Join me at the Poisoned Pen today!

Isn’t that a nice-looking store? Don’t that photo just make you want to hop in your car and zip on down? Of course it does.


For one thing (she said modestly) I’ll be there from 11a-3p handselling books to anyone looking for great Christmas gifts or even just great reads.

For another, all hardcovers are 25 percent off today only. You just better get here before I get out my own credit card, is all I’m saying.

And if me and a killer sale aren’t enough, at 2pm there will be a panel discussion featuring five, count ’em, FIVE romance authors, including Jennifer Ashley, aka Ashley Gardner, she who writes the Captain Lacey series. The store will have all their books for you to get signed, a great gift for your mom. You know, after you read ’em.

Among many titles I’ll be recommending/forcefeeding you:

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande A genius pick by Franny of my book club this month. Yes, it’s That Conversation we all need to have and we all avoid. My Goodreads review here.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown Eight boys, one boat, the 1936 Olympics, the Depression, Hitler. My Goodreads review here.

Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood Aussie flapper Phryne Fisher’s twentieth outing and one of my favorites. My Goodreads review here.

Ms. Marvel Vols. 1-3 by G. Willow Wilson The perfect gift for any nerd aged 8 to 80. I’m told they’re the hottest ticket in the Homer Public Library right now. I loved them. My Goodreads review here.

Order online, email, or call toll free (888) 560-9919.  I’ll be posting and tweeting, so either come! on! down! and show up in pictures on my Facebook page, or  come follow along online!


What is the word for goodbye?

There Is No Word for Goodbye

Sokoya, I said, looking through
the net of wrinkles into
wise black pools
of her eyes.

What do you say in Athabascan
when you leave each other?
What is the word
for goodbye?

A shade of feeling rippled
the wind-tanned skin.
Ah, nothing, she said,
watching the river flash.

She looked at me close.
We just say, Tlaa. That means,
See you.
We never leave each other.
When does your mouth
Say goodbye to your heart?

She touched me light
as a bluebell.
You forget when you leave us;
you’re so small then.
We don’t use that word.

We always think you’re coming back,
but if you don’t,
we’ll see you some place else.
You understand.
There is no word for goodbye.

–Mary TallMountain


Some things to be thankful for today.

Scientists create a mutant mosquito that could help eradicate malaria

By Sarah Kaplan November 24 (Washington Post)

mosquitoes and malaria
Click here to read the whole story, and rejoice.

Reusable Rocket Booster Returns Safely to Earth In a Space Flight First

By Malcolm Ritter / AP (bwo, November 25, 2015)

Rocket Landing

reusable rockets
Click here to read the story in full, and cheer.

Turkeys hit Cincinnati supermarket parking lot like sacks of wet cement

WKRP in Cincinnati, Season 1, Episode 7, “Turkeys Away”

Click on the video to watch the episode in full, and laugh.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

There is of course a chapter on Comic Sans.

Just My Type: A Book About FontsJust My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield

The most I can say about fonts is that I can recognize Courier New 12, and now I know why: Because it was the standard font for the IBM Selectric ball, the Selectric being the typewriter I learned on in high school. (Mrs. Brown. Boy was she tough. You typed fast, fine, but you’d better have typed accurately, too, or she’d dress you down right there in class.).

Simon Garfield, on the other hand, is in love with typefaces, and here presents a comprehensive and believe it or not pretty amusing history of same. Some of his descriptions are lyrical

Doves type is most easily recognized by its ample space between letters, a y that descends without a curl, a ligature connecting c and t, and the bottom bowl of its g set at an angle, giving it a sense of motion, like a helicopter tilting at take-off.

There is of course a chapter on Comic Sans, although I have to stay that after reading it I still don’t understand the Univers[al] loathing for it. There is a marvelous chapter on the ampersand

Even in its more basic modern form, the ampersand is far more than abbreviation; its creativity provides a heartening reminder of the continuing impact of the quill in type design, and it signifies more than just a link. It also signifies permanence, not least to a professional partnership; Dean & Deluca are clearly in it for the long haul, as are Ben & Jerry’s, Marks & Spencer and the magazines House & Garden and Town & Country. But Simon and Garfunkel? No wonder they kept splitting up. Tom and Jerry? Of course they hate each other.

and there is continuing commentary on Helvetica, including an hilarious story about a guy who tried to live a day without it

His troubles began as soon as he climbed out of bed. Most of his clothes had washing instructions in Helvetica, and he struggled to find something that didn’t; he settled eventually, on an old T-shirt and army fatigues. For breakfast he had Japanese tea and some fruit, foregoing his usual yogurt (Helvetica label).

and an equally hilarious chapter on the worst fonts in the world

#8 Ecofont
The software takes Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman and prints them as if they had been attacked by moths.

and Garfield really, really hated the 2012 Olympic font

…maybe it’s an attempt to appear hip and down with the kids–it looks a little like the sort of tagging one might see in 1980s graffiti.

A wonderfully produced book with many fun illustrations, hundreds of typefaces incorporated within the text, and one of the world’s greatest prefatory essays. Oh, and love the endpapers, A Periodic Table of Typefaces.

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I have spent a lot of time in front of this painting.


It’s “Antwerp” by J.M.W. Turner. It hangs in the Frick Museum and all by itself is reason enough for me to go to New York City. All those boats and all the people on them are toast, with one exception, whose skipper is holding grimly to the only survivable tack. The bits of flotsam at bottom left foreshadow the havoc that that storm at top right is about to wreak. Disaster is imminent and unavoidable. It’s a portrait of terror and despair.

Click on the image above and it’ll take you to the Frick’s interactive “Antwerp” page where you can zoom in and out. Better, go see it for yourself.

Drive down roads that no longer exist.

In 1951, a man bought a pickup truck because he needed to load things up and move them. Things like bricks and bags of feed. Somewhere along the line trendsetters and marketers got involved, and now we buy pickups — big, horse-powered, overbuilt, wide-assed, comfortable pickups — so that we may stick our key in the ignition of an icon, fire up an image, and drive off in a cloud of connotations. I have no room to talk. I long to get my International running in part so I can drive down roads that no longer exist.

–Michael Perry, Truck


I have no words to speak of war.

Here, BulletHere, Bullet by Brian Turner

A series of poems about the author’s experiences as a soldier in Iraq, which together sum up the price of war and this war in particular.

‘In the Leupold Scope,’ where the narrator is looking through a spotting scope at a woman hanging laundry

She is dressing the dead

The narrator, by inference, just hasn’t shot the people who will wear those clothes yet.

In ‘AB Negative (The Surgeon’s Poem)’, a wounded soldier dies on her way to Germany

a way of dealing with the fact
that Thalia Fields is gone, long gone,
about as far from Mississippi
as she can get, ten thousand feet above Iraq
with a blanket draped over her body
and an exhausted surgeon in tears…

In ‘2000 lbs.’ Turner writes of a suicide bombing in Mosul using multiple viewpoints, beginning with the bomber

his thumb trembling over the button.”

followed by a taxi driver

…he regrets how so much can go wrong in a life,
how easily the years slip by…

a National Guardsman

…it’s just as well his eardrums ruptured
because it lends the world a certain calm…

and others, coming full circle back to the bomber

who may have invoked the Prophet’s name,
or not…

‘2000 lbs.’ is better at showing you what a suicide bombing is like than any photograph or video you ever saw.

In “Night in Blue’ Turner says

I have no words to speak of war.

You may beg to differ when you read this book.

One cranky note, because you know that’s how I roll: Here, Bullet is all free verse, with nary a sonnet or even any blank verse (Yes, I scanned some.) to be found. What ever happened to form in poetry?

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