Let There Be Light(s)

And at once there was light! Well, not at once. It took quite a while. Lights can be tricky sausages. Here are a few photos from our illuminating day, featuring (from top to bottom) the hive of industry; two determined blokes wrestling with a nineteenth-century French hanging light that weighs about as much as a St. Bernard; and a selection of our Swinging Sixties swingers (by which I mean pendant lights, obvs).

lights3 lights1a Lights

Bits of Tid

G’day, glorious Malvernians! Here’s your salt-free smörgåsbord of literary tidbits:

• Speaking of… in England they usually say titbit, but apparently the less bosomy tidbit is more common in the United States. And it seems the Americans have history on their side: the word tidbit has been around since the 1640s, when it was used to refer to tasty morsels of food, with “tid” meaning “tender” or “delicate.” Later, the word came to mean anything tiny or inconsequential, and some silly-billy decided to change the first syllable to “tit,” since “tit” denotes a small object or animal (as in “titmouse”). Of course, it’s also possible the silly-billy just liked saying tit.

Volunteer• Austinites, your city needs you! This year’s Texas Book Festival (featuring Lit Crawl Austin) will take place on October 26th-27th in and around the State Capitol, and they’re looking for volunteers. It’s a mammoth event, with over 250 authors in attendance and more than 40,000 visitors. (And Malvern Books will be there too, of course, with a well-stocked, charmingly staffed table of literary delights!) Helping out at the Festival sounds like fun, especially for those lucky volunteers who get to escort nervous, trembling writers to their doom book signings. So go do your bit for local lit…

• The lights are on and Malvern’s home! Yes indeed, today is the day the electrician installs our hanging lights. We have an eclectic mix of vintage Swinging Sixties pendants (the groovy, easygoing lights) and nineteenth-century French castle fixtures (the grandiose, disapproving lights). We hope they will illuminate nicely together. Tomorrow we give the whole store a dash good clean, and then nothing stands between us and opening day except, erm, entering 4,000+ titles into our Point of Sale system…

Fingersmith• And finally: Fingersmith (2002) is good. I mention it only because it doesn’t look good: it looks awful. That cover! I glanced at it in a bookstore and thought, “That looks like the sort of thing you might enjoy if you also enjoy renaissance faires, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and naughty dreams about goblins.” But a staff member insisted it was “wonderful,” so I took it home and… she was right. It’s definitely a melodrama, complete with baby-farming and a wretched lunatic asylum and multiple cases of mistaken identity. But it’s also utterly riveting and brilliantly written (Waters has a heap of fun with the 1860’s London dialect), and it offers an eviscerating critique of Victorian society. It also contains the immortal line, “PIGEON, MY ARSE!”