Ben’s Hyperbolic Brazos Bulletin

October 6, 2015, by

One of the hot spots of Houston’s literary life is Brazos Bookstore. We are thrilled to have Ben Rybeck join An Open Book as a regular contributor to give us an update on all the exciting happenings with the store. 


Using the time-honored tradition of exaggeration to combat the notion that only quiet, studious things happen at bookstores

IMG_4485Here at Brazos, we do many quiet things. We take books off shelves, we put books on shelves, we carry books in our arms, we sit and read books old and new, we take out the trash (usually not full of books), we drink water, we whisper to well-mannered customers about Jonathan Franzen and Alice Munro…

But then, sometimes, the store literally explodes (clarification: not literally) with excitement—and by sometimes, I mean this happens always, all the damn time. Consider October, for example, when we’ll host Houston’s own neuroscience rock star David Eagleman (10/8); a poetry night with Nick Flynn, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Gregory Pardlo (10/19); and other mind-altering literary luminaries like Sloane Crosley (10/16), Eileen Myles (10/24), and Richard Ford (10/26). Plus, we’ll have works of literary horror on display leading up to Halloween. (If you stare at the display for long enough and say “Brazos Bookstore” three times…well…look out behind you.)

But, as they say on infomercials, wait—there’s more! Here are three highlights of our October programming sure to literally blow your mind, literally (see earlier clarification re: use of the word “literally”).

***Geraldine Brooks? What? In Houston???

“King David meets Game of Thrones!”

If I were a big shot New York publicist, I would make sure the above phrase was used alongside every mention of Geraldine Brooks’ The Secret Chord, her new retelling of the life of King David. Alas, I’m no big city publicist (yet), so I’ll have to use this opportunity to shout my literary one-liner from the Inprint mountaintop. So here goes: The Secret Chord is like King David meets Game of Thrones, with enough bloody battles and political machinations to chill Cersei Lannister’s heart. But, you know, it’s still Biblical.

Brooks has played with history like this before, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for March. That novel filled in a gap in Little Women, telling the story of a character’s time in the Civil War. In that book, Brooks made you smell the various putrid scents of the 1860s, from the musket smoke to the gore and bile on the ground—made you smell all that with her words (and also with the scratch-and-sniff text included in the book’s limited edition first printing). In The Secret Chord, she’s up to the same thing all over again.

So how does Brooks write such convincing historical portraits? Well, here’s a secret: she’s actually a time-traveler. Yeah, she told me so herself. So ask her all about her Quantum Leap-style adventures (or, on second thought, maybe don’t ask her about that) when she visits Christ Church Cathedral, Episcopal, on October 9 at 8pm.

***Gulf Coast and Brazos Bookstore Reunite!

Yeah, this is big. Like, Jude Law making it back to his lost love, Nicole Kidman, after struggling through the horrors of war (or whatever happens in Cold Mountain; I never actually saw/read it). See, back before the Gulf Coast Reading Series happened each month at Rudyard’s, Brazos Bookstore used to be Gulf Coast’s everything—its best friend, its lover, its soul mate. Well, what happens when two old flames try to rekindle that old passion? Find out when the two reunite for a pair of October in-store events.

First, on October 13 at 7pm, Gulf Coast and Brazos Bookstore co-present young authors Sarah Gerard and Colin Winnette, whose 2015 novels—Binary Star and Haints Stay, both published by Two Dollar Radio—were popular bookstore titles. Also reading with these two is University of Houston MFA student Sam Dinger, who has the voice of an angel—and, come to think of it, might be an actual angel (I have no evidence to the contrary). I promise this will be the most angelic reading you’ve ever been to. If it’s not, take it up with Sam “Angel” Dinger.

And then? AND THEN? The Gulf Coast Reading Series returns to Brazos! Will they be able to keep their hands off each other? Find out while listening to student writers Shane Lake, Meghan Martin, and Jeni McFarland, and featured author Wendy S. Walters, whose Multiply/Divide came out from Sarabande Books earlier this year. Check this event out on October 30 at 7pm.

So how about Gulf Coast and Brazos Bookstore, two youngsters with twinkles in their eyes? Will these romantics be able to pick up right where they left off, lo those many years ago? At the very least, there’ll be sexual tension a-plenty.

***As Lewis Carroll once wrote, “Ain’t No Party Like an Alice In Wonderland-themed Costume Party!”

You may think you know Jeremy Ellis, our general manager at Brazos…but here’s a secret: he’s actually Lewis Carroll reincarnated. Don’t believe me? Watch this video. How else would he be able to spit these “Jabberwocky” rhymes so well?

Before Lewis Carroll was Jeremy, he wrote Alice in Wonderland and published it 150 years ago. For this reason, we’re hosting a pair of Alice-themed parties in store this Halloween! (Coincidentally, this is also the 150th anniversary of Halloween, but don’t fact-check me on that, just take me as my word, as hopefully you’ve done throughout this entire blog entry.)

So, on October 31, bring your kids to our Mad Hatter Tea Party at 10:30am for story time, crafts, and treats—and, yes, costumes recommended. Then, at 6pm, the Caterpillar’s Costume Ball makes Brazos a tad more swanky and surreal than usual. What can you do at the Caterpillar’s Costume Ball, you may ask? Well, what can’t you do? But seriously, there is a finite number of things you can do, which include: consuming Eat Me Cakes and Drink Me Potions, playing Alice-themed games, and dressing up for our costume contest. Don’t worry—you’ll be seeing caterpillars that speak in precisely enunciated English all night long!

This is but a sampling of what we have going on at Brazos in October. For our full schedule, check out our website. All hyperbole aside, our happenings here are monumental—the bookstore equivalent of the moon landing over and over again.

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