort of fear of death. Including myself. And the idea of making it not scary but something jovial has always appealed to me. And so in depicting the ghosts in this book, and the skeletons in this book, I wanted them to be friendly. I wanted them to feel like they were friends. And it really spoke to me. And I've been in a position in the past few years where I've dealt with a lot of loss and a lot of people exiting my life in various ways. And so it was kind of also just an opportunity for me to kind of make peace with that, I suppose.

The Saratoga Springs event is Friday, October 21 at 6 pm. Admission is $17 for one seat and one book / $22 for two seats and one book / $27 for three seats and one book.

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers fall 2016

nys writers institute 2016 fall book covers

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it includes notable, award-winning writers and events.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

(there's more)

Upcoming Northshire author events include Meg Wolitzer, Marissa Meyer

weiner wolitzer meyer book covers

A quick scan of some of the author events Northshire Saratoga has coming up...

October 16: Jennifer Weiner
As already mentioned, Jennifer Weiner will be at Congregation Shaara Tfille in Saratoga Springs for a conversation with Elaina Richardson, president of Yaddo. Weiner has a new memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. Sunday, October 16 at 1 pm -- $34 for 1 seat and 1 book / $44 for 2 seats and 1 book / $29 for 1 seat and 1 book for students, seniors, and active military

October 27: Meg Wolitzer
Novelist Meg Wolitzer will be at Universal Preservation Hall for a fundraiser for the venue and Yaddo. Wolitzer's many novels include The Interestings, which . (For each ticket sold, $5 will go to Yaddo and $5 to Universal Preservation Hall. The ticket will also include a $5 discount on any Meg Wolitzer book in the store.) Thursday, October 27 at 7:30 pm -- $17.50

November 11: Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer -- author of the Lunar Chronicles series of young adult novels -- will be at the Embassy Suites Saratoga Springs to talk about her new book, Heartless, a YA series about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Friday, November 11 at 6 pm -- $28 for 1 seat and 1 book / $40 for 2 seats and 1 book / $48 for 3 seats and 1 book

A.O. Scott, Katie Roiphe, Emma Straub at The Mount

author emma straub

Emma Straub

The Mount in Lenox is again hosting a series of author events -- Touchstones: Conversations at The Mount -- led by journalist Kate Bolick. And the first one of the new series is this week. Here's the schedule:

August 11: A.O. Scott
The NYT film critic will be talking about his new book Better Living Through Criticism. Thursday, August 11, 6:45 pm -- $18

August 18: Katie Roiphe
The author will be talking about her new book The Violet Hour: Great Writers at The End. Thursday, August 18, 6:45 pm -- $18

August 25: Emma Straub
The best-selling novelist will be talking about her new work of fiction Modern Lovers. Thursday, August 25, 6:45 pm -- $18

Tickets are available online, and we suspect they'll sell out.

The Mount also hosts a popular summer lecture series -- all the evening events for that are sold out, though there are some tickets still available for the weekday morning events.

The Mount?
The Mount is the former home of the author Edith Wharton. It's in Lenox, in western Massachusetts -- not too far from the border with New York State. It's under an hour drive from Albany.

photo: Jennifer Bastian

Tickets for Northshire Saratoga Jennifer Weiner event now on sale

Jennifer Weiner author

Here are the updated details for the Northshire event with best-selling author Jennifer Weiner in Saratoga Springs October 16: Weiner will be appearing in conversation with Elaina Richardson, president of Yaddo, at Congregation Shaara Tfille at 1 pm. There will be audience Q&A afterward and book signing.

Weiner will be in town to talk about her upcoming book Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. Book blurbage:

You know Jennifer Weiner as many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and "an unlikely feminist enforcer" (The New Yorker). She's also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current runner; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. Here, in her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins it into a collection of essays on womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron. ...
No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom's late-in-life lesbianism, and her estranged father's death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter's use of the f-word--fat­­--for the first time, Jennifer dives deep into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

Tickets are on sale now -- they're $34 for 1 seat and 1 copy of the book / $44 for two seats and 1 book / $29 for active military, students, and seniors for 1 seat and 1 book.

Weiner is very popular, so it wouldn't be a surprise if this event sold out.

photo: Maarten de Boer

Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village

paradise now by chris jennings book coverThe author of Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism -- Chris Jennings -- will be at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village August 14 for a brunch and talk. Book blurbage:

In Paradise Now, Chris Jennings tells the story of five interrelated utopian movements, revealing their relevance both to their time and to our own. Here is Mother Ann Lee, the prophet of the Shakers, who grew up in newly industrialized Manchester, England--and would come to build a quiet but fierce religious tradition on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Even as the society she founded spread across the United States, the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen came to the Indiana frontier to build an egalitarian, rationalist utopia he called the New Moral World. A decade later, followers of the French visionary Charles Fourier blanketed America with colonies devoted to inaugurating a new millennium of pleasure and fraternity. Meanwhile, the French radical Étienne Cabet sailed to Texas with hopes of establishing a communist paradise dedicated to ideals that would be echoed in the next century. And in New York's Oneida Community, a brilliant Vermonter named John Humphrey Noyes set about creating a new society in which the human spirit could finally be perfected in the image of God.

Here's a very positive NYT review of the book from earlier this year.

Mount Lebanon Shaker Village is in norther Columbia County, just over the border from Rensselaer County. The Chris Jennings event starts at 11 am on Sunday, August 14. Tickets are $75 and include brunch.

As you might know, this region was the site of the first Shaker communities in America -- the very first being the Watervliet Shaker community (on land that's now in Colonie). Influential Shaker leader Ann Lee is buried there. (The State Museum had an interesting exhibit about the Shakers not too long ago -- some of the materials are still online.)

See also: This fascinating article about the "polyamorous Christian socialist utopia" that gave birth to the Oneida Limited company, which for roughly a century made silverware in Oneida, New York from Collectors Weekly.

NYS Summer Writers Institute 2016

author margo jefferson

Margo Jefferson -- whose memoir Negroland won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography last year -- is one of the authors on this year's schedule. / photo: Michael Lionstar

The schedule for this summer's New York State Writers Institute's free public readings series in Saratoga Springs is out. And as usual, the lineup is full of names you'll recognize, such as Rick Moody, Claire Messud, Robert Pinsky, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Kennedy.

The readings are on Skidmore's campus and are free and open to the public.

Without further ado...

(there's more)

Jennifer Weiner coming to Saratoga Springs for Northshire event

jennifer weiner hungry at heart coverBest-selling author Jennifer Weiner will be appearing in Saratoga Springs October 16 as part an event organized by Northshire Saratoga. Tickets go on sale July 12 -- price is TBA.

Weiner will be in town to talk about her upcoming book Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing as part of an "Off the Shelf" discussion with WAMC's Joe Donahue. Book blurbage:

You know Jennifer Weiner as many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and "an unlikely feminist enforcer" (The New Yorker). She's also a mom, a daughter, and a sister; a former rower and current runner; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. Here, in her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins it into a collection of essays on womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron. ...
No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom's late-in-life lesbianism, and her estranged father's death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter's use of the f-word--fat­­--for the first time, Jennifer dives deep into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

The specific location of the Saratoga Springs event hasn't been announced, yet.

Marissa Meyer
Also: It looks like Marissa Meyer -- author of The Lunar Chronicles -- will be at a Northshire Saratoga event November 11.

Read and Feed at Basilica Hudson

basilica read and feed logo

Basilica Hudson has a new festival July 30 -- Read and Feed -- that looks to pair food and literature. Blurbage for discussions at the fest:

// Legendary authors Lydia Davis (Can't and Won't: Stories) and Lynne Tillman (What Would Lynne Tillman Do?) will engage with each other and the audience in a wine tasting led by oenophile and power reader Michael Albin of Hudson Wine Merchants.
// "Food, Farming, and Spirituality," will feature celebrity chef and cookbook author Zak Pelaccio (Fish & Game, Eat With Your Hands), author Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye), and organic farmer Sarah Chase (Chaseholm Farm), in conversation with renowned chef, cookbook author, and end-of-life doula Rozanne Gold (Radically Simple, Cooking 1-2-3, and many others).
// "Reading, Drinking, Eating, Writing" will explore food as a language, and will be moderated by author, mixologist, fortune-teller, teacher extraordinaire Rosie Schapp (Drinking with Men, New York Times "Drinking" columnist) and feature award-winning poet and President of the Poetry Society of America, Kimiko Hahn (Brain Fever: Poems), author and "urban forager" Ava Chin (Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal), and true crime writer and serial killer specialist Harold Schecter (Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal).

The Basilica is partnering with the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses on the event. There will also be a marketplace with food products and titles from small presses (including cookbooks).

Read and Feed is Saturday, July 30 from 5-11 pm. Tickets are $20 ahead / $25 at the door.

Parts of the event will also be broadcast (over the air and online) by WGXC 90.7-FM.

Earlier on AOA: Basilica Hudson 2016 season

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution at Northshire Saratoga

Valiant Ambition book coverThe Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs will be hosting an event with the author of a new book about Benedict Arnold on June 6.

Nathaniel Philbrick -- author of Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution -- will appear in conversation with Steve Sheinkin, author of The Notorious Benedict Arnold. Book blurbage:

Valiant Ambition is a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation. The focus is on loyalty and personal integrity, evoking a Shakespearean tragedy that unfolds in the key relationship of [George] Washington and Arnold, who is an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington's unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.

As you might know, Benedict Arnold played a key role in the Battles of Saratoga -- and his actions there are honored in some indirect ways.

Philbrick won a National Book Award for In the Heart of the Sea, which was adapted as film directed by Ron Howard last year. And a handful of his other works are apparently in various stages of being adapted for film and TV.

The Northshire event is Monday, June 6 at 6 pm in the store on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs. Admission is $5 and redeemable for five bucks off the book.

From Wolf to Woof! at Heather Ridge Farm

from wolf to woof cover

This could be fun for kids: Heather Ridge Farm is hosting an event with author/illustrator Hudson Talbott for his new book From Wolf to Woof! May 21. It's free to attend.

The children's book looks at how wolves may have become dogs. Book blurbage:

How did dog become man's best friend? Dogs come in such a variety of shapes, sizes, and breeds, that it is hard to believe that they all have a common ancestor-the wolf! Hudson Talbott takes readers on a fascinating journey through history to see how wolves' relationships with humans sparked their development into the dogs we know and love today.
Striking paintings, from an adorable wolf pup to a wide range of modern-day dog breeds, illustrate this insightful story of teamwork and friendship. Through the eyes of a prehistoric boy and a lone wolf pup, we see how the bond between our ancestors and these wild animals may have developed. Starting as enemies competing for food, the wolf and the boy realize that they'll eat better and be safer if they team up. Over time, others catch on, and as many of the wolves become more domesticated, the humans breed them for skills like hunting, herding, pulling, and rescuing. And today, there are more breeds of dog than of any other animal, all thanks to this relationship that started so long ago.

Copies of the book will be available for sale and Talbott will be there from noon-3 pm to sign copies. Heather Ridge will have a farm tour at 11 am that day "introducing guests to the farm animals, which includes cattle, pigs, sheep with lambs, goats with kids, chickens, geese, donkeys, llamas, alpacas and a couple of farm dogs." And the farm's cafe will be offering lunch.

Heather Ridge Farm is just over the southwest border of Albany County in Schoharie County.

Supper club: Heather Ridge's popular supper club has another dinner lined up for this Saturday, May 14.

Flight Paths with Darryl McGrath at the University Club

flight paths by darryl mcgrathThe University Club in Albany is hosting a talk with journalist (and Albany resident) Darryl McGrath this Tuesday about her new book Flight Paths: A Field Journal of Hope, Heartbreak, and Miracles with New York's Bird People. Book blurbage:

In the late 1970s, the peregrine falcon was heading toward extinction, a victim of the pesticide DDT. Flight Paths tells the story of how a small group of New York biologists raced against nature's clock to bring these beloved birds back from the brink in record-setting numbers..
In a narrative that reads like a suspense tale, Darryl McGrath documents the rescue project in never-before-published detail. At Cornell University, a team of scientists worked to crack the problem of how to breed peregrine falcons in captivity and then restore them to the wild.
McGrath interweaves this dramatic retelling with contemporary accounts of other at-risk species. She worked alongside biologists as they studied these elusive subjects in the Northeast's most remote regions, and the result is a story that combines vivid narrative with accessible science and is as much a tribute to these experts as it is a call to action for threatened birds.

The evening will start with a meet-the-author reception at 6 pm on Tuesday, May 3. McGrath's talk starts at 7 pm. And there will be a book signing afterward. The event is free to attend, though registration is required. Copies of Flight Paths will be available for $20.

Earlier on AOA: Birding in Washington Park

Chester 5000: Isabelle and George

Chester5000 Isabelle and George coverTroy-based artist/author Jess Fink is raising money on Kickstarter for publishing the second book in her erotic, Victorian, sci-fi, romance series Chester 5000. Blurbage:

The first volume told the story of Pricilla, a Victorian woman with needs, who falls in love with Chester, a robot made by her husband, Robert. It's a romance with sci fi elements about empowering women's desire. The book was critically acclaimed and pages from it have been featured at the Museum of Sex in NYC.
The second chapter of Chester, Isabelle and George, continues the adventure and explores the character's first meetings. It follows Isabelle, a lonely orphan, reprimanded at every turn by her strict matron, and George, a promising inventor on the cusp of a brilliant invention. It's a romance with dramatic twists about secret desire, industrial corruption, and the oppressive social prisons that get in the way of love.

A few years back, we talked with Fink about her inspiration for the series, women taking control of their own sexuality, and how the identity of a creator can shape erotica.

The Kickstarter goal is $22,000 -- and the project is already past the $20k mark. Pledge rewards include a copy of book (both a pdf and hardcover), and other items.

Solomon Northup's Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens Before the Civil War at The Book House

solomon northups kindred book coverHistorian David Fiske will be at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza this Saturday to talk about his new book Solomon Northup's Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens Before the Civil War. Book blurbage:

David Fiske's Solomon Northup's Kindred reveals the abhorrent conditions and greed that resulted in the kidnapping of American citizens. Factors like early fugitive slave laws, the invention of the cotton gin, the 1808 ban on importing slaves into the United States, and the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision made these crimes highly profitable. Fiske sheds much-needed light on the practice of kidnapping, explaining how it was carried out, identifying conditions that allowed kidnappers to operate, and describing methods for combating the crime. He offers dozens of case studies along with documentation from across historical newspaper reports, anti-slavery literature, local history books, and academic publications to provide an accurate account of kidnapping crimes of the time.

As you know, Solomon Northup is the Saratoga Springs man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841 after being lured to Washington, DC with the promise of a job -- his memoir was adapted to become the film 12 Years a Slave. Fiske has previously authored/co-authored two books about Northup: Solomon Northup: His Life Before and After Slavery and Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave.

He recently talked with the Daily Gazette about the new book, including accounts of mutiple kidnappings that happened in Upstate New York.

The event at the Book House is Saturday, March 12 at 3 pm. Fiske will be talking about the book and signing copies. It's free to attend.

Augusten Burroughs at Skidmore

Augusten Burroughs 2016

Author Augusten Burroughs will be at Skidmore April 13 for a talk about his new memoir Lust & Wonder. Northshire Bookstore is hosting the event. Tickets are on sale now -- they're are $32 (1 book / 1 seat) / $39 (1 book / 2 seats) / $29 for students, seniors, active duty military (1 seat / 1 book).

Burroughs has written many books, including the memoir Running with Scissors. Here's some blurbage on the new one:

In Lust & Wonder, Burroughs chronicles the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, and examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. With Augusten's unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous, "Lust & Wonder "is an intimate and honest memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for.

The book is set to be released March 29.

The event at Skidmore is Wednesday, April 13 at 7 pm in Palamountain Hall's Gannett Auditorium.

photo: Christopher Schelling

"Anachronisms & Inaccuracy" at SCPL

SCPL event poster historical fictionThis could be interesting, even if you're not setting out to write a book: The Schenectady County Public Library is hosting an event called "Anachronisms & Inaccuracy: The Challenges of Writing Historical Fiction" with with historical mystery author Eleanor Kuhns. Topics-to-be-discussed blurbage:

+ Resources for research-from using Wikipedia to Writing software
+ How to avoid information dumps-working key historical facts into a narrative
+ Using period slang properly
+ Getting published
+ Working with editors

Heck, we'd be interested in a whole event about period slang. It'd be the bee's knees.

The event at the SCPL central library is Saturday, February 27 from 10:30 am-noon. It's free, but the library does ask that you pre-register.

Adult coloring book night: By the way, the SCPL's next adult coloring book night is Wednesday, February 10.

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers spring 2016

nys writers institute 2016 spring cover composite

The spring lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's full of notable, award-winning writers and events for which to look ahead.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

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"As If! A celebration of Clueless" in Saratoga

as if clueless jen chaney coverNorthshire Saratoga and the Saratoga Film Forum are hosting a screening of/talk about the film Clueless January 23. Journalist Jen Chaney -- author of As If: The Oral History of Clueless as Told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast & Crew -- will be appearing via Skype for a talk and Q&A.

Blurbage:

Acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the classic film's release in the first book of its kind, weaving together original interviews with writer and director Amy Heckerling; key cast members, including Alicia Silverstone (Cher), Paul Rudd (Josh), Stacey Dash (Dionne), Donald Faison (Murray), Elisa Donovan (Amber), Wallace Shawn (Mr. Hall), Twink Caplan (Ms. Geist and associate producer); ... Chaney explores the influence of Jane Austen's "Emma" as the unlikely framework for Heckerling's script, the rigorous casting process (including the future stars who didn't make the cut), the functional yet fashion-forward wardrobe, the unique slang that drew from the past and coined new phrases for the future, the sun-drenched soundtrack that set the tone, and above all the massive amount of work, creativity, and craft that went into making "Clueless" look so effortlessly bright and glossy. "As If " illuminates why plaid skirts and knee socks will never go out of style, and why "Clueless" remains one of the most beloved comedies of all time.

The event is Saturday, January 23 at 7 pm at the Saratoga Film Forum at The Arts Center (320 Broadway in Saratoga Springs). Tickets are $29 for one seat and one book / $39 for two seats and one book -- and they're on sale now.

Northshire advertises on AOA.

The Oregon Trail at Nortshire Saratoga

oregon trail book cover rinker buckIf you're certain age you probably remember playing The Oregon Trail computer game*, trying to get your virtual covered wagon from Missouri to Oregon.

Well, a few years ago a journalist named Rinker Buck and his brother actually did try to get from Missouri to Oregon by wagon. And he wrote about it in the aptly-titled book The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey. Buck will be at Northshire Saratoga this Saturday, December 5 at 7 pm to talk about the book. It's free.

Book blurbage:

Traveling from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Baker City, Oregon, over the course of four months, Buck is accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an "incurably filthy" Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Along the way, they dodge thunderstorms in Nebraska, chase runaway mules across the Wyoming plains, scout more than five hundred miles of nearly vanished trail on foot, cross the Rockies, and make desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water. The Buck brothers repair so many broken wheels and axels that they nearly reinvent the art of wagon travel itself. ...
But The Oregon Trail is much more than an epic adventure. It is also a lively and essential work of history that shatters the comforting myths about the trail years passed down by generations of Americans. Buck introduces readers to the largely forgotten roles played by trailblazing evangelists, friendly Indian tribes, female pioneers, bumbling U.S. Army cavalrymen, and the scam artists who flocked to the frontier to fleece the overland emigrants. ...

Here's a recent NYT review, and NPR interview.

And if you ever played the Oregon Trail computer game, you'll appreciate this bit: Buck's brother is an actual carpenter.

* You can now play one of the early versions of The Oregon Trail online.

Northshire advertises on AOA.

David Sedaris at The Egg

david sedaris 2015

Author David Sedaris will be at The Egg April 9. Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, November 20 -- they're $38.50 and $48.50.

It's been a few years since Sedaris last made a stop here -- 2013, we think. And his appearances are often very popular. So, if you'd like to go, getting tickets sooner rather than later is probably a good idea.

The most recent book from Sedaris is Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls.

If you've never seen Sedaris in in a live performance, (in our experience) it goes something like this: he reads a bit, he talks a bit, reads a little bit more, talks some more, people laugh -- sometimes not exactly sure of when they should. So it's kind of like you'd expect.

photo: Hugh Hamrick

Not on Fire, but Burning

not on fire but burning by greg hrbek coverA book to keep an eye out for: Not on Fire, but Burning by Greg Hrbek, a writer in residence at Skidmore. The novel is set for a September 22 release and is already getting attention -- including a starred review in Kirkus and a spot on the "most anticipated" list over at The Millions.

From some of the publisher blurbage:

Twenty-year-old Skyler saw the incident out her window: Some sort of metallic object hovering over the Golden Gate Bridge just before it collapsed and a mushroom cloud lifted above the city. Like everyone, she ran, but she couldn't outrun the radiation, with her last thoughts being of her beloved baby brother, Dorian, safe in her distant family home.
Flash forward to a post-incident America, where the country has been broken up into territories and Muslims have been herded onto the old Indian reservations in the west, even though no one has determined who set off the explosion that destroyed San Francisco. Twelve-year old Dorian dreams about killing Muslims and about his sister--even though Dorian's parents insist Skyler never existed. Are they still shell-shocked, trying to put the past behind them . . . or is something more sinister going on?
Meanwhile, across the street, Dorian's neighbor adopts a Muslim orphan from the territories. It will set off a series of increasingly terrifying incidents that will lead to either tragedy or redemption for Dorian, as he struggles to prove that his sister existed--and was killed by a terrorist attack.
Not on Fire, but Burning is unlike anything you're read before--not exactly a thriller, not exactly sci-fi, not exactly speculative fiction, but rather a brilliant and absorbing adventure into the dark heart of an America that seems ripped from the headlines. But just as powerfully, it presents a captivating hero: A young boy driven by love to seek the truth, even if it means his deepest beliefs are wrong.

There's a book launch party for the novel at Northshire Saratoga October 1.

Touchstones at The Mount 2015 fall

meghan daum 2015

Meghan Daum is among the authors on the lineup.

The Mount -- you know, the former Edith Wharton residence in Lenox -- has a series of conversation events lined up for this fall that looks interesting. It's hosted by journalist Kate Bolick. Blurbage: "This year's featured authors tackle provocative and controversial topics including race, gender, class, marriage,and motherhood."

Here's a compressed schedule...

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NYS Writers Institute visiting writers fall 2015

nys writers institute visiting writers 2015 fall composite

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's full of notable, award-winning writers and names you'll recognize.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

(there's more)

New books from local authors

bell weather dennis mahoney

Dennis Mahoney's Bell Weather is out this week.

A handful of new books from Capital Region authors have floated by recently, so let's have a quick scan, shall we...

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NYS Summer Writers Institute 2015

author claire messud

Claire Messud is on the authors who's part of this year's series. / photo via Claire Messud FB

This summer's schedule for the New York State Writers Institute's public readings series in Saratoga Springs is out. And as usual, the lineup is full of names you'll recognize, such as Michael Ondaajte, Claire Messud, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Kennedy.

The readings are on Skidmore's campus and are free and open to the public.

Let's get to it...

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Rutabaga the Adventure Chef

rutabaga comic composite with author

By Lauren Hittinger

When you think of adventures in mysterious lands with dragons, kings, and barbarians, you probably don't think of chefs.

But that's exactly how local artist and graphic novelist Eric Colossal imagined Rutabaga, the main character in his recently released comic Rutabaga, the Adventure Chef. This tenacious and scrappy chef seems to always cook his way out of the troubles he invariably finds himself in.

I chatted with Eric Colossal about the story behind Rutabaga, and his experiences becoming a full-time artist working on published books.

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David McCullough at Saratoga City Center

david mccullough the wright brothers

Famed author/historian David McCullough will be at the Saratoga City Center June 2 for a talk about his new book The Wright Brothers. Tickets are $40 (one seat, one book) / $50 (two seats, one book) and on sale now.

The event is part of the Off the Shelf series organized by Northshire Bookstore and WAMC. McCullough will be talking on stage with WAMC's Joe Donahue.

Book blurbage:

In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers' story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.

The event at the City Center is Tuesday, June 2 at 7 pm.

Jane Smiley
Another Northshire author event coming up: Pulitzer Prize-winner Jane Smiley will be at the Saratoga Springs store June 5 for a conversation with Issac Pulver, chair of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Tickets are $5 and redeemable for a $5 discount on Smiley's novel Early Warning.

photo: William B. McCullough

Author of H is for Hawk at Northshire

H is for Hawk coverHelen Macdonald -- the author of the best-selling, award-winning H is for Hawk -- will be at Northshire Saratoga this Saturday to talk about her book.

H is for Hawk is part memoir/part biography/part natural history that follows Macdonald's effort to train a hawk following her father's sudden death. It's received very strong reviews. A clip from Vicki Constantine Croke's review in NYT:

Although "animal as emotional healer" is a familiar motif, Macdonald's journey clears its own path -- messy, muddy and raw. Early on, she drives to Scotland from her home in Cambridge to pick up a captive-bred, 10-week-old, Czech-Finnish-German goshawk she's seen online. At the first glimpse of her bird, Macdonald's "heart jumps sideways." And so does the reader's, for here is a creature worth writing about: "A reptile. A fallen angel. A griffon from the pages of an illuminated bestiary. Something bright and distant, like gold falling through water."

Last fall H is for Hawk won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction ("the UK's premier prize for non-fiction books") -- one of the judges called it "a book unlike any other."

The in-store event at Northshire Saratoga is at 7 pm on Saturday, April 11. It's free.

One Plastic Bag at Albany Institute

one plastic bag coverThe Albany Institute is hosting an event this Saturday with Isatou Ceesay, a Gambian woman who created a community-based recycling program. Her story is the subject of One Plastic Bag, a new picture book by author Miranda Paul and Albany-based illustrator Elizabeth Zunon. Paul and Zunon will both be at the event.

Here's a Guardian feature about the program Ceesay and group of women started in Gambia. It's a remarkable story -- they built a recycling program in place where there wasn't even municipal waste collection, and did it in a way that helped provide jobs and income for people.

The Albany Institute event will include a reading and talk, as well as a project for kids to create their own recycled art project -- there are workshops at noon and 3 pm. It's free with museum admission.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Holiday gifts: Elizabeth Zunon
+ So, how do you create a giant clog sculpture?

Cheryl Strayed at HVCC

author cheryl strayed

Author Cheryl Strayed will be at HVCC March 12 for a talk. It's free and open to the public.

Strayed will be talking about Wild, her memoir about her 1,000-mile solo hike along the Pacific Coast trail. It was a best seller, and part of Oprah's book club. The book was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon that was released last year.

But her work extends beyond Wild as an award-winning essayist. And she also wrote the popular Dear Sugar column for the Rumpus.

Strayed's talk at HVCC starts at 7 pm on Thursday, March 12 in the Bulmer Telecommunications Center Auditorium. Doors open at 6:15 pm -- seating is limited and first come, first sit.

[via @DanielleSanzone]

photo: Joni Kabana

The Country of Ice Cream Star at Northshire Saratoga

country of ice cream star coverCould be interesting: The author of the new novel The Country of Ice Cream Star, Sandra Newman, will be at Northshire Saratoga Friday evening.

The book has been getting a lot of attention recently because it pushes the boundaries of the dystopian YA genre (some sort of disease kills off people once the reach their late teens or early 20s) and it's written almost entirely in the evolved teenage English dialect of its protagonist.

From a WSJ article about Newman and the book:

Author Sandra Newman thinks Katniss Everdeen, of the 'Hunger Games' trilogy, is kind of a wuss. The 15-year-old heroine of Ms. Newman's coming dystopian novel, "The Country of Ice Cream Star," has "certain crucial differences," Ms. Newman says. "Instead of agonizing over kissing a boy, she just has sex. Instead of killing people with her archery skills, she has an assault rifle. I also think she's a lot smarter and funnier than Katniss Everdeen, but clearly I'm biased."

From a Washington Post review:

But what makes the novel so fascinating -- and, yes, so challenging -- is the language Newman has created for Ice Cream and the way we see this disease-ravaged world through her eyes:
"Days that come been clean bonesse. We keep to 495, a highway broad as any field. Got a twin highway the same, these two companion faithful. Together, they go stretch and snake across all unkept distance, till they find our new Connecticut. All this way be forest. Ain't scarcely notice when the Massa woods be left, and yonder start. A hummock seem familiar in your eye; then it come queery that the individual trees be strangers."

Here's an AV Club review that's a bit more reserved in its praise.

The event at Nortshire starts at 7 pm Friday, February 27. It's free.

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers spring 2015

nys writers institute 2015 spring cover composite

The spring lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as we've all come to expect, it includes both authors you'll recognize and authors you'll probably soon recognize.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

(there's more)

Figuring Sh!t Out with Amy Biancolli

figuring shit out amy biancolli

Amy Biancolli is a self-described mom, ink-stained wretch, and survivor of suicides.

We would describe her as a gifted and thoughtful writer with an ability to find the joy, truth, and humor in living -- even in the aftermath of great personal tragedy.

Three years ago, Biancolli's husband, well-known Capital Region writer Chris Ringwald, took his own life. It was not Biancolli's first experience with suicide. Years earlier her sister, Lucy, killed herself, and her father survived his own suicide attempt.

Biancolli -- a former film critic for the Houston Chronicle and the current arts writer for the Times Union -- has turned that experience into a new memoir. Figuring Sh!t Out (and her blog of the same name) take a look at her first year without Chris, and the, well, stuff she had to figure out -- from who she is now without her husband of 20 years, to how to help her children, to how to work the lawn mower, to whether she should bother to shave her legs anymore. Tales of "crisis ziti", memos to George Clooney, surviving a monkey attack only to be bitten by a dog in Ecuador, and whether to search for a "Mr. Manly Pants" alternately prompt laughter and tears -- and sometimes do both at once.

Biancolli spent a few minutes with us this week, to share some thoughts on the bizarre ways humor and grief can overlap, why she decided to share such a deep personal tragedy, and the experience of being carried by her Albany community.

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Altering history with Jacopo Della Quercia: The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy

Giacomo Calabria.jpg

Giacomo Calabria aka Jacopo Della Quercia, author of The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy

Giacomo Calabria grew up watching movies like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Indian Jones and The Last Crusade, and listening to his parents tell bedtime stories about Genghis Kahn. Maybe that explains a little about how this Albany resident approaches history.

Under the pseudonym Jacopo Della Quercia, Calabria has been a frequent contributor on fun and fascinating bits of history at the humor website Cracked. He came to Albany a few years ago to be closer to family (his brother and sister-in-law own the popular Lark Street bakery Crisan) and started work on his first novel -- the newly released Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy -- "an equal-parts cocktail of action, adventure, science-fiction and comedy" that brings together William Howard Taft, Robert Todd Lincoln and other historical figures to solve a mystery that stretches back to the Lincoln assassination.

Calabria will be at Northshire Books in Saratoga Friday evening for a reading and signing of The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy.

He talked with us this week about his passion for history, leaving Easter eggs for curious readers in the age of Google, and Albany's disturbing connection to the Lincoln assassination.

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Drawing: Tickets for Chuck Palahniuk in Saratoga + Northshire gift certificate

author chuck palahniuk

Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

Author Chuck Palahniuk will be at Skidmore November 1 to talk about his new book Beautiful You. The event is organized by Northshire Bookstore. And we have a prize package for the event -- 2 tickets, one copy of Beautiful You, and a $50 gift certificate to Northshire -- that's we're giving away. Maybe to you.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

If the Capital Region -- either the whole area, or one specific part of it -- was a novel, what would its title be?

It could be anything. Non-redeemable bonus points for fun ideas with a one-line synopsis. We'll draw one winner at random.

Palahniuk is the author of books such as Fight Club and Choke. He's described his new book as "gonzo erotica."

The event at Skidmore is at 7 pm in Palamountain Hall's Gannett Auditorium. Tickets -- which include one copy of the book -- are $35 and available online. (There's also a $25 student ticket.)

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Friday, October 9, 2014 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 10 am on Saturday and must respond by 5 pm on Monday, October 13.

photo: Sarah Lee

Frequency North 2014 fall

writer chloe caldwell

Chloe Caldwell

The Frequency North series at Saint Rose starts its fall this season this Thursday with an appearance by writer Chloe Caldwell. Blurbage:

A native of Hudson, NY, Chloe Caldwell is the author of the forthcoming novella Women (SF/LD Books, 2014) and the essay collection Legs Get Led Astray (Future Tense Books, 2012). Her nonfiction has appeared in Salon.com, The Rumpus, Thought Catalog, Nylon, The Nervous Breakdown, xoJane, The Frisky, The Sun, SMITH, Jewcy, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, Freerange Nonfiction, The Faster Times, The Fix, and Men's Health, and has also appeared in the anthologies Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NYC (Seal Press), GIRLS? (Thought Catalog), and True Tales of Lust and Love (Soft Skull Press). She is the founder and curator of the Hudson River Loft Reading Series in Hudson, NY, and has taught Creative Writing workshops at Omega Teen Camp, The Hudson Opera House, The Independent Resource Center, and personal essay classes online through Lit Reactor.

Lena Dunham is a fan, apparently.

The reading/talk is Thursday, October 9 at 7:30 pm in the Events and Athletics Center, Standish Rooms, Second Floor (420 Western Ave). It's free and open to the public.

Here's the rest of the Frequency North fall season lineup...

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The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy at the Albany Institute

Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy coverThis could bizarre and fun: The author of The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy will be at the Albany Institute for a talk October 5.

What is this conspiracy, you ask. Let us turn our attention to the blurbage:

Join Albany historian and writer Giacomo Calabria (pen name, Jacopo della Quercia) for a lively talk about his recently published historical novel that is part sci-fi, part action adventure, and part comedy embedded in a narrative based on meticulous research. The result is an outlandish secret history that aligns perfectly with national as well as the city of Albany historical record.
Calabria is an educator and history writer whose work has been featured on the comedy website Cracked.com, BBC America, CNN Money, and the Huffington Post.

Here's an A.V. Club review of the book. And article in Slate from earlier this year by Calabria: "Abraham Lincoln's Steampunk Presidency."

The talk at the Albany Institute is at 2 pm on Sunday, October 5. It's free with museum admission.

The Albany Institute advertises on AOA.

Gary Shteyngart at Saratoga Springs Public Library

author Gary ShteyngartAuthor Gary Shteyngart will be at the Saratoga Springs Public Library November 6 to talk about his memoir Little Failure. Tickets are $45 -- they include the event, a book, and light refreshments.

The event is presented by Northshire Bookstore and the New York Library Association.

Event blurbage:

After three acclaimed novels, Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far. Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own.

The event is at 5:30 pm on Thursday, November 6.

As You Wish: We hear the October 16 Northshire event with Cary Elwes, about his memoir of making The Princess Bride, is filling up. So, if you're interested in going, it's probably a good idea to get tickets sooner rather than later.

Earlier on AOA: "The man does not remember telling his glasses about enjoying that restaurant, but somehow they know." (Gary Shteyngart visits Schenectady while wearing Google Glass.)

photo: Brigitte Lacombe

This fall at Northshire includes Corrigan, Maguire, Palahniuk

northshire author events  fall 2014 book covers

A handful of Northshire Bookstore Saratoga author events for the fall that caught our eye:

September 17: John Scalzi
Award-winning sci-fi author talking about his new book Lock In. 7 pm in store - free

September 20: Maureen Corrigan
Fresh Air book critic in an "Off the Shelf" conversation with WAMC's Joe Donahue about her new book So We Read On. "With rigor, wit, and infectious enthusiasm, Corrigan inspires us to re-experience the greatness of Gatsby and cuts to the heart of why we are, as a culture, 'borne back ceaselessly' into its thrall." 7 pm in store - $28 for one book and one seat / $35 for one book and two seats

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What to do with used books?

books stacked on desk

Kaitlin asks via Twitter:

Any ideas on what to do with books I no longer need? I've got piles, of various genres/kinds, with no home!
I could just thrift store them but those always seem inundated w/books.

We're guessing there are a lot of people like Kaitlin, looking for new homes for old books.

So, got a suggestion? Please share!

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers fall 2014

nys writers institute visiting writers 2014 fall covers

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's full of notable, award-winning writers and names you'll recognize.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

(there's more)

The Little Free Libraries of Troy

little free library outside TVCOG

This box is outside the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in downtown Troy.

By Lauren Hittinger

There are little metal newspaper boxes popping up around Troy this summer. But instead of distributing newspapers, they're serving as free "libraries" for anyone to take a book and/or leave a book. They join a collection of "Little Free Libraries" that includes a few other spots around the Capital Region, and many others around the world.

Organizer Emily Armstrong says the three Troy locations are already seeing revolving donations. I talked with her recently about what inspired the tiny libraries, the merits of the "regular" library, and treasure hunting and surprise...

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Cooking with Fire author at HLM

cooking with fire marcoux coverAuthor/historian/wood-fired foods expert Paula Marcoux will be at Healthy Living Market August 6 for a talk and demo.

Marcoux's book, Cooking With Fire: From Roasting on a Spit to Baking in a Tannur, Rediscovered Techniques and Recipes That Capture the Flavors of Wood-Fired Cooking, was published this past May. From a Boston Globe article about her (link added):

After almost 30 years studying pre-industrial and ancient cooking methods, Marcoux, 53, a former Plimoth Plantation historic interpreter, has just published her first cookbook, "Cooking With Fire: From Roasting on a Spit to Baking in a Tannur, Rediscovered Techniques and Recipes That Capture the Flavors of Wood-Fired Cooking." The various outdoor cooking options on her land are both practical and part of her extensive research. The book, as much a summary of traditional cooking methods as a compilation of recipes, takes novices through making a fire, exploring age-old techniques and tools, and leading the more ambitious (with 12 pages of instructions and photos) through building a wood-fired mud oven. "Wood-fired ovens are for taking outdoor cooking to the next level or for fanatical bakers," she says. She considers herself one of the fanatics.

The Healthy Living Market event is at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, August 6. It's free, but re-registration is required.

Rensselaerville Festival of Writers 2014

rensselaerville festival of writers owlThe annual Rensselaerville Festival of Writers returns August 15-17 in (surprise) Rensselaerville.

Among the lineup of authors for this year's festival: Elisa Albert, Shin Yu Pai, Joann and Arielle Eckstut, Gail Godwin, and Eugene Linden. There's also a songwriters concert featuring Sean Rowe and Ashley Sofia.

A three-day festival pass is $100. But individual tickets are available for many of the events, and some are as cheap as $5.

Hillary Clinton at Northshire Saratoga

hillary clinton hard choices coverHillary Clinton will be at the Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs for a book signing July 29. Tickets are required for the event, and they're available now -- Northshire says there's a "limited number" of them.

Buying Clinton's new memoir, Hard Choices, gets you a ticket. Book purchases can be made in person or via phone -- there are no online sales.

Given the expected popularity of Clinton's appearances, there are number of guidelines for the event (at the link above). There will be a wristband system for entry.

The event is scheduled to start at 12:15 pm on Tuesday, July 29.

NYS Summer Writers Institute 2014

william kennedyThis summer's slate for the New York State Writers Institute's public readings series in Saratoga Springs started recently. And as usual, the lineup is full of names you'll recognize (including William Kennedy, of course).

The readings are free and open to the public.

Here's the remaining schedule...

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Joanna Rakoff at Northshire

author joanna rakoffAuthor Joanna Rakoff will be at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs Friday for a talk, discussion. and signing.

Rakoff has a new memoir out this week, My Salinger Year. It's about her time working for a very old-school literary agency in NYC that represented J.D. Salinger. Part of her job there: Responding to the constant stream of Salinger fan mail. It's been getting good reviews. And here's a Flavorwire interview with with Rakoff about the book.

The event at Northshire is at 7 pm Friday. It's free.

Russell Banks
Previously noted, but worth another mention: Russell Banks will be at Northshire Saratoga Saturday for a talk, discussion, and signing for his book A Permanent Member of the Family. It's at 6 pm as part of the Saratoga Arts Fest, and it's free.

photo: Elena Seibert

Groups for writers to discuss and workshop?

laptop keyboardJoe emails:

Do you know any fiction writers groups in the Capital Region, who meet to discuss their work and workshop?

Outside perspective can be a help when working on some sort of creative effort. And there are certainly communities of writers in this area, so we wouldn't be surprised to hear if there are groups -- ranging from the formal to the less so.

Have a suggestion for Joe? Please share!

NYS Writers Institute visiting writers spring 2014

visiting writers 2014 spring book covers

The spring 2014 lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's full of notable, award-winning writers and names you'll recognize.

A handful that caught our eye on first pass this time around: Walter Mosley, E.L. Doctorow, Christopher Durang, Walter Kirn, Julia Glass, and Lydia Davis.

Here's the full lineup...

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These Exalted Acres

grondahl albany rural cemetery book coverLocal history alert: Paul Grondahl has written a book about the Albany Rural Cemetery. An excerpt from These Exalted Acres: Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery ran in the Times Union recently. A clip:

Visitors to the cemetery can read a backstory in Victorian-era symbolism and carved iconography that is repeated across the sprawling grounds in a kind of cultural shorthand: a torch inverted for a life extinguished; oak leaves and an acorn for a person of old age; ivy for friendship and fidelity; and crossed swords for a life lost in battle.
It is a monumental mirror held up to the region's past, and sometimes the heavy weight of history is almost too much to bear. We can trace the ancient heartache of scores of infants and young mothers who died in childbirth in the 1800s. There are vestigial reminders of successive waves of long-conquered diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, cholera and influenza that killed many Albany citizens. The toll of the nation's wars are commemorated here, too, from the Revolutionary War to 1,030 Civil War soldiers and sailors buried at Albany Rural, as well as casualties of World War I and World War II.
Notes of triumph temper the sadness, too, with monuments that celebrate great industrialists, inventors, entrepreneurs, educators and other successful individuals.

Bonus bit: More than 135,000 people are buried in the cemetery -- Grondahl points out that, in a sense, the Albany Rural is "the most populous city in the region."*

These Exalted Acres: Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery is being published by the Times Union via Lulu. It's $25 online.

Also: Check out the interactive map of the cemetery.
____

* Related: There are more people buried in the Glens Falls Cemetery than currently living in the city itself. Such is the reality of being an old city. [Post-Star]

Earlier and elsewhere:
+ Paula Lemire's Albany Rural Cemetery and Church Grounds blogs
+ AOA: Albany Rural Cemetery, after dark
+ AOA: Walking the Albany Rural Cemetery

Lydia Davis at Albany Public Library

lydia davis author photoMan Booker International Prize winner -- and UAlbany professor/writer-in-residence -- Lydia Davis will be at the main Albany Public Library this Saturday for a talk and discussion about her work. The Friends of Albany Public Library will honoring Davis with their Author of the Year Award at the event.

Davis won the prestigious Man Booker International Prizer this past May for her body of work, which includes super short stories -- some no longer than a sentence or two -- as well as highly-regarded translations of French works. She also won a MacArthur "genius" grant in 2003.

The APL event is at 1:30 pm on Saturday, December 7. It's free and open to the public.

The APL advertises on AOA.

photo: David Ignaszewski / MacMillan

Khaled Hosseini at the Zankel Center

khaled hosseiniKhaled Hosseini -- author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns -- will be at Skidmore's Zankel Center February 12. The event will be free and open to the public, but tickets will be required.

Hosseini's appearance is being organized by Saratoga Reads. The community reading org's first selection was The Kite Runner a decade ago. And it's 2013-2014 book is Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed.

The event at a the Zankel will be a conversation between Hosseini and WAMC's Joe Donahue. Ticketing will start in mid-January via the Zankel Center box office.

photo: John Dolan

The Secret Language of Color

secret language of color pages

A few pages from The Secret Language of Color.

This author event caught our eye, even though the email was in black and white: Joann Eckstut and Arielle Eckstut, authors of the recently published The Secret Language of Color, will be at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza Saturday afternoon for a talk. Blurbage:

Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar--so say Joann Eckstut and Arielle Eckstut, both of whom have built successful careers based on their color expertise. Indeed, the two felt well positioned when they set out to write a book about color, but their investigation quickly took them far beyond the realms of art and design that most of us associate with color and into physics, chemistry, astronomy, optics, neuroscience, geology, botany, zoology, human biology, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, art history, cartography, and much more.
Along the way, they learned why grass is not green (human brains perceive certain colors that other animal brains would perceive differently); why Starbucks got in trouble for coloring its strawberry frappuccinos (it was extracted from bugs), why red is universally the first color named after black and white (one word: blood), and why the colors in the mnemonic ROYGBIV aren't actually fundamental (Sir Isaac Newton arbitrarily selected these seven colors to match the number of notes in the musical scale), and much more.

A sample presentation of the book is embedded after the jump.

Joann Eckstut -- who, we hear, has a home in Rensselaerville -- is a color consultant and the founder of an interior design firm. Arielle Eckstut is one of the "Book Doctors" -- she's appeared at Saint Rose the last few years -- and co-founder of a kids apparel store. (And Joann is Arielle's mother.) Here's a short article about them and the book.

The Eckstuts will be a the Book House at 3 pm Saturday.

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The Kinderhook Creature and other Monsters of New York

bigfoot photo illustration

Did you see that?

Bruce Hallenbeck remembers watching Frankenstein with his cousin when he was just five years old. "I wasn't frightened... I was fascinated."

These days Hallenbeck's fascination with monsters extends into the real world. When he's not working with microfilm and genealogy at the New York State Library, Hallenbeck writes books about horror movies and what he refers to as "real-life monsters" -- monsters of the bigfoot and Loch Ness variety.

A few years ago Hallenbeck wrote Monsters of New Jersey, and his is newest book -- Monsters of New York -- looks into the existence of creatures such as Champ, the Adirondack Bigfoot, the Kinderhook Creature and other creatures he believes are walking, crawling, and swimming around the Empire State. The book is the basis for an exhibit on display this month at the New York State Library.

Hallenbeck took some time out to talk with AOA about his search for these real world monsters, why he finds them so fascinating, and his own encounter with The Kinderhook Creature.

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Troy Author Day 2013

troy author day 2013 logoThis Saturday -- October 19 -- is Troy Author Day. Blurbage:

Twenty of the Capital District's most popular authors will gather to meet readers, autograph books, and discuss their work. Drop in for a few minutes, or stay the whole time. ...
Select authors will participate in two panel discussions: one about their creative processes and another about publishing.

You'll recognize a bunch of the authors on the slate. A few names that immediately jumped out at us: Lydia Davis, Elisa Albert, Paul Grondahl, Dennis Mahoney, and James Kunstler.

Troy Author Day is noon-3 pm Saturday at the Troy Public Library. It's free. Copies of the authors' books will also be on sale, and portion of the proceeds benefit the TPL.

Drawing: Anne Rice in Saratoga

anne rice wolves of midwinter

Drawing's closed! Winners have been emailed!

Anne Rice -- the popular author famous for her novels about vampires and werewolves -- will be in Saratoga Springs October 17 for an "authors in conversation" event, organized by the Northshire Bookstore. Rice has a new book: The Wolves of Midwinter. We have two pairs of tickets to the event -- and we're giving them away.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

If you were writing a gothic/fantasy/horror novel, what location in the Capital Region would you use in the book as a setting?

Non-redeemable bonus point for a short explanation of why that location would work well. We'll draw two winners at random -- each person will get a pair of tickets.

The Anne Rice event is at the Saratoga Hilton October 17 (a Thursday) at 7 pm. Rice will be interviewed by WAMC's Joe Donahue on stage. Rice will also be signing books. And Rice's son, author Christopher Rice, will be making an appearance. Tickets are $30 each (includes one copy of The Wolves of Midwinter), or $37.50 for two seats (and one book). The books will also be on sale at a 20 percent discount.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11 pm on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Wednesday and must respond by noon am on Thursday, October 10. The tickets from this drawing do not include a copy of the book.

It was a conference like any other -- except that mystery was everywhere

sue grafton w coverFrom the "Unusual Conferences in Town" file: The 44th annual Bouchercon will be at the ESP Convention Center this Thursday-Sunday. It is, in its own words, "the world's leading convention for crime fiction readers, writers and others." The convention is named after mystery/science fiction author and editor Anthony Boucher.

The headliner for this year's conference is super-best-selling mystery author Sue Grafton. (She's now up to the letter the W.) On Saturday at the conference Grafton is scheduled to appear at a signing, and also be the subject of a lifetime achievement interview on stage. (She's also scheduled to make an appearance at the Bethlehem Public Library for a residents-only event -- the tickets for that event were all claimed within 12 minutes of being released earlier this month.)

The registration fee for the conference is $175. According to the conference FAQ, there might also be day passes for $80, only available at the door.

Curious about topics at a convention for mystery writers and readers, we skimmed through the list of panel topics. Among them...

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A look at the new Saratoga Northshire, and conversation about the future of bookstores

northshire saratoga exterior

Today's a notable day for Capital Region book nerds because it's the opening of the Saratoga Springs location of the Northshire Bookstore. The 9,000-square-foot store on Broadway in the heart of downtown is just the second location for the much-admired Manchester, Vermont independent.

The last decade or so has been tough on book publishers and bookstores. The big national chain stores have either fallen (Borders) or are teetering (Barnes & Noble). The rise of e-readers has cut into sales of hard-copy books. And Amazon and Apple have been engaged in various attempts to control the pricing of books.

Given all that, we were curious why -- and how -- someone would open a new bookstore. So we stopped by the Saratoga Northshire location on Friday to get a peek at the new store, and talk with co-owner Chris Morrow about why they picked Saratoga Springs, how they made it happen, e-readers, and the future of the bookstore.

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Northshire Bookstore Saratoga opening date

northshire bookstore saratoga exterior pre-opening

The Northshire Bookstore announced today that its new Saratoga Springs location will open August 5. The store is in the new building at 424 Broadway right in the middle of downtown Saratoga Springs (formerly the parking lot next to Lillian's.)

Northshire -- an independent bookstore that's had one other location in Manchester, Vermont, since 1976 -- has a very good reputation. So this is a pretty big deal for bookstore nerds.* And it fills the large-bookstore void in downtown Saratoga Springs created when Borders closed its location on Broadway (the old Borders building is now the home of a marketing company).

The way Northshire ended up in Saratoga Springs has an interesting backstory. From the press release announcing the opening date:

A community petition, circulated by Saratoga Springs resident Pat Friesen was the first impetus for Northshire Bookstore to consider opening a second store in the town. By the time it was sent to Vermont in July 2012, the petition ran to four pages, with dozens of local signatures. Said Friesen "the anticipation of Northshire's Saratoga opening is a dream coming true for all of us who began the process."
The new store is also supported by nearly forty local investors, who have gathered together to provide significant community funding for the new store.

Northshire already arranged one author event for Saratoga -- Neil Gaiman at the Saratoga City Center in June. And it has a schedule of author events lined up for August and September.

* We use that term lovingly, of course.

Earlier on AOA: Nicole explored the Vermont Northshire while visiting Manchester this past winter

photo: Northshire Bookstore FB

Prestigious international award for Lydia Davis, author and UAlbany professor

lydia davis author photoThis is great: Lydia Davis -- a professor and writer-in-residence at UAlbany -- has won the Man Booker International Prize, which is awarded every two years based on the body of a writer's work.

Davis is known for her short stories -- some of them as short as just a sentence or two. Said Christopher Ricks, the chair of the judging panel for this year's prize of Davis' stories, in a press release: "Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations ... There is vigilance to her stories, and great imaginative attention. Vigilance as how to realise things down to the very word or syllable; vigilance as to everybody's impure motives and illusions of feeling."

Here's an example of one of Davis' ultra short works, called A Double Negative:

At a certain point in her life, she realizes it is not so much that she wants to have a child as that she does not want not to have a child, or not to have had a child.

As she told the Guardian a few years back: "When I first began writing seriously, I wrote short stories, and that was where I thought I was headed. Then the stories evolved and changed, but it would have become a bother to say every time, 'I guess what I have just written is a prose poem, or a meditation', and I would have felt very constrained by trying to label each individual work, so it was simply easier to call everything stories."

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We Can Fix It!

jess fink we can fix it cover clip

Check it out: We Can Fix It!, a comic novella by talented Troy artist/illustrator/writer Jess Fink, is out this month.

The work is autobiography with a twist: Fink travels back in time in an attempt to help her former selves. It results in some fantasies we've probably all had -- like providing her younger self with the comeback to an insult. But it also prompts her to re-examine how she acted and why. And, of course, not everything goes as planned. It is at turns funny, charming, and intense.

Or, as Fink summarized it to us one time: "It's part autobiography, part sci fi, part make-outs and farts jokes."

Here's a good write-up about it at io9.

We Can Fix It! is available in both hard copy ($14.95) and digital ($6.99).

Among Fink's other work is Chester 5000 XYV, a comic and graphic novel about a Victorian-era man who creates a sex robot for his wife -- with unexpected results.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Jess Fink has created the best book about Victorian robot sex that we've ever read
+ The often-imitated Jess Fink

images: Jess Fink / Top Shelf

NYS Summer Writers Institute 2013

claire messudClaire Messud

The schedule is out for this summer's New York State Writers Institute's public readings series in Saratoga.

As usual, there are a bunch of names you'll recognize. The readings are in the evenings on the Skidmore campus -- they're free and open to the public.

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Streetviewing Ironweed

very small array ironweed clipFun/literary/nerdy: A map/pictorial-of-what's-there-now of locations in Albany mentioned in William Kennedy's Ironweed, as compiled by artist Dorothy Gambrell at her Very Small Array site.

That's a small clip on the right.

The novel is set during the Depression, so the walk through (streetview through?) makes use of this 1877 (and pre-787) overlay of Albany streets.

[via the mysterious Albany Bagel Co.]

Neil Gaiman at Saratoga City Center

neil gaiman and ocean cover

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman will be at the Saratoga City Center June 20 to read from, and talk about, his soon-to-be-released book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Tickets are $35 (one seat and one book) and $45 (two seats and one book).

Gaiman's appearance is being sponsored by the Northshire Bookstore and WAMC -- Gaiman will be talking with Joe Donahue for the public radio station's aptly named Book Show. The event starts at 6 pm on the 20th (a Thursday).

Gaiman's work tends toward fantasy and science fiction, and ranges from comic books (The Sandman) to novellas (Coraline) to novels (American Gods). He's won a bunch of awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Newbery.

What about the Saratoga location for Northshire? The Vermont-based book store is aiming to have its new Saratoga Springs location at 422 Broadway open by the end of July. It's currently hiring for a range of positions, according to its website.

Gaiman photo: Allan Amato

Marguerite Holloway and The Measure of Manhattan at the State Museum

measure of manhattan book coverSounds interesting: Marguerite Holloway, author of The Measure of Manhattan, will be at the State Museum Thursday evening as part of the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series.

The Measure of Manhattan is a biography of John Randel, Jr, an Albany native who laid out the street grid for Manhattan. Blurbage:

Born and raised in Albany, renowned for his brilliance, Randel was also infamous in his own day for eccentricity, egotism, and a knack for making enemies. He was a significant pioneer of the art and science of surveying, as well as an engineer who created surveying devices, designed an early elevated subway, laid out a controversial alternative route for the Erie Canal, and sounded the Hudson River from Albany to New York City in order to make maps and aid navigation. One of the many delights of Holloway's book is that it also reveals, for modern readers, the original landscape of Manhattan in its natural state before it was "tamed" by Randel's grid.

Holloway is a science journalist and heads up the science and environmental journalism program at Columbia.

The talk starts at 8 pm on Thursday (April 11) in the State Museum's Clark Auditorium. It's free.

Albany Antiquarian Book Fair

albany antiquarian book fair washington ave armorySomething else to do this weekend: The Albany Antiquarian Book Fair, Sunday at the Washington Ave Armory. From the blurbage:

Have all your books, posters, ephemera, and collectibles appraised at the 38th Annual Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair. 60 dealers selling antiquarian and out-of-print books, manuscripts, autographs, postcards, maps, posters, photographs, and ephemera. Special silent auction.

Ooh, the ever popular ephemera. Even if you're not a buyer, it sounds like there could be some quality item gawking. (Is there anything better than an old map? No, there is not.)

The fair is from 10 am-4 pm Sunday. Admission is $6.

Comeback Love

peter golden

Peter Golden. His book Comeback Love was first published by the local Staff Picks Press, but will also be released from a major publisher this month.

By Siobhan Connally

Guilderland author Peter Golden's first novel -- Comeback Love, a plot-twisting love story that interweaves 1960s-era political and social upheaval, personal regrets and present-day reckonings -- is being released this month by an imprint of publishing giant Simon & Schuster.

The book's story -- and the story about the book -- are both page turners.

Kirkus Reviews recommends readers "Grab a handful of tissues, think The Notebook and then start speculating on actors best suited to bring Gordon and Glenna to the big screen."

In fact, there's nothing really humble about the book -- except perhaps its beginnings.

Comeback Love was originally published in November 2010 by Staff Picks Press, an endeavor by independent bookseller Susan Novotny, who owns The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza And Market Block Books.

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The Memoir Office

The Memoir Office by Daniel NesterEarlier this year local writer and St. Rose professor Daniel Nester set up at the Arts Center of the Capital Region as part of a public writing project called "The Memoir Office."

The result of that project -- The Memoir Office: The Writer is Present -- is out today as a Kindle "single" (it's 99 cents):

Inspired by performance artists who take their work to the public, Daniel Nester set up shop in an art gallery lobby in Troy, NY and started to write about himself. He brought a desk, chair, office lamp, and a plant. He called it The Memoir Office. The result, The Memoir Office: The Writer is Present, is a 12,000-word piece of first-person writing--part journal, part memoir, and part essay.

So, why release The Memoir Office as an e-reader single? Nester explained today on Google+:

It's too long for a single article, too short for a book, and not really viable as a book. The long form of it really suits the material, if that makes sense. Plus, I am getting into my Kindle a lot these days and buying and reading a lot of these singles things myself. Hat into ring and so forth.

A clip of a portion released this past July in Painted Bride Quarterly is after the jump. (Yes, like an excerpt of an excerpt.)

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NYS Writers Institute fall 2011

nys writers institute book covers 2011 fall

Perrotta, Kennedy, Whitehead and a whole bunch of others.

The fall lineup for the New York State Writers Institute's visiting writers series is out. And, as usual, it's jammed with events that look interesting.

A handful of the dates that caught our eye -- including William Kennedy reading from his new book, Sylvia Nasar, Dava Sobel, and Tom Perrotta -- after the jump.

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Fletcher and the Hendersons

sea of trees fletcher composite

Sea of Trees and Florence

By Danielle Furfaro

When I was a kid, I loved a good album/book combination. Even then, I was a sucker for multimedia experiences. There's something special about hearing a voice come out of a scratchy record while also reading about it in a book. And then turning the page when you hear the beep so that you can keep following along. It's like a little, interactive DIY movie.

Sea of Trees, an experimental rock band based in Albany, has just made its own album/children's book called Fletcher and the Hendersons. The songs were written by the band, singer Dylan Palazzo wrote the book, and his mother -- Nancy Palazzo -- illustrated it.

The book chronicles the adventures of a young Florence, who loses her father to the mountains and then enlists the help of a ghost to find her way through life. The beautifully drawn book has both narrative prose, which is in third-person, as well as the songs' lyrics, which tell Florence's story first-hand. It's a cool concept, and, in keeping with proper children's book/album fashion, comes with instructions on when to turn the page.

And it's definitely not just for kids. There is some strange confluence of pop culture references here, but this is probably not the story of what would happen if you mixed Harry and the Hendersons with Florence Henderson.

I talked with Dylan about the inspiration for the album -- recorded during the 2010 RPM Challenge -- and Pink Floyd and concept albums.

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