Memorial Day Weekend
In honor of Memorial Day, we will be stepping away from the computers on Monday. We'll see you again Tuesday, May 27.
In honor of Memorial Day, we will be stepping away from the computers on Monday. We'll see you again Tuesday, May 27.
Amazon has added another tactic in its battle for better terms against Hachette Group: it is now making it impossible for customers to pre-order many forthcoming Hachette titles, in some cases just the e-book version and in other cases both print and e-editions. Until this week, in its ongoing dispute with Hachette, Amazon had only slowed down delivery of many Hachette titles.
Among titles that Amazon customers can't order, courtesy of Publishers Lunch: Silkworm by J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith; James Patterson's forthcoming titles (too many to list!); The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons; The Fever by Megan Abbott; and The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos. E-book versions of The Universal Tone by Carlos Santana and Honeydew by Edith Pearlman are also unavailable for ordering.
As noted by the Bookseller, the latest Amazon move is similar to Amazon U.K.'s removal of buy buttons against Hachette U.K. in 2008 in another dispute over terms. The tactic is also similar to Amazon's battles against Macmillan in 2010 and IPG in 2012.
|photo: Daniel Berman/Business Journal|
In an illustration of Amazon disconnect, Emily Parkhurst of Puget Sound Business Journal noted that at Amazon's annual shareholders' meeting on Wednesday, CEO Jeff Bezos was asked why Amazon is so much more secretive than other companies. He responded, "I never think of us as secretive. We're just quiet."
Parkhurst commented: "If that didn't make reporters who cover Amazon around the world laugh out loud, I don't know what would."
She added that as had happened at the other two Amazon shareholders' meetings she's covered, she and other reporters "were prohibited from recording, taking photos, using a laptop to type or using any kind of social media. Reporters were given handlers who sat next to them and watched them throughout the whole meeting; we could only take hand-written notes. To get inside in the first place, we all went through metal detectors and our bags were inspected."
The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group has bought Globe Pequot Press from Morris Communications. The deal includes Globe Pequot Press, Lyons Press, Falcon Guides, Knack, Two Dot and Insiders' Guide. Morris will retain the Milepost, Skirt!, Pop Out and Western Horseman Books imprints, as well as Footprint Guides, which is located in the U.K.
Globe Pequot was founded in Stonington, Conn., in 1947 as the Pequot Press. In 1981, it was acquired by the Boston Globe, which added its name to the company. AT&T later bought Globe Pequot as part of McCaw Communications and in 1997 sold it to Morris. Known primarily as a regional publisher of books on New England, Globe Pequot, with headquarters now in Guilford, Conn., expanded into other regions of the country with its acquisition of Falcon Guides in 2000 and Lyons Press in 2001. It has an office in Helena, Mont., for its Two Dot imprint, which focuses on western regional history.
Rowman & Littlefield will retain the two offices in Connecticut and Montana, but by the end of the summer will move distribution from Morris's Springfield, Tenn., facility to its own facility in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. Effective August 1, Rowman & Littlefield's NBN subsidiary will become the distributor for all Globe Pequot and Morris's Skirt!, Pop Out and Western Horseman imprints. NBN will also assume sales and distribution for Globe Pequot's 18 distribution clients.
Rowman & Littlefield president and CEO Jed Lyons commented: "With the addition of the Globe Pequot Press imprints, R&L becomes one of the largest publishers of regional books in the country. Joining our Down East Books, Taylor, Gulf and Northland imprints, we will be publishing several hundred regional titles annually. The expansion of our regional trade publishing program strengthens our position in that market while we continue to grow and develop our core academic and professional publishing programs."
Globe Pequot Press managing director Alexander Merrill added: "Rowman & Littlefield is the ideal new home for our imprints. Our Globe Pequot and Falcon titles fit seamlessly with their foothold in local expertise and our Lyons imprint nicely compliments their strength in the non-fiction and academic markets."
At a BEA panel next week about his $1 million campaign to help independent bookstores, author James Patterson will announce the second round of stores to receive funds as well as the amount of this round. During the first round in February, he gave more than $267,000 to 55 stores and California Bookstore Day. The rest of the donations will be made during the rest of the year in stages.
Called "Helping Bookstores, Saving Lives: James Patterson's 1M Indie Store Campaign," the panel takes place Wednesday, May 28, at 3 p.m. in room 1E10 at the Javits Center and will be moderated by Al Roker. Besides Patterson, the panel features three booksellers who received funds in the first round of donations: Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.; Karen West of Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif.; and Dave Shallenberger of Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.
Patterson said, "Every day, booksellers are out there saving our country's literature. The work they do to support schools and the rest of their communities leaves a lasting love of reading in children and adults. I believe their work is vital to our future as a country. What are we if we don’t have our own literature? I couldn't be happier to, very humbly, support booksellers in their mission. Maybe that's because it's my mission as well."
Poet and novelist Sam Greenlee, whose novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, "about his experiences as a rare black man working for the U.S. Foreign Service in the 1950s and 60s was turned into a 1973 independent film," died Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 83. Greenlaw "had been around the world but returned to the neighborhood he grew up in to write poetry and another novel, Baghdad Blues," the Times noted.
Iconic Indian bookseller Kanwarjit Singh Dhingra (known as K.D.), founder (in 1970) and owner of the Book Shop in New Delhi, died Wednesday, Mint reported, adding that "the day following his death, the Book Shop opened as usual. Just as K.D. would have liked." He was 73.
Calling him a "bookseller with a heart," Aseem Chhabra wrote: "I always felt that he cared for his books and the relationship he had with his regular clients, recommending them new arrivals or his favorites. He seemed to enjoy that relationship--connecting good books with readers."
After much "delipurration," Quirk Books has chosen Amelia of the Spiral Bookcase, Philadelphia, Pa., as the winner of its Contest for Bookstore Cats. The winning photo will be featured on QuirkBooks.com, and the bookstore receives a $100 cash prize (to be spent on cat treats, we assume).
For the contest, Quirk invited feline booksellers from around the world to compete for a chance to jumpstart their Internet celebrity campaign. Competitor cats were asked to command someone with opposable thumbs to take a picture of them "reading" the Quirk title, How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity by Patricia Carlin, with photos by Dustin Fenstermacher.
In honor of Memorial Day, Open Road Media offered this video featuring authors Ron Kovic, William Broyles, Jessica Goodell, Allen Clark and Julia Dye talking about why they write about war experiences, what they wanted to achieve in doing so and what great military literature achieves.
The World Science Festival, which will be held in New York City May 28 to June 1, features a pair of events that may be of interest to book people in the city attending BookExpo America:
Science and Story: The Write Angle features E.L. Doctorow, Joyce Carol Oates, Steven Pinker and other science writers. Moderated by the Takeaway's John Hockenberry, the event will be held May 29.
"Meet the Authors" series on Saturday, May 31, features a series of discussions with noted science writers/authors about their most recent published work.
Audrey Gibbons has joined Simon & Schuster Children's Division as an associate publicist, working with publicity on the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, McElderry, Atheneum and Saga imprints. She formerly worked in publicity at Black Dog & Leventhal and earlier attended the Denver Publishing Institute and interned at Sourcebooks, World Book Night U.S. and the Association of American Publishers.
The Son (Knopf) by Jo Nesbø, a new standalone thriller by the author of the Harry Hole novels.
A reminder: this year's Children's Book Art Silent Auction and Reception, which will be held on Wednesday, May 28, and benefits the American Booksellers for Freedom of Expression, has a new dimension: it will feature the debut of the Slushpile Family Circus, an entertainment and comedy variety show displaying the "talents" of children's writers and illustrators that aren't related to their books. Masters of ceremony are authors Shannon Hale and Michael Buckley.
Slushpile Family Circus barkers say, "Come witness such luminaries as David Levithan, Margaret Stohl and Jon Scieszka display never-before-witnessed 'talents!' What shocking tricks will Pseudonymous Bosch, Kami Garcia and Melissa de la Cruz be up to? We could give you a sneak peak of Brandon Mull, Jason Reynolds and Paul Zelinsky's hidden skills but we've been sworn to secrecy! Jarrett Krosoczka, Maryrose Wood, and Scott Westerfeld will amaze and delight! Libba Bray, Daniel Kirk and Tom Angleberger will provoke and alarm! And who will be the Mysterious 'Talent' Guest? Come one, come all and witness the bizarre, the unusual, but the always entertaining Slushpile Family Circus at this year's Silent Auction!"
The auction will be held 5-7:30 p.m. next Wednesday in the River Pavilion of the Javits Center. Light appetizers, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks will be served. There is no charge for ABFFE members or bookseller members of the ABC Children's Group. Otherwise, tickets are $105 and may be purchased online.
Herman Melville. Henry James. Edith Wharton. Washington Irving. Bernard Malamud. All these writers were born in New York City, and numerous others have adopted the city as home. In celebration of BEA, Rough Guides takes you to five spots where you can pay tribute to literary New York City.
The Algonquin Hotel (59 W. 44th St., near Sixth Ave.)
Re-create the famous literary Algonquin Round Table--where Dorothy Parker, George F. Kauffman, and other writers and artists traded witticisms in the 1920s--at the historic Algonquin Hotel. The Algonquin's history reads like a who's who of the past century: William Faulkner wrote his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech in his suite; Douglas Fairbanks and Orson Welles honeymooned here; and Angela Lansbury and Tallulah Bankhead both lived here in their teens. Gather your BEA friends and dine on traditional American dishes like New York strip steak and crab cakes at the Round Table restaurant, followed by a night out at the Blue Bar, where you can sip cocktails and spout Dorothy Parker bon mots like "I shall stay the way I am... because I do not give a damn."
Washington Square Park (Park is bound by Fifth Ave., Waverly Pl., W. 4th St., and MacDougal St.)
These days, it can be hard to find traces of the West Village's bohemian history amid the swank shoe boutiques, million-dollar brownstones and cupcake shops. One way to track down the neighborhood's rich past is by visiting literary landmarks like the stately Washington Square Park. Over the past century, writers and poets have flocked here, from Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain in the late 1800s to the Beat poets, including Kerouac and Ginsberg, who hung out on the breezy benches in 1950s and 60s, holding forth on the issues of the day.
You can further follow in Kerouac's footsteps by staying at the new boutique hotel The Marlton, which opened in 2013. Kerouac holed up in the landmarked building, once called the Marlton House, to write two novellas.
Invisible Man: A Memorial to Ralph Ellison (Riverside Park at 150th St., nycgovparks.org)
Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man managed to do the opposite of its title--catapulting Ellison, the grandson of slaves, to the height of visibility. Invisible Man won the National Book Award in 1953, and Ellison used his new platform to promote the power of the written word, highlighting the importance of books as moral compass. Pay tribute to Ellison in Riverside Park, where a mighty 15-foot-high, 10-foot-wide bronze monolith, titled Invisible Man: A Memorial to Ralph Ellison, rises at 150th Street; Ellison lived right nearby. Created by artist Elizabeth Catlett, the sculpture features a carved-out silhouette of a striding man, through which you can see the park's springtime blossoms.
Pete's Tavern (129 E. 18th St., near Irving Pl.)
New York is peppered with old bars, but only Pete's Tavern in Gramercy Park, which opened its doors in 1864, can claim to be the longest continuously operating bar in the city. Pete's even managed to stay open through the Prohibition by cannily disguising itself as a flower shop. If the dark-wood interior looks familiar, that's because it has starred in many TV shows, from Seinfeld to Law & Order. But its literary claim to fame goes back a century, to the early 1900s, when the writer O. Henry, who lived down the street, came here to sip ale and write. Legend has it that he penned The Gift of the Magi here, comfortably ensconced in one of the weathered booths near the door. Order the house special, Pete's 1864 Ale, and wait for the literary mood to strike.
The Half King (505 W. 23rd St., near Tenth Ave.)
Stage a book reading in a bar, generously pour beer, invite a crowd--and it's literary night at The Half King in Chelsea. The inviting Half King, owned by author Sebastian Jung (The Perfect Storm), hosts a weekly Monday night reading series. Past guests have included Bret Easton Ellis, Philip Gourevitch, and A.M. Homes. The Half King also features photography exhibits and a regular Magazine Night that brings together magazine editors and writers. But even with all the arty types warming the bar stools, The Half King is at heart an unpretentious hangout, with an emphasis on good beer and better conversation.
Looking for more watering holes? Try The Great New York Historic Pub Crawl.
Today on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: Michael Waldman, author of The Second Amendment: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781476747446). He will also be on Al Jazeera America's Consider This.
Tonight on Coast to Coast with George Norry: Nick Belardes, author of A People's History of the Peculiar: A Freak Show of Facts, Random Obsessions & Astounding Truths (Viva Editions, $14.95, 9781936740833).
Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel (Scribner, $27, 9781476746586).
Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: James Webb, author of I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476741123). He will also be on CNN's Lead with Jake Tapper on Monday.
Monday on a repeat of NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Wil S. Hylton, author of Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594487279).
Also on the show: David McCullough, Jr., author of You Are Not Special: ...And Other Encouragements (Ecco, $21.99, 9780062257345).
Monday on Tavis Smiley: David Goodman, son of Carolyn Goodman, co-author (with Brad Herzog) of the posthumously published memoir My Mantelpiece: A Memoir of Survival and Social Justice (Why Not Books, $23, 9780984991945).
Philip Roth, who has said he's given up writing and making public appearances, has made an exception: he will be "the sole guest for a special edition of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central in July," the New York Times wrote.
He'll appear as part of one of Colbert's "cOlbert's Book Club" special editions. (The uppercase O is a homage to Oprah's book club, the Times said.) Previous subjects honored by the book club have included F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger and Ernest Hemingway. During those shows, due to the unavailability of the guests, Colbert "spoke with author Jennifer Egan and The Great Gatsby filmmaker Baz Luhrmann about Fitzgerald; the author Tobias Wolff and the documentarian Shane Salerno about Salinger; and Mariel Hemingway about her grandfather."
A trailer has been released for Mood Indigo, Michel Gondry's film adaptation of French novelist Boris Vian's novel. The movie stars Audrey Tautou (Amélie, Coco Before Chanel), Romain Duris (The Beat My Heart Skipped), Omar Sy (The Untouchables) and Gad Elmaleh (The Valet). Mood Indigo will hit theaters July 18.
The cast has been announced for this fall's Broadway premiere of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a stage adaptation of Mark Haddon's bestselling novel that won an Olivier Award for best new play during its run at the U.K.'s National Theatre.
The Simon Stephens drama, staged by Marianne Elliott (with movement by Steven Hoggett), will star Alexander Sharp, "a soon-to-be Juilliard grad, in his Broadway debut," Deadline.com reported. The cast includes Ian Barford (August: Osage County), Helen Carey (London Assurance), Francesca Faridany (The 39 Steps) and Enid Graham (The Constant Wife).
The Curious Incident is scheduled to begin performances at the Barrymore Theatre September 10, with an official opening October 5. Producers announced that more than 50 tickets at each performance will sell for $27--a curious incident of the affordable Broadway ticket.
For his book This Boy: A Childhood Memoir, Alan Johnson won the £3,000 (about US$5,070) Orwell Prize, which recognizes work that comes closest to George Orwell's ambition "to make political writing into an art," the Guardian wrote. Prize judge Sue MacGregor called the book "a tale told with great grace and good humor, of what it was like growing up poor in a single-parent family in postwar Britain. It is at once deeply personal and nationally significant, and a highly engaging read." It has been a good week for the author. On Monday, he was named winner of the £10,000 (US$16,869) RSL Ondaatje award.
Exiled Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim won the £10,000 (US$16,869) Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Iraqi Christ, translated by Jonathan Wright. The Bookseller reported that it was is "the first time in the prize's 24-year history that it has gone to an Arab writer and also the first time that a short story collection has been victorious." Author and translator will share the prize money.
From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Troika: A Novel by Adam Pelzman (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, $25.95, 9780399167485). "Troika, the three, is a mesmerizing tale of the relationship of three people: Julian, Perla, and Sophie, and how their lives intersect. Pelzman poignantly portrays each character and intimately engages the reader in their personal lives. The connections of these three and the surprises that result make for an unforgettable reading experience. This book is hard to put down. I loved it!" --Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.
My Accidental Jihad: A Love Story by Krista Bremer (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616200688). "Bremer's marriage memoir opened my eyes to a culture I previously didn't know much about. Great books invite us in, give us an education without our realizing we are learning something, and change us with each page. That's what this account did for me. Bremer's marriage to a Libyan Muslim crosses cultural boundaries, and hardships and heartbreaks abound--but there are blessings and happiness too. I'll be recommending this one!" --Annie Jones, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, Ga.
Brewster: A Novel by Mark Slouka (Norton, $14.95, 9780393348835). "This is such a well written and well thought out book you will be drawn in from the first page. It is Brewster, New York, 1968, the peak of the Vietnam War, and 16-year-old Jon Mosher, son of Jewish immigrants who escaped Europe in World War II, is searching for escape from a dead-end town and his guilt from his older brother's death. He meets Ray Cappicciano and together they struggle to make sense of their quickly changing world. Jon discovers his strength running track with his high school team, and Ray finds his strength in the fighting arena. Raw and brutal at times, this poignant story's well drawn characters stay with you well after the book is closed." --Helen Markus, Hearthfire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, Colo.
For Teen Readers
Sekret by Lindsay Smith (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, 9781596438927). "In Communist Russia in the middle of the Cold War, Yulia will do whatever it takes to keep her mother and younger brother safe. Her unique skills that until now have helped her family survive have attracted the attention of the KGB. Because of her ability to read people's minds, the KGB has 'recruited' Yulia for its psychic spy program that trains gifted children to sabotage the Americans. The first lesson Yulia learns very quickly: trust no one, ever. Sekret is a page-turning thriller!" --Kris Vreeland, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
|photo: Tiffany Ireland|
Jerry Mahoney is a comedy writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and Westchester magazine and on LifetimeMoms.com. He writes the parenting blog Mommy Man, which was named one of the Top 10 Humor Blogs by babble.com. His memoir is Mommy Man: How I Went from Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad (Taylor Trade, May 2014).
On your nightstand now:
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. This is one of the most difficult books I've ever read, because it's so heartbreakingly bleak. Every time I close the book, I tell myself I can't take any more, but Barbara Demick's characterizations of her subjects are what bring me back. She does a wonderful job of humanizing the faceless masses the North Korean media show us marching in perfect step, and of telling us their incredible stories. I love books, either fiction or nonfiction, that introduce me to fascinating people I would never meet in real life.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Goonies, the novelization by James Kahn. I really wanted to choose something that would make me sound cool, but if I'm being honest, this was the book I loved the most as a kid. I bought it before the movie came out, swearing I wouldn't read a word until I saw the film. Chapter by chapter, I defied my pledge, sneaking a page here and there like a junkie, unable to avoid going back for another fix. I finally gave it away to my cousin so I wouldn't spoil the ending for myself. He lost it and replaced it with a copy of the novelization of The Jewel of the Nile, as if that could even compare. By then, the movie was gone from theaters and the book had disappeared from shelves. Unable to read the end, I did the next best thing: I wrote my own version, spending an entire summer writing my own kids adventure novel. (This is the book I talk about writing as a teenager in my memoir, Mommy Man.)
Your top five authors:
David Sedaris, Dan Savage, Roald Dahl, John Green and Mo Willems.
Book you've faked reading:
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I was about 100 pages into it and I brought it on a cross-country flight. As I read, I became convinced that the man sitting next to me was Jonathan Franzen himself. It was before all the Oprah hullabaloo, so all I had to go on was the picture on the dust jacket, which I kept sneaking peeks at. I was exhausted and desperately wanted to take a nap, but I was afraid of giving him the impression that his book put me to sleep. I kept nodding off, and then I'd have to turn the page so he didn't catch on that I wasn't really reading it. I finally got up the courage to ask him at the end of the flight if it was him. It wasn't, and I, of course, looked like a crazy person. I'm ashamed to admit I never finished the book.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure by Dave Gorman. The comic stunt memoir is a bit of an overserved genre these days, but what makes Gorman's book one of the best is the way he uses his stunt to meet and learn about a completely random collection of people he never would've known otherwise. He's a brilliant and hilarious observer of humanity, and the book is full of wonderful surprises.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Join Me! by Danny Wallace. The cover for the American paperback of this book from British comedian Danny Wallace is just a medium close-up of a nerdy-looking young guy (Wallace) holding a handmade sign that says "Join Me!" The book is a comic memoir about how he started a cult by taking out a newspaper ad that simply said, "Join me." I love the fact that that was all it took to get me to buy the book, too. It was a very fun read, but the best thing about it was how it introduced me to Wallace's BFF, Dave Gorman.
Book that changed your life:
The Kid by Dan Savage changed my life twice--first, by convincing me that I, too, could be a dad, and, years later, once I was a dad, by inspiring me to write about it. Never mind that it's just a great read: darkly funny, brutally honest and full of hope. It actually plays a crucial role in my memoir, because as much as I admired Savage's journey to parenthood, there came a point when I realized that I would be following a different path than he and his boyfriend did. That led to one of the main themes of my book: that every kid deserves his or her own special story of how they came to be your child, but that you never know exactly what your kid's will be until you first hold them in your arms.
Favorite line from a book:
"I am a 33-year-old man applying for a job as an elf." --David Sedaris, "The Santaland Diaries." Sedaris isn't just a master of comedy. He's also a genius at making himself likable on the page, at being able to win the reader over to his side with a single line. (And then do it over and over again.) By the time he drops this sentence, only a few paragraphs into his breakthrough essay, you know you want to go on this journey with him and you know you're going to enjoy the ride.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I loved this book so much I read it twice, then bought the audiobook, which is something I almost never do, just so I could get another perspective on it. I'm a sucker for first-person narratives when the writer is this gifted and the character is so interesting. Now there's a stage adaptation, and I'm going to be first in line when it comes to New York. Hopefully, there will be a musical, too, and a TV series, a ballet, a video game and a porn parody. Any chance I get to experience this beautiful story again, I will be there. Okay, I might skip the porn version.
Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth (Bloomsbury, $26 hardcover, 9781620403013, June 17, 2014)
Flying Shoes, the rambling, delicious first novel from Lisa Howorth (co-founder of the iconic Square Books in Oxford, Miss.), parses a chaotic week in the life of Mary Byrd Thornton, the scatterbrained wife of gallery owner Charles and mother of 11-year-old Eliza and eight-year-old William. Unsettled by a cold call from a Richmond, Va., police detective wanting to reopen the decades-old unsolved murder of Mary Byrd's nine-year-old step-brother, she must revisit that life-changing family event just as a freak ice storm rattles through her bucolic Mississippi college town. Planes are grounded, roads are slick with black ice, Charles is late returning from a business trip, and her would-be lover and would-be novelist friend Jack Ernest campaigns for her to meet him at a local bar featuring the doo-wop Velvatones. Her handyman, Tolliver "Teever" Barr, is too hopped up to drive the icy roads, so her only safe ride to Richmond is with a long-haul trucker dispatched by Mary Byrd's always reliable gay friend Hubard Mann Valentine, Jr. (Charles's prep-school roommate, current CEO of a thriving chicken business).
This may sound like the makings of some kind of Southern gothic nightmare, and in many ways it is. However, in Howorth's able hands, it is more Barry Hannah than Larry Brown--more funny, character-driven storytelling with crackling dialogue than whiskey-fueled violence and mayhem. She gets Charles and Mary Byrd down cold: "their union was long and without major trauma... he made things work... it was all sort of like lighting the grill or making coffee." But Howorth also has a keen ear for Teever's earthy vernacular ("I'm like a worm in hot ashes; I got to keep movin'") or for the carousing Jack's cynicism (a coed date "bored him to death with her graduate student babble about Derrida, deconstruction, postmodernism, all that shit").
The title comes both from a Townes Van Zandt song and from young William's fascination with the winged sandals of mythology's Mercury--"if you didn't like something, or something bad happened, you would just fly away." But Mary Byrd knows better: you can't fly away from your troubles, your family tree or your Delta roots. She reflects: "The world was a crazy, round place. There weren't any neat, even lines to make things clear, or corners to hide in... everybody just had to hang on for dear life, hoping the ride wouldn't be too centrifugal, or too bumpy, or more than one could stand." Lisa Howorth's Flying Shoes is itself a helluva ride--a skeptical, funny, always-compassionate trip through a small-town Southern universe. --Bruce Jacobs
Shelf Talker: Bookseller Howorth's funny, compassionate first novel tracks a week in the small-town Mississippi life of a woman confronting a 30-year-old family tragedy.
"I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!" --Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) in Midnight Cowboy
Next week, those of us attending BookExpo America will become temporary commuters in a city that recently garnered exceptional marks for public transit and walking. According to 24/7 Wall Street, New York City, "where more than 10% of residents walked to work, had a Walk Score of 87.6, the highest in the nation."
We aren't required to hoof it out to the convention and back each day, thanks to the numerous Big Apple transport choices, including BEA shuttle buses, taxis and mass transit (though the still-truncated 7 train subway line and the often jam-packed, unpredictable 34th St. crosstown bus are barely useful). However we choose to get there, we most definitely will be walking while attending the show. And walking. And walking.
If you've observed BEA attendees before in their unnatural habitat (aka the Javits Center), you may have noticed a wide range of of walking styles negotiating their way through the bookish throngs. Since Sibley hasn't yet published a field guide to identify all of these varieties, I tried to assemble a sampling here to illustrate just a few of the walkers you're likely to encounter--or become--during your #BEA14 pilgrimage:
Stampeders: This can happen any time the herd is spooked by news of a celebrity booth signing or hot galley giveaway, but it is most pronounced during the opening moments of the show when the crowd speedwalks en masse from the first Book & Author Breakfast at the Special Events Hall to the main Exhibit Hall upstairs. Beware the frenzied escalator climber!
Salmon: It is one of nature's miracles, and actually quite inspiring, to witness the instinctive determination with which a person will sometimes attempt to walk against the prevailing current in an overcrowded publisher's aisle.
Broken Field Runners: Like football running backs, they dart left and right, move quickly to any open space, sometimes lower a shoulder and plunge through the onrushing line, always focused on the goal, however imperceptible and unimportant that may seem to those left reeling in their wake. Note: Tackling is now discouraged by show organizers.
Striders: They mean business. They move neither left nor right, but assume anyone in their path will step aside, and always keep their eyes trained upon something or someone really, really important waiting out there on the horizon. They are on a critical mission and you, my friend, are not part of it.
Grazers: In bookstores we call them browsers, but at BEA, grazing is perhaps a more appropriate designation for those who stroll casually from booth to booth, sampling the wares as if plucking leaves from trees.
Statues: If an object in motion tends to stay in motion, BEA walkers at rest tend to stay at rest, especially if they have rooted themselves to a spot directly in the line of traffic flow. They appear to be frozen mid-step, about to walk on, and yet... they don't, completely oblivious to the cresting waves of irritated colleagues breaking around them.
Predators & Prey: If you observe closely, you can often predict when an unwary attendee walking past a booth is about to be captured by the exhibitor. A similar drama develops when an attendee stalks a booth, waiting for just the right moment to corner a particular exhibitor who's been chatting with one person after another.
Hunters & Gatherers: Their walk is distinguished by a steady pace and a kind of sixth sense for where the best stuff--ARCs and pens and posters and bookmarks and more--is being distributed at any given moment. They are also exceptionally patient, willing to wait in seemingly endless lines at booth signings.
Pack Horses: Sooner or later, this is the fate for many of us, as we trudge back to our hotels laden with colorful, even sparkly, ARC-filled tote bags that belie the pain of our aching arms and shoulders.
Cattle: Well, you've seen BEA's Autographing Area. Wait, shuffle, wait, shuffle, wait.
Saunterers: You don't encounter them often, but when you do, they are sight to behold. To stroll at BEA is to go completely against the grain. They seem to be unaffected by the madness around them. You wonder why they are there at all, and sometimes, however briefly, you envy their calm detachment.
The Walking Dead: Best observed on the final afternoon of BEA, waiting for shuttle buses back to their hotels.
Soon we'll all be walkin' the BEA walk, but make sure to reserve a little extra time and shoe leather to explore the not-so-mean streets beyond the Javits Center. "If it's a beautiful day, I love taking walks," said quintessential New Yorker Pete Hamill: "The walks are always aimless." Sound advice. --Robert Gray, contributing editor