Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 7, 2011


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

Quotation of the Day

'How You Read Not as Important as Will You Read?'

"The new immigrants don't shoot the old inhabitants when they come in. One technology tends to supplement rather than supplant. How you read is not as important as: will you read? And will you read something that's a book--the sustained train of thought of one person speaking to another? Search techniques are embedded in e-books that invite people to dabble rather than follow a full train of thought. This is part of a general cultural problem."

--James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, in a Newsweek poll of "some literary brains on the future of reading."

 


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


News

Image of the Day: Quiet on the Set!



Last Thursday, actor Russell Brand spent the morning at the Strand Book Store in New York City, buying a book by his love interest that he had seen in the window and standing in line with owner Nancy Bass Wyden. It was all for a scene in the movie Arthur, a remake of the 1981 film starring Dudley Moore.

Brand and Wyden had a long discussion about Kurt Vonnegut, and Brand was later seen carrying a copy of Luc Sante's Low Life. During one break, all crew and staff heard Brand enthusiastically yell "18 Miles of F-ing Books?!"


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Notes: Borders NYSE Listing on Edge; Two New Bookstores

 

Another sign of Borders Group's problems. Last Thursday the New York Stock Exchange warned that Borders will be delisted from the exchange because it has not had a minimum average closing price of $1 per share during the previous 30 trading days. The company has six months to "cure this deficiency."

Except for a brief period in mid-January, Borders has traded below $1 a share since late last year. It closed on Friday at 39 cents a share.

Borders had the same problem in early 2009, but because so many companies' shares had dropped in value following the financial meltdown, the NYSE temporarily suspended the rule and in the meantime Borders's share price rose above $1 a share (Shelf Awareness, April 17, 2009). The board had considered a reverse stock split to fix the problem.

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Last Wednesday, Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio sold three million GameStop shares, the bulk of his holdings in the game retailer, for $59.7 million, according to Barron's. He sold the shares for an average of $20.08 each and continues to own 618,024 shares. Riggio founded and was chairman of GameStop and predecessors from 1996 to 2002. Barnes & Noble bought the company from Riggio, then spun it off in 2004.

Commenting on the sale, a spokesman for GameStop wrote in an e-mail to Barron's: "Mr. Riggio is always evaluating his portfolio of holdings and is adjusting for estate planning and the ability to support many of his philanthropic efforts."

Like music retailers and booksellers to an extent so far, GameStop has seen many customers download products online.

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A front page article in Saturday's New York Times highlighted a jump in sales of YA e-books this year:

  • At HarperCollins, e-books accounted for 25% of all YA sales in January, up from 6% a year earlier.
  • At Simon & Schuster, Clockwork Angel and the Night World series nearly doubled e-book sales in the four weeks after Christmas compared to the four weeks beforehand.
  • St. Martin's had a slightly different measure: there YA books account for 20% of all e-books sold so far in 2011, up from 6% a year earlier.


A main reason for the jump in YA e-book sales, the Times said: "Now that e-readers are cheaper and more plentiful, they have gone mass market, reaching consumers across age and demographic groups, and enticing some members of the younger generation to pick them up for the first time." Many e-books were given as gifts during the holiday season.

The Times noted a new kind of social scene, involving "tweens and teenagers clustered in groups and reading their Nooks or Kindles together, wirelessly downloading new titles with the push of a button, studiously comparing the battery life of the devices and accessorizing them with Jonathan Adler and Kate Spade covers in hot pink, tangerine and lime green."

As for the duration of this trend, beware fickle youth. The Times wrote: "It is too soon to tell if younger people who have just picked up e-readers will stick to them in the long run, or grow bored and move on."

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Bookstore1Sarasota is opening in Sarasota, Fla., March 1, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported. Owner Georgia Court, a writer and retired English composition instructor at the University of Cincinnati, told the paper, "We will for the most part be stocking books that people don't know they want until they come in and browse."

The space has about 1,750 square feet and has been completely renovated. The store will employ seven people. Manager David Chaplin formerly worked at Sarasota News and Books, which closed in 2009. The store has one of our favorite bookstore mottos ever: "joie de livres."

The store's website said Bookstore1Sarasota's "focus reflects Sarasota's cultural community with a broad selection related to the performing arts, fine arts and poetry. We will also feature a section especially for writers. We are designing our space to facilitate meetings for reading groups, writing groups, speakers and book signings. We intend to be a place for celebrating the written word."

Bookstore1Sarasota is located at 1359 Main St., Sarasota, Fla. 34236; 941-365-7900.

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Union Avenue Books, selling both new and used books, will open by the end of April in downtown Knoxville, Tenn., the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

The owners are Flossie McNabb, a former partner in Carpe Librum Booksellers, which opened in 2004 and closed last year, and Mary and Kaveh Dabir, owners of Mr. K., which sells used books and music in Oak Ridge and Johnson City, Tenn., Asheville, N.C., and Greenville, S.C.

McNabb told the paper that the owners were attracted by "the vibrant atmosphere" of downtown Knoxville and said that the store will be smaller than Carpe Librum, where it was "a constant challenge" to keep up inventory.

Union Avenue Books will be in the Daylight Building, which was built in 1927, is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been extensively renovated.

Union Avenue Books will be located at 501 W. Union Ave., Knoxville, Tenn. 37902.

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In many pictures and amusing commentary, on feltandwire.com Eric Heiman captures what makes Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., many people's favorite bookstore. Check out the pics here.

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iluvhaight.com has pics from Friday night's bookswap, a regular event at the Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif. Friday's bookswap featured Rodes Fishburne, author of Going to See the Elephant, and Ellen Sussman, author of Dirty Girlz, and was sold out two weeks in advance. For full rules, read the blog!

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The Record surveys several independent bookstores in northern New Jersey that are "holding their own in face of new challenges," as the headline put it.

Bill Skees, a former management, finance and IT consultant who opened Well Read Bookstores in Hawthorne last November, said, "I felt that this was a really good time to break into the business.... I think there is a definite place for an independent bookstore."

The gregarious Kenny Sarfin, who opened Books and Greetings in Northvale in 2007, offers a mix of stock--books, greeting cards and gifts. "When people come up to the register they have a card, they have a gift, they have a book, they have a toy," he said. "And they schmooze around the store. Nobody walks out of this store unhappy."

Befitting the store's name, Sarfin "greets regular customers by name and engages in animated conversations whenever one of them asks, 'What're you reading, Kenny?' His store's motto, he says, is 'We sell books the old-fashioned way. We read them.' "

Tom Downs, who has owned Shaw's Books in Westwood since 1977, likewise knows his stock. "We can recommend a good book, and we also try to be able to steer them away from something that's not good," he said. "We can tell them what the good reads are."

Bookends in Ridgewood continues to host 80-100 author appearances a year, accounting for about a third of the store's annual sales. Walter Boyer, who bought the store in 2002 with his wife, Pat, said that an author event "is not one that you can ever reproduce with a Kindle or an Amazon purchase. It's face-to-face interaction with somebody that you have wanted to meet and may never have another chance to meet, for the price of a book."

Womrath's in Tenafly is dealing with the growth of e-books by preparing to install a kiosk where customers can download Google e-books. Owner Bob Kutik said that community involvement has been key to business: he is a former chamber of commerce president and is involved in downtown improvement efforts. The paper said he also hosts writer workshops, holds cooking demonstrations tied to cookbooks and--in a stroke of genius for attracting male readers--has a men's book club that meets at a local bar. Womrath's has also benefitted from owning its own building.

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Book trailer (or short) of the day: Damn You, Scarlett O'Hara: The Private Lives of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier by Darwin Porter and Roy Moseley (Blood Moon Productions), which features Blood Moon president and ham Danforth Prince.

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The folks at Flavorwire offered their "essential cold-weather reading list for your hibernation this February."

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Boing Boing showcased "glorious bookshelf porn, taken in the Faculty of Medicine library at the University of Buenos Aires."

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"He learned about sex from studying classics." Flavorwire listed "97 Things You Didn't Know About William S. Burroughs."

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Beginning tomorrow, the Other Press is offering the e-version of a new novella by Hervé Le Tellier, The Intervention of a Good Man, for 99 cents. Other Press newsletter subscribers can obtain the e-novella for free.

On the eve of Valentine's Day, the promotions are intended to share the love for Le Tellier's new novel, Enough About Love.

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In a guest column in theatlantic.com, editor Chris Jackson remembered the agent, rep and editor Manie Barron, who died January 8 (Shelf Awareness, January 12, 2011). He wrote in part:

"Manie didn't make publishing look glamorous. He made it look like fun. He somehow combined the affect of a workhorse and a brawler and a showman--a theatrical warrior with a smokey voice and quick, enormous laugh. He was, like me, a Harlem kid whose life had been transformed by black books and who believed in their power with an evangelist's zeal--and wasn't going to apologize for it. He carried with him a confidence that no matter how small our numbers in the industry, we were right and they were wrong: he believed with religious faith that black people were book buyers, not because we were exceptional, but because we weren't. Just like anyone else, we would buy the books that were written to our experiences, our tastes, and our interests--and that were sold in places we had access to."

 

 


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Art Smart: AMMO Books

Hugh Holland's Locals Only, featuring photos of skateboarders in 1970s California, is as likely to be found in shops in Paris as it is in Los Angeles. This is because, when launching AMMO Books (short for American Modern) in 2006, publisher Steve Crist and president Paul Norton strategized on how to cultivate an international audience before a single title had even come off press.

"When we sign up a book, we don't concentrate just on the U.S. market or on a local market," Crist said. "We really think about how the publication might do globally. Even though we're a small, independent house, our books are in some pretty far-flung locations." The company's offerings--visual arts, pop culture and children's books--are sold in 30 countries.

Before co-founding AMMO Books, Crist was a freelance photographer and then joined the publishing ranks. He worked as creative director for HarperCollins' ReganBooks imprint and as a photography editor for Taschen, whose headquarters are in Germany. Fellow former Taschen employee Norton, who was a business director there, heads up AMMO Books' sales and distribution. Rounding out the company's trio of partners is Gloria Fowler, the design director and children's publisher (and Crist's wife).

AMMO Books "specializes in American arts and culture from an American perspective," something Crist felt was missing in the publishing landscape. Many art book publishers are based overseas, whereas he uses a native point of view in finding and showcasing "things that might have been overlooked," he said.

One example: the works of artist Wayne White, whose eclectic portfolio includes puppets for the TV show Pee-Wee's Playhouse and text paintings like "Donald Judd was a Son of a Bitch Wrecked his Train in a Whorehouse Ditch." Crist regularly collaborates with designer Todd Oldham, who is the author of Wayne White: Maybe Now I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve (described as "fanfuckintastic" on AmmoBooks.com) and numerous other titles on the publisher's list.

Although AMMO Books, which is headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., does review submissions, none have yet been made into a book. Instead, titles come from Crist and his creative team "kicking around ideas" or from their personal preferences. "We're doing nothing more here than taking work we're passionate about and sharing it with people through book form," Crist said. "Part of it is selfish because we're looking for things that we're interested in."

Among the company's top sellers are children's books, puzzles and toys featuring the nature-themed illustrations of the late Cincinnati, Ohio, artist Charley Harper. The line resulted from Fowler's roles as a mother and a designer. "She was frustrated at not being able to find cool kids products and so she created her own through the language of Charley Harper," said Crist. These and other kids' titles generate strong foreign sales, particularly to parents whose children are learning English.

Crist often approaches people with whom he's interested in working. Such was the case with film director Spike Lee. The two met and discussed several concepts before they decided on Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing (December 2010), an insider's perspective on the making of the 1989 film and its cultural impact.

AMMO Books produces about a dozen titles a year, including original publications and new incarnations of previous works. Some titles are released in as many as three or four different formats at varying prices, ranging from $400 limited editions to $20 paperbacks. "Some houses work more like record or movie companies," Crist said. "If something doesn't show tremendous promise in the very first weeks, that title is kicked to the curb and really nothing is done to support it. If we release a book, we're going to work it all the way through its life cycle."

Avid audiences for AMMO Books' tomes have emerged both abroad and stateside. The company's inaugural title, Gonzo, a visual biography of Hunter S. Thompson with a foreword by Johnny Depp, sold particularly well in Germany, the U.K. and Japan. The biggest signing to date for Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing was at the American Book Center in Amsterdam, where 300 people turned out to see the filmmaker. An event at Barbara's Bookstore in Chicago on December 24, pulled together with two days notice, drew some 200 attendees.

In the U.S., AMMO Books titles are sold at retail outlets like Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. They also have been embraced by independent booksellers, who have been "big supporters" since the publisher's inception. Visiting bookstores is a favorite pastime for Crist during his travels, even while he's on vacation. During a family escape to Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State reachable only by boat or plane, he stopped in at Darvill's Bookstore and found a pleasing sight: limited editions of Gonzo and Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life on display behind the counter.

Along with acting as publisher and editor, Crist's varied roles include author (The Contact Sheet, a compendium of contact sheets from renowned photographers' photo sessions) and quality control specialist. He has traveled to China on press checks and this summer will do the same in Italy for a book about his "photographic hero," Edward Weston, due out in the fall. "Nothing gets overlooked because every book counts to us," said Crist. "We really are passionate about every title we do."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Known and Unknown Unveiled

This morning on the Today Show:

Leora Tanenbaum, author of Bad Shoes and the Women Who Love Them (Seven Stories Press, $13.95, 9781583229040).
Jenni "Jwoww" Farley, author of The Rules According to JWOWW: Shore-Tested Secrets on Landing a Mint Guy, Staying Fresh to Death, and Kicking the Competition to the Curb (Morrow, $19.99, 9780062075390).
Diana Kirschner, author of Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor's Guide to Lasting Love (Center Street, $21.99, 9781599951201).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jasmin Darznik, author of The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life (Grand Central, $24.99, 9780446534970).

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Hal Needham, author of Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316078993).

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Tonight on ABC's Nightline: Donald Rumsfeld, author of Known and Unknown: A Memoir (Sentinel, $36, 9781595230676). The former Defense Secretary is also on Good Morning America tomorrow morning.

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Tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Amy Sedaris, author of Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446557030).

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Tonight on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594202841).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Taboo, author of Fallin' Up: My Story (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439192061).

Also on Today: Kate Betts, author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307591432).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Gideon Rachman, author of Zero-Sum Future: American Power in an Age of Anxiety (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781439176610).

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Tomorrow on the Rachael Ray Show: Bethenny Frankel, author of A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439186909).

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Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Brian Greene, author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307265630).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Patton Oswalt, author of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (Scribner, $24, 9781439149089).

 


Movie: The Eagle

The Eagle, based on The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, opens this Friday, February 11. Channing Tatum stars as a Roman soldier who ventures into unconquered Scotland to learn the fate of his father, a Roman commander who disappeared with 4,000 soldiers, and to retrieve the lost legion's emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth. Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), The Eagle also features Donald Sutherland. A movie tie-in edition is available from Square Fish ($8.99, 9780312644291).

 


Filming a New Book Series: Rise of the Guardians

Chris Pine will play the role of Jack Frost in DreamWorks Animation's 3D movie Rise of the Guardians, which also stars Alec Baldwin as North (Santa Claus), Hugh Jackman as Bunnymund (Easter Bunny), Isla Fisher as Tooth (Tooth Fairy) and Jude Law as Pitch (the Boogeyman). Peter Ramsey is directing the project--scheduled for release November 21, 2012--from a script by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire. Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein are producing, and the film's executive producers are Guillermo del Toro and Michael Siegel.

The movie is based on William Joyce's upcoming Guardians of Childhood series, which will be launched next fall by Atheneum Books for Young Readers--an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing--with two titles: The Man in the Moon, a picture book written and illustrated by Joyce; and Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, a chapter book co-authored by Joyce and Laura Geringer, with illustrations by Joyce.

The Guardians of Childhood series of seven picture books and six chapter books, Joyce’s first children’s titles published in more than a decade, tells the formative stories of several classic childhood legends. Laura Geringer of Laura Geringer Books will edit the picture books, with Caitlyn Dlouhy as in-house editor. Caitlyn Dlouhy will edit the chapter books.  

In 2012, the next three books are scheduled for publication to coincide with the release of the film Rise of the Guardians, which Joyce will co-direct with Ramsey.

"I've been working on a unified mythology for the icons of childhood since my daughter was born in 1991," said Joyce of his new series. "As a parent I felt that Santa Claus, the Man in the Moon, all of them had become a little diminished. They deserve to be thought of as grand. Heroic. Epic. If Spiderman has an origins mythology then why not the characters we actually believed in? Their stories became my mission. It's great to see it finally taking shape."

Joyce's award-winning picture books include George Shrinks, Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures With the Family Lazardo, and Santa Calls. He has won three Emmy Awards for his Rolie Polie Olie animated series, developed character concepts for Toy Story and A Bug's Life, and made animated films including Robots and Meet the Robinsons.

 



Book Review

Book Review: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (Twelve, $25.99 Hardcover, 9780446571579, February 2011)

"My name is Bruno Littlemore," the narrator of Benjamin Hale's debut novel begins: "Bruno I was given, Littlemore I gave myself, and with some prodding I have finally decided to give this undeserving and spiritually diseased world the generous gift of my memoirs." Bruno dictates his life story from an institution where he's been confined "due to a murder that I more or less committed," but he stays active: he's directing the other residents in an amateur production of Georg Büchner's Woyzeck, a character with whom he greatly identifies. In case you're unclear how brilliant he is, his other favorite literary icons include Milton's Satan, Shakespeare's Caliban and Pinocchio. Yes, Bruno is a philosophical actor, an eloquent alcoholic and an unrepentant killer. He is also a chimpanzee.

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore charts Bruno's remarkable development, plucked from the primate house at the Lincoln Park Zoo and sent to a University of Chicago laboratory where he is run through constant behavioral experiments intended to demonstrate that he has the capacity to understand human language. As one of the scientists, Lydia Littlemore, takes the chimpanzee into her home to provide full immersion into a human lifestyle, however, his ability to speak grows as well--although this is kept hidden from the public and even the other scientists, as is (at least as first) the increasingly romantic relationship between researcher and subject. No matter how intelligent he becomes, however, Bruno is still prone to raw emotional outbursts, the consequences of which will force him and Lydia into exile from Chicago; send him fleeing to live as a vagabond actor in New York City; and ultimately drive him to that long foreshadowed murder (and though you may be able to guess the victim, the motive will likely yet surprise you).

Obviously readers are asked to accept significant implausibilities along the way. Among the greatest of these is the relative swiftness with which Lydia shifts into an affair with Bruno after their first, unexpected sexual encounter. (Unexpected to her, that is, but not to the reader, as Bruno has already rhapsodized heavily about his erotic fixation on human women, and there have been warning incidents.) The incident serves as a reminder of how little we really know about Lydia; Bruno's personality is so strong that other characters often become merely the backdrop against which he soliloquizes. This is deliberate to some extent, as Hale uses Bruno's emotional obtuseness for ironic effect throughout the novel, even as he includes philosophical digressions bringing the chimp's outsider status to bear on human nature. However, the downside of saying that Bruno, for all his mental and artistic advancement, doesn't fully "get" humanity is that the humans, as viewed through his perspective, can seem less than fully formed. Intellectually readers can piece together the clues to Lydia's backgroun--the story that makes it plausible a woman would turn to a chimpanzee for emotional and sexual sustenance--but what happens to her can feel less like a tragedy than the idea of a tragedy.

That doesn't make Bruno's tragedy any less compelling, though. Ultimately he is not just a prisoner physically, but existentially, too: "I know that I am not fit to live in human society," he confesses, but "I cannot unlearn my humanity." All that remains is the frustration and rage of thwarted ambition and shattered dreams--an unusual but still resonant depiction of an all too human condition.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Rick Moody's The Four Fingers of Death also coincidentally features a chimpanzee who receives the dubious gift of human intelligence; more important, Hale and Moody's narrators are both infatuated, if not obsessed, with the power (and limits) of language to carry their emotional burdens.

 


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