Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 14, 2017


Flatiron Books: Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block

Scholastic Press: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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

News

Sententia Vera Cultural Hub Comes to Dripping Springs, Texas

Sententia Vera Cultural Hub, a 3,000 square foot independent bookstore, coffee bar and co-working space, opened last month in Dripping Springs, Tex., Bookselling This Week reported. The bookstore takes up about 1,500 square feet of the newly-renovated building and features books in English, Spanish and other languages, along with multicultural films and music in a variety of languages. Events include movie screenings, language and cultural classes, book clubs in foreign languages, language-learning trips and live music.

Owner Teresa Carbajal Ravet told BTW that though the bookstore will have bestsellers, there will be a greater focus on self-published and local authors, particularly writers of ethnic and Tejano literature, saying: "I do want the community to be able to find their Harry Potters and their Pattersons and their other books that are mainstream, but I definitely want to give more real estate to the local cultural view as well as to the self-published authors who are trying to get into the publishing world."

Teresa Carbajal Ravet

In 2011 Carbajal Ravet opened an indie bookstore in Dripping Springs called Dulce Bread & Book Shop, but decided to close after a slow start. She has taught Spanish at Waldorf schools and at the university level, and also works as a cultural consultant. While working as an educator she began sourcing books from foreign publishers and later sold books to her consulting clients who needed to gain a deeper understanding of the demographics they were trying to reach.

Sententia Vera, which means "true meaning" or "true significance" in Latin, also features a co-working space available for independent professionals who can either pay by the day or become co-working members for a monthly fee. Amenities include "an event space, a resource library, high-speed Wi-Fi, translation services, and discounts at the bookshop." The coffee bar, meanwhile, serves organic coffee and tea.

"I really want to make it a space where an independent, self-employed person can work on, promote, or scale his or her business," added Carbajal Ravet.


Conari Press: Swimming with Elephants: My Unexpected Pilgrimage from Physician to Healer by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann


Bookstore Proposed for D.C.'s Anacostia Neighborhood

Kymone Freeman, co-owner of We Act Radio, is leading an effort to transform a 2,400-square-foot space in Southeast Washington's Anacostia neighborhood into a bookstore to honor a slain journalist. The Washington Post reported that the shop would be named the Charnice Milton Community Bookstore, "in honor of the 27-year-old journalist fatally shot two years ago in Southeast. Police say Milton was on her way home from covering a community meeting and wasn't the intended target. No arrests have been made in the case."

Estimating that he will need to raise $180,000 for the project, Freeman said the bookstore will focus on African American authors and will incorporate a social justice mission. It would be housed in the basement of the We Act Radio studios. Thousands of donated books have been collected to sell at the store, although the organizers eventually hope to sell new as well as used books.

"Books are the most transformative thing," Freeman said. "If you can match the kid with the right book, it can change them."

Milton's father, Ken McClenton, said, "I see this bookstore as mere justice, not just social justice. This is a tribute to what a person can do when the world comes against it. They can overcome it. Even in death, Charnice was not a victim--she was a conqueror."

At a ceremony announcing the bookstore last month, representatives from nonprofits, including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and D.C. police attended to show support, the Post wrote, adding that Trayon White, who represents Ward 8 on the D.C. Council, said the bookstore "will show the value of education and literacy in our community. It's an excellent idea that we should all support. We can take something really sad and make it positive for the community."

Freeman is currently planning fundraisers while pitching developers on building in the neighborhood. He also hopes for a financial boost from city leaders.


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


ABA Offering Fall Workshop on 'Implicit Bias & Inclusion'

This fall, the American Booksellers Association will present a full-day education session, titled "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Addressing Stereotypes and Creating a Welcoming Environment," in advance of two of the fall regional bookseller trade shows, Bookselling This Week reported. The sessions will take place September 14, prior to the start of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Discovery Show in New Orleans; and October 11, prior to the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show in Denver.

Ilsa Govan and Caprice Hollins

Designed for both owners/managers and frontline booksellers, the workshop will be led by Ilsa Marie Govan, M.A., and Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D., of Cultures Connecting. Using video, interactive exercises and storytelling, they "will illustrate how implicit racial stereotypes can influence attitudes, behaviors and beliefs about others and create barriers to genuine relationships. The workshop also aims to help booksellers understand the factors that create a sense of welcoming in an independent bookstore, from the inventory to the diversity of staff members, as well as how implicit biases--whether about race, gender, age, or disability status--come into play in creating such an environment for staff and customers."

Registration for the workshops, which cost $75 per person, is scheduled to open in early August. Fall show registration is not required to attend the workshops. More details coming soon.


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


Thompson Stepping Down as M.D. of PRH New Zealand

Margaret Thompson, managing director of Penguin Random House New Zealand, will leave the company effective July 28. On her departure, a new management structure will be put in place, with Debra Millar as publishing director, Siobhan Clare as marketing & publicity director and Carrie Welch as sales director. They will report directly to Julie Burland, CEO of PRH Australia & New Zealand.

"Margaret's contributions to Penguin Random House are many and indelible, having been responsible for discovering, developing, and selling many of our most successful Australian and New Zealand authors," said Burland. "Margaret has made a unique contribution to our business, and she has been an outstanding advocate of books and reading in New Zealand. She will be deeply missed as a colleague and leader."


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Obituary Note: Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo, "the renegade Chinese intellectual who kept vigil at Tiananmen Square in 1989 to protect protesters from encroaching soldiers, promoted a pro-democracy charter that brought him a lengthy prison sentence and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while locked away," died yesterday under guard in a hospital, the New York Times reported. He was 61. The Chinese government revealed he had cancer in late June, but "even as he faced death, he was kept silenced in the First Hospital of China Medical University, still a captive of the authoritarian controls that he had fought for decades." His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest in Beijing since his Nobel Peace Prize was announced in 2010.

"He was a dissident even among dissidents," said Yu Jie, a friend and biographer. "Liu Xiaobo was willing to criticize himself and reflect on his actions in a way that even many activists in the democracy movement can't."

Liu published his first book, a critique of Confucianism titled Criticism of the Choice: Dialogues with Li Zehou, in 1987. It became a bestseller, the Los Angeles Times noted. In 2008, he helped draft Charter 08, a manifesto demanding that China's leaders adopt an independent legal system, freedom of association, separation of powers and other pillars of liberal democracy. In response, police arrested Liu and banned his publications. He was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Perry Link, a professor at UC Riverside who translated Charter 08 into English and co-edited the essay collection No Enemies, No Hatred, said that while Liu was only one of the authors of Charter 08, "he took the lead, by which I mean he advertised it--he went around to people and asked for their signatures. Then he took politically a very big step: He said he would sponsor the charter, that he'd take the rap, he'd take the political fall. And of course he did. I don't think he thought he'd win a Nobel Prize for it." Liu is also the author of June Fourth Elegies: Poems, translated by Jeffrey Yang. 

PEN America executive director Suzanne Nossel said: "As President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, Liu Xiaobo was a friend and compatriot for writers all over the world who struggle against tyranny using words as their sole weapon. Liu Xiaobo's purported crime was no crime at all, but rather a visionary exposition on the potential future of a country he loved.... Liu Xiaobo was not afraid. His courage in life and in death is an inspiration to those who stand for freedom in China and everywhere."


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


Notes

Image of the Day: Keith McCafferty's Unusual Bookseller Gift


During an appearance at the Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday, Keith McCafferty presented Barbara Peters with a new hand-tied fly for her collection. (She has one each for his Sean Stranahan novels.) This fly is called Papa's McGinty honoring Ernest Hemingway, whose lost fishing gear forms part of the story of Cold Hearted River, Stranahan #6.

Kate Schatz Selected for Bookshop Santa Cruz Writer Residency

Kate Schatz, author of Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z, is the second recipient of the Bookshop Santa Cruz Writer Residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. As part of the residency, Schatz will spend two weeks at the Wellstone Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains this fall, with room and evening meals provided. Schatz will have the opportunity to participate in yoga sessions and open mic nights at the center, and will receive a consultation with Bookshop Santa Cruz buyers about her current project--a novel set in San Francisco in the late 1960s--in relation to the publishing marketplace.

The Bookshop Santa Cruz Writer Residency was created last year in honor of Bookshop Santa Cruz's 50th anniversary, with author Thad Nodine (Touch and Go) as the inaugural selection. The residency was open to any author working on a work of fiction, with an emphasis on fiction set in California, and will be offered annually through 2020. Authors Sarah Ringer and Steve Kettmann founded the Wellstone Center in 2012.


Personnel Changes at Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing

Tracy Danz has joined Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company as v-p of sales and marketing. He has spent much of his career at HarperCollins, including as v-p and publisher of Zondervan and director of marketing for HarperCollins Christian.


S&S to Distribute Bonnier's IglooBooks

Effective August 1, Simon & Schuster will handle sales to select accounts and distribution in North America for IglooBooks, the Bonnier Publishing division that publishes mass market adult and children's books. The agreement expands on the existing relationship between S&S and Bonnier Publishing USA, which includes sales and distribution for Little Bee Books, Sizzle Press, Weldon Owen and Blue Streak Books.

Founded in 2003 and acquired by Bonnier Publishing in 2014, IglooBooks publishes in 36 languages and is sold in 58 countries.

Jeremy Nurnberg, director of sales for IglooBooks, said: "As we continue with Igloo's ambitious North American expansion, we see our relationship with Simon & Schuster as an exciting new phase in the company's history. With S&S's fantastic operations team and their efficiencies, we’re looking forward to taking our product into more markets than ever before."



Media and Movies

Movies: A Wrinkle in Time

"The clock ticks, time bends, space shifts, and Oprah is your planet-hopping tour guide through all of it," Entertainment Weekly noted in showcasing a first look at director Ava DuVernay's (Selma, 13th) film adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Oscar winner Jennifer Lee (Frozen) wrote the script for the project. In addition to Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, the film's cast includes Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who), Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), Storm Reid (Meg), Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

DuVernay said she discovered the novel as an adult: "I went to school in Compton and it wasn't on my reading list. I saw so much beauty in it, but also so much meaning. She's a very radical thinker and she embedded her sense of what society should and could be in this piece, and a lot of it I agree with. And through that, the story of this girl saving the world and being out there in the universe slaying the darkness, it also says a lot about slaying our own dragons."

She added that the first image she had "was to place a brown girl in that role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I'd never seen a girl of color in. All of those scenes struck my fancy, and then it was also something that [Disney v-p of production] Tendo Nagenda said to me, which I'll never forget. One of the things that really made me want to read it was when he said, 'Ava, imagine what you would do with the worlds.' Worlds! 'Planets no one's ever seen or heard of,' he said. There aren't any other black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with."

DuVernay also observed: "My whole process with this film was, what if? With these women, I wondered, could we make them women of different ages, body types, races? Could we bring in culture, bring in history in their costumes? And in the women themselves, could we just reflect a fuller breadth of femininity?"


Books & Authors

Awards: BAME Short-Story

Lisa Smith won the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize for "Auld Lang Syne," which is "about an elderly man behind bars on New Year's Eve" and "takes a subtle and sly look at ageing and masculinity." Smith receives £1,000 (about $1,295) and a workshop with 4th Estate editorial, publicity and marketing teams.

Prize judge Sian Cain said the winning tale was "a perfect example of what the short story can do when the form is at its best: containing as much of an emotional blow as that of a 800-page novel, regardless of its brevity."


Reading with... Billy Bragg

photo: Andy Whale

Billy Bragg is an English singer-songwriter in the spirit of Woody Guthrie. His music blends elements of folk music and punk rock, with lyrics that take in the personal and the political. His new book, Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World (Faber & Faber, July 11, 2017), is the first in-depth look at skiffle--a do-it-yourself music craze that hit post-war Britain and takes its cues from American jazz, blues and folk--and how it inspired many of the bands of the British Invasion and shaped pop music as we have come to know it.

On your nightstand now:

I've been reading Naomi Alderman's The Power, a gripping story that inverts the physical power dynamic between the sexes. I've also been dipping into Small Town Talk, Barney Hoskyns's brilliant evocation of life in 1960s Woodstock, where Bob Dylan drew like-minded musicians.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Moon of Gomrath--Alan Garner. Where Tolkien places his weird folk in a fantasy land, Garner puts them where they should be, in our midst, watching us from briar and bog, hidden in the hollow hills over which we tramp.

Your top five authors:

Nick Tosches, George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Claire Tomalin and Antony Beevor.

Book you've faked reading:

Hasn't every lefty faked reading Das Kapital?

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Lion & the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius by George Orwell--I give a copy of this book to anyone who tries to tell me that you can't be a socialist and a patriot.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd. Actually it was the title that drew me to this book, rather than the cover. Dan Leno was an English music hall comedian of the late 19th century, and Limehouse was a dark district of the old East End of London. I bought the paperback in Australia, intending to read it on the plane coming home, which I failed to do. A few years later, I took it on the flight to Australia again and still didn't manage to read the damn thing. It still resides unread on my bookshelf, I'm ashamed to say.

Book you hid from your parents:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. In the wake of Kubrick's 1971 movie of the novel, there was a public outcry about the title, so every one of my 13-year-old school pals had a copy and we kept them hidden from parents and teachers alike.

Book that changed your life:

Diary of a Rock 'n' Roll Star by Ian Hunter. The lead singer of Mott the Hoople tells the story of the band's 1972 American tour. Enthralled by the prospect of travelling across the U.S. trying to win a different crowd every night, I started to think about how I might follow Hunter's path myself.

Favorite line from a book:

I've found that if you read Orwell's 1984 every decade or so, it throws up a new perspective on the times that we're living through. When I first read it, it was clearly about things that could only happen under a totalitarian regime. When I read it 10 years ago, it seemed to be about political spin. In the post-truth world of Brexit and Trump, every other chapter seems to have something to say about where we are today, such as this chilling declaration of intent by the inner party member O'Brien:

"The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy--everything."

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

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. I really enjoyed learning to understand the broken English used by the narrator.

Book you always keep at hand:

Who's Buried Where in England by Douglas Greenwood. I suffer from the autodidact's vice--I buy books for reference and this, along with Brewer's Phrase & Fable, is one of my favourites. Although it was first published in 1982, Greenwood seems untroubled by popular culture--almost all of his subjects were interred well before the advent of the Beatles. It's a wonderfully quirky book, ideal for keeping in the smallest room of the house, where many of us are wont to ponder our own mortality.


Book Review

Review: The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris

The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris by Tom Sancton (Dutton, $28 hardcover, 416p., 9781101984475, August 8, 2017)

In The Bettencourt Affair, former Paris bureau chief for Time magazine Tom Sancton (Death of a Princess) narrates the legal battle between 94-year-old L'Oréal heir Liliane Bettencourt and her daughter, Françoise Meyers, over Liliane's estate and late-in-life companion François-Marie Banier.

Liliane is the only child of a chemist who parlayed a nontoxic hair dye into a behemoth fashion conglomerate. When he died, she inherited the stock and actively participated on its board and subsidiary investments. A fashionable, assertive, powerful and wealthy woman, Liliane married André Bettencourt, who was more suited to the bureaucratic and political positions he held for 30 years than he was to managing a private empire--or entertaining Liliane's social and artistic whims. Their daughter, Françoise, grew up with a disinterested father and a strong mother disappointed in her child's introverted inclinations. She married the banker Jean-Pierre Meyers. In the interest of estate planning, Liliane set up an inheritance trust whereby Françoise and her two sons would receive her L'Oréal stock upon her death, but Liliane would get all the dividends during her lifetime. Everybody was plenty rich, but nobody was especially happy.

Banier was a gay photographer, artist and writer who insinuated himself into celebrity circles with humor and charm. Although only 40, he and 65-year-old Liliane hit it off, and she began to visit galleries and museums with him. She bought him art. She funded his studios and photography exhibits. Soon she was buying him apartments and vacation homes. Over 20 years, Banier received almost a billion euros worth of goodies from the captivated heiress. Françoise appeared miffed that Banier seemed to have become the child to her mother that she had never been.

When André died in 2007, Françoise hired a high-profile lawyer to seek criminal charges against Banier for abus de faiblesse (abuse of weakness), and all hell broke loose in the Bettencourt kingdom. When the conflict leaked to the press, the public ate it up. Nothing like a good fight among the moneyed French royalty. The investigation uncovered secret payments to politicians (including then President Sarkozy), clandestine changes in life insurance beneficiaries, witness tampering, offshore bank accounts, a legacy of anti-Semitism and more. Françoise's position was that her mother was bilked by a crooked gigolo. She argued: "Has anyone ever seen an artist 'subsidized' on the level of a billion euros? With a billion, you can build the Louvre." Liliane dismissed the suit as the snit of a jealous, vengeful daughter. As a friend of hers put it: "When you have 20 billion euros, and your daughter is rich, what's a mere billion? It's her own fortune and she can do what she wants with it."

A longtime reporter on a foreign desk, Tom Sancton knows Paris and has done his homework. Françoise, her husband and sons now control L'Oréal, and Sarkozy's political career ended in controversy. Three involved in the case committed suicide, and Banier was convicted with a fine and suspended sentence. And Liliane now lives in lavish dementia care with a mind totally removed from worldly cares. The Bettencourt Affair is a devilishly engaging immersion into a world few of us can imagine. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Former Time magazine Paris bureau chief Tom Sancton lays out the juicy history, gossip and political entanglements of the legal contretemps among one of the world's richest families.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Pre-Ordering a New Bookshop Movie Allusion

There seems to be an unwritten rule that any media story focused upon the theme of independent bookstores must, at some point, allude to You've Got Mail (YGM), the 1998 romcom film starring Tom Hanks as Joe, a member of the family that owns mega-bookstore chain Fox Books; and Meg Ryan as Kathleen, who operates a small indie that is being put out of business by the biblio-monolith. AOL co-stars in the role of a non-bookselling online dating service.

The ongoing use of YGM as editorial shorthand for the challenges of independent booksellers is not in itself wrong; it's just tired. Forbes magazine used it as recently as this week in a piece on Amazon's new physical stores, as did Mashable in June. CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and the Huffington Post are other examples, though the list is endless and has also gone international, from Greece to Malaysia ("Straight out of the Hollywood movie You've Got Mail, a privately-owned book store in Sabah has been forced to wind-up after conceding defeat to bigger book store chains in shopping malls there.")

YGM has even shown up in articles on a Canadian hardware store and American bridal boutiques, the latter offering an admittedly pertinent Kathleen quote: "When her friends tried to console her, the shop owner responded, 'People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened.' "

Reality check #1: The bookselling business has undergone a lot of changes since 1998, positive as well as negative. One undisputed fact, however, is that independent booksellers who have, as the media also likes to say, "survived and even thrived" during these two decades of turmoil have retained their passion for books while becoming even more adept local business owners and community leaders.

Last summer, an MTV-produced YouTube video, If Famous Movie Romances Were Feminist, rewrote the ending of YGM:
Joe: Don't cry, Shopgirl.
Kathleen: I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.
J: Really?"
K: F**k no! You ran my business into the ground, and you lied to me for weeks! I'm going to find someone who respects me and my career.
J: Yeah, that's fair.

Reality check #2: Maybe it's time for an official change of allusion, a bookseller film made of sterner stuff. For me, it might turn out to be The Bookshop, an upcoming adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald's brilliant short novel about Florence Green, who opens a bookshop during the late 1950s in the fictional English village of Hardborough, Suffolk.  

The story is by turns charming, fierce, funny and heartbreaking, yet always sharply observant. If these also sound like the qualities of many booksellers you know, then my work is done here. Fitzgerald herself was a bookseller for a time in Southwold, so she offers something of an insider's perspective.  

The film, which has not yet been released, is directed by Isabelle Coixet (Paris, je t'aime), and stars Emily Mortimer as Florence, Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Violet Gamart, Bill Nighy as Mr. Brundish, Honor Kneafsey as Christine and James Lance as Milo North, whose recommendation that Florence stock Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita generates one of my all-time favorite plot twists.

Coixet told Screen Daily: "The Bookshop is the story of a woman whose light, innocence and perseverance pose a threat to the powers that be in a small town plagued with petty schemes and darkness. This is a film about passion, for books and for life."

During a recent Guardian webchat, Fitzgerald's biographer Hermione Lee said, "I am looking forward to the film of The Bookshop mainly because Bill Nighy is playing Mr. Brundish. And I am fascinated to see what they do with it."

In his introduction to the 2015 edition of The Bookshop, novelist and screenwriter David Nicholls wrote: "I have, at times, adapted books into screenplays, and a small but persistent voice often accompanies my first reading of a book, asking 'how might this work on screen?' The Bookshop is an example of what is called 'a hard sell', though an adaptation, starring Anna Massey, was once mooted and another may happen soon. It could make a fine film, but a faithful adaption would have to take on board the author's refusal to provide easy or comforting answers.... Penelope Fitzgerald defies those clichés with glee, and this is precisely what makes her a great novelist. Expectations are constantly denied, explanations withheld."

(Note to self: In the future, always list under indie booksellers' key personality traits: "defies those clichés with glee.")

Nicholls observed that with "typical self-deprecation, Fitzgerald called The Bookshop 'a short novel with a sad ending,' which is true I suppose, but takes no account of Fitzgerald's wit and playfulness."

Can The Bookshop become a viable, 21st-century movie allusion alternative to YGM? We shall see. 

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your suggestions for a YGM replacement (if you think one is needed) and the reasons why.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Powered by: Xtenit