It was a dark and stormy Saturday night here in Austin—but that didn’t deter an intrepid band of literary enthusiasts from heading down to Malvern Books for a truly wonderful and long anticipated reading…
We were delighted to be hosting an evening with two highly acclaimed writers: Michael McGriff and Malachi Black (above, left and right). Malachi was reading from his hot-off-the-press poetry title, Storm Toward Morning. (Fun fact: when asked in an interview to give a one-sentence synopsis of the collection, Malachi summarized it by saying, “There is nothing more truly peculiar, confusing, and surprising than being entirely alive.”) And Mike was reading from Our Secret Life in the Movies, a brilliant collection of short fiction he wrote with J. M. Tyree (it’s one of the BBC’s Ten Books to Read in November).
You can have a listen to their poetry and prose below—and yes, that cozy background sound you can hear at certain points is in fact torrential rain. Also worth noting: our rather generous Small Business Saturday Special Offer starts this Friday and runs till Sunday… what better time to stop by the store and pick yourself up some Black and McGriff?
It’s been a while since we introduced you to a new member of the Malvern team—so say hello to the charming and cheerful Mr. F, who worked as a barista for years before we had the good sense to steal him away from the world of beans. He’s an extraordinarily talented writer and the author of one of our bestselling titles (nope, that’s not him in the bunny suit). F. recommends you stop by the bookstore and pick up a copy of Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies, by one of our favorite writers, the legendary Janet Frame. Here’s what he has to say…
The texture of Janet Frame’s writing, often reminiscent of Joyce and the South American Clarice Lispector, can at times be a little thick, let’s face it, but the poetry in her language is always intact. This book compiles what are considered to be Frame’s ‘stories of the fantastic,’ in the faerie tale tradition of the dark and the morbid.
The first half of the book is the novella length title story, “Snowman Snowman,” in which our narrator is (did you guess?) a snowman! For a ‘serious reader’ this sounds like pish-posh cheap trickery, but what happens here is a moving portrait both about a family and mortality.
Outside a home in New Zealand, the only child of the Dincer family, Rosemary, makes a snowman the beginning of one winter. At first confused about his existence, the snowman, through the progression of the story, learns more about not only himself, but also of humans and life on earth. His guide immediately becomes the Perpetual Snowflake, which hangs on the windowsill of the Dincer house. This is no joke, and it’s actually quite serious. The Perpetual Snowflake contains the wisdom of the cosmos and the ages. Simply put, the Perpetual Snowflake is the Jiminy Cricket character of the story. Through the Perpetual Snowflake, the snowman and the reader are both in for quite an existential ride.
The latter half of the book is made up mostly of short-short stories, some of them a page long. They contain sheep on their way to the slaughter-house, bees that warn the changes of time, Dust and Daylight taking a holiday together.
Frame’s imagination and poetry here are in top form. A great read for the winter, or any season.
It’s been a delightfully hectic few days here at Malvern, and we’ve been thoroughly spoiled vis-à-vis awesome events. First up: on Saturday night we hosted a reading with writers Tatiana Ryckman and E. Kristin Anderson (below, left and right).
Tatiana’s brilliant collection of tiny fictions, Twenty-Something, is one of Malvern Books’ bestsellers, so we were obviously keen to hear her read. She entertained us with a food-themed performance (to show her mom that she can write about something other than sex) and made us blush by praising our “phenomenally curated” shelves (thanks, Tatiana!). And Kristin very kindly brought Found Poetry kits for attendees (thanks, Kristin!) and proved herself to be an exceptionally multi-talented writer, reading both verse (her found poetry collection, A Jab of Deep Urgency, is sourced from Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad) and science fiction.
And last night we hosted a wonderful event with a distinctly Spanish theme: guitarist David Córdoba (below left) treated us to Flamenco music, and editor Valerie Miles (below right) read from and discussed her anthology A Thousand Forests in One Acorn, which features twenty-eight of the greatest Spanish-language writers.
It was fascinating to learn more about Valerie’s anthology, which she describes as a “best of the best” collection with a twist: we know which stories the critics praise most, but which of their own works do the writers truly admire? Check out the footage below to find out (and visit our YouTube channel for more videos from this event).
On Friday night we teamed up with VSA Texas and Pen2Paper to host a very special edition of our monthly Lion and Pirate open mic—we were honoring the winners of the fifth annual Pen2Paper Creative Writing Contest (a project of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities). The competition seeks out fantastic works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and comics that discuss the topic of disability (and it’s an international contest—one of this year’s winners comes from the UK). You can see the full list of finalists and read their entries here.
CTD’s Laura Perna and Susie Angel kicked off our celebration, with Laura reading an excerpt from Sandy Hiortdahl’s “Riding, Falling,” the 2014 Grand Prize winner, and Susie reading Cathy Bryant’s “I Want One,” which won the Poetry category. Hearty congrats to Sandy, Cathy, and all the winners… y’all have provided us with a ton of thoughtful, thought-provoking, funny, and just plain terrific reading material.
But wait, there’s more! We also welcomed first-timer Glenn Towery to the stage; he read a wonderful parable called “Unsad You.” And the audience warmly welcomed a few familiar faces: Shaniqua Esparza, Christopher “Bear” Beam, Milton Sullivan, and the awesome dudes from Dude Choir. Have a look-see at them all in action below (and check out our Lion & Pirate YouTube playlist to watch videos from past events). Do be sure to join us on December 20th for a festive round of the Lion & Pirate… you might just be lucky enough to encounter our swashbuckler under a sprig of mistletoe!
The third time’s a charm for our Raw Paw reading series (although the first and second times were pretty great, too). On Tuesday night we were thrilled to welcome the Raw Paw team back for the launch of Ed Buffaloe’s Stuck in the Future, the latest title in their Mind Maze poetry series. (For those of you not familiar with Mind Maze, it’s Raw Paw’s fantastic new poetry imprint. They release a title every month, and each edition showcases twenty poems by one of Austin’s finest poets—all wrapped in a lovely screen-printed cover by Nicole Carleton.)
After some affable mingling, we got down to the business of book-launching. Ed Buffaloe (above, far right) was joined by (left to right) Wade Martin, Josh Boyd, MC David Jewell, and Jim Redmond. They treated the crowd to some splendid poetry—and you can see for yourself by checking out the videos below (there’s also footage from past Mind Maze launches on our YouTube channel). We’ll be back next month for more from the Paw… see you then!
If you missed Sunday afternoon’s reading at Malvern Books, you missed something rather special (and you might like to keep a closer eye on our calendar, so as not to miss out on other awesome events like, for example, tonight’s edition of the Raw Paw reading series).
We were delighted to host a reading featuring an acclaimed and talented trio of poets: Catharine Savage Brosman, Tomás Morin, and Erin Belieu (above, left to right). As always, we had our video camera at the ready, and we hope you’ll enjoy checking out the footage.
Erin Belieu is the author of four poetry collections (all from Copper Canyon Press), and co-founder (with poet Cate Marvin) of the wonderful VIDA organization, which analyzes the critical reception of women’s creative writing.
Tomás Q. Morín’s debut poetry collection, A Larger Country, was selected by Tom Sleigh from over one-thousand manuscripts for the APR/Honickman First Book Prize.
Catharine Savage Brosman is Professor Emerita of French at Tulane University. Her new book, On the Old Plaza, is her tenth collection of poetry!