June 1, 2012 • Gardening
A still from the Secret Garden film adaptation
From Gilgamesh’s Garden of the Gods to the Garden of Eden, cultivated green spaces have found their way into writing since the practice began. Recently, garden clubs across America have declared June 6th as National Gardening Exercise Day, a reminder that exercise in nature is more fun than hitting the treadmill indoors yet again.
Some of our favorite fictional gardens have been the sight of some serious exertion as well, both mental and physical. Check them out.
Kublai Khan’s Garden in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino: In this strange and beautiful novel, Marco Polo sits in Kublai Khan’s garden and describes to the emperor the various, wondrous cities he has seen on his travels.
The garden itself is as magical as the invisible cities Polo describes. As he tells Khan, “Perhaps this garden exists only in the shadow of our lowered eyelids, and we have never stopped: you, from raising dust on the fields of battle; and I, from bargaining sacks of pepper in distant bazaars... Perhaps the terraces of this garden overlook only the lake of our mind.”
The Gardens in Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence: This scandalous 1928 novel tells the story of Constance, Lady Chatterley, a bored and frustrated young wife who begins an affair with the estate’s gamekeeper. Lawrence’s novel was censored for its explicit descriptions of sex, but the garden details are racy enough in themselves.
Take, for instance, this brief snippet: “Yellow celandines now were in crowds, flat open, pressed back in urgency, and the yellow glitter of themselves. It was the yellow, the powerful yellow of early summer. And primroses were broad, and full of pale abandon, thick-clustered primroses no longer shy.” Whew!
May 31, 2012 • LGBT
As we approach Gay Pride 2012, we start to hear the rumblings (from the gay community itself) to the effect of “Why do we even need Pride celebrations? Nowadays we’re all over the TV and more visible and accepted than ever. Even Obama loves us now!”
May 31, 2012 • Cookbook: Drinks
Please note: We do not intend to condone nor glorify substance abuse. But it does make for some good stories. That being said, read on and learn how to drink like your favorite author.
Ernest Hemingway (Absinthe / Death in the Afternoon): Ernest Hemingway was known for a lot of things -- but right now, we’re going to focus on his drinking habits rather than his blatant misogyny. Hemingway was a known advocate of absinthe, a green liquor made from wormwood and other herbs that was commonly referred to as “The Green Fairy” due to the presence of a chemical compound called thujone that is thought to induce hallucinations (you know, like fairies).
If you want to drink like Hemingway, know that he preferred to drink his absinthe as part of a concoction called “Death in the Afternoon” (named after his own nonfiction book of the same name). He describes the cocktail preparation as such: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
That being said, Hemingway was not known for, uh, healthy habits involving alcohol, so uh, maybe you shouldn’t try quite the same dosage. I’d start with one, maybe two, and then go from there.
William Faulkner (Mint Julep via Joy the Baker): “There’s no such thing as bad whiskey,” Faulker once wrote. “Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others.” Which is particularly fitting coming from a master of the Southern Gothic genre, where the bourbon flows as freely as the Mississippi River, if the stories are to be believed. (Okay well I’ve never actually been to Mississippi, but he was born there, so it seemed fitting) Faulkner is still recognized as a kind of champion of hard drinking writers; by all accounts, the man literally required whiskey in order to put a word on the page. In his own words: “I usually write at night. I always keep my whiskey within reach; so many ideas that I can’t remember in the morning pop into my head.”
I assume that Faulkner was generally able to get these ideas down on the page before he passed out, so that his brilliant ideas that were otherwise lost in the morning were somehow still salvaged for the future. Although some sources actually insist that Faulkner avoided drinking while working, all can agree that upon completion of a project, he would go out on a bender that would last for several days as a means of escape and decompression.
Whatever his habits, Faulkner preferred to take his whiskey in the form of a mint julep. He even had a metal cup that he preferred to drink out of, which stands on display to this day at the William Faulkner House in Oxford, Mississippi, accompanied by his personal recipe: whiskey, 1 teaspoon of sugar, ice, and mint. Simple enough -- and quite delicious!
F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gin Rickey via Food52): It’s only fitting that the man who brought us the raucous parties of The Great Gatsby know a thing or two about partying himself. He and his wife Zelda were a raging pair of drunken pranksters, a ferocious force to be reckoned with. I mean, when your buddy Ernest Hemingway tells you that your wife is a bad influence on you and makes you drink too much? That’s saying something.
The Fitzgeralds’ decadent lifestyle did not come without its consequences, but that’s a story better saved for the sequel. “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you,” said Fitzgerald, and for he and Zelda, that drink was the gin rickey (supposedly, he thought that gin was more difficult for others to detect on your breath): 2 shots of gin mixed with ¾ oz of lime juice, poured over ice in a highball glass and topped with club soda and a garnish of lime. While I can’t guarantee this drink’s discretion, I can guarantee a deliciously refreshing cocktail.
May 30, 2012 • Fiction
While those of you who are attending BEA this year might snag a poster of our special, ten-year anniversary timeline, we wanted to make sure we shared this with all of you.
So here it is. A History of Quirk Books.
Our lovely timeline (designed by our fabulous Andie Reid) touches on a little bit of everything, from Dave Borgenicht's publishing life pre-Quirk with The Worst-Case-Scenario Survival Handbook to our distribution partnership with Random House, from our first season with the Action Hero's Handbook to the publication of our New York Times bestselling mashups and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Award winning book trailers and awkward family photos, piles of cat hair and movie deals... it has been one wild ride.
Read on to scope out our timeline. Enjoy!
May 30, 2012 • Handbooks: Marriage, Handbooks: Worst-Case
Photo by Lee Haywood
It’s almost June and everyone knows what that means: weddings!
June is the most popular month for weddings, and that makes sense as it was named after Juno, Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth. If you believe the latest rom-com, weddings are the perfect end to our search for a soul mate. But if we’re being honest here, there is almost nothing more terrifying than the incredible amount of potentially-tragic scenarios that a wedding can produce. Okay, it’s not exactly as dangerous as kayaking through the Amazon surrounded by cannibalistic tribes and poisonous frogs. But, you are combining your family, his or her family, liquor, high expectations, lots of money, and the most important decision of your life.
It’s honestly hard to pick just one terrifying possibility from The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings, because they would all be pretty traumatizing.
May 25, 2012 • Fiction
BEA is almost here and as you might have seen in this earlier post, we are really excited. And we want to give you a chance to take home some special swag from the Quirk Books prize patrol.
Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to get this special BEA tote bag mailed to you before you leave for BEA. We hope you’ll bring your bag to BEA as a sign of your continued support, a way to carry home all the awesome swag you pick up, and—most important—an opportunity to win stuff! Members of our staff will be walking the show floor of the Javits Center and giving away prizes to attendees carrying this tote.
Once again, Quirk Books is truly grateful for the support you have given us over the past ten years. Your enthusiasm for our books has been a key part of our success. Supplies are limited. If you don't get a bag before BEA, you can pick one up at our booth (#3848). We have lots of exciting books for Fall 2012 to tell you about, along with great giveaways. Come say hi!
Again, thank you! We look forward to seeing you at BEA and continuing to work with you in the years to come. Check out the full size Books Are... image below!