Bookstores We Love: Episode 1

September 10, 2010

Hey, Welcome to Bookstores We Love. We’ll be doing this on a ‘whenever the mood strikes’ basis, but we have a lot of love for indie bookstores, so expect to see a lot of posts like this in the future. We wanted to call attention to the bookstores that inspired us as we gear up for the launch of our own little shop, The Paper Cave.

During last year’s Dollar Store Summer Tour I had the enviable job of booking 7 readers in 11 cities across the country. Some towns we knew we wanted to hit. Home towns, fun towns. Austin, Texas where featherproof author Amelia Gray lives, and I used to. Atlanta, where Blake Butler is from. New Orleans, because New Orleans is awesome. But then there were the towns in-between. One of the big question marks was Houston. Nothing against Houston, I know a lot of nice folks from there, but we weren’t sure what kind of literary scene might be happening there. I started the usual round of calls to indie bookstores, looking for a spot, and eventually someone said “You sound like Domy people.”

I called up Russell at Domy, and he was good people indeed. The store’s site looked great, and they made a nice little write up for our event. When we got there, things were even better. I was honestly blown away at the awesomeness of Domy. They have a really great, eclectic collection of books on art, design, graffiti, counter-culture, crazy culture, and everything in-between. There are artist books and robot toys. The entire store is white, which gives it a gallery feel, and I have to say: the collection is very well curated. As well as the art! They have regular art shows with all sorts of awesome art-makers, and reading events.

Our reading was a lot of fun. We had a good crowd, and read to them out on the patio which was a great place for a reading. We caught a few people hanging out, reading and enjoying snacks from the cafe next door, and added our own group, there to see the reading. We had a big wooden porch, which we turned into a stage for a night. Domy offered us a reading discount, and we emptied our pockets. They bought a lot of our books to sell in the shop after we had gone as well. All around, a great place to have a reading, and a great discovery in Houston!

This past summer, during my annual pilgrimage to Austin, I had the chance to visit Domy Houston’s new sister store, Domy Austin, which has been open for just a year or two. Already it looks and feels amazing, with another creative mix of local and international printed matter. Austin definitely has its own vibe, with less toys and more DVDs, but the same Domy awesomeness is definitely to be found. Russell, who moved to Austin to open the Domy store, was kind enough to show Ally and I around, and we browsed and took photos and talked shopped until we had to run to the airport.

Two great bookstores deep in the heart of Texas! Recommended for all who live there, and any who visit.

An Excerpt from Scorch Atlas

September 1, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

Featherproof put out Blake Butler’s book recently and I thought I’d post an excerpt. The following section, read in Atlanta as part of the Dollar Store Tour this summer, is called:


The Gown From Mother’s Stomach

by Blake Butler

The mother ate thread and lace for four weeks so that her daughter would have a gown. She was tired of not being able to provide her daughter with the things many other girls took for granted. Their family was poor and the mother’s fingers ached wtih arthritis soshe couldn’t bring herself to sew. Instead she chewed the bed sheets until they were soft enough to swallow. She bit the curtains and gnawed the pillow. With one wet finger she swiped the floor for dust. God will knit it in my womb like he did you, she murmured. When you wear it you will blind the world. She refused to listen to reason. She ate toilet tissue and sheets of paper and took medication that made her constipated. She stayed in bed instead of sitting for dinner. Carrots don’t make a dress, she croaked. Her stomach grew distended. She began having trouble standing up. Her hair fell out and she ate that too. She ripped the mattress and muched the down. She ate the clothing off her body. The father was always gone. He worked day and night to keep food the mother wasn’t eating on the table. When he did get home he as too tired to entertain the daughter’s pleas to make the mother stop. Such a tease, that woman, he said in his sleep, already gone. Such a card. Because her mother could no longer walk, the daughter spent the evenings by the bedside listening to rambles. The mother told her about the time she’d seen a bear. A bear the size of several men, she said. There in the woods behind out house, when I was still a girl like you. The mother had stood in wonder watching while the bear ate a whole deer. It ate the deer’s cheeks, its eyes, its tongue, tis pelt. It ate everything but the antlers. The mother had waited for the bear to leave so she could take the antlers homs and wear them, but the bear had just gone on laying, stuffed, smothered in blood. The mother swore then–her eyes grew massive in the telling–the bear had spoken. It’d looked right at the mother and said, quite casual, My god, I was hungry. Its voice was gorgeous, deep and groaning. The mother could hardly move. I didn’t know bears could talk, she said finally, and the bear had said, Of course we can. It’s just that no one ever takes the time to hear. We are old and we are lonely and we have dreams you can’t imagine. Over the next six days the mother continued growing larger. Her eyes began to change. Her belly swelled six times its normal size. Dark patchwork showed through her skin. Strange ridges on her abdomen in maps. Finally the dauther called a doctor. He came and looked and locked the door behind him. Through the wood the daughter could hear he mother mother moan. A wailing shook the walls. Some kind of grunt or bubble. The doctor emerged with bloody hands. He was sweating, sickly pale. He left without a bill. In the bedroom, the air stunk sweet with rotten melon. The gown lay draped over the footboard. It was soft and glistening, full of color–blue like the afghan that covered her parents’ bed–white likethe spider’s web hung from the ceiling–gray and orange like their two fat tabbies–green like the pine needles pst the window–yellow and crimson like how the sun rose–gold like her moether’s blinkless eyes.


The daughter wore the gown thereafter. It fit her every inch. It sund in certain lighting. She liked to suck the cuff against her tongue. There was a sour taste, a crackle. She could hear her mother murmur when she lay a certain way. The father, fraught by wht he’d lost unknowing, began staying home all day. He stood in the kitchen and ate food for hours. He ate while crying, mad or mesmerized. He didn’t answer when the daughter spoke. Sometimes he shook or nodded, but mostly he just chewed.  Most days the daughter took to walking as far from the house as she could manage. THe gown made her want to breathe new air. She’d go until her feet hurt her or until the sun went low. When it rained the gown absorbed the water. It guzzled her secret sweat. She got up earlier, patrolled. She wanted to see something like her mother had, like the bear, so that one day she’d have a story for a daughter. She saw many things that you or I would gape at–two headed cattle, lakes of insect, larvae falling from the sky–all things to her now everyday. The earth was very tired. The daughter found nothing like a talking bear. She wondered if her mother had been lying or smeared with fever. At school the other children threw sharp rocks. They ripped the daughter’s gown and held their noses. The daughter quit her classes. SHe walked until he feet bled. Her father didn’t notice. Like the mother, he took on size. His jowls hung fat in ruined balloons. He called for the mother over mouthfuls. Her name was SARAH. The way it came out sounded like HELLO. The daughter couldn’t watch her father do the same thing her mother had. She decided to go on a long walk–longer than any other. She touched her father on the foreheard and said goodbye. She walked up the long hill in her backyard where in winter she had sledded. It hadn’t been cold enough for snow in a long time but she could still remember the way her teeth rattled. She remembered losing the feeling in her body. Now every day was so warm. She swore she’d sweat an ocean. She walked through the forest well beyond dark. The gown buzzed in her ears. It buzzed louder the further from home she went. She kept going. She slept in nettles. She dreamt of sitting with her parents drinking tea and listening to her tell about all the things she would soon see. She dreamt of reversin time to watch her parents grow thinner, younger, while the earth grew new and clean. She walked by whim. She tread through water. She saw a thousand birds, saw lightening write the sky, the birds falling out in showers. The world was waning. The sky was chalk. She felt older every hour. She had no idea she’d come full circle to her backyard when she found the bear standing at a tree. It was huge, the way her mother had said, the size of several men. It was reaching after leaves. It sat up when it heard her. It looked into her eyes. Hello, bear, she said, rasping. It’s nice to finally meet you. The bear stood up and moved toward her, its long black claws big as her head. The collar of her dress had pulled so tight she found it hard to speak: What do you dream, bear? I will listen. She didn’t flinch as the bear came near and put its paw upon her head. It battered at her and she giggled. It pulled her to its chest. She didn’t feel her head pop open. She didn’t feel her beart squeeze wide. The bear dissembled her in pieces. The bear ate the entire girl. It ate her hair, her nails, her shoes and bonnet. It ate the gown and ate her eyes. Inside the bear the daughter could still see clearly. The bear’s teeth were mottled yellow. Inside its stomach, abalone pink. The color of the daughter became something soft–thens omething off, then something fuzzy, then something like the gown, immensely hued; then she became a strange flourescence and she excited the bear–she spread across the wrecked earth and refracted throught he ocean to split the sky: a neon ceiling over all things, a shade of something new, unnamed.

posted by Caroline Picard

We’re teaming up this summer with some bang up authors to go on  a nation-wide tour performing The Dollar Store Show. We’re coming to:

Chicago Launch Party, July 2nd
Tennessee, Fri, July 3rd
Austin, Sun, July 5th
Houston, Mon, July 6th
New Orleans, Tue, July 7th
Atlanta, Thu, 9th
Washington DC, Sat 11th
New York City, Sun, 12th
Brooklyn, Mon, 13th
Boston, Tue 14th
Buffalo, Wed 15th
Detroit, Thu 16th

The Dollar Store is a mixture of comedy and literary readings where everything is inspired by junk bought at a dollar store. It’s been featured on National Public Radio and in major newspapers such as the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune. The show has sold out it’s Chicago home for 3 years running, and has successfully toured to St.Louis and New York. More information can be found here: This summer we’re embarking on the biggest Dollar Store Tour yet! This tour will include the following authors, (at various times). The books, reading series, and presses they represent are in parentheses. Amelia Gray (AM/PM , Featherproof Books, 5 Things Austin reading series), Caroline Picard (Green Lantern Press, The Parlor reading series), Zach Dodson (boring boring boring, Featherproof Books, The Show ‘n Tell series), Mary Hamilton, and Lindsay Hunter (QUICKIES! reading series), Jac Jemc (The Rejection Collection ), Blake Butler (Scorch Atlas, Featherproof, EVER, Calamari, Lamination Colony), Patrick Somerville (Trouble, Vintage, The Cradle, Little, Brown), and of course Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out , Featherproof Books, The Dollar Store reading series). We’ll also ask some local readers from [YOUR CITY], to contribute their own Dollar Store Stories to the performance. We’ll be doing a full press campaign, as well as street promotion and on our websites,, and I’d be happy to point you to past press for any of our series or book reviews.

It’s going to be awesome. We’ve already rented the white van.

You can see more about it by going here.