Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 10, 2017


Penguin Press: Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Graphix: Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4) by Dav Pilkey

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

News

NAIBA Challenges Publishers on Direct and Special Sales Deals

At the October meeting of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association board of directors, the board adopted two position statements regarding "the rise of two issues at publishers and the effect these are having on our members' stores." The statements, which were released yesterday in NAIBAhood News, are:  

"First, we have seen too many deals and specials made by publishers directly to consumers, and some publishers who consistently discount their own books for direct sales. If publishers do not honor their own listed publisher price, it has far-reaching consequences for our industry. The NAIBA Board adopted the following statement:

NAIBA expects every publisher to respect the relationships between the local bookseller and members of their community. NAIBA opposes any publisher's decision to offer books directly to consumers below list price. 

"Second, the NAIBA Board remains very concerned about the increasing incidents of publishers circumventing independent bookstores and offering single title special sales directly to community groups at rates that bookstores cannot be expected to match. This goes to the heart of our stores' financial viability and erodes our standing in our communities. The NAIBA board adopted the following statement:

NAIBA expects every publisher to respect the relationships between the local bookseller and members of their community. When a publisher offers direct special sales at deep discount, it damages the publisher's historic partnership with local booksellers. NAIBA expects every publisher to develop policies that emphasize directing special sales to local independents.

NAIBA said it wanted to hear from members who have had problems along these lines.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron


Card Carrying Books & Gifts Opens in Corning, N.Y.

Card Carrying Books & Gifts, a bookstore with an uplifting feminist message and extensive sideline offerings, has found success since opening in downtown Corning, N.Y., not long after Labor Day, Bookselling This Week reported. The store's inventory is split equally between books and gifts: the book stock includes feminist books for children, teens and adults, with a selection of essay collections and memoirs, while the gift offerings include jewelry, mugs, T-shirts, pins and buttons, often less than $20 and featuring sayings like "Feminism Is Cool" and "Feminist Friends Are the Best."

Owners Sarah Blagg and Randi Hewit told BTW that not long after the 2016 election, they began talking about the need for a "feminist clubhouse" in the area. Blagg said they "joked about it for a couple of months" before realizing that it was a good idea and an opportunity they should take. Blagg, who was a sexuality educator for Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes before opening the store, manages the store during the week, and Hewit, who is the president of the Community Foundations of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, is in store on the weekends.

The store also has its own podcast called the Feminist Airhorn, which is co-hosted by Blagg and Hewit's 13-year-old daughter, Sydney; and a monthly subscription service called the "Card Carrying Club." For $29.50 per month, subscribers receive a book, a gift and activism-related materials.

The owners reported that despite being in a traditionally conservative part of upstate New York, the store has become a popular destination for middle schoolers, high schoolers and even students at Ithaca College. Said Blagg: "We've gotten a lot of support. We're making it more O.K. for people to identify as feminists because we're out there. We literally have a storefront for it."


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


M. Judson Booksellers Partners with Furman University

M. Judson Booksellers & Storytellers, Greenville, S.C., will partner with Furman University, expanding the school's presence downtown "and further connecting with its roots," according to the university. In addition to hosting select lectures and other public events, Furman on Main will offer university items like clothing, memorabilia, gifts and books by Furman authors. A grand opening will be held at M. Judson November 28.

"The Furman community has been a great supporter of M. Judson from the start, and we're excited to host Furman on Main," said June Wilcox, the bookstore's co-owner. "We also love how this partnership gives us the opportunity to tell the story of our namesake, Mary Camilla Judson."

Furman was founded in 1826 in Edgefield, S.C., and moved to Greenville in 1850. In 1933, the university merged with the Greenville Woman's College. Mary Camilla Judson was a legendary teacher and administrator at the Woman's College in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"Furman University was in downtown Greenville for more than 100 years before moving to its present campus in the early 1960s," said Elizabeth Davis, the school's president. "We're excited to establish this new presence on Main Street, just blocks from our original downtown campus. We are continuing to strengthen our ties with our hometown community, and this partnership is one more step in that direction."

Greenville Mayor Knox White noted that Furman "has a long, intertwining history with downtown Greenville and has increasingly shown in recent years a new commitment to being closely connected with its hometown community. We're proud to have Furman as a partner with many of our downtown businesses and organizations and welcome this newest partnership."


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Macmillan Shutters Self-Pub Unit Pronoun

Macmillan Publishers is closing Pronoun, Inc., the self-publishing company it acquired two years ago that provided digital book publishing tools, analytics and services for authors and media companies.

In an "Epilogue" posted on Pronoun's website, Macmillan said: "Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors."

Expressing pride in the product the publisher created, Macmillan nevertheless conceded that "Pronoun's story ends here. While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun's operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business." Pronoun will wind down distribution, with an end date of January 15, 2018.


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Obituary Note: Sue Margolis

British comic novelist Sue Margolis, whose career "would bring her a national, then a global, following as the writer of more than a dozen novels, starting in 1998 with Neurotica," died November 1, the Guardian reported. She was 62. The arrival of her husband David's first home computer in 1995 prompted Margolis to start "typing manically. By the time he came home, the first chapter of Neurotica was written. On the strength of the chapter, the agent Vivienne Schuster sold it to Headline Publishing."

Although Neurotica sold well, her second novel, Sisteria (1999), "flopped, and Sue's writing career almost ended there," the Guardian noted. But Schuster made a sale to the U.S., "where Neurotica and 12 more titles became bookstore staples."

Margolis's other books include Days Like These; Gucci Gucci Coo; Coming Clean; Best Supporting Role; Forget Me Knot; and Apocalipstick. Shortly before she became ill earlier this year, she began working on a novel "set in Berlin around and after Kristallnacht in 1938. She returned to it many times during her illness, but became too tired to complete it," the Guardian wrote.


Notes

Image of the Day: Wimpy Kid Cakes

The children's marketing and publicity team at Abrams celebrated the release this week of Jeff Kinney's The Getaway, the 12th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Pictured: (l.-r.) Nicole Schaefer (children's marketing associate), Trish McNamara (digital and social media marketing manager), Tessa Meischeid (associate publicist), Carmen Alvarez (assistant manager, children's marketing) and Megan Evans (children's marketing and publicity assistant).


Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Curious Iguana

"The first rule of Book Club is: Tell as many people as you can, because it'd be great to have a really thoughtful conversation.The second rule is: BRING COOKIES."

A pic of the chalkboard at the Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md., was shared on Twitter by  AngryBird‏ (@PoorRobin), who added: "The third rule is probably: oh, if you're heading into the kitchen, could you get me another glass of wine? @IguanaBooks."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mark Bowden on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Mark Bowden, author of Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Atlantic Monthly Press, $30, 9780802127006).

Saturday:
NPR's Weekend Edition: Andy Weir, author of Artemis (Crown, $27, 9780553448122).


TV: Dark Paradise; How May We Hate You

Actress-writer Malea Rose, Paul Haggis and his production company HWY 61, "are in development and pitching a miniseries" under the working title Dark Paradise, based on David E. Stannard's book Honor Killing: Race, Rape and Clarence Darrow's Spectacular Last Case, Deadline reported.

Haggis will direct the first episode and executive produce; Rose will be executive producer/creator and act in the series. She is also co-writing the script with Keith Thomas. Leopold Gout, who was an executive producer on Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game, is co-executive producer.

"Leopold Gout introduced me to Malea Rose and said there is a book that I might be interested in," Haggis said. "So when I got to town for the Oscars, Leopold and Malea and I sat down and talked about it. It was about racism and intolerance in a setting that hadn't been explored yet."

Rose added: "In Hawaii, before the 1930s when this story takes place, there was a white oligarchy with slaves and racism. So when this woman--who is related on one side to Alexander Graham Bell and on the other side to Teddy Roosevelt--when she comes forward with this, it puts the entire island and America in chaos. Because you are threatening at this time white womanhood. That threw the world into an outrage and let loose a storm of racial and sexual hysteria. This story is the reason that Hawaii is known as the most liberal state in the union today. It's all because of these criminal cases."

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ABC has put in development How May We Hate You, an ensemble workplace comedy based on the book and blog by Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe, Deadline reported. From Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment, Wendy Trilling's TrillTV and CBS TV Studios, the project is written by Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-producer Justin Noble and has a script commitment plus penalty. Deadline noted that a "multi-camera comedy adaptation How May I Hate You was in development at CBS last season with the same executive producers and a different writer, Warren Lieberstein. The original studio, CBS TV Studios, is back for the new take."



Books & Authors

Awards: Ernest J. Gaines Winner; Waterstones Book of the Year Shortlist

The Talented Ribkins (Melville House), the debut novel by Ladee Hubbard, has won the $10,000 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, which recognizes "outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines' extraordinary contribution to the literary world."

Organizers said The Talented Ribkins is about "Johnny Ribkin and his family, who use their unusual superpowers to help him search for money stolen from a mobster boss. It's a novel that incorporates race, class and politics with unique gifts. All of these combine to hold the Ribkin family together in their quest."

The award will be presented on January 18 in Baton Rouge, La.

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Finalists have been named for the Waterstones Book of the Year award, the British bookstore chain's "annual endeavor to... share with our customers the titles which most celebrate what books can do, in all their lasting pleasure." The traditional six titles have been increased to seven this year because "no matter how we tried--we just couldn't decide on fewer than seven. It's been a stunner of a year." A winner, chosen by a Waterstones panel headed by managing director James Daunt, will be announced November 30. The shortlisted titles are:

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo    
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders    
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman          
Mr. Lear by Jenny Uglow      
Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis  
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris       


Reading with... Andrea Lawlor

photo: Steve Dillion

Andrea Lawlor has published a chapbook of prose poems, Position Papers, and teaches creative writing at Mount Holyoke College. Lawlor's first novel, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, was just published by Rescue Press.

On your nightstand now:

Wendy C. Ortiz's Bruja: The perfect bedside book. Ortiz has invented or articulated a new genre, the dreamoir. I read bits in a twilight state of parental exhaustion and sometimes wonder who's dreaming who.

Eugene Lim's Dear Cyborgs: I heard Lim read at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn this summer; he was so deadpan and the cover was so gorgeous. Now I'm just wishing this book would never end because I love the combination of nerdcore coming-of-age and speculative-future NYC art world and Occupy-style protest culture. 

Brontez Purnell's Since I Laid My Burden Down: I loved Purnell's Fag School zine, and am very glad to read this tale of a queer black kid coming-of-age in 1980s Alabama.

Kai Cheng Thom's Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir: Spoiler--it's not a memoir! Also, there are mermaids.

Margaret Killjoy's The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion: I am a sucker for utopian fiction and also anything set in Iowa that has queer content.

Cory Doctorow's Walkaway: Another recent anarchist utopia, extremely overdue to the library but worth the fine.

Jordy Rosenberg's Confessions of the Fox: Is it fair to list a manuscript? It's coming in June 2018 from One World/Random House. And even if it wasn't my best friend's book, I'd be up late at night reading a trans prison break escapade, that's also a retelling of The Threepenny Opera, that's also anticapitalist metafiction. I mean, wouldn't you?

Carson Ellis's Du Iz Tak?: My kid's favorite picture book, written in bug language. We have read this upwards of 50 times and we see something new every time.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Marlo Thomas's Free to Be You and Me, Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen, Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand, D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, James Baldwin's Little Man, Little Man--I loved all the baby gay classics, anything that hinted at freedom.

Your top five authors:

Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Eileen Myles and Fernando Pessoa (though he's four in one, so maybe that's cheating).

Book you've faked reading:

Marx's Capital, many times. I've faked reading so many books, though. I've worked in publishing, in bookselling and as a professor--that's just what we do.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed. I wish everyone would read this book and then we could get started building our anarchist utopia already (not that Anarres is technically a utopia, but compared to the present-day U.S.).

Book you've bought for the cover:

I often buy books for the cover, either because I take design seriously or because my head is easily turned. I especially love those 1950s Doubleday/Anchor and Signet small paperbacks. I remember in my teens and 20s buying books like Zora Neale Hurston's I Love Myself When I Am Laughing... or David Wojnarowicz's Close to the Knives because of the covers, and then finding myself in the exact right new world.

I love beautiful and also clever design, so one of my all-time favorites is Lydia Davis's Can't and Won't, designed by Charlotte Strick like a perfect pop single.

I do have to be careful every time I pass by anything put out by Wave Books or I will spend all my money. My favorite of the Wave covers, Eileen Myles's Snowflake/different streets, is such a cool two-way cover (which I just learned is called tête-bêche), designed by the painter Xylor Jane. And of course the poems are so good as well.

Book you hid from your parents:

In junior high, Sasha Alyson's Young, Gay, and Proud! (which, come to think of it, I may have stolen from the Yale Co-op Bookstore--we didn't have the Internet in the early '80s).

Book that changed your life:

Samuel R. Delany's memoir The Motion of Light in Water cemented in my mind the idea that queer people could make art and make a life outside of the normal rules--and, crucially, that people had already been doing so for a long time.

Five books you'll never part with:

I hate parting with books, so my answer runs more to the "five boxes of books you'll never part with" and even that would be tough. I will certainly never part with the beautiful first edition of Isak Dinesen's Ehrengard my girlfriend gave me many years ago. I will also very likely never part with my box set of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past (trans. Moncrieff), because I am stuck about 1,800 pages in and may never finish, but what if I am suddenly faced with so much free time and laser focus?

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

I always want to read a beloved book again for the first time, and fortunately my memory is terrible so I am able to simulate that experience easily. One that springs to mind is Octavia Butler's shapeshifter novel, Wild Seed, which I first found in the early '90s while catsitting for a glamorous professor (not mine). I read it straight through sitting in the professor's living room in the humid Iowa City summer, eating whatever I could find in her refrigerator.


Book Review

Review: The Story of Arthur Truluv

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (Random House, $26 hardcover, 240p., 9781400069903, November 21, 2017)

Surmounting grief and finding a way to persevere after the loss of a loved one emerges as the central theme of The Story of Arthur Truluv. Author of 26 books, Elizabeth Berg (The Dream Lover) once again proves she is a master of emotionally astute domestic fiction where the transformation of ordinary lives often happens amid the mundane of the everyday.

Here she focuses on contrasting characters whose lives share common threads of loneliness and isolation: Arthur Moses is an 85-year-old grieving the loss of his beloved wife, Nola Corrine. For the six months since Nola's death, Arthur, a retired parks groundskeeper and an amateur gardener, takes a daily bus to the cemetery and eats his brown bag lunch graveside with Nola. There, he takes comfort in cleverly conjuring visions of the dead in surrounding, underground graves--"Nola's neighbors"--and he imagines the lives they might have lived. Arthur feels that he understands the dead better than the living until one day, during his daily visit, when he spots a young woman, a teenager, who also frequents the cemetery. The simple gesture of a hand wave brings Maddy Harris--an 18-year-old with a nose ring, who also finds graveyards comforting--into Arthur's life.

Maddy calls the dead "her people," as her mother died in a car crash two weeks after Maddy was born. The tragedy and its aftermath drove a wedge between her and her father, who, tormented by his own grief, emotionally rejected his daughter and ultimately shaped her into a loner. Maddy doesn't fit in with peers at school, and she was recently dumped by her beau, Anderson, an older man who works at Walmart and belittles everything she holds dear--especially her sensitivity and her love of cemeteries, poetry and photography. When forlorn Maddy meets compassionate Arthur, their shared affinity for the dead sparks an unlikely friendship. She nicknames him "Truluv" because he speaks with glowing devotion for his late wife.

Despite their generational differences and disparate personalities, the pair take a shine to each other, forming a bond that offers childless Arthur something of a surrogate daughter. In turn, Arthur becomes a kind and accepting father figure for Maddy. Gradually added to the mix is Lucille, Arthur's meddlesome, 83-year-old, never married next-door neighbor who faces a shattering loss of her own. Unforeseen challenges--along with small moments of transcendence--unite these three adrift souls as they begin to fulfill much-needed roles in each other's lives.

Berg's vivid characters may be vastly different in age, worldview and temperament, but their individual desires express a universal need for love, acceptance, purpose and connection. Tender, colorful strokes of humor dot the landscape of this touching story that deepens with poignancy and profound insights into the perils and glories of the contemporary human condition. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.

Shelf Talker: An 85-year-old childless widower, a misfit 18-year-old girl, and a never-married 83-year-old woman form a life-changing friendship.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Reading in Bed, as Time Goes By

"We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else's mind." Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

How many of us still read in bed? In a recent Guardian piece, British author Howard Jacobson considered this question, observing: "Someone should write a history of reading in bed.... of the whens and whys of bedtime reading in particular: how long it's been going on, the difference electricity made, the dawn and demise of privacy, whether taking a book to bed is rarer now, in an age of multiple distractions, than it was.... I point no accusing finger. It's an age since I last read a book in bed. Once I couldn't sleep until I'd managed at least 30 pages of a novel."

Jacobson rightly points out that "there's an intimacy in bedtime reading that might have something to do with the pillows and the sheets, but is more about what happens when you move your eyes across a page."

credit: PBS

When I think about reading in bed, a very particular, soothing image comes to mind--that of Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer) and Jean (Judi Dench) in the BBC series As Time Goes By: Here's a snippet from one of their bedtime chats:

Jean: Why are you reading Winnie the Pooh?
Lionel: I went to the library today.
J: Don't tell me you went to the children's library.
L: No, I got some other books as well. I've got more time for reading now, so I thought I'd catch up on all the books I think I've read but actually haven't. I got The Grapes of Wrath, The Mill on the Floss and Moby-Dick.
J: Winnie the Pooh? Don't you think you're a bit old for that?
L: I wouldn't like to think so.


They're just the aging poster children my Reading in Bed Renewal Program, which began this week, needs.

Reading in bed is not, however, "a pleasure unalloyed," as the Guardian cautioned in 1976: "In the first place, as with coffee whose smell promises more than its taste delivers, realization doesn't always measure up to anticipation. Secondly, it is not a pleasure naturally acquired. Experience, discipline and training are all necessary before it can be fully enjoyed. And, of course, all the skill and experience are as nothing if the conditions are wrong--if the bed is lumpy, if your sleeping partner is restless, or, as happened to me the night before last, if the bedroom is freezing cold."

During the 18th century, reading in bed was considered "a notorious practice that was practically synonymous with death-by-fire because it required candles," the Atlantic noted earlier this year. "Readers were urged not to tempt God by sporting with 'the most awful danger and calamity'--the flagrant vice of bringing a book to bed." The practice was also controversial "partly because it was unprecedented: In the past, reading had been a communal and oral practice."

Hamblin glasses: spectacles designed for reading in bed; England, 1936.

In 1908, the Guardian reported that Dr. Hugo Feilchenfeld warned the chief danger of reading in bed "is to the eyes, for the familiar reasons, first, that it is difficult to arrange the lighting so that it is sufficient and yet does not fall directly on the eyes, and, secondly, that it is difficult to hold the book in an optically correct position.... Young people, therefore, whose eyes are not yet set hard, as in adult life, should avoid reading in bed if they can."

There was hope, however, for a distant future when "publishers will issue bed-books--not the kind of books one ought to read in bed; one can only choose those oneself--but books suitable in typography and binding."

Also looking ahead was the New York Times in 1944: "The well-equipped bed of the future will have a headboard that assumes a literate sleeper. A built-in reading light will be of variable brilliance, adjustable to different type conditions and different sets of eyes. This headboard will have the comfort qualities of a chair, and it will provide arm-rests and a support for the book, as if by magic, by the pressing of an electric button. Does this seem too fantastic? Not if we can wake up the bed-makers."

An intriguing bit of advice in this article cited complaints that reading detective stories before sleep might be "overstimulating," though a simple remedy was suggested: "Decide in advance exactly what hour you will attempt to go to sleep, and 15 minutes before that time lay down your detective story and pick up any book of poetry. No matter what your opinion of poetry, it will make you forget murder within 15 minutes and soothe you into something like slumber." Sweet dreams with Charles Bukowski?

Books, not backlit cell phone and tablet screens, are the stuff bedtime reading dreams are made of. From the Times in 1953: "The ideal bed-book must open quite flat; it must have stiff covers to prevent the page from bending, and small pages for the same reason; it must be of very light paper so as not to fatigue the hand; the type must be large; the margin must be very wide, especially on the outer sides, on one or other of which the book rests according to the side one lies on."

As Jacobson concludes: "Words keep any reader busy any time, but you feel you've earned your sleep when you've wrestled with the angel of meaning at the end of a long day. No matter how intense the internal struggle, a person reading in bed gives off an aura of achieved calm."

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

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