General blog posts

June #BrazosBest: In Pursuit of the Real Benjamin Rybeck

THE SADNESS comes out June 14. Pre-order your signed copy now!

The Sadness Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939419705
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unnamed Press - June 14th, 2016

BR: By heavy emotions, you mean the non-stop, suffocating hilarity that happens in this book, right? Like, the constant pratfalls and gags and catchphrases? All the fart jokes?

Most anyone who has spent time with me (sorry, Brazos staff) knows that I can be a moody son of a bitch. This happens, primarily, when I’m NOT writing. In general, I find writing to be a frustrating, lonely task, full of doubt (of self, and of larger, bullshit-y things), and I’m still a moody son of a bitch, but most of that moody-son-of-a-bitch-ness gets isolated to the period of time I’m in front of a keyboard or a notepad or whatever (what else do I write on? soup cans? walls in strangers’ houses? the backs of shaved cats?). Writing, then, is like a bug light that zaps the mosquitos, and I walk through most days unbitten by melancholy. Is this answering your question? I guess what I’m saying is: I’d rather live with my characters’ anguish than with my own.

That being said, I think my book is mostly an optimistic one, where characters, though downtrodden, wind up changing in valuable ways. I think the book is happy, more or less. A little too light on fart jokes, maybe.

KP: As events and marketing coordinator at Brazos, you have an interesting vantage point from which to watch your novel roll out into the public. How does being a bookseller affect your experience of being a debut novelist and vise versa?

BR: The cynic in me thinks: I feel a lot less special now. This is a joke—at least vaguely—but the first thing you notice when you work in a bookstore is just how many goddamn new books there are every week, and the equivalent of some people’s lifetime reading comes out in, say, any given September. So as a debut author, what the hell do you do with this information? And as a bookseller, how do you counteract the difficulty of any one book standing out in the proverbial crowd? Should I start handselling my book to every single person who enters in the store? Would this do me (and my publisher) a service but do the customer a disservice? Would I rather handsell my own book than Martin Seay’s THE MIRROR THIEF, or Lydia Millet’s SWEET LAMB OF HEAVEN, or any other new novels I’ve loved? Do I really think my own book is more worthy of a handsell? These are the questions you start to ask yourself as a bookseller/writer.

I do love the word “handsell,” though. It conjures something intimate and human. And I imagine, sure, let’s say I swallow my pride and put my book in someone’s hand...and then what? Maybe they put it back on the shelf, or maybe they buy it, and I get to ring up a sale on three years of my life (that’s how long the book took to write—did I mention that before?), and how many authors can say that? And maybe the customer likes it—at least a little—and maybe they come back to the store and tell me so, the way customers often return to tell us what they’ve liked. Faced with the frequent sadness and loneliness of writing, that feedback would feel lifesaving. Handsell: I like the word because it makes me imagine somebody reaching out for someone, maybe to pull someone to safety. At one point in my life, I probably believed writers pulled readers to safety. After working here, I realize—or at least I’m beginning to suspect—it’s actually the other way around.

Join us for Benjamin Rybeck’s THE SADNESS launch party on June 14, 7pm. He will read from the book and be in conversation with Chris Cander, author of WHISPER HOLLOW.

Father’s Day, Jodorowski Style

With Father’s Day right around the corner, perhaps it’s fitting I begin with an anecdote about my dad. One of the things we could always share when I was growing up was movies. My dad isn’t a particularly literary kind of guy, but his taste in film has always been surprisingly refined and adventurous. The clearest example of this is his penchant for the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky—the Chilean mad genius whose creativity knows no bounds.

Albina and the Dog-Men Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632060549
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Restless Books - May 10th, 2016

And this month, Restless Books released Jodorowsky’s second novel to be translated into English—ALBINA AND THE DOG-MEN. It is the tale of an albino giantess and her surly protector embarking on a search for home that includes endlessly fornicating werewolves, a friendly dwarf, transformations of the body and soul, the return of the Incan Empire, and even the meaning of life. Replete with amazingly detailed illustrations, ALBINA is by turns obscene, profane, hilarious, incredibly violent, reverent, and profound. It’s a timeless myth engaged in the power of sexuality and what lurks in the darkest recesses of the mind. But most of all, it’s a tremendous amount of fun.

Thanks for the rec, dad.

When Keaton Patterson isn't reading, writing or talking about books, he can be found at Brazos Bookstore, where he is the book buyer. He is currently working on his first novel.

See the World with #BrazosBest: Santiago Gamboa’s NIGHT PRAYERS

The Chatters: Mark Haber (Floor Manager), Annalia Linnan (Bookseller), Keaton Patterson (Buyer)
The Plot: A young Colombian student is arrested for drug trafficking in Thailand, thus sets off a series of memories of youth, literature, innocence and guilt.

Night Prayers Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translator)
ISBN: 9781609453114
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - March 1st, 2016

Summer of Kubrick Announced!

Nothing says summer like sunshine, pools, lazy days, and…Stanley Kubrick?

The work of one of history’s greatest directors comes to Brazos Bookstore for Summer of Kubrick! This summer, through partnerships with Alamo Drafthouse, MFAH Films, and Rice Cinema, we will put film and literature in conversation as we explore Kubrick’s work. Join us for parties, book groups, screenings, and—of course, as Kubrick would’ve wanted it—surprises.

A Clockwork Orange Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393312836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 17th, 1995

Book Club on Thursday, August 4 at 7pm. Screening at Museum of Fine Arts Houston on Friday, August 5 at 7pm.

The Shining Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345806789
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - August 27th, 2013

Book Club on Wednesday, August 10 at 7pm.

Finale Party event TBA

The Adventurist on Independent Bookstore Day

Since 2015, Independent Bookstore Day has been a celebration of cultural hubs around the country. For one day only, hundreds of indies invite their communities to a full day’s worth of activities and exclusive IBD merchandise, unavailable anywhere else.

A 10:30am, kicking off a full day of activities, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Curious George with our beloved former Kids Specialist Mary-Catherine as our featured reader! At 11am, the Houston ZooMobile will arrive with animals and artifacts on display.

The Adventurist Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250062239
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - April 26th, 2016

Pre-order your copy of THE ADVENTURIST to be signed on Independent Bookstore Day, Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 7pm

Between Two Countries: An Interview with Rob Spillman

Let’s do some math. If Tin House editor and co-founder Rob Spillman receives twenty thousand submissions per year, and his goal is to “try to feature at least one fiction writer and one poet, an essay and a nonfiction person who haven’t been published before” per issue, what is the probability that I will be chosen? Not a lot. Yet, for this website, someone will give me Spillman’s email, I can call him on his cell phone, and I can ask him anything. Life continues to be strange.

All Tomorrow's Parties: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802124838
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - April 5th, 2016

Annalia Luna is currently the marketing assistant at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, TX. She earned her B.A. in Literature and Music from Butler University. Her work has been published at The Rumpus and Ploughshares.

Collaboration as Activism: En/Gulf at Brazos Bookstore

When I call her at the beginning of March to ask her about En/Gulf—what does it mean?—the first thing poet and University of Houston professor Martha Serpas does is ask me if she can grind some coffee beans. “We have to have coffee,” she says, and I don’t argue. That is an easy thing to understand—everyone has their rituals. Hers, though, has been disrupted. She is speaking to me from Florida, about to head off to a residency in Ireland.

Hand-Made, Organic, Artisanal, Small-Batch, and So On: An Interview with Dan Fox

In PRETENTIOUSNESS: WHY IT MATTERS, British author Dan Fox writes an unpretentious and effective overview of the role of pretense in the arts. Fox’s unapologetic mode of cultural criticism spans music, writing, visual arts, film and television, and the domains in between in order to provide a novel lens that allows readers to reclaim their perception of art and artists that have been routinely dismissed because of accusations of pretentiousness.

Pretentiousness: Why It Matters Cover Image
By Dan Fox
ISBN: 9781566894289
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - April 5th, 2016

Brazos Best: Painting With Water on Walls

The Book: VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL, by Svetlana Alexievich, our April Brazos Best pick
The Chatters: Mark Haber (Floor Manager), Keaton Patterson (Buyer), and Benjamin Rybeck (Marketing Director)
The Plot: An oral history of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster—a nuclear meltdown—told through many different voices of people affected directly and indirectly by the tragedy

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312425845
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Picador USA - April 18th, 2006

The Act of Looking: A Q&A with Stephanie Ford

Writers read—they need not be pushed. However, I’ve found that I am stubborn when it comes to poetry. Sometimes (often), I think I have “my” poets, and why seek others? Anxiety limits me to recommendations by friends or new releases by certain publishers. After all, there are piles of collections that come out every year—not to mention chapbooks!—and everyone already knows [IMPORTANT BOOK OF THE MOMENT] is good, right?

All Pilgrim Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935536598
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Four Way Books - October 6th, 2015

Stephanie Ford will read on Friday, April 8 at 7PM

Annalia Luna is currently the marketing assistant at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, TX. She earned her B.A. in Music and Literature from Butler University. Her work has been published in Plougshares.