Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 17, 2018


Penguin Press: Win a collection of some of this fall's best nonfiction

Scholastic Focus: Scholastic is proud to introduce a new imprint of beautifully written and carefully researched MG and YA nonfiction—coming Fall 2018

Other Press: Something Great and Beautiful: A Novel of Love, Wall Street, and Focaccia by Enrico Pellegrini

Canongate Books: The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Katherine Tegen Books: Time Castaways #1: The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

News

Elizabeth Jordan Named CEO of BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

Effective June 2, Elizabeth Jordan is becoming CEO of BookPeople in Austin, Tex. She has worked at the bookstore since 2002 as a bookseller, manager, adult book buyer, inventory operations supervisor, and, most recently, general manager.

The store said that during her time at BookPeople, she has been "instrumental in the formation of multiple bookselling partnerships in Austin and beyond, including bookseller partnerships with both the Texas Book Festival and SXSW." She is also a member of the ABA's Bookseller Advisory Council.

She replaces Steve Bercu, who has been CEO of BookPeople for nearly 20 years and announced earlier this year that he is retiring from full-time bookselling.


World Editions: You Have Me to Love by Jaap Robben, translated by David Doherty


Romantic Times Closing After 37 Years

The romance-focused magazine Romantic Times, along with the RT Book Reviews, RT VIP Salon and RT Booklovers Convention brands, is shutting down after 37 years, Carol Stacy, RT's publisher, announced yesterday. The closure is effective immediately, and though the RT website will remain up for another year or so, there will be no new content in the future.

Kathryn Falk, who founded Romantic Times in 1981, first announced the closure, as well as her retirement from publishing, during the welcome breakfast on the opening day of the 2018 RT Booklovers Convention in Reno, Nev., yesterday morning. According to the website The Romance Dish, it was also revealed that "at least one of the people behind the RT conventions" plans to launch a successor convention called "BookLoversCon" next year.

In a farewell e-mail, Carol Stacy wrote that she was "very proud" of what the team has accomplished over the years, adding, "I'm proud of the contributions we've made within the book industry and proud of our place in the expansion and evolution of the romance genre."


Disney-Hyperion: I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) by Mo Willems


Waterstones Drops 'Unbranded' Edinburgh Bookshop Plans

Just a day after the announcement that Waterstones planned to open Stockbridge Books, one of its "unbranded stores," in Edinburgh next spring, the chain quickly abandoned the idea, the Bookseller reported. The store will now be branded as a Waterstones.

The decision was made in the wake of strongly worded accusations by nearby independent Golden Hare Books that Waterstones CEO James Daunt was reneging on his pledge not to open a bookshop near an indie. The outcry was quickly joined on social media by fellow indie booksellers and customers, as well as authors and others in the book trade.

"It feels like a small victory," said Golden Hare manager Julie Danskin. "I think it does make a difference, it is certainly a better situation than we found ourselves in on Monday. It was very much the branch masquerading as an indie that we had a problem with. I found it a bit strange it was going to be called Stockbridge Books given that Golden Hare is an important part of the literary scene there and has been for the last four years."

She added: "What we have been amazed by is the support from the community and the literary community.... I hope Waterstones will think about other independents before planning to open their next bookshop, because there are some communities that will not respond well to it."

Calling the decision to name the store after the local area a "mistake," Daunt said, "It has been a little bit a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, which can happen in large companies. Clearly we need to call it a Waterstones. I have spoken to Julie who seems passionate and sensible, we should be able to rub along perfectly well together."

Daunt noted that the new bookstore "we are opening isn't next door, it is the same distance away between Daunt Books in Hampstead and the Waterstones in Hampstead, it is across the river. But we will now be calling it a Waterstones, it is unfortunate that we made that mistake."

Asked by the Bookseller whether Waterstones had changed its stance on not opening up new stores in places which already had thriving independents, he replied: "Absolutely not. We will not be operating in a predatory way. Independent book shops have their place. It's big chains like Waterstones who need to be responsible. We shouldn't cut prices or do deals to undermine independent booksellers--we all have something to offer communities."

Yesterday, Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne Minster tweeted: "Good work Twitter!  @GoldenHareBooks still need all of the support they can get though."


Mandevilla Press: Assassins by Mike Bond


Patterson Donates $250,000 for Holiday Bookseller Bonuses

James Patterson

For the fifth year in a row, James Patterson is giving holiday bonuses to independent bookstore employees. Bookselling This Week reported that the bestselling author and indie supporter has pledged $250,000 as part of his Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program whose grant application asks one question: "Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?" Patterson will select the winners.

Once again, he is partnering with the American Booksellers Association to distribute bonuses ranging from $750 to $1,500. The 2018 campaign is open to all U.S. independent bookstore employees through September 30. Past recipients of Patterson grants are eligible, and booksellers can nominate themselves. This year's pledge brings Patterson's contribution to date to $1.1 million.

"Over the past five years, I've heard from many booksellers who've received holiday bonuses," said Patterson. "They've allowed them to buy holiday gifts for their children, pay off medical bills, or even buy theatre tickets--however they use the money, I'm humbled to hear that they make a difference in their lives. And I'm grateful to be able to acknowledge the important work booksellers do."

ABA CEO Oren Teicher commented: "Once again, our friend James Patterson is stepping forward and providing extraordinary support for indie booksellers. His continued generosity has no parallel, and all of us connected to the American Booksellers Association remain grateful and appreciative. The Patterson holiday bonuses have made a real difference in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of booksellers, and we are thrilled that well have a chance to thank James in person at this year's Celebration of Bookselling Lunch at BookExpo."


No Laughing Matter: 2018 Wodehouse Prize Withheld

P.G. Wodehouse

For the first time in its history, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, which has been awarded annually since 2000 to a novel "deemed to best capture the comic spirit of the late P.G. Wodehouse," will not name a winner. The Guardian reported that the prize judges had "not found a book they felt worthy 'to join the heady comedic ranks of P.G. Wodehouse' or of previous winners such as Marina Lewycka or Alexander McCall Smith."

"My fellow judges and I have decided to withhold the prize this year to maintain the extremely high standards of comic fiction that the... prize represents," according to judge David Campbell, publisher of Everyman's Library. "Despite the submitted books producing many a wry smile amongst the panel during the judging process, we did not feel than any of the books we read this year incited the level of unanimous laughter we have come to expect. We look forward to awarding a larger rollover prize next year to a hilariously funny book."

The winner usually receives a case of champagne and a rare breed pig named after the winning novel at the annual Hay literary festival. "Next year's bumper prize will include a methuselah of bubbly and a particularly large pig," the Guardian wrote.

Campbell conceded that writing a genuinely funny novel is a difficult task: "Wodehouse is so incredibly great, he really does make you laugh out loud. But that's not an easy thing to do at all. There were lots of very good novels, but nothing outstandingly funny.... There were a lot of witty submissions, bloody good novels, but they weren't comic novels. The alchemy was not there."


Obituary Note: Beth Chatto

Beth Chatto, an influential British gardener and writer "who emphasized the importance of choosing the right plant for the right place," died May 13, the Guardian reported. She was 94. Her "great theme was the importance of providing garden plants with an environment as close as possible to their native habitat.... Chatto's approach was a revelation and immediately established her significance as a guide to better and more environmentally friendly gardening techniques."

Her books, which offered practical suggestions and expounded environmental themes, made her internationally famous. They include The Dry Garden (1978), The Damp Garden (1982), Plant Portraits (1985), Beth Chatto's Garden Notebook (1988), The Green Tapestry (1989), The Gravel Garden (2000) and The Woodland Garden (2002).

Dear Friend and Gardener: Letters on Life and Gardening (1998), a collection of correspondence between Chatto and Christopher Lloyd, "revealed her warm and endearing character, and the book is a moving testimony to a great friendship based not only on gardening, but wider musical and literary interests," the Guardian noted. Chatto's many honors included the Lawrence Memorial Medal, Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honor, the Garden Writers' Guild lifetime achievement award and an OBE. In 2015, the Beth Chatto Education Trust was established to promote her beliefs and give practical advice to future generations of young gardeners.


Notes

Image of the Day: Authors Guild Gala

At last night's Authors Guild Foundation gala benefit dinner in New York City, Carolyn Reidy (r.), president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, introduced award winner Mary Higgins Clark, who praised S&S, her publisher for more than 40 years, starting with Clark's breakout thriller, Where Are the Children?, in 1975. Other award winners were Charlotte and Robert C. Baron of Fulcrum Publishing and Vida: Women in Literary Arts, which was represented by Camille Rankin, Lynn Melnick and Amy King.


Va. Bookshop's 'Hidden Slice of the English Countryside'

Last week, we highlighted the rose garden at New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, Va., but Atlas Obscura took their admiration a step further with a photo profile of the bookseller's "hidden slice of the English countryside," noting that the garden, tended by the bookshop and a local pruner, "thrives as a natural haven beneath towering power lines and the 19th-century brick buildings of the pedestrian mall."


NBN to Distribute Four Bottom Line Titles

Bottom Line Inc., which publishes print and digital newsletters and about six books a year via direct marketing, is testing retail distribution of four of its books in partnership with National Book Network.

The paperback books, adapted from hardcover direct mail titles, are Bottom Line's Guide to Erasing Diabetes, Bottom Line's Guide to Brain-Building Secrets, Bottom Line's Guide to Healthy Foods and Bottom Line's Guide to Healthy Aging.

Sarah Hiner, CEO of Bottom Line, said: "The four bestselling books we will be offering to retailers are titles that we have successfully sold via direct marketing to our customer base of over two million, so we have a very good idea of what subjects people are interested in." She added that the deal with NBN "gives us the opportunity to test the national retail market with many major retailers in the United States."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dambisa Moyo on Real Time with Bill Maher

Tomorrow:
Dr. Oz: Marcia Gay Harden, author of The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers (Atria, $26, 9781501135705).

Also on Dr. Oz: Dr. Richard Isaacson, co-author of The Alzheimer's Prevention & Treatment Diet (Square One, $17.95, 9780757004087).

The View: Erika Jayne, author of Pretty Mess (Gallery Books, $27, 9781501181894).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Dambisa Moyo, author of Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth and How to Fix It (Basic Books, $30, 9780465097463).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Gaithersburg Book Festival

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, May 19
8 a.m. Scott Tong, author of A Village with My Name: A Family History of China's Opening to the World (University of Chicago Press, $28, 9780226338866).

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Live coverage from the 2018 Gaithersburg Book Festival in Gaithersburg, Md. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.) Highlights include:

  • 10 a.m. Philip Padgett, author of Advocating Overlord: The D-Day Strategy and the Atomic Bomb (Potomac Books, $39.95, 9781612349626).
  • 10:35 a.m. Joseph Esposito, author of Dinner in Camelot: The Night America's Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House (ForeEdge, $29.95, 9781512600124).
  • 11:15 a.m. Eugene L. Meyer, author of Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown's Army (Chicago Review Press, $26.75, 9781613735718), and Paula Tarnapol Whitacre, author of A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur's Struggle for Purpose (Potomac Books, $32.95, 9781612348551).
  • 12:15 p.m. Barbara Lipska, co-author of The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9781328787309).
  • 1:15 p.m. Lloyd Sederer, author of The Addiction Solution: Treating Our Dependence on Opioids and Other Drugs (Scribner, $26, 9781501179440).
  • 2:15 p.m. Ted Bell, author of Overkill: An Alex Hawke Novel (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062684516), and Bill Press, author of From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire (Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 9781250147158).
  • 3:15 p.m. Ann Marie Ackerman, author of Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee (Kent State University Press, $24.95, 9781606353042).
  • 4:15 p.m. Carl Hoffman, author of The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062439024).

7 p.m. Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine (Prometheus Books, $25, 9781633883819). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

8:30 p.m. Stuart E. Eizenstat, author of President Carter: The White House Years (Thomas Dunne, $40, 9781250104557).

11 p.m. Michael V. Hayden, author of The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (Penguin Press, $28, 9780525558583), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

Sunday, May 20
3:30 p.m. William A. Galston, author of Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300228922).

6:20 p.m. Rebecca Erbelding, author of Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America's Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385542517), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

7:15 p.m. Awards ceremony for the 2018 Lukas Prize, given to a book on an "American topic of political or social concern." This year's winners are Amy Goldstein, author of Janesville: An American Story (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781501102233), Stephen Kotkin, author of Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 (Penguin Press, $40, 9781594203800), and Chris Hamby, author of Soul Full of Coal Dust: The True Story of an Epic Battle for Justice (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316299473).

10 p.m. Lawrence Wright, author of God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525520108), at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Tex.

11:15 p.m. Alan Stern and David Grinspoon, authors of Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (Picador, $28, 9781250098962).



Books & Authors

Awards: Neukom; Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing; Gutekunst

The winners of the inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards in Speculative Fiction are:

Debut: Best Worst American by Juan Martinez (Small Beer Press)

Open Category (two winners):
Central Station by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications)
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (Amulet/Abrams)

Each winner receives a $5,000 honorarium and will participate in an event at Dartmouth College that will include a panel on speculative fiction.

Principal judge Maria Dahvana Headley said that the winning books "prioritize valuable human relationships as prods to improvement of technologically and scientifically complex futures. The works are warm and hopeful, and they point to the true nature of science, one in which solving human problems and failings is the goal, not shrinking the need for human engagement."

---

A shortlist has been released for the £15,000 (about $20,225) Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize for best published novel, presented by the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation. The winner will be honored during a ceremony in September in London's Stationers' Hall. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Nucleus by Rory Clements
Sugar Money by Jane Harris
No Good Brother by Tyler Keevil
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
Looking for Evelyn by Maggie Ritchie
Pendragon by James Wilde

---

Nick Andrews has won the 2018 Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe for the best translation of the short story "Selbstbildnis mit Geschirrtuch" ("Self-portrait with Dishtowel") by Terézia Mora. The prize aims to "identify outstanding young translators of German literature into English and assist them in establishing contact with the translation and publishing communities." The prize will be presented on June 7 at the Goethe-Institut New York.

Andrews graduated from Dartmouth College as a senior fellow researching contemporary German theater, after which he moved to Berlin, where he worked for several years as a classical pianist and freelance translator.

"When I began translating, I quickly realized that the narrative rhythm of the text was essential to preserving this delicate balance of disparate tones, the shift between bitter afterthoughts and nostalgic reflections on the past that become increasingly fragmented as the narrator approaches a breakdown," Andrews said. "Colloquial language always presents a particular challenge for the translator--above all, I wanted to reflect the surprising lightness of the text, which manages to be both acerbic and naïve, and the faithful way it depicts the internal monologue of a person too lost not to laugh."


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 22:

The Outsider: A Novel by Stephen King (Scribner, $30, 9781501180989) is a supernatural mystery about a murdered boy.

The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations by John McCain and Mark Salter (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501178009) is the Senator's political memoir.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (Knopf, $27.95, 9781524731656) reveals the fraud behind multibillion-dollar biotech startup Theranos.

Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence by James R. Clapper and Trey Brown (Viking, $30, 9780525558644) is a memoir by the former Director of National Intelligence.

The High Season: A Novel by Judy Blundell (Random House, $27, 9780525508717) follows invasive summer renters and their house's owner in the Hamptons.

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery, $26, 9781501193293) continues the Beach House series.

The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9781328886187) follows a Jewish South African family in the late 1980s.

Star of the North: A Novel by D.B. John (Crown, $27, 9780525573296) is a thriller about a woman rescuing her sister from North Korea.

The Empirium Trilogy: Furyborn by Claire Legrand (Sourcebooks Fire, $18.99, 9781492656623) introduces a fantastical world in which two prophesied queens may bring an end to everything.

The Sasquatch and the Lumberjack by Crix Sheridan (Little Bigfoot, $14.99, 9781632171610) is a picture book about a sasquatch and a lumberjack becoming close friends.

Movie:
How to Talk to Girls at Parties, based on the short story by Neil Gaiman, opens May 25. In 1970s suburban London, a boy at a party (Alex Sharp) meets an intergalactic tourist (Elle Fanning). The story is included in Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (Morrow, $16.99, 9780062699541), which is being published May 22.


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
Welcome to Lagos: A Novel by Chibundu Onuzo (Catapult, $26, 9781936787807). "A disparate and electric ensemble cast--sad, hopeful, honorable, conniving, quixotic, and just plain wacky--drive Chibundu Onuzo's remarkable debut, but it's the character of Nigeria itself--the air and soil of its countryside and the high-voltage freneticism of its largest city--that so often shines through, undeniably alive. Equally madcap, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Welcome to Lagos unflinchingly and beautifully captures the ambitions and contradictions of a nation on the brink." --Sam Kaas, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash.

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Viking, $27, 9781101981610). "A fascinating true crime book, The Feather Thief recounts the theft of more than 200 bird skins from a museum in England. Along the way, Johnson also covers Darwin contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace's travels to acquire birds of paradise, the theory of evolution, and the decimation of bird species in the name of fashion. It is a book about obsession, from the fly-tying community's hunt for specific bird species to Johnson's own need for justice and closure after the case is resolved. This is a gripping, multifaceted book about our need to possess beauty in the name of historical authenticity." --Anton Bogomazov, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.

Paperback
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (Flatiron, $17.99, 9781250080554). "Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich didn't set out to investigate the murder of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory in Louisiana; it was the case she happened upon as a young law school intern in 1992. In a fascinating twist, this becomes not only the true story of a heinous crime for which the perpetrator is in prison, but also of the investigation that unlocks the author's memories of her own youth, a childhood in which she and her sisters were repeatedly sexually abused by their maternal grandfather. As Marzano-Lesnevich moves backward and forward in time between the young man who killed Jeremy and her own life, the reader is swept along on a current of dismay and awe: dismay that human beings can do these things to each other, and awe that the author could face such demons and move on. I've never read another book like this." --Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah

For Ages 4 to 8
If You Had a Jetpack by Lisl Detlefsen, illustrated by Linzie Hunter (Knopf, $17.99, 9780399553295). "Blast off with a bunny and his brother as they explore all the things you could do if you only had a jetpack. Each page is loaded with adorable, vibrant illustrations that will keep you giggling from one to the next. Two bunnies, one jetpack, and endless possibilities." --Kidron Mariotti, Octavia Books, New Orleans, La.

For Ages 9 to 12
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow, $16.99, 9780062414182). "Told in alternate chapters, You Go First is the story of Charlotte Lock and Ben Boxer, who are united by their love of online Scrabble. Lottie's dad is sick and her friend group is undergoing some painful changes. Ben's parents are divorcing, and he decides to run for student government to make new friends and implement changes to his school's recycling program. Their friendship is a point of stability during a period of upheaval for both kids. Kelly nails the heartbreaking isolation of growing up, the pain of bullying, and the complicated nature of familial and platonic relationships. You Go First gives voice to the vulnerability of growing up and offers a hopeful ending for middle grade readers of all ages." --Sarah Sawyers-Lovett, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philadelphia, Pa.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (Little, Brown, $18.99, 9780316463997). "From the first pages of The Astonishing Color of After, you know that you're reading something special. It's a strange and beautiful story of a Chinese-American girl whose mother's ghost appears to her in the form of a fantastical red bird. Chasing family secrets, she travels to Taipei to meet the grandparents she's never seen, while trying to forget about the boy she left at home. It's lovely, real, and unforgettable." --Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle's Children's Books, Mendocino, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Days of Awe

Days of Awe: Stories by A.M. Homes (Viking, $25 hardcover, 304p., 9780670025497, June 5, 2018)

Readers who enjoy the short stories of George Saunders and Kevin Brockmeier will find ample reason to appreciate A.M. Homes's varied story collection, Days of Awe, her first since 2002's Things You Should Know. Wired into the zeitgeist, she's both a keen observer of some of the more absurd aspects of contemporary American life and someone who's not afraid to explore the boundaries where real life morphs into fantasy.

Homes's archetypal characters resemble the members of the Los Angeles family who appear in "Hello Everybody" and "She Got Away." They eat in restaurants that serve "designer-size macrobiotic bites" and pass entire meals staring at their cell phones, while "occasionally and without warning they will speak randomly and out of context." But for all their trendy affluence, one of them feels "drenched in aloneness, the cologne of empty, the odor of nothing." That same young woman describes her sister as a "human Post-it; there's nothing to her--no dimension."

The best of these stories take a familiar situation and give it a bizarre twist. That's true of "A Prize for Every Player," where Tom, Jane and their two children embark on what appears to be a routine Saturday morning shopping trip at a Costco-type store. Tom has invented an unusual contest to break the tedium of filling up the family's shopping carts. But this outing takes on an even weirder aspect, as one of the children discovers an abandoned baby atop the towel display, while Tom's observations in front of a bank of televisions inspire his fellow shoppers to promote him as a presidential candidate. In barely 20 pages, it's a telling satire of our consumer culture and current political moment.

And for every seemingly offhanded story like "Your Mother Was a Fish" (a magical realist riff on several generations of a very odd family), there are others that pack real emotional power. The collection's title story follows two characters--the "War Correspondent" (Erike) and the "Transgressive Novelist" (Rakel)--at a "summit on Genocide(S)." In it Homes raises provocative questions about the characters' shared role of "professional witnesses, reminding others to pay attention, keeping the experience alive, hoping that the memory will prevent it from happening again." Equally affecting is "The Last Good Time," in which the protagonist, someone who considers himself "an outsider in his own life," revisits Disneyland and the Joshua Tree National Park, seeking meaning in scattered fragments of his past.

Unlike many story collections whose appeal lies in some unifying theme, Days of Awe's pleasure emerges from its embrace of the unexpected. Turn the page and you never know what you may find. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In a diverse collection of stories, A.M. Homes casts a shrewd eye on modern life.


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