Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 28, 2015


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

News

BEA Opener: Jonathan Franzen in Conversation

BookExpo America 2015 officially began at the Javits Center in New York City yesterday afternoon with an hour-long talk featuring Laura Miller, co-founder of Salon.com, and Jonathan Franzen, whose new novel, Purity (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), is due out September 1. Franzen fielded questions about his writing process, his love for his characters and the emotional work that went into writing Purity.

After Miller noted that Purity, a more plot-driven novel, is a bit of a departure from his recent books, Franzen responded: "I think the situation for the writer is that it gets harder to write novels, not easier, as time goes by." Writers, Franzen continued, typically use up the easier-to-write-about, "pretty close to the surface" things early on in their careers. As they dig deeper and deeper for subsequent books, it becomes harder to write about some of those subjects. He realized, he said, that a "certain kind of low-key realism" wasn't going to generate enough energy to "blow things open" and allow him to access that deeper, darker material. Stronger story formulations and more extreme situations, he said, helped him create that kind of energy.

After the interview, Franzen signed for a long line of booksellers in the ABA lounge.

Miller wondered how much of Purity's plot Franzen had mapped out in advance and how much he discovered as he was writing. With plotting, Franzen asserted, it was easy to make a plan and then "as soon as you try to write it, you realize it's a bad plan." He recalled writing the first chapter of Purity easily, and then being stuck at that point for over a year.

"You have to wing it," he said. "If you don't wing it, it seems like it's written from an outline." He advised authors to "set yourself some impossible place to get to, and then it becomes kind of like an adventure."

Miller also noted a tension between Franzen's often-curmudgeonly, sometimes misanthropic public persona and the love that he professes to feel for his characters. Franzen said that he doesn't consider himself to be a misanthrope, and that "a thing is dead in the water until I can find some characters to love." He guessed that the perceived tension was between two imperatives, the first being that to make a book that really matters to someone it "has to have love in it," and the second being the writer's duty to tell the truth.

"We live in a world of received opinion and widely shared ideology," said Franzen. A writer who is "not satisfied with those sometimes simplistic ideologies" is going to be seen as hostile to the majority of people.

The conversation later turned to the book's title. The most obvious meaning has to do with the main character, a young woman named Purity. But, Franzen added, he wanted to examine the "notion of purity that informs fanatics of all kinds." And one of his goals in writing Purity was to write about youthful idealism. "When you're young, you can see things in very black-and-white terms," he continued, and purity can be something to aspire to, in the sense of being a pure artist, a pure writer or a pure activist. With the book Purity, he wanted to "write a book capacious enough to encompass that idealism and to see how it plays out, for better or for worse."

During the session's q&a portion, a woman who identified herself as a rising sophomore at the University of Connecticut said that she was working on a research project on Franzen's 2001 book The Corrections and the "depressed male protagonist in post-9/11 literature." She then appeared to ask Franzen her thesis question: How does the "depressed male character's identification and experience of his white masculinity relate to American society and culture in today's day and age?"

Noting the recent unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., over the killing of young black men by police officers, Franzen said that "stuff we thought we should have been past a generation ago are still popping up," and that "unfortunately, white male power is rather alive and well.

"It takes a particularly anxious and damaged white male to fully embrace how problematic that makes it for a white male." --Alex Mutter


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


BEA15: Scenes from an Exhibition, Day 1

BookExpo America opened yesterday afternoon with a new format--a half day followed by two full days--that's designed to "end with a bang," said show director Steve Rosato. The midday start made the show feel almost like a preview. More change is on the way: next year, when BEA returns to Chicago, it will be held earlier than ever, May 11-13.

As part of Melville House's "Meet the Editors" program, a group of booksellers visited the publisher's office yesterday morning. Pictured, l.-r.: Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson; Jeremy Ellis, co-owner, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.; Melville digital media director Alex Shephard;, John Evans, co-owner, DIESEL Bookstore, Oakland, Larkspur and Brentwood, Calif.; Ben Rybeck, head of marketing, Brazos Bookstore; and bookseller Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Crowds eagerly awaited the 1 p.m. show floor opening.

At the Algonquin booth, Pete Mulvihill (l.) of Green Apple Books in San Francisco and marketing director Craig Popelars posed with a cutout promoting William Ritter's Beastly Bones, the sequel to Jackaby.

One of the largest exhibits at BEA ever, China is the Global Market Forum guest of honor and has beautiful, spacious displays on the exhibition floor as well as in the Javits Center atrium.

At the London Review of Books booth, LRB USA president Tim Johnson is digitally signing up BEA attendees to the mailing list using a classic typewriter keyboard, while artist Lynne Yun creates a live calligraphic version of Nick Richardson's intriguing translation of Lorem Ipsum, the "chunk of phony Latin dummy text that's been used by printers and typesetters since the 16th century."

 

Hachette hosted a party at Hudson Terrace Rooftop; guests included comedian/actor Judah Friedlander, former NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly (both have books coming this fall), Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., and Steve Bercu, Bookpeople, Austin, Tex.


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Indigo Full Year: Sales Up 3.2%; Net Loss Much Lower

In the fourth quarter ended March 28, revenue at Indigo Books & Music rose 1%, to $186.2 million (about US$149.6 million) and the net loss improved slightly to $13.9 million ($11.2 million) from $14.4 million ($11.6 million) in the same period a year earlier. In the past year, the company closed eight stores. Indigo commented: "The improvement in earnings was a result of higher revenues, margin rate and lower operating expenses off-set by increased long-term incentive costs."

For the fiscal year ended March 28, Indigo revenue rose 3.2%, to $895.4 million ($719.6 million) and the net loss improved to $3.5 million ($2.8 million) from $31 million ($24.9 million) in the same period a year earlier.

Sales at Indigo and Chapters superstores open at least a year rose 6.8%, while sales at Coles and Indigospirit small-format stores open at least a year rose 0.8%. Online sales at indigo.ca grew 11.8%.

The company commented: "The core trade books business returned to growth despite having no major hit titles during the year. Additionally, Lifestyle, Paper and Toys experienced double-digit growth and the launch of American Girl during the year far exceeded expectations…. The improvement in earnings was driven by revenue growth and margin rate, lower operating expenses and lower tax expense."


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Kobo Summer Blowout: $5 Incentive Program for Booksellers

Later this summer, Kobo is launching what it calls the eRead Local program for American Booksellers Association members to encourage store customers to try e-reading. For each new Kobo customer they sign up, ABA members will receive $5, while each new customer who creates a Kobo account through an affiliate ABA member will receive a $5 credit toward their first e-book purchase. The program will run for 100 days.

ABA members who acquire 100 new customers will be entered for a chance to win an in-store event with a bestselling author, and those who register 50 new customers will have a chance to win Kobo e-readers as prizes for in-store customer contests. In addition, members will be provided with a Kobo marketing kit with a term sheet, promotional posters, online banners and a reading app communication guideline.

Kobo said the promotion highlights its "belief that e-books have a place in the lives of even those most passionate about the printed page.... Kobo is committed to showcasing how the format can complement any reading life."


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obituary Note: Hugh Ambrose

Hugh Ambrose, author of The Pacific, the companion book to HBO's World War II mini-series of the same name, died on Saturday, the New York Times reported. He was 48 and had been battling cancer.

Son of historian Stephen E. Ambrose, Hugh Ambrose was a researcher for several of his father's books, including Band of Brothers, which also became an HBO mini-series. The two began work on The Pacific together, but after his father died in 2002, Hugh Ambrose finished it on his own. He was also a former v-p of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and the historical consultant for Price for Peace, a documentary about the Pacific theater.


Notes

Union Ave Books, Knoxville, Tenn.: 'Drawing Young People, Too'

In a story about independent bookstores making a comeback, Flossie McNabb, who operates Union Ave Books, Knoxville, Tenn., with her daughter, Bunnie Presswood, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the four-year-old store is "doing very well" and has "a wide range of clientele, ranging from small children to young adults to older folks. It's surprising to me how many young people come into the store and buy books. That's the generation that's grown up with e-books and the Internet."

The store sells "a lot of nonfiction, such as history, science, biography, cooking. Regional books are very big here, too."


'Job Crafting' at Maplewood's [words] Bookstore

Inc. magazine asked five businesses "to share their experiences employing autistic people and the lessons they've learned on the journey." Barbara Siegel, who learned she had Asperger's about a decade ago, is a bookseller at [words] Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J., where her work allows her to "listen and file things in my head and grow." Since her parents died two years ago, she said [words] has been "everything. Absolutely everything."

Owner Jonah Zimiles, whose son has autism, "has aggressively sought to 'job craft,' matching tasks to staff strengths rather than forcing employees into preset job descriptions," Inc. wrote "It's judging likes and dislikes, and pushing assignments into people's sweet spots," he explained.

Noting that job crafting has also vastly improved morale for the rest of his employees, Zimiles said, "In small businesses, there's often a challenge in attracting and nurturing top talent, especially in an industry, like this one, with low pay. Obviously, you can't think, 'I only do whatever I feel like.' But we do try to do an informal assessment with everyone now: What do they like to do? And what not?"


Personnel Changes at Hachette

At Hachette Book Group:

Rich Tullis has been promoted to v-p of digital and online sales, strategy and business development.

Barbara Slavin has been promoted to director of digital sales and business development.

Mary Urban has been promoted to digital account manager.

Manuela Jessel has been promoted to associate digital account manager.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Off the Page on CBS This Morning

Today on CBS This Morning: Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, authors of Off the Page (Delacorte, $19.99, 9780553535563).

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Tomorrow on CBS This Morning: Wendy Suzuki, co-author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062366788).


Movies: Black Mass; Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

A new trailer has been released for Black Mass, offering a first look at "an almost unrecognizable Johnny Depp as the Boston gangster-turned-informant-turned-fugitive" James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger, Deadline.com reported. The project, based on the book Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI and a Devil's Deal by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill, also stars Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Plemons and Sienna Miller. Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) from a script by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, Black Mass hits theaters September 18.

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, the film adaptation of Ben Fountain's novel, "has found its squad of beleaguered Iraq War veterans," Deadline.com reported. Bravo Squad will consist of Arturo Castro (Broad City) as Mango, Barney Harris as Sykes, Beau Knapp as Crack, Mason Lee as Foo,  Brian "Astro" Bradley as Lodis and Ismael Cruz Cordova as Holiday. In addition, Makenzie Leigh (The Slap) will play Faison. They join Joe Alwyn, already cast in the title role. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk will be released November 11.


This Weekend on Book TV: BookExpo America

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 30
8:45 a.m. Chris Hedges, author of Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (Nation Books, $26.99, 9781568589664), at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, N.J. (Re-airs Saturday at 8 p.m.)

10 a.m. A panel from BookExpo America in New York City on women and leadership in the publishing industry. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

10:50 a.m. A live call-in discussion on the publishing industry with Jamie Raab, president and publisher of Grand Central, and Susan Weinberg, senior v-p and group publisher for Perseus, at BEA. (Re-airs Sunday at 2:50 p.m.)

11:35 a.m. A BEA panel on data and innovation in the publishing industry. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:35 p.m.)

12:25 p.m. A live call-in discussion with Chris Hedges, author of Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (Nation Books, $26.99, 9781568589664), at BEA. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:25 p.m.)

1:10 p.m. A BEA panel on diversity in the publishing industry. (Re-airs Sunday at 5:10 p.m.)

2 p.m. A live call-in discussion with Garry Kasparov, author of Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped (PublicAffairs, $26.99, 9781610396202), at BEA. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m.)

3 p.m. Phillip Klein, author of Overcoming Obamacare: Three Approaches to Reversing the Government Takeover of Health Care (Washington Examiner, $9.99, 9780692361702). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:15 a.m.)

10 p.m. Kenji Yoshino, author of Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial (Crown, $26, 9780385348805). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 9780691157054). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)


Sunday May, 31
1 p.m. Dan Simon, author of In Doubt: The Psychology of the Criminal Justice Process (Harvard University Press, $45, 9780674046153). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

1:25 p.m. Jody Agius Vallejo, author of Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class (Stanford University Press, $40, 9780804781398). (Re-airs Monday at 1:25 a.m.)

1:45 p.m. Leo Braudy, author of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon (Yale University Press, $15, 9780300181456). (Re-airs Monday at 1:45 a.m.)

8 p.m. Freeman Dyson, author of Dreams of Earth and Sky (New York Review Books, $27.95, 9781590178546).

10 p.m. Tom Brokaw, author of A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope (Random House, $27, 9781400069699). (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m.)

11:15 p.m. Brooke Borel, author of Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World (University of Chicago Press, $26, 9780226041933).



Books & Authors

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

Rebecca Stead, winner of the 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for When You Reach Me joins Horn Book's Roger Sutton to announce the 2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards at SLJ's Day of Dialog. (photo: SLJ)

For the third year, Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of The Horn Book, announced the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards in front of an audience at BEA yesterday.

The awards will be presented at the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards Ceremony on October 10 at Simmons College in Boston, Mass., followed the next day by the Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, "Mind the Gaps: Books for ALL Young Readers."

The honored and winning books are:

Picture Books
Winner: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Little, Brown)
Honor Books: Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic); and Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me, by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown)

Fiction
Winner: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton)
Honor Books: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion/Disney); and Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second/Roaring Brook/Macmillan)

Nonfiction
Winner: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Book Press/Macmillan)
Honor Books: The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin); and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)


Awards: Best Translated Book Winners; Firecracker Awards

John Donatich (r.), director of Yale University Press, accepting the BTBS fiction prize on behalf of Can Xue from (l. to r.) Jeremy Garber and Katrine Øgaard Jensen, who were on the fiction jury; Three Percent's Chad Post; and Bill Martin, one of the poetry judges.

Yesterday at BookExpo America, winners were announced for the eighth annual Best Translated Book Awards, sponsored by Three Percent. The fiction prize went to Can Xue's The Last Lover, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Yale University Press), while Rocío Cerón's Diorama, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong (Phoneme Media) topped the the poetry category. The winning authors and translators each receive $5,000.

The jury praised The Last Lover as "the most radical and uncompromising of this year's finalists, pushing the novel form into bold new territory. Journeying through a dreamworld as strange yet disquietingly familiar as Kafka's Amerika, The Last Lover proves radiantly original. If Orientalists describe an East that exists only in the Western imagination, Can Xue describes its shadow, offering a beguiling dream of a Chinese West. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen's translation succeeds in crafting a powerful English voice for a writer of singular imagination and insight."

Three runners-up were named in fiction: Harlequin's Millions by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Stacy Knecht (Archipelago); Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press); and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Europa).

David Shook, co-founder and editorial director of Phoneme Media, praised Rosenwong "for her masterful translation of Rocío Cerón's Diorama, our first book of poetry and one of the most fascinating and important books to have been published in Mexico this century."

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The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses, formerly the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, announced the winners for the six categories of the Firecracker Awards last night at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn. The awards are a renewed and revitalized version of the Firecracker Alternative Book Award, originally established in 1996, and seek to celebrate and promote great literary works from independent literary publishers and self-published authors. The winners:

Creative Nonfiction: Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye (Two Lines Press)
Fiction: Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen (Graywolf Press)
Graphic Novel: Beauty by Hubert & Kerascoët (NBM Publishing)
Poetry: Sonnets: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition by Bernadette Mayer (Tender Buttons Press)
Young Adult: Some Boys by Patty Blount (Sourcebooks)
Magazine, Poetry: Poetry Magazine
Magazine, Debut: Story
Magazine, General Excellence: Tin House


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
Girl at War: A Novel by Sara Nović (Random House, $26, 9780812996340). "Set in Zagreb in 1991, just prior to the outbreak of the Croatian war for independence, Girl at War is the story of Ana, a 10-year-old tomboy who enjoys spending time with her baby sister, biking around the city with her best friend, and summering with her family and friends on the Adriatic Sea. When the civil conflict escalates, Ana is forced to grow up too quickly. Debut author Nović expertly shares an astounding story of the brutality of war, the things one does to survive, and the confusion, anger, and guilt that is left in its wake. This is page-turning storytelling!" --Dawn Rennert, the Concord Bookshop, Concord, Mass.

Where They Found Her: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight (Harper, $26.99, 9780062225467). "The subject matter of this novel is pretty dark and chilling, but McCreight has done an excellent job of weaving a haunting story of expectation and loss. When a university town is rocked by infanticide, everyone becomes a suspect. A newbie reporter for the local paper is assigned to cover the story, but a traumatic experience in her past makes it hit a little too close to home. With everyone in town under a microscope, past wounds are reopened and long-buried secrets are revealed. This is a riveting story that kept me guessing until the end." --Teresa Steele, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo.

Paperback
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (Gallic Books, $14.95, 9781908313867). "Parisian journalist Laurain delightfully proved his fiction-writing prowess with The President's Hat. Mistaken identities and twists of fate figure once again in this charming love story of a woman who is mugged and badly hurt and the bookseller who finds her purse and, for reasons he can't explain, embarks on a journey to find her and return the handbag and its contents. Set against the backdrop of the small bookstores and arrondissements of Paris, and featuring recent Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano, this is a story that is sure to please." --Anne Holman, the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

For Ages 9 to 12
The Thickety: The Whispering Trees by J.A. White (Katherine Tegen, $16.99, 9780062257291). "What a wild and wonderful ride this second book in the Thickety series takes readers on! White has a wonderful sense of timing, a huge imagination, and a gift for describing the creatures that live in the world he has created. One-eyed birds, sunflowers that eat shadows, and, my favorite, a place where anything that falls gets turned into a simulacrum bent on destroying the original. This is a very tense, 'can't put it down till everyone is safe' kind of book!" --Liesl Freudenstein, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo.

For Teen Readers
The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry, $22.99, 9781442495999). "Magnus Bane is a warlock--an immortal whose life crosses with the short lives of humans, Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and demons. Now, author Clare has joined forces with beloved YA writers Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson to share climactic moments in Bane's centuries-long life. Fans of Clare's Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series will revel in these biographical vignettes, and newcomers will definitely fall in love with Magnus Bane." --Tess Williams, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Children's Illustrated
And Away We Go! by Migy (Holt, $17.99, 9780805099010). "Finally, Fox's balloon has arrived! Now he can fly to the moon! All he needs to do is pick up a few things: friends and snacks and saxophones--for entertainment on the moon--but UH OH! Does this balloon seem heavy to you? I love this colorful story with its catchy refrain: 'Away we go!' Whether or not Fox makes it to the moon, he's sure having a fun adventure!" --Emily Henry, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 2:

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (Knopf, $27.95, 9781101875049) follows several generations of a family in Elizabeth, N.J.

Finders Keepers: A Novel by Stephen King (Scribner, $30, 9781501100079) is a sequel to Mr. Mercedes.

The Unfortunates: A Novel by Sophie McManus (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 9780374114503) tracks the downfall of a prominent American family.

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, translated by John Cullen (Other Press, $14.95, 9781590517512) is a novel from the point of view of the brother of the man killed by the antihero of The Stranger by Albert Camus.

Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs by Ben Mezrich (Atria, $28, 9781476771892) chronicles the Russian businessmen who looted the collapsed Soviet Union.

Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America by Joseph Kim and Stephan Talty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544373174) is the memoir of a North Korean who escaped a devastating famine.

Saint Mazie: A Novel by Jami Attenberg (Grand Central, $25, 9781455599899) follows the proprietress of a Jazz Age movie theater in New York City.

I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them by Jesse Goolsby (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544380981) follows three American soldiers home from Afghanistan.

Who Gets What--and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design by Alvin E. Roth (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544291133) explores social matching markets in which money has no direct role.

The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544214040) explores Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's pop culture icon.


Now in paperback:

The Vacationers: A Novel by Emma Straub (Riverhead, $16, 9781594633881).

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland, $18, 9780316206891).

Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom by Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee (Atria, $22.99, 9781476776781).


Movies:

Testament of Youth, based on the World War I memoir by Vera Brittain, has a limited release on June 5. A movie tie-in (Penguin, $18, 9780143108382) is available.


Book Review

Review: Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century

Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century by Jed Rasula (Basic Books, $29.99 hardcover, 9780465089963, June 2, 2015)

The title of Jed Rasula's insightful contribution to art history, Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century, comes from an 1867 letter written nearly 50 years before Dadaism was born by the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé to describe his poetic muse (à la Dante's heavenly guide) inspiring him to write poetry that flames up only to burn itself out--art out of destruction.

The movement arrived in 1916, on a cold February evening at the Cabaret Voltaire, in Zürich, Switzerland. A group of freethinking artists and poets put on a very strange performance that night. Three poets read the same poem simultaneously in three languages, and someone recited a Maori tribal spell while moving like a belly dancer. They called it Dada. Formed from the chaos of World War I, it was the "most revolutionary artistic movement of the twentieth century," Rasula writes. Romanian Tristan Tzara, one of the club's founders, said, "true dadas are against DADA." Favoring anti-art, they filled their movement with contradictions. Rasula speculates that James Joyce, who was then in Zürich, may have come under its spell. He points to Marcel Janco's exuberant, music-hall romp performance of "The Admiral Looks for a Place to Rent," which ends with a "cascade of affirmatives: 'oh yes yes yes yes yes yes'"; Rasula hears them echo through Molly Bloom's famous concluding soliloquy in Ulysses.

After Zürich, Dada showed up in war-torn Berlin. Here Max Ernst "leaped onto Dada like a hobo jumping a freight car." From there, "like a gunslinger in the Wild West," it showed up in Paris and drew the interest of André Breton, Jean Cocteau and Ezra Pound. Rasula notes that Pound read a poem draft from T.S. Eliot entitled "He Do the Police in Different Voices" and then "took his scissors to it in true Dada fashion, helping its author produce The Waste Land." The movement jumped to New York, picking up new artistic "hobos" like Marcel Duchamp, who was fond of turning everyday objects into art, and fellow visual artist Man Ray. It was there that one of Dada's most iconic sculptures was born, Duchamp's famous  "Fountain" (1917), a porcelain urinal signed by one "R. Mutt."

Rasula (This Compost) argues that Dada's irreverence has had an enduring influence, pointing to Charlie Chaplin (whom the Dadaists adored), the Marx Brothers and Duck Soup, and the early work of Robert Rauschenberg. And we can probably thank them for having to click on those squiggly words used for verification on web sites; they look just like invitations found in Dada periodicals. Filled with fascinating details and memorable personalities, Rasula's history tells the story of a brief movement that spit in the eye of art yet captivated the world, blazing the way for surrealism, pop art and punk--without it, "modern life as we know it would look very, very different--in fact, barely even modern." --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: A thoroughly enjoyable and accessible history of Dada, an art movement that was intended to shock and then to fade.


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