Of books and jobs

Last night I was at the local Borders for a reading by Megan Abbott from her new novel, The End of Everything. It was an excellent turn-out, filling up all the allotted seats, leaving standing room only. I was happy to stand, eager to hear Megan read — she always does a fine job.

With the closing of Borders this reading may well be one of the last at this particular store. It’s sad. I’ve been hanging out at Borders bookstores since I lived in Ypsilanti, where I attended school at Eastern Michigan University, back in the lat 80s and early 90s. Back then there was just the one store in downtown Ann Arbor, and now it is going to close, leaving a big gap there. I’m not sure what bookstores are left in Ann Arbor. I heard that the small independent bookstore, Shaman Drum, was forced out of business, by Borders ironically (I think that’s ironic anyway…).

Also, I’ve heard that Barnes and Noble is not doing all that well either. Will they last? And if they don’t, what then? Will small independent stores fill in the gaps, or will all bookstores fall by the wayside, leaving only online bookstores such as Amazon.com. Where will authors give readings then? How will this effect publishing?

Of course, there’s also the impact on unemployment. The closing of Borders means the loss of thousands of jobs. And on another jobs-related note, NASA’s space shuttle program ended today with the final landing of the last shuttle, resulting in a loss of thousands of jobs as well.

This morning on the radio, on my way into work, after dropping my daughter off at her grandparents’ for the day, I heard reported that Michigan’s unemployment numbers inched up to 10.5% which is well above the national average of 9.2%.

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Featured blog

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve done a bit of house cleaning on my blog roll. It was just too cluttered with blogs and sites that I’d visted once or few times and then quickly grew bored of, so I figured why keep them. My main orginazational mode is to toss shit out, and so it went. I don’t really like to hoard stuff, I think because my parents, who are from the silent generation, had a tendancy to be pack rats. But hey, they were both raise in West Virginia coalmine towns during The Depression (you’d think I wouldn’t have to link to this major historical era but I’ve run across a millennial or two who aren’t fully aware of it, despite the comparison of our current economic status to it) so their habits are understandable, if frustrating. My mom still saves used teabags and collects plastic butter tubs, which, when she does get rid of them, she tosses in the trash instead of recycling, much to my teeth-clenching chagrin. I try not to give her too hard of time, since she did give birth to me and raised me and all that jazz.

Anyway….where was I? Oh, yeah. My blogroll. I’m trying to keep it to just those blogs that I really like. Plus, I’ve added a Featured Blog blogroll. This is so when I do find a blog or web site that suddenly grabs my interest I can put up there. If it turns out to be one that I really like it will then graduate to my blogroll. If not, addios machachios (is that even a word?). Also, I may want to draw attention to a particular blog/site for a given reason. For example, the featured blog right now belongs to Megan Abbott, a woman I know who writes excellent noir fiction novels. And she has a new one out — Bury Me Deep. I recommend it highly.

BURYMEDEEP

Cool Noir

Got an email yesterday from an author friends who has written three very cool noir novels. Megan Abbott.

Here is a cool youtube vide promo for her second novel, The Song is You.

I was fortunate enough to meet Megan (via my wife Colleen who used to work with Megan’s mother, Patty, an author in her own right, of short stories, at Wayne State University) a few years ago, just as her first book, Die A Little, was being published. I’ve long been a fan of film noir and noir fiction. In grad school, I spent the better part of one summer reading almost exclusively noir pulp stuff by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, James M. Cain, and my local Detroit favorite PI writer, Loren Estleman, author of the Amos Walker PI novel series, instead of catching up on my course work reading – blah!

 Anyhoo…Megan’s novels are exceptional. Her stories are compelling and tantalizing and her characters unique and interesting. She writes cracker jack dialogue and beautiful, elegant prose. But one of the real treats of her books are the period details. Megan, something of culturual anthropoligist, and I believe she’d copped to that title, has this stuff down, the kinds of deserts served to the drapes presented to dresses donned and on an on, really capturing the feel of 40s/50s L.A.

One of the very cool things that I really dig about Megan’s books is the retro pulp cover artwork, which can be seen on her web site. I especially like the one forThe Song is You, because according to Megan the artist used the actress Gloria Grahame, who stared in many a noir film during her career, as the model. Gloria Grahame would have had little problem convincing me to committ murder on her behalf. Vava voom! Hubba! Hubba! and all that sort of thing. I’ve been smitten with her from the first time I saw It’s a Wonderful Life when I was maybe 12 or 13.

I tell you I could stare that book cover all day. Actually I sort of do, because I have a post card of it that Megan sent me to announce the publication of the book stuck up on the wall above my computer.

Megan is also the author of th nonfiction book The Street Was Mine:What Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir. And her first novel, Die A Little, was optioned for a possible film by Jessica Biel, I think.