Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gerald Elias at Sam Weller's Books

Concert violinist Gerald Elias will be joining us at Sam Weller's on Saturday, November 21st to read from and sign his mystery novel, The Devil's Trill. In addition to reading, Mr. Elias will bring his violin to the store to delight our ears with samples of the pieces mentioned in the book!

The Devil's Trill centers around the Grimsley Competition, a competition held once every 13 years, open only to those 13 or younger. The winner gets to play the Piccolino Strad, a perfect three-quarter sized violin, in a concert at Carnegie Hall with a full orchestra, and huge jump start to his or her career as a concert violinist. Daniel Jacobus, a crotchety, blind violin teacher, hates this competition with a passion. Jacobus believes that it pushes children to begin performing too early, with no understanding of music beyond the absolute technical.

On the night of the recital, the violin goes missing, and Jacobus, with his well known opinion, is the primary suspect. Together with best friend and former trio member, Nathaniel Williams, and his new student, Yumi Shinagawa, Jacobus must find the real culprit and clear his name.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Daniel Doen Silberberg

Sam Weller's is excited to host Daniel Doen Silberberg for a signing on Tuesday, November 10th, at 6:00 PM.

Wonderland: The Zen of Alice is a highly original riff on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, using the classic story as a jumping-off point for conveying the Zen concept of "one mind". Daniel Silberberg's first book is a unique contribution to contemporary American Zen, which honors its historic roots and yet strikes out into fresh areas.

With stories from his own life as well as from the larger cultural swirl around him, Silberberg reflects on the differences between how we perceive the world around us and the way it actually is. He offers important ideas on how to live fully and happily and how to discover Wonderland in our own lives.

Doen Sensei received transmission of the Zen lineage from his teacher Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, director of Kanzeon International and founder of Big Mind, in December 2003. He also trained under John Daido Loori Roshi, Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order, and under Taizan Maezumi Roshi, who brought this Zen lineage to the West.

Besides being a teacher and lineage holder in the White Plum Sangha, which derives from Maezumi Roshi and the Rinzai and Soto Zen schools, Doen Sensei also trained under Wilhem Nyland and other teachers in the Fourth Way. At the request of Mr. Nyland, Doen began to teach his own Fourth Way Group in 1979.

Doen Sensei has been a practicing psychologist, performance coach, and jazz musician. He has also been an avid martial artist, chess student, explorer of technological innovation, and writer. His first book will be published by Parallax Press in the Fall of 2009. He was the head of administration and Executive Vice President at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York, and was Vice Abbot of Big Mind Western Zen Center (formerly Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah) before undertaking his present role as teacher and director of Lost Coin Development.

Buy a Soul, Bitch

On Saturday night, 10/24/09, David Sedaris had a reading at the Capitol Theatre here in Salt Lake City. John, Jason, and I represented the store and sold his books in the lobby. Along with his own numerous titles, Sedaris was recommending Our Dumb World from The Onion so we were selling that too. We got there early, set up, and waited for the masses to arrive. We sold a few things pre-show and, as usual, Sedaris did a small pre-show signing to cut down on how long we'd have to wait around after. Since we all had seen him read before, the three of us stayed in the lobby, flipping through the fabulously offensive Our Dumb World and talking about videos we like on Youtube. We could semi see/hear the reading on a closed-circuit television hanging on the wall near the auditorium entrance, and the crowd was eating it up. They absolutely loved him; it's hard not to. I think the best part was the fact that the stage and lighting was still set up for Macbeth, the Capitol Theatre's current show. On the television, with the spotlight on him washing out his outline, Sedaris looked like some kind of hat-less pope on a very dramatic blue stage preaching to his hundreds of disciples. As soon as it was over, we got slammed. His books were flying off the table left and right along with Our Dumb World, which no one bought before the show but we couldn't keep on the table after. No one can sell someone else's book quite like David Sedaris. Then it was time to wait while Sedaris signed books for everyone. One of my favorite things about him is that he will sign for as long as it takes for everyone in line to get their book signed, no matter how long that takes. He told us later that he once signed for seven hours straight, it's amazing he doesn't have some severe carpal tunnel going on.

It was the last girl in line's birthday so Sedaris gave her a lesbian iPod holder from his bag of goodies. The bag generally contains hotel shampoos and soaps, travel packs of ibuprofen and Advil, and condoms. After the birthday girl left, we got some stock signed and Sedaris asked us out to dinner. We said yes. We went across the street to the Bay Leaf. Dinner was filled with delicious food and great conversations about the book industry and how digital readers could change things for us booksellers who like a good old fashioned hold-in-your-hand, real live book. I need to mention the food for a moment. We had black eyes peas and fried pickles (yum!) for appetizers, Sedaris and John had blackened catfish, Steve had the meatloaf, and I had corned beef hash. Then it was dessert time. We got peach cobbler and apple brown betty, both a-la-mode. When Sedaris, Steve, and I were waiting outside while John was making his way out, a youngish guy walked past and told us we were "buying into a lesser society". Sedaris and I looked at eachother in surprise with perfect O faces as the guy kept mumbling things at us. I rather sarcastically told him "thanks, have a good night" to which he responded "buy a soul, bitch". I then asked Sedaris if I could borrow some money to buy a soul and he said that maybe if we hadn't ordered dessert, we could afford one.