Paige M. Gutenborg

Tue 29 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Today we took a wander over the river to Cambridge to see the new instant book machine at the Harvard Book Store (which has been named the Gutenborg!). Various publishing luminaries were there including our own Greer Gilman—who described her post-Harvard Library job search as looking for an iPod job in a PC world . . .—and we listened to them try and persuade us that this is the future. Well, part of it. Being historically minded, the first book they printed was the Bay Psalm Book, which was the first book printed in English on this continent,  in 1640 in Cambridge, no less.

It was at once fun and anti-climatic as the machine ran off the book in the promised four minutes and . . . that was it. Other bookshops with these machines report that they do a bang-up business, more with local authors than with out of print books. After all, why buy some scanned copy of Sense and Sensibility for $8 when you can get a decently edited one for, er, maybe about the same. Hmm. Well, luckily the Harvard Book Store has a good used section downstairs.

Our books are available on Google Books (with various levels of access) who have a deal with the manufacturer On Demand Books so at some point our books will hopefully be part of the instantprint experience.

As with everyone else who came by to see the machine in action, we’ll wait and see what happens.

Release the Hound!

Tue 29 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It’s Publication Day for Vincent McCaffrey‘s debut novel Hound today — everyone send him flowers! We have signed copies for sale — as does the Brookline Booksmith. This Friday he’ll be in Hartford at the NEIBA trade show (along with other fave authors such as Joe Hill and Shaun Tan!) at the Author Reception and then on Oct. 9th he’ll be at Jamaicaway Books in Jamaica Plain for a reading.

And here’s a quick interview from the hitherto famously loquacious McCaffrey:

SBP: When did you start writing HOUND?

Vincent McCaffrey: 2002. Frustrated with the progress of several other projects (including the science fiction novel and a play) I started fleshing out some background ideas.

How much of Henry Sullivan is made of up bookhounds you knew?

Pretty much all of Henry is made up of book people I know–including myself, of course.

What is a bookhound?

A person who searches for books–not technically a seller, but Henry does both and the part he relishes is searching for good books.

Henry loves books (and beer, mmm) and is worried about their historical moment having passed. What do you think? Is the technical wonder that is the book dead or is there life in the old dog yet?

No, it is not dead yet. It is in danger. That is more of the point. For all the reasons I have addressed in various pieces, but mostly because of a false sense of security with ephemeral technology and a political need to quiet the book.

What made you pick the mystery form to discuss the book as object?

Because I imagined the death of the book as a political act (first degree murder) as much as a technological mistake (manslaughter). Because I carried this into a future set 250 years from now and wrote a science fiction novel based around it. Then went back to see if I could explain where it started.

Henry’s coming back next year in A Slepying Hound to Wake. Can you tell us a bit about that book?

Henry has fallen in love, and this begins to give him a purpose outside of himself and his own small world.

Do you have a routine with writing? Any superstitions?

I write for three hours every morning. I cannot reveal my superstitions otherwise I might disappear.

Did being a bookseller for 30+ years affect your writing habits?

It greatly discouraged me for the longest time. All those books. All that crap! Most of thelessons were negative until I finally took my own advice and stopped giving a damn about what other people wanted from me. Then the positive aspects such as a good sense of literature in general and what I loved about it, plus a  Calvinist work ethic about showing up on time and getting the work done proved instrumental.


Mon 28 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

We have 3 books at the printer(s): Second Line, Interfictions 2, and a new ARC of The Poison Eaters to go out to bookshops next month — got to get the word out!

This post exists because I just noticed the QuickPress option in WordPress — could be trouble!

Would you like some Poison?

Fri 25 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | 14 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

We have five advance copies of Holly Black’s new collection, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, to go out to readers and bloggers (in the US + Canada, as we don’t have international rights to the book) who will post something about it before it comes out — all the long way away in the future of February 2010.

Interested? Tell us your favorite poison (and why) and we’ll send out five copies to the five shiveriest and scariest!

It’s Not About the Burrito

Thu 24 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Awesome story: social media meets the burrito and Broadway Books lives.

More good book news: from now on the San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller list is the Indie Bestseller list.

We like indie bookshops, too!Buy local

Three Free Hounds

Thu 24 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We did a member giveaway on LibraryThing and these three lucky readers will be receiving a free copy of Hound for reading and reviewing:

Betty in Smithers, BC (readerbynight)
Yesenia in Elmhurst NY (jesi813)
Belinda in Grand Bay, AL (sadi2forever)

Vincent McCaffrey by you.Kelly and I went to Vincent’s first reading the other night at the Brookline Booksmith in Boston and it was great fun—Vincent turns out to be a great reader and good with a Q&A (lucky for us).

He has a few more readings lined up—and there are some nice reviews coming, so yay for the Hound!

Anyone going to Booksmith readings (for, say, Lorrie Moore!) should note that for afterwards there’s a J.P. Licks just down the street, mmm!

Burn, feed, and boil

Mon 21 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

and now this part of our site has an updated FeedBurner thing, which I don’t really understand the benefit of but it is apparently important. You can subscribe to it on the site or here:

Hound, Brookline, tonight

Mon 21 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

and don’t forget, the very first reading from Hound, Vincent McCaffrey’s debut novel at the Brookline Booksmith (279 Harvard St. Brookline MA 02446 (617) 566-6660) tonight!

Pretty Monsters UK

Mon 21 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A nice guy called Robert Burdock posted a beautiful pic of the U.K. edition of Pretty Monsters that Canongate are putting out in a couple of weeks and since it’s better than any pic we’d be able to take (well, unless Michael were here), here’s his. We just received copies of the book and it is an art object. If you have the US edition (which won’t be in pb until Next June, sigh) it will be familiar but there are added touches: no dustjacket, new endpapers, sprinkled with monster blood:

Pretty Monsters. Pretty Book by Robert Burdock.

LCRW slipping into the fictionets

Thu 17 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

LCRW 24 is available at last on Fictionwise.

Which also means it available on Barnes & Noble. Funny. Except, on it hasn’t quite appeared yet. You can get many old issues (LCRW 15, anyone?) so maybe #24 will pop up there one of these days.

Neither is it available on the Kindle.

Happily, it is still available on paper.

Is small beer obscure?

Thu 17 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Fun, if perhaps rather small beer, conversation (with all the usual hallmarks of a net discussion) on the relative obscurity of the phrase small beer. I am always surprised that it isn’t a better known phrase. One of these days.

A cold beer in summer, hot tea in winter, good books all year round.

Wed 16 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Rotating Cleverness | 2 Comments| Posted by: Michael

A cold beer in summer, hot tea in winter, good books all year round.

Spruce Beer, or, A Beer to Ward Off Scurvy

Mon 14 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 17 Comments| Posted by: Michael

Further exploits in my quest to brew surprising, delicious, unhopped beer like it was 1799. Or 999. See more about my anti-hop crusade at The Beer of Alchemists and Witches.

The idea for this beer came from Benjamin Franklin. More directly, it came from Yards Brewing Company’s Poor Richard’s Ale, itself an attempt at a modern recreation of a recipe Franklin penned in French while stationed overseas, which, translated, reads as follows.

“Way of Making Beer with Essence of Spruce:

For a Cask containing 80 bottles, take one pot of Essence and 13 Pounds of Molases. – or the same amount of unrefined Loaf Sugar; mix them well together in 20 pints of hot Water: Stir together until they make a Foam, then pour it into the Cask you will then fill with Water: add a Pint of good Yeast, stir it well together and let it stand 2 or 3 Days to ferment, after which close the Cask, and after a few days it will be ready to be put into Bottles, that must be tightly corked. Leave them 10 or 12 Days in a cool Cellar, after which the Beer will be good to drink.”

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Hound – Reviews

Tue 8 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Authors, , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Reviews of Hound
by Vincent McCaffrey

“If you favor a leisurely but still intriguing mystery with amiable characters and a devotion to the printed word, Hound will provide a pleasant diversion. As much about books — and love and knowledge and family — as about murder, Hound is the first in McCaffrey’s projected trilogy, and book lovers will eagerly await Henry’s next outing.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“One of the strengths of this book is McCaffrey’s droll description throughout…. As quick as McCaffrey’s wit is, so is his un-saccharine sentimentality…. In the end, that careful attention is what makes Hound evoke such a Jimmy Stewart-movie atmosphere. It wraps up completely like a, yes, package—but an honest one, skillfully wrapped and artfully offered.”
Rain Taxi

“For the true bibliophile, this is a book you’ll love. McCaffrey peppers his prose with all kinds of allusions and references to books and literature, new and old, classic and arcane, as well as multiple passages of verse. Clearly, as a career bookseller, McCaffrey knows his books.
The Hippo, NH

“Henry Sullivan is just squeaking by as a “book hound,” a wholesale rare book dealer. He scrounges yard and estate sales picking up the odd bibliographic treasure here and there. He thinks he might be onto a second shot at happiness when an ex-girlfriend asks him to appraise a collection of first editions left by her late husband. But when this former love is murdered, Sullivan turns from reading Raymond Chandler to trying to solve the crime himself. With a faster pace tempered by real emotional resonance, Hound is different from John Dunning’s “Bookman” series, yet there is enough behind the scenes information about the rare book trade to appeal to Cliff Janeway fans. (McCaffrey ran an independent bookstore for 30 years, so he knows what he’s talking about.) The tale is packed with references not only to mystery writers like Erle Stanley Gardner, but a variety of others from Charles Dickens to Nevil Shute. McCaffrey even name checks Harlan Ellison as an example of “The good ones are all difficult.” Set in a beautifully-evoked contemporary Boston, the old town soon provides a wealth of other mysteries for Sullivan, like a hidden stash of letters belonging to a flapper adventuress of the 1920s. As with all good books about books (even novels), this one will send you out looking for the other writers discussed.”
Author Magazine


Tue 8 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Books | 3 Comments| Posted by: Michael

Now available in paperback with a new cover by Tom Canty.

“Death was, after all, the way Henry made his living.”

“Henry Sullivan, book dealer & bibliophile, has his life thrown into turmoil when his Beacon Hill landlady dies and a former lover is found murdered. A debut novel by the owner of Boston’s beloved Victor Hugo Bookshop.”
A Must-Read Book from the Massachusetts Book Awards (pdf link)

“A hell of a tale. A murder and the trail to catching him leads through the world of book collectors (Bookhounds) and the things they love. Fans of Dunning will enjoy this.”
Crimespree Magazine

“If bibliophilia is an illness, then Henry Sullivan is terminal! Books are his work, his life and his love. . . . Filled with anecdotes and asides on bookselling and the love of reading, Vincent McCaffrey’s love for books absolutely drips from the pages. If you share that obsession, then you will be touched and moved by his words. Vincent McCaffrey is obviously a man so well read that he seems to have gleaned a deep understanding of human nature from his studies. His characters are appealing and sympathetic and his story well plotted. I look forward to his next novel after what was a most enjoyable debut.”
Gumshoe Review

A bookhound, Henry Sullivan buys and sells books he finds at estate auctions and library sales around Boston and often from the relatives of the recently deceased. He’s in his late thirties, single, and comfortably set in his ways. But when a woman from his past, Morgan Johnson, calls to ask him to look at her late husband’s books, he is drawn into the dark machinations of a family whose mixed loyalties and secret history will have fatal results.

Hound is the first of a series of novels featuring Henry Sullivan, and the debut novel of a long-time Boston bookseller, Vincent McCaffrey. It is a paean to books, bookselling, and the transformative power of the printed word. Even as it evolves into a gripping murder mystery, it is also a reminder that there are still quiet corners of the world where the rhythms of life are calmer, where there’s still time for reading, time for getting out for a beer with friends, time to investigate the odd details of lives lived on the edges of the book world.

As the true story unfolds, its mysteries are also of the everyday sort: love found and love lost, life given and life taken away. At the center is Henry himself, with his troubled relationships and his love of old books. There’s his landlady Mrs. Prowder whose death unsettles Henry’s life and begins the sequence of events that overturns it. There’s the secret room his friend Albert discovers while doing refuse removal, a room that reveals the story of a woman who lived and loved a century ago.

And throughout the novel are those of us whose lives revolve around books: the readers, writers, bookstore people, and agents—as well as Henry, the bookhound, always searching for the great find, but usually just getting by, happy enough to be in the pursuit.

Read the first two chapters of Hound.

Hound was chosen for two First Mystery Bookclubs and was on the Select 70 at Harvard Book Store. Vincent McCaffrey read in Boston, Amherst, Portsmouth, New York City, and more.

On the web:


“Ingenious and refreshingly irreverent, Hound is not only a mystery on many levels, but also an intelligent—and often funny—tour-de-force of the perils and follies of human relationships. McCaffrey has a gift for crafting quirky characters and original dialogue, and the path of our hero, Henry, is always wonderfully unpredictable. I came away from this ‘book noir’ with a sense of catharsis, but also with a sudden desire to reread and rethink all the great classics to which McCaffrey alludes in his terrific novel.”
—Anne Fortier, Juliet

“McCaffrey, the owner of Boston’s legendary Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop, succeeds in conveying his love of books in his intriguing debut.”
Publishers Weekly

Hound is billed as a mystery, and it’s a good one, but its fuse is long and its pace befitting an old bookshop. That’s a good thing. There’s something charismatic and timeless about the way the story builds and McCaffrey opens Henry’s life to the reader. It wasn’t until the action started to heat up about 100 or so pages in that we remembered we were reading a mystery at all. And while we’re a little tired of books about books and the people who love them—which often come off more as marketing initiatives—McCaffrey is never cloying or playing to demographic. He’s just telling a compelling, old-school yarn, the kind of story a man who knows his literature tells.”
Time Out Chicago

Early Reader Reaction:

“Vincent McCaffrey’s debut mystery is crammed with stories, with likable, eccentric characters, much like his marvelous Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop—of all the bookstores in the world, the one I still miss most of all. Like all good mysteries, Hound concerns more than murder: it’s rich in detail and knowledgeable asides about bookselling, the world of publishing, and life lived in the pubs, shabby apartments, penthouses, and strange corners of the city of Boston.”
—Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters

“McCaffrey’s bookseller, Henry Sullivan, is as endearing, frustrating, and compelling a character I’ve come across in some time. Hound is more than Henry’s show, however.  It’s a slow burn murder mystery, a sharp character study, a detailed exploration of Boston, and a mediation on the secrets of history—both personal and universal. But I’m wasting our precious time trying to pigeonhole his wonderful first novel. Hound is, quite simply, a great book.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep.


HOUND, by Vincent McCaffrey. 2009, Small Beer Press, Northampton, MA.
Octavo, 8 ½” tall, 285 pages, green quarter-cloth over tan boards. A fine, clean, neat hard cover first edition with little shelf wear, hinges and binding tight, paper cream white. In a fine, lightly worn dust jacket with the original price.

Henry Sullivan, by himself. 1963, Boston.
6’ tall, 170 pounds, brown hair and pale skin. A clean, neat, hard-headed book hound, released in a single edition, in very good condition overall, with minor wear, hinges cracked but secure. In blue jeans and a brown flannel shirt.


Cover photo: David Fokos.
Download cover for print.

Author photo courtesy of Thais Coburn.

Vincent McCaffrey has owned and operated the Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop for more than thirty years, first in Boston, and now online from Abington, Massachusetts. He has been paid by others to do lawn work, shovel snow, paint houses, and to be an office-boy, warehouse grunt, dishwasher, waiter, and hotel night clerk. He has since chosen at various times to be a writer, editor, publisher, and bookseller. He can still remember the first time he sold books for money in 1963—and what most of those books were. Hound is his first novel.

Follow him on Twitter.

Read some Hound

Thu 3 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Just added the first two chapters of Hound to the site — the book has a great first line:

Death was, after all, the way Henry made his living.

And the rest is pretty good, too.

Publication day is 9/29 and events are being added: Sunday October 25th at the Mysterious Bookshop in NYC (which will be a big event, more info TK on that) and also that month at RiverRun up in New Hampshire.

You can check out all we have to read on the site in a couple of different categories: everything, novel excerptsshort stories, and, er, the thus far empty container, reviews (those still have to be portaged over from the old site). And we’ll be adding more as time goes by. But in the meantime, Hound!

Hound, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2

Thu 3 Sep 2009 - Filed under: Free Stuff to Read, Novel Excerpts, , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

From Hound, by Vincent McCaffrey.

Chapter One

Death was, after all, the way Henry made his living.
The books he sold were most often the recent property of people who had died. Book lovers never gave up the good ones without cause. But then, the books which people sold willingly were not the ones Henry really wanted. The monthly public library sales were stacked high with those—the usual titles for a dollar apiece, yesterday’s best sellers, last year’s hot topics.
But not always. Occasionally, some relative—often the child who never cared much for Dad’s preoccupation with medieval history or Mom’s obsession with old cookbooks—would drop the burden their parents had so selfishly placed upon them by dying, and there they would be, in great careless mounds on the folding tables in the library basement or conference room. Always dumped too quickly by a “volunteer” from the “friends” committee, with the old dust jackets tearing one against the other.
Like encounters with sin, Henry had occasions of luck at yard sales, though not often enough to waste a weekend which might better be spent at home reading. His favorite haunts were the estate auctions, and the best of these were the ones held at the very house where the old geezer had kicked the bucket. And there was always that thin network of friends who knew Henry was a bookman—who heard of book lots being sold and passed the word on. Albert, of course, had been a regular source for this, simply because his trash-removal business so often involved houses being sold where the books had accumulated over the years and the dead were recently departed.
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