Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Atria Books:  Spirit Crossing (Cork O'Connor Mystery #20) by William Kent Krueger

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Other Press (NY): Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

Delacorte Press: The Midnight Game by Cynthia Murphy

Quotation of the Day

Bookseller Recommendations: 'Seemingly Magical Accuracy'

"As a child--an easily bored, semi-feral child without a TV--I spent a lot of time in the local bookstore. The store had a large children's section, with rows and rows of chapter books that led out to a small cafe, but by the time I was eight or nine, I would peruse the stacks and come away with the distinct impression that I had read everything there. The only thing--or, rather, person--that stopped me from giving up and turning to some other sort of entertainment was the children's bookseller, a short black-haired woman who had read everything and could, if I told her some books I liked, recommend a new one to me--inevitably a more obscure but equally good one--with seemingly magical accuracy, the way that other adults enjoy pulling quarters out of kids' ears. It was astonishing.... It's one thing lost most in the age of the Internet, and it makes the Web seem like a place very far from that cozy children's bookstore, and much closer to some of the fearsome landscapes described within it--in the most literal sense, bewildering."

--Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn in her New Yorker Book Bench blog post, "The Trouble with Recommending Books"

 


Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request


News

Notes: Larsson's 'New' Work; Apple Shines & Stirs Debate

Raiders of the lost archives. Agence France-Presse reported that the national library of Sweden has acquired several unpublished manuscripts by Stieg Larsson, which were written when the author of the Millennium trilogy was "around age 17, long before he became a journalist and novelist, when he was hoping to break in as a writer of genre fiction," the New York Times wrote.

"We have received material from a small archive from a periodical called the Jules Verne Magazine, and in that small archive there were some manuscripts by the author Stieg Larsson that were never published," said Magdalena Gram, deputy national librarian of Sweden, adding that the works were "in the science-fiction genre."

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"Apple Will Eat Amazon Alive," claimed the Motley Fool in response to Apple CEO Steve Jobs's introduction of iPhone 4G and iBooks enhancements this week (Shelf Awareness, June 8, 2010). "Apple has always owned the nerds and hipsters. Now it's making a strong push for the bookworms.... If you're Barnes & Noble or Sony, throwing in the digital towel doesn't seem like such a crazy idea at this point."

The Motley Fool also contended that "Apple is already talking like a market leader. It even championed the agency pricing model for publishers. The pages are turning quickly in this story, and Amazon is running out of papyrus."

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A challenge was raised to Apple's claim "that sales of e-books for the iPad now accounted for 22% of all e-book sales" by Brad Stone in the New York Times.

"Amazon.com can pretty much dismiss that number as overstated--but its execs still have good reason to worry about the threat Apple poses to the Kindle," Stone wrote. "The 22% number means little because it does not reflect the entire publishing industry. Most small publishers, along with one of the largest in the world, Random House, do not sell books through Apple. Amazon has always been particularly strong at selling lesser known books in the so-called 'long tail' of publisher’s catalogs, many of which Apple does not yet carry."

Stone also noted that Alan Weiner, an analyst at Gartner, contends that "Mr. Jobs had used 'some sort of voodoo algorithm.' It’s an interesting number, but I don’t necessarily think there’s a lot of credibility in it.'"

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The effect of indie bookstores on local economies was explored by Twin Cities Daily Planet, which observed that "local bookstores take on the role of gathering spot and enrichment gallery for citizens. While local bookstores certainly build community, it is almost impossible to determine how much revenue they produce internally or for surrounding businesses."

Kati Gallagher, assistant director of the Midwest Booksellers Association, noted that bookstore events "drive traffic" into a neighborhood or community, which "clearly occurs in Minneapolis's Uptown area, for instance, when out of the neighborhood people stop by for events at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, she said. It happens along Grand Avenue in St. Paul when customers descend on Red Balloon Bookshop for events and to purchase special children's books for children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews," the Daily Planet wrote.

The Red Balloon hosts "upwards of 150 events a year," according to event coordinator Amy Baum, who said, "I can tell you the Bread & Chocolate bakery (nearby) has a rush of business after each of our story times."

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In a letter on the shop's website, Lafayette Book Store owner Dave Simpson expressed regrets in announcing "the closing of our brick-and-mortar location in Lafayette [Calif.], effective July 29. We will remain in business and continue to serve our literary community here, but without the beloved gathering place we've shared over the years."

Simpson explained there "are many reasons why we are closing the brick-and-mortar location, but the most salient is that our lease is up for renewal and our landlords were very aggressive in their negotiations. Given the economic challenges to running a brick-and-mortar bookstore now and in the future, we determined it isn't viable to relocate and instead will provide as many bookseller services to the community as we can without the benefit of a physical store location."

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Snap! The Consumerist took a caffeinated shot at B&N's latest promotion: "If you're one of the few people who own a Nook and enjoy taking it to Barnes & Noble to read a digital file you bought rather than paging through something off the shelf for free, you're in luck this month. Barnes & Noble has some free coffee to reward your labor intensive, counterproductive, fiscally unsound practices. Show the barista an e-book on your Nook and you'll get your prize."

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Amazon's publishing imprint, AmazonEncore, will release 10 titles this fall: A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion, Sweet Farts: Rippin' It Old School by Raymond Bean, The First Assassin by John J. Miller, Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch by Richard Hine, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller, Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese, Shaken by J.A. Konrath, The Grove by John Rector, Final Price by J. Gregory Smith and MetaGame by Sam Landstrom. AmazonEncore editions will be available in print as well as Kindle formats.

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In response to the recent announcement that Paris has enacted a planning strategy to "scout for premises in the fifth arrondissement that would make suitable bookshops or small publishing houses and cultural venues" (Shelf Awareness, June 7, 2010), the London Evening Standard's Simon Jenkins suggested that there "is every reason to replicate it in London. The recession may well decimate local branch libraries while also threatening bookshops. Why not merge the two? The demise of the net book agreement led to a cut in book prices and a reduction in public library borrowing. These libraries are also bereft of purchase funds. Partnership could see local bookshops merging with branch libraries, with second-hand books brought in by the public for others to borrow or buy."

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Obituary note: Charles "Chuck" Taliano, Jr., died last Friday, June 4, at the age of 65.

Taliano was a long-time publishing veteran and held executive sales and marketing positions at Dutton, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Orchard Books. He was also an independent sales rep with Vantage Sales and Mid-Atlantic Associates. In the 1960s, he had been a Marine drill instructor at Parris Island. He also was the model of a glaring drill sergeant in a famous Marine recruiting poster with the headline "We don't promise you a rose garden."

Taliano will be buried with full military honors on today, June 9, at the Beaufort, S.C., National Cemetery.

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Bookstore video of the day: "Booksellers Are Superheroes," the first in a series about Pegasus Fine Books, Berkeley, Calif., and its staff.

 


GLOW: Blue Box Press: In the Air Tonight by Marie Force


Cool Idea of the Day: Adopt a Platoon

Pomegranate Books, Wilmington, N.C., collected care package items to send to troops stationed overseas through the Adopt a Platoon program. Collections ended last Sunday, and Monday Pomegranate's Facebook page featured an enthusiastic expression of gratitude to local supporters of the effort: "The Wilmington, N.C. community really came together and helped us collect TONS of things for individual soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will be sending them through Adopt a Platoon."

Another FB update added a "HUGE thank you to everyone who brought in Adopt a Platoon books, magazines, cards, snacks, soap, chapstick, shipping money, etc! We are sending a LOT of stuff over. Katie and Visha sorted it all today, and will pack for shipping tomorrow!"

 


Carolrhoda Lab (R): They Thought They Buried Us by Nonieqa Ramos


Image of the Day: Standing Room Only at Barefoot Books

Congratulations to Barefoot Books on the grand opening of its flagship store in Concord, Mass. (at 89 Thoreau Street), over the weekend. This photo of storyteller and singer-songwriter Susan Reed could have been taken from the hot-air balloon featured in her book/CD Up, Up, Up!, illustrated by Rachel Oldfield (Barefoot, $16.99, 9781846863691/ 1846863694, ages 4-8, March 2010). While Barefoot's co-founder and CEO Nancy Traversy was delighted by the opening of its FAO Schwarz boutique (Shelf Awareness, October 9, 2008) nearly 18 months ago, this flagship store is more in line with the publisher’s vision of a global community. "We hope that it will become a destination for locals and visitors as a colorful and happy place for families and friends to spend time together having fun and sharing stories," Traversy said.

 


BEA: Mobile Apps: A Publisher Roadmap

At the BEA session on mobile apps the audience got an overview from Michael Cairns, co-founder of International Media Partners, and his fellow panelists, Josh Koppel, co-founder of Scroll Motion; Peter Costanzo, director of online marketing, Perseus Book Group; Linda Gagnon, senior v-p, digital media services, Baker & Taylor; and Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks.

Both Cairns and Raccah cited the impact of the "State of the Internet Report" delivered by Morgan Stanley Internet analyst Mary Meeker on April 12 (a summary appears here). Meeker forecasts that within the next five years, "more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs."

Josh Koppel claimed that ScrollMotion's Iceberg platform was the first to bring major publishers onto the iPhone for a standalone book experience. "We defined the feature set," Koppel suggested, citing an e-book pagination that correlates with the print book, the ability to take notes and share pages all within the reading experience.

Iceberg Kids goes even further, creating what he called "an interactive space for graphic content." It simulates the experience of looking over a double-page spread or leafing through the book--an experience that Koppel described as a "motivated slide show"; children can scroll through frame by frame and navigate the pages. They can also "personalize the content" by reading aloud and recording the text. These features work with other illustrated content, such as art books and architecture plans.

For textbooks, such as MCAT study guides, ScrollMotion has created add-ons such as a glossary, an expandable table of contents, and a live practice quiz that can be graded immediately, along with the correct answers and an explanation of the solutions. Koppel demonstrated the next iteration of illustrated books with footage of a shark swimming, as text that appears below to explain what viewers are seeing.

Cathy's Book
by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, published by Perseus in 2006, was "the first book to include interactive elements," according to Peter Costanzo. "It was waiting for this moment." Before, the content was tethered to a PC and a landline, he explained, as thousands of callers phoned in to say, "Cathy, I found your book!" Now the Cathy's Book app allows kids to view video elements and hear the characters' voices. The first third of the book has already been submitted to Apple for the iPad, and the other two-thirds are forthcoming. Costanzo also demonstrated a new Perseus/Avalon Travel app featuring renowned travel guide Rick Steves pointing out works of art as he walks the halls of a museum.

B&T's Linda Gagnon demonstrated Blio, the e-reader that provides a "cross-platform solution," allowing for "low-cost entry, high impact and broad distribution." Like Koppel, she demonstrated both high-resolution graphics for magazines, newspapers, graphic novels and other illustrated books, as well as interactive possibilities with textbooks (such as test-taking) and other informational content. Gagnon said that Blio allows for "all books in the same environment."

Apps: Meeting the "Connectivity Expectation"

Sourcebooks' Dominique Raccah provided the most practical information for bookstores, publishers and writers who are contemplating creating an app. She began by citing Steve Jobs's new characterization of Apple as "a mobile device company," upon the release of the iPad. Like Cairns, Raccah evoked Mary Meeker's findings and posited that consumers are now driven by "connectivity expectation." Raccah asked, "With customers who expect to be connected 'anytime, anywhere, by any device, with any format,' how do we meet that expectation?" Mobile is ideal, Raccah suggested, because it's "personal, permanently carried, always on, with a built-in payment channel, and available at the point of creative impulse."

For those who are contemplating creating an app, Raccah suggested thinking through these elements:

  1. Determine the target audience and define the value the app will deliver (will it solve a specific problem? Is it for entertainment?). What is the "why"?
  2. Identify the revenue stream (if any).
  3. Define functionality and determine the book content that will support it.


Raccah then discussed the importance of "Wire Frames," the blueprint for developers like Koppel at ScrollMotion. "Josh defines the screens, and if it's not right, either it doesn't work, or it's not functioning," Raccah said. "But there's good news for publishers... we can fix it!" She gave a range of examples from Sourcebooks, such as Gruber's Shortest SAT iPhone app; iDracula, a retelling of Dracula through text messages and a Web site; and an iPhone app that's coming out three weeks before the book's release that will offer 30% of the content free (consumers will have to purchase the book or app to see how it ends). --Jennifer M. Brown



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Danielle Steel on Good Morning America

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Danielle Steel, author of Family Ties (Delacorte, $28, 9780385343169/0385343167).

Also on GMA: Peter H. Gleick, author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Island Press, $26.95, 9781597265287/1597265284).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show: Anthony Bourdain, author of Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061718946/0061718947).

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Tomorrow on the Joy Behar Show: Heather McDonald, author of You'll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again: One Woman's Painfully Funny Quest to Give It Up (Touchstone, $15, 9781439176283/1439176280).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Yann Martel, author of Beatrice & Virgil (Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9781400069262/1400069262). As the show put it: "After recognizing that most holocaust literature is centered on personal testimony, Yann Martel decided to create an allegory about the holocaust--a different approach to this traumatic material. He arrived at a sort of philosophical fable in the manner of Voltaire and Diderot. We discuss, in detail, his strategy and its meaning."

 


Stage & Screen: Mendes to Direct Book Adaptations

Director Sam Mendes has agreed to direct a pair of quite diverse projects based upon books. Deadline.com reported that he "has committed himself to direct" the musical production of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, aiming "for a holiday 2011 premiere in London. A move to Broadway will follow."

As that project develops, Mendes plans to "squeeze in a feature" by directing the film adaptation of On Chesil Beach, and "is having discussions with Carey Mulligan to play the female lead in the Focus Features adaptation of the Ian McEwan novella. The author is scripting the drama," Deadline.com wrote.  

 


Television: Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher's one-woman stage production that later became a bestselling book, will now be "converted into an HBO documentary complete with family interviews and archival footage from her life," Entertainment Weekly reported.

Fisher's performance will be filmed June 25 and 26, during her three-performance stand at the South Orange (N.J.) Performing Arts Center.  

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Orange Prize Youth Panel; Danuta Gleed; Kafka

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels won the Orange Prize Youth Panel Award, honoring the best Orange Prize-winning novel to date. The book was chosen by a panel of teenagers who were recruited via Spinebreakers.co.uk as part of a  "strategy to engage with younger readers and introduce them to the great backlist of past winners." The award will be presented to Michaels by the Duchess of Cornwall as part of the Orange Prize's 15th-anniversary celebrations.

"It means more than I can say that Fugitive Pieces has been chosen by the Orange Prize Youth Panel," said Michaels "How heartened I am that this book has been received, with alertness and openness, by readers courageous enough to take to their hearts both the complex questions and the hope contained in its pages."

Kate Mosse, co-founder and honorary director of the Orange Prize, facilitated the judging meetings and said, "It was a great pleasure to eavesdrop on the fabulous discussions held to get down from the shortlist of six previous winners to the overall winner. The debate was lively, focused, passionate--everything that we had hoped for--and wonderful that their final choice should be one of our earliest winners, proving--if proof we needed--that literature of the highest quality speaks beyond its time and context."

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Wax Boats by Sarah Roberts won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which recognizes a Canadian debut fiction collection, Quill & Quire reported. The prizewinner was named at the Writers' Union of Canada's annual general meeting in Ottawa. Roberts bested Deborah Willis's Vanishing and Other Stories and Joey Comeau's Overqualified.

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Former Czech President Vaclav Havel won the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize, given by the Franz Kafka Society to authors whose works "appeal to readers regardless of their origin, nationality and culture." The Associated Press reported that "since the 1960s, Havel, now 73, has published dozens of plays, books and political essays to international acclaim. His first play in 20 years, Leaving, premiered two years ago."

 


Children's Reviews: Nomansland; The Kingfisher Soccer Encyclopedia

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge (Henry Holt/Macmillan, $16.99, 9780805090642/0805090649, 256 pp., ages 12-up, July 2010)

This postapocalyptic novel will grab you from the first page and hold you long past the last. Even though most of the book takes place outdoors, the atmosphere feels as claustrophobic as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, so rigid are the constraints placed upon the young women who live in Foundland. But there's a big difference here: the women make the rules.

Foundlanders do not celebrate birthdays, but Keller, the narrator, and her fellow Patrol members are solidly in the throes of adolescence. Laing, the most popular among them, rebels ("Laing is, and no other word suffices, beautiful," Keller thinks). At first, Laing breaks the rules in relatively subtle ways (such as letting her hair grow past "regulation length"), then she goes further--she discovers a dwelling from the Time Before, prior to the Tribulation (references to mutant calves and chickens suggest a nuclear holocaust of some kind), and tells only a trusted few peers. The Instructors train Keller, Laing and the members of their Patrol as Trackers, whose job it is to guard the boundaries of Foundland and "assassinate the enemy"--men. Because of their mission, these young women are usually spared the threat of impregnation--when the Committee Chair arrives with frozen Seed to continue the growth of their population. But one day the Chair arrives unexpectedly, and without Seed; rumors fly that she's heard about a "rich find" from the Time Before, and as Keller gets lured in by Laing, she fears that the Trackers know the teens are sneaking off to the hideaway Laing has discovered, with contraband such as gowns, high-heeled shoes, fashion magazines and Barbie dolls (Keller describes them as "tiny women made out of some kind of resin. They had long, long hair and they offered up breasts with no nipples").

First-time novelist Hauge brilliantly supplies to readers only what Keller knows or is able to uncover through her readings of unbound pages at the Library, her questions and her own discoveries. Thus the author throws into high relief the values of the modern-day world and asks readers to take a step back from their assumptions about society as we know it. Two of Keller's Instructors toss out a revealing detail here and there, and Keller begins to think, "Perhaps we [Foundlanders] are not as successful as we tell ourselves." As Laing becomes obsessed with returning to the hideaway, Keller requests a "walkabout," a solo retreat, to let things cool down. But what she discovers on her journey only heats things up. Her findings place her between Scylla and Charybdis as Laing and the Committee Chair tug Keller in different directions. Hauge raises provocative questions about the value of beauty, who determines it and the ramifications of absolute authority.--Jennifer M. Brown

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The Kingfisher Soccer Encyclopedia by Clive Gifford (Kingfisher/Macmillan, $19.99, 9780753463970/0753463970, 164 pp., ages 8-up, May 2010)

Just in time for the 2010 World Cup Tournament (June 11–July 11, 2010) comes this revised edition of Kingfisher's 2006 tour de force, with a bound-in poster that allows soccer fans to track the matchups all the way to the finals. Full-color photos of soccer's biggest stars offer profiles of the players and quotes from their peers (e.g., "Pelé called [England's Bobby] Moore the greatest defender he had ever played against"). The book does not shy away from soccer's uglier aspects, such as the death of 96 people during the 1989 FA Cup semifinal and onfield brawls like the one between teammates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer in April 2005. There's plenty here to orient beginners (e.g., onfield formation diagrams) and enough in-depth coverage to more than satisfy longtime aficionados. "Fact File" and "Game Action" insets, profiles of key players, a generous helping of photos, stat boxes and diagrams make this the definitive book for soccer fans.--J.M.B.


Book Brahmin: Justin Cronin

Justin Cronin was born and raised in New England and is the author of The Summer Guest (a Book Sense national bestseller) and Mary and O'Neil, winner of both the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize for best debut fiction. His latest book is The Passage, published yesterday by Ballantine. He is teaches English at Rice University and lives with his family in Houston, Tex.

On your nightstand now:

I am currently binging on espionage novels and just stocked up for the summer. I have an exceptionally large nightstand to accommodate my reading list, so there are about 20 books on it now. These include novels by Eric Ambler and Graham Greene; a galley of the new Alan Furst, Spies of the Balkans; and a couple of early le Carres that I either neglected to read or read so long ago I wanted to go back to them. Other books include Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone, Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, Angelology by Danielle Trussoni and James Hynes's Next. I went to school with Hynes, so I'm rooting for the home team, but I'd read him anyway—he's an absolutely dead-on satirist, and his novel The Lecturer's Tale is the best send-up of academic life written in the last, oh, 2,000 years. On the lighter side, I am also reading the great tennis player and coach Brad Gilbert's Winning Ugly. One of his best tips is to sing a song while you play so you don't think too much about your shots. I now hum Devo's "Whip It," and it has been a tremendous help.
 
Favorite book when you were a child:

Earth Abides by George Stewart. I must have read it 50 times. There's a little homage to it in The Passage.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order: Cormac McCarthy (the Border Trilogy), Alan Furst (my summertime go-to), Richard Ford (especially Independence Day), John le Carre (Absolute Friends is his masterpiece) and Virginia Woolf. (I know you're thinking, What? What is she doing on the same list as two spy novelists? But Mrs. Dalloway was probably the most important book for me in terms of learning to be a writer. I had to read it for three different courses my sophomore year in college. The first time, I sent it pinwheeling across the room in frustration. But by the third, I had begun to appreciate how the book "worked" and was completely absorbed by the mechanics of its shifting points of view and use of unreliable narration. Not long after, I wrote my first real short story, and in terms of career choice, it was game-set-match.)

Book you've faked reading:

There are hundreds, and I admit this without embarrassment. I've been an English professor for almost 20 years, and manfully pretending you've read something you haven't comes with the job. (So is name-dropping an obscure title so you can watch your colleagues squirm.) It's practically a contact sport.
 
Book you're an evangelist for:

Currently I would have to say Joseph O'Neill's Netherland. It's one of the most touching portraits of male midlife crisis I have ever read, as well as a beautiful paean to the great sprawling carnival of New York City. I got to meet O'Neill last year and babbled like a fanboy, spouting things like, "You're a genius. I mean it. A genius!"
 
Book you've bought for the cover:

I am a sucker for abandoned things and recently bought American Ruins by Arthur Drooker for this reason. It's a volume of infrared photographs of derelict structures, from antebellum plantation mansions to the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Pennsylvania to Anasazi cliff dwellings in Arizona. The cover image, of sunlight streaming through the empty windows of an old hotel, looks like God himself.
 
Book that changed your life:

I'd have to say The Stories of John Cheever, which I read in high school when I was taking my first creative writing class. I didn't completely understand him--a lot of the irony went right over my head--but I was amazed by the beauty of the language. I never knew a sentence could do that. The summer he died, I was working in a delicatessen in Connecticut, making sandwiches. I wore a black armband, and when I told people why, I was met with looks of total incomprehension, except for one women who tenderly touched my hand, saying, "I'm sorry for your loss." I think she thought he was a relative.
 
Favorite line from a book:

"I miss Texas, and I miss whiskey. Now we are in Montana and there is no telling what will become of us."--Augustus McCrae in Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. It's entirely possible that I moved to Texas because of this line.
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

At the risk of repeating myself, I would have to say Lonesome Dove. I read it the first time many years ago on a trip to Italy. I got so caught up in the story I passed three days lying in bed in my hotel room, turning the pages while the glories of Rome went on without me.

 

Photo of Justin Cronin @Gasper Tringale


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