Three Cheers For Malvern Books

While it’s generally unbecoming to toot one’s own horn, a little trumpet-blowing is allowed when you’re an indie bookstore. So here’s a quick roundup of some glowing reviews we’ve received recently…

This morning The Austinot, the top-ranked blog about Austin, declared that we’re one of the best independent bookstores in town, and they mention that we offer readers “the chance to access works previously unknown to them or difficult to find.” That’s something we pride ourselves on—our bestselling fiction and poetry lists are anything but ordinary!—and we’re delighted our eclectic, hand-picked inventory got a shout-out.

Malvern Books

In their festive shopping guide, Austin Monthly named us the city’s best new bookstore. They praised our “great selection” and suggested we were a reason for book lovers to rejoice!

And we also made Scott Wiggerman’s 2014 Favorites list as his most beloved “truly independent” bookstore. Scott is a man of impeccable taste—he co-founded Dos Gatos Press with David Meischen—so we’re thrilled to hear he approves of all things Malvern.

Vale Stella Young

We were very sad to learn this morning of the death of Stella Young. The Australian disability advocate, broadcaster, and comedian passed away unexpectedly on Saturday at the age of thirty-two.

Stella YoungWe met Stella back in July, when she was touring the States and joined us for the midsummer edition of The Lion & The Pirate Unplugged (you can read more about her visit here). She was one of the smartest, funniest people to ever perform at Malvern Books. Stella was a tenacious advocate not only for people with disabilities, but for gender equality, education, and social justice. She challenged conventional thinking, and was a visible and feisty presence in Australian public life. And she also gave one of the most thought-provoking and popular TED talks, in which she rallies against turning people with disabilities into “inspiration porn” and explains why being in a wheelchair doesn’t automatically make someone “a noble inspiration to all humanity.”

Stella has been described by her friends as “enormous in the way she lived” and a “foul-mouthed wonder….” And those sound like tributes she would’ve approved of—when a friend of hers with the same condition (Osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital bone disorder) passed away earlier this year and was compared in social media posts to a “delicate snowflake,” Stella had this to say on Facebook:

In case I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I want to make something clear … I am not a snowflake. I am not a sweet, infantilising symbol of fragility and life. I am a strong, fierce, flawed adult woman. I plan to remain that way, in life and in death.

Here she is in action at Malvern Books, doing what she did best—entertaining and educating us all with her brilliant wit and unrivaled honesty. Stella, you will be missed.

If people wish to pay tribute to Stella, her family have suggested making a donation to Domestic Violence Victoria in Stella’s name, as she was a supporter of their work.

Let There Be Leuchtturm

Today’s the first day of our Grand Opening extravaganza (you might have heard about it?), which means you’re almost certainly going to be stopping by Malvern at 6.30pm for nibbles and drinks and readings, right? Excellent. Now, we also recommend you allow yourself a little extra time for loitering near the cash register, because… sidelines! We got ’em!

Sideline items (hark at our bookstore lingo!) are those tempting little doodads that lurk near the checkout, calling out to you, “Purchase me! On impulse! I’m cute!” And we have some very cute, very impulse-purchase-worthy sidelines at Malvern…

Cards

First up, we have greeting cards. But not lame greeting cards that say soppy things like, “Our love is like a rainbow of angel wings fluttering against a darkening sky” (barf). Our cards have food puns! Yes, that’s right, the two best things ever—FOOD and PUNS—in one sealable envelope.

Bookmarks

We also have bookmarks, because we think dog-earring books is a crime. Our bookmarks are made from genuine foreign postage stamps, because books are like stamps for the soul, transporting you to unfamiliar places. Ha! Not really! They just look cool, and they’re selling like hot cakes. (What a strange expression. I’ve never bought a hot cake, and I bet you haven’t either. Let’s say, “selling like a delicious novelty donut-croissant hybrid.”)

Mugs

T-shirts

Next up, we have two Malverny options: mugs and t-shirts. We suggest you buy both, because much like shampoo and conditioner, they are designed to be used in conjunction for maximum Malvern effect. And if you spill stuff from your Malvern mug onto your Malvern t-shirt (which we know you will), it won’t leave a stain because MAGIC. Some of the t-shirts sport a WE DON’T SELL CRAP slogan (very true), while others say A DIFFERENT KIND OF ADULT BOOKSTORE (for those of you unfamiliar with Malvern lore, the former occupant of our esteemed location sold knick-knacks of a decidedly… saucy nature).

Leuchtturm

And last but not least, we have our Leuchtturm1917 journals. They’re beautiful. You might be thinking they look just like a certain popular brand of nifty notebooks, but trust me, they’re much nicer: better quality and much more colorful. And here’s another cool thing about the lovely Leuchtturms: they’re ethically made. You see, although it might seem like we’re all pirate jokes and giddy nonsense here at Malvern, we’re actually rather serious about what we sell, and we want all our sidelines to be either locally made or fair trade, and environmentally sound. So we sent an email to a Leuchtturm representative asking for clarification on how the journals are manufactured, and were thrilled with the (prompt and lengthy) reply… to summarise, Leuchtturms are stitched together by a third-generation family-owned bindery and the company itself has been run by the same family for four generations (i.e. since 1917, hence the name). Good news for those of us who like to write our poetry in classy, kindly-crafted journals.

So, lots of lovely, lovingly made stuff to choose from at Malvern. Come for the free pizza (thanks, Conans!), and stay for the sidelines! See you tonight, my dears.

Tuesday Tidbits

Here’s a little link love for y’all on this hot and humid Tuesday:

  • Big BrotherLionel Shriver’s new novel, Big Brother, is getting mixed reviews. The book is a fictionalized account of Shriver’s struggle to “rescue” her obese brother, who died of a heart attack in 2009 (just days after Shriver published this article about their relationship). It sounds like a… tricky subject for a novel, and reactions to the book have been decidedly mixed. While the Telegraph’Elena Seymenliyska gives Big Brother high marks for originality and sensitivity, John Crace of the Guardian takes great delight in skewering it in six-hundred acerbic words, and Zoe Williams calls it “more an exorcism of guilt than a functioning novel.” Meanwhile, the Independent’s Carole Angier declares that while Shriver is “wonderful at the things she is always wonderful at,” like pace and plot, the novel’s unreliable narrator is ultimately “annoying” and self-defeating. As always, such conflicting reviews make me extra keen to read the novel myself and pick a side. (BTW, this review in the Age wins the Best Title award.)
  • In an essay in the Guardian, Kathryn Heyman asks why there are so few women in the London Review of Books and is told by the Review’s editors that… it’s complicated. Hardly, she retorts:

By publishing a literary journal with about 70% male contributors in every edition, the implicit message is that male writing is better than female writing. If you believe this to be the case, have the courage of your convictions and admit it, so that we can acknowledge what the argument really is. If however, you believe that women writers are equal to male writers, then try harder. It isn’t complicated. It’s simple.

  • Want to save yourself the price of a movie ticket? Avoid Sofia Coppola’s latest deep-as-an-eyeshadow-pan music video movie, The Bling Ring, and instead check out Nancy Jo Sales’ “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” the Vanity Fair essay on which the movie is based. (Fun fact: the burglarizing brats had to break into Paris Hilton’s house five times before she noticed anything was missing.)
  • KanyeKanye West uttered some sublime nonsense in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago; this slideshow reminds us he has been full of (genius) wind for a long, long time. As the Man himself says, “Damn Ye, it’d be stupid to diss you / Even your superficial raps is super-official.”
  • In the Philadelphia Review of Books, esteemed Malvern pal Lee Klein has published a thoughtful review of the second volume in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume My Struggle series. I’m halfway through the book and finding it every bit as riveting and astounding as its predecessor.

A Little Wrong

From Under The Glacier by Halldór Laxness:

laxness2It’s strange that all birds don’t fly in the same way. After all, the air’s just the same at the same place and the same time. I’ve heard that the wings of aeroplanes all conform to the same formula, whereas birds each conform to a formula of their own. It has undeniably required more than a little ingenuity to equip so many birds each with their own formula, and no expense spared, either. Nevertheless, there has perhaps never been a bird that flies as correctly as an aeroplane; yet all birds fly better than aeroplanes if they can fly at all. All birds are perhaps a little wrong, because an absolute once-and-for-all formula for a bird has never been found, just as all novels are bad because the correct formula for a novel has never been found.

Spoil the Child

From one of my favorite essays, Geoff Dyer’s “On Being an Only Child”:

My mother often quoted with approval the maxim “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Unfortunately she thought this was intended as exhortation rather than warning. The mother’s instinct to indulge her only child was thereby reinforced by a higher authority. I was so spoiled that on the day my parents unexpectedly came to pick me up at primary school in the middle of the morning—I was about eight at the time—I told the teacher that it was probably because they wanted to buy me a toy. In fact it was to go to Shropshire where my grandmother was dying.