Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 26, 2011


Sharjah International Book Fair: Your Chance to Get Your Book in Front of 1 Million Readers - Oct. 30th - Nov. 9th, 2019 - Learn More!

Other Press: Nvk by Temple Drake

Quirk Books: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Magination Press: Stand Up!: Be an Upstander and Make a Difference by Wendy L Moss

St. Martin's Press: A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram #1) by Darynda Jones

Grand Central Publishing: PostScript by Cecelia Ahern

News

BEA Bytes and Bits

 

 

As part of New York Book Week, coinciding with BEA, authors (l.-r.) David Baldacci (The 6th Man), Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle) and Michael Koryta (The Ridge) appeared at the Apple store in SoHo Tuesday night.

 

 

 

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The host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon got up pretty early in the morning to greet a long line of fans and sign copies of Thank You Notes (Grand Central), based on the popular segment on his program.

 

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"Dork This Way!" Just in case you get lost this week searching for booth 3653, featuring Rachel Renee Russell's Dork Diaries (Aladdin), you can always follow the grand stairway to dorkdom at the Javits Center.

 

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Ron Hogan (2nd from left), SF reviewer for Shelf Awareness, moderated a panel featuring Tor authors on the Midtown Stage yesterday. Vernor Vinge, whose latest book, Children of the Sky, is the long-awaited sequel to his classic Fire Upon the Deep, noted that it's particularly hard to write near-future SF, as real-life events so often overtake the imaginary ones. John Scalzi's newest book, Fuzzy Nation, reboots the 1950s work by H. Beam Piper (and even inspired a power ballad). And Vaughn talked about how she uses the short stories collected in Kitty's Greatest Hits to expand on her popular series character. 

 

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For part of yesterday afternoon, a large slice of the Little, Brown booth was dedicated to James Patterson, his forthcoming Christmas Wedding and celebratory cake.

 

 

 

 

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Fantasy dominated the Middle-Grade Editors' Buzz, from Lisa A. Sandell, editor of Icefall by Matthew Kirby (Scholastic); Lisa Von Drasek, moderator and librarian, Bank Street College of Education; Jim Thomas, editor of The Ashtown Burials #1: The Dragon's Tooth by N.D. Wilson (Random House); Lisa Abrams, editor of The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, (S&S); Jennifer Besser, editor of Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Putnam/Penguin); and Donna Bray, editor of Wildwood by Colin Meloy, (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins).

 

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Sharing insights about the current state of the publishing industry (as well as a few laughs) on the show floor yesterday were Cursor's Richard Nash and Mark Warholak, bookending Paul Yamazaki of City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, Calif.

 

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Fans were thrilled to have Christopher Paolini sign posters of Inheritance, the much-anticipated conclusion to his Inheritance Cycle, begun with Eragon.

 

 

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Star Jones (Satan's Sisters, Brilliance) hosted yesterday's Audiobook and Author Tea, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association. The event featured Tony Horwitz (Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, Macmillan Audio, October), Karin Slaughter (Fallen, AudioGO, June) and Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, Hachette Audio).

One of many highlights during the conversation among the four about their audiobook experiences occurred when the topic of working with narrators came up. "I have my audiobook narrator with me," said Meltzer, introducing Scott Brick, who stepped up to the podium and delivered the opening lines of The Inner Circle, after which Meltzer quipped, "Now does that make me sound tough or what?"

(Pictured l. to r.: Tony Horwitz, Karin Slaughter, Star Jones and Brad Meltzer)

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Graphic designer Michael Fusco, author Emma Straub (Other People We Married), author Jennifer Gilmore (Something Red) and Algonquin v-p of online marketing Michael Taeckens enjoying a few minutes of social time in the Algonquin Booth.

 

 


 

 


Flame Tree Publishing: Detective Mysteries Short Stories by Various Authors


BEA: Print Keeps the Lights On

Amazon may be selling 105 Kindle editions for every 100 print books, but that trend isn't universal across publishing. "We're selling five trade paperbacks for every e-book we sell at Algonquin," Workman group publisher Bob Miller announced Wednesday morning in a panel called "The Report of My Death Was Exaggerated: The Printed Book." Miller, along with Lonely Planet executive vice president John Boris and Chronicle Books v-p of sales and marketing Tyrell Mahoney, emphasized that their core business had not changed. "The market [for travel books] may have declined," Boris admitted, "but it's far from dead." Mahoney agreed: "Everyone knows that print is what keeps the lights on."

The day before, at "You Bought Your E-Book Where?", SIMBA senior analyst Michael Norris offered a blunt proposition for negotiating the tensions between the print and digital markets. "I think this industry owes it to itself to make both sectors grow without letting one just pillage consumers from the other," he argued. Instead of overstating the influence of new gadgets, publishers and booksellers both need to take advantage of the interconnected paths of book discovery linking print and e-book consumers--and to remember that they shouldn't be tailoring content to any particular device's technical limitations, but rather to the reader's needs.

Norris, too, pooh-poohed the notion that print was on its last legs: "This industry has always had its share of Harold Campings, if you know what I mean," he said, drawing appreciative laughter from an audience that had survived the prophesied Rapture of the previous weekend. Not that there aren't bad omens to be observed: Quoting a recent survey, he warned that nearly 105 million Americans simply didn't buy any books at all in 2010. "That number is growing," he added, "and that concerns me." (At least, he conceded during the q&a segment, that stark statistic didn't take into account the possibility that those non-buyers might still be reading books they received as gifts or borrowed from their local public library.)--Ron Hogan

 


BINC - Double Your Impact


BEA: The Big Books

In this business, we all hope that there's a book for every reader--and a reader for every book. However, each year at BEA there are a few books that capture the attention of many readers at once. While there's plenty of preshow buzz about which titles will hit it big, it's not until everyone hits the floor that clear frontrunners emerge. Here at Shelf Awareness, we turned to our most reliable sources--booksellers--about which spines to crack first.

When it comes to debut novels, one of the most talked-about titles is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Random House), a fantastical tale of dueling magicians. "It's totally different, totally sexy, totally smart," said Calvin Crosby, manager at the Books Inc. in Berkeley, Calif. Betsy Burton, owner of the King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah, admitted she doesn't usually like books with fantastic elements, but "I opened it up, and all of a sudden it's morning." However, Sheryl Cotleur, head buyer for Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, cautioned, "I don't want people to think it's a romance. It's imaginative beyond belief. I haven't read a book in years that is this imaginative and completely plausible." (At right, Morgenstern signs a copy for Denise Bethiaume of Books & Books, Westhampton Beach, N.Y.)

Another debut Burton loves is Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (Grove), which benefited from some early bookseller buzz during Winter Institute. Burton raved, "It's the best book I have read all year. You can't put it down. It's brilliant." LaPlante has entwined the story of a retired surgeon's progressive dementia--told in the first person--with the murder of that women's best friend, in which Dr. Jennifer White becomes the prime suspect.

Cotleur's rave is for We the Animals by Justin Torres (HMH): "It's a very moving, very powerful book. It's about three brothers who love each other and show it by hitting each other like mad. Not only is there fierce love in this family, but how it plays out is gorgeous and painful."

And we heard plenty of chatter about some upcoming books from previously published authors, including Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeeper (Scribner). As head book buyer of the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo., Cathy Langer has no lack of books to choose from, and this year, she made Hoffman's latest her on-the-plane reading. She loved that it takes place in the Masada Fortress built by King Herod. "I'm halfway through," Langer said. "It's amazing; an historical novel with great characters."

Langer alerted Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., to Hillary Jordan's sophomore novel, When She Woke (Workman); Langer had sent a letter to bookseller colleagues saying it was not to be missed. "I read the first chapter, and it's pretty compelling," said Robinson. Cotleur, who read the novel in manuscript, said, "It's a takeoff of The Scarlet Letter, loosely set in 2020. It's not far out in terms of the possibility of people elected to office insisting that their beliefs be the only way, and the people that bump up against that."

Other much-anticipated fiction included The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin's Press), Colson Whitehead's Zone One (Doubleday), Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos (Morrow) and Ed King by David Guterson (Knopf). A couple more debuts worth mentioning, both from Little, Brown: Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding and Ayad Akhtar's American Dervish.

When it comes to nonfiction, Robinson and Cotleur did not hesitate. Karl Marlantes's What It Is Like to Go to War (Grove) may not be available yet, but it's on their lists. Robinson said the author's Matterhorn was one of his top two favorite books of 2010, so saying he is eager to read this is "putting it mildly." Cotleur said of the book (20 years in the making): "Boy, is he ever the right person to write this book. He's really done the homework and examined his own life, too. It's a culture changer--we hope."

Many readers are excited about Susan Orlean's Rin Tin Tin (Simon & Schuster), and we would just like to say that Shelf Awareness editors Marilyn Dahl and Bethanne Patrick give it a "double woof." (At left: Orlean signing copies at the S&S booth.) Another much-anticipated, but unavailable, book is Hyperion's Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, with a foreword by Caroline Kennedy. The volume of never-before-heard 1964 interviews Arthur Schlesinger had with the young widowed First Lady will be accompanied by a set of CDs with the full interviews on them.

Michael Moore's upcoming memoir from Grand Central is sure to pique the interest of his admirers and pester the consciences of his detractors, as might Dr. Justin Frank's Obama on the Couch (Free Press), in which the noted D.C. psychoanalyst and academician takes on the nation's First Patient. Two other, much earlier U.S. presidents with BEA buzz cred: Ulysses S. Grant, in Grant's Final Victory by Charles Bracelen Flood (Da Capo) and James Garfield, in Candace Millard's detail-packed Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (Doubleday).

Last and not least, though lesser known, are a couple of outliers: a historical novel set in 1938 New York, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Viking), which Diesel co-owner John Evans called "masterfully written" and "a richly pleasurable read," and Bonnie Nadzam's debut novel, Lamb (Other Press). Calvin Crosby of Books Inc. said, "I like a lot of what Other Press is doing."--Bethanne Patrick and Bridget Kinsella

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Notes: Outwrite Reaches Out for Help

In an open e-mail letter to the community, Philip Rafshoon, owner of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, Ga., said that the store's sales "have not been immune to the downturn in the economy and the impact technology has on how people buy and read books." The store is "in jeopardy," he said, but "to ensure a successful future, we're doing a lot of work: we're realigning our business model, refocusing our products and services, and upgrading the store to meet the changing needs of our customers and the community."

But he asked customers to help buy "as many of your books, CDs and DVDs from Outwrite as possible"; buy e-books from the store online; visit the coffeehouse; use the coffeehouse lounge for free for meetings of companies, businesses or organizations; volunteer to help the store in web design, bookkeeping, finance, banking, retail management, retail sales, collections and legal services; and tell others about the store.

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Amazon responded to B&N's launch of the Nook Simple Touch Reader (Shelf Awareness, May 25, 2011) "with a new ad-supported version of the Kindle 3G for $164," Cnet News reported, adding that the device, "like its $114 Wi-Fi-only counterpart, is called the Kindle 3G With Special Offers. It costs $25 less than the standard Kindle 3G."

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The Onion A.V. Club paid a visit and its respects to City Lights bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., noting that it "might be the most respected bookstore in the world.... We stopped by for a quick history lesson courtesy of City Lights' events director [Peter Maravelis], and we even corralled local hero Daniel Handler--better known as Lemony Snicket--into talking with us about his experiences as a customer."

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As you prepare for the imminent deluge of summer beach read lists, take a moment to savor Jessica Gelt's Los Angeles Times piece, "A deep sense of kinship with Virginia Woolf." She recalls her first encounter--in Tucson, Ariz.--with A Room of One's Own, noting that "in the summer, reading took on a particularly heroic quality--it provided escape from the searing misery of triple-digit heat. And in August 1991, when I turned 15, it changed the person I was becoming with a revelatory flash--the first, but certainly not the last, time literature would affect me like that.... So, as I tiptoed into Woolf's solitary room each day, leaving the sidewalks of Tucson radiating heat in waves and the pungent scent of dry creosote for the grassy lawns of early 20th Century Oxford, upon which Woolf, and women in general, were not allowed to tread, I began to feel something I hadn't before.

"It was a deep sense of kinship--the delicate, magical string that a good book can sew through the human experience. Pulled tight enough, that string can draw the whole of history around your shoulders to make you realize that you are not alone."

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New York Press suggested an alternative to summer book lists by showcasing the city's numerous reading series: "Put your tawdry beach reads back on the shelf--these reading series will keep your summer wordy, nerdy and hot."

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The Telegraph featured the five all-time biggest selling books adapted for film.  

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The arrival of a new James Bond novel is a military operation in England. The Guardian reported that "abseiling marines delivered the first copies of Jeffery Deaver's new James Bond book to the author today, in a scene straight out of a 007 novel." Carte Blanche, which "updates Bond for the 21st century," was authorized by the Fleming family.

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Stephen Kelman, author of Pigeon English, selected his top 10 outsiders' stories for the Guardian. Kelman observed: "For both reader and writer, the outsider is an instrument that allows us to see the world in an unfamiliar way, and that for me is one of the prime aspirations of literature.

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Book trailer of the day (because BEA brought the sun back to New York this week): Shine by Lauren Myracle (Abrams).

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Antoinette de Alteriis has joined Pelican Publishing Company as promotion director. She was formerly general manager of Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum in New Orleans and earlier was a business consultant, taught school and worked for Waldenbooks for 13 years. And very coolly, she is also costume historian and consultant for the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc.

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey


BEA: Evergreen Book Marketing

Shelf Awareness's own editor-in-chief, John Mutter, opened the evergreen marketing session by mentioning Calvin Trillin's famous estimation that the shelf life of a book is "somewhere between milk and yogurt." In the Internet age and with 24-hour a day news cycles, the more applicable quotation, he said, might be Andy Warhol's comment that "in the future, everyone will have 15 minutes of fame." This is also the age of the long tail," Mutter continued, as he introduced the panel of publicists and marketing experts who are doing things outside the usual publishing marketing and publicity tool kit.

Rachel Chou, chief marketing officer at Open Road Integrated Media, talked about the difference between "planned vs. real-time marketing." With the dramatic shift online, she said, publishers and authors are no longer tied to the customary eight-week out-of-the-publishing gate time limit on publicity.

"The industry talks to itself," pointed out M.J. Rose, thriller writer, founder of Author Buzz and co-founder of Paroozal.com. "They have absolutely no idea what a new book is. They have a whole different trajectory of they discover books." Rose said publishers do "publishing" marketing, where no one lets authors talk. Rose aims to empower authors to engage their readers instead of waiting for readers to find them.

Gretchen Crary, co-founder of February Partners, said her company started out doing straight publicity but is moving more and more into marketing. "We really focus on social media a lot for our authors," she said.

By way of example, she shared how February Partners helps its clients not only set up and maintain personal Facebook pages, but also customize pages for all their books. "Every book should have its own page," she insisted, or it's just a lost opportunity.

Even in this changing industry--or maybe especially in this changing industry--Crary said authors need to be engaged in publicizing and marketing their books. "If you're an author, your book is your business," she said. "Why would you turn that over to someone else?"

Pauline Hubert, president of Book Movement, which has 30,000 book clubs as members, used the site's current top 10 book club book lists to prove how pub date is irrelevant to readers. "They like to have a book earn its stripes," she said. And right there on the list was One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus, published in 1998. That's what an evergreen title is," she said.--Bridget Kinsella

 


BEA: Magic and Myth for Middle Grade Readers

Jenny Brown, children's editor for Shelf Awareness, opened up the middle grade panel Wednesday at BEA by delving into what inspired author Lauren Oliver (Leisl & Po, Harper) and husband and wife author/illustrator combo Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis (Wildwood, Balzer and Bray) to write such fantastical tales, and why they think the middle reader is especially drawn to them.

Oliver said that as a child she liked stories that showed the "tissue that separates us from the fantastical and normal of real life." Leisl & Po, she shared, also came out of her grieving the death of her boyfriend. Through writing, she said, she was able to find splendor again.

Meloy, who is the lead singer for the Decemberists, and Ellis, who designs their CD covers and has illustrated books with other writers, including Lemony Snicket, said they had planned to do a children's book together for a long time.

"Carson and I spent a lot of time while we were growing up re-creating our surroundings," said Meloy, "because reality wasn't quite good enough."

When envisioning Wildwood, Ellis said, she was inspired partly by the archetype of the forbidden forest--as in Hansel and Gretel, etc.--and partly by the real Forest Park in Portland, Ore., where the couple often take walks.

"That pertains, once again, to how the familiar and the exotic are both held in close proximity," observed Brown.

Wildwood contains maps that were really the start of the story and also serve to tie it together. Oliver sees the universe as a folded rose, she said, and in Leisl & Po there are ghosts--both the human and pet variety--that reside somewhere between the folds of what is real and what is not.--Bridget Kinsella

 

 


BEA: Adult Book & Author Breakfast

Yesterday's adult book and author breakfast was hosted by Mindy Kaling of NBC's hit show The Office and featured Diane Keaton, Jeffrey Eugenides and Charlaine Harris. Kaling, author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Crown, November), began by noting her affection for Twitter, which she described as "the opposite of a book. It's like a book if you only have six seconds to read." She also suggested that Ernest Hemingway would have been a Twitter natural--who might even complain "140 characters? That's too much!"--while James Joyce would have had little chance of joining the Twitter pantheon.

C-Span's Book TV was filming the event, and Kaling explained that the network "is a public service TV does to make up for Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

Keaton gave an emotional presentation as she discussed and read from her upcoming memoir, Then Again (Random House, November). Noting that her late mother, Dorothy Hall, had once worked at Hunter's Books in Beverly Hills, she said, "You would have liked my mom, and I know she would have liked you." Keaton also observed that it was "great to see such a large group of indie booksellers and librarians. For me, it's really reassuring to see so many of you putting books in people's hands."

Kaling introduced Eugenides by calling Middlesex the "literary canary in my sexual coal mine," a novel she looks for on bookshelves to decide if a guy is okay. Eugenides succinctly explained the absence of ARCs for his next book, The Marriage Plot (FSG, October): "I was changing some things in my book and it's just finished. I finished it yesterday."

Harris, whose latest Sookie Stackhouse book is Dead Reckoning (Ace), noted that three books in particular "influenced me when I was young": The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe ("especially the 'Tell-Tale Heart' "), Jane Eyre ("I contend that Jane Eyre is the template for the whole romance genre.") and The Three Musketeers ("It's about people who are trying to live their lives with gusto, just like a beer commercial.").

Kaling drew laughter with her introduction of Harris: "I am a true fan of the author of the novelization of [HBO's] True Blood." And Harris prompted a healthy round of applause with her closing remarks: "This is a room full of people who value the written word. It's not easy to get a room full of people like that anymore.... Go forth and sell more books."--Robert Gray

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paul Theroux's Tao of Travel

Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Paul Theroux, author of The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780547336916).

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Tomorrow on the View: Guy Fieri, author of Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It (William Morrow, $29.99, 9780061894558).

Also on the View: Erin Chase, author of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.99, 9780312607333).

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Tomorrow on a repeat of the Late Show with David Letterman: Betty White, author of If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won't) (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399157530).

 


This Weekend on Book TV: BookExpo America

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this Memorial Day weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Tuesday 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 28

11 a.m. Military historian Jonathan Jordan discusses his book Brothers Rivals Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership That Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe (NAL, $28.95, 9780451232120). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

7 p.m. Josh Margolin and Ted Sherman talk about their book The Jersey Sting: A True Story of Crooked Pols, Money-Laundering Rabbis, Black Market Kidneys, and the Informant Who Brought It All Down (St. Martin's, $26.99, 9780312654177).

10 p.m. After Words. Major Garrett interviews Janny Scott, author of A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother (Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594487972). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)

11 p.m. Steven Levy, author of The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (S&S, $26, 9781416596585), was given full access to the company for two years and interviewed hundreds of current and former employees.  

Sunday, May 29

Book TV features coverage of several events from this week's BookExpo America in New York City:

1 p.m. BEA Book and Author Breakfast featuring Roger Ebert, Anne Enright, Erik Larson and Jim Lehrer. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

2:30 p.m. Panel on "Feminism in Writing Today," with Edwidge Danticat, Lydia Davis and Francine Prose (Re-airs Monday at 2:30 a.m.)

3:30 p.m. Third annual "Librarian Shout and Share," during which collection development librarians share their favorite books of 2011. (Re-airs Monday at 3:30 a.m.)

5 p.m. Michael Moore discusses his upcoming memoir. (Re-airs Monday at 5 a.m.)

7 p.m. Former congressman James Rogan, author of Catching our Flag: Behind the Scenes of a Presidential Impeachment (WND Books, $25.95, 9781935071327), recounts his role in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

8 p.m. David Nichols, author of Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis--Suez and the Brink of War (S&S, $28, 9781439139332), presents a history of the Suez Canal Crisis.  

10 p.m. Annie Jacobsen, author of Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316132947), used recently declassified documents, on-site reporting and many interviews for her book.

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Borrower

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai (Viking, $25.95 hardcover, 9780670022816, June 13, 2011)

"I might be the villain of this story," Lucy Hull tells us by way of introduction. "Even now, it's hard to tell." Really, though, Rebecca Makkai isn't telling a story about heroes and villains in The Borrower, but about fumbling through difficult circumstances the best you can.

Lucy is a children's librarian in her mid-20s in a small city in Missouri she calls Hannibal (that's not its real name, but she can't resist the Mark Twain reference). She's starting to become frustrated with the direction her life has taken, and maybe that makes her a little more receptive to the problems of 10-year-old Ian Drake, one of her regular patrons, who just about everybody is convinced will grow up gay. One of the first signs of trouble was when he brought back Theater Shoes because his mother only lets him read "boy books," but Lucy subversively takes advantage of her ignorance to slip him classics like My Side of the Mountain and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Soon, though, Mrs. Drake arrives in person to advise that "what Ian really needs right now are books with the breath of God in them."

As Lucy digs into Ian's situation, she realizes that his parents are sending him to a ministry that promises to cure boys of their homosexual tendencies, but she can't bring herself to do anything about it until she opens the library one morning and finds Ian, who ran away from home the night before. One thing leads to another, and soon enough he's emotionally blackmailed her into a cross-country road trip.

Granted, this is not the most convincing turn of events, and Makkai's efforts to finesse the story and keep the police away don't always ring true. (Reader reactions to several interludes which describe Lucy and Ian's plight in parodies of children's literature styles will definitely vary.) She does, however, carve out an entertaining imaginary space in which Lucy's confrontation with her own life illusions gradually overshadows any attempt to "solve" Ian's sexuality crisis. The argument is handled sensitively; it's clear that Ian doesn't fully understand what's going on and why it makes him miserable, so Lucy tries not to attack his Christian faith while subtly encouraging him to accept himself. (Still, she realizes at one point, "obliquely comparing his family to the Nazis was maybe not my finest moment.") That grounding, and the great love for children's books that pervades the novel's voice, are sure to give The Borrower an extra boost of endearment for many readers.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Makkai, frequently anthologized in the Best American Short Stories series, makes her full-length debut with a young woman's "dramedy" in the vein of early Jennifer Weiner or Marian Keyes.

 



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