Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 31, 2017


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

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

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

News

Wi12: Calls for Diversity at ABA Town Hall

Booksellers gathered Sunday afternoon for an energized, standing-room-only town hall meeting of the American Booksellers Association at Winter Institute 2017 in Minneapolis, Minn. By far, the largest topics of discussion were the need for greater diversity on the ABA board in particular and among booksellers in general, and a call for resources for stores looking to take political action, but other topics, including the viability of receiving health insurance from the ABA and the logistics of the invoicing system Batch, were also discussed.

Diversity and Political Action
Christin Evans, co-owner of the Booksmith in San Francisco, Calif., and a board member of Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, expressed dismay over the largely "business-as-usual" tone of the conference, given the political climate since the election and the protests surrounding the immigration and travel ban going on at the same time as Winter Institute. She said she had hoped for and requested panel sessions during which booksellers could discuss things like the Milo Yiannopoulous-Simon & Schuster book deal and ways to protest it (Evans added that her own store is cutting its S&S orders by about 50% and donating profits from other S&S titles to the ACLU), along with broader options for bookstores that want to serve as places of refuge or take a more activist stance. She asked that the ABA host at least one such panel at BookExpo this May and said it was "worthwhile for us to have a conversation about the role of the activist bookstore" in the Internet age.

The ABA Board at Wi12

Denise Chávez, owner of Casa Camino Real Bookstore & Art Gallery in Las Cruces, N.Mex., proposed that the ABA board be diversified to include more people of color, and that some sort of advisory committee be established to help guide booksellers when they face discrimination or threats based on the ethnicity, sexual orientation or nationality of visiting authors, customers and staff members. "We daily deal with racism," Chávez said, offering to make herself and other booksellers "available in this time of challenge. We face these problems all the time. We could have a group of people who would be able to help all of you and help ourselves."

Two of the organizers of Indies Forward, Hannah Oliver Depp of WORD Bookstores in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn N.Y., and Angela Maria Spring of Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., took the floor to call for the ABA board to work actively toward having more people of color on the board; to encourage and recruit more people of color into the bookselling industry; to provide panels and education sessions on inclusiveness, diversity and hiring diverse staff; and to provide resources for stores that want to create safe spaces or take political action. [Ed. note: Indies Forward met the next morning to brainstorm and share actionable first steps for many of these topics; a report on that will come later this week.]

Angela Maria Spring (l.) of Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., and Hannah Oliver Depp of WORD Bookstores in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., addressing the board on diversity.

Deandra Beard, owner of Beyond Barcodes Bookstore in Kokomo, Ind., recalled reaching out to African American bookstores around the country on her own when she was looking to open her own store. She wondered if the ABA was making efforts to reach out to black bookstores that weren't member stores and whether the association could help connect stores owned by people of color.

In response to calls for greater diversity on the board, board members implored ABA members to take part in the annual nominating process and to make sure they're reading Bookselling This Week to know when that will occur. "This needs to be grass roots," said Jamie Fiocco, owner of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C. "Help us diversify the board. The board is only as good as the nominations we receive." In regards to things like the Yiannopoulous book deal, ABA president Betsy Burton of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, reminded ABA members that, legally, if booksellers do discuss protests as a group, they cannot band together in any kind of fiscal way. And the next morning Burton announced that the board had met after the town hall meeting to discuss these issues and decided on two immediate points of action: the first is starting a diversity task force, and the second is to immediately expand the Bookseller Advisory Council--which meets twice a year--by five members, with an eye toward diversity. Burton thanked booksellers for bringing up "things that needed to be said," and for doing so "in the best way possible."

Health Insurance
On the subject of bookseller health insurance through the ABA, CEO Oren Teicher reiterated that the ABA has been trying for years and will continue to try, but there are difficulties, including the fact that the ABA membership is too small and too spread out across the country to garner competitive prices. The ABA is, however, looking into working with other independent business associations, such as the North American Retail Hardware Association, to see if together they can reach high enough member numbers and density. Teicher also noted that the current "uncertainty" surrounding the Affordable Care Act has made negotiations with health insurance companies more complicated, but the ABA will continue its efforts.

ABACUS
Noëlle Santos, owner of the Lit. Bar, a bookstore and wine bar that will open in the Bronx, N.Y., this year, pleaded for more indie booksellers to participate in the ABA's ABACUS surveys, calling the ABACUS data her "life line" for negotiations with property owners, lenders and banks. "I know it's a lot of work," said Santos, but the more booksellers participate, "the greater the chance that people like me, women of color, have of bringing books to urban areas."

Betsy Burton agreed, saying that in her opinion ABACUS is the "single-best tool that the ABA provides for us." She also pointed out that the surveys are confidential.

Batch
When asked about the financial and logistic implications of using Batch, an invoicing data system created for the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland that the ABA has been trying to bring to American stores, Oren Teicher stressed that the system is free, totally voluntary and does not affect any terms or agreements with particular publishers. Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., reiterated that with Batch booksellers have "complete control of who you pay and when," but instead of managing dozens of different invoices and writing as many checks, everything is done in one place online. Teicher also noted that the ABA is testing the system with some major publishers and trying to bring others on board. --Alex Mutter


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


Wi12: News from Minneapolis

There was more good news about indie sales at the Winter Institute this past weekend. ABA CEO Oren Teicher noted that the independent bookstore channel ended the year with overall sales up about 5% and said that total book sales have reached more than $500 million, not counting non-book items and other store revenues. The gain is all the more encouraging because of the poor results at other bricks-and-mortar stores, particularly Barnes & Noble and department stores.

This gain continues to be proof, Teicher said, that readers are responding to the "value" booksellers offer--"your passion, your knowledge, your authentic connection to the community."

ABA's Mark Nichols, Oren Teicher and Joy Dallenegra-Sanger

Noting that indies have done so well because of "a commitment to professional development and continued innovation," he cautioned that despite the good news, there are a range of challenges to booksellers, including the "increasingly prominent threat posed by Amazon and the unprecedented concentration of retail power that they have." The ABA aims to do everything it can to provide educational programming and other help to help independent bookstores to continue to grow and succeed--with the Winter Institute a prime example.

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As has become something of a tradition at the Winter Institute, the place and date for the next one were announced on the last day. Wi13 will be held in Memphis, Tenn., January 22-25, 2018. As the news was released, probably the first of many people suggested the ABA hire an Elvis impersonator.

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Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, now a sponsor of the Winter Institute, spoke briefly at Sunday's breakfast, saying, "It's really a fraught time, and I think that books are a powerful tool, and the more that we love them and refer to them and care about them and build our audience, the better off we'll be. This feels like a real power center for what that future is going to look like and we really do look forward to working with all the booksellers."

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During Wi12, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) received widespread support in its mission to help booksellers and their families who are in need. Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., and the Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I., cited the ways Binc had helped her store after Sandy flooding and helped her staff with other difficulties. Ann Patchett, the inaugural ambassador for Binc (with James Patterson), made a big plug for the organization during her Sunday breakfast conversation with Lesley Stahl (see story below), which was so effective that, according to Binc staff, there was a spike in donations during the breakfast.

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The presentation on Sunday by Paul Currie, CEO of Foyles, about how the iconic English bookshop has reinvented itself and moved from the 19th century into the 21st century, was warmly welcomed by the audience of several hundred. Booksellers expressed such interest in Foyles' training programs that the ABA is going to work with Currie to make them available to ABA members.

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At Monday's breakfast, Bob Eckstein, author and illustrator of Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers, published by Clarkson Potter last fall, thanked booksellers for their help. "It was great fun and I met a lot of great people," he said. Unfortunately, he continued, although he went to 150-200 stores, he was able to include paintings and stories about only 75 of them "I felt very bad we had to cut so many." But he added happily, "I'm working on a sequel."

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At Monday's breakfast, PW unveiled the finalists for the bookstore of the year and rep of the year awards:

Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.
The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah
Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.
Prairie Lights, Iowa City, Iowa
Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn. (see our profile last week of this amazing store here!)

Anne DeCourcey, HarperCollins
Christine Foye, Simon & Schuster
John Mayes, PGW
Jen Medina, Macmillan
John Mesjak, Abraham Associates


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Wi12: Lesley Stahl & Ann Patchett in Conversation

"Hi team," Ann Patchett greeted her fellow booksellers as she took the stage Sunday for a Winter Institute breakfast keynote conversation with Lesley Stahl, broadcast journalist and author of Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting (Blue Rider). Their discussion was at once formal and informal, ranging over a wide terrain yet always coming back to the crucial role of books in the world.

"My favorite time selling my book was going to independent bookstores," Stahl said. "Just seeing the hard work, but the fun work, you're doing to push our books. So, we love you." She also noted a bond between her profession and her audience's: "A couple of years ago they were writing our obit, and telling us in television and in the book world that we were dinosaurs and we were virtually extinct. And we're not. We're back.... It's as if you guys slayed the dragon in a way."

Lesley Stahl and Ann Patchett

Patchett said she had never felt anything but optimism about the future of books: "My life is night after night I go out and see crowds of people who really care about books and literature and they're passionate readers, and I never saw the dip first hand. I think that I stayed in this bubble of good cheer and optimism that really allowed me and Karen [Hayes, co-owner of Parnassus Books) to go forth and open the bookstore."

When the conversation turned to Stahl's book, Patchett observed: "Everybody in this room already knows this, but the best thing about working in a bookstore is you read things you never would read unless you were working in a bookstore.... So, I just had one of those experiences the other day. I read your book."

After the laughter died down, she added, "Listen, I don't have children. I certainly don't have grandchildren. Reading a book called Becoming Grandma was not on my radar, but it's an amazing book.... All I'm saying is if you don't think this book is for you, it's for you."

Stahl suggested they play a word association game, opening with "Trump!" Patchett countered: "Obama! With a bigger exclamation mark." Then Stahl said "Binc!"

That one inspired Patchett. "Heart!" she replied, adding that the Book Industry Charitable Foundation "is it for me. If you want to know why I'm here, I'm not here at Winter Institute as an author or a bookseller. I am here as your Binc representative." Noting that "all of us right now are looking for something that we can do to feel empowered and feel that we are part of the community," she passionately recommended donating to Binc. "Please know that I am using all of my personal power to put serious pressure on publishers to give really big money. We need to do it at a big level and a small level. This is what we do in this country. We're going to form a net as our nets are being taken away from us. We are going to form a net and make sure that booksellers are safe. Next question?"

Stahl fired off several questions, 60 Minutes style, including: How many books do you read a month? How autobiographical was your novel Commonwealth? Could you talk about the next book? ("I'm on page 4½.") Tell us a little about how you write. Occasionally, their conversation became an entertaining duel. When Stahl pressed a bit to get Patchett "to tell us anything about the new book," she parried deftly: "What are you reading now?"

Which led, naturally, to a book discussion. Stahl praised The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith: "It's gorgeously written and I'm going to recommend it to all of you. It's been out for a while and didn't make a big splash and I'm surprised because I thought it was beautiful."

Patchett noted that "one of the great things about working in a bookstore is that you can take your favorite book that didn't make a splash or a book by somebody who's been dead for 40 years or 100 years or whatever, and put it on a big display at the front table and everybody who comes in the front door thinks that it came out this week. And they just snap it up." Her example: Act One by Moss Hart, published in 1959.

One of the best moments in the conversation occurred near the end, when Patchett asked if she could pitch a potential 60 Minutes story to Stahl.

"The health of independent bookstores," Patchett said. "It's the perfect story because it's where we started this conversation.... Independent bookstores, contrary to everyone's opinion, are doing well because we need this; we need the community center. We need to come together. We need to have some place to go.... And there needs to be a 60 Minutes story about this industry and how surprisingly successful it is."

Stahl asked the huge breakfast audience: "Would she make a good 60 Minutes story?"

Even if you weren't there, you can imagine the response. Stay tuned. --Robert Gray


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Amazon to Begin Collecting Sales Tax in Missouri

Effective tomorrow, February 1, Amazon will begin collecting sales tax in Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers Association, told the paper: "This is going to be good for Missouri and good for our communities because we provide a lot of services and finding resources is getting tougher and tougher. This is a long time coming. We can't continue down the way we are without hurting Main Street businesses."

In 2013, the state enacted a law requiring online retailers to collect sales tax if they received business referrals from in-state affiliates. Amazon reacted by ending its associate program in Missouri.


Obituary Note: Christopher Bland

Christopher Bland, former chairman of Canongate Books, died January 28, the Bookseller reported. He was 78. Last October, he stepped down from his role as chairman after 22 years, and was replaced by David Young. Bland's debut novel, Ashes in the Wind, was published by Head of Zeus in 2014.

Canongate CEO Jamie Byng said Bland was "smart, dedicated, tough and inspiring.... Vastly experienced, passionate about books and their importance, and alive to the challenges of running an independent publisher, Christopher was an exemplary chairman. He was enormously proud of Canongate, loved and admired its excellent staff and many wonderful authors, and without him Canongate would not be what it is today. In fact I don't think it would be. Period. Christopher is also the man I have learnt more from than anyone else and his death is a huge personal loss.  It's hard to believe he is gone."


Notes

Image of the Day: WI Horse Invitational

The first annual WI Horse Invitational took place at 1:30 a.m. on the last night of the conference.

The hoopsters: (back row) Ken Holland, Macmillan; Paul Hanson, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.; Pete Mulvihill, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif.; Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.; Eric Price, Melville House; John Evans, Diesel: A Bookstore in Oakland, Brentwood and Larkspur, Calif.; Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va. Front: Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., and Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash. Photo: Alison Reid


Cool Idea of the Day: Buses with Bookshelves

VHH, a regional bus company in Hamburg, Germany, has installed shelves in some of its buses so passengers can borrow books during their rides. Buzzfeed reported that all passengers "have to do is pick a book they like, and start reading. If they don't finish their book during their bus ride, they can take it home and either bring it back to the bus or mail it to the store that provides the books."

The company launched Buchhaltestellen (book stops) in 2010 "as a collaboration with second-hand department store Stilbruch," Buzzfeed noted. "Over the past seven years, Stilbruch has provided almost one million books for the 150 buses that feature the shelves."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael Eric Dyson on the View

Tomorrow:
The View: Michael Eric Dyson, author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250135995).

Watch What Happens Live: Keke Palmer, author of I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice (North Star Way, $24.99, 9781501145391). She will also appear on Wendy Williams.


TV: All the Queen's Men

Steve Shill, "who won a directing Emmy for his work on Season 4 finale of Dexter," will direct the epic series All the Queen's Men, based on Robin Maxwell's historical novels The Wild Irish and The Queen's Bastard, Deadline reported. Stewart Harcourt (Churchill's Secret, Dexter) wrote the script for the series, which is being developed for Tayox TV and Ingenious Media. The project is "on a course to shoot early in 2018," Deadline noted. Shill will executive produce.



Books & Authors

Awards: Wellcome Book Longlist

A longlist has been announced for the £30,000 (about $37,440) Wellcome Book Prize, which honors a new work of fiction or nonfiction published in the U.K. with "a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness." A shortlist will be revealed on March 14, with the winner named April 24. The complete longlist can be found here.


Top Library Recommended Titles for February

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 February titles public library staff across the country love:

Favorite
I See You by Clare Mackintosh (Berkley, $26, 9781101988299). "Zoe Walker sees her picture in a personal ad for a dating website. At first she thinks there must be a mistake. She soon learns that other women whose pictures have appeared in these ads have been subjected to violent crimes. Zoe contacts the police. PC Kelly Smith, a disgraced former detective, works to find the mastermind behind the website and redeem herself. As each day passes Zoe becomes more and more paranoid and suspicious of everyone she meets. Told from three different viewpoints, the tension builds and kept me on the edge of my seat." --Karen Zeibak, Wilton Library Association, Wilton, Conn.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (Norton, $25.95, 9780393609097). "After reading Gaiman's account of Norse mythology, I doubt that I will ever forget how the gods of Asgard acquired their treasures. Thor's hammer that never misses its mark, Frey's incredible ship that shrinks to the size of a pocketable silk scarf, Odin's powerful spear, all came to be because of Loki's mischief. Above all, I will not forget the ill-gotten and ill-treated children of Loki who bring about Ragnarok, the end of earth and heaven and the death of the gods. Everything feels very real and very now when told by someone who has obviously drunk of the 'mead of the poets.' " --Catherine Stanton, Madison Library District, Rexburg, Ill.

My Not So Perfect Life: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella (Dial Press, $28, 9780812998269). "Katie Brenner has moved from her family's farm to the big city. She goes to great lengths to present the face that she thinks the world wants to see. When she's fired from her job and forced to return home, she helps her family get their new venture up and running. Learning the truth about herself and those around her leads to the realization that nobody's life is as perfect as it seems from the outside. Kinsella never loses her sense of humor, even when her characters are facing serious situations. She makes you believe in them and leaves you wanting to know what happens next." --Kristen Gramer, Lewes Public Library, Lewes, De.

All Our Wrong Todays: A Novel by Elan Mastai (Dutton, $26, 9781101985137). "Mastai's debut is a clever and funny time travel romp which turns into an action-packed science fiction thriller. Tom Barren stumbles through life and accidentally ruins the glittering jetpack and flying car future of 2016, replacing it with the one you and I know. The world may be worse off, but Tom's life is better than ever. That is, until his mind starts splitting between the two realities and he must track down the genius who invented the other future. Tom's journey through the past, across realities, and inside his mind make for a thrilling conclusion." --Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, N.C.

A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062356260). "Andrew Wyeth's painting 'Christina's World' would immortalize a young woman. This is the story of Christina and her life. After almost dying as a child of an undiagnosed illness, her legs are twisted, making her stumble as she walks. As she ages, the effects of this illness get much worse, leaving her with a shrinking world. This book immerses us in the life on her farm and into the heart of a young woman. A fantastic and touching story by this author that brings to life the story behind a painting and the life of a young girl who always wanted more than she was given, but accomplished so much despite her handicap." --Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, Batavia, Ill.

Gilded Cage by Vic James (Del Rey, $20, 9780425284155). "Welcome to a world where magic grants you access to all the benefits of wealth and power. This is the story of two families, one from magic and one not. When Abi comes up with a plan to help her family by having them serve one of the most powerful magical families, she thinks it will save them. But when her brother is sent to one of the harshest work camps, the plan seems less likely to keep them alive. Her brother must face the dangers of slavery while Abi and the others will see grandeur and wealth but also see the rotten core that is gilded in gold." --Suzanne Christensen, Spanish Fork Public Library, Spanish Fork, Utah

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir: A Novel by Jennifer Ryan (Crown, $26, 9781101906750). "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is a powerful story of both hope and despair. Told through diary entries, this is a wonderful glimpse into life in a small British town during World War II. Ryan is a skilled writer who gives each diary entry a clear voice: Mrs. Paltry is dishonest and scheming, Venetia, the self-centered young woman in love with a mysterious man, Kitty, the love struck teenager with big dreams, and Mrs. Tilling, the midwife and moral compass of the town. Through their entries, you really see them grow. The power of music brings them strength that they didn't know that they had." --Shari Suarez, Genesee District Library, Goodrich, Mich.

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (Putnam, $27, 9780399162107). "Robert stands watching the demolition of the old paper mill that stood in the center of town and served as a constant reminder of his friend, Nathan. The reader is transported from present day to 1970s Maine, where Robbie finds his friendship with Nathan a literal escape from the bullying at school, and a figurative way of coping with his brother's struggle with muscular dystrophy. The portrayal of family dynamics in the wake of tragedy is reminiscent of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng but with an anchoring of boyhood friendship in this coming of age tale." --Emma DeLooze-Klein, Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, Mo.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (Viking, $27, 9780399563089). "When Georgia Hunter learns that she is a descendant of large family of Holocaust survivors, she knows that she is destined to be the recorder of their story. This is the result of years of research to gather as much detail about her relatives as she possibly can. How this group of people manages to survive years of persecution and imprisonment is astounding. It is an inspiring read, and one that honors the memory and struggle of not just the author's family, but all of the people who suffered during the war." --Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, Conn.

Garden of Lamentations: A Novel by Deborah Crombie (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062271631). "Picking up where To Dwell in Darkness left off, Crombie's new mystery resolves unresolved issues from that book while telling a compelling new story. Gemma is investigating the puzzling death of a nanny while Duncan is dealing with what looks disturbingly like corruption in the police force. As always in Crombie's novels, the look we get at the domestic lives of Duncan, Gemma and their children is as interesting as the mystery. Another fine entry in this excellent series." --Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, N.Y.


Book Review

Review: The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis (Hogarth, $26 hardcover, 368p., 9780451495648, March 7, 2017)

Set in the fictional North Carolina mountain town of Old Buckram, The Barrowfields is a stunning debut novel rich in character and place, steeped in literature and music, and fraught with family drama. Raised in an old mountaintop mansion by his eccentric book collector/unpublished writer/lawyer father and supportive but overwhelmed mother, Henry Aster Jr. narrates the story from his perspective as a new lawyer. He left Old Buckram for college in Connecticut and law school in Chapel Hill, but could never quite shake his father's influence.

Impressing his young son, Henry Sr. would glibly quote favorite passages from Poe, Wolfe, Camus, Styron, as well as many others from his 10,000-volume library. Writing alone in the quiet night with a plentiful supply of alcohol, he longed to join their ranks, but his book was only ever "coming along." With a sensitive daughter nine years younger than Henry, and another daughter recently killed at age three by a kick from one of his wife's horses, Henry Sr. walked out on his family and never returned. Henry Jr. was devastated, and his mother tried to comfort him with a passage from Beryl Markham's West of the Night: "...the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance. The cloud clears as you enter it."

But comfort comes hard to Henry, who consumes alcohol with abandon like his father did, pursues a gorgeous law school classmate with her own murky past, and regrets leaving his fragile sister whom he promised to stand by. Spinning his wheels as a lawyer with no particular alternative, he returns to the "moribund town of no earthly consequence in the persistent autumn of its bleak existence," to the abandoned Old Buckram mansion to confront the ghost of his father and seek relief from the "hateful bitterness inside me... from my inability to understand him and his indifference to my inability to understand him."

Born in the Carolina Appalachians and now a litigator in Charlotte, Phillip Lewis knows the idiosyncrasies of small mountain towns. With clear echoes of Poe and Wolfe, The Barrowfields also gives a nod to Richard Russo by reflecting an appreciation for the eccentricities of regional characters. For example, Henry recalls his first piano teacher, "a wispy-haired, D-cupped Glenn Gould unspooling more sequacious melodies and counterpoints than my mind could simultaneously hear and comprehend," and the local pastor who "had no special insights into the machinations of God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit... but the certitude with which he condemned sinners to hell elevated him to the head of his church at a young age and he preached for his entire life." Lewis drops in colorful snippets of local life, including a book burning, a pinch-faced librarian hoarding her books, a lonely woman burying her cat in baby clothes, even an unsolved family murder/suicide. But the heart of the story is Henry's difficult relationship with his father--a frayed bond that he finally accepts with the understanding that Henry Sr. "was only a man, who, like so many of us, had dreams that exceeded him." Lewis has put Old Buckram firmly on the map. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Phillip Lewis captures the idiosyncrasies of small-town mountain life in an accomplished first novel of family rifts, literature and music, and obsessive eccentricity.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Egomaniac by Vi Keeland
2. Fidelity by Aleatha Romig
3. Big Shot by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde
4. Real Good Love by Meghan March
5. Taking Turns by JA Huss
6. Dark Legends by Various
7. Delivery Girl by Lily Kate
8. Full Package by Lauren Blakely
9. Shafted by Jordan Marie
10. Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]

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