RIP Toni Morrison

You think dark is just one color, but it ain’t. There’re five or six kinds of black. Some silky, some woolly. Some just empty. Some like fingers. And it don’t stay still, it moves and changes from one kind of black to another. Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. What kind of green? Green like my bottles? Green like a grasshopper? Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. May as well be a rainbow.

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A Writer’s Routine

 

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Bookstore Tourism: The Wandering Bookshop

Jean-Jacques Megel-Nuber wanted to open a bookshop, but he also wanted to be free to travel around France. Fortunately he discovered a way to accomplish both goals. Now he visits rural towns and villages in his itinerant bookshop that also doubles as his tiny house. Designed in conjunction with the clever folks at La Maison Qui Chemine (The Wandering House), Megel-Nuber’s Au Vrai Chic Littérère packs 3,000 carefully titles for sale along with space for a kitchen, office, and sleeping loft into this tiny, rolling bookshop. Looks like a great life to me.

 

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Book It

 

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Read and Return

When I travel, I usually pack way too much reading material. However, that never stops me from buying a book (or two) from an airport bookshop or newstand. Now there’s a program for compulsive book buyers like me that allows a purchase to be returned for a 50% refund. It’s more like renting a book than buying. The Read and Return program is offered by airport booksellers operated by Paradies Lagardere, which has hundreds of restaurants, bars, and stores at more than 100 North American locations.

How it works: You purchase a book at the airport shop, you read it  during your travels, and you return it within 6 months of purchase to any Paradies Lagardere store and you get a 50 percent refund. You must present the original receipt. The company  then resells the book as “used” at 50 percent off the cover price. Excessively worn books are donated to libraries.

 

 

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The summer night is like a perfection of thought

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm

BY WALLACE STEVENS
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.
Source: The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (Alfred A. Knopf, 1954)
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August is the month…

“August is the month of last chances.”  F. Nietzsche

 

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Visit New Byblos in the Springtime

I am an enormous fan of Israeli sci-fi writer Lavie Tidhar, if you haven’t read his work, it’s worth checking-out. So, I was intrigued to discover that he has teamed-up with puzzle writer Jake Olefsky to create an interactive sci-fi puzzle story website. The concept is simple, you read a chapter of a story on the site and then try to solve a puzzle to unlock the next chapter. The non-linear story can lead down different paths to reach the conclusion. In fact, there are 30 puzzles to solve for 20 chapters. I have posted the first chapter below. If you are interested, continue the story at Puzzle Tales.

Down and down, I felt myself sinking.

The outside faded: New Byblos and the skylarks singing in the branches of the olive trees. A soft, warm breeze. The smell of lavender and thyme.

New Byblos in the springtime: outside the window I could see the mountains that surrounded this hidden valley lush with vegetation, could see rock hyraxes and dorcas gazelles as they clambered along the slopes.

Out here the sun shone down as it had since before the first microbes lived and died upon this Earth.

I would miss the sun, I knew, once I was in. I always did.

Ifrim’s calm voice at the controls of the dive rig: ‘Ready to go, Mai?’

Hearing his voice always made me happy.

‘Ready,’ I said.

‘Breach initiated in three, two…’

Then I stopped hearing it as the translation began. The world I knew vanished from sight and I fell. Thoughts converted into electric impulses, travelling down a narrow band into the secure vault.

#

. . . It was a bad one.

I knew it as soon as I dropped in.

Flickering lights, an insubstantial room rendered in two dimensions. Something inhuman was gibbering in the corner, hidden in the dark. I couldn’t understand what it said.

The lines of the walls and floor met disconcertingly to form a door.

‘Ifrim, can you hear me?’

Crackly static on the line, as though he were coming from somewhere unimaginably distant.

‘How is it down there?’

‘It’s still operational,’ I said. ‘But I don’t know that there’s anything salvageable.’

‘Do you want to pull out?’

I stared at the door. Four white lines in a black wall. Stared at my hands. Realised I was two dimensional too, a stick figure with crude lines for fingers.

‘Mai?’

‘No,’ I said.

I went to the door. The thing in the shadows gibbered mindlessly. ‘Checksum error, four oh four, four oh four!’

‘How big is the Bostrom Field?’ I said.

‘7.5 to 10.8 variable,’ Ifrim said. ‘About the size of what a large house would have been back when the vault was first made.’

‘Well, great. Anything sentient?’

‘You tell me.’

I shrugged and pushed the door.

In the last decades of the time of the Great Excess it was said many miracles had become possible. And as the seas rose and the storms built in savagery, the lords of the last era sought shelter in specially-constructed time vaults, shielding their minds from the coming onslaught of the planet’s rage.

There were thousands of them just here in New Byblos. Here, in this lost valley of kings, the caves and shelters housed an uncounted number of old, forgotten pocket worlds. Many had been lost to time and the climate, their technological underpinning destroyed despite their designers’ best intents. Some had the internal capacity of a small city, with thousands of thinking minds still inside. Others, like this one, were much smaller.

I stepped out into a maze of shiny white dots. Something whistled through the air at me. I looked up just in time to see a crudely rendered barrel coming at me fast.

I ducked and it smashed into tiny glowing pieces against the wall behind me and vanished.

For a moment, I thought I saw a monkey up there.

I took a deep breath of cold, stale air and stepped into the maze. I kept a wary eye for any more attacks as I went through it. I wanted to try and find the centre.

It was a weird vault, I thought.

Ghostly shapes came at me from three different sides. They wailed in waka-waka. I dodged through an opening into an inner corridor. Two of the ghoulies followed me in. I tried to lose them by using the right-hand rule but one kept after me. I spotted another break in the wall and dashed through it.

The ghoulie came after me and another materialised on the other side.

I was trapped.

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A festival for us (bibliophiles)

Now that it’s officially August, I was checking to see when the National Book Festival was happening in Washington D.C. and I found the wonderful poster for this year’s event. If you can make it to DC, it’s always worth braving the Capital summer miasma for the festival.

 

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Logical Unsanity at the 24 Hour Book Shed

Yarran Jenkins owns a successful, traditional antiquarian bookshop in Brisbane, Australia called The Book Merchant Jenkins, but he also operates a shop called the Bardon 24-hour Book Shed. For the past five years, Jenkins has stocked his “pay-what-you-want-or-can” bargain book barn with inexpensive secondhand titles. Located in the suburb of Bardon, the Logical Unsanity Books and Miscellaneous Phantasmagoria is a sometimes leaky, but always welcoming, hideaway for insomniacs, a sanctuary for bibliophiles, and an outlet for anyone searching for a reasonably priced read whatever their budget.  Jenkins acknowledges that some customers don’t actually pay for the books that they choose, but notes that more people donate their secondhand books to the shed than pilfer.

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