Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 14, 2016


Chooseco: Chimera (Weregirl #2) by C.D. Bell

Riverhead Books: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Barron's Educational Series: Dear Dinosaur: With Real Letters to Read! by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne

Timber Press: Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family's Quest to Heal the Land by Scott Freeman

HarperCollins: Laura's Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

News

New Cafe Opens in Huntington, N.Y.'s Book Revue

Café Revue, "a completely renovated 16-seat, counter-serve spot," has opened in Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y., Newsday reported, adding that the "landmark bookstore has long had a counter-serve café in its northernmost corner: Up until September it was Cook's Scratch Kitchen; before that, You, Me and Tea." Café Revue's owner Patrick Nolan "is offering a menu that is brief but appealing," Newsday wrote.

On Facebook, the bookshop posted: "We are so happy that Café Revue by Raquette River Baking Co. is finally open! It was well worth the wait, everything there is delicious!"


Avery Publishing Group: The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen


Shelf Awareness's Jenn Risko Discusses Amazon

Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko

Last week, Geekwire interviewed Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko at length about Amazon and its bookstores, the second of which will open this summer in San Diego. Our favorite of her many great lines concerns the bookstore in Seattle, which opened last November: "It's a very small store. I think it's really interesting that when Jeff [Bezos] started Amazon 20 years ago, his slogan was, 'The Earth's biggest bookstore,' and he's now become Seattle's smallest independent retail location."

See and hear the full interview here.


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


UConn Decides to Outsource Co-op

Sad news about the UConn Co-op: the store, which has 10 locations in Storrs and on other University of Connecticut campuses, will be taken over by Barnes & Noble or Follett later this year. A UConn attorney sent a letter to Timothy Dzurilla, chair of the Co-op's board of directors, saying that after 40 years of service to the school, the Co-op is out of the running for future operation of the bookstores. The school is expected to make a decision by March 31, and the new operator may take over as soon as June.

Quoted by the Daily Campus, the attorney, Patrick Nevins, said that the major budget cuts faced by UConn in recent years were a factor, since Barnes & Noble and Follett have promised "millions of dollars in increased revenue to the university each year. The university has made the decision to direct the entirety of this new revenue to financial aid and student support--which is under considerable strain in an era of increasingly scarce resources."

Nevins added that both national companies have "a stellar record of providing high-quality services in campus" and "offer affordable programs in textbook rentals and price-matching."

Nevins also questioned the proposals the Co-op made during the bidding process, saying that the Co-op has "limited resources to achieve this ambitious transformation and has a history of unfulfilled promises.... On the whole, the Co-op's contention that it could reverse years of decline virtually overnight while making significant new investments and creating costly new programs does not appear to be realistic."

The UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center in downtown Storrs, Conn., opened in 2014.

Co-op president Bill Simpson told the Daily Campus, "We feel we were the best choice for the students and that we put the students first in our bid proposal.... One of the things they said that was against us was that our bid was not as financially enumerating as were the other bids. That's because we didn't give all of our money to the university. We gave a portion of it to the students. We feel that since students pay for the vast majority of what happens at the bookstore that students ought to benefit from it as well, but that's apparently not the way the university is dealing with it."

"This is a real cornerstone of UConn's identity," board chair Dzurilla commented to the Hartford Courant. "It would be like replacing the [UConn] Dairy Bar with Baskin-Robbins. You'll still be able to get ice cream, but sometimes you want more than that."

The outsourcing process apparently started early last year when the Co-op asked for help from the administration because of some financial problems and had hoped that its employees could become UConn employees. Although the Co-op began a turnaround, the administration took the situation as a reason for outsourcing the store.

In the months since the University announced late last year that it would open bidding for running the store, the store and its many supporters among students, faculty, alumni and the general community have rallied. More than 6,000 people signed an online petition in support of the Co-op, and another 7,000 signed paper petitions. Aa huge crowd rallied on campus on February 8, when the Co-op made its case to continue operating the Co-op.

Suzy Staubach

Suzy Staubach, who retired last year as manager of the Co-op's general books division, wrote that she was "heartbroken and dismayed" by the university's decision but "filled with gratitude and wonder" at the supporters of the Co-op. Besides the petition signers, that group included "the huge number of authors and illustrators who wrote in support--Caragh O'Brien, Wendell Minor, Barbara McClintock, Gary Amdahl, Leslie Brody and others; the publishers and industry professionals who wrote in support including Oren Teicher and Steve Fischer, executive directors of the American Booksellers Association and the New England Independent Booksellers Association respectively; faculty like Ron Mallett who spoke on the Co-op's behalf and Robert Thorson who devoted his column to the Co-op; the faculty band Blues Without Borders who played in support of the Co-op and the huge crowd who came out to cheer; all the people who have spoken out and worked hard, especially alum and bestselling author Wally Lamb, and faculty Harry Frank and Greg Anderson; Tom King of Neighbors who let us tell the Co-op's story; other members of the UConn community who wrote such as BIMP director John Bell; all the community members, readers and artists and parents, who lent support; local teachers and faculty from other colleges such as Denise Abercrombie and Jon Anderson; the state legislators and representatives including Rep. Greg Haddad, Senator Mae Flexer and others; students, yes, students who took the time to write; and poet Martín Espada whose upcoming reading is dedicated to the Co-op; fellow independent booksellers from around the country who sent words of encouragement; sports fans, some uttering harsh expressions of anger or disbelief during their pregame shopping excursions when learning of UConn's plans--so much support I cannot begin to list it all here. And then there is the Co-op's indefatigable, hardworking young Board of Directors, led by grad student Tim Dzurilla who have spent hours and huge amounts of energy and thought, working to save the Co-op. And the Ambassadors who have worked so hard. And the staff, who have endured the uncertainty of it all, carrying on with events and textbook RUSH as if everything is normal, while competing bidders walked around the bookstores with clipboards and tape measures, laying their own plans."

The UConn Co-op is an independent, member-owned, nonprofit cooperative that was founded in 1975 after a task force of faculty and students appointed by the university president at the time decided that a co-op was the best way to serve students--and replace the chain store that had operated for a short while. (Ironically, that store was Follett, one of the possible new bookstore managers.)


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Obituary Note: Ben H. Bagdikian

Journalist and news media critic Ben H. Bagdikian, who "became a celebrated voice of conscience for his profession, calling for tougher standards of integrity and public service in an era of changing tastes and technology," died March 11, the New York Times reported. He was 96. Bagdikian was a national and foreign correspondent for newspapers and magazines; a reporter, editor and ombudsman for the Washington Post, where he served as the "conduit for the Pentagon Papers." He wrote eight books, but is best known for The Media Monopoly, first published in 1983 and most recently updated in 2004, when it was released as The New Media Monopoly, the last of seven sequel editions.


DK Publishing: Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock


Notes

Books Kinokuniya New York: Part and Apart from NYC

The New York Times explored the Books Kinokuniya store in New York City, which moved in 2007 from Rockefeller Center to a spot across from Bryant Park on Sixth Ave. The store, which used to focus on Japanese expats and now has added more English-language titles, has "the bright design of a chic New York bookstore" but still feels "very much apart from Midtown Manhattan."

"We wanted to distance ourselves from the Barnes & Noble," Shigeharu Ono, senior v-p of Kinokuniya's United States operations, told the Times. "So we don't sell, let's say, The Tax Return 101 or How to Play Golf Better."

"On the first floor, where jazz is usually playing, all the books are in English: volumes on photography, design, architecture and cooking, as well as fiction," the Times wrote. "There is an extensive Haruki Murakami section. One of the floor's biggest sellers is Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, an American bestseller about 'the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.' "

On the second floor, "manga heaven," the store offers "thousands of manga titles both in English and in Japanese, as well as collectible (sometimes lewd) figures, special-edition T-shirts and a Western comic book section."

The basement is most geared to Japanese expats: "Vast and open, it features Japanese fashion magazines; the 'mook,' a magazine-book hybrid; thousands of bunko-edition, or paperback, books; and language-instruction books, either for those learning Japanese or for Japanese speakers learning other languages."


Personnel Changes at Grand Central

At Grand Central Publishing:

Nick Small has been promoted to associate director of publicity, Grand Central Life & Style.

Joseph Benincase is being promoted to digital marketing manager.

Danielle Egnozzi has been promoted to assistant manager, advertising and promotions.

Tiffany Sanchez has been promoted to marketing associate.


Bookmasters to Handle Fulfillment for Paraclete Press

Bookmasters is handling full-service fulfillment in the U.S. and Canada for Paraclete Press books, CDs and DVDs.

Incorporated in 1938 and the publishing house of the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical monastic community rooted in the Benedictine tradition, Paraclete publishes about 40 books each year and has headquarters in Brewster, Mass.



Media and Movies

20th Century Fox Bolsters Its 'Book Scouting Ranks'

Veteran international literary scout John McLay has joined 20th Century Fox "to bolster its book scouting ranks," a move that "should help to continue its successful run of films based on young adult fiction," including The Fault in Our Stars and The Maze Runner series, Deadline wrote. Reporting to Fox senior literary consultant Drew Reed, he "will serve exclusively as the studio's young adult and children's literary scout."

McLay has worked as an international literary scout for children's book publishers, including Gallimard Jeunesse in France, Ravensburger Buchverlag in Germany and Rizzoli in Italy. He is also the founder of the Bath Children's Literature Festival and author of several children's books.


Media Heat: Shirley MacLaine on Today, Late Show

Today:
Fresh Air: Dr. Theodora Ross, author of A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance (Avery, $25, 9781101982839).

Diane Rehm: Tracy Chevalier, author of At the Edge of the Orchard (Viking, $27, 9780525953005).

Rachael Ray: Stuart O'Keeffe, author of The Quick Six Fix: 100 No-Fuss, Full-Flavor Recipes--Six Ingredients, Six Minutes Prep, Six Minutes Cleanup (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062419750).

Tomorrow:
Today: Shirley MacLaine, author of Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure (Atria, $24, 9781501136412). She will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The View: Jorge Ramos, author of Take a Stand: Lessons from Rebels (Celebra, $26, 9781101989630).

The Daily Show: Joe Nocera, co-author of Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA (Portfolio, $30, 9781591846321).


Books & Authors

Awards: Holberg; Publishing Triangle; Tony Ryan

Stephen Greenblatt has won the 2016 Holberg Prize, awarded annually to "an outstanding researcher in the arts and humanities, social science, law and theology." The John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, Greenblatt was cited for "for his distinctive and defining role in the field of literature and his influential voice in the humanities over four decades" and for being "one of the most important Shakespeare and Renaissance scholars of his generation."

Greenblatt's most recent book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (Norton, 2011), won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and a National Book Award for Nonfiction. His most popular work is the biography Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. He's also the general editor of The Norton Shakespeare and The Norton Anthology of English Literature.

Greenblatt will receive the Holberg Prize's 4.5 million Norwegian kroner (about $525,000) during a ceremony at the University of Bergen, Norway, on June 8.

---

The finalists for the Publishing Triangle Awards in six categories have been announced and may be seen here. Winners will be celebrated at a ceremony on April 21.

In addition, Eloise Klein Healy has won the Publishing Triangle's Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. She is the author of eight books of poetry--including Passing, a finalist in 2003 for the Publishing Triangle's Audre Lorde Award--and three spoken word recordings, and she was named the first Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2012. The founding chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles, Healy is now Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emerita there. She also directed the Women's Studies Program at California State University Northridge and taught in the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman's Building in Los Angeles. She is the founding editor of Arktoi Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press specializing in the work of lesbian authors. A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings is her latest book.

Also, Christopher Street magazine has won the Publishing Triangle's Leadership Award, recognizing "contributions to lesbian and gay literature by those who are not primarily writers, such as editors, agents, librarians, and institutions." The Triangle said that during its 19 years of publishing, beginning in 1976, the magazine "brought out quality gay and lesbian writing at a time when silence was still expected" and published such authors as Edmund White, Jane Rule, Randy Shilts, Fran Lebowitz, Ntozake Shange, Quentin Crisp, Adrienne Rich, Martin Duberman, Andrew Holleran, Kate Millett, Samuel Delany, Essex Hemphill, Joanna Russ and Tim Dlugos and well as work by cartoonists and artists such as Roz Chast, Howard Cruse, Peter Hujar, Nicole Hollander, Mel Odom, George Dureau and Rick Fiala. The award is going to Christopher Street's founders and editors: Charles Ortleb, the publisher and first editor; Patrick Merla, the next editor; and Tom Steele, the next editor; as well as Michael Denneny, the top advisor. "Together these four men, with the help of others--including Paul Baron, Dorianne Beyer, and Rick Fiala--made an invaluable contribution to our community and culture."

---

The semi-finalists for the $10,000 2015 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which honors "full-length books written with a horse racing background," are:

  • A Brush With Greatness: The Art of Thoroughbred Racing from 2000 to Triple Crown by Robert Clark and Edward L. Bowen
  • If Wishes Were Horses by John Perrotta
  • Ride to Win: An Inside Look at the Jockey's Craft by Bob Fortus and Gary West
  • Stable Views: Stories and Voices from the Thoroughbred Racetrack by Ellen E. McHale
  • Turning for Home by Natalie Keller Reinert
  • Warriors on Horseback: The Inside Story of the Professional Jockey by John Carter

Dark Debts: Bookseller-Author Revises Book

Karen Hall's debut novel, Dark Debts, a theological thriller about a cursed southern family and a Jesuit priest struggling with his faith, was first published by Random House in 1996. Though the novel was well reviewed and eventually became a cult hit, Hall did not write another book, choosing instead to return to her earlier career as a screen and television writer (among the shows she's worked on are M*A*S*H, Roseanne and Grace Under Fire)--and then becoming a bookseller (she owns Black Bear Books in Boone, N.C., with her husband). After some 20 years, Hall decided to revisit the novel. Tomorrow, Simon & Schuster will release a revised, new edition of Dark Debts for its 20th anniversary.

"The changes were large scale to me," said Hall, when asked how much she had changed in the new edition of the novel. Among other things, she added a new, major character, reworked the ending and cut out some sections of the novel. Many of those changes, Hall explained, are the result of how much she has changed as a person in the 20 years since she wrote the novel and how much she has learned about the Catholic faith.

"When I started writing Dark Debts, I was basically an agnostic," said Hall. The novel took her about five years to write, and by the time she finished Dark Debts in the early '90s, she had converted to Catholicism. At that point she was living in Los Angeles, Calif., and the Catholic community there, she recalled, was a modern and progressive one. While she consulted with a few Jesuits while writing the first draft, they were also of a more progressive sort.

"When I started to meet some conservative Jesuits, I hadn't realized that they existed," continued Hall. One of the novel's major new characters, in fact, is a Jesuit hardliner. "It bothered me that the book didn't reflect that. I wanted [the book] to have a bigger scope, in terms of what the range of possibilities are within Catholic belief."

There was a time, Hall said, when certain passages in the book made her "skin crawl," and that when she gave copies to friends and acquaintances she had to give them something of a disclaimer about who she was when she wrote the book. Over the course of her rewriting and revising process, Hall addressed those issues, but she was surprised to find that there were some things that she simply couldn't change. One of the book's protagonists is a 35-year-old woman--around the same age that Hall was when she wrote the novel--whose worldview is very similar to Hall's at the time.

"It really surprised me that there was some stuff I couldn't change," she explained. "There were things I had to leave, because now I can't get back to those feelings."

Black Bear Books, Boone, N.C.

After living in Los Angeles for around 30 years and then in Florida for five, in 2009 Hall and her husband moved full time to Boone, N.C., which was the site of their vacation cabin. Not long afterward, the couple bought Black Bear Books, a nearby independent bookstore that was up for sale.

"If we lived up here we wanted something to do with ourselves," said Hall. "And it was a way to be a part of the community."

Black Bear Books, which Hall and her husband have relocated twice since taking ownership, is a small, highly selective bookstore that is structured a bit like an open market. The store features a strong children's department, adult fiction and nonfiction, religious books and books with a regional focus. Boone has a seasonal tourist economy, Hall added, with June through December being very busy and January through May much less so. Having a smaller store, she said, makes it much easier to get through the down months.

"We actually have better stock now," said Hall, compared to when Black Bear Books was in a larger storefront. "Nothing is filler."

Hall has no plans for a full author tour for the re-release of Dark Debts, but she said she most likely will make some regional appearances. There will, however, be a launch party for the new Dark Debts at Black Bear Books. --Alex Mutter


Book Review

Review: The Decent Proposal

The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan (Harper, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062391629, April 5, 2016)

Los Angeles is the backdrop for Kemper Donovan's smart and observant first novel, The Decent Proposal, which examines a familiar premise (see the popular 1993 film Indecent Proposal): What would two people do for a million dollars? Donovan offers a twist in his scenario--sex is not part of this proposition. Rather, a mysterious, anonymous benefactor hires a lawyer to bring together two strangers, promising that they can split $1 million if they agree to spend at least two continuous hours with each other--engaging in substantial conversation--every week, for one full year.

The novel seeks to unravel what a creative but broke 29-year-old, Jewish American film and TV producer and a pragmatic, workaholic, 33-year-old Mexican American lawyer could possibly have in common. Can the arrangement work? And just who might be responsible for this outlandish proposal--and why?

Richard Baumbach is a good-looking, down-on-his-luck creative type. He and his business partner, Keith, quit their jobs with an established film producer to strike out on their own. However, after three years, "Richard feared that 'striking out' was precisely what they'd done." The two work out of each other's apartments and at a coffee shop as they wait for a green light on one of their productions. Richard's best friend is Michaela (aka "Mike"), a hardworking literary manager--"a more interesting, less hated version of an agent, who focused on her screenwriter clients' creative process rather than the business side of things." In college, Richard and Mike were a couple, but Mike ended their romance. Once Mike gets wind of Richard's moneymaking opportunity--the DP, as the "decent proposal" is called--the whole scenario suddenly frames Richard in a new light. Is Mike actually in love with Richard after all?

Elizabeth Santiago, nicknamed "La Máquina" ("The Machine") by her peers, is the other half of the DP and the antithesis of Richard: she doesn't watch TV; she's not even on Facebook. As an eighth-year associate on the fast track to partnership at her high-powered law firm, Elizabeth doesn't need the money. A loner who lives to work, she has forsaken her family and their devout Catholic faith. She leads a solitary life, except for an intellectual homeless man named Orpheus who keeps popping up. The DP offers Elizabeth a perfect opportunity finally to step outside her comfort zone.

A strong, omniscient narrator anchors Donovan's deconstructed, opposites-attract love story where emotional stakes deepen as the story unfolds. References to pop culture, classic literature and movies--along with snappy dialogue and well-drawn characterizations, especially in the cast of supporting players--infuse a clever plot filled with surprising twists that will keep readers entertained and in suspense. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: Two strangers are brought together by a mysterious benefactor who offers them a chance--with conditions--to split a million dollars.


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