Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Little Brown and Company: The Balcony by Jane Delury

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

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

Katherine Tegen Books: Another Quest for Celeste (Nest for Celeste #2) by Henry Cole

News

Amazon Tax Deals 'Likely Unconstitutional'

The deals that Amazon made this year with South Carolina and Tennessee allowing it to build warehouses in the state but not have to collect sales tax for at least several years are likely unconstitutional, according to two law professors whose analysis is being published in Tax Analysts' State Tax Notes and was quoted by Forbes.

University of Georgia Law Professor Walter Hellerstein and University of Arizona Law Professor John A. Swain said that the Amazon deals are likely a violation of the Constitution's commerce clause.

Forbes wrote of the analysis: "While technical, it is of more than academic interest--and not just because the authors are top experts in the field. The South Carolina and Tennessee concessions granted Amazon remain controversial and a legal challenge is always possible. Just last month, Simon Property Group, the nation's largest owner of retail real estate, filed suit against the State of Indiana seeking to force it to require Amazon to collect Indiana sales taxes. (Amazon operates four distributions centers in that state, too.)"

The professors also said there is a "strong case" that South Carolina's sales tax exemption for Amazon violates the commerce clause "by discriminating against other out-of-state retailers which can't physically operate in the state without collecting sales tax." The special deal's effect on local retailers, while discriminatory, doesn't fall under the aegis of the commerce clause.

One other interesting note: according to Forbes, the professors are "skeptical of the legal validity" of Amazon's claim that even without the special deals, it would not need to collect sales tax because a warehouse isn't sufficient nexus.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Amazon to Open New Delaware Warehouse

Amazon plans to open a new fulfillment center in Middletown, Del., by next November that would employ 849 full-time workers. Alan Levin, director of the state's Economic Development Office, confirmed the online retailer "has applied for state money to help build an approximately 1.25 million-square-foot building southeast of U.S. 301," the News Journal reported.

The development office has offered a $3.47-million grant package from the Delaware Strategic Fund "to support new job creation and the project's capital expenditures," and Amazon, with Middletown as its sponsor, has applied for up to $4 million in grant money from the New Jobs Infrastructure Fund, the News Journal wrote.

Both state applications are up for approval December 12, and Middletown could also offer property tax breaks to developer Duke Realty Limited Partnership of Indianapolis, which has worked with Amazon in Arizona and Tennessee.
 


Soho Crime: My Name Is Nathan Lucius by Mark Winkler


Samuel French Closing Studio City Store

Samuel French, the theater, film and television bookstore, is closing its Studio City, Calif., store but retaining its Hollywood store. The company made the announcement on Facebook and spun it nicely, saying that the move will "create an all-in-one Sunset Boulevard location where you can continue to find L.A.'s largest selection of plays as well as all your theatre, film, and television resource needs."

The Studio City store will close by February 20.

 


Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan


Obituary Note: Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, philosopher, psychoanalyst and author, died last Thursday. She was 65.

Young-Bruehl was "concerned throughout her work with the psychological roots of ideology--personal, cultural, national and above all prejudicial," the New York Times wrote.

Young-Bruehl wrote biographies of Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud; Mind and the Body Politic, a collection of essays on history, feminism and psychoanalysis; Why Arendt Matters; and The Anatomy of Prejudices, about bigotry. Yale University Press, publisher of many of Young-Bruehl's work, is publishing her latest book, Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children, on January 10.


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Mercy Seat
by Elizabeth H. Winthrop 

In Jim Crow-era Louisiana, a handful of townspeople contemplate the impending execution of 18-year-old Willie Jones. As they consider their own roles in the young black man's fate, some with regret, others with a certain sort of vicious pride, author Elizabeth H. Winthrop builds a taut, yet tender portrait of racism, justice and our legal system in The Mercy Seat. Winthrop’s skillful plaiting of multiple viewpoints into an aching, quietly powerful tale is both impressive and effective--you will see yourself in one or more of the characters, and it will make you uncomfortable. But you'll thank Winthrop for the opportunity, which might be the most wondrous work of The Mercy Seat in the end. This is Winthrop's break-out book. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers 

(Grove Press, $26.00 hardcover, 9780802128188, May 8, 2018)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER
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Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Notes

Image of the Day: Authorpalooza at Reed's Gum Tree

 

Last week Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore, Tupelo, Miss., hosted its annual Authorpalooza event, which manager Emily Gatlin called "a smashing success" with "record-breaking sales." The 13 guests included "a few award winners, some New York Times bestsellers and some famous Mississippians." The group: (from l.) Sam Haskell, Mary Donnelly Haskell, Dr. Robert Khayat, Sarah Frances Hardy, Mark Greaney, Karen White, store owner Jack Reed Sr., Patti Callahan Henry, store manager Emily Gatlin, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, River Jordan, Neil White, Tom Franklin, Curtis Wilkie and Toby Glenn Bates.

 


YA Authors' Live Discussion on Writing

This Thursday, December 8, at 7 p.m. (EST), four YA authors will be available to young writers on Figment.com for a live group discussion about writing.

Teens can find out from (l. to r.) Lauren McLaughlin, David Levithan, Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman their answers to questions such as: Do test scores or grades in high school English class reflect your chances for creative success later on? And what's the one thing that you wish teenagers knew about writing?

To whet teens' appetites, Lauren McLaughlin and Scott Westerfeld agreed to take the essay section of the SAT--and have their responses scored and assessed and posted on public display on Figment.

 


Video of the Day: Free Speech Matters

On Friday, in solidarity with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), authors nationwide expressed their thoughts on censorship in this video produced by Penguin Young Readers Group. Laurie Halse Anderson, who was honored by the NCAC last week for her continuing efforts on behalf of free speech, eloquently expresses her views here, along with Jacqueline Woodson, Lauren Myracle, Chris Crutcher, Meg Rosoff, Rita Williams-Garcia and others. And don't miss Heather Brewer's moving banned book story involving her school librarian, which concludes the video.

 


New NEA Literature Director: Silverberg on Silverberg

Art Works, the official blog of the National Endowment for the Arts, has a q&a with Ira Silverberg, the NEA's new literature director, who, when asked to describe himself in five words or less, said, "Passionate advocate of literary writers."

His goal at the NEA "is make sure our grantees in literary publishing--the non-profit presses and journals--are set up for the new digital age," he said. "There is a great deal of technical assistance needed to be a good publisher these days. Many of our grantees have grown up more as curators of great art--but getting it out in a difficult and changing publishing environment is a new part of the challenge. I hope that's where the literature department can make a difference in the next few years."

Silverberg, who has 26 years experience as a literary agent, editor and pr executive, can be reached at silverberg.ira@gmail.com or silverberg@arts.gov.


Maxick Promoted at Prometheus

Jill Maxick has been promoted to v-p of marketing at Prometheus Books. She continues as director of publicity, a position she has held since 1999. Before joining Prometheus, Maxick worked in advertising, founded a specialty retail shop and managed alternative radio promotion at Chrysalis Records.

Prometheus president Jonathan Kurtz commented: "As our company navigates the ever changing and challenging industry landscape, including the transition from print to digital and the demise of the Borders retail chain, it simply makes sense to take her vision--on the future of publishing and Prometheus Books--and apply it to additional aspects of the marketing mix."

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Patricia Cornwell on Red Mist

This morning on Good Morning America: Patricia Cornwell, author of Red Mist (Putnam, $27.95, 9780399158025). She is also on Nightline tonight.

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Tomorrow on the View: Bill Clinton, author of Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy (Knopf, $23.95, 9780307959751).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Niall Ferguson, author of Civilization: The West and the Rest (Penguin, $35, 9781594203053).

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Tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Jane Fonda, author of Prime Time (Random House, $27, 9781400066971).

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Tomorrow night on Conan: Michael Moore, author of Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446532242).


Movies: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; We Need to Talk About Kevin

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the novel by John le Carré, opens this Friday, December 9. In a reprise of the classic 1979 mini-series, Gary Oldman stars as George Smiley, a British intelligence agent forced out of retirement to identify a Soviet mole within MI6. Also stars Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and John Hurt. The movie tie-in is available from Penguin ($16, 9780143119784).

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We Need to Talk About Kevin, based on the novel by Lionel Shriver (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780062119049), will have a limited release on Friday. Tilda Swinton stars as the mother of a teenager who goes on a shooting spree in his high school.




Movie Projects: Boneshaker; Unholy Night

Exclusive Media Group and Cross Creek Pictures will join forces to adapt Cherie Priest's novel Boneshaker for the big screen, the Hollywood Reporter wrote, adding that John Hilary Shepherd (Nurse Jackie) has been hired to write the screenplay.
 
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In "a whopping deal," Warner Bros has acquired screen rights to Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Unholy Night, "an action/adventure surrounding the Three Wise Men of the Nativity" that will be will be published in April by Grand Central. Deadline.com's Mike Fleming reported that the author will write the script, "and he and KatzSmith partner David Katzenberg will produce with Heyday Films's David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. I've heard that the deal is in the vicinity of $2 million upfront for the rights to the book and for Grahame-Smith to adapt it."

Greg Silverman, production president at Warner Bros, called the novel "an incredibly innovative take on a timeless story."
 



Books & Authors

Bill Clinton Backs Back to Work

Bill Clinton has been on the book trail promoting Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy (Knopf, 9780307959751, $23.95). Recently the ex-president talked with Shelf Awareness about why he enjoys doing signings, why politics needs to be more like real life, what's on his reading list and the identity of his favorite mystery-thriller character.

"I didn't know if anybody would buy Back to Work because it's not a story," former President Bill Clinton said. "Stories sell more. Fiction sells more than nonfiction. Biographies like the Steve Jobs biography or mine sell more than other books. And stories like the ones I told in Giving sell more than this."

Yet Back to Work is indeed garnering the popular vote. Readers have boosted the prescriptive political tome onto national and regional bestseller lists and turned out in droves for signings at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., Books & Books in Miami, Fla., and other locales. In the book, Clinton explains how we got into the current economic crisis, shares his insights on the challenges facing the country and offers ideas for restoring the economy.

While touring for Back to Work, Clinton has met "an enormous number of people who are personally affected by the economic problems we have." At a Barnes & Noble event in Orlando, Fla., where more than 1,000 attendees turned out, two women in particular made memorable impressions. Both are in their 50s, and each purchased a copy of the book for her significant other--one as a congratulatory gift for her husband, newly hired after eight months of job searching, and the other as encouragement for her spouse, who has been unemployed for six months.

"One of the reasons I do book signings is because I like to look into the faces of the people who come through the line, hear their stories, see why they're there," said Clinton. "It's a real honor when somebody buys your book. I never cease to wonder why some people buy it and what they're going through in their own lives."

An important point Clinton would like readers to take away from the book is that "we have to have the right goal. We need to build a modern economy of shared prosperity and shared responsibility--that is with jobs that pay well and lots of new businesses that are competitive. We can't do that without both a strong private sector and a smart government working together." In addition, those on Capitol Hill should set aside the contentious style that is defining contemporary politics. "What works is cooperation," he said. "In real life, networks and cooperation and partnerships work, and in politics conflict works. We somehow have to make politics more like real life, so that we'll have more economic prosperity."

In between promoting Back to Work, raising awareness for his philanthropic initiatives and lending his support to the current commander-in-chief, Clinton has made time to enjoy some page turners. The avid reader's current volume-of-choice is Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life, a biography of the founding father. His opinion? "I love it."

A mystery and thriller buff, the President also recently read The Affair by Lee Child and Zero Day by David Baldacci. He's a big fan of Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, although his favorite character is Daniel Silva's art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon. Next up is Harvard professor Lisa Randall's Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.

A highlight for this reporter: a bibliophile on the president's holiday gift list is receiving a copy of my book Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West. --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


Shelf Choice: Top 10 of 2011

Each December, Shelf Awareness staff members choose their top books; today's list is by John Mutter, editor-in-chief.


A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
By which I mean the five volumes in the series that have been published so far. I'm counting this as five titles, especially since the estimated 5,000 pages of reading consumed months of my reading life this year. A Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, was the hook. As several friends have also said, I don't usually read books like this, but the tale is simultaneously mystic and earthy, the characters are compelling and multidimensional and Martin has a way of surprising the reader again and again. Although I'm happy to have the time to read other books for a while, I'm eagerly awaiting Volume Six.

Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words: Travels with Mom in the Land of Dementia by Kate Whouley (Beacon Press)
The author of Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved, Whouley is a consultant to bookstores across the country. In this memoir, she again writes elegantly and thoughtfully--this time about her complicated relationship with her mother and her mother's decline and death. The book had special meaning because Whouley's account is so similar in major ways to my experience with my late mother.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All by Christina Thompson (Bloomsbury USA, 2008)
A combination of personal memoir and history of New Zealand, with an emphasis on the cultural clash between invading British and the native Maori, this is a striking, vivid introduction to Kiwi history. Surprisingly Thompson is an American--and editor of the Harvard Review--who married a Maori, which gives her extra insight into this rich subject. And what a title! (It was supposedly a Maori "greeting" to early British explorers.)

The Book of Fame by Lloyd Jones (not published in the U.S., 2007)
A fictional account of a famous trip by the New Zealand national rugby team to the British Isles and France in 1905, when they first became known as the All Blacks and lost just one of 35 matches. This is a marvelously poetic, impressionistic account from the author of Mister Pip.

The Stalin Epigram: A Novel by Robert Littell (Simon & Schuster, 2009)
By a former Newsweek journalist and the author of many spy novels (and father of author Jonathan Littell), this book is based on the sad tale of Osip Mandelstam, the Russian poet who in 1933 wrote the anti-Stalin poem of the title that led to his imprisonment and temporary exile--and then another arrest and death in 1938. This inventive tale mixes reality and fantasy, and has extra heft considering that Littell interviewed Mandelstam's widow, Nadezhda Mandelstam, in 1979.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson (Crown)
This is a gripping tale about William E. Dodd, the first U.S. ambassador to Germany after Hitler seized power. Based on many letters, cables, reports and reminiscences, the book devotes much space to Dodd's eccentric daughter, Martha Dodd, who had love affairs with a variety of Nazis, including the first head of the Gestapo, as well as an attaché/spy from the Soviet Embassy. She was sympathetic to Hitler and the "Nazi Revolution"--until she began to see its nasty, brutal character.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo (Scribner, $24, 9781451655841). "This is the book DeLillo fans have been waiting for--his first collection of short stories written between 1979 and 2011. In these stories, DeLillo takes global themes and ideas, the conflicts we often don't want to acknowledge, and makes them human. The subjects are true and resonant: a jogger who witnesses a kidnapping, an elderly nun working in poverty-stricken New York, an astronaut looking down on a war-ravaged Earth. Each story is textured in DeLillo's precise, startling voice, one that can shout and whisper at the same time." --Michael Karpus, Books & Books at Bal Harbour Shops, Bal Harbour, Fla.

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles J. Shields (Holt, $30, 9780805086935). "Shields' authorized portrayal of one of America's most beloved authors sheds light on the man behind the curtain. Readers for the first time gain insight into the progression of Vonnegut's works, from market-minded science fiction to artful literature. With a varied pace, spending just the right amount of time on each subject and detail, Shields effortlessly lays out Vonnegut's history as a story, an entertaining read complete with conversational asides. It is no wonder that Vonnegut himself chose Shields to expose his life to the masses." --Nick Hodge, Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, Ill.

Paperback

Sunset Park: A Novel by Paul Auster (Picador, $15, 9780312610678). "In Auster's  latest novel, the once-vibrant Miles Heller has been running from responsibility, abandoning all contact with his family for seven years. Fleeing a doomed love affair in Florida, he returns to Brooklyn. Soon, Heller finds himself avoiding the law, squatting in Sunset Park among an eclectic cast of characters, and desperately trying to repair the damage done by his estrangement and guilt. This is a dark look at how life can turn in a moment's notice and how the resulting consequences can impact the ones we love the most." --Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

For Ages 9-12

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin Mcguire (Walden Pond Press, $16.99, 9780062015051). "Ursu pulls Hazel and Jack into the world of The Snow Queen in a way that makes complete emotional sense. There's something here that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt that he or she didn't belong. For voracious readers, there's extra payoff in spotting nods to everything from Alice in Wonderland to The Phantom Tollbooth to Harry Potter." --Shoshana Flax, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: The Underside of Joy

The Underside of Joy by Seré Prince Halverson (Dutton, $25.95 Hardcover, 9780525952596, January 17, 2012)

Seré Prince Halverson's debut novel is a faultless exploration of sadness and shame, anger and forgiveness; a story well told about people we would like to know.

Ella Beene left an unhappy, childless marriage in San Diego and migrated up the coast to Northern California, where she met Joe Capozzi. His wife, Paige, had walked out on him four months earlier, leaving him with a three-year-old daughter and a four-month-old son. Feeling needy and bereft is not what brings them together, however: they fall in love. Annie and Zach, Joe's children, immediately become Ella's. This is the family she was longing for and couldn't have before, and all is well for several years.

Joe's dreams of being a photojournalist ended when it became necessary for him to take over the family grocery store, started by his grandpa, proudly carried on by his father and now by him. He still loves to take pictures and one early morning he sets out for the beach to do just that. This time, he doesn't come back. A rogue wave catches him and pulls him under.

Ella and Joe had been married for three years and she thought she knew everything she needs to know about him. She "lived much of my life according to that one lesson: Look the other way. Don't ask. Ever. And good God, don't say what you really think." But Joe took secrets with him; secrets that will not stay buried. The store is in huge financial trouble and Ella doesn't know the whole truth about why Paige left.

When Paige shows up at Joe's funeral and makes it clear that she wishes to reclaim her children, Ella is devastated. Paige had suffered from postpartum depression and, fearing that she would harm the children, left to seek help; at the time, she said she was never coming back. Post-therapy, however, she knows more about herself and where the psychosis originated. She also insists that she sent many, many letters to Joe and the children--letters that Ella never saw.

Ella and Paige enter into a custody hearing that takes unexpected turns. The truth about Paige and what happens between these two women brings an eminently satisfying conclusion to the novel. In coming to an understanding of the past--Joe's, his family's, Paige's and her own--Ella says: "I know now that the most genuine happiness is kept afloat by an underlying sorrow. We all break the surface into this life already howling the cries of our ancestors, bearing their DNA, their eye colors and their scars, their glory and their shame. It is theirs; it is ours. It is the underside of joy." --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: When a man drowns, a custody battle ensues between the children's mother and the woman who married him. Secrets must be discovered and understood to bring solace to all concerned.

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on AbeBooks.com in November

The bestselling books on AbeBooks.com in November:

1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit by Andy Rooney
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
7. Creating America by Frederick Risinger
8. Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury        

The bestselling signed books on AbeBooks in November:

1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
2. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
3. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
4. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
6. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
7. Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson
8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick
9. The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo
10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Deluxe Edition)
 
[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]


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