Do you have a huge to do list? Are you so busy that you don't even have time to list all those to dos? Some to dos are just in the back of your mind, some to dos never make it to the top of the list.
My to do list is long. Very long. I'm not complaining because I love the store but boy do I think about those things that don't even make it onto the list.
I hadn't heard the term shelf talker before the store but I'd seen them. They are pieces of paper attached to the shelf for staff to recommend books. Brian and Meg have written some. Me: nada. One of these days I will, hopefully.
My to do list of shelf talkers includes: Culinaria books, English royalty biographies by Allison Weir, any David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Tony Horwitz, The Best American.... (an annual series, best American short stories, sci-fi, science,magazine, poetry) Steve Jobs (which I'm loving) etc etc etc.
One of my first planned shelf talker was supposed to be about Sheila Weller's Girls Like Us. I loved this book, really loved it. The girls like us are Carly Simon, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Weller uses a simple structure, a chapter on Carole's childhood years, then Carly's, then Joni's and goes on like that until chapters which blend the three women's lives, because obviously that is what happened. Their rock and roll and artistic lives blended, even to the point of having loved the same men. (Can you guess one? J.T.?)
I used to dance around endlessly to Tapestry when I was young. I loved reading about Carole King's life from innocent early years in the 50's to Montana ranching and on.Carole King has a huge behind the scenes roll in early rock and roll, producing and writing etc) I never listened to Joni Mitchell much but Weller really brought her tough bohemian life into focus. (Speaking of tough bohemian lives, check out Patti Smith's award winning memoir, Just Kids. Talk about your starving artists. She is a wonderful writer.The kids she writes about are her and Robert Mapplethorpe. They met on a stoop in NYC. She was just sitting around because she had no money and nowhere to go. They end up going together through the early years of their artistic careers.)
Carly Simon. Wow, I have to laugh as I write this because I was actually too young to have lived any of the lyrics to any of their songs. Just like my gang singing “Voulez Vous Couchee Avec Moi, Ce Soir” having NO clue what that meant! I knew Carly had a privileged upbringing. Ironically I may have known that because I was living a privileged upbringing! Lake Forest, Wayzata, Grosse Point, Greenwich, they're all the same. Carly Simon's father was Simon of Simon and Schuster publishing. I loved reading about how her mother promoted art and performing arts in her children's lives. They lived a very WASP-y but unstructured life.
I won't be able to write all this on the shelf talker but please check out Girl's Like Us. It wonderfully tells the story of their lives as the story of women's lives in their time. A great cultural history.
One to do that got done was our display of Rock and Roll Reads. Its replaced by a basic but effective New In Paperback now. It was a fun display that included autobiographies by Sammy Hagar, Steven Tyler, Roseanne Cash etc. We have a heavy metal cookbook and many children's books written by musicians. I like anthologies of any kind so I recommend Rolling Stone magazine anthologies once in a while. There's a great book about the meaning behind Neil Young's lyrics. A few books on Dylan and new to the list: Blue Guitar Highway.
When Erik from the U of MN Press told me Paul Metsa had a new memoir coming and would we like him to do a book signing, I said YES. Paul talks about his life playing guitar in the Twin Cities and beyond and the wild life that ensues. It will be interesting to see if he recognizes Brian. But Brian has assured me he won't. Its kind of a “if you remember the Twin Cities music scene in the late 80's, you weren't really there” kind of deal!
Paul Metsa will be signing books and playing some songs at 6pm Thursday, 11/3. We really hope for a good turnout. Please come down to Chapter2.
And please consider rock and roll biographies as Christmas presents. They are interesting cultural histories of our time.