02 July 2013

New book town, new book adventures

It has been almost two weeks since I moved to Chicago and since then my writing output has been, well, less than impressive. I don't believe in blogger's block (sorry) so let's say I've been mulling a lot of things over and getting settled in. But Book Stuff has never been far from my mind! Here are three points about

A-Hunting We Will Go: I recently started writing a book column for the Canadian magazine Ballast -- oh, you would like to read it? What luck! Here's the first installment about Margaret Atwood -- so I went on a mini-tour of bookstores last week. What a treat to encounter a new city in this way! And I could write a blog post for each, but I must call out Market Fresh Books in Evanston for the most inventive pricing model I've seen. Books are weighed and charged a flat rate per pound according to genre (fiction, for example, is $4.99/pound). This is so new to me I didn't fully grasp it my first trip in, but my second trip in I endured some jokes about how I would need a wheelbarrow to cart all my deals home. Not quite, but I may not sneak away with only 2 purchases next time.

Guts & Glory: It was on this mini-tour that I attended my first local literary event, the reading series Guts & Glory, at the northern Powell's on Lincoln Avenue. Imagine my surprise when that Powell's (which I had visited before last fall) turned out to have a secret room in the back, normally curtained off, with enough space for probably 100 avid listeners to sit and take in the show. Several writers read nonfiction essays to varying degrees of confession, and then cohosts Keith Ecker and Samantha Irby read their own pieces in a gross-out competition (I say Samantha won? But it was really close). I learned about the event through one of the readers, Claire Zulkey, who stepped up to the plate with a very funny essay about Internet jealousy and snooping.

Having An Actual Shelf On Which To Put Your Books: Way, way underrated:

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