mardi 6 octobre 2009

Our night with Janet

As we thoroughly enjoyed Moonlight in Odessa, we were all very much looking forward to our event with Janet Skeslien Charles tonight and I'm happy to report that it was a great event! Janet started the reading with a quiz for our rapt audience about mail order brides and I dare say, we learned quite a few interesting things. For example, I didn't know that mail order brides were already present in the US as early as 1620 or that they were originally called Tobacco Brides!

Check out our audience who more than did well in the quiz...

After the fun quiz, Janet explained to us the process she underwent to bring her book to the public. And then she read a few choice passages from her book. It was quite a treat to hear Daria come to life through her reading and it was like rediscovering the pleasures of the book all over again!

Of course after the reading we all queued to have Janet sign our copies of her book!

dimanche 4 octobre 2009

Event at the RWB

One of the year's most exciting debut novels was written by a good friend of RWB and we are very proud to invite all of you to a reading with Janet Skeslien Charles at the RWB on the 6th of October at 7PM. She will be reading from her wonderful new book Moonlight in Odessa. This is the story of Daria, beautiful and smart who longs for something more than what she can have in her beloved native Odessa. And her all elusive search takes her to the world of mail-order brides and marriage. I won't give away the plot, as half the fun is discovering the plot as you read along but this book is one we truly enjoyed reading. Its funny and wise with great characters that will keep you hooked till the last page. We can't wait till Tuesday and we hope to see you all there!

vendredi 18 septembre 2009

Guess who came by RWB today? Steve Toltz, writer of A Fraction of the Whole which was longlisted last year for the Man Booker Prize! Always some sort of excitement going on at RWB.

lundi 14 septembre 2009

Its the rentree but we have a pile of great new books that are just begging to be read....

New in Fiction Hardcover/Trade Edition
1. Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
2. Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles
3. Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
4. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
5. Summertime by J.M. Coetzee (shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize)
6. The Quickening Mae by Adam Foulds (shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize)
7. Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby
8. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
9. The Gourmet by Muriel Barberry
10. Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd
11. The Infinities by John Banville
12. Small Wars by Sadie Jones

New in Fiction Paperback
1. The Queen's Necklace by Antal Szerb
2. The Assassin's Song by M.G. Vassanji
3. An Expensive Education by Nick McDonell
4. Touching Distance by Rebecca Adams
5. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
6. A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven by Karl O.Knausgaard
7. Generation A by Douglas Coupland
8. Hustle by Will Fergunson
9. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman
10. The Way Things Look to Me by Roopa Farooki

Books I've been reading lately seem to be similarly preoccupied with certain themes though not necessarily of the same time frame. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan is not the usual historical fiction that I normally pick up to read but it sounded intriguing so I didn’t hesitate too long before starting it. The Frank in the title is Frank Lloyd Wright, the celebrated architect whose work revolutionized architecture and ushered in the field’s modern age. The book deals with a rather scandalous episode of his life when he and the wife of a client, Mamah (pronounced May-muh) Borthwick Cheney fall madly in love after he is commissioned to build their house. The lovers flee to Europe and leave their respective families. Needless to say, their affair wreaks havoc on their respective home lives, Wright’s career and virtually destroys Mamah Cheney’s reputation. The book details the trajectory of their relationship until its ultimately tragic ending.

Such a subject matter could have easily turned mawkish and overly sentimental if not for Horan’s careful portrait of Mamah. She doesn’t overly deal with sentimentality or emotion. Instead she paints a portrait of a woman who is constrained by the roles imposed on her by society. During the early years of the 20th century, women were supposed to be wives and mothers but not much else. It was a time of great agitation for greater female emancipation and participation in society, lead by such stalwarts as Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Emma Goldman and the Swedish feminist Ellen Key. Mamah with her husband and children was an aberration of those times because she wasn’t content with her lot. Though as her sister Liz, later acidly points out, “she had the kind of life most feminists would dream of having.” And the price Mamah pays indeed for daring to break free of the mold and insist on a kind of self-realization was a high one. At the end of the book, Horan leaves it up to us to decide whether such her act was worth the price exerted on her.

Rebecca Miller’s new novel The Private Lives of Pippa Lee opens with Herb and Pippa Lee moving into Marigold Village a rich retirement community. At 80 years old, Herb is tired and wants to be free of the stresses of a rich and wealthy life, so the house in Sag Harbor and the apartment in Gramercy Park are sold along with the rest of their possessions. Pippa,at 50 is the youngest person in the community. However outwardly perfect, serene and put together she seems to be she’s not quite ready for the retired life and her life soon begins to unravel. How she comes to this point takes the rest of the story to tell. I don’t dare give more away as it is quite a tale and a good part of the pleasure of reading this book is seeing how it unfolds.

Miller’s novel focuses on the quest for personal identity and how this quest is shaped, opposed and nourished by family and circumstances. Pippa’s story is that of an outsider struggling to find her self and consequently her place in the sun and surely, this is one of the most universal of themes. Granted, a few of Pippa’s experiences seem to be more out of the ordinary than what most of us know but then again, who knows what lies beneath the most seemingly ordinary person’s façade. Miller’s great strength is her intelligent and sensitive prose that carries even the most extraordinary episodes. At times, the story seemed to push the limits of credibility but her ability to ground her prose in carefully chosen details saves the tale. Some details stay with you even after you’ve turned the last page. I don’t know why I should have been surprised, she is her father’s daughter after all.

Miller’s central concern for the search for identity becomes an even more poignant question when this search is coupled by an overwhelming desire, a need even, to belong. Pippa, as we all do, wants to belong. But at what point does the need for belonging overthrow your real self?

mardi 25 août 2009

We got a lot of great new books and we couldn't resist putting them in our window! Don't you just love it?

mercredi 19 août 2009

A day in August

Who says that everything is closed in Paris during the month of August? We are certainly open!

Our neighbors though have decided to take off for other shores.....I guess we'll be seeing them again in September

lundi 17 août 2009

Don't let summer go by without stopping by RWB and checking out all our great new titles....

New in Fiction Hardcover/Trade Edition
1. A Moveable Feast The Restored Edition--by Ernest Hemingway
2. Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga
3. Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
4. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
5. What Becomes by A.L. Kennedy
6. An Expensive Education by Nick Mcdonell
7. Swimming by Nicola Keegan
8. We Are All Made of Glue by Marina Lewycka
9. Little Stranger by Sarah Waters---longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize
10. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin --longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize
11. Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
12. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
13. Goldengrove by Francine Prose
14. How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall---longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize
15. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Sorceress by Michael Scott

New in Paperback

1. Indignation by Philip Roth
2. Me Cheeta by James Lever ---longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize
3. A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian
4. A Whole Day Through by Patrick Gale
5. Paris City of Night by David Downie
6. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
7. Black Orchids by Gillian Slovo
8. La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
9. The Comfort of Saturdays by Alexander McCall Smith
10. Mister Roberts by Alexei Sayles
11. The Great Lover by Jill Dawson
12. Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan
13. Apology for the Woman Writing by Jenny Diski

mardi 28 juillet 2009

The never ending fascination for Chanel

More than thirty years after her death in 1971, Coco Chanel remains one of the most fascinating figures in fashion history. There remains an abiding interest in her. Proof being that, just this year alone two new movies on her life were released and a new biography is coming out in September. Before the new biography however, Pushkin press, has published for the first time in English, Paul Morand’s L’allure de Chanel”. I'd read the book as soon as the publisher released a copy and now I'm happy to announce that you can now get your copy from the RWB!

The book was born from the interviews conducted by Paul Morand at the end of WWII when Chanel invited him to visit her in St. Moritz. Strangely enough, the notes were all put away in a drawer and only came to light after Chanel’s death. Lucky for us that the notes came to light when they did! The interviews are separated into different chapters where we have Chanel dishing on her great love affair with Boy Capel, her relationship with Diaghilev and Misia Sert and her often acerbic though still relevant views on work, money, fashion and women. Just consider some of her views:

“Money is probably an accursed thing, but does not our entire civilization derive from a moral concept based on evil? …Money is not attractive, its convenient. Money adds to the decorative pleasures of life but its not life.”

“Expensive jewelry does not improve the woman who wears it any more than costly fabrics woven with precious materials do; if she looks plain, she will remain so.”

Particularly pertinent in our couture obsessed days…

“….And there’s no more art of couture. Couture is a technique, a job, a business…It may be that there is an awareness of art, which is already a great deal, that it excites artists that it accompanies them in their cars, on the path to glory; that a bonnet with ribbons should be immortalized in an Ingres drawing, or a hat in a Renoir, so much the better but it’s an accident; its as if a dragonfly had mistaken Monet’s Waterlilies for the real thing and had alighted there.”

These interviews paint a fascinating picture of this woman. She was a strong woman, sometimes harsh, fiercely hardworking and always determined. Maybe because I’d just read about the Veuve Clicquot (see review under Book Reviews), but there are certainly parallels in their determination to run their respective businesses as they both saw fit. Despite such portraiture there is still an enigma about Chanel. It doesn’t help that she often gave contradicting information. Neither does this book deal with questions regarding her involvement with the Nazis during the war. I guess this was one topic that she didn’t want to talk about and it remains to be seen whether the new biography will tackle the matter. On verra!

lundi 27 juillet 2009

A number of authors have been passing through RWB lately. And while I don't always have my camera with me to record their presence, I did manage a few photos. Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You, Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy stopped by with his family to browse our shelves.

And yet another was Dr. Shireen Lewis, author of Race Culture and Identity. She is also the founder of SisterMentors, an organization that promotes education among women and girls of color.

Better late than never

Some long delayed photos from the great night we had with David Francis, who read from his new book Stray Dog Winter. It was a cool and convivial evening, full of friends and well wishers. Hopefully it won't be too long before David graces us with his presence again!

jeudi 2 juillet 2009

Here's to Eiffel

This year, Paris' beloved Eiffel Tower is celebrating its 120th birthday! It thus seemed fitting to do a reading with an author whose newest book is on that very subject. Dr. Jill Jonnes' book is an erudite and well written book on the Eiffel Tower and the year of its magical unveiling. For fans of the Eiffel or for those who want to know more about it, this book is a must read. Reading this book makes one realize what an engineering feat was wrought by Gustave Eiffel. After reading the book, you'll certainly look at it through newly appreciative eyes. But aside from the Tower, the book also goes into great lengths to describe all the historic figures for whom the year 1889 was so memorable. I especially loved the book's description of how Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and the Wild West show captured the Parisians.

We all had a great time at the reading. It was our own way of celebrating the Eiffel Tower's 120th!

David Francis and T.E. Carhart, great authors who were at the reading

Mingling with some of our guests and friends

lundi 22 juin 2009

A bilingual reading

Its not so often that we have bilingual readings, RWB being an anglo-phone bookstore. However we do make certain exceptions, the most recent being the reading with poets Marilyn Hacker and Marie Etienne. Their book, which is a translation by Marilyn of Marie Etienne's poems is called King of a Hundred Horsemen. It was published to great critical acclaim and has since publication won two prizes for translation. Its a wondrous collection of poems, taking the form of cycles that themselves form a coherent and beautiful whole. Much of the poems read that night were those that focused on natural themes like birds which for a time greatly fascinated Marie. I have to confess that I didn't know Marie Etienne's poetry till the night of the reading and thanks to Marilyn's masterful translation, I was glad to make my acquaintance with her poems!

Here's a picture of our great audience who considerably livened up the reading with their interested and interesting questions!

mercredi 17 juin 2009

Finally, some news

A million apologies for not having updated the blog in ages. Due to some technical difficulties (first my computer, then our internet connection went awry), I was unable to write about some of the great things that have been going on at RWB. You may remember that we were very excited about our June events and they were certainly something to write about. So without further ado, here are a few photos from our events last June 7.

To start off the festivities of the Paris en Toutes Lettres, we decided to ask the lovely Anne Marsella to read from her new novel Patsy Boone. As always with Anne, the event was lovely, with people asking interested questions. We're all waiting for her upcoming novel called Baby from Belleville.

Our audience included Paul Schmidtberger, himself a published novelist

We were surprised (pleasantly) when Anne decided to ask a friend to play some music for her reading. A surprising choice but one that added an extra fun element to her reading..

We had just finished with the first one when it was time for the next event...this time a book about an elusive piano shop somewhere in the left bank...

Here's Penelope introducing our next writer and his best selling book....

Thad Carhart told us this funny story about a confusion between his book and one written by one of the Hell's Angels.

I'd read the Piano Shop on the Left Bank when it first came out and I've always wondered about the person behind the book. I was certainly very glad to finally meet him. I'm sure members of our audience (including David Burke) would agree with me!

For the final event of our Sunday extravanganza, we had three excellent poets reading from a selection of their works published in Norton's newest poetry anthology American Hybrid.

Stacy Dorris

Jorie Graham

Alice Notley

Our rapt audience included poets Jennifer Dick and Marilyn Hacker (who herself was doing a reading with Marie Etienne the following day)

With so many events taking place all in one day, it was not surprising that many of the authors who came around, either to attend or read had a great time mingling with each other and with RWB's great audience. It was certainly a fun and momentous day for all of us at RWB!

mercredi 3 juin 2009


As you may have noticed, we have been excitedly telling everyone about the upcoming reading with Sally Gardner tomorrow, the 4th of June. Unfortunately due to some sad unforseen events, Sally won't be able to make it to the event. But this doesn't mean that she won't be back some other time at the RWB for a reading. She has definitely promised to come another day and we will keep you all posted with details.

All our other events are pushing through as planned so we hope to see you at one of them! Starting tomorrow until the 8th of June 2009, Paris is celebrating its first city wide literary festival called Paris en Toutes Lettres and we have a number of great authors coming for this festival. The full programe for the festival is available at RWB.

Don't forget to come to these great events:

7th of June (Sunday)
3PM --Anne Marsella reading from her just published french novel Patsy Boone. This is your chance to ask Anne all about contemporary writing in this fair city of ours.

5PM--T.E. Carhart reading from his beloved and best selling book Piano Shop on the Left Bank.

630 PM--a reading from some of today's most exciting poets from their new anthology The American Hybrid. We will have Cole Swensen, Stacy Dorris, Alice Nottley and Jorie Graham

8th of June (Monday)
7PM--Marilyn Hacker and Marie Etienne will do a bilingual reading of their award winning book King of a Hundred Horsemen

See you all soon!

One of my favorite things to do is to visit local flea markets. It doesn't matter where I go, I always try to visit them. I think its the prospect of finding that special something that I wouldn't be able to find anywhere else that makes me go. Soemtimes I'll come away empty handed after rummaging through piles of junk, but when I do strike gold, it makes my day! I've often wondered if there was a book specifically on markets in France, and it occured to me that I could check quite easily here at RWB. A bit of searching and I found Sandy Price's book The Flea Markets of France. A few clicks and the books were ordered. When I did get them, I took my copy home and literally read it that night. It is a beautiful little book packed with detailed information on markets all over France and gorgeous pictures. It made me want to visit some places that I would never have thought of. Needless to say I earmarked lots of pages.
Imagine my surprise when I got a call last week from the author herself! She was in town visiting her son and she wondered if we had copies of her book. Of course we had them! She came in yesterday, after some visiting some markets over the weekend and she very graciously agreed to answer some of my questions and to make recommendations. So there you have it, Sandy Price with her lovely book....

vendredi 29 mai 2009

Events Galore!!!

Here it is.... drum roll please.... RWB's great line up of events for the month of June. We are very excited to host all these wonderful authors and poets and it would be great if you could join us, for any or better yet, all of them!!!

June 4:
Sally Gardner : The Silver Blade, Orion
Awarding winning author presents the long awaited sequel to the exciting young adult's novel The Red Necklace about the French Revolution: at 6pm at the RWB

June 7:
Anne Marsella : Patsy Boone and Remedy, Portobello, Anne Marsella will talk about writing in English and in French in Paris at 3pm

June 7:
T.E. Carhart : The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, Vintage Press T.E. Carhart will read from his beloved bestseller about the hidden world of an atelier in Paris at 5 pm

June 7 :
Cole Swensen : American Hybrid, Norton and poets such as Kathleen Fraser, Jorie Graham, Alice Notley, Stacy Doris will celebrate the publication of The Norton Anthology of New Poetry -edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John at 630pm

June 8 :
Marie Etienne presents with Marilyn Hacker : King of a Hundred Horsemen (The National Poetry Series) FSG, winner of both the Robert Fagles Translation Prize and Pen Translation Prize at 7pm

June 12 :
Jill Jonnes : Eiffel's Tower, Viking 7pm

June 16 : David Francis: Stray Dog Winter Macadam Cage -7pm

June 29 : Steve Tomasula: Vas: An Opera in Flatland, University of Chicago Press- 7pm

The events are free and will take place at 22 rue St. Paul 75004

jeudi 28 mai 2009

Very often, Penelope will pull a book from our shelves because it looks like an interesting book. But it is not so often that the editor of a book she's pulled out will actually walk in the store! That's exactly what happened to Ben Servier from Penguin who came a -visiting and found a book, near and dear to him. The Little Book by Selden Edwards was one of his babies and here he was justifiable proud when he came across it! We were happy to have made his day!

Today we had a wonderful surprise when Anita Lobel walked in RWB. It was so nice to meet such a lovely person whose books we enjoy so much. Even better was the news that she has new books out, and we even got copies! And that she is currently working on another one.

Check out the photo with RWB's Aldridge Hansberry who is herself a great musician!

Watch out for the full list of events coming up in June!

dimanche 24 mai 2009

Just before the Ascension weekend, we had two authors visit us at the RWB. Marilyn Hacker stopped by, as excited as we are about the upcoming bilingual reading with Marie Etienne on the 8th of June. Her new book, a wonderful translation of Marie Etienne's poems has just won two prestigious awards, the Robert Fagles Award and the Pen Award for Poetry in Translation. It will certainly be a treat to have such talented poets at the RWB.
The other author who stopped by was the always charming Jonathon Green author of the Chambers Slang Dictionary. He is acknowledged as the English speaking world's leading expert on slang! His book is funny and indispensable and we always look forward to his visits...

lundi 18 mai 2009

Un avant gout for June

We had a wonderful surprise this morning when the lovely Cole Swensen stopped by at the RWB. And we are very pleased to announce that she will be doing a poetry reading along with Ms. Jorie Graham and Ms. Stacy Dorris at the RWB on the 7th of June at 630 PM. The poets will be reading from the book American Hybrid whose introduction and selection of poems are by Cole Swensen.

I can't tell you how excited we are about this upcoming poetry event at RWB!

RWB and Paris en Toutes Lettres

Recently, Paris' popular mayor Bertrand Delanoe held a press conference to launch the first city wide literary festival. The festival titled Paris en Toutes Lettres will run from 4th of June till the 8th of June and it aims to showcase the city of Paris both as a vivid inspiration for a number of great literature written by both French and non-French speaking writers and as a literary city that welcomes and shelters writers. This is an important literary event that will entail the participation of the city libraries including the National Library, the bouquinistes, cafes, theatres and a good number of independent bookstores, including the Red Wheelbarrow. In connection with this festival, a number of events, readings and special film screenings are being planned. They are even planning to invite a writer to set up at a designated area where he will write until he completes a book during the duration of the festival. I'm sure that's going to be something to see!

We at RWB have planned an exciting array of events in connection with the Paris en Toutes Lettres that will take place within our wonderful store! And because we were so inspired with the planning of the festival events, we went ahead and planned several other events at the RWB for the month of June. We are seriously packed for the month of June. Everyone is welcome to join us and if you want to receive reminders by mail, don't hesitate to send us your email address at! A full schedule of June's events, including those for the Paris en Toutes Lettres festival will be uploaded on the website (and this blog) within the next few days so stay tuned!

For the Paris en Toutes Lettres Festival, RWB's events are the following...don't forget to write them down in your agendas

4 June 2009 --Sally Gardner who will be reading from the Silver Blade at 6PM

7 June 2009-- Anne Marsella who will be reading from her new book Patsy Boone as well as giving a talk on the craft of writing in a foreign tongue. That's at 3PM

7 June 2009--T.E. Carhart who will be reading from his bestselling book Piano Shop on the Left Bank at 5PM.

8 June 2009--Marilyn Hacker and Marie Etienne doing a bilingual reading from the King of a Hundred Horsemen at 7PM. Marilyn Hacker has just won the prestigious Robert Fagles prize for translation for this wonderful book.

Before I close this post, I wanted to share some pictures I took of the Hotel De Ville. I couldn't resist playing the tourist while inside since these are parts that are normally off-limits to visitors unless you've got an official reason to be there!

One of the lovely great halls that are used for official functions...

This is where we were for the press conference!

samedi 16 mai 2009

The Subversive Copy Editor

Despite the gray skies, we had a great turnout for the reading of Carol Fisher Saller's new book "The Subversive Copy Editor" published by University of Chicago Press. Fellow editors, writers and lovers of the written word gathered to partake of Ms. Saller's extensive experience in the world of copy editing, now distilled in her great book. After a brief introduction, the reading started appropriately enough with a bit of talk on the Chicago Manual of Style, one of the most regarded and respected writing manual in the world. Then she continued with some passages from the book which were humorous and interesting. Who would have ever guessed that a topic such as copy editing could be so involving? As Ms. Saller points out, we all have, at one point had to "edit" someone's work in one capacity or another!

The relevance of a good editor cannot ever be underestimated, as pointed out by Penelope, who did a bit of reading herself of a book (which shall remain unnamed) that could have done with a bit of good editing...

Here is the author with her good friend Deborah...

Its never complete without an author signing after....

Once again a great event! Special thanks to the University of Chicago Press people (especially Mirjam!) who very nicely contributed to our event.

Now we gear up for our June events. Let me tell you there's going to be plenty! And they're all great!