Monday, January 25, 2010

A Visit from Poets and Writers Contributor Jeremiah Chamberlin

Several weeks ago, I started an email correspondence with Jeremiah (Jeremy) Chamberlin. He's started writing a new series for Poets and Writers about indie bookstores. He's set his sites on a few stores in the midwest, and since he has a couple of friends here in town, he thought he might stop by and chat and take a look at the store.

Jeremy now teaches at University of Michigan and edits an online journal Fiction Writers Review, in addition to contributing to Poets and Writers. But what many Wisconsinites might remember best is his stint, with Dean Bakopoulos, helping run Canterbury Books in Madison, a still much talked about former indie bookstore in our capital city. The space is currently taken by Avol's second-hand bookstore.

Just an aside--this was, coincidentally, my second visit from an ex-Canterburian in December, having previously spent some time with an ex-Canterbury and ex-Schwartz friend, Mary Heather. She has the honor of being the first person I knew to read and love Barbara Kingsolver. I might have known someone who read it earlier, but that person didn't talk about it with me.

Poets and Writers is a journal we sell relatively well in the bookstore. It's a variation on local favorite The Writer and also Writer's Digest, offering tips on writing and getting published. It's more of a hybrid, however, than the other two, offering lots of insights from newly published writers. One feature I really enjoyed in the January/February issue polls writers on the inspiration for their books releasing in January and February. It's my favorite question to ask at author readings. Among the authors queried are Ha Jin, Elizabeth Kostova, and Adam Haslett. (Haslett's Union Atlantic is the #1 Indie Next pick for February, by the way. Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves is #4 on The New York Times bestseller list and is featured on the January Indie Next list). There's also a great profile of master cover designer Chip Kidd.

The indie bookstore profiled in the January/February issue is the legendary Square Books in Oxford. Oxford's a wonderful college town (Ole Miss) rich in literary history. On a visit several years ago, we were able to tour Faulkner's house! The store is a dream, set on a really nice shopping square. Really, if you find yourself in Memphis, it's totally worth a detour.

Follow my lead and pick up an issue at your local bookstore or newsstand. (I'm pretty sure it's carried not just at indies, but at B&N, Borders, and certainly at college stores). Oh, and there's a website, of course.

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