Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 7, 2014


Random House: White Houses by Amy Bloom

Katherine Tegen Books: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Canterbury Classics: Compact Novel Journals

Katherine Tegen Books: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan

News

Book Culture Rehires Four Fired Staff Members

Book Culture, which has two stores on the Upper West Side in New York City, has hired back four of the five staff members it fired two weeks ago after employees voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the Columbia Spectator reported. A fifth fired employee has decided to take a severance package.

Book Culture said that four of the five employees were members of management and shouldn't have voted in the election. Employees and union officials said that the five were managers in name only.

In a blog post last Thursday, the day after many Book Culture staff members picketed the two locations, protesting the firings, the store wrote:

"We have re-hired all four store managers who were terminated last week. There is no longer a labor dispute. Book Culture has now recognized the RWDSU as the union representing our employees. We are respectful of the rights of our employees to unionize and of the views of our customers in the community and the university. As we have gotten to know the RWDSU this past week, we believe that we and the RWDSU are well aligned in urging all customers to shop at Book Culture to support your local independent book store and to support the unionized employees who depend on your patronage of the two stores. Sincerely, Chris, Annie, and the Book Culture Team."

"The resolution of the settlement means pretty much all charges against both parties are dropped," Phil Andrews, director of the RWDSU's Retail Organizing Project, told the Columbia Spectator on Friday. "We still have to negotiate over a full contract."

Andrews added that in the contract negotiations, the union wants to address employee concerns about low starting wages, disciplinary appeals and unclear job descriptions.


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Eviction Notice for 'Secret' Brazenhead Books

New York City's Brazenhead Books, a "secret bookstore that has operated out of an Upper East Side apartment since 2008, may be facing its final chapter," DNAInfo reported. Owner Michael Seidenberg, who achieved a measure of notoriety when a short documentary film about him was released in 2011, announced on his Facebook page that the operation "turns its last page on October 31st. Lost our lease... lots of things must go." A Plan B(razenhead) sign-up page has been set up, "if you want to stay updated on how you can help."


Ingram Publisher Services: Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Dundurn Press


Penguin Random House Expanding Indiana Warehouse by a Third

As part of the expansion of its Crawfordsville, Ind., warehouse, as announced in February, Penguin Random House is adding 350,000 square feet of space to its one million square feet, and the space will be ready in October, allowing the company to double annual book shipments, according to the AP (via rtv6abc). Penguin Random House is adding 300 jobs and will begin hiring staff in August.

By June 2015, Penguin Random House is closing Penguin's U.S. warehouses in Kirkwood, N.Y., and Pittston, Pa., and consolidating all U.S. fulfillment in the Crawfordsville and Westminster, Md., warehouses.

The AP added that the Indiana Economic Development Corp. says it offered Penguin Random House up to $700,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job-creation plans. The city of Crawfordsville approved additional incentives at the request of Montgomery County Economic Development Inc.


Other Press: Bookselling Without Borders Scholarship


BAM Opens New Store in Lima, Ohio

Books-A-Million recently opened a new 4,700-square-foot store at the Lima Mall in Lima, Ohio, the News reported. John Stanko, the mall's director of marketing and business development, said, "We are always excited to announce new retailers to our shoppers. Books-A-Million offers so much variety, our guests are sure to find the perfect gift for themselves or a friend."


Disney-Hyperion: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


Independents Week: Finding Waldo, Shopping Local

Independents Week, which is just ending, is the American Independent Business Alliance's annual campaign designed "to engage local independent businesses and citizens in celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom our local businesses embody. Independents Week also is an occasion to recognize small businesses' contributions to the community--and to affirm citizens' role in shaping their community's future." Indie booksellers, who are at the forefront of this effort, have participated with a variety of promotions, coupons, displays, special sales and events, including the annual Find Waldo Local campaign, co-sponsored by Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association.

Waldos at BookSmart of Morgan Hill, Calif.

 
Bethel, Conn., is one of many towns where Waldo has been on the loose. Alice Hutchinson, owner of Byrd's Books told the News Times: "It all started a few years ago to celebrate Waldo's 25th anniversary and it became wildly popular.... It's really a community-wide effort that helps to promote local businesses."

On Friday, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, Mich., wished customers a "Happy Fourth of July! Waldo was in good company today, with all the red and white stripes around." And in Falmouth, Mass., Eight Cousins Books asked: "Where's Waldo? Do you recognize this amazing outdoor art exhibit on display this summer?"

"At the heart of this is the Shop Local movement," Laurie Funderburk, owner of Books on Broad, Camden, S.C., told the State. "A downtown is critical to any community.... This is a great way to have something fun going on and getting families out in the community."

Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex., is serving as Find Waldo Local Headquarters for 16 local businesses this month, the Press reported. "We added businesses in the Heights this year," said Mary-Catherine Breed. "We have an existing partnership with Travis Elementary, so it seemed like a perfect fit."

Grass Roots Books, Corvallis, Ore., celebrated in Independents Week by displaying "a selection of books from independent publishers and authors, and also, your friendly neighborhood booksellers at Grass Roots are revealing what it means to them to be independent. With insights into the magic and benefits of independent publishing, writing, and bookselling--these words are not to be missed."

Waterfront Books, Georgetown, S.C., was offering a reminder "that independent businesses support their communities in many ways and encouraging you to shop locally." 


Mad Men: Amazon Ad Seeks Manager to Work with Indies

No, this isn't an April Fools joke.

Despite everything, Amazon apparently is continuing to try to work with indie bookstores, advertising for a senior manager, bookstore programs, whose main responsibility is "developing relationships with new and existing brick-and-mortar bookstores, learning about their (and their customers') needs, and designing solutions that bring the best of what Amazon has to offer to a brick-and-mortar environment." The ad called the position part of "a start-up environment, which means lots of hard work, constant change, and great fun."

The effort may in part be following up on Amazon Source, its program introduced last fall that encouraged indies and other retailers to sell the Kindle and, in some cases, receive a percentage of sales of e-books bought on the devices. A pilot for Source was done with at least two bookstores near Amazon headquarters in Seattle.

The ad continued: "This leadership position requires the best of product management, vendor relations, and executive customer service skills. The ideal candidate is well-rounded and will be as adept at articulating business requirements for new technology as they are talking shop with an owner of a small bookstore or presenting a vision to a senior leadership team. You will be able to think strategically about business, product, and technical challenges and map the intersection of partner needs and Amazon priorities."

Perhaps in an acknowledgement of the daunting task facing an Amazon employee trying to convince indies to work with it, the ad noted that "being able to deal with and embrace ambiguity is an absolute must as is a good sense of humor and a passion for books."

"Preferred qualifications" include "established relationships in the bookselling community" and "small business, brick-and-mortar retail, or sales experience."


Obituaries: Helen Ditlow, Frank M. Robinson, Louis Zamperini

Helen Ditlow, co-founder of Listening Library, now an imprint of the Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, died June 26. She was 92.

Ditlow founded Listening Library with her husband, Anthony Ditlow, in 1955, after Anthony was left blind by an inflammation of the optic nerves. Turning to the Library of Congress's Recordings for the Blind to satisfy a shared love of literature, the couple realized that sighted people also enjoyed a good audio story. Listening Library quickly became the country's major publisher of unabridged children's audiobooks.

While Anthony directed recording sessions and marketed the audiobooks, Helen designed album jackets, packed and shipped records, and kept the books. They and their son, Tim Ditlow, ran the company for many years. Random House acquired Listening Library in 1999.

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Science fiction writer Frank M. Robinson, who was also a speechwriter and adviser to San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, died June 30, the New York Times reported. He was 87. His 1991 novel The Dark Beyond the Stars was selected as a Times notable book that year.

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Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner and World War II airman whose "remarkable story of survival during the war gained new attention in 2010 with the publication of a vivid biography by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival," died July 2, the New York Times reported. He was 97.


Notes

Image of the Day: Young Writers Tour Left Bank

A group of high-school creative writing students from Washington University's Summer Writing Institute visited Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., last week to experience an independent bookstore, shop and do a writing exercise based on the bookstore setting. Afterwards, they posed with the T.S. Eliot statue in front of the store, and Left Bank gave the future authors this piece of advice: "Don't ever let anyone tell you books are dead."
Photo: Kris Kleindienst


When in Traverse City: Stop by Brilliant Books

The Traverse Traveler recommended "59 ways to love summer" in Traverse City, Mich., including: "Read a paperback on the beach. Ok, so this one makes my list every summer for nothing more than pure selfish relaxation. I'm usually giggling at Stephanie Plum in the latest Janet Evanovich book, but if you're looking for a new read I'd suggest a stop by Brilliant Books."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brad Thor's Act of War

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Brad Thor, author of Act of War: A Thriller (Emily Bestler/Atria, $27.99, 9781476717128). He will also appear today on Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs Tonight and tomorrow on Fox & Friends and the Kelly File.

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Today on Hannity: Katie Pavlich, author of Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781476749600). She will also appear tomorrow on Fox & Friends.

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Today on the Talk: Maria Menounos, author of The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness: How I Lost 40 Lbs. and Kept It Off--And How You Can Too! (Zinc Ink, $22, 9780804177139).

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Tonight on Charlie Rose: Chuck Klosterman, author of I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) (Scribner, $16, 9781439184509).

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Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Tim Elfrink, author of Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525954637).

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Tomorrow on the Talk: Tori Spelling, author of Spelling It Like It Is (Gallery, $16, 9781451628616).

Also on the Talk: Jennie Garth, co-author of Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde (NAL, $26.95, 9780451240279).

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Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451645811).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Joshua Horwitz, author of War of the Whales: A True Story (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451645019).

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Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: Diane Keaton, author of Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty (Random House, $26, 9780812994261).

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Tomorrow on the View: Chris Colfer, author of The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns (Little, Brown, $8, 9780316201551).

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Tomorrow night on a repeat of Conan: Ziggy Marley, author of I Love You Too (Akashic Books, $15.95, 9781617753107).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Joan Rivers, author of Diary of a Mad Diva (Berkley, $26.95, 9780425269022).


TV: American Gods

Starz will develop an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, with Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller and The River/Heroes executive producer Michael Green writing the pilot and showrunning the series, Deadline.com reported.  

"Neil Gaiman has created the holiest of holy toy boxes with American Gods and filled it with all manner of magical thing, born of new gods and old," Fuller said. "Michael Green and I are thrilled to crack this toy box wide open and unleash the fantastical titans of heaven and earth and Neil's vividly prolific imagination."


Movies: Beasts of No Nation; Child of God

A "first look" image has been released from the film adaptation of Beasts of No Nation, based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala. Indiewire reported that the project, directed by Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre; True Detective) and starring Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), "could be both a Best Picture and Best Actor [Oscar] contender, and a pretty fierce first image has dropped today."

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A new trailer is out for James Franco's Child of God, adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel. Indiewire noted that Scott Haze "is tasked with taking on the tricky role of lead character Lester Ballard, a man who is more animal, living outside regular society, and getting engaged with all kinds of nasty business." The film opens later this year.



Books & Authors

Awards: SIBA, Desmond Elliott

The winners of the 2014 SIBA Book Awards, sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, are:

Fiction: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (Gallery)
Nonfiction: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (Crown)
Poetry: The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers by Cathy Smith Bowers (Press 53)
Young Adult: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (Viking)
Children's: The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson (Walden Pond Press)
Cooking: Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some by John Currence (Andrews McMeel)

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Eimear McBride won the £10,000 (about US$17,160) Desmond Elliott Prize for first-time novelists for A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing. Author and chair of judges Chris Cleave described the book as "the kind of novel that is written once in a generation and takes the art to an entirely new place. Eimear McBride's novel--which let's not forget is a debut--stands shoulder-to-shoulder with The Catcher in the Rye, Lolita and The Road as a masterpiece that some love and some loathe, but which has a greatness that few will deny."


Book Review

Review: Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces

Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces by Miles J. Unger (Simon & Schuster, $29.95 hardcover, 9781451678741, July 22, 2014)

Art historian Miles J. Unger's masterful Michelangelo describes his subject as the "first truly modern artist," a man who emancipated himself from the grip of patrons and social norms. Unger chooses to focus on six of Michelangelo's greatest works in order to reveal the inner workings of this "more than mortal man, angel divine" (as Ariosto described him in his epic Orlando Furioso).

Having written excellent books on Michelangelo's fellow Florentines Magnifico de' Medici and Niccolò Machiavelli, Unger knows this territory well. Michelangelo di Lodovico di Buonarroti Simone was born in 1475. After an apprenticeship in Florence for painting (which never appealed to him), at 21 he went to Rome to sculpt. Four years later, he finished his Pietà, the first work Unger discusses. Michelangelo's contract stipulated that he would use the "most beautiful marble" to create the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ in her arms and "no other living master will do better." The sculpture is the work of a precocious young man showing off: it's audaciously signed--the only time he ever did so--in front, on a strap across Mary's chest. Unger slowly, lovingly walks us through the piece, pointing out its intricacies, its high degree of finish, its genius and Michelangelo's bold decision to portray Mary as an adolescent, making her "both mother and bride."

Homesick, Michelangelo returned to Florence to take on "the Giant," a massive piece of stone, 18 feet tall, on which several artists had already attempted work--the perfect commission to sate his thirst for glory. With the installation of David before he was even 30, he became the "most celebrated sculptor in Europe," rivaling the greatness of his fellow Florentine, Leonardo da Vinci. Next was the opportunity to create the "richest and most spectacular sculptural ensemble ever conceived and executed by a single man."

Pope Julius II's tomb was to consist of 40 statues; 40 years later, it remained unfinished. During the early part of the commission, the artist took on another: nothing less than a depiction of Creation itself, for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. "Dragged kicking and screaming to the project," he realized it was "worthy of his genius."

Unger completes his story with Florence's Sagrestia Nuova (a mortuary chapel intended for the Medicis), The Last Judgment fresco and the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica. In no small way, Unger has created an innovative, stimulating and wise masterpiece of his own. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: Unger dazzles and surprises with this accomplished art-biography of the great Michelangelo.


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