Also published on this date: Thursday, September 7, 2017: Maximum Shelf: What It's Like to Be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 7, 2017


Cartwheel Books: Fly Guy's Big Family (Fly Guy #17) by Tedd Arnold

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

Other Press: What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home by Mark Mazower

Chronicle Books: This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions by Kelli Anderson

Soho Crime: The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers, contributors include Cara Black, Colin Cotterill, Helene Tursten, and more

News

B&N First Quarter: Sales Down; Net Loss Improves

In the first quarter ended July 29, total sales at Barnes & Noble fell 6.6%, to $853 million, and the net loss was $10.8 million, compared to a net loss of $14.4 million in the same period a year earlier. The net loss of 15 cents a share was higher than Wall Street estimates of 12 cents a share, and sales came in $18.4 million below expectations, which mean the stock will likely drop in price today.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 4.9%, "as declines in non-book categories outpaced improved book sales," the company said. Online and Nook sales also dropped.

The total sales drop continues the trend of fiscal year 2017, when total sales fell 6.5%, but the comp-store sales figure is an improvement: last year, comp-store sales were off 6.3%.

B&N CEO Demos Parneros commented: "Our first quarter earnings results improved over the prior year, as we were able to mitigate the sales decline through expense reductions. We expect to improve our performance in the back-half of the year, which coupled with our focus on expense reduction, will enable us to achieve EBITDA of $180 million."

B&N said that for the fiscal year it continues to expect that comparable bookstore sales will decline "in the low single digits."


Berkley Books: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


ABA, AG Partner to Support Emerging Authors

The American Booksellers Association and the Authors Guild have launched an initiative to produce events at independent bookstores around the U.S. in support of emerging writers. The events, each of which will include a conversation and a book signing, will pair a debut author with an established author in their home area. The emerging authors have been chosen by indie booksellers for ABA's Indies Introduce list.

Three events are scheduled for this fall, beginning October 24 at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Ga., which will feature Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give, Balzer + Bray) and Indies Introduce author Nic Stone (Dear Martin, Crown Books for Young Readers). Subsequent events include Esmé Weijun Wang (The Border of Paradise, Unnamed Press) and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (A Kind of Freedom, Counterpoint) on October 29 at Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif.; and Rachel Vail (Well That Was Awkward, Viking Books for Young Readers; Justin Case, Macmillan) and Karina Yan Glaser (The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, HMH Books for Young Readers) on October 29 at Bank Street Bookstore in New York City.

"ABA is pleased to be partnering with the Authors Guild to bring greater attention to debut writers," said Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, ABA senior program officer. "Through the Indies Introduce program, now in its fifth year, independent booksellers have identified many unique, new talents. We look forward to watching the program grow in scope and awareness through the events planned with help from the Authors Guild."

Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger commented: "We are delighted to work with the ABA on this wonderful initiative, which helps debut authors launch their careers and brings new writers to readers. Events pairing debut and established authors are especially important today, as the world of traditional publishing continues to contract and creative work is devalued online. Writers need each other more than ever. And it begins with those just starting out in their careers. As the nation's professional organization for authors, the Authors Guild promotes and supports good literary citizenship among authors wherever and however we can."


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


Perseus Distribution's New Name: Two Rivers Distribution

Ingram Publisher Services has renamed Perseus Distribution--part of the Perseus Book Group distribution businesses that it bought last year--Two Rivers Distribution.

In addition, the Perseus Distribution warehouse in Jackson, Tenn., has been renamed IPS-Jackson. The warehouse stocks books from Consortium, Publishers Group West, Two Rivers Distribution and Ingram Academic Services.

In explaining the name, the company said the rebranding "helps separate the distribution business from the publishing entity that is now with Hachette." Ingram also noted that Rivers is "an Ingram family name" and "New York City and Nashville are both home to two main rivers, so the new name also recognizes the teams in these two cities. And rivers have always been gateways in commerce to help businesses grow, a metaphor for the distribution services we provide to our client publishers."

Two Rivers Distribution clients include Abbeville Press, BenBella Books, Harvard Business Review Press, Melcher Media, the New Press, Planeta Publishing, Skyhorse Publishing and ZAGAT Survey. Two Rivers Distribution also acts as the fulfillment provider for Assouline, Distributed Art Publishers, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial and Regnery Publishing.


Owlkids: Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn


Amazon Opening NYC Warehouse; Second HQ Planned

Amazon plans to open its first warehouse in New York State in Staten Island, in New York City. Staff at the $100 million, 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center will work with robots to pack "household essentials, books and toys." The site is in a new warehouse park where construction has just begun so it's uncertain when the building will open.

In New York, Amazon also has two Prime Now hubs, in Manhattan on 34th Street and in Brooklyn in Sunset Park. On Long Island, it has a food distribution hub in Bethpage.

Empire State Development, a state public-benefit corporation, is giving Amazon up to $18 million in tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program as incentive for the company to expand into New York, the Staten Island Advance reported.

As usual, state and local officials took the occasion to heap praise on Amazon. Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, said, "Amazon's decision to establish the first state-of-the-art fulfillment center in New York affirms our position at the forefront of the growing global innovation economy, and this investment will create thousands of jobs and opportunities for the Staten Island community. New York continues to demonstrate that we have the workforce, technology, and the pro-business climate to help companies grow and succeed."

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Amazon will likely put out a particularly large tin cup soon: the company plans to build a second headquarters in the U.S., housing "as many as 50,000 people" and as large as its substantial current headquarters in Seattle, Bloomberg reported. The cost would be more than $5 billion and take 15-17 years to complete.

"We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters," said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. "Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs."

Bloomberg noted that when Boeing decided in 2001 to move its headquarters to Chicago from Seattle, "it was promised a series of tax breaks and incentives worth up to $60 million--for just 500 employees."


Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro by Erin Jeanne McDowell


Kathleen Carter Zrelak Founds Literary PR Agency

Kathleen Carter Zrelak, who has worked at Goldberg McDuffie Communications for more than 11 years, currently as v-p, director of publicity, has founded Kathleen Carter Communications (KCC), a literary public relations agency that will work with authors, publishers and agents on customized and strategic publicity and marketing campaigns.

She will continue at Goldberg McDuffie until November 30 and then work with the agency after that on select projects under the Goldberg McDuffie brand.

During her career, Carter Zrelak's work has spanned many genres, with a specialization in literary and commercial fiction, young adult and children's literature, and a variety of nonfiction, including memoir, health/medical, science, pop culture, current events and lifestyle. She has promoted literary awards and festivals and worked on books under such company brands as Boeing, Tommy Bahama and Columbia Records.

Lynn Goldberg commented: "Kathleen has remarkable talents--a drive and dedication to her authors and projects which consistently produce remarkable results--and she has skillfully stayed ahead of the changes in our industry. What I admire so much about her is her strategic mind and caring heart."


Soft Skull: The Job of the Wasp by Colin Winnette


Obituary Note: Elaine Ford

Author Elaine Ford, "who wrote spare, elegant novels about quiet lives and thwarted aspirations," died August 27, the New York Times reported. She was 78. Her novels and short stories "found their power in details and in ordinary, believable characters, often working women in Massachusetts or Maine who were confronting the consequences of choices made and paths not taken."

Her books include the novels Missed Connections (1983), Ivory Bright (1986), and Life Designs (1997), as well as story collections The American Wife (2007) and This Time Might Be Different: Stories From Maine, which is due next year.

Friend and writer Ellen Cooney remembered Ford as someone "whose deep sense of justice and dealing with struggles infused every one of her characters, often the sort of 'extremely average' or 'fringe' people any of us might pass by and never give a thought to."

Poet Wesley McNair, who is writing the preface for her upcoming collection and had asked her to contribute to several anthologies over the years, told the Portland Press Herald that Ford "is one of the few writers who has been able to put into words what life is like for the sort of Mainers who stay here year-round. The lifers. I wanted something of that grit, that special realism of hers, in the anthologies.... There was no wasted space on the page of a Ford story."


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


Notes

Image of the Day: Queens of the County Fair

Andrei Kushnir, author of Oh, Shenandoah (University of Virginia Press), celebrates his birthday and the 100th anniversary of the Shenandoah County Fair with two of its Pageant Queens.

Denver's BookBar Offering Literary Wine Tour to South Africa

BookBar in Denver, Colo., is offering a 10-day literary wine tour of the South African coast. Scheduled for 2018, the trip will include beaches, vineyards, safaris and book talks as BookBar customers explore the "unique terrain and culture of South Africa." BookBar is partnering with Endless Travel, a boutique travel agency in Evergreen, Colo., to organize the tour.


Bookstore Display of the Day: Booksellers on Fountain Square

Posted on Facebook yesterday by the Booksellers on Fountain Square, Cincinnati, Ohio: "What books made you the person you are? Take a look at our choices in the store, and feel free to ask us why we chose what we did. Let us know what book made you the person you are, and where possible we will add it to our display!"


Personnel Changes at VitalSource Technologies

R. Todd Smith has joined Ingram's VitalSource Technologies as manager of campus store partnerships, overseeing the company's relationships with independent college retailers and bookstore trade groups. He was formerly director of campus store services at Clayton State University/the Loch Shop. He started his career as assistant manager at the Macon State (Georgia) College Bookstore, where he became manager and then retail director. He then moved to the University of Georgia Bookstore as associate director. He is also a former trustee of the National Association of College Stores and was voted president of the Georgia Association of College Stores last year.



Media and Movies

Movies: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Bleecker Street has released its first trailer for the upcoming Charles Dickens biopic The Man Who Invented Christmas, based on Les Standiford's book The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) from a script by Susan Coyne, the film stars Dan Stevens "as a young Dickens, Christopher Plummer as the cold-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge, and Jonathan Pryce as Dickens' father," Deadline reported.

"The Man Who Invented Christmas is a magical realist story based on some truth about the period of time that Charles Dickens spent in the run up to publishing A Christmas Carol," Stevens told Entertainment Weekly. "I just thought it was a really fresh take on that whole world. Particularly in England, Dickens is placed on a pedestal. But the guy was, at turns, quite playful and childish, and, at turns, quite dark and not a very pleasant man." The movie opens November 22.


This Weekend on Book TV: Senator Bernie Sanders

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, September 9
1:10 p.m. A panel discussion on John F. Kennedy, from last week's National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

7:30 p.m. Senator Bernie Sanders, author of Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution (Holt, $16.99, 9781250138903), at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, Iowa. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:40 p.m. Wayne Allyn Root, author of Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon Is Changing America--and What We Can All Do to Save the Middle Class (Skyhorse, $24.99, 9781510718425).

9 p.m. Doug Schoen, co-author of America in the Age of Trump: Opportunities and Oppositions in an Unsettled World (Encounter, $25.99, 9781594039478). (Re-airs Monday at 1:15 a.m.)

10 p.m. Danielle Allen, author of Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (Liveright, $24.95, 9781631493119). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Steven Druker, author of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public (Clear River Press, $21.95, 9780985616908). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, September 10
1:45 a.m. A. Scott Berg, editor of World War I and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It (Library of America, $40, 9781598535143), at the National Book Festival.

2:30 a.m. Paul Porter, author of Blackout: My 40 Years in the Music Business (Booklocker, $16.99, 9781634923842). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

10 a.m. Helene Cooper, author of Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451697353), at the National Book Festival.

10:45 a.m. Deirdre McCloskey, author of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (University of Chicago Press, $45, 9780226333991).

4 p.m. Henry Fountain, author of The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet (Crown, $28, 9781101904060).

11:15 p.m. Ronald C. White, author of American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant (Random House, $20, 9780812981254), at the National Book Festival.


Books & Authors

Awards: Miles Franklin; Lilly/Rosenberg Poetry; Neustadt

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson has won the A$60,000 (about US$48,140) Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary award, given annually "to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases."

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The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine have awarded $129,000 in prizes to five young poets through the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which are "intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry" and are open to all U.S. poets between the ages of 21 and 31. Fatimah Asghar, Sumita Chakraborty, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Roy G. Guzmán and Emily Jungmin Yoon will each receive $25,800.

Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, said: "In a year during which some readers have asked 'Why poetry?' here are poets whose work not only provides a powerful answer, but demonstrates that the present--and future--of poetry have never been in such fine hands. A deviser of an Emmy-nominated web series, a Ph.D. student in East Asian languages and civilizations, a poetry editor and scholar of literature, a graduate of the Wharton School, and a human rights researcher--this year's Lilly/Rosenberg Fellows are remarkably talented on and off the page, each an embodiment of what Czesław Miłosz meant when he said that poetry 'is a dividend from what you know and what you are.' "

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World Literature Today announced the shortlist for the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which "recognizes significant contributions to the world of literature and has a history as a forerunner to the Nobel Prize in Literature." The winner will be named November 9 during the Neustadt Festival. This year's finalists are:

Emmanuel Carrère (France)
Edwidge Danticat (Haiti and U.S.)
Amitav Ghosh (India)
Aracelis Girmay (U.S.)
Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan)
Jamaica Kincaid (U.S.)
Yusef Komunyakaa (U.S.)
Patricia Smith (U.S.)
Ludmila Ulitskaya (Russia)


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 12:

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501175565) gives Clinton's account of the 2016 presidential election.

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova (Sarah Crichton, $28, 9780374279790) is the memoir of the tennis star.

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (Viking, $36, 9780525954972) is the latest novel set in the fictional city of Kingsbridge, this time amid religious conflict in 1558.

Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel by Jamie Ford (Ballantine, $28, 9780804176750) is a love story bookended by two Seattle World's Fairs.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press, $27, 9780735224292) follows an ordinary suburban family and the mother-daughter pair who upend their lives.

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz (Knopf, $27.95, 9780451494320) continues Stieg Larsson's Millennium series.

Retrograde by Peter Cawdron (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9781328834553) takes place in a Martian colony, which must cope with a disaster on Earth.

Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm, illus. by Matthew Holm (Graphix, $12.99, 9780545741729) is a sequel to the middle grade graphic novel Sunny Side Up, in which Sunny Lewin, star of her own personal show, faces Middle School.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: The Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780316439190), previously only published electronically, is a stand-alone companion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series.

The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times by James L. Kugel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544520554) explores Biblical history.

A Grandfather's Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey by Jacques Pépin, photographs by Tom Hopkins (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544824393) is a cookbook featuring a master chef and his granddaughter.

Myers+Chang at Home: Recipes from the Beloved Boston Eatery by Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $32, 9780544836471) gives Taiwanese food recipes such as Triple Pork Mushu Stir-fry and Grilled Corn with Spicy Sriracha Butter.

The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt by Robert I. Sutton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328695918) provides entertaining and useful advice on how to manage abrasive people.

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton, $27.95, 9780393240801) explores the origins and impact of the Adam and Eve story.

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin (Harmony, $24, 9781524760915) analyzes personality types.

Paperbacks:
Dangerous Boobies: Breaking Up with My Time-Bomb Breasts by Caitlin Brodnick and Rachel Bloom (Seal Press, $16.99, 9781580056755).

Trim Healthy Mama's Trim Healthy Table: More Than 300 All-New Healthy and Delicious Recipes from Our Homes to Yours by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison (Harmony, $32.50, 9780804189989).

Movies:
American Assassin, based on the thriller by Vince Flynn, opens September 15. Dylan O'Brien and Michael Keaton star in the origin story of counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp. A movie tie-in edition (Atria/Emily Bestler, $16.99, 9781501180491) is available.

Rebel in the Rye, based in part on the biography J.D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski, opens September 15. This biopic stars Nicholas Hoult as the famously reclusive writer.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
The Dark Net: A Novel by Benjamin Percy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544750333). "In The Dark Net, Benjamin Percy's best work yet, the author takes the poorly understood underbelly of the Internet and brings it to terrifying life in Portland, Oregon, in a tale complete with hipsters and homeless people, supernatural beings, hardcore geeks, a journalist, and a blind 12-year-old girl. As a former resident of Portland and a technologist, I was particularly impressed with Percy's nuanced portrayal of downtown Portland and its landmarks, including Powell's Books. Percy does a masterful job of making the Internet scary in a thriller that feels like a combination of American Gods and the Stephen King books I tore through as a teenager. Highly recommended." --Nathan White, Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn.

The Library of Light and Shadow: A Novel by M.J. Rose (Atria, $26, 9781476778129). "The novels of M.J. Rose are always rich in sensual detail, and her latest is no exception. Though the other senses are hardly neglected, in The Library of Light and Shadow the sense of vision is central to Delphine Duplessi, a young Frenchwoman who is a painter as well as a witch, and who sees both the surface of things and their hidden secrets. Thanks to the author's rich descriptions, readers, too, will see beyond their ordinary abilities, to the passion between Delphine and the man she loves but feels she must give up forever." --Pamela Grath, Dog Ears Books, Northport, Mich.

Paperback
Arrowood: A Novel by Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812986419). "When her father dies, Arden inherits Arrowood, her childhood home. Set on the Mississippi River, the little town of Keokuk, Iowa, has seen more prosperous days, as has Arrowood, which has stood vacant for years. Arden decides to move back to Keokuk and re-establish the search for her two-year-old twin siblings who disappeared 20 years earlier under her watch. With the help of Ben, her childhood friend and a longtime resident of Keokuk, Arden re-examines the disappearance, hoping to not only find the twins, but also to make peace with her own deep-rooted secrets." --Brenda Jordan, Murder by the Book, Houston, Tex.

For Ages 4 to 8
Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley (Knopf, $17.99, 9780399551857). "Here's to female scientists and children's picture books about them! I loved Margaret and the Moon, which is about Margaret Hamilton, the woman considered the first female software engineer. This is a must-read for strong girls and those who love and support them." --Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher (Amulet Books, $16.99, 9781419726019). "Sidetracked is the story of two outsiders connecting. Heather and Joseph are complete opposites: she is tall, strong, and an excellent student, while he is puny, has severe attention deficit disorder, and sees every school day as a struggle to survive. Diana Harmon Asher has crafted a highly satisfying underdog story about the power of trying to do your personal best." --Laura Delaney, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho.

For Teen Readers
Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell (Flatiron, $17.99, 9781250077080). "Dear Reader is a quirky and unique novel about the ways relationships change us. A special teacher can change the way you think or read, a first love can affect the ways we move through adulthood, and fiction can alter how we view the world around us. Mary O'Connell playfully explores the relationships Flannery forms with others, not through action but through unique narrative devices and interior voices. Alternately emotional and lighthearted, Dear Reader will satisfy bookish types and Brontë enthusiasts of all ages!" --Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Landslide: True Stories

Landslide: True Stories by Minna Zallman Proctor (Catapult, $16.95 paperback, 160p., 9781936787616, September 19, 2017)

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live," Joan Didion once famously observed. In Landslide, her humane, revealing essay collection, critic and translator Minna Zallman Proctor (Do You Hear What I Hear?) dusts off that aphorism to give it a different spin. "I think we tell stories to relate, in order to find a point of communion with our fellow person, in order to say: Look, I get you." Her skill at that task infuses the 14 pieces in this collection with both wisdom and grace.

It's hardly necessary to share Proctor's life experience in order to appreciate her gift of observation and her talent for concision in essays that typically span no more than 15 pages. Whether she's describing her ill-fated romance with a Boston boy named Joey ("Driftwood"), or the awkward searches to secure her mother's burial in a Jewish cemetery ("A Mystic at Heart") and acquire a proper gravestone years after her death ("The Waiting Earth"), the universal subjects of family, love and memory gradually emerge.

If there's a thematic unity to the collection, it centers on Proctor's challenging relationship with her mother, a professional musician and composer she describes as "clingy, indulgent, petulant, and maudlin." The last 15 years of Arlene Zallman's life were lived in the shadow of cancer, a fact that gives special tension to the essay "Distress Abandon"; here, Proctor chronicles the mishaps that befell her as she roamed the Upper West Side of Manhattan looking for the lab where she was to be tested for ovarian cancer. "A Mystic at Heart" recounts her mother's final days in hospice care, a time when Proctor was about to give birth to her first child amid a marital breakup. And the collection's title essay describes the interview she recorded a few weeks before her mother's death. Whether it's the fact that they're both creative personalities, or that they share a passion for Italy, Proctor is haunted by the specter that her life will be a replay of her mother's. "You are not destined to live your mother's life," her therapist tells her. "If you're so scared of it, just decide not to."

Proctor relates all these stories in crisp, coolly ironic prose that evokes something of the flavor of Joan Didion's writing. Landslide is poignant, tart and insightful. Its only flaw is that there isn't more of it, but perhaps Minna Zallman Proctor will rectify that shortcoming someday. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Minna Zallman Proctor's essay collection is an intimate portrait of her life and family relationships.


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