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B&N: some thoughts

It surprise no one that I love a book store? If you are shocked… I ain’t got nothing for ya. Have you been under a rock my whole life? 3 out of 4 of my first jobs were in bookstores. And I loved them.

I got away a bit, by reading on my tablet. My Nook. And it’s ok for books, I like them just fine? Bit I absolutely can’t stand reading a magazine that way. It’s… Hinky. Too many quirks to it. And I’ve started reading a lot more magazines, so I’ve been visiting local Barnes & Noble stores. Well, one local to home, and one local to work.

My peeps, I am in trouble. In addition to the magazines, I am finding books, glorious ink and paper books that are a joy to behold! And hold and read and not worryabout dropping in the toilets or in the parking lot at work and shattering the screen. And in a time when connections are so precious, paper and ink win over the tablet

Although to be fair I am writing this on the tablet, so it is still being used.

Pre-pandemic, I would buy my cards in a Barnes and Noble, and some magazines. Now… Oh, they have tables with… Gasp! … Sales! Buy 2 get 1 free! Buy 1 get 2nd half off! And it’s so much easier to graze… Um, peruse titles in the store. Although the maze getting through Science Fiction and Fantasy is bloopy, it’s still easier to pick out a book than on a reading app.

(Don’t talk to me about the free books, and discounted pricing on e-readers. I know! I know!)

((and double don’t bring up the kindle. There’s a reason I’m on a nook))

So in the past couple of moths I’ve been to 3 different stores. The local one in Stockton is super nice, but they don’t have the selection I would like for literary magazines. That En Bloc I loved? Nope. Zoetrope? subTerrain ? Nope nada zero zilch. I get it, the demographics aren’t there.

The one near my work had more, but my friend when I was talking about demographics and needing a place that was.?? Hmmm… More literate? Knew exactly where to go! And I did find bunches there! And the problem with asking for the titles I want to read is… I didn’t know I wanted to read them until I picked them up. Some, I didn’t know existed! But being able to flip through pages? Get little sips of language and decide yes or no? Oh yes, yes please!

And that’s something that I missed with books too. I am a serial flip to the back of the book, make sure it’s a happy ending, flip back and keep reading kind of girl. (And yes, I’ll get back to reviewing actual books and magazines soon.)

Ah, books. I’ve missed you.

Book Review: Creatures: A Novel

Hello my lovelies! Today I thought I’d talk to you about Creatures: A Novel by Crissy Van Meter. It’s the first physical book I’ve read in a while. I’ve read on my Nook, and physical magazines… but books? For enjoyment? Not so much.

On that last trip to Barnes & Noble, I found a couple of tables with “Buy 2 Get 1 Free!” Normally, I just walk on by. I enjoy reading on my Nook. It’s convenient. I can adjust the font size. But there is nothing quite like holding a book in your hands and smelling the pages as you read.

I picked up this one in particular because of the little sea creatures on the cover, and the setting being close to the sea (an island, so. Yah). The voice captured me, drew me in and held me even through the parts I hate.

And yes, there are things in this book I normally skip right out of. Drugs—especially parents using a lot of drugs. Van Meter handles it in a variety of ways. Time flows like the ocean, back and forward. The academic questions and answers regarding whales that explore Evangeline’s relationship with her dead father, who looms just as surely as the dead whale out on the beach. The innovation in the way the story is told, including an insert of the very far future (and only one! I wanted more!), is beautifully done. It comes organically from the story– which we all know means that Van Meter put a lot of effort into it. It was worth it.

Overall, the character’s voice drew me in and kept me, even past the time where I knew the subject matter wasn’t what I normally read. I was engrossed. I was rooting for Evangeline. Creatures is the perfect example of why it’s so important to find the right voice for our stories. Because that voice will carry even the most reluctant reader through.

En Bloc: Magazine Review

Hello! Welcome back, my lovelies! It’s Magazine Monday… a day early LOL

I really enjoy literary magazines—although the price can be off putting, getting the right one can feel like you’ve found a magical unicorn. When I go to Barnes & Noble, I generally only buy my magazines there. I mostly read on my Nook. Once upon a time, the selection at any given B&N would be relatively the same. Not so this last time. I don’t know if they are selling out, or if the different stores carry different magazines. Also, sometimes the publish date seems like it was a long time ago, but with the ramifications of Covid across so many industries, I’m willing to hold my piece on this.  However, this is an interesting conundrum: I have one near my work and one closer to my home.  If they carry differing magazines, I need to figure out when the ones I like come in at each one. If they are the same and just selling out quick, well. That makes life So. Much. Easier.

I am not going to subscribe. I don’t like reading magazines on my Nook, and the US Post Office has dropped the ball. When Covid hit, I subscribed to 2 magazines. One of them I didn’t get 3 issues of. And  it’s bi-monthly! So half the issues! Yes, they sent them out to me, but really? Once things started opening up… I want to go and browse.

Today I want to talk to you about one of those browsing finds. This is from the Momcation trip to B&N. I found a little imported Literary Zine called En Bloc. It is imported from the UK, and so is one of the ones in the US that has a little bit of a hefty price tag.

The cover is eye catching and fun, a mustachioed popsicle sticking out its tongue. I am happy to say that the insides are also eye catching. The Letter from the Editor(Samuel Leach) has a large chunk of it that has a line drawn through it, and then he begins. Again. Kind of like the last bit of life has been for us.  This magazine has photography, an interview with Bill Plympton, poetry and of course the fiction that I loved. Both the for the enjoyment of reading the story, and for the techniques.

Because I write too. It’s always awesome to find writer’s excelling at telling stories in a different way. “Baby Brownie” by Ian Cowmeadow tells the story both in the past and future. It is handled really well, with the reader (me) never getting lost, and still engrossed in the story and not just geeking out over the writing. “Elanor’s Party” by Dave Gerow is one of the few stories I’ve read in Second Person perspective that really does grab you into the story and not let go.

The issue I found at B&N was the first issue. The second issue looks like it is out, based on their website (link below). I can’t wait to find it in the store.

The stories caught my eye, kept me interested. As I am a fickle, picky reader this is a great feeling! While I did read every story (I skipped most in other magazines—which will remain nameless), however there were 2 that stayed with me.

Overall verdict, not only will I buy again, it is the sort of magazine I want to share with my friends so we can talk about the stories.

En Bloc

https://enbloc.co.uk/shop/