Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dreams do come true

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article on NPR's website concerning an indie bookstore in Decatur GA that was facing the possibility of closing down. I sent an e-mail and a donation to the store, letting them know that I would do my part to help them out, even though I had never set foot in the store.

Well, I went to their website just a minute ago and, to my surprise, found that Wordsmiths Books is still open! It feels good to know that people still care about things that matter in this world. People rushed to help this store rather than just turn their heads and go to a chain bookstore instead. Dreams really do come true.

Here is the letter from the owner of the store:

A Letter to our Customers

We have reached the end of our two week campaign to save the bookstore and the signs are now down from the windows. From August 4th through August 17th, we asked for your help. We asked for the chance to take this business and turn it forward, to get out from under the weight of immediate costs that were threatening to close our doors forever and begin the task of paying down debts that were accrued in our original location. And you responded. Our call for help hit the AJC , was broadcast on NPR, was rehashed and debated on countless blogs–locally, nationally and even in the U.K–commented on, emailed about and discussed in bookstores throughout the country (special thanks to those bookstores who reached out to help…you will not be forgotten). We received help from 18 states, Canada and a handful of people in the U.K. Several customers who heard the story on NPR and were visiting from other states (most recently California and Connecticut) wanted to come in to buy books to help support the cause. We hosted Jack Pendarvis, Sealions, Poetry Atlanta and Kodac Harrison thrilled us with his one-man show to bolster our weekend long fundraiser.
And thanks to you all, we are still here. We have raised enough capital to cover necessary operating expenses and give us a clear sight into the Fall. I cannot submit, in writing, the level of gratitude and heart-felt appreciation that I feel for all that has been done. For the kind words that have been written. For the immediacy with which this community responded. Contributions were steady, both online and in the store, but the true difference was made in the books that you bought, in the Friends of Wordsmiths memberships that were purchased, and in the efforts you made in-store to purchase goods that would help us now. On behalf of the staff of Wordsmiths Books, I would like to thank you all for making a concerted effort to help keep us around. We will not only ensure that your efforts are not wasted, but we will ensure that our work here offers as much as possible back to this community.
There is still much for us yet to do. We have operating expenses caught up and have made some traction into tomorrow, but we will still be working on paying down our debts for the foreseeable future. I would be remiss to state that all is well and that we are completely in the clear, though we are at least now in a position to address our concerns. I am still working to secure the long-term future of the bookstore and will be open to investment of any level up to that of a partnership in the business. I would like to have investment in the business secured sometime in the coming 90 days, so if you are interested, please email me or call the store to discuss the prospect.
There are also still a number of ways, beyond investment, that you can help support Wordsmiths Books and offer your contribution to ensuring that we are here into the distant future. Our Friends of Wordsmiths program is still the easiest way to support the store, and an instant way to begin to see a return of your support. We also have a number of products in-store that bear that Wordsmiths logo and are not only a financial means to support the store but offer significant advertising outside of the business. You can attend our in-store events and purchase books or drop whatever contribution you feel necessary in our Events Box. Or if you wish to rent our event space for meetings or group gatherings, we can accommodate that as well. With time, we hope to expand what we offer, increase the level of product that we carry, and wish to include the all-important café I have been hoping for from the outset.
Though the signs are down from the window, our road is yet long, but I am renewed by a sense of hope that what we do here does in fact matter to you. And with that, I want nothing more than to continue to build the bookstore you desire. To create the space and atmosphere that welcomes you in and offers you all that you wish to see and experience. I will always be available to those who wish to discuss their opinions and who would like to offer their contribution in way of perspective or thought on how we can make Wordsmiths Books a better place.
For those of you who have offered your help over the past two-weeks, I am busy writing thank you cards and enclosing a fair return on your contribution. Everyone who contributed will see a return in some form. Given that I wish to be around for many years to come, I hope that you find your efforts were well worth it.
Thank you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Viridian Books - Book Review

When Worlds Collide – The Eyre Affair

No matter how many times I read Jane Eyre, the Gothic novel still enthralls me, giving me goose bumps that come with reading such a work. The mad and mysterious wife locked in the attic, the dashing yet brooding Edward Rochester, the plain yet resilient Jane Eyre; it is these characters that will stand the test of time, forever entertaining readers with their narratives and personal histories. However, how would we, the readers, react if someone tried to re-write the novel, removing characters that were near and dear to us, thereby changing the entire story and creating something entirely different? How would we feel? I’ll go a bit further; how would we feel if we discovered that the characters were, quite literally, no longer in the book? That someone actually jumped into the book with the assistance of a portal, stole a character or two, and then slipped out as if nothing had happened? What then? Impossible? Perhaps. Improbable? Maybe not, at least in the world of literary detective Thursday Next, the heroine of Jasper Fforde’s incredible and hilarious first novel, The Eyre Affair.
Set in an alternative England during the 1980s where the Crimean War is still being fought, there are rising numbers of fights between gangs who support different periods of art, hot debates that take on a religious fervor as to who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays are all the rage, and an overflow of religions where even wombats are sacred are given to us with a style and grace that is unique, frightening, and full of wonder. This is also the time of fervor over all things literary, where black markets are set up in order to sell forgeries of famous books that could pass off as the real thing except for a change of character here or a completely different ending in another. The country is, in a 1984 way, ruled with an iron fist known as the Goliath Corporation that infiltrates every aspect of every British person’s life and dares for anyone to rebel against them. It is this world that is the set stage for a most dangerous literary scheme and an even more dangerous man to execute the deed. Acheron Hades, a man beyond all concepts of evil, steals a device that will allow himself to enter a book and become part of the narrative. After successfully removing and murdering a minor but still important character in Charles Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit, Hades sets his sights on even bigger game: Jane Eyre herself. Thursday, with the help of Edward Rochester from the novel, stop and defeat the madman before the classic is lost to readers forever.
Fforde, through this book and others that follow in this series, has given readers a new reason to love reading, revealing what they already know through a kaleidoscope made of chaos and order that blend quite well. His style of writing is filled with literary innuendoes that will tickle even most purist of readers of classic literature; the scene in which Thursday’s uncle Mycroft shows off his bookworms and their usage while they devour pages from a book is one such example. However, even those who are not prone to read classic works will still enjoy the overall Monty-Python-with-books-involved humour that never becomes boring or over the top and melodramatic. The literary world is no longer confined to just ink and paper; their world has become our own.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Necessary - A Flash Story

I want to make it absolutely clear that I am real. There are those of you out there, you with your pretty smiles and false teeth that think me to be otherwise. I just want to be sure that you do realize that you are wrong. The last time I checked, the ears have grown somewhat and my senses are more heightened than before. The colours, however, hurt me more now than ever before; I wonder if that is all part of the plan. Perhaps, but then why should I even care anymore?

When I first discovered my changes, I wanted to cry. My tears would not be of sadness but rather of relief that the truth was finally coming to a big black head. Pimple psychology; I love it! It's so . . . chic.

Now that the glimmer has worn off and I am left with only my truth staring at me right in the face, I no longer smile. My blank stares are a window into a world that I hope you will never want or try to enter.

Day 21 or something close to it: it is over. It hurts. God, please . . . help me. Am I no longer in my Creator's window of caring? It hurts. My blood, as I have found out with the help of a knife, is no longer red but a weird shade of purple. I expected as much.

I am no longer what you think of as a myth or silly legend. I am real, staring at you in the face. Deny me again and let's just see what will happen.

I am a part of something greater, something that will stand tall with pride long after you humans have whithered away and died. I will play beautiful music with your sensitive bones, laughing with a mouth that is beyond normal comprehension.

Welcome to the new order. Welcome to the old world.

Don't worry; your death is necessary for not only myself but others who have awakened to their new life. Hush now and let it begin.