Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 23, 2008


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

Notes: Bookshop Investors; Bratz Detractors

When the Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pa., was in danger of closing, owner Karen Fadzen, who is also a financial advisor, asked two of her clients if they might consider saving the landmark store. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Bud and Janet McDanel answered the call and agreed to invest more than $1 million.

"It's totally a social investment," said Fadzen, who now serves as the store's director. She added that the McDanels, who are publicity shy, have had to adapt to the community's appreciation for their efforts.

"I told them when we started people are going to find out who you are," Fadzen said. "A year later, everybody in the community is patting them on the back when they see them. Now, they're like rock stars, and they're loving that."

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Think your bookstore is space-challenged? The Shropshire Star reported that the Book Passage, "believed the narrowest in the country," has been put up for sale. The bookshop, "which is no more than six feet wide, is based in an alleyway of an old coaching inn which used to lead to the stables at the back of the building."

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Bratz are out of fashion. According to the New York Times, Scholastic "will no longer include picture books based on the overtly sexy Bratz dolls in any of its school book clubs or fairs this year--and an advocacy group is taking credit for the decision."

"When schools send these book club fliers home with children, the message is that 'We think these are fine and are good for your child,'" said Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which had campaigned against the product line.

Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs, said that while the company solicits opinions from editors, teachers and librarians, and had met with a representative of the campaign, "I can't be directed by anyone's special interest. That would almost be censorship.”

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Harry Potter votes Labour! J.K. Rowling is donating £1 million (US$1.8 million) to the Labour Party "and accusing the rival Conservatives of discriminating against poor parents trying to work their way out of poverty," the Associated Press (via CNN) reported.

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Anticipating that readers might be distracted by the presidential election campaign, the Seattle Times offered an alternative literary guide with its "list of 40 upcoming fiction and nonfiction books" for the autumn.

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"Where's your humor section," he asked morosely. The New York Times went searching for bookstore humor sections and concluded that, "In general, the easiest way to locate the Humor section in any bookstore is to go through the front entrance of the bookstore and to the farthest point from the entrance."

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Effective immediately, Molly Barton, publishing manager at Penguin Group, has taken on the additional, newly created position of associate publisher of eSpecials. The company published its first eSpecial, an electronic version of the prologue for the paperback version of The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan, earlier this month (Shelf Awareness, September 8, 2008).

Barton earlier was publishing coordinator, an assistant editor at Viking and held editorial and marketing positions at Oxford University Press, Chronicle Books, the United Way and the Sierra Club.

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Clara Heyworth has joined Melville House, Brooklyn, N.Y., as head of the publicity department. She was formerly a publicity and marketing executive for Verso in the U.K. In a statement, co-publisher Dennis Johnson said, "Verso is one of the world's leading radical publishers, and Clara's experience contributing to that will prove invaluable to us, particularly for the political titles on our list."

Co-founder Valerie Merians added: "Clara's international contact list is just what we need as we widen our distribution internationally. And it's lovely to have a British accent in the office, out here in the land of fuggedaboutit."

 


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


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephenie Meyer Talks with Ellen

Tomorrow on Ellen: Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series.

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Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Laurence Steinberg, co-author of Rethinking Juvenile Justice (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674030862/0674030869).

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Tomorrow on Oprah: Jenny McCarthy, author of Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds (Dutton, $24.95, 9780525950691/0525950699).

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Tomorrow on the View: Alec Baldwin, author of A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312363369/0312363362).

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Tomorrow on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Meghan McCain, author of My Dad, John McCain (Aladdin, $16.99, 9781416975281/1416975284).

 


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


Television: John Adams Makes Emmy History

John Adams, the $100 million HBO historical miniseries based on David McCullough's bestselling biography, made television history with 13 Emmys overall. According to Variety, that total "broke the record of 11 for a made-for-TV movie or a miniseries, previously shared by Eleanor and Franklin (1976) and HBO's Angels in America (2004)."

In addition to eight Creative Arts Emmys, including cinematography, costumes and visual effects, John Adams garnered trophies for outstanding miniseries as well as for actors Paul Giamatti in the title role, Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin and for writer Kirk Ellis.

 


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear



Books & Authors

Awards: MacArthur Genius Fellowships

Writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, and Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker and author of The Rest Is Noise, are among this year's 25 recipients of $500,000 MacArthur "genius awards."

According to today's New York Times, "Ms. Adichie was celebrating her birthday and taking a bath when the phone call came. 'I was thrilled and grateful,' she wrote in an e-mail message from Lagos. 'I like to say that America is like my distant uncle who doesn’t remember my name but occasionally gives me pocket money. That phone call filled me with an enormous affection for my uncle!'"

Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, described the 2008 winners as "people working on the very edge of discovery and people at the edge of a new synthesis."

 


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 30:

21 Nights by Prince (Atria, $50, 9781416554448/1416554440) is a multimedia exploration of Prince's life and music.

Hounded to Death: A Novel by Rita Mae Brown (Ballantine, $25, 9780345490261/0345490266) is the seventh crime thriller with fox hunter Sister Jane Arnold.

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, $24.99, 9780446579933/0446579939) follows a man who falls for an unknown woman in a photograph.

Now in paperback:

Double Cross by James Patterson (Vision, $9.99, 9780446198981/0446198986).

 


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


Book Review

Mandahla: Where War Lives

Where War Lives by Paul Watson (Rodale Press, $25.95 Hardcover, 9781594869570, September 2008)



In 1994, Paul Watson won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of Staff Sgt. William David Cleveland, or more precisely, the battered corpse of Cleveland, bound by ropes, lying at the feet of a Somali crowd after his Black Hawk helicopter had been shot down. The photo caused outrage in the U.S., and President Clinton called a halt to the hunt for Somalian warlord Aideed. It did what Watson wanted it to do--it got our government to see what a once-humanitarian mission had become. But on a personal level, the photograph haunted Watson. In the midst of the fighting, he got permission from the mob leaders to shoot the picture: "In less time than it took to breathe, I had to decide whether to steal a dead man's last shred of dignity. The moment of choice, in the swirl of dust and sweat, hatred and fear, is still trapped in my mind, denying me peace; just as I was about to press the shutter on my camera, the world went quiet, everything around me melted into a slow-motion blur, and I heard the voice: If you do this, I will own you forever." And Cleveland did own Watson; he says later, "consumed by anger, fear, and shame, [I] wanted to disappear. I felt like I'd stolen a man's soul to make a point."

Watson has been a journalist for almost two decades. A self-described war junkie, he's been close to death many times, a man who's taken so many risks, "he'd developed an air of impending disaster." Sudan, Eritrea, Angola, Afghanistan, both Iraq wars, Kosovo--he follows mayhem and destruction and believes that he's wired to crave risk. But after so many years of unrelenting danger, he counts the cost. In a Rwandan refugee camp: "The girl stopped right next to the corpses, standing on scattered straw. Bewildered, she began to cry until she was wailing for someone to come and help her. No one did. A falling tear etched a line down the dust on her cheek. I saw a picture and raised my camera to shoot it, and as I stepped back to frame the child among a few more corpses, I put my foot down on the bony arm of an old woman's dead body. It snapped like a dry stick. And then I knew I was lost, too." He's afraid to get help--he doesn't want to lose his edge. "If I got well, my bent mind reasoned, I'd be too sane to keep doing what I loved."

But he finally gets some help, and continues to be a journalist. He's written a powerful book about war and how it sucks the humanity from our souls. Not a new concept, of course, but one that deserves to be told, and retold, especially by a writer as searing and yet graceful as Paul Watson.--Marilyn Dahl

Shelf Talker: An intense and humane story of a journalist who craves war and whose adherence to the professional code demanding that he record, but not act, devastate his soul.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Threads of Communication at MPIBA Show

I've always loved the curious blend of introspection and conversation that marks any gathering of book people. I thought about that a lot this past weekend at the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association trade show in Colorado Springs, Colo.

On my flight back east Sunday, I studied all the words I'd scribbled in my notebook--the monologues, the dialogues--and certain threads began spinning themselves:

From the practical:

At the "Bookselling in Challenging Times" seminar, Ken Holland, director of field sales, Macmillan Publishers, spoke about the bookseller-publisher credit relationship, which he subtitled in his handout, "Communication Communication Communication."
    
"Establish a relationship with your credit rep," he advised.

"The more open we got with our vendors, the better," added Catherine Weller, Sam Weller's Zion bookstore, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"You have to talk and talk and talk some more," said Tom Montan, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, Calif.

An "Authorless Events" seminar featured, appropriately, no authors but loads of ideas, one of the best being the suggestion that bookstores subscribe to one another's e-mail newsletters so they can steal (well, share) great promotional concepts.  

To the compelling:

At Saturday's breakfast event, "Croissants and Conversation with the Authors," Cathy Langer of the Tattered Cover bookstore, Denver, Colo., hosted an extraordinary dialogue between writers Kim Barnes and Steven Rinella.

"I was looking for common threads that would start a conversation," Cathy said in her introductory remarks. The stage had a casual, salon feeling, with wingback chairs and side tables, and the authors responded by engaging one another in a revelatory discussion of their lives and work. Sometimes it felt like we were eavesdropping.

Kim said that author William Kittredge had offered this advice: "When someone reads your memoir, they should come away knowing more about themselves than you." I couldn't help wondering about the possibilities for bookstore variations on this theme, with, for example, two authors appearing to speak about each other's book instead of their own.

Later, introducing another event, Andy Nettell, co-owner of Arches Book Company, Moab, Utah, and president of MPIBA's board of directors, lauded that breakfast when he said, "It's always about the magic of the books; that magic like what happened this morning." Magic indeed.

To the inspiring:

At the regional book awards luncheon Friday, Joseph Marshall III, winner of the nonfiction prize for The Day the World Ended at Little Big Horn, said, "Everything I know I learned in stories. And to be a good storyteller, you have to be a good listener."

During the Gordon Saull Awards ceremony, sales rep of the year Molly Divine of Faherty & Associates observed: "The gift that I have received from booksellers is the gift of family." And bookseller of the year Paula Steige, owner of MacDonald Bookshop, Estes Park, Colo., shared her secret to success: "It's really very easy. You just get everybody around you to make you look good."

To the hilarious:

Saturday's "Author Breakfast for Literacy" featured the comedy stylings of Laura Pedersen, John Hodgman and Chuck Klosterman.

Hodgman led the crowd in a seemingly impromptu rendition of America the Beautiful after briefly outlining the role of Colorado Springs and Pike's Peak in the history of this song, as well as the distinction between Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote the lyrics, and actress Kathy Bates, who tortured an author in Stephen King's Misery.

Hodgman, best known for his appearances on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and as a PC in Apple computer ads, confessed to a past life that included work as a struggling author ("When I was a writer, I used to have to rent my pants. Now I buy new pants every day.") and added, mischievously, "I love books. I consider them very important and amusing relics of the past."

Klosterman advised booksellers what to look for when trying to handsell to his fans ("People who look like me; people with beards and glasses; a woman who says she really misses her bad relationship . . .").

Then, more seriously, he summed up his feelings about our little corner of the world by saying, "There always are going to be people who want to read and define themselves by books. Probably what you're doing is more important than you realize."

We do realize. On Sunday, while I waited for a connecting flight in Chicago, my Concourse B daze was suddenly interrupted by a man who said, "Excuse me. Do you work at the Northshire Bookstore? I told my wife you do. She doesn’t believe me."

And just like that, two Vermonters were talking books. A new thread.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Editor's note: For those of you wondering about the responses to last week's call for fun novels to handsell, rest assured that our e-mail box overflowed with great suggestions, which we'll share with you right after regional show season. 

 


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