Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's Display Window Time! Toby Barlow is the Inspiration for Our Paris Scene. "Babayaga" on Sale Now--Barlow at Boswell on Aug. 21.

Several years ago, several of the booksellers I worked with fell in love with Sharp Teeth, a werewolf novel in verse written by Toby Barlow. So earlier this year, when Stacie got a chance to dine with Barlow, with the promise of a new book by summer, she jumped at the chance.

Stacie came back from the dinner, noting the author is as sparkling as his prose, and so we were ready for Babayaga, which has recently gone on sale, with a visit from Toby Barlow scheduled for Wednesday, August 21, 7 pm.

Babayaga, the new novel is a bit of a change of pace, as much as mit is written in prose. We first meet Zoya, a Russian witch, who has settled in 1950s Paris. Having gotten rid of a lover, who noticed her lack of aging, she's gone to her mentor for help. Elga, however, is dealing with her own problems; she's just turned a detective on her trail into a flea. And now Zoya has a new interest, an ad exec, only he also not what he appears to be.

Booklist called the Babayaga "a helluva good time, a delicious mash-up of Cold War spy thriller, horror novel, and love story." Sounds like Christopher Moore fans would like this and there are a lot of them out there. You do know that Sacré Bleu was our bestselling hardcover novel of 2012, don't you?

And among the major book reviews, Barlow got a strong recommendation from Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times. "All of this could be a hot mess, but Barlow is adept at combining unexpected genres: His first novel, Sharp Teeth, was about werewolves in Los Angeles, told entirely in verse. On his second time out as a novelist, Barlow easily keeps all the balls in the air (while balancing on stilts and whistling a happy tune). The blend of James Bond, folk tale, Gogol's humor and surrealism with a corny French detective and a young man's love story all improbably works"

Eh, Benjamin Hale in the Washington Post didn't like it so much. I only mention this because his review was an interesting take on genre writing, especially comedy, taking itself seriously, and Kellogg's review felt that Barlow did take the story seriously. Isn't that what "all in" means?

We are going to vote with the "silly, but seriously so" camp, only because we like their campaign posters. To get people to vote for Barlow, Stacie and I brainstormed a Paris window, partly because we think he really comes down on the right side of the issues (we are very hot on witch's rights and trans-species acrivism). But also, because it would also work for our Antonie Laurain event for The President's Hat on Tuesday, September 24, 7 pm. You're coming to that too, right?

The thing I love about Stacie's windows are the way the found objects come together to make a whole. There are so many details, and so much humor hidden in them. You could look at the pirate ship, or the baseball stadium, or the crime scene, or the circus tent, or now the Paris scene, and the fourth time around, you'd still catch something you missed before.

Now I have to admit, when it comes to Paris, there's a lot more to be found than with other themes. As I've said many a time, you can slap an Eiffel Tower on just about anything and at least some of our customers will buy it. But I love our Monet (it's a plush from Unemployed Philosophers Guild) painting his canvas, which of course turns out to be a greeting card from Graphique de France.

So in any case, come enjoy our window, enjoy Babayaga, now on sale, and please come to our effervescent evening with Toby Barlow on Wednesday, August 21, 7 pm. You will, to overuse a word, enjoy it.

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