I am not often at a loss for words on how to describe an event, but I must say, I am completely stymied now. New York-based writer, musician and mental health activist Sabrina Chap was at W&T on Wednesday evening to share from the second edition of Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction. I haven't been able to put the book down since. But how shall I describe what Sabrina's talk was -- and the book is -- about without reducing it to meaningless cliches? Yes, it is a book with contributions from various artists - writers (bell hooks among them), photographer Nan Goldin, comedian Margaret Cho, playwright Amanda Palmer (who wrote the foreword) et al - on how they have come through their darkest and yet most creative hours, and have lived to tell the tale. But it isn't just an uplifting reminder that if you hurt, you are not alone. That would be waaaay too trite. Instead, it is an exploration into the multiple shades of gray which make us who we are -- dark sides and all. 'Nuf said. To try and elucidate further would be to render this amazing and complex anthology less than the sum of its parts. My suggestion: Read the parts. Thank you to Sabrina for an awesome event and for soldiering on despite succumbing to the damp London weather. - Fran
It was a full house yesterday evening for the event Writing in Conflict, which saw journalist-turned-Chechen freedom fighter, Mikail Eldin, now exiled, Vietnam War veteran-turned-espionage fiction writer, Edward Wilson, translator Anna Gunin and chairperson Arifa Akbar, literary editor of The Independent and i Newspaper, share and discuss the topic of what resistance through writing means. Thank you to English PEN, the panel, and all who came for a powerful and moving evening. Mikail's story graphically depicts the horrors of war, and yet also the resilience and courage of the human spirit, so that we may remember what violence does to humanity. It is often said that reading promotes empathy -- may it also provoke awareness.
Thank you to Stephanie Seegmuller (Pushkin Press) and Meike Ziervogel (Peirene Press), Samantha Schnee, founder and editor of Words Without Borders, and English PEN, for an insightful, enlightening and inspiring evening of discussion on the future of the book. Topics ranged from the transformational power of story, the importance of reading, the challenges of independent publishing, to the changing form of the 'book' in the midst of an age of digitisation. Drop by and explore the amazing titles we have in store from these inspirational powerhouses of indie publishing; against the tide of mass market publishing, they have carefully developed catalogues of worthy collectibles.
I have to say there are times I really love my job. The event with Canadian author Joseph Boyden was both a treat and a reminder of the benefits of being a bookseller. I learnt a lot at that event. Prior to that evening, I had not even been aware of the term 'First Nations' to denote the aboriginal or indigenous people of Canada. Joseph not only read from his novel The Orenda, he provided an insight into the history and culture of these varied ancient tribes. On top of that, it was a double treat to have his friend, Native American actress and musician Tamara Podemski, sing and play the drum at the closing of the session. Now, how many people can say they experience that in the course of their job? What a lovely and magical evening :) Thank you to Joseph for appearing at W&T while in London, and to the Canadian High Commission for supporting the event. We only have one signed copy of The Orenda left in store -- so come and grab it before it goes! And oh, if you're wondering what 'Orenda' means, we asked Joseph too -- it's the spiritual/life force inherent in people and shared with nature. Keeewl... - Fran
Channeling Harry Christmas, the protagonist from his debut novel, A Bright Moon for Fools, author Jasper Gibson, founder of thepoke.co.uk, read several excerpts which introduced the audience to Christmas - a rather curmudgeonly drink-fuelled character on an unlikely quest in Caracas. The evening was also lubricated with shots of Santa Teresa, a Venezuelan rum, to complement Christmas' misadventures. Jasper and his publisher Crispin Somerville, of Inside the Dog Press, also shared their approach to independent book publishing - a first for both - which happily has seen A Bright Moon for Fools first print run in hardback edition sell out. There's only two signed copies left at W&T, so grab them while you can! Salud!
The countdown to Christmas has begun at W&T! We've got lots of lovely books that are perfect as Xmas gifts plus if you buy 3 books or more, they're 25% off each book purchased! There also lots of lovely gifts and Christmas charity card packs, as well as Christmas wrap rolls in store, and other in-store offers too. We've also got lots of lovely little gifties that would make nice sticking fillers or Secret Santa pressies. So why wait for the mad rush? See. Buy. Wrap! And oh yeah, we do a mean gift-wrapping service too, though you do have to buy the giftwrap. Look forward to seeing you soon, and an early 'Ho, ho, Ho!' to you and your family.
As every small biz owner knows, you learn a lot of new stuff when you open and run your own business. You also pick up a lot of skills and do a lot of tasks you didn't know you were capable of until you tried. For example, if you've read any of our previous blogs tagged 'starting a bookshop' (really I should have tagged it 'running a bookshop'), you will know I have become quite handy at fixing toilet cisterns, designing wiring layouts, setting up PC systems, even pretty nifty with a Bosch drill... But there are some things that really do take the cake. Here, a health warning is in order. If you're of the queasy sort, click away now. Because this is one of really fairly gadawful moments no one should really have to see.
It all happened one Friday evening. My colleague walked out of our loo white as a sheet. Below is what she saw. Like any good small biz owner, I decided to spare my colleague and do the DIY thing. [Also because she asked for a mop, which you know, isn't the right tool for this situation.]
CLICK AWAY NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE WHAT SHE SAW
Okay, skid marks I can deal with. God only knows why people don't use the toilet brush provided. But trekking it all over the floor? And leaving it there? Talk about having shit on your shoe. And the mysterious shit prints stopped in the loo. Which means that whoever this was knew. Knew, and left it! Further evidence was found in the bin that someone had wiped the stuff off their shoes. Good grief! We had to air the place overnight and clean out the bin 'cos the awful pong stayed. So listen people, if you really must go, won't you just show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for your fellow men and clean up after yourself?
The Gentle Author, is best known for his observations of daily life in South London, and about Spitalfields in particular. So it was a real treat that he ventured further east and was at W&T yesterday evening.
In a beautiful presentation of 100+ photos, both old and new, the audience was transported to a London of old and the contemporary; accompanied by a narration from the Gentle Author of the stories behind many of London's memorable traditions, landmarks and to meet its even more unforgettable folk. Plus, we were treated to interesting tidbits about London that are less well known -- e.g. did you know that Waterloo Bridge was built by women and it's self-cleaning? [I cannot even fathom what a 'self-cleaning' bridge means :) ]
The Gentle Author's London Album is available now and will make a wonderful Christmas gift. Copies have sold out at W&T but we will be restocking some soon.
Wow, what an awesome and wonderful Saturday :) W&T hosted the lovely Josee and Jeroen on their wedding celebration in London. I know, I know, we thought it was an unusual request too. You see, Josee used to frequent our shop in Bermondsey when she lived in London but she moved back to the Netherlands. On the happy occasion of her recent marriage to Jeroen, the couple organised a special treat for family and friends in London that included a double decker bus tour. They also wanted to stop by at W&T and wondered if we would host them. We were only too pleased to oblige -- what an honour to be included on the itinerary and part of the wedding celebrations!
Josee had also asked if we would read some poems, or make the occasion special in some way. Shivaun picked a poem from John Berger's And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, while Scarlet pored through Chinese poems and settled on one written in the Yuan Dynasty, where a woman writes of the metaphor of clay figurines; through the union of marriage, the clay is broken, comingled, and refashioned - pieces of each in the other. That poem was also set to music for a movie in 1976. So we played the song for a bit while the couple danced.
What's a wedding celebration without heartfelt words of love and an outpouring of warm vibes from family and friends? Josee read a few poems which she had written, which got everyone teary-eyed. A tidal wave of love surged through the room and there was not a dry eye in the house. After the imbibing of pink champagne and wine, grazing on snacks, the guests also received an Albert Camus chapbook to remember the occasion. As the guests departed into the fading light of dusk, there was a palpable feel-good glow at W&T. It was time for Shivaun, Scarlet and I to get back to work to prepare W&T for another day. (Okay, okay, we didn't get to it straightaway, we picked at bits of the food first!) But it was hard to resist stopping and to ponder about the unusual day that Josee, Jeroen and their guests had bestowed upon us by sharing their happiness at ours. Congratulations again Josee and Jeroen. May your life ahead be filled with love, warmth, joy, happiness and fulfilment. From all of us at W&T, thank you again for sharing your special day with us. -- Fran
15 Sept 2013. The Sunday Records' folk take Boards of Canada's album, 'Music Has a Right to Children' for a spin. For upcoming events, see www.thesundayrecord.com. For more info, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Next session at W&T - 17 November 2013.