Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 11, 2011

IDW Publishing: Arca by Van Jensen, illustrated by Jesse Lonergan

First Second: Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam by Thien Pham

Harvest Publications: The Dinner Party Project: A No-Stress Guide to Food with Friends by Natasha Feldman

Wednesday Books: Guardians of Dawn: Zhara (Guardians of Dawn #1) by S. Jae-Jones

Soho Crime: A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao

Shadow Mountain: Graysen Foxx and the Treasure of Principal Redbeard (Graysen Foxx, School Treasure Hunter) by J. Scott Savage

Quotation of the Day

London Riots: 'Subtle Power' of Books 'Blithely Overlooked'

"Rioting and books share a stormy history. Think of the so-called Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497, when Girolamo Savonarola and his band of religious followers roundly collected and set fire to mounds of 'pagan' literature. Centuries later, torch-lit parades of right-wing German students burnt pillaged books in protest against what they saw as the creeping stain of Jewish intellectualism on national culture.
"In London in 2011, however, bibliophiles can breathe easy: despite the riots, books have tended to stay safely on their shelves, their subtle power blithely overlooked.... Authors of books on riots in London, such as Violent London: 2000 years of Riots, Rebels & Revolts by Clive Bloom, must be looking forward to increased sales (with a heavy heart, surely). And much new ink will inevitably be spilt over the roots and causes of these latest outbursts. I can just see the cover images, with hooded youths and blocky red sub-titles. But the underlying message for bookshops is hardly front-page news: looters, like more conventional consumers, are all too happy to ignore their wares."
--From the Economist's Prospero blog post headlined "Remember when books were worthy of burning?"

Blackstone Publishing: The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard


Image of the Day: A Passion for Papa

Some 33 years ago, Lemuria bookstore owner John Evans met and became friends with Ed Grissom, an Ernest Hemingway fan whose passion for Papa led him to correct inaccuracies about Hemingway in the standard bibliography. Eventually Grissom, a lifelong Lemuria customer, compiled his bibliographic work, Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography (Oak Knoll Press). Last week, Lemuria hosted an evening celebrating Grissom and his love for Hemingway's work. Read all about it on Lemuria's blog.

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

Notes: Borders Auctions Set; WaPo Reorgs Books Staff

Borders has been authorized to auction its name and real estate assets. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn granted the company's request to hold an auction for intellectual property on September 14, including its trademarks, website, brand name and customer lists, Reuters reported, adding that the Borders name could live on as an Internet brand.

Glenn also gave Borders permission to split its remaining leases into two groups and hold auctions for them on August 31 and September 13. Reuters noted that the first group "consists mainly of leases that must be assumed or broken by September 30, as well as leases for some smaller stores. All leases that do not fall in those categories will be auctioned in the second round. Hearings to approve the auction results would be scheduled for September 8 and September 20, respectively."

Acknowledging that some landlords have objected to the speed of the process, Glenn "said it is important to move the liquidation along. He said that, if timing remains a concern for particular landlords, they can negotiate individual extensions with Borders," Reuters wrote.


Help wanted. Books-A-Million is encouraging former Borders employees to join the company, which has 231 stores in 23 states and D.C., the Birmingham News reported. "We would like to invite former Borders employees to apply for opportunities with us," said Misty Fontenot, v-p of human resources for BAM. "We want former Borders employees to know that they have a place on our team." Available positions include booksellers, baristas and managers in various locations.


The Washington Post has reorganized structure and staffing of its books, food and travel sections, reported. In a staff memo, executive editor Marcus Brauchli said the changes to the weekly features section, which are to be phased in over the next few weeks, "will simplify and streamline our operations, allowing us to improve coverage in certain areas."

What this means for the books section is that the books staff, "led for the past two and a half years by Rachel Shea, will now report into the sections where their reviews run." Nonfiction editor Steve Levingston [l.] will report to Outlook, which publishes nonfiction reviews; and fiction editor Ron Charles [r.]--along with the rest of Book World's assistant editors--will report to Style, which hosts most fiction coverage and reviews.

The assistant editors will support both fiction and nonfiction reviews and coverage, an approach that Brauchli contends "will allow tighter and smarter integration of our books coverage with the host sections, in print and online. We're not trimming coverage; we will publish the same number of reviews, in the same places where readers are accustomed to finding them."


Amazon launched the Kindle Cloud Reader, an application that uses HTML5 and enables customers to read Kindle books instantly using a web browser--online or off--with no downloading or installation required. The app is available for Safari on iPad, Safari on desktop and Chrome. More browsers will be supported in the coming months.

"They say revenge is a dish best served cold," CNet's David Carnoy observed. "But when it comes to circumventing Apple's new in-app subscription rules, it may be best served as an HTML5 Web app.... The Kindle Cloud Reader has a link to the Kindle Store, something that's now missing from the Kindle apps for iPad and iPhone after Apple enforced its new in-app subscription rules that require app developers to strip out any links to external mechanisms for purchasing digital books or subscriptions." 

The third feature highlighted on the app's Web page makes the buying option clear: "Optimized for iPad: shop the integrated Kindle Store for Tablets."

On, Ingrid Lunden noted that the Kindle Cloud Reader "potentially gives Amazon a far greater degree of control over the app, and plays to the company's other big strand of business around centralized, cloud-based services. It also gives a hint of how Amazon might deliver its Kindle services over a much-rumored Amazon tablet."

Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told TheStreet that the Kindle Cloud Reader "would make Barnes & Noble much angrier than it would ruffle Apple's feathers. Today, there's no Amazon Kindle app for the Nook, but by putting it on a cloud-based Internet connection, Amazon could tap into the Nook market."


In the New York Times, Nick Bolton chronicled his odyssey reading chapters of Caleb Carr's The Alienist on an Amazon Kindle, the first- and second-generation Apple iPads, B&N's Nook, an iPhone, a Windows Phone, a Google Android phone, a Google Android tablet and a laptop computer. "To be fair," he added, "I also read a chapter in that old-fashioned form--a crumply old print paperback."

"In the end, it might come down to a personal choice based on the type of phone you own," Bolton concluded. "I was torn between the Kindle and the iPad 2. The Kindle is light and costs much less, but it is also limited in that it can't connect to the Web. The iPad 2 costs much more, but has so many added features it seems worth the added expense. But if money is tight, go for print. My used paperback cost only $4."


Ann Wachur, a Penguin Group rep, has won the Saul Gilman Award, sponsored by the New England Independent Booksellers Association and honoring "outstanding service" by a sales rep in the region.

Before becoming a rep, Wachur worked at the former Barrett Bookstore, Stamford, Conn.


Fast Company featured several leading independent booksellers to showcase five "novel ideas for indie bookstores," which all sounded logical and... familiar:

  1. Cluster products.
  2. Act locally.
  3. Be a printing press.
  4. Help the competition.
  5. Broadcast events.


Cool idea of the day. Laura Moulton's pedal-powered Street Books project in Portland, Ore., offers books to homeless people who don't qualify for library cards. The Christian Science Monitor reported that twice a week, Moulton can be seen "fiercely peddling her bike as she tows along a wagon full of books. When she arrives at her destination, Ms. Moulton parks, opens her wagon, and sets up for her four-hour shift."

"There is at least one guy waiting every Wednesday morning to greet me, get his book, and head out," she said. "The power of the book offer[s] a way to transport oneself out of a current reality.... Being able to give them a card and tell them, 'I hope to see you again'--that’s a powerful thing because these are people who cannot get a library card [at the local library] because they have no address."


Steve Cole, author of the Astrosaurs book series, selected his top 10 space books for the Guardian, noting that "space is infinite, and there will always be so many exquisite mysteries still remaining--so hurrah for all those fabulous space books on the shelves, full of fun and wonder, helping us to imagine and dream and inspiring us to discover the truth."


If you love typewriters and you love penguins, then you'll really love Jeremy Meyer's "typewriter-part penguin," which was showcased by Boing Boing.


For his "delightfully altered books," Mark McEvoy uses found copies of classics and gives them "a cheeky, modern makeover that might make certain bibliophiles a bit nervous," Flavorwire reported.  


BuzzFeed featured "10 famous fictional characters you didn't know were based on real people."


Not-safe-for-work unofficial book trailer of the day. The staff at Simon & Schuster had some off-color fun in four short videos about Nicholson Baker's latest novel, House of Holes: A Book of Raunch.


(Cutting) book trailer of the day: Machine Man by Max Barry (Vintage).


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Roseanne Barr on Letterman

Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Roseanne Barr, author of Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm (Gallery, $26, 9781439154823).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Pirates of Somalia

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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, August 13

12:30 p.m. Robert McClory presents his biography Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church and the Fight for Social Justice (Lawrence Hill Books, $24.95, 9781569765289). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

1 p.m. Justin Martin talks about his book Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmstead--Abolitionist, Conservationist, and Designer of Central Park (Da Capo Press, $30, 9780306818813). Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

3:45 p.m. Victor Pickard, co-editor (with Robert W. McChesney) of Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done to Fix It (New Press, $19.95, 9781595585486), and a panel of experts examine the news industry. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.)

7 p.m. At an event hosted by McNally Jackson Books in New York City, Michael Mattocks and John Prendergast, co-authors of Unlikely Brothers: Our Story of Adventure, Loss, and Redemption, discuss their time together when Prendergast, at age 20, became a Big Brother to Mattocks, a homeless seven-year-old in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

8 p.m. At an event hosted by the Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, La., Jason Berry speaks about his book Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church (Crown, $25, 9780385531320). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

9 p.m. Book TV attends a book launch party for Fox News--and former NPR--analyst Juan Williams, author of Muzzled: The Assault On Honest Debate (Crown, $24, 9780307952011). (Re-airs Sunday 3 a.m., 1 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.)

9:30 p.m. Major Rusty Bradley, author of Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds (Bantam, $26, 9780553807578), talks about his experiences fighting the Taliban. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:30 a.m. and Monday at 5:30 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Clifford May interviews Jay Bahadur, author of The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780307379061). Bahadur reveals the identities and discusses the motivations of some of these men. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, August 21, at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, August 14

11 a.m. Ted Fishman talks about his book Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World's Population and How It Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday at 2 a.m.)

Television: Lincoln Lawyer the Series

ABC has ordered a script from Lionsgate that could convert The Lincoln Lawyer, a film version of Michael Connelly's bestselling novel, into a drama series, Variety reported. Lionsgate will co-produce with Lakeshore Entertainment, which was also behind the film. Connelly and Lawyer screenwriter John Romano would co-write the pilot script.

Movie Fashions: Creating The Help's Retro Style

DreamWorks's adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's The Help required costume designs that would evoke the '60s with a dash of "sweet small-town innocence," noted the Hollywood Reporter, which also offered a fashion photo gallery from the movie.

"It was tricky because everyone thinks of Mad Men," said Oscar-nominated costume designer Sharen Davis (Dreamgirls). "But that's about an upper-class Manhattan lifestyle, and this focuses on young women in the South--most of them getting married and having babies. I looked at copies of Vogue from the 1960s for inspiration, but it was too sophisticated, so I ended up getting my ideas from Seventeen magazine. It still had that innocent girlie look and lollipop color palette."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Literary Awards

The PEN American Center announced the winners and runners up for the 2011 PEN Literary Awards. This year PEN will present 17 awards, fellowships, grants and prizes. Winners and runners-up will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on October 12 in New York City. You can find a complete list of 2011 PEN Literary Award winners here. Highlights include:

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): Shared by Susanna Daniel for Stiltsville (Harper Perennial) and Danielle Evans for Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead)
PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): Siddhartha Mukherjee for The Emperor of All Maladies (Scribner)
PEN/W.G. Sebald Award for a Fiction Writer in Mid-Career ($10,000): Aleksandar Hemon
PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): Robert Perkinson for Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books)

Book Review

Book Review: Sand Queen

Sand Queen by Helen Benedict (Soho Press, $25 hardcover, 9781569479667, August 2011)

Details from the 40 interviews Helen Benedict conducted for her nonfiction book The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq (2009) provide the gritty verisimilitude in her new novel, Sand Queen. Along with the specifics of how female soldiers manage to change clothes in a tent full of men or make it to the shower and back unmolested, Benedict adds two memorable characters: an army reservist named Kate Brady, who has been called up halfway through her sophomore year in college to serve at Camp Bucca (based on the real-life desert prison of the same name founded in 2003 in Southern Iraq), and Naema Jassim, a medical student and refugee from Baghdad, who is trying to keep her mother and grandmother calm after her father and brother are imprisoned at Bucca.

Kate embarks upon her tour of duty at Camp Bucca buffed up and determined to blend in as a soldier, though she is one of only three women in a platoon of 39. She slings around crude military lingo, endures 14-hour shifts on a sun-blasted surveillance platform and sticks a condom over her rifle to protect it from the desert "moondust" just like the guys. The problem is that many of Kate's American comrades, and most of the Iraqi prisoners, are incapable of paying more attention to her uniform than to the body inside it. The resulting sexual harassment wears on Kate's psyche, and drives the plot of Sand Queen.

Sand Queen is replete with authentic detail and brutal incident, but the novel is not a screed as much as a sober depiction of the realities of war for both military and civilian women. If Kate's narrative feels more complete, Naema's chapters provide a balancing perspective from the other side of the razor wire. Sand Queen's deeper resonances are achieved via a deft pairing of timelines and the fateful intersection of the two women's stories.

In Sand Queen, Benedict has crafted a fictional explanation for some of the lurid real-world headlines from the Iraqi occupation. She also gives the reader a convincing and affecting portrait of two resilient young women caught up in war. --Holloway McCandless

Shelf Talker: A desert-eye view of the Iraq War as experienced by two strong young females--a U.S. soldier from Albany and an Iraqi medical student from Baghdad.


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