Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Last Chapter

On the advice of my accountant and my business manager, I am closing Shaman Drum Bookshop June 30. Despite a first rate staff, a fiercely loyal core of customers, a very decent landlord and my own commitment to the community of arts and letters in Ann Arbor, it is clear to me that the bookshop is not a sustainable business.

In spite of the downturn in the economy, Ann Arbor continues to be an excellent book town. There are wonderful independent stores here (Crazy Wisdom, Nicolas’s Books), fine specialty book stores (Vault of Midnight, Aunt Agatha’s) and great used bookshops (Dawn Treader, West Side Books, Motte & Bailey). They need your support.

Over a year ago we began a process to become a non-profit center for the literary arts. I am decoupling Shaman Drum Bookshop from the Great Lakes Literary Arts Center, which should simplify and streamline our IRS application. I will pursue this new venture after we close the store.

Shaman Drum Bookshop has been here for 29 years. We had 28 good years. Thank you for your support. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a bookseller in Ann Arbor.

-Karl Pohrt

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ysra Sigurdardóttir's "Last Rituals"

For fans of Scandanavian mystery, let me introduce Ysra Sigurdardóttir and her debut novel Last Rituals. A cracking good mystery that delves into the witchcraft of Iceland’s past. Nothing is what it seems and no one can be trusted as the past makes itself all too present. The novel also introduces a smart and intriguing heroine in Thóra who returns in Sigurdardóttir’s follow-up My Soul to Take.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dara Horn's "All Other Nights"

A page-turner about Union and Confederate spies during the Civil War, All Other Nights brims with character, verve, and a great deal of panache. This tale about Jews during the war that further divided a nation might be any other historical novel if it weren’t for Horn’s ability to constantly thwart all expectations with truly surprising plot twists. Horn combines fact with fiction with the same assurance and liveliness that made The World to Come such a thrilling read.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Donna Leon's "The Girl of His Dreams" review

"Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries have won legions of fans for their evocative portraits of Venetian life. In her novels, food, family, art, history, and local politics play as central a role as an unsolved crime." - Powells

The Girl of His Dreams finds Brunetti in a particularly contemplative mood following the death of his mother. So, when the body of a young Gypsy girl floats to the surface of a canal, Brunetti cannot help but reflect upon his own maturing daughter. As the case becomes more complex and mired in the prejudices and short-sightedness of contemporary bureaucracy, Brunetti fears that nothing hopeful will ever happen. This outing from Leon offers the depth and sensitivity which make her a must-read.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gonzalo Celorio's "And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centers"

Mexican author Gonzalo Celorio makes his English-language debut with this translation of his widely-recognized contemporary masterpiece. And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centers is a ghost walk through the forgotten center of Mexico City. Harking back to the flanêurs of yore, Professor Juan Manuel tours the bars of the city center that are threatening to disappear before his eyes as Mexico City prepares for another millennial flux. This bawdy and boozy read should inspire your own nostalgia; don’t be caught without a drink.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yoko Ogawa's "The Housekeeper and the Professor" Review

I was actually astonished by the difference between The Housekeeper and the Professor and Yoko Ogawa’s English-language debut, The Diving Pool. Where the earlier work masterfully created a malevolent world out of a penetrating and precise vision of human discomfiture, Housekeeper displays an equally acute sense of human potential for love and connection in the face of remarkable odds. To describe this novel as sweet somehow seems to rob of it of its considerable tension, but it is certainly graceful.

- LaTissia