Pink Fire Pointer February 2011

Borders Files for Bankruptcy

Early this morning news broke that Borders was finally filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy after unsuccessfully trying to reorganize and cut jobs to make the company viable. Their demise was avidly tracked and updated frequently over the past few months on twitter by publishing pundits, bloggers and booksellers.

While I do believe that many current business models for booksellers must be reformatted for changing times, Borders’ downfall has had a surprisingly emotional effect on me and many other bibliophiles (check #myfirstborders for memories on twitter). For many of us, it seems, Borders was one of the first places where we really discovered and enjoyed books. Before Borders came to Akron, Ohio in the early 1990s, the only place I could look at and get books was from unappealing and cramped Waldenbooks stores in the mall. Having been an avid reader even as a young kid, it was really disappointing to have to browse there; the selection was limited and the shelves were so high and narrow that I could barely squeeze by other patrons to find books. When the Borders was opened, it was a like a whole new world. Every other Friday, my parents would drive up to Akron as a treat and I would get lost in the spacious bookshelves, where books were neatly organized and I could pick up staff recommendations to discover new authors. And after cramming my arms full of books and magazines, I could stumble over to the cafĂ© and flip through everything at my leisure with a big hot chocolate and a cookie with my mom and dad. Of course now, this kind of bookstore set up is almost de rigueur in all the big box bookstores, but at the time it felt really unique and special. And while I always try to support local and independent bookstores, the sad truth is that not everyone had or has access to them. I certainly didn’t as a kid. But I had Borders and it still holds a really magical and nostalgic place in my childhood which is why I really do want them to succeed, somehow. Hopefully bankruptcy will force them to adopt a strategy that is more in line with the current market and they will be able to re-discover who their customers are and draw them back in with better marketing and programs.

Borders also released a list of under-performing stores that are being closed in the coming months and Columbus’s 2 stores are slated to close. However, my childhood store will stay up and running for the time being, which secretly makes me very happy (though admittedly, it is not the Borders I remember from my childhood :/)

You can check this website that Borders created concerning the bankruptcy for more updates and details on how it will impact customers and employees.

What are your thoughts about Borders closing? Do you have any special Borders memories?

Super Sad True Love Stories

Confession:  my favorite kinds of books are the ones where boy meets girl, boy and girl get married, girls rips out boy’s still beating heart, girl marries boy’s best friend, boy kills himself and girl ends up having an unhappy marriage anyway. What can I say, I’m a romantic.

Combine my love for incredibly depressing books with Valentine’s Day and you have the subject of today’s post: My Top 10 Favorite Anti – Romance Books! After culling my shelves, I picked my favorite heartbreak stories featuring things like loneliness, cheaters, drunks, felons, murder, insanity, and war.

So here’s to you, my fellow anti-valentines:

10. Women – Charles Bukowski
Your classic love story featuring America’s favorite sex-crazed alcoholic scumbag.  Read if you enjoy debaucherous tales of hairy old men drunkenly banging screeching hags followed by hungover morning hazes where the protagonist describes his beer shits. (link)

9. Naomi – Junichiro Tanizaki
A much more refined story that teaches men just what happens when you marry a teenager. (link)

8. The Good Wife – Stewart O’Nan
Everything is going great for the newly married and pregnant Patty and Tommy until Tommy doesn’t come home one night and is arrested for murder the next day and sent to jail for 28 years. This book follows the struggles of a woman and child that try to live in the shameful shadow of a man in prison. (link)

More after the jump...

7. Fire in the Blood – Irene Nemirosky
A small town melodrama taking place in a pre-WWII French village, this unfinished novella by Irene Nemirovsky follows the romantic intrigues of a man who returns to the town of his youth.  Along the way secrets are discovered culminating in dramatic revelations that leave the reader shocked. (link)

6. My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier
This book is often overshadowed by Du Maurier’s more well known “Rebecca”, but it’s just as chilling and suspenseful. The protagonist’s older cousin, who raised him like a son, becomes ill and moves to Italy to take in the healing warm weather.  While there he writes to announce that he married a local woman and is feeling much better.  He then dies quite suddenly.  When he arrives in Italy to collect his cousin’s things, he meets the widow Rachel and becomes both suspicious and lovesick which may lead to his own abrupt demise. (link)

5. The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
The classic novel about cheating, Maurice falls for a bored married woman named Sarah.  After conducting a passionate affair for several years, a bomb drops on her building and Maurice is injured.  Sarah prays to God that she will do anything to make him survive and when he does, she gives him up without telling him why. Set against the backdrop of London during WWII, the novel is intense and spiritual and makes you question what exactly love is.  (link)

4. After Claude – Iris Owens
This surprisingly comedic book is told from the perspective of a very demented woman whose relationship with her rat of a boyfriend is falling apart. Despite him hurling every kind of insult at her, she decides to ignore his pleas and try to work things out with him, even forgiving him after he brings home another woman.  This book really brings out the humor in destructive relationships and is best read after a hard break-up to see just what kind bullet you dodged. (link)

3. Young Hearts Crying – Richard Yates
My favorite master of the miserable, Yates’ ‘Young Hearts Crying’ is a more sedate and less obnoxious “Revolutionary Road’.  This novel concerns follows the budding relationship of Lucy and Michael, two young intellectuals who bond over ambitions of being smart and cultured.  What follows is the inevitable disillusionment of youth and the alcoholism and fighting that goes along with it.  As the characters age, they become weak and humiliated, but somehow the novel ends on a moderately uplifting note. (the book is still depressing, so no worries) (link)

2. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne – Brian Moore
A bleak novel that details the psychological downfall of an Irish spinster turned alcoholic who believes, despite many disappointments indicating otherwise, that she may still get married and live the life she’s always felt she deserved.  Her family is gone, her only friends despise her and she is blithely unaware that everyone pities or uses her. She sustains herself on illusion and appearances until her life really implodes beyond repair. (link)

1. Burmese Days – George Orwell
And finally, my favorite anti-romance novel is Burmese Days.  Set against the struggles of colonial Burma is the story of an unattractive British soldier who falls in love with the shallow, unintelligent blonde niece of fellow soldier who appears at the whites-only European Club one day.  While there are many different arcs to the novel, their doomed romance and shocking ending had me reeling for days afterward. (link)

What To Read Wednesday: Thursday Edition

 Yikes, I’ve been very MIA so far this year, but I swear I have a good excuse! Because the weather has been so ridiculously snowy, cold and icy, I’ve been hibernating in my room reading like crazy.  I made a goal this year to read 100 books and while that probably won’t happen (I plan on attacking some chunksters this year), I’ve been plugging away at my awesome pile of TBR books.  I also finished a few books that have been lingering on my half-read list, like ‘I, Robot’ and ‘The Instructions’.

I’m going to jump right into a book review

After all the hype that Hannah Pittard’s “The Fates Will Find Their Way” was getting from book bloggers, I pre-ordered my copy and dove in the day it was released. The book certainly lived up to my expectations and is now my go-to recommendation so far for the year.  The book is a very atmospheric, dream-like story that examines the impact a local tragedy has on a group of young boys.  Sixteen year old Nora Lindell vanishes from her upper middle class town on Halloween in the mid 1970s and is never seen again.   Stories surrounding her disappearance and fate multiply and grow into full fledged fantasies.  Was she kidnapped by a smooth talking stranger at the airport? Did she flee to Arizona to stay with relatives, marrying a hard working old Mexican? Or did she find her way to India and take up with a female companion?  The boys spend hours discussing and dissecting her life and family, not realizing the lifelong effect this will have on their lives.  The novel bounces back and forth between their teenage years and life as grown adults with children and families of their own and not only focuses on Nora Lindell, but also on their loss of innocence and fear of becoming an adult.  As you go deeper into the book, the secrets and private drama of the town residents are slowly revealed and you watch as lives are ruined and people die before their time. Adding to the group voice and tone of the story is Pittard’s choice to write in first person plural.  In the end, you realize that the boys don’t really want to discover what happened to Nora and her place in their hearts and minds is slowly drains away.

The novel reminds me very much of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides; in fact this may be its only fault.  However, while both books are written from the perspective of a group of boys obsessed with the tragedy of a girl(s) in the 1970s, Pittard’s novel also focused on the theme of growing up/becoming an adult and therefore does indeed stand on its own.  I was also reminded, strangely, of the movie “Brick”, though I can’t actually figure out why. The book is neither snappy nor noir like the movie, but occasionally I would be reminded of the movie when the boys would get together and discuss different rumors and gossip about Nora. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is craving a quick, intense read (and really, who isn’t?).  Follow this link for an audio interview with Hannah Pittard, as well as an excerpt from the book.