Dr. Joe’s Choice #1

The Young Man from SavoyHere’s a sterling book recommendation for you from Malvern’s own curmudgeon-in-chief, Dr. Joe:

Fans of Robert Walser have a tantalizing treat in store for them in C-F Ramuz’s short novel The Young Man From Savoy. Flux, madness, suicide, murder: all in a scenic Swiss town on the shore of Lake Geneva. The world seems so ordinary. There is progress, love, youth, old age, but Joseph has been to the circus. Once he has visited Indonesia and the North Pole within a circus tent, and seen the aerialist Miss Anabella, his world will never be the same.

Ramuz, most famous for the libretto of Igor Stravinsky’s “Histoire du soldat,” takes readers into the minds of mountains, clouds, dogs, horses, and humans in a tale that centers upon a troubled young Joseph. Joseph wants to experience the permanence in things, but his is a world of flux with ever changing light and shadow.

      Must we love what is, the way it is? Or instead, should we love a thing because it isn’t, because of its greater beauty? Or is there a place even, where in the end what is and what isn’t turn out to be in agreement? 
      He’s the young man from Savoy: he is a strange young man.

Meticulously translated from the French by Blake Robinson, The Young Man From Savoy is a calm stroll through madness visited upon us all by an ideology of progress.

Wishing You A Very Merry Malvern!

The Yule is nearly upon us, and we wanted to take this festive opportunity to wish you all a Merry Malvern (that’s just like a Merry Christmas, but with the tasty bonus of a stocking full of awesome small press literature). We hope the holidays are as kind to you as you all have been to us—we’ve been so touched by the support we’ve received from you lovely people since we opened back in October. It’s been a thrilling first few months, and we’re tremendously excited to continue this batty bookstore adventure with you in 2014. (P.S. We already have some excellent events lined up for you in the new year!)

Stark HouseAnd if you’re looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, Malvern’s got you covered. If you’ve already perused our handy gift guide and are looking for a lil’ something extra, well, nothing says “Happy Holidays, Aunt Edith!” like classic ’50’s pulp fiction. We recently received a ton of fantastic titles from Stark House Press, including Pure Sweet Hell / Catch a Fallen Starlet by Douglas Sanderson and One is a Lonely Number by Bruce Elliott + Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze. Yep, bookstore bargain alert: each volume gives you two supremely thrilling thrillers for the price of one! (Also worth noting: Wade Miller’s magnificently titled Kitten With a Whip is arriving soon.) If you want some idea of the plots, let’s just say there are sensational Hollywood murders, escaped convicts, armored car heists, destructive criminal lovers, and naughty drug misadventures in coastal Spain. Excellent holiday reading material for when you’re stuffed with chocs and ’nog and can barely move a muscle.

If you want to come get your gift on (or perhaps make a few sneaky purchases for yourself), we’re open till 8pm today and from 11am – 5pm on Christmas Eve. Do stop by and say hello—we’d love to wish you a very Merry Malvern in person!

Huff’s Birthday Snaps

Thanks so much to everyone who attended our Albert Huffstickler birthday shenanigans on Tuesday night. We were touched that so many of you came out to listen to Huff’s poetry and share your memories…

And now for a few party pics, with (from top to bottom): our festive pirate sporting a LONG LIVE HUFF sticker; a lively honky-tonk performance from TOPSY; Huff’s artwork on display around the store; a small selection of Huff’s many chapbooks (the man was prolific!); our readers, David Jewell, Sylvia Manning, Annie Hartnett, Larry Thoren, Mark Smith, and W. Joe Hoppe; every bookseller’s dream—a happy, bustling bookstore; and… OMG CAKE.

Pirate Huff


Artwork by Huff





Remembering Albert Huffstickler

Party hats on, Malverinos, because tonight is a very special night at Malvern Books… we’re hosting a birthday celebration in honor of the late, great Albert Huffstickler!

PartyReadings will start around 7pm, but come by early for a lil’ honky-tonk cabaret with TOPSY. And for those of you who are sadly unfamiliar with the much-loved Huff, here’s a primer to get you started…

Albert HuffsticklerAlbert Huffstickler (December 17, 1927 – February 25, 2002) wasn’t born in Austin (his bio simply states “born in Texas”), but he lived in Austin in his later years, and became a local literary legend. You could usually find him in a café in Hyde Park, decked out in suspenders, smoking, drinking coffee, and working on a poem. (Rumor has it he wrote a poem a day, and his impressive publication record—four full-length collections, plus hundreds of poems published in chapbooks and journals—lends veracity to the story.) He was a two-time winner of the Austin Book Awards, and in 1989 the state legislature formally honored him for his contribution to Texas poetry. In May 2013, a new Hyde Park green space at the corner of 38th and Duval Streets was named Huffstickler Green in his honor. Huff was a friend and inspiration to many, and everyone who knew him talks of his kindness, his honesty, and his passionate support for local literature. Austin Community College English professor W. Joe Hoppe, who will be reading tonight, describes his friend and mentor as “a great encourager of poetry.” We’re delighted to be raising a glass in honor of Huff tonight, and we hope you’ll join us.

For more on Huffstickler’s work, I recommend checking out Issa’s Untidy Hut, the poetry blog of Lilliput Review, as they have a ton of Huff loveliness to be enjoyed. Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite Huffstickler poems…


This is how Hopper would have painted it:
the line of yellow dryers
catching the sunlight from the broad window.
Man with his hand reached up to the coin slot,
head turned to the side as though reflecting,
woman bent over the wide table
intent on sorting,
another standing hands at her side, looking off—
as though visiting another country;
each thing as it is,
not reaching beyond the scene for his symbols,
saying merely, “On such and such a day,
it was just as I show you.”
Each person, each object, static
but the light a pilgrim.

 * * *

We Forget

We forget we’re
mostly water
till the rain falls
and every atom
in our body
starts to go home.

 * * *

The Song

My brother and I sang and sang
growing up, sang love songs from
operettas, sang pop, sang country
western. We didn’t think about
it, we just sang because we liked
the way the sound came out of us,
didn’t think about the words, just
sang because it felt good to have
music come out of your body and
we tied our feelings to the music
and let it all go like a kite
sailing up, up out of sight. No
use asking us why, we just did
it, just sang and sang. And
sang our way then into another
time where music was scarce and
it was harder to find the music
to tie the feelings to. I don’t
remember when I stopped singing.
Jack stopped when he died, not
forty yet, still a young man.
Tonight I sit and think about time
and music and where people’s lives
go and it’s night and there’s a
small breeze and I think about
people like Pavarotti and Louis
Armstrong and Ray Charles, singers
who can put people’s joy and
sorrow into music and sing it
for them and I believe to my soul
that there is no more wonderful
thing to do in this world than
to sing and that of all the things
in the world a man can do, there
is no more honorable occupation.

New Titles: Festive Edition

You’re coming to Malvern to do your holiday shopping, right? Jolly good! And because we love to spoil y’all rotten, we’ve made sure to stock our shelves extra-full with a ton of brilliant new books (some new new, and some new-to-us). We’ve already featured a couple of titles in our gift guide and on our home page, but here are a few more pressie ideas for all the beloved bookworms in your life…

New Books

From Exact Change, a press specializing in experimental literature, with an emphasis on Surrealism (fun fact: if, like me, you’re a Galaxie 500 fan, you may be interested to learn that Exact Change was founded by band members Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang):

New Books

From New Directions, an indie press founded in 1936 by poet James Laughlin and still going strong more than seventy-five years later:

  • The Hare – fiction by César Aira, translated by Nick Caistor
  • The Gorgeous Nothings – facsimile edition of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts
  • The Old Child – stories by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky
  • Bartleby & Co. – fiction by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Jonathan Dunne
  • Dublinesque – fiction by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Anne McLean

New Books

From Typecast Publishing, a Louisville press whose stated mission is “producing works of literature with purpose and care” (i.e. their books are very stylish and beautifully made—perfect as gifts!):

New Books

And from assorted awesome small presses:

Malvern’s Christmas Gift Guide

Only fifteen shopping days till Christmas, my dears—and here at Malvern Books we’re doing the decent, festive thing and staying open every day until the 25th (with an early-ish 5pm closing on Christmas Eve, because even dedicated booksellers have trees to tinsel and eggs to nog). If you’ve left your shopping till the last minute, fear not, as all your essential Yuletide pressies can be found at yonder Malvern. Here are a few suggestions…

For the world traveler….

The PIP Anthologies of World Poetry of the 20th Century. Published by the wonderful Green Integer, these anthologies showcase major international poetry figures whose work might be unfamiliar to American readers. The series’ editor, Douglas Messerli, writes:

In an interview with a Brazilian journal, I was recently asked to comment if I felt Americans, and by extension American poets, knew of the poetry in other countries. My conclusion was a bleak one: most Americans don’t even know a poet in this country, I quipped; and, even more disturbing, is my guess that most American poets could name, perhaps, twenty poets from other countries. . . . My fear is that precisely this lack of knowledge of the writing and experiences of other cultures underlies the American arrogance and beliefs that not only is our culture superior to others, but that it should be the culture of others.

Put an end to cultural smugness: give the gift of international poetry! (It’s also the perfect present for your wretched cousin Tanner, who talks of nothing but the Green Bay Packers and BBQ ribs and how America, like, invented freedom.) Each volume has a different theme, from Dutch poets of the ’50s to contemporary Brazilian poetry, so there really is something for everyone. (I recommend you get Tanner the entire set.)

Gift Ideas

For the J.G. Ballard fan…

The revised edition of The History of Luminous Motion, Scott Bradfield’s 1989 cult classic. Described as “Blue Velvet meets Oedipus Rex,” Luminous Motion is a sad, strange, visceral novel set amidst the sticky strip malls of suburban Southern California and narrated by eight-year-old Phillip, a nutso drifter genius who makes Holden Caulfield look like a phoney. Dazzling, disturbing, and utterly brilliant:

The body, I have often thought, is like a promise. You keep things in it. Those things are covert, immediate, yours. There is something lustrous about them. They emit energy, like radium or appliances. They can be replaced, repaired or simply discarded. The promise of the body is very firm and intact. It’s the only promise we can count on, and we can’t really count on it very much.

For the lover of cats and/or comics and/or noir…

We have a few graphic novels by the prolific Norwegian artist Jason, and Lost Cat is my favorite. It’s a classic detective story that somehow morphs into a fable about loneliness. If you want to give a graphic novel but Jason is not your (gift) bag, be sure to check out the rest of our mighty selection, which includes classics like Ghost World and assorted Crumbs and Love and Rockets, as well as newer titles like Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting: Vol II and Lilli Carré’s charming Heads or Tails.

Gift Ideas

For the Francophile…

What could be better than a tub of Brie and a stylish edition of Satre’s Nausea? Or if you’d prefer to gift less existential fare, how about Return to Calm, a gently contemplative poetry collection from Parisian flâneur Jacques Réda? Or how about a little Evguénie Sokolov (new in store!), the only novel ever written by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg? Also new in store and sure to appeal to your French-loving friend (assuming they like racy, hard-boiled detective novels): I Spit on Your Graves by Boris Vian.

For absolutely everyone…

Don’t forget our smashing sidelines! We have cards, t-shirts, mugs, bookmarks, and lovely Leuchtturm notebooks. And if you feel overwhelmed by choice (we don’t blame you!), we have gift cards, too.