Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Penguin Press: Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

House of Anansi Press: The Break by Katherena Vermette

Algonquin Books: Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

News

Children's Choice Book Awards Focus on the Books

This year's Children's Choice Book Awards were thankfully focused on the book candidates, rather than the personalities (well, personality, really). Last night the children's book industry got decked out for a gathering at New York's Tribeca 360 to learn the winners of the Children's Choices.

NYPL's Betsy Bird and Jon Scieszka hosted the ceremony. (Photo: Marietta Zacker)

NYPL's Betsy Bird (aka Fuse #8) and the inaugural National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka, emceed the evening in matching attire that recalled Prince's Purple Rain period. Eschewing callouts ("The Joker is here twice," said Jimmy Gownley during his acceptance for Book of the Year for Fifth to Sixth Grade for The Dumbest Idea Ever!), the duo kept the proceedings moving along at a good clip.

The Brooklyn literary mafia (Jon Scieszka, Matt de la Peña, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Selznick, Jacqueline Woodson, plus Sergio Ruzzier and Sophie Blackall--all of whom presented) made themselves known. Jacqueline Woodson joked that they'd be selling bottled water after the ceremony: "It's in the water," she said.

Presenters (l.-r.) Brian Selznick, Jacqueline Woodson and David Levithan. (Photo: Charisse Meloto)

Last night's event kicked off a full roster of events for the 96th annual Children's Book Week (May 4-10) in all 50 states. --Jennifer M. Brown

The complete list of 2015 Children's Choice Book Award winners are:

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Book of the Year:
Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut EVER! by Jeff Cohen, illustrated by Elanna Allen (HarperCollins)

3rd to 4th Grade:
Kali’s Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis, illustrated by John Gomes (Arbordale)

5th to 6th Grade:
The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley (Graphix/Scholastic)

Teen Book of the Year:
The One by Kiera Cass (HarperTeen)

Children's Choice Debut Author
J.A. White, The Thickety: A Path Begins (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins)

Teen Choice Debut Author
Jennifer Mathieu, The Truth About Alice (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan)

Children's Choice Illustrator:
Chris Appelhans, Sparky! by Jenny Offill (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Two Minnesota Stores Form Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery

Two Minnesota stores owned by Sally Wizik Wills and Bob Wills, Sister Wolf Books in Dorset and Beagle Books & Bindery in Park Rapids, have combined to form Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, which will operate in the Park Rapids location. The move was precipitated by Bob Wills's retirement this month. All programming from both stores will continue in Park Rapids.

The move has been made, and the grand reopening will be celebrated over Memorial Day weekend.

Sister Wolf Books was founded in 1994 by Mary Kay Watson and was purchased by the Willses in 2004. Beagle Books was founded in 2001 by Jill and Deane Johnson. In 2007, the Willses bought it; their daughter, Jennifer, managed the store and began offering bindery services, which led to the store's renaming as Beagle Books & Bindery.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


New Owner for Womencrafts, Provincetown, Mass.

Kathryn Livelli (l.) and Michelle Axelson at Womencrafts

Kathryn Livelli, owner of Womencrafts, Provincetown, Mass., for the past 16 years, has sold the book and crafts store to staffer Michelle Axelson, who plans to add new product lines, bolster events and reach out to new audiences.

With a mission of promoting the work of female artisans, authors and musicians, Womencrafts has been lesbian-owned and -operated since 1976 and is one of about a dozen remaining feminist bookstores in the country.

Axelson, who has lived in Provincetown for five years, said: "My journey as a women and as a lesbian has been made easier by institutions like Womencrafts and women like Kathryn Livelli. I am inspired by the shop's history and excited to keep it dynamic and relevant for generations to come." Livelli will mentor Axelson and remain involved in the shop.


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Patterson Making Bookstore Grants in Australia, New Zealand

James Patterson

As he did in the U.S. and U.K., author James Patterson is making grants to bookstores in Australia and New Zealand to spend on initiatives to encourage children to read. The grants, which he announced yesterday in Sydney, total $100,000 (about US$78,700); stores can receive as much as $5,000 ($3,936) each.

"I have been inspired, moved and delighted by the innovative proposals I have received from bookstores in the U.K. and the U.S.," Patterson said. "And I have been thrilled to see the real difference that these grants have already started to make. I can't wait to see the proposals from Australian and New Zealand bookstores."

"This is great news for an industry that is already seeing significant growth in sales for younger readers," said Joel Becker, chief executive of the Australian Booksellers Association. "Along with James, we celebrate the role that bookshops have in communities throughout Australia. We are excited about the opportunity that these grants will provide for bookshops to reach out to new audiences, and to develop ideas and programs that encourage young people to engage with the world of books and reading. Our members will take up this opportunity with a gusto that will knock your socks off!"


Inaugural Evanston Literary Festival Next Week

The first annual Evanston Literary Festival, celebrating "the city's vibrant literary community and history," takes place May 11-18 and is co-sponsored by Bookends & Beginnings bookstore in downtown Evanston, Ill.

Held at venues around Evanston, the event will feature readings and talks by authors, including Eula Biss, Stuart Dybek, Garry Wills, Christine Sneed, Julia Sweeney and Roxane Gay, as well as children's storytimes, writing workshops and panel discussions about writing and publishing.

Other main sponsors are Chicago Book Expo, Northwestern University's Creative Writing Program, the Evanston Public Library and Northwestern University Press.

"We're very excited about helping to showcase the authors, the poets, the publishers, the literary organizations and the educational programs that make Evanston and Chicago's North Shore an exceptionally attractive environment for both writers and readers," said Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends & Beginnings. "It's a great way to demonstrate why the most interesting literary community is the one that actually exists in your community, not inside your device."


Suzanne Gibbs Taylor Steps Up at Gibbs Smith

Suzanne Gibbs Taylor

Suzanne Gibbs Taylor has been named publisher and chief creative officer of Gibbs Smith. She joined the company as an editor in 1998 and was named editorial director in 2004; most recently she was associate publisher and creative director.

Founder Gibbs Smith continues as president and chairman of the board. He commented: "Suzanne has been in the publishing industry for 26 years, 17 of which have been at Gibbs Smith. We are confident that she has the business and industry experience, drive, and acumen for directing our trade program."


Notes

Image of the Day: Children's Book Week Honoree

Yesterday, in honor of the start of Children's Book Week, the George Bruce Library, the New York Public Library branch on 125th Street in Harlem, was deemed a Literary Landmark in honor of Walter Dean Myers. According to his son Christopher Myers, the George Bruce branch was "a little piece of home" to his father, the author of more than 100 books, and the third National Ambassador for Children's Literature.

Pictured: (l.-r.) Sally Gardner Reed, executive director of United for Libraries; Tony Marx, president and CEO of the New York Public Library; Connie Myers and Christopher Myers, wife and son of Walter Dean Myers; Rocco Staino, director of the Empire State Center for the Book; Jon Colman, executive director of the Children's Book Council; and library manager Junelle Carter-Bowman, flanked by the sons of Fred Ruffner, founder of the Literacy Landmark Program.


Bookshop of the Week: 'Welcoming. Innovative. Opinionated.'

Books Are My Bag recently featured U.K. bookseller Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath as its Bookshop of the Week. Here are some of our favorite exchanges from the interview with Nic Bottomley, co-owner of the business with his wife, Juliette:

Describe your bookshop in three words
Welcoming. Innovative. Opinionated.

What's your favorite bookshop memory/customer moment?
This is an impossible question. Every day brings a new comedy moment and a new moment that makes you glad to be selling books. I'm going to cheat slightly and go for the day we opened the door for the first time nine years ago. We had no idea what we were doing, had only just remembered to read the till instructions (despite having the place looking fantastic) and I remember Juliette looking suddenly completely petrified as customers walked straight in and the planning/preparation mode switched immediately to retailing mode. Beyond day one I could choose tales of escaped dogs, TV crews, fire engines at Christmas, rumors of a ghost and a thousand other things.... too hard.

Why did you become a bookseller?
In order to spend my life surrounded by something I love, selling something I believe in and meeting and talking with like-minded folk.

What's the best thing about being a bookseller?
Three things. First, the unexpected and varied nature of every given day including the people you'll meet and the conversations you'll have. Secondly, the fact that every single day new "products" arrive that might just be the greatest thing you'll ever read. Thirdly, having the chance to help people choose books that are going to mean a huge amount to them.


Personnel Changes at Perseus

Effective May 11, Charles Regan is joining Perseus Academic in the newly created position of academic director, client services. He has more than 25 years of experience in academic and professional publishing, most recently at John Wiley & Sons, where he spent 17 years in various roles, including manager, library and professional book sales and manager of sales development for global research and education.

He began his publishing career as a copywriter in the college marketing division for Holt, Rinehart and Winston and held marketing positions at Fordham University Press and Macmillan, where he rose to v-p of marketing before joining Wiley.

Regan will manage Perseus relationships with client publishers Princeton University Press, the University of California Press and Columbia University Press as well as future clients. He will also work closely with other departments across the company as Perseus continues to develop specialized services for university presses and academic publishers.


Lerner to Distribute Hutton Grove

Effective in August, Hutton Grove frontlist titles will be distributed exclusively to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by Lerner Publisher Services.

With headquarters in London, Hutton Grove is the new children's books imprint of Kuperard Publishing, which also publishes the Culture Smart! series of guides to the customs and etiquette of nearly 100 countries.

The Hutton Grove titles Lerner is distributing this fall include Another Rumpus, The Friendly Witch, Munch, Tinyrannosaurus and the Bigfootosaurus, Tortoise vs. Hare: The Rematch and We Love the Snow.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barry Estabrook Tells Pig Tales on Fresh Air

This morning on CBS This Morning: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner, authors of When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062385321).

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Today on Fresh Air: Barry Estabrook, author of Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat (Norton, $26.95, 9780393240245).

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Tomorrow on Hardball with Chris Matthews: George J. Mitchell, author of The Negotiator: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451691375).

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Tomorrow on the Meredith Vieira Show: Jennie Garth, author of Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde (NAL, $14, 9780451240286).

Also on Meredith Vieira: Fredrik Eklund, co-author of The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone (Avery, $26.95, 9781592409310).

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Tomorrow on Ellen: Diane Keaton, author of Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty (Random House, $16, 9780812984767).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Luis Zayas, author of Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans (Oxford University Press, $24.95, 9780190211127).

Also on Tavis Smiley: Mariel Hemingway, author of Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family (Regan Arts, $26.95, 9781941393239).

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Tomorrow on the View: Willie Nelson, author of It's a Long Story: My Life (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316403559). He will also appear on Late Night with Seth Meyers.


TV: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Trailer

The first trailer is out for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, based on Susanna Clarke's bestselling novel. Indiewire noted that "the prospect of a movie adaptation of the nearly 800-page book (teeming with footnotes) seemed foolhardy. But since we're in the golden age of television, a seven-part miniseries seems like the right approach, and the first trailer for BBC's big undertaking is here." Featuring a cast that includes Eddie Marsan, Bertie Carvel, Alice Englert, Marc Warren, Samuel West and Charlotte Riley, the project will premiere on BBC One in May, "though there is no word yet on when someone will wave a magic wand to get it across the pond."



Books & Authors

Awards: Royal Medal; Danuta Gleed; Frank O'Connor Short Story

Paul Theroux has been awarded a Royal Medal by the Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers. He will be presented with the medal on June 1.

Theroux was cited for "the encouragement of geographical discovery through travel writing." The Society commented: "One of the world's leading travel writers, he has published more than 18 non-fiction books, including The Great Railway Bazaar."

Professor Dame Judith Rees, president of the Society, said: "Paul Theroux's writing has made a significant contribution to people's understanding of the world in which we live and its people and cultures, whilst also inspiring the next generation of travel writers." His next book, Deep South, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 29.

Among other Society award recipients, Robert Macfarlane won the Ness Award for "his innovative writing on landscape, place and nature," the Society said. "His best-selling books, including The Old Ways, draw together geography and natural history."

The Royal Medals, which have been approved by Queen Elizabeth II, are among the highest honors of their kind in the world. They have been presented since the 1830s; past winners include David Livingstone, Captain Robert Scott and Sir David Attenborough.

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The Writers' Union of Canada has named finalists for the $10,000 (about US$8,264) Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which honors the best first English-language short story collection by a Canadian author, Quillblog reported. The winner will be announced May 30. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Circus by Claire Battershill
American Innovations by Rivka Galchen
Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson
Chez L'Arabe by Mireille Silcoff
Hideout Hotel by Janine Alyson Young

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A longlist has been announced for the €25,000 ($27,831) Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. The shortlist will be announced in June and a winner honored during the Cork International Short Story Festival this September in Ireland.


B&N's Discover Great New Writers: The Summer 2015 List

Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program has announced the 12 titles on its summer 2015 list. The selection committee is comprised of B&N booksellers whom the company described as "voracious readers who meet weekly throughout the year to look for compelling voices, extraordinary writing, and indelible stories from literary talents at the start of their careers."

Each of the titles will receive at least 12 weeks of promotion in stores, online and on Nook devices, beginning with the book's pub date. The 60 or so books chosen for the program during the year are eligible for the annual Discover Awards, which give $35,000 to six winners whose books will receive an additional year of promotion in stores, online and on Nook devices.

The summer 2015 list in order of pub date:
 
The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt (Little, Brown, March 17). "An eleven-year-old English girl--fleeing evacuation to look for her missing family--finds her village abandoned and a young German soldier in her home. This intense, eerie, and deftly plotted debut novel about the tragedies of war asks readers to decide if redemption is possible."

Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian (Algonquin, April 7). "This family saga opens with the death of an elderly Turkish kilim maker, who leaves his thriving business to his grandson and the dilapidated family home to a woman on the other side of the world. Cutting between 1990 and 1915, Turkey and the United States, this compelling novel of secrets, forgiveness, and redemption is a terrific choice for book groups."

Diamond Head by Cecily Wong (Harper, April 14). "How much of your life belongs to you, and how much belongs to fate? Three generations of women tell the story of the rise and fall of their family's fortune in this page-turning saga."

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 14). "Thirteen siblings come together to decide the fate of the family home in East Detroit. This powerful debut is not only the story of a family redefining itself; it also precisely captures the story of a place and a time."

The Given World by Marian Palaia (Simon & Schuster, April 14). "Our booksellers were wowed by this debut novel about grief and family--the kind you're born with and the kind you make--which opens in Vietnam-era America and follows an unforgettable heroine through the next thirty-five years. Vibrant and soulful, poignant and rollicking, full of characters readers won't want to leave behind."

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry (Ecco, May 5). "Leslie Parry wrote the kind of novel she likes to read, and the result is a showstopper: atmospheric and ambitious, set in a wildly vibrant New York at the turn of the last century, her characters' lives collide in ways that keep the story pulsing--and the pages turning."

The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora (Grove/Atlantic, May 5). "We couldn't turn the pages of this incredible debut fast enough. Ruthless and dark, these linked short stories feature characters who really have no idea how they're perceived in the wider world. The tension between their perceptions and reality is unforgettable."

Girl at War by Sara Nović (Random House, May 12). "Reminiscent of Anthony Marra's 2013 Discover Award winner A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Sara Nović's debut novel is an unforgettable portrait of a  young girl's coming of age--and the profound impact of war on her life."

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar (Knopf, June 16). "Exiled by choice overseas (or not), tethered to family mythologies (or not), the characters in Mia Alvar's sublime collection of short stories all share one thing: a profound dislocation from the things and people they love most, and the lives they think they should (or shouldn't) be living. Alvar's writing is so assured and emotionally resonant that we had to remind ourselves this is her debut."

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola (Grand Central, June 23). "We fell hard for Sarah Hepola's honest, clear voice in her unflinching, often very funny, and ultimately hopeful memoir of her life as a blackout drinker. Like Caroline Knapp's modern classic, Drinking: A Love Story, Hepola spares nothing as she looks at what all the booze truly cost her--and what she found in the end."
 
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (St. Martin's Press, June 23). "An antiquarian bookseller. A rare book. Orphaned siblings, drifted apart. A house falling into the sea. Doomed lovers. A traveling circus. Family secrets, family curse, or both?  Erika Swyler's debut is an electric tale of love and books that we think readers won't want to miss."

The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World by Tracy Slater (Putnam, June 30). "Falling in love can be dizzying, dazzling, and disorienting all at once, but Tracy Slater took things one step farther when she fell in love with a Japanese businessman--whose English was on par with her Japanese--and upended her life as an academic in Boston to become a housewife in Osaka, Japan. Our readers are in love with this delightful, deft memoir about new beginnings and making one's home."


World Literature: Killing a Book

Traveler of the Century (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012) is a novel set in early 19th-century Germany--a bit of a love story, a bit philosophy and politics, and a bit metaphysical. Without an introduction by way of jacket flaps or reviews, one could swear it was actually written in the 19th century. Author Andrés Neuman, however, is a relatively young Argentinian with about 20 books to his credit.

Neuman's second book to be translated into English, Talking to Ourselves (FSG, 2014), is on the 2015 Best Translated Book Award longlist. Far different from Traveler, it is a contemporary novel of illness, fidelity, parenting and death.

On the significant differences between the books, Neuman said, "Repeating a book would be killing a book." He explained: "For me, to try to write a book the same way I did before, would in some way diminish it, and make the new book older--and somehow weaker. The reason is perhaps that the first book was done with a high degree of uncertainty, with few rules, and a permanent sense of discovery, which now, in a second book, would very probably end up being done with too many certainties and precedent, and a certain lack of freshness and self-amazement.

"Therefore, I try to have the illusion that every single book of mine is the first one (regarding the learning process) and, paradoxically, the last one (regarding the need and desperation to write it). I know that our grandpa Borges conceived his body of work as only one great book... although not all his books are actually so similar, if we compare what he wrote until the mid-40s with the rest, and even his mature work with his late efforts. And [Eduardo] Halfon is certainly a fantastic friend and writer. But, in spite of their brilliant exceptions, in most cases, I feel that we tend to mistake what we benevolently call 'a style' for what the literary market would like to call 'a brand.' What I try to do is escape as much as possible from that risk. If there are similarities among my books (and I'm sure there are plenty of them), that happens against my will."

In correspondence with Eduardo Halfon, author of The Polish Boxer (Bellevue Literary Press, 2012) and the more recent Monastery (which competes with Talking for Ourselves for the 2015 BTBA), I mentioned the stylistic difference between his two novels and those of Neuman. Halfon responded: "I agree with Andresito. The difference--or the key, perhaps--is that, in my case, I'm only writing one book, and everything I publish along the way is just part of it. As if each book I write is a page or a chapter (rewriting is not only possible, then, but necessary). Or as if each book I write is a planet or star in some strange literary constellation, in which everything is intertwined and connected, and of which I, too, as I travel around it, am not completely aware of."

Andrés Neuman's forthcoming collection of 35 stories, The Things We Don't Do (Open Letter, September 2015) is, naturally, dissimilar from his two previously translated books. Divided into five thematic sections, it moves in multiple directions--some of the stories are funny, some poignant, some absurd, some dark.

Robert Bolaño said, "The literature of the twenty-first century will belong to Neuman and to a handful of his blood brothers." And so it does. And that is good.

All of Neuman's work is translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia. Eduardo Halfon's books are translated by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn (with Thomas Bunstead, Ollie Brock and Anne McLean on The Polish Boxer). --George Carroll


Book Review

Review: Housebreaking

Housebreaking by Dan Pope (Simon & Schuster, $25 hardcover, 9781476745909, May 12, 2015)

Is there anything left to say about suburban family dissolution and the edgy temptations of adultery that Updike, Cheever, Moody, Homes, Perrotta, etc., etc., haven't already said? As it turns out, there is. In Housebreaking, Dan Pope's second novel, the uneasy cohesion of two suburban Hartford families comes unglued across generations. When Cadillac dealer Benjamin Mandelbaum gets booted from the home of his wife and children, he takes his dog and moves in with his widowed father, Leonard, the glad-handing, generous founder of their Wintonbury dealership, who is being wooed by a dead acquaintance's smart-mouthed widow, Terri. Benjamin is "hollow and alone" and asks himself: "Was that all he could expect of life, a falling away of everything that had once made up happiness?"

When Leonard has a near fatal stroke, Benjamin is left to walk his aging dog and try to sell cars in a down market--until he chances to meet Audrey Martin, a former high school classmate newly moved to Wintonbury, walking her dog. Their dogs sniff each other out and quickly become playmates on their walks--as do their owners. Benjamin's not quite ready to give up his family, but Audrey is a great comfort--"it was enough having her beside him nearly every night, possessing her, even if only for a short time."

If the Mandelbaums have their troubles, the Martin-Murrays have even more. Audrey's husband, Andrew Murray, is a high-powered litigation lawyer in a new position at his New York firm's Hartford office. Chillingly efficient and hardworking, he has no qualms about stepping on associates as he establishes his superiority--until one junior lawyer plans a career-ending, squalid, sexual harassment plot against Andrew. With her parents preoccupied with their problems and with the haunting memory of her older brother killed in a car wreck, teen daughter Emily Martin-Murray becomes a pill-swiping, reclusive, flirtatious hellion. Over the course of one summer and fall, the secretive intertwined troubles of the Martin-Murrays and the Mandelbaums come unraveled over the always-fraught Thanksgiving holiday. As Emily observes of her family's dinner table: "What was the point? Why maintain the pretense, sitting with joined hands to break bread, their sorry threesome, dressed in their Sunday finery, uttering banalities?"

Pope (In the Cherry Tree) presents these broken suburban families with a narrative that moves the story along with straightforward plotting and rich characterization. If Emily, Leonard and Terri are the generational outliers in the primary drama of Audrey, Andrew, Benjamin and Judy, they are also the most colorful characters. They bring a fresh piquant taste to a plot that has been worked many times in many ways--and likely will be worked again. Suburban families are too rich a vein of modern life to avoid heavy fiction mining. The fresh rewards come with the strength of the storytelling--like that in Pope's Housebreaking. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Dan Pope's steady prose and rich characters bring new life to the familiar story of a suburban family unraveling.


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