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Evil Fruits

Evil Fruits

My bookstore specialized in what the trade calls “hand sells” – a customer would come in and say “I’m looking for a mystery set in Istanbul,” and we’d jump up to pull a copy of Belshazzar’s Daughter, or Already Dead, for a customer craving a vampire tale, or The Hot Rock for a customer in search of “something really funny.” The requests got a lot more esoteric, of course; we were secretly convinced that some people just wanted to play Stump the Bookseller. Nevertheless, I was ill-prepared when a guy bellied up to the counter and asked if we had...

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Cover Story: Vermillion et al.

Cover Story: <em>Vermillion</em> et al.

We love our covers, and we have gotten some nice recognition for them, but let me tell you, creating the covers? Not always a walk in the park. A case in point, the covers we commissioned for a series of four books by “Nathan Aldyne” (a pseudonym for Michael McDowell, best known for writing the screenplay to “Beetlejuice,” and his writing partner). The books are set in Boston’s gay community in the late 1970s and very early 80s, and that timing is critical: AIDS is not even a cloud on the horizon.  It’s often noted that the summer before World...

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Bookish Beginnings

Bookish Beginnings

There’s a snapshot I love, taken of me on a vacation in the Virgin Islands when I was about two and a half. The vacation was memorable for a couple of reasons: It was my introduction to the fact that redheads and tropical sun are a bad combo, and it was my first experience with “reading.” My favorite book at the time was a toddler’s version of Peter Pan, and one afternoon my mother found me “reading” it to Beth and Rachel, the two sisters in the sandy snapshot. She was so proud. Her brilliant, stunning daughter, reading months before...

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Good For What Ails Ya

Good For What Ails Ya

I recently spent several days at Left Coast Crime, one of my favorites of the annual conventions of people who write crime fiction and the people who love to read it. This year it was held in Reno and, as is typical at these events, there were several book-dealers on hand. Most were offering collectibles – pristine first editions, gorgeously vulgar pulp paperbacks. My friend the author Charles Salzberg scored this beauty [insert Postman picture], though he won’t say what he paid for it. The only dealer offering “reading copies” (as opposed to collectibles) was Sundance Books & Music, a...

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Make your own (felonious) Hagaddah

Make your own (felonious) Hagaddah

I like to plan ahead. My mother used to tease me about coming down to breakfast on the morning of November 1 and announcing “Next year for Halloween I’m going to be…..” With that in mind, it’s not too early to start thinking about Passover 2019. People who are new to Jewish tradition are often startled to realize that there is no single text for the Seder service, that any individual, family, rabbi, congregation, is free to write his/her/their own text, which will then be just as valid, in a religious sense, as any other. The text, known as the Haggadah (accent...

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