The school’s conquering heroes — its chess players — were blowing off steam. On Sunday, in Minneapolis, they became the first middle school team to win the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship. The team, mostly eighth graders, beat out top high schools like Stuyvesant in Manhattan and Thomas Jefferson in Alexandria, Va.
The victory burnishes what is already a legend in the chess world. At I.S. 318, more than 60 percent of the students come from families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Yet each stairwell landing bristles with four-foot chess trophies, and the school celebrities are people like James A. Black Jr. A 13-year-old with twinkly eyes and curly eyelashes, James is not a football hero or a valedictorian, but a certified chess master who gently corrects his teachers on the fine points of strategy.
Lord knows, we love our funky fonts here at Shakespeare and Co. I feel like I’m constantly searching for a cool new font to use in our next display. A friend sent this to me - and I can’t help but pass the word along!
“Berkeley - Nov 18, 2011
Ever since the new manager has taken over the store has become a great bookstore and a great addition to Telegraph Avenue. The selection of books is excellent, the prices are reasonable, and the staff are exceedingly helpful. There is a feeling now that transports you to the past when independent bookstores proliferated, as if you were in the original Shakespeare’s in Paris hobnobbing with Hemingway and Joyce. The staff also have a real expertise in choosing used books.”—This is a review that Jon, the owner of our store, found on Google Maps this week. This year, we’ve been working so hard to renovate and refresh the store, without changing the lovely, old-fashioned used bookstore feel. Jon and Stephanie have been buying nicer quality books and sorting and repricing old ones; I’ve been working on creating appealing displays and bookmarks; Daniel and Kevin have been invaluable in so many ways - from shelving to entirely reworking sections. It’s been a huge labor of love for all of us, so positive responses really help to keep our spirits up!
A customer came into the store yesterday looking for books on illuminated manuscripts, typography and bookmaking. This subject being a favorite of mine, I showed her five sections in the store she might like: medieval art, books on books, calligraphy, typography and medieval studies. After awhile, she came up to the counter with a few books in hand - including her own sketchbook, which was one of the most beautiful journals I’ve ever seen. She let me flip through it - each page was carefully illustrated and colored, with tiny descriptions in her beautiful handwriting. It was a diary to be certain - every page described what she’d done that day - with lovely sketches of people and buildings and ideas. It’s not often that I’m rendered absolutely speechless with envy.
Above: The journals of Joann Sfar (not the customer from yesterday).
That was how the first of seven boys and four girls was born in Aracataca on March 6, 1927, in an unseasonable torrential downpour, while the sky of Taurus rose on the horizon. I was almost strangled by the umbilical cord, because the family midwife, Santos Villero, lost her mastery of her art…
In a tough review of the film based on Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, the Atlantic's Alyssa Rosenberg writes that the book exchanges the harsh realities of segregation for a feel-good narrative about a progressive white woman.
Have any of you read the book? Do you agree? Disagree?
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has now suggested that Soviet spies might have been behind the crash. The theory is based on remarks by Giovanni Catelli, an Italian academic and poet, who noted that a passage in a diary written by the celebrated Czech poet and translator Jan Zábrana, and published as a book entitled Celý život, was missing from the Italian translation.
In the missing paragraph, Zábrana writes: “I heard something very strange from the mouth of a man who knew lots of things and had very informed sources. According to him, the accident that had cost Albert Camus his life in 1960 was organised by Soviet spies. They damaged a tyre on the car using a sophisticated piece of equipment that cut or made a hole in the wheel at speed.
“The order was given personally by [Dmitri Trofimovic] Shepilov [the Soviet foreign minister] as a reaction to an article published in Franc-tireur [a French magazine] in March 1957, in which Camus attacked [Shepilov], naming him explicitly in the events in Hungary.” In his piece, Camus had denounced the “Shepilov Massacres” – Moscow’s decision to send troops to crush the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
"I’ve been looking for this book for years," a customer told me this morning. "I was just going to buy it on Amazon, but I happened to be over here for a meeting and thought I’d stop in," she said, clinging happily to the book. "I love it when stuff like this happens."
Here is an interesting experiment of essays. Queneau describes a scene observed on a bus and writes about it in ninety-nine different styles. Some excerpts from his enterprise:
It was neither a boat, nor an aeroplane, but a terrestrial means of transport. It was neither morning, nor the evening, but midday…
I had the impression that everything was misty and nacreous around me, with multifarious and indistinct apparitions, amongst whom however was one figure that stood out very clearly which was that of a young man whose too-long neck in itself seemed to proclaim the character at once cowardly and quarrelsome of an individual…
The chap in question gets annoyed with one of the men standing next to him. He accuses him of jostling him every time anyone goes past. A sniveling tone which is meant to be aggressive…
Hmm. I’ve got through half my story already. Wonder how I did it.Writing’s quite pleasant. But there’s still the most difficult part. The part where you need the most know-how. The transition…
…as soon as he euryscoped a coenotopia he peristrophed and catapelted himself on to it. .
Author Suraya Sadeed was stuck in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, while trying to cross the Afghan border. To keep herself amused, she visited a tiny bookstore in hopes of finding some Dari titles. She found Tajer Venicei (The Merchant of Venice) and a philosophical Sufi book. Here’s an excerpt from her visit:
Without asking, the shopkeeper brought over another stack of Dari volumes. I smiled my thanks, and he returned the gesture, revealing a mouth of flashing gold. He was an ancient-looking Tajik, wearing a cap of black velvet embroidered with trees and flowers in all the colors of the rainbow. Beneath the hat were these enormous bushy eyebrows, and the jolliest, chubbiest face that I had ever seen….
She sits down with the bookseller and talks about her Iranian family, living in the U.S., and the ancient poet, Rudaki:
He invited me to sit while he served me green tea and candy. I asked if he had any works by Rudaki, the famous Persian poet who composed verses one thousand years ago.
He fixed me with a look. “You know Rudaki?”
Instead of answering, i quoted some lines at him in Dari:
There is the great scent of a water garden called Mulian,
The fresh smell of those streams and that garden come to me
Reminding me of my kind and beloved lover.
The bookseller was in rapture. “Say it again, will you?”
I repeated the lines.
He glanced at me, and there was a real sadness in his eyes. “Do you know how painful it is that I cannot talk to my sons and daughters in Persian? My generation was the end of it. With the coming of the Soviets it all came to an end. Our lives were turned upside down. We lost our language. Our literature. Our identity even.”
Berkeleyside reports on the shifting comic book scene in Berkeley as of late. There’s a new, airy, store in the ‘hood. And we approve. After you swing by Fantastic Comics, on Shattuck stop over at Shakespeare & Company at Dwight and Telegraph.
We’ve been very busy at Shakespeare & Company, since our new manager Stephanie Vela has begun sprucing up the place.
Vela is going through the literature section, book by book, lowering prices, pulling out older books, and putting them on our new stock-full sale table. Come around to check out our discounted titles, and eye-pleasing literature collection.