Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Little Brown and Company: Circe by Madeline Miller

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

News

Image of the Day: Shepard on Film

Novelist and short story writer Jim Shepard joined Michael Maren in the screening room of lower Manhattan's Crosby Street Hotel for the second installment of "Under the Influence: Writers on Film," to introduce the 1972 Werner Herzog film Aguirre and then to discuss with Maren how that imagined account of a real-life conquistador's journey into the jungles of South America shaped his own literary voice. "Part of what it taught me was a receptivity to the world," Shepard said, describing the "invincible patience" with which Herzog would let the cameras roll, waiting for just the scene he wanted to capture. He also noted that where Herzog was intrigued by monomaniacal "great men" who believed they had the strength and will to change the world, he was more interested in a "worm's-eye view" of the world: "If I had reconstituted this as a 'Jim narrative,' " he admitted, "it would have been about one of the other guys on the raft." After the discussion, audience members were able to buy Shepard's latest story collection, You Think That's Bad (Knopf), from a crew dispatched by nearby McNally Jackson, including Michele Filgate, who was finishing her first day as the store's new events coordinator.--Ron Hogan

 


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Notes: New CEO at Thomas Nelson; Senate's Internet Tax Bill

Mark Schoenwald has been named president and CEO of Thomas Nelson, replacing Michael Hyatt, who will continue as chairman of the board.

"Thomas Nelson just finished a successful year with several books on the bestseller lists," said Hyatt. "Now is the perfect time to turn the reins of the company over to Mark." Hyatt called Schoenwald "the right CEO to take Nelson into a new era."

Schoenwald joined Thomas Nelson in 2005 as chief sales officer and was promoted to the position of president and COO in 2009. He said the company "is focused on growth... We will continue to transform the company as we leverage the strengths of our traditional print business while implementing new digital publishing strategies. Through focus on innovation and execution, we will develop our content in any format and delivery method our customers desire."

On his Intentional Leadership blog, Hyatt wrote, "The reason for this transition is that I want to spend more time externally focused: writing, speaking, and pursuing other business interests. This is not a big surprise to my family or closest friends--perhaps not even to you. I love the creative life, and I was finding it increasingly difficult to give expression to my gifts while running a company the size of Thomas Nelson."

---

Senator Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) "is preparing to introduce legislation that aims to end the golden era of tax-free Internet shopping," Cnet News reported, noting that the proposal, which is expected to be made public after Tax Day, "would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the ability of Americans to shop at websites like Amazon.com and Overstock.com without paying state sales taxes."

Called the Main Street Fairness Act, Durbin's bill follows legislation introduced last July in the House of Representatives with the same name. Senator Mike Enzi (R.-Wyo.) plans to co-sponsor the Main Street Fairness bill with Durbin, according to Cnet News.

---

Bitter Borders booksellers gone wild. Our ongoing series featuring signs that have appeared recently in closing Borders stores nationwide reached a pinnacle of sorts yesterday with a compilation from Buzzfeed, which noted that "at least it's justified bitterness manifesting in the form of some awesome passive aggression. Since filing for bankruptcy, Borders Books has been shutting down stores like they're going out of business style. Not all the employees are taking it well. But when you've got nothing to lose, humor and irony reign supreme."

---

Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and owner Dan Chartrand would like "the public to be involved in the celebration, and wants to hear how the community would like to see the bookstore move forward," Seacoastonline.com reported.

The bookshop hosted a "State of the Bookstore" open house last night. "I've always wanted people to think of this as their bookstore, not mine," said Chartrand. "We want to listen and hear very clearly about what residents are saying, digest it, and then we can move forward with that information."

---

Ezra Goldstein is "holding down the fort" at the Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., which remains open despite "an owner in absentia and a gargantuan corporate bookseller up the street," the Park Slope Patch reported, adding that Goldstein is in talks to buy the shop from Catherine Bohne, who moved to Albania last summer to run a guesthouse. He "hopes the transaction will occur within the next few months, before the store's lease runs out."

"The key to survival in a neighborhood where Barnes & Noble is six blocks away is to know the books that people want, and to have them up front," Goldstein said. "This is a very intellectual crowd. We don't sell a lot of mass-market paperbacks.”

The Community Bookstore's "personal, intimate environment presents books as beloved objects and inspires literary exploration. It honors the experience of reading and the sensual pleasures of books in a way that brightly lit superstores or downloading e-books cannot," the Park Slope Patch wrote.

---

"Other merchandise" now accounts for about a third of bookstores' revenues, according to the Globe & Mail, which charted the relevant numbers.

---

In the Atlantic magazine, Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs, chronicled "how book publishing has changed since 1984," when he arrived at Random House as a senior editor after nearly two decades at the Washington Post. Osnos recruited Carl Lennertz--now at HarperCollins, but a sales rep at Random House then--to assist him in his biblio-trip down memory lane.

"Publishing is now undergoing the most significant transformation in the way books are distributed and read since development of high-speed printing presses and transcontinental rail and highway systems," Osnos wrote. "Looking back at the industry in the 1980s may help to explain how much has changed and what has not."

Among his observations, Osnos noted that handselling "is still the independents' specialty, and while their role is smaller than it was, they remain at the spiritual core of publishing. It is encouraging to see so many of them holding their own and adapting to the digital age in various ways. In the past three years, several hundred new stores have opened, often where there were none before. At their best, the 'indies' anchor communities with author signings, reading groups and other events."

---

Inspired by Monday's announcement that Amazon will sell an ad-supported Kindle, the New York Times observed that "books haven't always been an ad-free zone," citing several examples, including cigarette companies, "who were looking for new ways to push their product after the 1969 federal ban on television and radio advertising. By 1975, the Lorillard Tobacco Company had placed ads in some 540 million paperbacks."

Advertising in books began to disappear during the early 1980s, "thanks in part to new author contracts forbidding unauthorized ads," the Times wrote, adding a cautionary note that those book ads apparently worked. A 1972 study found that "while readers claimed to dislike the idea of advertising in books, after actual exposure their negative feelings declined while brand awareness climbed."

---

Best literary birthday letter ever. In 1889, Mark Twain wrote a congratulatory message to Walt Whitman on the occasion of the poet's 70th birthday. Letters of Note presented this eloquent missive, which was "not just a birthday wish, but a stunning 4-page love letter to human endeavor, as seen during Whitman's lifetime."

---

Buzzfeed featured 20 insanely creative bookshelves.

---

Sleeping with books is a habit common to most readers, but Flavorwire discovered a way to sleep in a book, thanks to a bed designed by Japanese artist Yusuke Suzuki that looks "like an oversized book--complete with pages that you can turn."

---

If our favorite wizarding world newspaper, the Daily Prophet, had a Social Media and Marketing section--and if that section had a bestseller list--what books might occupy the top spots? Buzzfeed started with the premise that Harry Potter had an MBA, then conjured up some titles, including The Definitive Book of Resource-Allocation Spells by Cornelius Fudge.

---

Book trailer of the day (in time for Earth Day): The Next Eco-Warriors: 22 Young Women and Men Who Are Saving the Planet by Emily Hunter (Conari Press, $19.95, 9781573244862). Hunter is the daughter of Greenpeace co-founders Robert and Bobbi Hunter.

 


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Book Group Spotlight: Men & Reading Groups

The eternal question: Why aren't there more men in reading groups? April's Book Group Spotlight, a new feature of ReadingGroupGuides.com, looked at the issue in an interview with Jeff Potter of The Great Apes Book Group, a male-only group that began meeting in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1994 and "has since expanded to Illinois, as Jeff moved and recruited another member in his new state." There are 11 men in the group, and all but one of the books they've discussed have been written by male authors. The exception was Elizabeth Gilbert's The Last American Man, though they also read Dorothy Johnson's short story, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," which was included in the anthology Gunfight.

"I think it was a conscious decision to invite only men and read only male authors," said Potter. "We all read and appreciate works by female authors, just not for Great Apes' picks and discussions."

When asked about the commonly held belief that it is difficult to reach male readers, Potter disagreed with the theory, saying, "There are so many books out there to read and we all bring so many different life experiences to the table that even though a particular book may not resonate with each Ape, we can express what we gained from the book, how successfully, or not, the author communicated his insights, or how successfully he told his story. We have never been at a loss for books to read and points to make. Each title has generated a solid discussion."

Responding to the question about why more men don't form book clubs, he admitted, "I honestly don't know. One fellow Ape believes that men, as a group, generally, have not been invited, encouraged nor recognized to express themselves outside of sports, politics or religion, with very few exceptions. Maybe men just don't reach out to find other readers but rather read in isolation and wait to be reached out to. Maybe there are more all-male reading groups in existence than we know. We were all avid life-long readers before forming the Apes and didn't know how hungry we were to share our readings and insights with other male readers. Maybe we just lucked out and all found each other right when we were looking for the intellectual outlet the Apes have provided for many years."

 


GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Pale King Discussion on KCRW's Bookworm

Today on Oprah: Sheryl Crow, who will perform aEditnd talk about her new book, If It Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes Inspired by the Seasons (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9780312658953).

---

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing (Norton, $26.95, 9780393072419).

---

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Patricia Wells, author of Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season (Morrow, $34.99, 9780061238833).

---

Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Howard B. Means, author of Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439178256).

---

Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Governor Deval Patrick, author of A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life (Broadway, $21.99, 9780767931120).

---

Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Broadway, $16, 9781400052189).

---

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: David Lipsky and Rick Moody discuss David Foster Wallace's The Pale King (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316074230). As the show put it: "When David Foster Wallace died, he left behind drafts (in different states of completion) of a novel called The Pale King. This novel turned out to be complete enough to be published, and characteristically rich and complex enough to remind us that DFW was one of our country's great writers. Writers Rick Moody and David Lipsky, who read advance copies of The Pale King, discuss Wallace's achievement, just in time for the book's publication date: April 15. It's a significant date because the book is about the inner-workings of the IRS."

---

Tomorrow on the Alan Colmes Show: Vince Bugliosi, author of Divinity of Doubt: The God Question (Vanguard, $26.99, 9781593156299).

---

Tomorrow on NPR's Marketplace: Kurt Michael Friese and Kraig Kraft, two of the three authors of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail (Chelsea Green, $17.95, 978160582506).

---

Tomorrow on the Colbert Report: Caroline Kennedy, author of She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems (Voice, $24.99, 9781401341459).

 


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


Television: HBO's 'Multi-Play' Strategy for Game of Thrones

HBO has big plans for the highly anticipated April 17 premiere of Game of Thrones, the miniseries based on the novels by George R.R. Martin. Noting that "HBO brass want to make sure every network subscriber samples the new series," Deadline.com reported that the premiere will get a "rarely seen multi-play" on most of the network's channels. After Game of Thrones premieres on HBO--followed by two back-to-back encore plays--the pilot episode will air again at 9 p.m. the following night, April 18, simultaneously on six of the seven HBO channels: HBO, HBO2, HBO Signature, HBO Comedy, HBO Zone and HBO Latino.

 


Movies: Cloud Atlas Casting; Trailer for The Woman in Black

Tom Hanks will star in Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of David Mitchell's novel. Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) will write and co-direct the film, Deadline.com reported. Shooting will begin in September.

The Los Angeles Times' Jacket Copy blog expressed skepticism regarding the casting choice. In a post headlined "Tom Hanks, we love you, but do you have to star in Cloud Atlas?" Carolyn Kellogg wrote that the actor has "made a lot of movies that are intelligent but not baffling, everyman rather than peculiar. Cloud Atlas is full of peculiarities.

"It is also going to be very hard to adapt. It is a book that is highly written, with elegant sentences that change as the sections change, and a story that depends a lot on the feel of paging through the book itself.... Maybe they've cast Hanks against type. Or maybe they think Cloud Atlas needs a name anchor as big as him to offset more quirky casting to come. I'm thinking they need someone with the right mix of canny intelligence and rakish charm to play composer Robert Frobisher. James Franco's not doing anything, is he?"

---

A teaser trailer has been released for Daniel Radcliffe's first post-Potter movie The Woman in Black, adapted from the novel by Susan Hill. The film, which will be released next February 10, is directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake) and also stars Ciaran Hinds (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds).

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Orange; Impac Dublin; Wodehouse Prize

Finalists for the for £30,000 (US$49,164) Orange Prize for Fiction, which "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world," were named yesterday. The winner will be honored June 8 in London. This year's shortlist includes:

Room by Emma Donoghue
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson
Great House by Nicole Krauss
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht   
Annabel by Kathleen Winter


"Our judging meeting fizzed for many hours with conversations about the originality, excellence and readability of the books in front of us--credit to the calibre of submissions this year," said Bettany Hughes, chair of judges. "The clarity and human-understanding on the page is simply breathtaking. The number of first-time novelists is an indicator of the rude health of women's writing. The verve and scope of storylines pays compliment to the female imagination. There are no subjects these authors don't dare to tackle."

---

Finalists for this year's €100,000 (US$144,780) Impac Dublin Literary Award, presented annually with the objective of promoting excellence in world literature, have been announced. The winner of one of the world's richest literary awards will be named June 15. The shortlisted titles are:

Galore by Michael Crummey
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Vagrants by Yiyun Li
Ransom by David Malouf
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Brooklyn
by Colm Tóibín
Love and Summer by William Trevor
After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice by Evie Wyld

---

A pair of debut novelists, Sam Leith and Manu Joseph, are among the finalists for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, which celebrates a novel published during the past year that best captures the comic spirit of P.G. Wodehouse. The five shortlisted novels are:

Serious Men by Manu Joseph
Comfort and Joy by India Knight
The Coincidence Engine by Sam Leith
The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

 

Book Brahmin: Jim Moore

Jim Moore lives in St. Paul, Minn., and Spoleto, Italy. His seventh book of poems, Invisible Strings, was published April 2011 by Graywolf Press. Poems in this volume were published in Harper's, the New Yorker, the Paris Review and other journals.

 

On your nightstand now:

The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert, an amazing novel about love, American history, death, and beauty: all the great subjects!
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay by Robert Creeley ("Oh life, oh miracle of / Day to day existence, sun, food and others!")
But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer, a semi-fictional recreation of the lives and artistry of jazz musicians, a deeply peculiar and truly astonishing book.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Lemon Jelly Cake by Madeline Babcock Smith. Her first (and only) novel, published when she was 65. It was an immediate bestseller and for good reason: it tells the story of life at the turn of the 20th century in a small town in Illinois from the point of view of a precocious and highly lovable young girl whose parents' marriage may or may not be on the rocks. I loved it. (Did I mention that the author was my grandmother?)

Your top five (or nine!) authors:

This list changes all the time. But right now: Yannis Ritsos, Du Fu, Jack Gilbert, W.S. Merwin, Wislawa Symborska, Linda Gregg, Jane Hirshfield, Santoka Taneda, Adam Zagajewski.

Book you've faked reading:

Remembrance of Things Past. I begin it anew each time with great enthusiasm and each time find myself distracted by the world beyond its pages.

Book you're an evangelist for:

So many! These days, Late at Night by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos. It's a book of short poems written near the end of life. Even though his health was collapsing and the political life of his country was in a shambles, he wrote with such joy, love and amazement about the world he was about to leave behind.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Here by Wislawa Symborska. Okay, I would have bought it anyway, but would have agonized over buying it in hardcover. The cover is a photograph of her with eyes closed and a big smile on her face, sitting at a table with a cup of coffee on the table, a cigarette in her hand. Her sleeves are rolled up, as if ready to get to work. The smile on her face is absolute bliss. I am entirely in love with the woman in this photograph.

Book that changed your life:

In addition to the Rexroth book I talk about below, I would also say Silence in the Snowy Fields by Robert Bly. I read it as a very young man, and his almost mystical devotion to his Minnesota landscape, to the people he loved and to the inner life as it manifested itself in his poems made a huge impact.

Favorite line and one-half from a book:

"...For there is no place/ that does not see you. You must change your life"--by Rilke from his poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo." This sums up, for me, the work and the pleasure of poetry, both reading and writing it: there is always that possibility for transformation. (Plus, Gena Rowlands quotes these lines in a great moment from Woody Allen's movie Another Woman.)

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth. I read it 44 years ago, sitting on the floor of a bookstore in Norman, Okla. It was the first book of contemporary poetry which completely stole my heart. I had no idea that poetry by a living poet could speak so powerfully to me; that I could learn so much from it, be challenged so deeply by it. It was a powerful example of a group of poems saying to me, "You must change your life." And that's just what I did after finishing Rexroth's book: I knew from that moment on that I wanted to write poetry.

Book you'd take with you to a desert island:

Remembrance of Things Past, of course. And this time I'll really finish it.

 



Book Review

Children's Review: Ruby Red

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, trans. by Anthea Bell (Holt/Macmillan, $16.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 12-up, 9780805092523, May 10, 2011)

This edge-of-your-seat adventure by German novelist Kerstin Gier is no ordinary time travel book. To begin with, there are few rules: just don't bring anything from the present back to the past, and dress for the period--otherwise the "continuum" could be broken. Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth Shepherd breaks both rules her first time out. That's not entirely her fault. She knows that the "time travel gene" runs in her well-to-do London family. But Charlotte Montrose, her cousin, was supposed to inherit the gene. Charlotte's been training for this her whole life, with lessons in foreign languages and how to dance the gavotte. Sir Isaac Newton predicted the birth dates of all the time travelers in their family (which carries the gene for the female time travelers) and in the de Villiers family (the male time travelers), and Charlotte was born on the correct day. So was Gwyneth--it's just that her mother, Grace Shepherd, covered it up. But why?

A chronograph helps to control the time period in which the travelers will land, if they feed a sample of their blood into the machine. Once a sample from all 12 time travelers is placed into the chronograph, "the circle will be complete." But what happens upon its completion? Only the mysterious Count Saint-Germain, who invented the chronograph in the 18th century, knows for certain. Gwyneth's Aunt Lucy and Paul de Villiers stole the first chronograph, with blood samples from 10 of the travelers intact. The two samples missing belong to Gwyneth (aka Ruby Red) and Gideon de Villiers (the Diamond), Gwyneth's peer on the de Villiers side. The characters in Kerstin Gier's stellar story come fully to life, and veteran translator Anthea Bell (who translated Cornelia Funke's Inkheart books) preserves the book's abundant humor. Lesley Hay, Gwyneth's best friend, is the first person Gwyneth tells about her time-travel experience, and Lesley urges her to tell her mother. Luckily, Lesley, who worries for Gwyneth's safety, does her homework. She warns Gwyneth (whose pre-chronograph travel is unpredictable) that if she travels back to London's East End in 1888, "any man you meet is potentially dangerous" (Jack the Ripper was at large) and urges her to take refuge in St. Paul's Cathedral if she lands in the midst of the Blitz ("It did get hit once, but almost miraculously, it stayed standing," Lesley informs her).

There's something here for everyone: intrigue in the mystery of the Count's motives and why Lucy and Paul stole the chronograph before the circle could be completed; ghosts that only Gwyneth can see; 18th-century fencing matches; fashion to rival the costume department on a movie set. Gier has a field day with time travelers meeting up at various points in history, and several entries in the Annals of the Guardians (the keepers of the chronograph's secret) mention tips from the future (such as "buy shares in Apple, whatever that may be," penned in 1953; and Knotting Hill real estate will be "trendy," recorded in 1949). This first book in a planned trilogy comes to a pleasing conclusion while still leaving open the larger questions about the Count's motives, the results of the complete circle, and what Gwyneth and Gideon will bring to the overarching plot line.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


The Bestsellers

Top Ten Favorite Discussible Books of 2010

The following were the "favorite discussible books of 2010" as chosen by a survey of thousands of reading groups representing more than 100,000 members conducted by Reading Group Choices:

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
3. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
7. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
10. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

[Many thanks to Reading Group Choices!]

 


Powered by: Xtenit