Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Atria Books: The Silence in Her Eyes by Armando Lucas Correa

Labyrinth Road: Plan A by Deb Caletti

Harper Muse: Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh

Mariner Books: Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

S&s/ Marysue Rucci Books: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

W by Wattpad Books: Night Shift by Annie Crown

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore


Image of the Day: Author, Director!

Earlier this month playwright David Henry Hwang appeared at the Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., to autograph copies of his plays and discuss his career with Washington State Arts Commission manager Mayumi Tsutakawa. Hwang was in town to catch the Northwest premiere of his play Yellow Face, which is running through Labor Day weekend at the Richard Hugo House and is directed by David Hsieh--who when not at play is an Elliott Bay bookseller.

Photo: Roger Tang

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Notes: Amazon Ups the Ante in Calif.; B&N's TouchPad Snafu

Amazon added $2.25 million to the war chest of the More Jobs Not Taxes campaign committee in August in its ongoing effort to overturn a California law that requires online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases by state residents, Bloomberg reported. The campaign launched in July with a $3 million contribution (Shelf Awareness, August 8, 2011). The additional $2.25 million was donated August 10, according to an August 19 campaign-finance filing.

Amazon is the only reported donor thus far to the More Jobs Not Taxes committee, which is gathering signatures to put an initiative repealing the tax on the June 2012 ballot. At least 504,760 valid signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State by September 27.


HP's extremely successful, if bargain basement, strategy of dumping its discontinued TouchPad tablet on the market this week for $99 "shows how to compete with the iPad: price. And who wants to be a tablet player and is very good at competing on price? Amazon," Business Insider reported, noting that "no one is able to build a tablet that's as good as the iPad and price-competitive. But, clearly, there is still a huge market for a cheap, okay tablet."

Unfortunately, the HP TouchPad fire sale proved to be a bad deal for Barnes & Noble, which joined the Web frenzy by offering the device for $100 and selling out within an hour, Business Insider reported. Disappointed customers received an e-mail from B&N canceling their order "due to unexpected customer demand for this item," but the fury of the Internet was soon unleashed on Twitter under the hashtag #barnesandnoble and through an online petition.


Hilarious book trailer of the day: Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch (Voice), in which the star of Glee goes into a Barnes & Noble and does the kind of promotion for her book--including re-shelving and reordering--that most authors only imagine.


In a program that gives new meaning to the concept of the publishing launch, Tor/Forge Books and NASA together will publish "science-based, commercial fiction books" that will develop out of meetings between Tor/Forge authors and scientists and engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The collaboration lifts off in November when authors visit Goddard for two days of presentations, tours and one-on-one sessions.

Called "NASA-inspired Works of Fiction," the books aim to "raise awareness and inspire the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in line with the President's Technology Agenda."

The publisher and NASA said that "the enormous popularity of science fiction is a key element" in the collaboration. "Many people who work in the fields of science and technology credit science fiction as a significant inspiration for their career choice."

Tom Doherty, head of company that owns Tor/Forge, noted this dynamic: "When I was a boy, books by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and their colleagues excited me, inspiring a lifelong fascination with space and the science and technology that would get us there. From Fulton and his steamboat, through Alexander Graham Bell and Edison, to Silicon Valley and the advent of the internet, innovative Americans have built a future in which we lead the world."


Susan Weis-Bohlen is "trying to create my world exactly as I want it to be," and part of that quest is her new search for a business partner to help run breathe books, Baltimore, Md. Tomorrow evening she will host a town hall meeting "to talk about the future of breathe books. It is my intention to find an individual, or a group of people, to partner with me so that we can grow breathe books and its programs," she noted on her shop's blog.

Weis-Bohlen also observed that she loves "taking people on trips to sacred sites around the world. Our trip to India in November already has 11 people signed up! I would love to have the time to travel more and show people the world through spiritual eyes.

"But I also love love love breathe books!! So I'm trying to figure out a way to keep a presence in the shop while doing what I do best for me and hopefully beneficial to the community. It seems this can be accomplished by partnering with someone who loves the store as I do, and wants to create a niche for themselves, which would allow me time to teach and travel, while they establish themselves in breathe books, creating an even stronger presence in the community and the independent bookselling world."


Cool idea of the day: this coming Saturday, Charis Books & More, the feminist bookstore in Atlanta, Ga., is holding a "staying in business sale, a kind of counterpoint to Borders' going out of business sales. In an e-mail to customers, the store wrote, "We know how lucky we are to have customers like all of you and we want to thank you for your loyalty but also remind you that we still need each and every one of your purchases…. We know you have a choice of where you shop and we are grateful that you choose to cultivate feminist community by shopping with Charis. Stop by on the 27th and celebrate the sustainability and survival of your favorite feminist bookstore! "

On Saturday everything in the store will be discounted 10%, and anyone who makes a purchase between now and Saturday will receive a coupon good for another 10% discount.

Charis's Sara Luce Look said that customers are "really responding well" to the sale.


Detroit's Metro Airport hopes to replace its four recently vacated Borders locations with bookstores. The Detroit News reported that the two bookshops at McNamara Terminal have already reverted to their original brand, Heritage Books, operated by Paradies-Metro Ventures. The Airport Authority is also considering an amendment to its contract with Paradies that would allow the firm to lease the North Terminal's store and newsstand for one year.

Paradies garnered the recommendation of the Airport Authority managers "over a bid from LS Travel Retail N.A. in part because it is willing to rehire all Borders workers, pay at least $150,000 or a 10% cut of gross sales--whichever is larger--and make a capital investment of at least $50,000," the Detroit News wrote. The board will consider the proposal Friday at a public meeting.


In the Daily Beast, Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., discussed her system for finding perfect summer reads and offered a few under-the-radar, smaller press recommendations. "I get the whole argument behind the wisdom of crowds. I do," she wrote. "But in this increasingly frenetic world, there's something to be said for focused, individualized attention."


It's been a while, but drivers are crashing into bookstores again.

Early last week Sam Buck Sr., 84, suffered minor injuries when he drove his pickup truck into the doorway of the Griffin Bay Bookstore, Friday Harbor, Wash., shortly before 9 a.m., according to the Journal of the San Juans. Sheriff Rob Nou called it "a classic step on the gas instead of the brake scenario."

An employee was straightening the card racks near the entrance when she saw the pickup headed toward the store and was able to move out of the way. The store was closed for an hour and a half.


Sad news from Los Angeles: Metropolis Books will close at the end of September. Owner Julie Anne Swayze told us that the illness of her mother, who lives out of state, has been a major struggle. Her efforts in the past few months to sell Metropolis have been unsuccessful so far, but the store is still for sale.

The store, which opened in 2006, is going out in Hollywood style: "We decided to chronicle our last month open to the public in a documentary, which will be called 30 Days to the End: The Closing of Metropolis," Swayze wrote. "We wanted a way to say goodbye to the community that has supported us and we so love."

Swayze noted that Metropolis's last event is with David Kipen, who was the store's first event five years ago, "so we have come full circle."


Obituary note: Scott Wannberg, "one of the anchors of the poetry scene in Los Angeles in the 1980s and '90s," died last Friday, Jacket Copy reported. He was 58. Wannberg was a prolific poet who also spent two decades as a bookseller at Dutton's Brentwood. Jacket Copy noted that in 1987, Jack Miles, then-books editor of the Los Angeles Times, "called Wannberg the 'poet laureate of Dutton's'; in 2008, T.C. Boyle lauded the bookstore and dubbed Wannberg 'one of the true literary zealots of our time.' "  


Britannica Books: Britannica's Encyclopedia Infographica: 1,000s of Facts & Figures--About Earth, Space, Animals, the Body, Technology & More--Revealed in Pictures by Valentina D'Efilippo, Andrew Pettie, and Conrad Quilty-Harper

Books-A-Million Sales Slide in Second Quarter

In the second quarter ended July 30 at Books-A-Million, net sales fell 11.4%, to $106.4 million, and the net loss was $2.9 million, compared to a net loss of $1.9 million in the same period a year ago. Sales at stores open at least a year dropped 12.9%.

BAM chairman, president and CEO Clyde B. Anderson said that results "reflect a continuation of the trends that have been affecting our business since the beginning of the year. A soft publishing lineup, the effect of e-book migration and the impact of Borders' liquidation all contributed to the decline in comparable store sales. In this environment we have been focused on further developing the growth categories in our stores in preparation for the second half of the year while our balance sheet remains strong."

GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

Books & Music: The Song Remains the Same No More

Booktrack "is planning to release e-books with soundtracks that play throughout the books, an experimental technology that its founders hope will change the way many novels are read," the New York Times reported. The company's first title is The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore, with several others set to follow. Booktrack editions are available for iPad or iPhone, and versions for Android are anticipated in the next several months.

A soundtrack works for The Power of Six because the novel is "cinematic in scope," said Tara Weikum, an editorial director for HarperCollins Children's Books. "We're learning that everything is up for grabs in terms of what people are going to respond to or be interested in, and the digital space is ever changing. If a reader falls in love with the book, they want more of it. And if we can give it to them in something like an e-book or the Booktrack edition, then it's pre-emptively anticipating what readers might be looking for."


Novel-to-song adaptation of the day. David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest inspired the new video for "Calamity Song" by the Decemberists. Lead singer Colin Meloy told NPR the book "didn't so much inspire the song itself, but Wallace's irreverent and brilliant humor definitely wound its way into the thing."


"Books you can dance to." Salon explored the increasingly popular concept of author playlists and book soundtracks, which have blossomed "as the connection between writers and their audience has become more interactive, and as the fast popularity of music-streaming services like Spotify have made it easy to share songs online."

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kathy Reichs on the Today Show

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Kathy Reichs, author of Flash and Bones (Scribner, $26.99, 9781439102411).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Jon-Jon Goulian, author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt (Random House, $25, 9781400068111). As the show put it: "At age sixteen Jon-Jon Goulian started to wear women's clothes--he couldn't say why. At age forty, he wrote this memoir to account for his fascination with androgyny, tattoos and bodybuilding. Perhaps he speaks for a whole generation when he discusses his desire to free himself of other people's expectations of him. We ask whether the act of writing itself helped him achieve this freedom."


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Gary Younge, author of Who Are We--And Should It Matter in the 21st Century? (Nation, $26.99, 9781568586601).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9780312358341).


Tomorrow on a repeat of the Daily Show: Michael Wallis, author of David Crockett: The Lion of the West (Norton, $27.95, 9780393067583).


Tomorrow on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Robert Wittman, author of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures (Broadway, $15, 9780307461483).

Ray Bradbury's Birthday Gift: Dandelion Wine, the Movie

Ray Bradbury turned 91 on Monday, and his birthday present was the news that Dandelion Wine will be adapted into a film. reported that Mike Medavoy, Doug McKay, Rodion Nahapetov and Natasha Shliapnikoff are producing, with Nahapetov writing the script.

"This is the best birthday gift I could ask for," said Bradbury. "Today, I have been reborn! Dandelion Wine is my most deeply personal work and brings back memories of sheer joy as well as terror. This is the story of me as a young boy and the magic of an unforgettable summer which still holds a mystical power over me."

Nahapetov added that he "was deeply honored when Ray Bradbury chose me to write the screenplay adaptation for his novel Dandelion Wine. When I began my studies at the Cinema Institute in Moscow, many foreign books were banned in Soviet Russia. Still, I decided to make my short film based upon Dandelion Wine because this novel represented to me the childhood I never had. My childhood had been stolen by the ravages and destruction of post World War II Russia and Dandelion Wine restored it back for me."

Books & Authors

Awards: Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Shortlist

The Center for Fiction announced its shortlist for the $10,000 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. The winner will be named December 6, when the Center for Fiction also presents the 2011 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction to Nan Graham, senior v-p, editor-in-chief at Scribner. The 2011 finalists are:

Daughters of the Revolution by Carolyn Cooke (Knopf Doubleday)
The Free World by David Bezmozgis (FSG)
The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins (Knopf Doubleday)
Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam (Other Press)
Shards by Ismet Prcic (Black Cat, Grove/Atlantic)
The Sweet Relief of Missing Children by Sarah Braunstein (Norton)
Touch by Alexi Zentner (Norton)


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 30:

What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly, $25, 9780802119926) chronicles the real Vietnam War experiences of the author of Matterhorn.

Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman by Patricia Bosworth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780547152578) is a biography of the actress, fitness instructor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist.

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris (Ace, $30, 9780441019717) is a definitive guide to the main character of True Blood.

Heartwishes: An Edilean Novel by Jude Deveraux (Atria, $25.99, 9781439108000) follows the hunt for a magic stone that grants wishes.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9780312358341) explores the aftermath of a rapture-like mass disappearance.

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9780312539559) is the first volume of a multi-generation story about the Clifton family.

Now in paperback:

Canyons of Night: Book Three of the Looking Glass Trilogy by Jayne Ann Krentz (Jove, $7.99, 9780515149883).

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9781595552464).

Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett (NAL Trade, $25, 9780451232571).

The 17 Day Diet Workbook: Your Guide to Healthy Weight Loss with Rapid Results by Dr. Mike Moreno (Free Press, $13.99, 9781451661439).

Book Brahmin: Laura Lippman

Although her work as a novelist has always been strongly linked to Baltimore, Laura Lippman was born in Atlanta. Her family moved north when she was two--first to Washington D.C., then to Baltimore, where her father took a job at the Baltimore Sun. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, then worked at Texas newspapers for eight years before convincing her hometown newspaper to take a chance on her. She worked for the Sun for 12 years--"11 of the happiest years" of her life. She wrote the first seven books of her Tess Monaghan series while working full-time, then left the Sun to focus on her fiction writing. She has published 18 books--10 novels and a novella about Tess, a book of short stories and six stand-alone crime novels, including The Most Dangerous Thing (Morrow, August 23, 2011). She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her husband, David Simon, and their family. 

On your nightstand now:

Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan; The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer; an advance copy of William Kent Krueger's Northwest Angle; and Lenora Mattingly Weber's I Met a Boy I Used to Know. Weber was one of my favorite childhood writers, and almost every book I write has a tiny detail meant to be an homage to her. (See "Mrs. Payne" in The Most Dangerous Thing, my fellow Weber-ites.)

Favorite book when you were a child:

Just one? I liked Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg and, oh, about 8,000 others. My mother was a children's librarian.

Your top five authors:

How about if I go with my top five Baltimore writers? John Waters, Anne Tyler, James M. Cain, Theo Lippman Jr. and David Simon. Theo Lippman is my dad, a Baltimore Sun editorial writer and political biographer. He also edited a book on H.L. Mencken, another pretty good Baltimore writer.

Book you've faked reading:

Let's just say I've never faked reading a book to enhance my reputation as an intellectual--I'm not the least bit embarrassed by the number of times I've failed to make it past page 3 in Ulysses--but I may have pretended to finish a book to be polite.

Book you bought for the cover:

Dwarf Rapes Nun; Flees in UFO by Arnold Sawislak. However, Donald Westlake did better by tabloid journalism in Trust Me on This and Baby, Would I Lie?

Book you're an evangelist for:

Emma Who Saved My Life by Wilton Barnhardt. Made me LOL before there was LOL'ing. Also has a beautiful, beautiful ending. I once painted the last line on a refrigerator I kept in my garden. (I used to be kind of twee that way.)

Book that changed your life:

All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers by Larry McMurtry. I began reading it on a Greyhound bus from Waco to San Antonio, and I was captivated from the very first line. I thought: Some day, I want to bring someone else as much joy as I'm feeling now, the anticipation of a really good read.

Favorite line from a book:

If it's one I have to know by heart, then "Let's get stinko" from Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. If I'm allowed to cheat and look it up, then these lines from W.H. Auden's "In Memory of W.B. Yeats": "For poetry makes nothing happen; it survives; In the valley of its making where executives/ Would never want to tamper, flows on south/ From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,/ Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,/ A way of happening, a mouth." I also can quote some of my father's best columns, but "Rita is better" won't make any sense out of context. First you have to remember who Rita Jenrette was, then you have to know she did a Playboy spread and posed at a writing desk wearing nothing but a boa... well, you just had to be there.

My dad also wrote a really beautiful column about his father's death. I violate the Sun's copyright every year and run it on my blog. (Hey, the owner is in bankruptcy; I'm probably not going to get a pension from those guys.) The thing you need to know about my dad--his column, for space reasons, was incredibly brief, 500-550 words. It was amazing what he did with that amount of space. I keep trying to get him to blog, but he hates the idea of writing for free. He once hounded the Sun for months for a freelance fee owed after he retired. Finally, he called the editor and said: "I am resigned to the fact that you're never going to pay me. But I'm writing my memoir and I've just gotten to the point where this happens, so could you explain why you never paid me?" They cut him a check the next day.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Love Story by Ruth McKenney, best known for the My Sister Eileen stories. Because the first time I read this beautiful memoir about her relationship with her husband, I had no idea how badly it ended. The last lines are: "...if Mike and I have a life rich and varied, we must endure with what grace we can the pain we have suffered between our goodly joys. We are too passionate, too blundering, to inhabit any safe and comfortable plateaus." It's such a lovely portrait of a marriage that it's devastating to learn that McKenney's husband committed suicide five years after the book was published--on McKenney's birthday. She reportedly never wrote again. I like to fantasize that one day I will write her biography and do for McKenney's work what Tim Page did for Dawn Powell's.

What color underwear you have on (I am hoping this was exclusive to Colin Cotterill and wouldn't apply to me):

You know, as a writer, I've always left some gaps for readers to fill in.


Book Review

Children's Review: Is Everyone Ready for Fun?

Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas (Beach Lane/S&S, $12.99 paper over board, ages 3-5, 9781442423640, September 27, 2011)

By now, every child familiar with Jan Thomas's Rhyming Dust Bunnies (and its sequel, Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny!) knows that the answer to the title question is YES!--with the possible exception of the chicken whose sofa gets the brunt of a bovine trio's hilarious schemes in this paper-over-board picture book. "Look! It's Chicken's sofa!" a dark brown cow yells in bold black type in a dialogue balloon, pointing a hoof at an alluring red loveseat. The two cow sidekicks raise their forelegs in anticipation and, with a turn of the page, we see them in various stages, airborne and in the process of landing. "PLOP," say the giant cherry-red letters perfectly matched to Chicken's sofa. And that's even before we reach the title page. Chicken pops in from the right-hand margin, with only its red comb and beak and rolling wide eyes showing.

Chicken embodies the disapproving adult and the three cows the naughty children fully aware that they're breaking the rules. "JUMP! Up and down, up and down. Let's all JUMP up and down!" says one cow, "On Chicken's sofa!" adds the instigator dark brown cow. When Chicken says, "There's no JUMPING on my sofa!" the cow buddies come up with other alternatives: e.g., dancing and wiggling--"on Chicken's sofa!" Each action word flashes in bold red all-capital letters. Thomas perfectly captures the boundless energy of children both physically and mentally (when it comes to inventing creative ways to bend the rules). She zeroes in on the animals' expressions and pulls back to depict the body language of authoritative Chicken and the raucous cows. Each new idea merits a different background color for the scenes, to create sequences within the larger narrative. The author-artist arrives at a delicate balance: we never get the feeling that the cows are jumping, dancing and wiggling on the couch to spite Chicken; they just can't help themselves. Chicken (and adults) can rest easy when the dark brown cow's final idea is... a NAP! Sensational. --Jennifer M. Brown


Powered by: Xtenit