Archive for the ‘Profile’ Category

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As if Amelia’s Magazine wasn’t damn fine enough already, what with its cultural insights, fashion fixes and ecological know-how, it’s just had a make-over – and its first contribution from The Bind!

The new face of Amelia's Magazine

The new face of Amelia's Magazine

 Check out The Bind’s bit on Margaret Atwood’s new novel, The Year of the Flood, and its accompanying tour, and watch out for future book-based goodness brought to you fresh from The Bind’s nib via those lovely people at Amelia’s Magazine.

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The enigmatic investigator: Mr Lemony Snicket

The enigmatic investigator: Mr Lemony Snicket

It’s a chilling warning: “As if the recession weren’t bad enough, now British readers have the threat of a new series from Mr Snicket hanging over them,” Cally Poplak, director of publisher Egmont, tells The Guardian this week. “As a responsible publisher, of course we shall put all our efforts into ensuring no child is exposed to yet more misery from Mr Snicket’s investigations.”

The Bad Beginning

Here comes trouble: Book one – The Bad Beginning

Lemony Snicket‘s reports into the harrowing lives of the Baudelaire siblings, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, began in 1999. Snicket (the pseudonym of American author Daniel Handler) brought the sorrowful plight of the trio – orphaned by their evil uncle, Count Olaf, in his attempts to get his claws into their family’s wealth – to the world over 13 books: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

And, once the series came to an end in 2006, and the trials and tribulations of the poor Baudelaires had been made public (helped in no small part by a 2004 film adaptation of the first three books, starring Jim Carrey as the crawling Count Olaf) that was the last we heard of tenacious young Violet, Klaus and Sunny. 

Count culture: Jim Carrey calls attention to the frightful plight of the Baudelaires in 2004's film adaptation

Count culture: Jim Carrey calls attention to the frightful plight of the Baudelaires in 2004's film adaptation

Will we pick up with them again? Has Snicket unearthed more devastating tales of dread and deathly disasters? The Bind, alas, remains in the dark, and Snicket’s investigations shrouded in secrecy. “I can neither confirm nor deny that I have begun research into a new case,” is all the elusive sleuth Snicket will reveal, “and I can neither confirm nor deny that the results are as dreadful and unnerving as A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Reader, you have been warned.

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It’s the cherry on top of one of Bristol’s most spirited spots – where jolly, jeering street drinkers rock beneath crumbling walls sporting Banksy originals; afternoon gig-goers spill out onto pavements from cafes-cum-gig venues to puff on their rollies; the spitting hiss of vats and vats of boiling oil sizzles from rows of red-topped takeaways to mingle with wheeze of rattling spray paint cans over the engine growls and scooter-horn squeals of the humming Gloucester Road. Ahh… Stokes Croft – the Here Gallery and Bookshop.

Since its doors were opened by siblings Ben and Kate O’Leary in 2003, not-for-profit creative cooperative Here has been bringing art books, small-press publications, comics and a whole host of crafty cuts to the folks of Bristol and beyond. And that’s not all; the shop sits above Here’s gallery space, which is currently exhibiting The Joyful Bewilderment from The Outcrowd Collective.
 Outcrowd Collective poster
Here Bookshelf

You are Here: Ben

You are Here: Ben

And 2008 saw the Here family branching out there and everywhere – well Falmouth, to be precise. “As well as providing a welcoming atmosphere, and a meeting place for like minded individuals, Here and Now [showcases] new artwork from local students and established artists,” says Kate O’Leary, who’s at the helm in Falmouth while Ben steers the good ship Here back in Bristol. Wish you were here? Check out the Flickr feed for a guided tour.

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Richard of The Mighty Miniature fame was last week kind enough to point me in the direction of his friend Jason. Jason runs Bloom & Curll.

And look at it. Just look at it.

 Want to go in? Me too.

Jason's desk


And Bloom & Curll is more than just new and second-hand books, plates of cake and Jason: “If you want to display fine art, discuss politics, poetry, Kafka,” says the Bloom & Curll flyer, “or have a cup of tea, play chess and plan the next revolution, we are available as a free space for discussion groups, clubs, workshops, rehearsals or a place to simply sit, read and think.” Add to that the writers in residencecosy gigs (and readings) and a beautiful upcoming zine chronicling new writing and bookish happenings around and about the South West, and you have heaven in an ironmonger’s (at 74 Colston Street, Bristol.)


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Mr Bs Frontage

Bath’s Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights – this week’s jackpot – sets The Bind’s detector beeping not only on account of its fantastic moniker; its 2008 Independent Bookshop of the Year accolade; its ‘bibliotherapy’ room, replete with battered, comfy armchairs and help-yourself coffee; the Tintin cartoon strip wallpaper sidling up to the staircase… 

Mr Bs Chairs

Mr Bs Bibliotherapy

Mr Bs Bath

Mr Bs Stairs

Mr Bs Window Display

… and its loyalty cards; the brilliant author events and book groups; the chatty Mr B’s folks, who’ll order any book you like to land on Mr B’s doormat in just a couple of days; their lists (and I do love a good list)…

Mr Bs Lists

Mr Bs Mugs

… and their sock monkeys…

Mr Bs Monkey

… oh no. The true feather in Mr B’s cap is Vlashka, who, when not providing her unique brand of tail-waggingly attentive customer service in the shop (as, unfortunately, she wasn’t on the day of The Bind’s visit) is updating her Vanity Page or trying to fit in meet-and-greets with her celebrity fans between dog biscuits. Watch this space for future Vlashka book signing announcements.

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Conservative types may claim that nothing particularly noteworthy has sprung up in Bath in the past 50 years. I beg to differ (see exhibit 1, above.)


Topping & Company is the best thing to happen to the old roman city since hot water. The first time I set foot on one of its creaking floorboards and was hit by the avalanche of coffee wafts, Yann Tiersen tunes and row after row after row of cellophane-wrapped signed first editions, I could barely contain myself.

I still can’t stay in there for more than 20 minutes without breaking into a sweat.


So, I certainly don’t need any coffee when I’m in there, but the lovely Topping & Co folks offer great pots of the stuff – in polka-dot cups cups, no less – as well as reading groups (fuelled by a healthy amount of red wine), author talks and good chat, as provided by Saber and Mark who very kindly let me get under their feet to take some photos. For not a second longer than 20 minutes, mind.

Saber, Mark and a pot of Topping's finest

Saber, Mark and a pot of Topping's finest


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LA's comics fans head to Secret HQ for a night on the strip

LA's comics fans head to Secret HQ for a night on the strip

It being the first day of the week might make my lauding of LA’s Secret Headquarters seem a tad premature, but you’ll understand my near-feverish fervour to spill the Secret HQ beans as soon as you check this comic book culture haven out.


Pushing “a sophisticated take on the traditional comic book store”, Secret Headquarters looks like the bookshop Tim Burton might open were he to turn an old Victorian pharmacy into a graphic novel store after watching Mary Poppins on repeat: one part quaint comfort to one part brooding somberness, with a spoonful of eccentricity thrown in. While the Secret HQ team give their website a refurb, their MySpace page is on hand for news of author events and special titles coming their way.

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