Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: Darn you, Algonquin Books!

I love getting the mail. I still squeal like a 5 year old on Christmas getting my first glimpse of presents whenever there's a book shaped package in my mailbox. That unopened package is just so full of potential pleasure. But there are many days when I don't get books in the mail. Most days there are just bills or junk mail, which dims the delight of a trip down the driveway. Sometimes there's something better than the bills and junk even if its not a book. Sometimes there's a real live letter from a friend or the drool-worthy goodness that slid quietly into my mailbox this past week: a catalog of a certain publisher's upcoming releases.

I have loved Algonquin Books' offerings since before I ever consciously thought about publishing as an industry. Way back when they were a fledgling independent press and I was still in high school, I looked for their unconventionally sized paperbacks on the shelves of my local bookstore whenever I scraped up enough money to go on a binge, certain that whatever they'd published would be to my liking. And it was. I still have many of those almost square books nestled on my shelves (some still unread, because, well, I've long been incapable of reading as fast I purchase--and I read rather quickly) and I still know that the Algonquin colophon on the spine (a large letter A atop a book) promises a good read. As I leafed through the latest catalog, I was heard to curse the good people at Algonquin because they have managed to put out another outrageously enticing line-up for spring and summer release and I want to request almost every book in the catalog but I don't want to seem greedy. Plus I'm afraid to overcommit and have them stop sending me my 21st century adult version of the Sears and Robuck catalog. I think I dog-eared every page, or if not, I only skipped some because I had already heard that those books were coming out and so they are already on my wish list.

I had already added the much-praised The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry to my list. And because I loved Michael Parker's The Watery Part of the World, his newest, All I Have in This World was also already on my must have list. The inimitable Lee Smith's Guests on Earth had already hit my radar and I have an old, original copy of Lewis Nordan's Music Of the Swamp (still unread) so I didn't need to turn those corners down either. But the ones I hadn't yet heard of? There are rather a lot. There are memoirs like My Accidental Jihad and The Late Starters Orchestra. There are novels like A Dangerous Age and The Third Son. There's even a collection of stories from Ellen Gilchrist called Acts of God. There's more, of course, but I wouldn't want you to miss the joy of turning the pages of your own catalog and discovering surprises for yourself. In the meantime, all I can say is, "Darn You, Algonquin Books people. There are too many good ones from which to choose. How could I only request one and not regret those I didn't get? I can't and so my bank account curses you too."

In addition to salivating over the Algonquin catalog, my reading this week took me into the new marriage of a conflicted Duke and his young Duchess; it took me along as an introverted woman fell in love with a actor on the fast track to fame; and I rode along with a father who kidnapped his daughters as they raced to stay ahead of a hit man and the girls' guardian ad litem. Where did your reading take you this past week?

1 comment:

  1. I love this post about Algonquin books! I haven't been reading their books long, but have enjoyed most of the ones I've read. I think I'll go and download their catalog soon.


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