Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 20, 2016


Penguin Press: Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Quotation of the Day

Feeling that 'Sense of Limitless Magic in Bookstores'

"Growing up as one of seven children, everything was limited or shared. The only exception my parents made was for books. My hometown bookstore--Reader's Books in Sonoma, Calif.--was the one place I was allowed to pick out as many of something as I wanted. I still feel that sense of limitless magic in bookstores and gratitude for the booksellers who are passionate about books and connecting with readers."

--Emma Cline, author of June's #1 Indie Next List Pick The Girls, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


News

Bookshop Santa Cruz's 50th Anniversary Writing Residency

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., is partnering with the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods to offer a sponsored, two-week writing residency.

The residency, located at the Wellstone Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is run by Sarah Ringler and author Steve Kettmann. The residency provides a room and evening meals; the writer can also participate in Wellstone offerings, including weekly yoga and open mic night, and will receive a consultation session with Bookshop Santa Cruz buyers to discuss the market for their project.

As if this isn't attractive enough, the resident writers will stay in the Zen Suite, with a balcony looking down on the forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains and, in the distance, Monterey Bay, and a rear exit toward a grove of redwoods.

The residency is open to any author working on a work of fiction, with preference given to either a California writer or an author working on a book that takes place in California. Preference will also be given to writers who have previously published a book or have a literary agent or contract for their book. Nonetheless, all writers of fiction are encouraged to apply. The residency sponsorship will be offered annually through 2020.
 
Applicants should submit a cover letter (200-300 words), résumé, description of the project and a 1,000-word writing sample to Sarah@wellstoneredwoods.org. Applications are due by June 20. The winner will be notified by July 17. The residency can take place any time between September 2016 and December 2016 (extenuating circumstances may allow the residency through spring 2017).


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Hobart's Creative Corner Books Hosts Grand Opening

A grand opening was held recently for Creative Corner Books, Hobart, N.Y., which sells new, used and vintage titles "for cooks, crafters and DIYers." The business is owned by Kathy and George Duyer. On Facebook Tuesday, they posted: "Our Grand Opening on Saturday was indeed grand! Even the weather cooperated and we had a beautiful sunny day for our celebration.... We are looking forward to continued success as part of the Hobart Book Village!"


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Barr Elected U.K. Publishers Association President

Stephen Barr

Stephen Barr, president of SAGE International, has been elected as the new president of the Publishers Association in the U.K., the Bookseller reported. He will take over for Joanna Prior, managing director of Penguin General Books, who remains as an officer on the PA Council. Barr, who has been serving as PA v-p, will be succeeded in that position by Lis Tribe, managing director for Hodder Education.

"The Publishers Association plays an essential role as the collective voice for the publishing community in the U.K., at a time when that voice is needed more than ever before," Barr said. "During my term as president of the PA, I hope to support the association's skilled and expert team in continuing to make the case for publishing as an innovative and dynamically changing industry which makes a vital contribution to the U.K.'s culture, society and economy." 


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


SCBWI Launches Biannual 'Reading List' Program

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has launched a new "Reading List" program, which will offer two lists per year featuring works from the organization's published authors and artists. The inaugural offering has 1,400 frontlist and backlist titles, representing 350 publishers, and is divided into 15 geographical divisions, as well as a Spanish/Bilingual category, based on the author's location.

The Summer List is now available as PDFs, which can be downloaded as either one complete master list or by geographical division. The list is targeted at librarians, teachers/educators, bookstores and community literacy organizations, as well as parents and caregivers. It is organized by grade level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) and book genre.

SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver said, "The inaugural SCBWI Summer Reading List, and the biannual lists to follow, provide an additional level of promotion and support to creators of children's books in this climate when it is often difficult to match the right book with the right readers. We hope our list will be a tool for readers to find new favorites."

The Reading List program is designed to cultivate a relationship between readers and SCBWI authors and artists based upon a curated list that features some of the best works in children's literature from publishers ranging from major traditional houses to small presses.


Obituary Note: Nicholas Fisk

British author Nicholas Fisk (a pseudonym for David Higginbottom), who "was a musician, cartoonist, publisher and advertising creative director before undertaking his best-known work, as the author of original and thought-provoking novels for children," died May 10, the Guardian reported. He was 92. Fisk's titles include Trillions; On the Flip Side; Grinny; and A Rag, a Bone & a Hank of Hair. He "published almost a book a year for 30 years until 1996, when his failing eyesight due to macular degeneration made writing impossible. His stories lost none of their originality and continued to delight readers," the Guardian noted.


Notes

Image of the Day: Kill the Bill

photo: Jon Mayes

Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., launched a new event series with Authors for Action: Kill the Bill at the Asheville Community Theatre on May 18. This is the first in a series pairing authors with nonprofits to amplify a cause, raise the profile of change-makers and create a space for the community to come together for good. Participating authors included Waylon Wood, Jake Bible, Jamie Mason, Lori Horvitz, Terry Roberts, Sara Gruen, Joshilyn Jackson, Wiley Cash, Mary Laura Philpott, Beth Revis and Charles Frazier. The evening's proceeds support the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, Turn Out NC and Tranzmission. Pictured: Malaprop's owner Emoke B'Racz, author Charles Frazier and general manager Linda-Marie Barrett, who wrote an open letter asking authors not to boycott bookstores.


GBO Picks The Fox Was Ever the Hunter

The German Book Office in New York City has chosen The Fox Was Ever the Hunter by Herta Müller, translated by Philip Boehm (Metropolitan Books, $28, 9780805093025), as its May Pick of the Month.

The GBO described the book this way: "Romania--the last months of the Ceausescu regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara's lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on the rest of the group.

"One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another occasion it's the hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilated fur is a sign that she is being tracked by the secret police--the fox was ever the hunter. Images of photographic precision combine into a kaleidoscope of terror as Adina and her friends struggle to keep mind and body intact in a world pervaded by complicity and permeated with fear, where it's hard to tell victim from perpetrator."

Born in Romania in 1953, Herta Müller emigrated to West Germany in 1987 and is an author, poet and essayist. In 2009, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Also a playwright and theater director, Philip Boehm has translated more than 30 novels and plays from German and Polish.



Media and Movies

TV: Likely Stories

Sky Arts has released a trailer for the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's collection Likely Stories, starring Tom Hughes, Johnny Vegas, George MacKay, Rita Tushingham and Kenneth Cranham.

Gaiman posted the trailer on his blog, noting: "And on May 26th, at 9 p.m., on Sky Arts, Likely Stores begins. Four episodes based on short stories by me, directed by Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollock, with an original soundtrack by Jarvis Cocker."


Books & Authors

Awards: Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography

Andrew Gailey won the £5,000 (about $7,288) Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for The Lost Imperialist: Lord Dufferin, Memory and Mythmaking in an Age of Celebrity. Chair of judges Roy Foster said the book "paints a masterly portrait of a late-Victorian grandee whose fame and glamour dazzled his contemporaries, but whose private persona was strangely complex and heavily inflected by his inheritance from his scandalous Sheridan forebears. It is also a panoramic study of the uses of celebrity in the age of empire."


Book Brahmin: Lee Boudreaux

photo: Nina Subin

Lee Boudreaux is v-p and editorial director of Lee Boudreaux Books, an imprint of Little, Brown founded in 2014. During her career, she has published a diverse list of titles, including Ben Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Smith Henderson's Fourth of July Creek, Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles, Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep and David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. She focuses primarily on fiction, and her inaugural 2016 list for Little, Brown began with Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa and will conclude with Mischling by Affinity Konar, both debut novels. The mission of the imprint is to publish books featuring unusual stories, unexpected voices and an immersive sense of place.

On your nightstand now:

Helen Ellis's American Housewife and Lucia Berlin's A Manual for Cleaning Women have just taken up residence, while Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas have been sitting there, singing their siren songs, longer than I care to admit. There's also a story collection called If I'd Known You Were Coming by Kate Milliken, Volt by Alan Heathcock, Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You and The David Foster Wallace Reader (because we've all got to start somewhere), along with Dark Money by Jane Mayer, Children of the Flames by Lucette Lagnado and The Glorious Nosebleed by Edward Gorey, which I just picked up today with my seven-year-old. There's clearly no room for a lamp on this very aspirational nightstand!

Favorite book when you were a child:

Oh, there were so many! Greek and Roman mythology, The Chronicles of Narnia (pure obsession!), the 20 fabulous adventures in The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley, as well as The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald (madcap tales about an ingenious con-artist kid in Salt Lake City in the late 1800s. The only other person I've ever heard mention these books is my boss. Clearly, she sensed our shared interest in fictional frontier Utah). I adored Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (vermicious knids!) by Roald Dahl, Kipling's The Jungle Book and anything by Edgar Allan Poe. The original, unedited version of The Bad Island by William Steig is a masterpiece! To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was in a category unto itself, of course. Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn made a sizable impression. One of the most indelible stories of my childhood was told to me, not read. When I was seven or eight, my great-aunt, a retired university librarian, had me in thrall with the gruesome tale of a woman who couldn't get the blood off her hands no matter how many times she washed them. A decade later, sitting in English class, I suddenly realized she'd been telling me the story of Macbeth. You gotta love a librarian.

Your top five authors:

How does anyone answer this question??! I feel like it's impossible. If you'd asked me when I was 20, I would have said Hemingway, Steinbeck, Waugh, Trollope, Woolf, Wolfe and Welty (those last three sound like a law firm). Of recent vintage, I'm going to say Annie Proulx, Kate Atkinson, Richard Price, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Kate Walbert, Ann Patchett and Gary Shteyngart. Wait a minute--P.G. Wodehouse needs to be in this answer somewhere! And after rereading books with my daughter, Roald Dahl and E.B. White absolutely must be on the list.

(Clearly, I have difficulty counting to five.)

Book you've faked reading:

I'm only too happy to admit my ignorance when it comes to all the things I should have read by now and haven't! But when I first moved to New York, I felt obliged to nod knowingly through more than a few numbing conversations about The Master and Margarita. And I've never faked it, but I feel that never having read Little Women is a real stain on my character.

Book you're an evangelist for:

An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray, which was his first novel, preceding Skippy Dies.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The hardcover of Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. But, truth be told, I didn't buy it. I worked at Random House when it was published and there was a gigantic book room in the basement of the old building where all of us, even the lowliest assistant, could go and get a copy (or multiple copies!) of any book they'd recently published. You could walk out of there with a stack you literally couldn't see over, and no one would say a peep to you. I used to spend hours down there, collecting lavish Fodor guidebooks to cities I couldn't afford to visit, Everyman's Library classics, Clarkson Potter books on how to trompe l'oeil and apply faux finishes (no, I never once put these to use), and hardcovers I just liked the look of. I don't know what my poor boss thought I was doing all that time; I must have convinced her I was a very methodical Xerox-er.

Book you hid from your parents:

I think I was just out of college when Nicholson Baker's Vox was published, but I'm pretty sure I hid it when my mother came to visit. As an 11-year old, I didn't necessarily hide Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret but I would have died a thousand deaths if my older brother had caught me reading it.

Book that changed your life:

Lolita, but not for the reason most people cite. It was my first exposure to an unreliable narrator and I was... shocked. If you can't trust a book, for Pete's sake, what is there to believe in?!?! I hope I've since developed a slightly more nuanced appreciation of it but, in 10th grade, it rattled me to the core. Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff blew my mind. I remember reading them and thinking, "Man, I didn't know you could do this on paper!" (You may have intuited by now that I think very highly of his exuberance in punctuating.) And Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston likewise upended the notion of what a voice on the page could or should sound like.

(Clearly, I also have trouble counting to one.)

Favorite line from a book:

"But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city." --Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

"We don't sell pigs." -- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Five books you'll never part with:

A signed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that my mother finagled from an old college friend of hers who'd known Harper Lee since childhood and still played golf with her. The beautiful old second-hand hardcovers of Peter Matthiessen's books I laid hold of when I was an editorial assistant lucky enough to briefly find myself in his orbit. My mother's marked-up copies of her Julia Child cookbooks. A coffee-table book of Charles Addams cartoons (booty from that Random House book room, again).

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

All of them.


Book Review

Review: Stiletto

Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley (Little, Brown, $26 hardcover, 9780316228046, June 14, 2016)

Daniel O'Malley (The Rook) expands on the intriguing and hilarious paranormal world of the Chequy, Great Britain's ultra-secret espionage and law enforcement agency for supernatural matters. In a devilishly funny follow-up, he leads readers into the ranks of the Checquy's mortal-enemies-turned-recent-allies, the Wetenschappeljik Broederschap van Natuurkundigen, a Belgian society of scientists who make Victor Frankenstein look unimaginative.

Following Broederschap leader Graaf Ernst's successful bid to contact with Rook Myfanwy Thomas, a key member of the Court of the Checquy, the two organizations have reached the eve of a truce. Myfanwy, who still has not regained any memory of her former life as a painfully shy accountant who gained promotion through administrative talent, could go down in history for this ceasefire if she can only keep the two sides from poisoning, dismembering or liquefying each other. After all, each Checquy member from Pawn to Lord and Lady became an agent thanks to a supernatural talent, whether it be attracting insects or, like Myfanwy, the ability to seize control of another person's mind and body. Each member also received rigorous combat training from a very young age. On the other hand, the Grafters--the Checquy name for the Broederschap--possess unique physical modifications perfected through countless surgeries and technological innovations, from super strength to augmented vision to embedded weapons grown from their own bones. On top of it all, each side has purely loathed the other for centuries thanks to an invasion of Britain by the Grafters, repulsed by the Checquy at great cost of lives.

Bridging the gap will fall to the younger generation, namely 20-somethings Odette Leliefeld, the several-greats granddaughter of Ernst and part of the peace delegation, and her assigned minder, Pawn Felicity Clements, whose power is psychometry. Despite their mutual disgust and suspicion, the two brilliant young women must pull together in the face of fatal, seemingly Grafter-originated attacks on the Checquy that threaten the negotiations.

While not without flaws--namely, a slightly bloated plot and not enough Myfanwy--and possessed of a steep learning curve for the uninitiated, this sequel delivers the imagination, action and hilarity of its predecessor in spades. O'Malley reaches new heights of grotesquery in the best possible way with details of the Grafters' lives, marked by constant enhancement and implantation surgeries beginning at the onset of adulthood. Odette's thighs, for example, contain sterilizing pockets for scalpels grown from her bones, and the spurs in her wrists carry doses of octopus and platypus venom. This ambitious romp reads like X-Men meets Supernatural as narrated by Jasper Fforde, only funnier. Readers should begin with the first book, then approach this one ready to meet some wisecracking, butt-kicking additions to a stellar character roster. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Daniel O'Malley raises the action, monsters and witticisms to new levels in this sequel to The Rook.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'The New Localism Challenge' at #BEA16

This year's BookExpo America opened with "Meeting the New Localism Challenge: Protecting and Promoting Communities and Local Economies," a plenary talk by Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a leading expert on small business and healthy local economies. After the presentation, booksellers were divided into breakout sessions by region to discuss the issue further.

American Booksellers Association president Betsy Burton, owner of the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, introduced Mitchell, noting that with her "passion and singleminded devotion" to the cause, "she's the Joan of Arc of Localism.... She's knowledgeable, she's impassioned, she's brilliant."

Stacy Mitchell (photo: Bookweb.org)

"Local is really on people's minds in a way it wasn't 10 years ago. People are not only buying locally; they're investing locally," Mitchell said, adding that there are currently more than 150 local first organizations in the U.S., and increasingly "what's wonderful is the neighbors and local businesses actually own their buildings." Noting that "cities are also getting in on this," she cited programs like local purchasing preferred in Cleveland, local business leasing preferences in Seattle, the adaptive reuse program in Phoenix and a formula business restriction in San Francisco.

What has driven the movement? Mitchell mentioned several factors, including campaigns to improve people's knowledge of the Localism trend, some broader cultural movements ("Millennials shopping as a cultural experience."), as well as local businesses just "getting better at what they do."

Having come this far in a decade, Mitchell posed the next logical question: "How do we make Localism central to the conversation about the future of the economy?"

Noting that there is still enormous corporate consolidation going on in many industries, she said this could be "an opportune moment for going to the next level" with Localism. Mitchell suggested a number of options for doing so, including leveraging "this amazing body of scholarship" that has been collected; creating a well-defined localist policy agenda ("This is what we need to do..."); reviving anti-trust policy ("There seems to be this shift that's beginning to happen... I think there's an opening."); eliminating tax breaks and subsidies to large companies; expanding access to credit; making more investment funds available from states and cities; rewriting local zoning codes to favor independent businesses (more walking friendly streets, for example); and maintaining affordable spaces.

"We need to reinvest in a new generation of entrepreneurs," Mitchell said. "We need to cultivate stronger networks and initiatives among elected officials. We need to engage with our customers not just in their role as customers, but as citizens... engage with them as advocates.... We need to do a better job of telling this story."

After Mitchell's speech, booksellers were divided into regional groups for breakout sessions to discuss Localism. One of the facilitators was ABA board member John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, A Bookstore, with locations in Oakland, Larkspur and Brentwood, Calif. I asked him to share highlights of his session:

"There was obviously much that could be discussed after Stacy Mitchell's talk," he recalled. "Since the breakout sessions were divided geographically, our California group met and immediately diverted from the discussion group structure graciously provided by the ABA. The initial topics and discussion points revolved around the Localism presentation and Amazon studies, with talk of how Amazon leverages their power over the whole ecosystem, for example price devaluation of the book and negotiating radically cheaper freight costs. Attempts to solve those inequalities led to inquiries about whether group rates for freight could/should approach some kind of equity with their rates. Also, more abstract notions such as no prices on books or MSRP pricing of books, common in other industries.

"We also discussed how to increase the awareness of the importance of Localism: the stories of local stores' places in our communities; customer stories; and other local businesses with similar stories. Spreading this news--economic and cultural--to local and state officials, was discussed as another aspect of informative storytelling we all should engage in. Energizing the whole community from customers to other business leaders, elected officials to media, about the relevance and importance of the new Localism and how it has to impact zoning, city contracts and council giveaways Stacy discussed and the economic studies show.

"The conversation then moved from the more general to specific tactics for effectuating change including: marketing to Airbnb, realtors, Yelp, Google, other local businesses; broadcasting the notion of bookstores and other businesses as advocates and good citizens with regard to real life, where we all live, and the things that only can happen in real places like bookstores; working with schools and merchant crawls to tie different aspects of our communities together better. We ended with a discussion of the challenges of financing for new stores and established stores, including the benefits of local credit unions; educating banks; SBA; and reducing credit card fees and reviewing them annually.

"It was a very satisfying breakout with wide-ranging contributions by the dozen or so people attending, organically moving from the more global to the more granular issues, concerns, and actions to be taken. It made me proud to be a bookseller, and also a California bookseller, surrounded by other local, engaged book people. I think it was beneficial in various ways to everyone attending. Plus, we all got to know each other better. Thanks to Pete Mulvihill (Green Apple Books) for co-hosting with me, and Steve Salardino (Skylight Books), who took excellent notes. A fine time was had by all." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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