Book Talk: Becky Introduces Ken Fontenot’s For Mr. Raindrinker

Austin-based Slough Press has been publishing fiction, poetry, and essays for over forty years—and one of their most entertaining titles must surely be the novel For Mr. Raindrinker, by local poet and author Ken Fontenot. Set in the New Orleans of the ’70s and earning frequent comparisons to John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, For Mr. Raindrinker follows the adventures of the indomitable Kent Soileau and his friend, balloon-animal-artist extraordinaire Mr. Raindrinker. Sound intriguing? Then have a listen to this Book Talk from our store manager Becky Garcia—and make a note to pick up a copy of Raindrinker next time you’re at the store (and be sure to attend our monthly Novel Night reading series for more Book Talks!)

Book Talk: Schandra Introduces Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H.

Since her death in 1977, Clarice Lispector has earned recognition as Brazil’s greatest modern writer. And Benjamin Moser, editor of her anthology The Complete Stories, is often quoted as saying she’s the most important Jewish writer in the world since Kafka. Perhaps the most Kafkaesque of Lispector’s nine novels—yes, it involves a cockroach—is the mystical The Passion According to G.H., first published in 1964 as A Paixão Segundo G.H., and released in a superb translation by Idra Novey by New Directions in 2012. To learn more about this existential masterpiece, have a listen to Malvernian Schandra’s Book Talk below (and be sure to attend our monthly Novel Night reading series for more Book Talks!)

A Novel Night in May

Last Thursday we hosted the fifth edition of our Novel Night reading series, a monthly celebration of all things prose. Check out the footage below and take a look at the photos we posted on our Facebook page.

Our first reader was Gary Hobbs, who introduced us to his debut novel, Access to Capital, a page-turner that gives you a glimpse into the faltering and frantic financial world of the 1980s.

Richard Kendrick read from Déjà Vu, described by Rick Russo as “a rare book that combines modernist formal experimentation with excellent post-modernist content and prose.” The novel tells the story of Alden Homer and Blake Whitman, two very different adventurers whose paths cross as they explore Asia.

And last but not least, Malvernite Schandra hosted the Book Talk segment, in which a member of staff introduces the audience to one of their favorite titles on our shelves. Schandra discussed Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” the classic tale of rat-race-rejection—which we happen to stock in a very stylish Melville House edition that comes complete with online access to a recipe for ginger nuts!

Novel Night III

Last Thursday we hosted the third edition of Novel Night, our monthly reading series devoted to all things prose. Our first reader was author Thomas McNeely, who was visiting us from Boston. Thomas read from his debut novel Ghost Horse, a wise and compelling coming-of-age tale set in 1970’s Houston. The novel’s protagonist, Buddy Turner, is a smart and sensitive eleven-year-old boy who is struggling to make sense of the failures of his feuding parents.

Next up was Houstonian Mike Freedman, who read from School Board. This smart and subversive first novel follows the rabble-rousing misadventures of Tucker ‘Catfish’ Davis, a high school senior and aspiring politician who takes on the school board incumbent, a senior executive at an Enron-like company.

Our store manager Becky Garcia hosted the Book Talk segment, in which an enthusiastic Malvernite introduces the audience to one of their favorite titles on our shelves. This month Becky discussed Ken Fontenot’s For Mr. Raindrinker (Slough Press), a novel set in the New Orleans of the ’70s, which Becky recalls from trips with her family—in contrast to her “staid” hometown of San Antonio, she describes it as “a rare and wild animal.” Have a listen to Becky’s wonderful reading from the novel; it’ll definitely make you want to pick up a copy of Raindrinker next time you’re in the store.

And last but certainly not least, we invited members of the audience to brave our open mic and share with us some of their unpublished prose. (Anyone is welcome to take part; if you’re keen to join in next month, just sign up in store on the night.) This month we enjoyed readings from Fred Afflerbach, Katie Battistoni, and Molly Schulman. We hope you like the footage—and if you do, why not come along in person next time? Our next novel night is on April 9th, and will feature readings from Drew Hayes and David Heymann, among others.

Mind Maze & Novel Night at Malvern Books

We have a couple of fantastic literary happenings to share with y’all! Last Wednesday the splendid Raw Paw crew returned to our stage for their fifth Mind Maze chapbook release. This month it was a brand-new title from Montsho Jarreau Thoth, who gave a moving, meditative reading. Montsho was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia around Christmas, and many of the poems in his chapbook were finished while he was in hospital undergoing treatment. (If you’d like to help support his speedy recovery, Raw Paw also has a benefit coming up.) Montsho was joined by spoken word poet Joe Brundidge (aka Element615) and Ash Smith (who will also be W. Joe’s guest for his next poetry corner), and the evening was ably hosted, as always, by Wade Martin and A.R Rogers.

And last Thursday we turned our attention to all things prose, with the second installment in our Novel Night series, featuring debut novelists Howard A. Schwartz and Ernie Wood. We also heard from Malvernite Schandra, who introduced us to The Passion According to G.H. by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (stay tuned till the end of Schandra’s talk to see how Ms. Lispector forms a puzzle). And our open mic-er, a middle-school teacher, read an excerpt that gave us an insightful account of eighth-grade life. Check out the footage below, and be sure to join us for next month’s Novel Night on March 12th.

The Inaugural Novel Night

We’re excited to introduce you to a brand-new reading series in the Malvern calendar: Novel Night. Held on the second Thursday of each month, Novel Night shines a spotlight on all things prose—because, as our curmudgeon-in-chief Dr. Joe says in his introductory remarks, writing a novel is hard work and all that dedication deserves to be celebrated (he may also have noted that, ahem, “anybody can write a poem…”).

Here’s how it works: two published novelists read from their books and take questions from the audience, followed by “Book Talk,” in which an intrepid Malvern staff member introduces us to one of their favorite prose titles. And we finish up with an open mic for writers who’d like to read for 4-5 minutes from their unpublished short stories or novels (sign up on the night if you’re interested). Also worth noting: there are snacks!

Joe and Alan

We kicked things off in fine style last Thursday with two talented novelists: B. Alan Bourgeois (above right) read from his spiritual thriller Extinguishing the Light and Joe Milazzo (above left) read from his fiercely imaginative debut novel, Crepuscule w/ Nellie. Malvern’s manager Becky Garcia then introduced us to the brilliant and challenging Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth and explained why reading Unferth is a lot like watching an episode of Seinfeld. And last but not least, the entertaining Ron Jaeger became our very first Novel Night open mic-er!

Check out the footage below, and be sure to join us on February 12th for the second installment of Malvern Books’ Novel Night…