Albany

A Bookshop Interview with Kenning JP Garcia

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I first met Kenning Jean-Paul García at the St. Rocco reading series xe helps organize and immediately appreciated xyr wit, creativity, and sense of humor, not to mention an exceptional insight into linguistics, literature, and unpretentious beer. I assure you, getting to share a tallboy of PBR after a poetry reading with JP is always a great time. Xe took a few moments to talk about xyr favorite bookshop (a comic shop, which cannot be overlooked when it comes to storytelling and creativity!) and in turn I’m more than happy to share zyr latest book, OF: What Place Meant, which is now available! Be sure to check it out!

Favorite Bookshop: Earthworld Comics in Albany, NY

1. How did you discover the shop?

Sadly, I had to discover Earthworld Comics due to the closing of Fantaco Comics. I knew that Earthworld existed but I was a hardcore Fantaco fan. That's where the goths, punks, and hardcore geeks went. It was our place but eventually they went out of business. Then after a few years of not being able to really afford comics I was a bit ahead financially and I had some newer and younger friends who never went to Fantaco. They were like this is the place and it certainly is.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? What's it like to walk through?

I love the back wall where the indie trade paperbacks are. I love seeing what I might have missed from Dynamite, Boom, Oni and others. This and the bargain bins always get me. I like a good deal and if a comic is good it can be read years after its initial publication. So, I get a few throwback volumes when I can from the bargain bins. As for a walk-through, first you get the DC/Marvel shelves and the new releases. It's cool. I mean, great art on the covers and all the popular heroes. Then you go further back for the new release indie comics. As well as some alphabetized characters and titles in with the mainstream releases, like my boys, Jughead and the Shadow, or my homegirls, Vampirella, Red Sonja and crossing my fingers for the return of Jennifer Blood. But, really every good trip to the shop starts and ends with a rundown of what's new and what I missed from the staff. Always knowledgeable and they know what I like. It's a nerdy neighborhood vibe. We all kind of know each other by face and by tastes if not by names.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I bought the entire run of New 52's Swamp Thing as well as all of my Vampirella titles And this is where I really fell in love with my favorite superqueero - Midnighter. Steve Orlando (who also resides in the Capital Region) wrote the New 52 run and it was magical.

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4. What is it about the shop that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

The staff and selection make it special. I can find a lot of these books at Barnes and Noble but they don't have the pins. I'm a sucker for a new pin. My bags are all adorned in comic book pins. I'm always on the look out for a new pin. This adds a little something special to the place in addition to the comics and graphic novels. The other thing is, they do a good job of ordering based upon customer requests. I never leave there empty-handed and I often return specifically to pick up something that they ordered for me. It's monthly event for me and something that I set aside money and time for in my budget. In my opinion it's one of the great shops around this country. It's up there with some of the big city shops.

BIO: Kenning Jean-Paul García is a diarist, humorist, antipoet, and editor living in Albany, NY after growing up in Brooklyn and Queens. Xe spent most of xyr life in the restaurant industry and holds a bachelor's degree in Linguistics.  In addition to being the editor at Rigorous, the Operating System, and Five 2 One, xyr work has also been featured in BlazeVOX, eccolinguistics, Brooklyn Rail, Horse Less Review and Dream Pop. Slow Living is also available from West Vine Press along with They Say and Never Read.

(I definitely swiped the photo of the shop from the Fresh Comics website, so check them out too.)

10 Best Used Bookshops in the Capital Region

10 Best Used Bookshops in the Capital Region

Independent Bookstore Day 2019 is upon us, and to celebrate I thought I’d share some of my favorite bookstores in the Albany/Capital Region. Now I should note that my idea of the Capital Region might differ from yours. If I can drive there within an hour or so from downtown Albany, you’re in. There are plenty of great shops right on that line that didn’t make it, and some well within that range who didn’t make it either, but I had the draw the line and decide on my own personal favorites. Here’s what I came up with. The most important thing is this: support your local indie bookshops, whoever they are!  

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10 Best New Bookshops in the Capital Region

10 Best New Bookshops in the Capital Region

Independent Bookstore Day 2019 is upon us, and to celebrate I thought I’d share some of my favorite bookstores in the Albany/Capital Region. Now I should note that my idea of the Capital Region might differ from yours. If I can drive there within an hour or so from downtown Albany, you’re in. There are plenty of great shops right on that line that didn’t make it, and some well within that range who didn’t make it either, but I had the draw the line and decide on my own personal favorites. Here’s what I came up with. The most important thing is this: support your local indie bookshops, whoever they are!  

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A Bookshop Interview with R.M. Engelhardt

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When I asked poet R.M. Engelhardt about his favorite bookshop, I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened next: 1) that he eschewed my usual Q&A session and wrote me a couple paragraphs shooting from the hip; 2) that he picked two shops instead of one; and 3) that neither of the shops are still open. And why was I surprised? Because R.M. is a throwback kicking and smoking his way through the Era of Instapoets, and he’s not about to conform now just for a bookshop interview. But both of these shops sound pretty cool and I’m sorry I missed out on them when they were around. I hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to pick up any of his books, including Cold Ass Coffee Blues & Other Poems (Alien Buddha Press). You can also read his column The Half-Dead Poet Review over at AlbanyPoets.com. Enjoy!

Favorite Bookshops: Capital Bookshop and Nelson’s Bookstore, both formerly in Albany, NY.

Capital Bookshop: “The place looked like a bomb hit it inside. It’s closed now but I always referred to it as the ‘Bookstore Without A Name.’ I ran across the place many years ago in the late 1980s and just casually walked in to find a place where books of all genres were literally strewn all over the place from the ground up in piles and on shelves. There were dedicated sections, sure, but it looked like a book hoarders dream. I would make time to visit the store on my lunch break when I worked for a law firm in the 1990s around the corner. They had a poetry section of old paperbacks as well as hardcovers. Shakespeare, Milton, Dante's Inferno. A lot of classics. You could get lost in there or go missing. It was hard to walk around the books. I had bought several old copies of Poe & Baudelaire's books in Capital Bookshop, and even though the place smelled and had some mildew, it eventually became one of my favorite haunts because you never knew what you'd find. It was an impossible place of imagination, and it crossed your mind now and then that there might be a door in the back that if you opened you'd find some kind of posh secret society or spy headquarters or organization hiding behind the bookstore front like in a movie. But the best part of the store was this: pulp novels. Stacks of them. Detective stories and hard to find old Bantam copies of some of my favorite guilty pleasures for reading. Doc Savage, The Avenger, Science Fiction, Westerns/Louis L'Amour. They were in bad to decent condition but it was amazing what you could find in there. Old albums and comic books too. It was the kind of bookstore that the BBC Black Books was reminiscent of but with less room. Completely unorganized.”

Nelson’s Bookstore: “This was another store which I'd like to mention that is also gone now. It was a huge influence on my work and where I got most of my poetry. Nelson's Bookstore was on Central Avenue a few blocks away from the old Qe2 (an notable former punk/rock club that is now The Fuzebox) and it was the best counter culture, beat poetry bookshop around. Bill Nelson, the owner, sold me my first Bukowski book there in the early 90s, Love Is A Dog From Hell. I bought loads of poetry books there, from Burroughs to Kerouac, Jim Carroll, and so many others that I've forgotten but still have in my collection. Bill Nelson and I would have conversations about authors and I'd show him my poems when I was starting out as a writer. He was like a mentor and his store also carried tons of zines and local poets books. Eventually he carried mine as well. He encouraged me to send my work out and I had a few interesting visits there where I met other, more well known writers there in passing. I even met Serpico there. Yes, the real Frank Serpico, the detective that the old Al Pacino movie was based on. So, in the end, I miss two bookstores. Two favorites that are now just memories of what downtown Albany used to be.”

A Review of Tattered Pages Books

A Review of Tattered Pages Books

365 Feura Bush Road, Glenmont, NY

I don’t get down to the Glenmont area south of Albany very often, but this little shop might make me change that. Located near a bustling intersection surrounded by strip centers and restaurants, Tattered Pages is a calm, relaxed throwback of a bookshop that is stacked with paperbacks, hardcovers, and good vibes. The hours are a little short, but if you get there when they’re open, you’re likely to find a mystery or romance novel just right for you.

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A Review of I Love Books

A Review of I Love Books

380 Delaware Ave., Delmar, NY

My first impression of I Love Books was one of hesitation, as it looked so much more like a chaotic trinket shop in some tourist town than an actual bookshop. But after looking around I discovered I was not only wrong, but I found I was really enjoying myself jumping from books to literary toys and gifts and right back into books again. Not only is there plenty here for the writers and readers in your life, but there’s something for almost anyone in I Love Books.

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A Review of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

A Review of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

1475 Western Ave., Albany, NY

The Book House will always have a special place in my heart because I bought my first book of poetry there, back in the spring of 2005, and it changed my life, giving me a creative outlet I never had before. For a long time I wasn’t able to return because I had moved away, but when I came back to the Albany area in 2015, I headed here and still stop by a few times a year. To say it’s located in the center of a strip mall is a bit deceiving unless you know Stuyvesant Plaza, which is home to a series of specialized and upscale clothing and gift shops, cafes and fine dining, plus a Chipotle, a TGI Fridays, that kind of stuff, basically the kind of strip mall an upper-middle class suburbanite would frequent. The only reason why I go there is The Book House, and this shop is worth the trip, especially if you're a local.

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A Review of Dove & Hudson

A Review of Dove & Hudson

296 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY

The word that kept coming to mind as I moved slowly through this bookshop was thorough. From the expansive history and fiction shelves to the impressive literary memoir, biography, criticism section, this shop contained some of the most comprehensive subsections I’ve seen for something its size. And while it’s not large, it will easily draw you in for hours.

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