Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley


Notes: Lost Symbol Enthusiasm; Good Old Days in Publishing

Today's New York Times surveyed the fall book season, leading with Dan Brown's Lost Symbol, which will be featured this week on the Today Show and includes an interview with Brown on pub date, a week from today. Booksellers expressed enthusiasm about The Lost Symbol and other titles coming out next week, including Senator Edward Kennedy's True Compass and Jon Krakauer's Where Men Win Glory.

"I think it's going to be a great week for bookselling," Kathryn Popoff, v-p for the trade division at Borders Group, told the paper. The company hopes to get customers buying The Lost Symbol to grab something else. "Our goal is with our merchandising and display to encourage people to buy another book while they're in the stores." About half of Borders stores will stay open after midnight on early Tuesday morning a la Harry Potter.

Some independents aren't excited about The Lost Symbol because of potential lost sales to major discounters and are more interested in books about subjects The Lost Symbol centers on, such as secret societies, the Freemasons, the founding fathers, etc. Still, Next Chapter, Mequon, Wis., will be open early Tuesday and is giving free copies of the book to customers who "commit to buying $100 worth of books in one sale."


In a move meant to blunt criticism from European authors and publishers, Google said it will "remove all European books that are still commercially available from its $125 million program to scan orphaned and out-of-print books in the U.S. and sell them online," the Wall Street Journal reported.

As a result, books on sale in Europe won't be in Google scans even if they're no longer available in the U.S.--unless the author wants them included.


"When I grew up in publishing in the 1970s, the process and the tools were relatively simple," recalled Joni Evans, former publishing executive at Simon & Schuster and literary agent, in a wistful New York Times essay. 

Evans sketched a New York publishing world where "the process and the tools were relatively simple. Marketing worked like this: whatever book that Doubleday Bookstore chose to feature in its Fifth Avenue store window (now Prada) usually became a best seller. The Book of the Month Club judges--the Simon Cowells of their day--selected what they considered the very best. We were a small community of authors, editors and agents, and we were on fire."

While acknowledging the inevitable Darwinian evolution of most aspects of the business over the past three decades, Evans also noted that "it was our office archaeology that I remember the most. There was a primitive chaos to it all--the hybrid scent of tobacco and mimeograph ink, and the sounds of ringing phones, of typewriters zipping along until the warning bell pinged near the end of a line, and of the clack-clack-clack of the return handle as the carriage reset. Our artifacts were sitting atop our desks: Rolodexes, 'in' and 'out' boxes and fountain pens that stained our blotters. And dictionaries, atlases and all manner of reference books were propped high over file cabinets."

Evans is a co-founder and C.E.O. of, a website for women.


On NPR's All Things Considered, Cathy Langer, buyer at Tattered Cover bookstore, Denver, Colo., discussed the climate for bookselling as well as the great titles "her customers will be buzzing about this fall."


Congratulations to Melissa Broder, Berkley/Penguin Group publicity manager, who after handling publicity for a range of books, has just signed a deal for a book of her own. Her first collection of poems, When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother, will appear in February from Ampersand Books.

Broder is the curator of the Polestar Poetry Series at CakeShop and won the 2008 Jerome Lowell Dejur Award as well as the 2008 and 2009 Stark Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in several journals, including Opium, Shampoo, Conte and the Del Sol Review.


Bookstore police blotter: "Less-than-enterprising burglars" broke into Books Etc., Albany, Ga., last week and "made off with pretty much what could be called chump change," according to the Herald. Owner A. J. Bond said that "no one in the used bookstore business sits on a pile of money from their efforts buying, selling and trading mostly paperbacks." One thing police know for certain about the thieves is that they are not big readers, since no books were stolen.


Obituary notes: Keith Waterhouse, whose best-known novel, Billy Liar, "placed him at the forefront of a rising generation of working-class writers from northern England," died last Friday, according to the New York Times. He was 80.

Western regional novelist Elmer Kelton has also died. He was 83. The Times obituary praised Kelton, author of more than 60 books, for being "a novelist who brought the sensibility of the old-style western to bear on a modern Texas landscape of oil fields and financially troubled ranches."


Shelfari asked Neil Gaiman "if he'd be willing to give us a peek into his personal library, and he graciously agreed. . . . Naturally we'd assumed that someone whose work is filled with references ranging from literary to mythological would have a fairly extensive library but even so, we were a bit unprepared for the scope of what he sent us. In the basement of his house of secrets we find a room that's wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with books (along with a scattering of awards, gargoyles and felines)."  


Craig Hetzer is joining Knock Knock, the Venice, Calif., gift and book publisher, as senior v-p, creative director. He has worked since 1991 at Chronicle Books, most recently as director of new retail business development, selling to independents in Southern California as well as such specialty retailers as Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Spencer's Gifts.


The following changes have been made at Nicholas Brealey Publishing North America:

  • Nicole LeBlanc has joined the company as marketing director. She was formerly senior marketing manager at McGraw-Hill Professional and Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Erika Heilman has been named editorial director. Before joining the company six years ago, she worked at Wiley and Petersons/Thomson and had her own publishing consulting business, Working Titles.
  • Jennifer Olsen has been promoted to associate editor. Before joining the company four years ago, she was on the editorial staff of Texas Monthly magazine.



BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

E-Shocker: Prep School Library Goes All Digital

In one of the stranger stories of the end of the summer, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Mass., is clearing out the more than 20,000 books in its library and going completely digital, according to the Boston Globe.

"When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,'' James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing told the paper. "This isn't Fahrenheit 451. We're not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.''

Tracy added: "Instead of a traditional library with 20,000 books, we're building a virtual library where students will have access to millions of books."

The Globe wrote: "Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a 'learning center,'' though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine."

In addition, Cushing is spending $10,000 (less than the cost of the cappuccino machine!) on 18 e-readers from Amazon and Sony, on which students interested in reading literature can find what they need.

Several students expressed approval of the changes, but others on campus were wary. Liz Vezina, a librarian at Cushing for 17 years, told the Globe she never imagined working as the director of a library without any books. (She hosts a book club on campus called the Off-line Readers.) And Alexander Coyle, chairman of the history department, said, "A lot us are wondering how this changes the dignity of the library, and why we can't move to increase digital resources while keeping the books."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The 50th Law

This morning on Good Morning America: Crystal Renn, author of Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439101230/143910123X).


This morning on the Early Show: Judy Shepard, author of The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed (Hudson Street Press, $25.95, 9781594630576/1594630577).


This morning on the Today Show:

  • Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, author of The Governor (Phoenix, $24.95, 9781597776462/1597776467). He is on the View tomorrow.
  • Yankee catcher Jorge Posada, author of Fit Home Team: The Posada Family Guide to Health, Exercise, and Nutrition the Inexpensive and Simple Way (Atria, $25, 9781439109311/1439109311).
  • 50 Cent and Robert Greene, authors of The 50th Law (HarperStudio, $19.99, 9780061774607/006177460X).


Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show: Jessica DuLong, author of My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson (Free Press, $26, 9781416586982/1416586989).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Deborah Tannen, author of You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives (Random House, $26, 9781400066322/1400066328).


Tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Jeffrey Ross, author of I Only Roast the Ones I Love: Busting Balls Without Burning Bridges (Simon Spotlight, $24.99, 9781439101407/143910140X).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Ruby Gettinger, author of Ruby's Diary: Reflections on All I've Lost and Gained (Morrow, $21.99, 9780061924606/0061924601).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Crystal Renn, author of Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439101230/143910123X). She will also appear tomorrow on Extra.


Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Nicholson Baker, author of The Anthologist (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416572442/1416572449).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Jane Goodall, author of Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446581776/0446581771).


Tomorrow on PBS's Your Life, Your Money: Beth Kobliner, author of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties (Fireside, $16, 9780743264365/0743264363).


Tomorrow on Ellen DeGeneres: NeNe Leakes, author of Never Make the Same Mistake Twice: Lessons on Love and Life Learned the Hard Way (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439167304/1439167303).


GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Movies: The Solitude of Prime Numbers

Isabella Rossellini and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher will star in director Saverio Costanzo's adaptation of The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. Variety reported that "Costanzo will start shooting in October on Solitude, which is mostly set in Turin and Piedmont."


Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:


In This Way I Was Saved: A Novel by Brian DeLeeuw (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439103135/1439103135). "In This Way I Was Saved is fantastic psychological suspense about a family's haunting madness written from an unexpected point of view."--Cathy Allard, BayShore Books, Oconto, Wis.

Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World by Glenn Stout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780618858682/0618858687). "Trudy Ederle, the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel in 1926, is the focus of this fascinating and readable book. Young Woman and the Sea is both inspirational and painlessly educational. Every young woman should read it to see where women were in society 100 years ago. Stout is an excellent storyteller."--Nancy Fontaine, Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, Vt.


One Foot Wrong: A Novel by Sofie Laguna (Other Press, $12.95, 9781590513163/1590513169). "Kept imprisoned by her unbalanced, zealously religious mother, Hester Wakefield has only fleeting contact with the outside world, and the only life she knows is one of torture, pain, and abuse. The story of her halting steps toward recovery is dark, but it also has an ending that practically defines poetic justice and a character whose haunting life will resonate long after the book is put down."--Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.

For Ages 9 to 12

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Slayton (Philomel, $16.99, 9780399251894/0399251898). "Fran Slayton's When the Whistle Blows tells the story of a railroading family in 1940s West Virginia, when steam engines were king. But the wheels of progress bring the diesel engine and, with it, the end of a way of life. This is an engaging and moving portrayal of changing times in a small mountain town."--Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, September 14 and 15:

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385504225/0385504225). Enough said.

True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy (Twelve, $35, 9780446539258/0446539252) is an autobiographical account of the late senator's personal and public life.

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer (Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385522267/0385522266) explores the events surrounding the friendly-fire death of the NFL player who volunteered for military service after September 11.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books, $12.95, 9781594744426/1594744424) is the second in the Quirk Classic series. Fun.

No Time to Wave Goodbye: A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Random House, $25, 9781400067749/140006774X) continues the story of a kidnapped son returned home 13 years after the events of The Deep End of the Ocean (Penguin, $15, 9780140286274/0140286276).

Guinness World Records 2010 (Guinness, $28.95, 9781904994503/1904994504) includes updated records and free online content.

Now in paperback:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, $10.99, 9780316075633/0316075639).


Book Review

Book Review: City Boy

City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s by Edmund White (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781596914025, September 2009)

"I was lucky to live in New York when it was dangerous and edgy and cheap enough to play host to young, penniless artists," writes Edmund White in this exuberant, thoughtful memoir. Arriving in 1962 and determined to be famous, he found a job in publishing and got to work on his dream. Away from the office, he dedicated his energy to meeting people (some famous, some not) and, of course, having sex with lots and lots of men. Ambition, amphetamines, neurosis and an era when New York vibrated with desire combined for heady times in his young life.

All was not roses, though. White wrestled with self-acceptance as he pursued therapy to reorient himself for a (never-to-be) heterosexual marriage; he admits he was so consumed with internalized self-loathing that he didn't have a clear idea of how he looked. Others, however, did not miss the handsome, eager man in all his '60s and '70s glory, and he made friends easily. White's affectionate yet candid portraits of literary celebrities Richard Howard, Harold Brodkey and Susan Sontag celebrate those friendships, with the eminences coming across as quite distinct from their forbidding public personas, even lovable.

White got around in less elevated circles too. He saw a lifetime of scandalous acting out that bubbles up in passing remarks like, "When gay men say in their personals, 'No drama queens, please,' they are trying to avoid someone like Coleman." Sparkling cameo appearances by the likes of Truman Capote, Robert Mapplethorpe and Fran Lebowitz expand the feeling that artistic Manhattan then was a very different place than it is today.

All fun aside, the gadabout boulevardier at some point had to take a back seat to the fiercely ambitious emerging writer. White's vivid analysis of his artistic struggles and literary progress during these years is like a master class for other writers. As he notes, the years of uncertainty helped him develop and refine his themes, otherwise he "would never have turned toward writing with a burning desire to confess, to understand, to justify myself in the eyes of others." Many readers of his landmark novel, A Boy's Own Story, will sit up at attention when he links his goal of writing "a modern tragedy in which there were two choices and both were bad" to Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen. That like-minded connection to Bowen also serves to explain his insistence that any truly satisfying work of literature must embrace a mysterious element of charm. Let it be known that White's memoir takes that lesson to heart and has charm to burn.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A memoir that captures New York City at an auspicious time for a writer defining his themes and coming into his own as a raconteur, friend and sexy devil (in the best sense).

Deeper Understanding

Stitches by David Small

It started as Symptoms,
more than seven years ago,
with a memory from David Small's childhood:
The trip that he and his mother and brother used to take
at the end of the day as a one-car '49 Ford family
going to pick up his radiologist father from the hospital.
It ended with the image of David as "a naughty boy"
who rode the hospital elevator and saw
"that little man in the jar."
David Small began as an editorial artist
and a children's book illustrator.
He has won a Caldecott Medal.
He had always resisted the graphic novel form
with its "little pictures," as he put it.
But in Paris four years ago with his wife, Sarah,
Small saw the possibilities in comics.
"The French were doing books about serious, mature subject matter,
a lot of them influenced by bande dessinées," said Small
(literally translated as 'drawn strips').
"I came home from Paris that winter and,
after my day in the studio doing children's [illustrations],
I'd sit at the kitchen table, fix myself a martini and draw.
I started with the man in the jar."
"I was six," the book opens,
written like white chalk on a blackboard.
Next, the word "Detroit" appears
opposite the image of the Ford Rouge Plant.
"It was like Dante's Inferno," Small said of the auto factory.
A series of wordless images takes readers
from the factory to a cookie-cutter block.
Inside the living room of a seven-room colonial,
a boy is on his belly, drawing a rabbit.
"I've done that my whole life," Small said,
"Like a bell jar coming down around David
and having nothing but my drawing implements."
Hardly a word is spoken in this house:
"Mama had her little cough."
Dad has his punching bag ("pocketa pocketa pocketa"),
and brother Ted has his drums ("bum bum bum").
As for six-year-old David, "getting sick, that was my language."
For his sinus problems,
his radiologist father gave David many X-rays.
We see the six-year-old's eyes--
just the eyes--
staring into the lens of an X-ray machine.
One day at the hospital,
six-year-old David disobeys his mother.
He rides the elevator to the fourth floor ("Pathology").
Those same little-boy eyes stare into a jar with a "little man" in it.
The child imagines a wordless sequence:
The little man opens his eyes and stares back at the boy,
then bursts from the jar and gives chase.
Young David narrowly escapes via the elevator.
This is the scene that Small wrote down
and showed to his agent, Holly McGhee.
"This is going to be your novel," she said.
"It has a great voice."
"I said 'O.K.' and stopped," said Small.
"I didn't know where to go with it.
I didn't think I'd ever get through anything
that needed that much mental organization."
But several years ago, when David Small had a dream--
the dream that ends the book--
that made him think,
"It's still in me and I have to do something about this."
To Small's editor, Bob Weil, the story was like Metamorphosis,
"for like Kafka's boy-turned-insect, Gregor Samsa,
David Small awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation
to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute."
Those "200 to 400 rads"
the father gave his son to treat his sinus infections
led to throat cancer.
David comes to, at age 14, with one vocal cord,
speechless in a silent home.
After David takes off in one of the family cars
and lands in the Wayne County Jail,
"Even Mrs. Small, as skinflinty as she was,
realized that she had a big problem," as Weil put it.
She sent him to a psychiatrist.
When she drops him off at his first appointment, she says:
"It's like throwing money down a hole, if you ask me."
Down the rabbit hole.
The psychiatrist guides David into Wonderland.
"The child who is not loved and never touched,
never picked up, reaches up to the world with his eyes,"
the psychiatrist told Small.
"That's why you're an artist, David."
And so Small was compelled to turn
to the graphic novel form,
using a sequence of images to tell the story of
how the bell jar came down around him
and how art saved his life.
"I see graphic novels
as complete compositions of music
with a beginning, a middle and an end," said Weil.
He encouraged Small to take his seminal images and use them.
"How can it replay at the end?" Weil said.
"Listen to the beginning."
The eyes,
the eyes of a six-year-old,
staring into the X-ray machine,
staring into the eyes of the little man in the jar,
staring into the eyes of Jesus
on a crucifix in his punitive grandmother's house.
The eyes of 15-year-old David when his doctor father
admits he gave his son cancer,
and the teen's face transforms into that of a six-year-old boy again.
The eyes of David's mother
when he finds her in bed with Mrs. Dillon,
glamorous Mrs. Dillon, the first to notice the lump on David's neck.
And the eyes of 14-year-old David
as he confronts his mother in the hospital,
and the image of half of David's face
and half of his mother's face forming a whole portrait.
"We take in our parents and we become them
because they're our only teachers when we're young,"
says Small. "I have my mother in me.
When I meld our faces together,
I say, 'Look, I'm treating her exactly as she'd treated me.'"
The stairs
down to his father's punching bag,
down to his grandmother's coal-burning furnace,
Grandmother dragging David up the stairs to be punished.
And the stitches and the stairs.
When 14-year-old David takes off his bandage--
"A crusted black track of stitches;
my smooth young throat slashed and laced back up
like a bloody boot"--
the pictures zoom in closer and closer
until the stitches become fine white horizontal lines
across one dark Stonehenge-like protrusion,
perfectly mirroring the carpet rails of the stairs,
the stairs that lead David up to his mother's desk
where he finds a letter to his grandmother:
"Of course the boy does not know it was cancer."
Panels like movie stills record his response:
" 'Of course the boy . . .
'Does not know . . .
The boy. The boy. The. Boy. Does. Not. Know."
The eyes. The eyes. We see only the eyes.
"He freezes consciousness on the page," said Weil.
Alice in Wonderland
At six, the boy lies on his belly and draws a rabbit.
He escapes his scary thoughts by disguising himself
as Alice in Wonderland
with a yellow towel over his head.
"I thought it must be her hair," Small recalls,
"That gave Alice the magic ability to travel to a land
of talking animals, singing flowers and dancing teapots."
In a later draft, Small cut that scene of Alice.
"You took out the yellow towel" McGhee said, "That was my favorite part!"
"I realized I hadn't gone deep enough," said Small.
"When I remembered further the bullies in the neighborhood,
being chased and called a homo and a queer
[when I was wearing the yellow towel],
that's when it came together and seemed meaningful."
The White Rabbit:
"I wasn't looking forward to illustrating
the process of psychoanalysis," said Small.
"There can't be anything more boring
than two people sitting in an office talking.
Then one day I was telling a friend about this problem,
and he said, 'Why don't you have him be like a fairy on your shoulder?'
'Like Tinkerbell?' I said and laughed,
and then ran home and turned him into the White Rabbit."
"The White Rabbit," Small continued,
"is like the usher into another world."
The White Rabbit tells David:
"Your mother doesn't love you."
We see those eyes, the 15-year-old eyes, and one tear.
Then a torrent of rain pummels all of Detroit,
the Ford Rouge plant,
the cookie-cutter neighborhoods,
the darkened seven-room colonial houses,
the abandoned lawn-mowers.
Until at last the world is cleansed.
In the words of Bob Weil:
"This is a silent movie
masquerading as a graphic novel."
The final dream:
The boy at six with a remote-control car
in a French-style house
surrounded by a formal garden.
"I started looking at the symbolism in a Jungian way," Small said.
"The formal enclosed garden
always means something about your career,
the way you've organized your life, your outside world.
The water in the center of it is the unconscious.
Instead of going outside myself, because I was afraid,
I sent the car around, and it worked very well
until it falls into the water.
That's when I have to come out of the house.
The car is my career.
It was going around all those paths so well until--
Wham! It hit my subconscious mind--
until I went out.
It's at that point in the dream,
I see that direct path from me to the madhouse
and my mother beckoning me to go there.
I woke up in a sweat and said . . .
I've got to go out and put my hand in that pool."
Weil told Small: "Be like the cormorant
who dives beneath the water
and comes up with the fish."
"It was hard to do," Small said.
"But I did it."

--Jennifer M. Brown
Stitches by David Small (Norton, $23.95, 9780393068573/0393068579, 344 pp., September 8, 2009)


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