Tag: The Ivy Bookshop

Complicated Knots: An Interview with Justin Kramon


Justin KramonJustin Kramon is as unpredictable as he is sweet. In his debut novel, Finny, a tender coming-of-age story, Kramon showed great sensitivity in portraying female characters, particularly the title character, Finny, a fiery young redhead from Baltimore. So why did Kramon decide to make his follow-up novel, The Preservationist, a thriller? Jen Michalski, host of Starts Here! (the new Ivy Bookshop reading series held at Artifact Coffee), interviewed Kramon about the surprising evils that lurk in the hearts of his characters. Look for her new Prologue lit column monthly at Baltimore Fishbowl. And take note: Kramon reads at the Ivy, Tuesday, October 22 at 7 p.m.–visit the store’s website for more information.

 Jen Michalski: In both your novels, Finny and now The Preservationist, there’s a strong female protagonist and an equally strong and engaging coming-of-age story. The twist in The Preservationist, however, is the introduction of a serial killer. As someone who I consider one of the most sensitive writers on the planet, where did *that* come from?

Justin Kramon: Thanks for the kind words about the novel. In kindergarten, the teacher once told me I was “sensitive,” and I got very upset.  I think I cried, thereby proving her theory.  I don’t cry anymore when people call me sensitive, but I do occasionally wet myself.

Event of the Day: Growing Up in a Funeral Home


booker nine years under_0

Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aunt, she found comfort in the funeral home, and soon had the run of the place, from its sacred chapels to the terrifying embalming room. She’ll be reading from Nine Years Under, the book she wrote about her experience, at the Ivy Bookshop tonight at 7 PM.

With AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men, Wylie was never short on business. As families came together to bury one of their own, Booker was privy to their most intimate moments of grief and despair. But along with the sadness, Booker encountered moments of dark humor: brawls between mistresses and widows, and car crashes at McDonald’s with dead bodies in tow. While she never got over her terror of the embalming room, Booker learned to expect the unexpected and to never, ever cry.

This vibrant tour of a macabre world reveals an urban funeral culture where photo-screened memorial T-shirts often replace suits and ties and the dead are sent off with a joint or a fifth of cognac. Nine Years Under offers readers an unbelievable glimpse into an industry in the backdrop of all our lives.

The Baltimore Lit Parade for January, Part II: Jen Michalski’s Double-Novella Smackdown, Stephanie Barber’s “Night Moves,” WORMS News, and More



Here’s the latest installment of Baltimore writer Joseph Martin’s Ivy Bookshop-sponsored column for the Baltimore Fishbowl, “The Lit Parade,” a celebration and thoughtful examination of the epic local lit scene that too often goes unreported, unread.

Located somewhere between a short story’s brief epiphanies and a book-length manuscript’s meaty heft, the novella — a strange, pidgin form of fiction — has always defied clear rules or expectations. As an unsurprising result, its greatest lit-historical examples tend to whip along with an odd, enticingly elliptical push-pull, jackknifing between the sorts of mysterious characters (Gustave Flaubert’s “A Simple Soul”) and purgatorial plots (Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”) more common types of fiction tend to abhor. At its all-too-rare best, a novella can trick a reader into caring less about a story per se than its aura, so to speak: a persistent state of grace (or lack thereof) whose inevitable burnout allows for a unique fictive torque. A bad novella, by contrast, can feel perverse, coming on like rambling short fiction or, worse, a novel caught in utero; even at its most inspired, the novella’s liminal existence often demands a bit of literary MacGuyvering to come off.

“Rules of Civility” Author Amor Towles at The Ivy


“If you want shopping at Bendel’s, gin martinis at a debutante’s mansion and jazz bands playing until 3 a.m., Rules of Civility has it all and more,” so says  Viv Groskop of The Observer in her review of Rules of Civility, the bestselling novel by Amor Towles. The book, the author’s first, tells the story of a transformational year in the life of a young woman in glamorous 1938 Manhattan.

Meet Towles next week when he comes to The Ivy Bookshop on Wednesday, November 14 at 7 p.m. to discuss his book and sign copies.

The Scandal and the Sway of Betsy Bonaparte: This Thursday at the Ivy Bookshop


Can’t wait for the next season of “The Real Housewives” to hurry up and premiere? Cool your (high) heels with an even more real – though equally scandalous – socialite’s life story…

Two centuries back, Baltimorean Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson Bonaparte — the same family after which Patterson Park is named — became one of the first red-hot celebs in America, during a crucial moment in the nation’s early history – after all, she’d wed Napoleon’s brother Jerome, given birth to his child, then seen the marriage annulled by the emperor himself. (Way more interesting than Kim Richards’s rocky romance with Ken.)