Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 6, 2015


Riverhead Books: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

Shadow Mountain: Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Workman Publishing: Hog Wild!: A Frenzy of Dance Music by Sandra Boynton

Other Press: For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian

News

St. Mark's Bookshop in NYC Seeks More Investors

After moving last year to less expensive space in the East Village in New York City, St. Mark's Bookshop is seeking investors to join an angel investor, according to DNAinfo.com. In an e-mail yesterday, the store said that despite rent savings, a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign and an auction of rare books, the store is undercapitalized--in part because of construction overruns on the new space and storage costs for the period between when it had to leave its old space and before it could move into the new space. Owners Bob Contant and Terry McCoy said that the store has room to triple its inventory.

St. Mark's said an investor is interested in "funding a rebirth of the bookstore" and "restructuring the business with an eye to long term viability," and is looking for others to join him.

"We are in a difficult situation financially and every day is a new challenge," McCoy told DNAinfo.com. "But we don't have any plans to close. That's why we're pursuing this, we want to take action now to be able to continue."


DK Publishing: Star Wars Made Easy: A Beginner's Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Christian Blauvelt


Tony Giordano Retiring from New England Book Sales

Tony Giordano
(photo: Vineyardstories.com)

After a 56-year career, Tony Giordano is retiring from New England Book Sales. He began working at the Harvard Coop in 1959 after graduating from Harvard. The next year, he joined A&A Distributors in Boston. In 1973, he began working for New England Book Sales, first with Arnold Nickelsberg, one of New England's first independent sales reps, then as head of the group, and continuing after passing the torch to current head, Doug Cochrane.

Nickelsberg commented: "Tony is a rare personality in the book reps fraternity. From the day he joined me in the mid-'70s, to my retirement in the '90s and beyond, he has been a knowledgeable, persistent, reliable, amiable and successful book salesman. He and I shared the understanding that booksellers are the reason for book reps being in business, at the same time making sure that the publishers we represented were always promoted and sold in the most professional manner. He has well earned his reputation as a fine book person with a brilliant mind and a great personality."

Doug Cochrane, current head of New England Book Sales, said: "It has been an amazing run. There is no better mentor, colleague and friend than Tony has been to me. He is generous with his time, his experience and sage advice--but only when asked. His quick wit and astute judgment have steered us through some troubled waters in this business. His support and encouragement have been ever present, his loyalty and friendship priceless. I'm so happy that he will remain an advisor and a very interested bystander in the future of New England Book Sales. I know his retirement will be as energetic and fulfilling as his extraordinary work life. We wish him nothing but the best! It has been my great privilege and good fortunate to have shared so many great times together."


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Fantasy Sports 3: The Green King by Sam Bosma


New Sponsor on Board for N.Z. Book Awards

Noting that "the future of the country's premier book honors… is now firmly secured," Booksellers NZ reported that Ockham Residential, an Auckland urban development company, will be the new sponsor of the New Zealand Book Awards.  
 
"We set up the Ockham Foundation, an education-focused charity, concurrently with our commercial development company," said Mark Todd, the company's co-founder and director. "Partnering with the New Zealand Book Awards in their pursuit of critical thought, creativity and literary excellence is a great fit for us."
 
Nicola Legat, New Zealand Book Awards Trust chairwoman, added: "To have an organization so philosophically aligned to the awards makes for a robust and rewarding partnership for us all. We look forward to a long and happy association."


Girl Waits with Gun: Bookseller Amy Stewart's New Novel

"I'm very interested in storytelling," said Amy Stewart, co-owner of Eureka Books in Eureka, Calif., and the bestselling author of The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks and five other nonfiction books, and a novella, The Last Bookstore in America. Her novel, Girl Waits with Gun, is due out September 1 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is an Indie Next Pick for that month. "Even while writing nonfiction, I'm trying to seek out stories, to tell the human side. Even when I'm writing about plants or nature or something like that."

Girl Waits with Gun is based on the true story of Constance Kopp and her two sisters. Constance, the oldest of the three and the novel's narrator, became one of the country's first female sheriff deputies in 1914 after a traffic accident in Paterson, N.J., led to a dangerous dispute. Stewart discovered the Kopps' story, in fact, while researching a gin-smuggler named Henry Kaufman for her 2013 book The Drunken Botanist. A search of the New York Times archives led her to a story of a Henry Kaufman who ran his car into a buggy driven by three sisters. The accident escalated into an "insane conflict" that included Kaufman trying to burn down the sisters' house and the sheriff issuing guns to the Kopp sisters to defend themselves.

Amy Stewart and her husband, Scott Brown, at Eureka Books (photo: Delightful Eye Photography)

"I never did find out if it was the same Kaufman," remarked Stewart.

As she was finishing up The Drunken Botanist, Stewart started piling up newspaper clippings. She gathered land deeds, genealogical records and other historical documents until she had all but reconstructed the sisters' lives. She even hired a genealogist in Bergen County, N.J., and interviewed several of the Kopp sisters' descendants.

"I couldn't believe no one had ever written about them before," said Stewart. "I fell in love with their story."

Stewart also realized relatively early on that the book would have to be fiction. Despite the thoroughness of her research, there were still plenty of "little, frustrating gaps" in the record, including portions of the sisters' lives as well as intimate moments they might have had with friends and family. But, beyond that, it seemed to Stewart that their story should be a fun, adventurous one. There was something about the Kopp sisters, she said, that made her feel that a novel about their lives should be "pure entertainment."

(photo: Terrance McNally)

While working on Girl Waits with Gun, Stewart drew inspiration from a variety of detective novels, including Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series and Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt books. The Easy Rawlins series, which begins with Devil in a Blue Dress, follows Rawlins as he investigates cases and attempts to get his life back on track in Los Angeles in the 1940s. The vivid depiction of a particular place and time, along with the story of a disenfranchised member of society trying to navigate the existing power structures, resonated with Stewart and what she was trying to do with Girl Waits with Gun. And the first Claire DeWitt novel, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, begins with the eponymous private eye arriving in New Orleans 18 months after Hurricane Katrina to investigate the murder of a District Attorney. Throughout the novel, Stewart explained, DeWitt grapples with her past in a complicated and difficult way. That, too, influenced her as she wrote Constance's story.

"Those were the two that just really stuck in my head as I was working on this," Stewart added.

Transitioning from nonfiction to fiction brought Stewart a variety of opportunities and challenges. One thing that felt liberating, she said, was not being so strictly bound to the facts. With fiction, "anything that's not working, you're free to change. The story can go in any direction." But at the same time, that freedom presented its own difficulties. "It's not a clean, straightforward process," Stewart said. "You can get overwhelmed with the choices.

"It was also really fun to write in someone else's voice," she continued. To help make Constance's voice feel authentic, she spent a great deal of time reading 100-year-old novels, including the mystery novels of Mary Roberts Rinehart. "It was very fun to get in someone else's head."

(photo: Terrance McNally)

Over the course of her career, Stewart said she "learned the hard way" not to write and research at the same time. For her first two books, she recalled, she tried that method and wound up with manuscripts that were complete messes. In both cases she had to ditch those drafts and start again. Since then, she's forced herself to do a solid year's worth of research before putting anything to paper, and with Girl Waits with Gun this was no different.

The author tour for Girl Waits with Gun is set to begin just a few days after its publication, with Stewart making an appearance at the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Ga., on September 6. From there, she'll be making stops at more than 20 bookstores across the country. Stewart is particularly excited about two events in New Jersey--at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., and at the Ocean County Library in Toms River, N.J.--where she hopes to see some surviving members of the Kopp family. Stewart also won't be doing an event in Eureka until early October, but the plan is to have a "massive party" at a vintage, restored theater down the street from Eureka Books. For that event, Stewart has created a custom cocktail called the "New Jersey Automobile," based on a cocktail from the 1910s called the Automobile. Stewart's version includes applejack, gin, sweet vermouth, blackberry jam and sparkling wine. Said Stewart: "I'm hoping some bookstores will want to serve it."

When asked if it were too early yet for plans for a next book, Stewart answered, "It's not too early. There's more in store for the Kopp sisters. There's more to come on that front. They really had amazing lives. The best is yet to come, in some ways." --Alex Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: Happy Birthday, Harry!

To celebrate Harry Potter's 35th birthday, on August 1, the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont., hosted more than 200 people for an afternoon party featuring trivia games, a costume contest, pin the scar on Harry, quidditch pong, wand making, a sorting hat, a magical creature hunt and lots of Harry Potter themed food. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle quoted events coordinator Carson Evans: "There's such an energy about Harry Potter fans; there's no other series that people get so excited about and know so much about." Pictured: Country Bookshelf staffers Cindy Hinson, Carson Evans (dressed as Moaning Myrtle) and Kyle Butler.


Final Daily Show Book Reco: Do Unto Animals

Last night, just two nights before the Daily Show's final episode, Jon Stewart made his final book recommendation--and it was a special one. The book is Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better by his wife, Tracey Stewart. To be published on October 6 by Artisan Books, Do Unto Animals is a guide with illustrations by Lisel Ashlock on how to improve animals' quality of life at home, in the backyard and on the farm. Stewart, a veterinary technician who has 19 rescue animals at home, mixes facts about animals and their behavior with practical advice, projects and stories of her own family's experience.

Jon Stewart said on the air last night: "I've always known that my wife is kinder and a nicer person than I am, but to learn that she is funnier and a better writer? I'm not gonna lie to you--stings a little bit!" Acknowledging that the book isn't available yet, he recommended viewers "head down to your local bookstore, your independent bookstore, and ask them to order it."


Road Trip: Indie Booksellers in Seoul

Under the headline "local indie bookstores are dawning trend," Korea JoongAng Daily reported that since 2010, "the area near Hongik University in western Seoul has seen an increase in independent bookstores," including Hello Indie Books in Yeonnam-dong.

"I named the bookstore that way, so people who don't know much about indie books can learn about them," said owner Lee Bo-ram, who added that the shop has experienced an expanded following since the area become more popular.

Timid Bookstore on Jeju Island is "run by married couple Jang In-ae and Hyun Mi-ra, who didn't want to ignore the 'sparkle left in their hearts' just because they'd settled down," Korea JoongAng Daily wrote.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mariel Hemingway on Tavis Smiley

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


On Stage: Cold Mountain, the Opera

An opera based on Charles Frazier's bestselling novel Cold Mountain is being performed at Santa Fe Opera through August, after which it will be produced by Opera Philadelphia early next year, and again in 2018 by Minnesota Opera, NPR's Morning Edition reported.

The production was composed by Jennifer Higdon with a libretto by Gene Scheer, who originally suggested the novel as a possibility for adaptation. "We both reread the book," Scheer said, "and after doing so we were convinced that this was really a great idea for an opera. That there was a way of inviting music in to really illuminate the story."

Higdon and Scheer "had to carefully select scenes to bring a 449-page novel down to less than three hours. They also added scenes, and Frazier says the new ones are among his favorites," NPR wrote.


This Weekend on Book TV: Rinker Buck on The Oregon Trail

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, August 8
7 p.m. Evan Thomas, author of Being Nixon: A Man Divided (Random House, $35, 9780812995367), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

8:15 p.m. Allen West, author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin's Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom (Crown Forum, $26, 9780804138109). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and Monday at 2:45 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Rena Steinzor, author of Why Not Jail?: Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction (Cambridge University Press, $32.99, 9781107633940). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

10 p.m. Charles Murray, author of By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission (Crown Forum, $27, 9780385346511). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Susan Southard, author of Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War (Viking, $28.95, 9780670025626), at Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)


Sunday, August 9
12 a.m. Robert Grenier, author of 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476712079), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

1 p.m. Martha Biondi, author of The Black Revolution on Campus (University of California Press, $29.95, 9780520282186). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

5:45 p.m. Rinker Buck, author of The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451659160).

8 p.m. Arthur Browne, author of One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York (Beacon Press, $27.95, 9780807012604).

10 p.m. Anthony Clark, author of The Last Campaign: How Presidents Rewrite History, Run for Posterity & Enshrine Their Legacies (CreateSpace, $22, 9781508409748).

11 p.m. Jim Auchmutey, author of The Class of '65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness (PublicAffairs, $25.99, 9781610393546).


Books & Authors

Awards: Slightly Foxed Best First Biography; Winton Prize

A shortlist has been announced for the £3,500 (about $5,470) Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, the Bookseller reported. The winner will be named November 4 during the Biographers' Club Prize Dinner in London. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand
Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr by Lyndsey Jenkins
The Fortunes of Francis Barber by Michael Bundockl
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
Outsider: A Life of David Garnett by Sarah Knights

---

The shortlist for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, honoring "popular science books from around the world," has been announced, as reported by the Bookseller:

Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb
Smashing Physics: Inside the World's Biggest Experiment by Jon Butterworth
The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought by David Adam
Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life by Alex Bellos
Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe Mcfadden and Professor Jim Al-Khalili
Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made by Gaia Vince

The winner of the £25,000 (about $39,015) prize will be celebrated on September 24; the five runners-up will each receive £2,500 ($3,900).


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
Language Arts: A Novel by Stephanie Kallos (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547939742). "The art of communication is the major theme of this story, and Kallos employs all of its variations--whether spoken nuances and innuendos, written assumptions and dissonance, or the fractured and difficult ways of being known to those with autism experience. This is the story of a marriage, of a father and his son, and of how a man's childhood shapes his life. Readers will be absorbed, challenged, puzzled, and ultimately satisfied by this wise and soulful book." --Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

Bull Mountain: A Novel by Brian Panowich (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399173967). "Set in the mountainous region of northern Georgia and reminiscent of Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, this debut is a potent tale about land and lineage, love and loyalty, livelihood and the law, and life itself. Panowich's words are fresh and clean, hard and dirty; he knows what he is writing about. The book's first chapter--a short story in its own right--is worth the price of admission to Bull Mountain. Climb on up and enjoy the view. Just watch your step!" --J.K. Garrett Thomas, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, Tenn.

Paperback
Miss Emily: A Novel by Nuala O'Connor (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143126751). "Conjure an image of Emily Dickinson: brilliant, but dour and odd? No! In O'Connor's gem of a novel, Miss Emily is spirited and witty, even brave. Emily befriends Ada Concannon, who was hired as the Dickinsons' kitchen girl almost immediately after she arrived from Ireland. Their unlikely friendship quickly provides each with solace and strength in a world where women are often marginalized. Later, an act of raw violence will ripple outward, resulting in consequences that neither Ada nor Emily could ever have imagined. O'Connor has written a small, hope-filled masterpiece!" --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

For Ages 4 to 8
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea (Disney-Hyperion, $9.99, 9781484713785). "Shea is back with his own brand of madcap humor in this new series. Ballet Cat only wants to play ballet, all the time, every day. Her best friend, Sparkles, wants to do something different, but Ballet Cat refuses. Then she realizes that Sparkles isn't having fun. What should she do? The pictures are sparse and the colors bright with plenty of pink to go around. This book is a great start to a series that promises to be as much fun as the Dinosaur vs. titles." --Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, Ind.

For Ages 9 to 12
Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith (Schwartz & Wade, $16.99, 9780553511932). "Zavion and Henry are each recovering from tragedies. Zavion's house has disappeared with Hurricane Katrina and Henry has just lost his best friend on a favorite mountain in Vermont. In this remarkable debut, told in alternating voices, Smith weaves together each of the boys' stories, allowing readers to feel sad about the circumstances but renewed by the love of others who support the boys and rally to bring new joy to those who have suffered." --Arna Lewis, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, Mass.

For Teen Readers
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99, 9780545668347). "This book is captivating from the very first page! Period details from 1920s Seattle form a rich backdrop for a timeless story of illicit love between a white boy and an African American girl. Adults and teens alike will enjoy this historical novel with magical elements. The characters of Love and Death add the perfect touch of magic and mystery, reminiscent of The Night Circus." --Emily Adams, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 11:

Who Do You Love: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner (Atria, $27, 9781451617818) follows a couple from childhood to adulthood.

Devil's Bridge by Linda Fairstein (Dutton, $28, 9780525953890) is the 17th thriller with Alexandra Cooper.

Immortal Guardians (Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 1) by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545830003) is fantasy for young readers.

Fool's Quest: Book II of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy by Robin Hobb (Del Rey, $28, 9780553392920) continues a fantasy trilogy.

Alpha Docs: The Making of a Cardiologist by Daniel Muñoz and James M. Dale (Random House, $27, 9781400068876) chronicles a cardiologist's career.

The Bridge Builder: The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein by Zev Chafets (Sentinel, $27.95, 9781591846789) is a biography of the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day (Touchstone, $25.99, 9781476785653) is the autobiography of an Internet star.

Intangiball: The Subtle Things That Win Baseball Games by Lonnie Wheeler (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451696028) explores the intangible qualities of good baseball players and teams.

Paperback:

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, 25th Anniversary Edition by H.G. Bissinger (Da Capo Press, $15.99, 9780306824203).

Mr. Tall: A Novella and Stories by Tony Earley (Back Bay Books, $14.99, 9780316246149), one of six books shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

The Dressmaker: A Novel by Rosalie Ham (Penguin, $16, 9780143129066).


Book Review

Review: The Girl from the Garden

The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan (Ecco, $26.99 hardcover, 9780062388384, August 18, 2015)

Parnaz Foroutan's first novel peeks behind the closed doors of an Iranian Jewish family and at the hardships and sacrifices they face.

In early 20th-century Iran, teenaged bride Rakhel faces one of the most serious dilemmas that can befall a wife in a strict patriarchal society: she has not conceived a son. Her wealthy and respected husband, Asher Malacouti, wants nothing so much as a son to inherit his legacy, and the fact that his younger brother's wife, Khorsheed, has already borne one son creates more tension in the household and pressure on Rakhel. When Asher's cousin divorces his beautiful wife, Kokab, Asher sees a golden opportunity. If he marries Kokab, he does her the favor of saving her reputation, while she will provide him with sons. However, his motives are less practical and charitable than he pretends. In truth, Asher is hopelessly smitten with his cousin's wife and desperate to possess her. Despite her mother-in-law Zolekhah's counsel that Rakhel should do her duty as first wife by taking over household operations and welcoming Kokab, Rakhel feels nothing but heartache and jealousy toward the newcomer.

As the family stumbles fruitlessly toward disaster, Foroutan--winner of a PEN USA Emerging Voices fellowship--intersperses scenes of an elderly woman named Mahboubeh, the family's last living descendant, now tending her pomegranate trees in Los Angeles and thinking over her family's checkered past. The mother Maboubeh never knew and the reason for her loss lie at the heart of the Malacoutis' disintegration. The family's history works both as an intimate portrait of familial love and dysfunction, and as a melancholy indictment of societies that pin a woman's worth on uncontrollable factors like fertility. While not directly articulated, readers can also clearly see that the men of the family face a similar struggle. Just as the women are treated as second-class citizens by their husbands, their husbands are reviled by their Muslim neighbors because they are Jewish.

Despite their suffering, Foroutan's characters experience moments of beauty, too--a lovely girl gathering apples in a fountain, a pomegranate tree in California grown from a cutting taken from the family courtyard in Iran on the eve of the revolution. Filled with lingering sorrow, broken hearts and cold revenge, this walk down a sometimes-darkened memory lane is not for those seeking a light-hearted read, but fans of well-paced dramas will find much to adore. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This family drama set in pre-revolutionary Iran explores the lives of women in a patriarchal Jewish household and the events set in motion when one wife is unable to bear a son.


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