Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 10, 2014


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

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

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

Editors' Note

News

Nobel News: Peace Prize to Malala; Modiano Titles in English

The Nobel Peace Prize, announced this morning in Oslo, is being shared by Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, from Pakistan and India, respectively, who were cited for "their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."

The committee commented further: "Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls' rights to education."

Yousafzai, 17, is the author of I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, published a year ago by Little, Brown. In the book, she recounted her life, the attack against her by a Taliban assassin that severely wounded her and her support of the right of girls to education. (A young readers edition of the book was published in August.)

Another related title is the photo-essay Every Day Is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney, with Plan International (Second Story Press, $18.95), published in May, which documents the impact Malala Yousafzai has made on children around the world. It shows girls in Peru writing letters, girls listening to Malala's recordings in El Salvador, girls in school uniforms in Nicaragua releasing balloons, and smiling girls in school hallways in Brazil.

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U.S. publishers reacted quickly to yesterday's announcement that French novelist Patrick Modiano has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

Yale University Press is moving up the pub date for Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas, translated by Mark Polizzotti. Originally scheduled to appear in February, the book, consisting of Afterimage, Suspended Sentences and Flowers of Ruin, will be published in November.

The three novellas were originally published separately, but, the press said, they "form a single, compelling whole, haunted by the same gauzy sense of place and characters. Orphaned children, mysterious parents, forgotten friends, enigmatic strangers--each appears in this three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists."

David R. Godine, which has published three of Modiano's works in English--Catherine Certitude (1993), Honeymoon (1995) and Missing Person (2005)--plans to reprint all of them as soon as possible and noted that "some stock is available."

Honeymoon was the first book in Godine's Verba Mundi series, which focuses on modern world literature. The publisher commented: "We owe many thanks to French publisher Gallimard. When David Godine went to the Frankfurt Book Fair years ago, he asked, 'Who are the great French writers who have never been published in English?' He signed Modiano, J.M.G. Le Clezio and Sylvie Germain."

Modiano's Nobel is the second for Godine. In 2008, Le Clezio, author of The African, Desert and Prospector, won the literature prize.


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


New Republic: 'Amazon Must Be Stopped'

In a cover story entitled "Amazon Must Be Stopped," New Republic editor Franklin Foer (brother of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer) argues that U.S. anti-monopoly laws, many enacted a century ago, are out of date in dealing with Internet-age monopolies, which he calls "a different species." In addition, the popular and governmental view of the purpose of anti-monopoly law has shifted from a desire to protect monopolists' small-business competitors to ensuring lower prices for consumers. Thus, even though a company like Amazon might be viewed by many as a monopoly--or, more accurately, a monopsony--so long as its products are inexpensive, few are concerned. "In effect," Foer states, "we've been thrust back 100 years to a time when the law was not up to the task of protecting the threats to democracy posed by monopoly; a time when the new nature of the corporation demanded a significant revision of government." Now it's time, he says, for "a government response" to what he calls Amazon's "big-footing."

Foer outlines the danger to the publishing industry from the Amazon approach, which founder Jeff Bezos borrowed in part from Walmart, a low-cost model that depends "on continually getting a better deal from suppliers." Publishers have responded mostly in unsuccessful ways, such as mergers and the disastrous move to the agency model for e-books.

"So, no matter how large they grow, publishers will continue to strip away costs to satisfy Amazon," Foer says. The next casualty will be what he calls the "strange inefficiency at the heart of the business: the advances that publishing houses pay their writers. This upfront money is the economic pillar on which quality books rest, the great bulwark against dilettantism. Advances make it financially viable for a writer to commit years of work to a project.

"But no bank or investor in its right mind would extend that kind of credit to an author, save perhaps Stephen King. Which means that it won't take much for this anomalous ecosystem to collapse."

Amazon's excellent customer service, low prices, quick, efficient shipping, etc., have "seduced" most people and helped "fuel our collective denial about Amazon," Foer continues. "We seem to believe that the Web is far too fluid to fall capture to monopoly." But, he insists, "Amazon is different. It has a record of shredding young businesses, like Zappos and Diapers.com, just as they begin to pose a competitive challenge. It uses its riches to undercut opponents on price--Amazon was prepared to lose $100 million in three months in its quest to harm Diapers.com--then once it has exhausted the resources of its foes, it buys them and walks away even stronger."

He recounts how the federal government slowly but eventually confronted monopolistic practices during much of the 20th century--starting with the Progressive Era, when lawyer and later Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis argued and articulated anti-monopolistic approaches, and then during the New Deal and eventually with protracted cases against Ma Bell and IBM and Microsoft. "It took decades of experimentation, mostly unsuccessful, before a serviceable approach for curbing monopolies finally emerged."

He concludes: "There are already a few ideas percolating--one would strip Amazon of the power to set prices; another would deprive it of the ability to use its site to punish recalcitrant suppliers. Those ideas feel like tentative jabs at the problem, rather than coherent solutions to it. Still, if we don't engage the new reality of monopoly with the spirit of argumentation and experimentation that carried Brandeis, we'll drift toward an unsustainable future, where one company holds intolerable economic and cultural sway. Unfortunately, a robust regulatory state is one item that can't be delivered overnight."


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Amazon to Open Bricks-and-Mortar Store in NYC

Amazon apparently is planning to open a bricks-and-mortar location at 7 West 34th St. in New York City, across from the Empire State Building--its largest foray into traditional retailing yet. Citing "people familiar with the plans," the Wall Street Journal reported that the site, which is set to open in time for the holiday shopping season, "would function as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges and pickups of online orders." The space could also be used "as a distribution center for couriers and likely one day will feature Amazon devices like Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphones and Fire TV set-top boxes," the Journal added.

Amazon's planned location (Google Street View)

Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer said the online retailer's strategy is "about marketing the Amazon brand.... Same-day delivery, ordering online and picking up in store are ideas that are really catching on. Amazon needs to be at the center of that."

Although details about the store weren't available, the Journal noted that the 12-story building, owned by Vornado Realty Trust, "once housed an Ohrbach's department store and now has Mango and Express stores at street level." During a recent conference call with analysts, Vornado CFO Stephen Theriot described the former department store as having "very high ceilings, it has got big, open floor plates and that's the type of property that a lot of the creative class tenants" favor.

The New York Times indicated that construction and real estate executives said Amazon "would use the building for offices and a distribution center."

Wired observed that the "biggest advantage of having a high-profile place for shoppers to actually visit isn't so much shopping but marketing. Having a big Amazon sign along one of the country's busiest streets is a great advertisement, and inside, Amazon can showcase its own products, like the Kindle, along with a clever selection that serves to sell customers on services like Prime Fresh. In the meantime, the everyday inventory is somewhere in the back to serve same-day delivery customers."


General Retail Sales in September: Growth with Caution

"A resurgence in spending helped by an improving U.S. economy bolstered back to school season sales for retailers in September," Reuters reported, while cautioning that "stagnant wages may force more discounting in the coming months, keeping pressure on margins." For the month, sales at stores open at least a year were up 3.5% at the eight retailers, excluding drugstores, tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared to a 1.7% gain last year.

September's numbers may have been sparked by rising consumer confidence in August, but the gains may not be sustainable, according to Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors: "I suspect it (consumer confidence) will bounce around. It gets affected by things such as the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) threat and the Ebola threat and issues that make people worry."

On a more positive note, the International Council of Shopping Centers is projecting that U.S. sales during the holiday shopping season will increase 4%, to $488.6 billion, "which would mark the strongest growth in three years for the crucial retail selling period," the Wall Street Journal said.


ABFFE Seeks Children's Book Art for Holiday Auction

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is asking children's book artists for help defend the free speech rights of kids by contributing artwork to an online holiday season auction that launches on December 1. Proceeds help support the Kids' Right to Read Project, which is co-sponsored by ABFFE and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The week-long eBay auction is an online version of the children's art auction held during BookExpo America. A donation form is available here. Deadline for submitting art is October 31. For more information, contact auction manager Inessa Spencer, Inessa@abffe.org, 212-587-4025, ext. 6.


Notes

Image of the Day: #ReasonsWhyYouMatter

Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin), kicked off his "50 States Against Bullying" tour at his alma mater, San Luis Obispo High School in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Asher (pictured with a student from his former high school) will visit schools in all 50 states. The "Reasons Why You Matter" banner was sent to all participating schools, and students were encouraged to write their #ReasonsWhyYouMatter.


Indie Bookstore 'Survival Guide'

In a report headlined "The San Francisco Bookstore Survival Guide," public radio station KALW observed: "So you want to open a bookstore? Excellent news. Here's your guide to survival":

  • Stock what your customers want. If someone wants Pigeon Lofts of North America, have it.
  • Stock what your customers don't know they want. And show it to them.
  • Don't just be a bookstore. Come on--you can be more than that.

Green Apple Books was among the stores cited as examples of how booksellers are adapting to succeed. The bookshop "has been expanding since it opened in San Francisco's Richmond District in 1967," KALW wrote. "While Amazon swallowed other bookstores whole, Green Apple added a mezzanine, a second floor, and acquired its neighbor, Revolver Records. Then in August, it opened a second store."

Knowing your customers is a key ingredient. "It's the idea that you see the same people in your community every day, like, oh, my kids went to pre-school with the folks at Green Apple," said co-owner Peter Mulvihil, adding that taking risks--like adding e-books as an option--is also part of the formula: "We got into it with some skepticism, knowing that technology isn't the solution to any of our problems. Green Apple is almost the opposite of an app or a technologically advanced place in some ways. But we like to take risks and chances and sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don't."


Cool Idea of the Day: 'Pop-Up Artist's Bookstore'

Books & Books, Coral Gables

Books & Books will host the EXILE Books pop-up artist's bookstore at its Coral Gables, Fla., location from October 15 to November 20, occupying the west wing of the bookshop and featuring titles by independent artist's book publishers from across the world. Initiated by artist Amanda Keeley in partnership with Printed Matter Inc., EXILE's bookshop migrates throughout Miami, spending four to six weeks at each location.

Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan said, "I met Amanda and discovered that we had a mutual interest in artists' books. When she told me about her project I thought it would be a natural fit for Books & Books, particularly since we've always specialized in the arts and a well curated selection like the kind she is putting together will be of great interest to our customers."

"I'm absolutely thrilled Mitch Kaplan invited me to install my pop-up shop," Keeley said. "Together, we are getting ready to introduce a new audience to an unconventional type of book: artist's books, which are conceived of as works of art in and of themselves."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gary Shteyngart on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure: A Memoir (Random House, $16, 9780812982497).

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Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Ben Pollinger, author of School of Fish (Gallery, $35, 9781451665130).

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Tomorrow on Fox's Huckabee: Douglas Brunt, author of The Means: A Novel (Touchstone, $26, 9781476772578).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Good Food: Karen Page, author of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity with Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and More, Based on the Wisdom of Leading American Chefs (Little, Brown, $40, 9780316244183). On Monday she will be on Dr. Oz.

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Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: Norman Lear, author of Even This I Get to Experience (Penguin Press, $32.95, 9781594205729).

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Sunday on Coast to Coast AM Radio: Rick Strassman, author of DMT and the Soul of Prophecy (Inner Traditions, $19.95, 9781594773426).

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Sunday on Weekend All Things Considered: Cary Elwes and Joe Layden, co-authors of As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (Touchstone, $26, 9781476764023).

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Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781476708690). On Monday, he will also be on CBS This Morning, CNN's the Lead with Jake Tapper, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and the Colbert Report.

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Sunday on Face the Nation: Leon Panetta, co-author of Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace (Penguin Press, $36, 9781594205965).

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Monday morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Dan Pashman, author of Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781451689730).

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Monday on the Diane Rehm Show: Danny Aiello, author of I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, On the Stage, and in the Movies (Gallery Books, $26, 9781476751900).


Movies: Married Sex; The Humbling

Griffin Dunne will direct Married Sex, an adaptation of Jesse Kornbluth's upcoming novel, "which was recently optioned by Chockstone Pictures partners Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz, and Nick Wechsler. That trio will produce and Kornbluth will write the script," Deadline.com reported.

"Griffin Dunne and iconoclastic blogger and author Jesse Kornbluth, have joined forces to turn the dream of the menage a trois into reality," said Schwartz. "With wit and humor, Kornbluth tells how a happily married couple break sexual boundaries with surprising--and irreversible--results."

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A new trailer is out for The Humbling, based on Philip Roth's novel and starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig. The Barry Levinson-directed project, "which made a splash at Toronto Film Festival," also stars Mandy Patinkin, Kyra Sedgwick, Charles Grodin, Dianne Wiest and Louise Trenner, the Hollywood Reporter wrote. The Humbling hits theaters and VOD January 23.


TV: The Custom of the Country

Scarlett Johansson will star in and executive produce an eight-episode series based on Edith Wharton's novel The Custom of the Country. Deadline.com reported that the project, "eyed for a cable run, possibly on premium cable," will be written by Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement) from his original screenplay. Wharton's novel "has had great influence, with Julian Fellowes citing it as an inspiration for his work including his hit drama series Downton Abbey," Deadline.com wrote.


Books & Authors

Awards: Polari First Book; Samuel Johnson Nonfiction

British-Somali author Diriye Osman won the £1,000 (US$1,620) Polari First Book Prize, which honors a debut work that "explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or nonfiction published in the U.K. in English," for his short story collection, Fairytales for Lost Children.

Chair of judges Paul Burston commented: "Writing as a black gay African man from a Muslim background, Osman dazzled us with the wide range of literary voices in this stunning short story collection. We look forward to his next book and feel confident that he will dazzle us again."

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Finalists have been named for £20,000 (US$32,345) Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction. The winner will be announced November 4. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Roy Jenkins by John Campbell
The Iceberg: a Memoir by Marion Coutts
The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World by Greg Grandin
Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead


Book Brahmin: Diane Cook

Diane Cook
photo: Katherine Rondina

Diane Cook is the author of the story collection Man v. Nature (Harper, October 7, 2014). Her fiction can be found in Harper's, Granta, One Story, Tin House, Zoetrope, Guernica and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and on This American Life, where she worked as a radio producer for six years. She won the 2012 Calvino Prize for fabulist fiction and was awarded a scholarship to the Sewanee Writers' Conference, as well as residencies from Yaddo, the Vermont Studio Center and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. She earned an M.F.A. from Columbia University, where she was a teaching fellow. She lives in Oakland, Calif.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is technically a bookshelf, but these are the ones that are at the ready or ones I'm currently reading (I usually read several books at once): Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey, The Doctor's Wife by Luis Jaramillo, Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles, Jack London: An American Life by Earle Labor, The Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and an ARC of The First Bad Man by Miranda July.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, because I love animals and crying.

Your top five authors:

Aimee Bender, George Saunders, John McPhee, Henry David Thoreau and Virginia Woolf. But, no, I haven't read every work by each of them.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. I've read half because I was reading for a class and ran out of time. I loved it and am desperate to finish, but I know I have to start over. This knowledge stops me.

man v natureBook you're an evangelist for:

I'm currently an evangelist for two recent books: Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem and Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. If you've asked me this year for a book recommendation, I mentioned these books. But in general, two books that I tend to champion are The Call of the Wild by Jack London and The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. I didn't read The Call of the Wild until I was an adult. What a shame for me. I think people who haven't ever read it think it's a book you read when you're a young person (or, let's face it, a young boy). But just read it, whatever age you are, boy or girl. Or dog. It's great. And I teach The Country of the Pointed Firs and find it to be a surprising and rich text that wears a plain veil, a quiet book that at first glance seems to have nothing going on and, so, infuriates students and makes them work. I love books like that.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link. I'm glad I did! It was my first step down the wonderful Kelly Link road.

Book that changed your life:

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. It gave me something to think about. And my thoughts and the text grew more complex as I got older and returned to it again and again.

Favorite line from a book:

I've always loved the line "She missed her mother the most" from Lorrie Moore's "Community Life." It's simple, but as a refrain throughout the story it is startling, feels against the rules and is completely necessary. It feels like all we need to know about her, yet it feels mysterious and full of more than we can ever know. It's an interesting exercise in distillation and repetition, which for some reason feel like opposing moves to me, but probably aren't.

Which character you most relate to:

I don't know that I have an answer to this. I feel very close to many of the characters Judy Budnitz and Rebecca Curtis create. Maybe right now, I relate most to the narrator in Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation. It's been a while since I read a character that felt so very messy and human.

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

Since The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway was a close second for favorite line ("Isn't it pretty to think so?" of course), I'll say that I read it when I was in high school and loved it. But, then I read it again the week I turned 35 and it was a whole new book to me. I was the characters. They were me. Our concerns, despairs, fears, numbnesses were the same. I can't say that was true for 18-year-old me, yet it was still an important book for me then. Back then, I think I was struck by the style and a kind of mysterious ache I was just beginning to realize was universal. But at 18, I was watching it all as a reader. At 35, I was feeling it all. Knowing it all. So in a way, I did get to read it again for the first time. I think rereading those texts you encountered when you were young is a worthwhile project. Essential, even.


Book Review

Review: Good Dog: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty

Good Dog: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty by David DiBenedetto and the editors of Garden & Gun (HarperWave, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062242358, October 21, 2014)

Garden & Gun is a magazine devoted to the best of Southern food, music, arts, literature and sports. The "Good Dog" column, which highlights stories about purebreds and mutts--good or bad, living or dead--has become a reader favorite. In Good Dog: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty, David DiBenedetto and the editors of Garden & Gun offer a compilation of the most memorable essays and some new additions.

The 51 stories in the anthology are from notable writers--novelists, journalists and humorists--most of whom have a connection to the South and whose lives have been affected, for better or worse, by dogs. The anthology is broken down into five sections: The Troublemakers, Afield, Man's Best Friend, Family Ties and Life Lessons.

Some essays are profound, such as "Swim Team" by Dominique Browning, about teaching a frightened Labrador retriever to follow his natural aquatic instincts. "Last Rites" by Mary Lou Bendrick details the experience of her dog's grand exit from the world. Daniel Wallace writes about a host of dogs with whom he's shared his life in "How to Name a Dog." In "A Marriage for the Dogs," Jill McCorkle expresses the challenge of assimilating dogs into blended families.

Straddling the line between pathos and humor are essays such as "Licked to Death by a Pit Bull," in which Bronwen Dickey fights the prejudice against a notorious "bully breed." Blair Hobbs writes about the differences between owning felines and canines in "From Cat to Dog." Susan Gregg Gilmore shares how a beagle purchased in California found his inner hunting dog after the author moved back to Tennessee and boarded him at a working family farm in "An L.A. Beagle."

Comic relief infuses several essays, such as "Fetch Daddy a Drink," in which P.J. O'Rourke draws clear parallels between training gun-dogs and raising children. In "The Trophy Huntress," Jonathan Miles offers a send-up of his quirky, wanna-be bird-dog who loved guns more than birds. And in "My Mother, My Dog," Donna Levine believes her cockapoo is her mother reincarnated, noting their relationship "has never been better."

Hunter Kennedy illustrates an overarching theme of the collection in "Believing in Chance," a story about his rambunctious, troublemaking English springer spaniel: "Dogs are like barbecue--everybody is an expert on the subject of what makes for a good one." Regardless of whether the pets have been adopted from an animal rescue or purchased from a breeder, acquired to offer companionship or protection, each story conveys the endearing sense of love, loyalty and resilience that comes from sharing a life with dogs. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: Notable writers contribute a range of personal essays about dogs and why we love them--no matter what.


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