Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 13, 2012


Severn House Publishers: Night Watch (First World Publication) (Michael Cassidy Thriller #3) by David C. Taylor

St. Martin's Press: A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

Workman Publishing: Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories! by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by John John Bajet

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

Other Press: Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, translated by Willard Wood

News

D.C. 'Power Presence' Joins Amazon Board

Washington lawyer Jamie Gorelick was elected to Amazon's board of directors last Thursday, according to an SEC filing by the company. A former deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, Gorelick has been a partner at WilmerHale since 2003 and is a corporate governance advisor and "a power presence" in the capital, as paidContent put it.

"Gorelick's expertise as a litigator should be of use to Jeff Bezos as the company struggles with its efforts to expand its physical presence while maintaining the competitive tax advantage over bricks-and-mortar stores by keeping sales tax out of the mix," paidContent wrote. "Amazon also has patent issues and other legal areas where someone like Gorelick would come in handy."
 


GLOW: ECW Press: Moments of Glad Grace: A Memoir by Alison Wearing


Unconference Report: Book^2 Camp

Random House sales rep Michael Kindness lays down his tiles as Aerbook's Nick Ruffilo uses a game of Scrabble to illustrate a point about the experiential differences between playing a board game and playing an electronic version of a board game, a concept subsequently applied to the print/ebook gap, at Book^2 Camp, an "unconference" held in Manhattan Sunday afternoon as a prelude to this week's Tools of Change conference.

In more than a dozen impromptu sessions, attendees discussed the future of books and publishing, and even tried to sort out what the indie bookstore of 2050 might look like. That last task wasn't easy: while working out how much of the market would be dominated by e-books by then, some folks pointed out that an energy shortage would have an adverse effect on e-book devices, as would the electromagnetic pulse generated by an atomic bomb. And what if, in the future, print-on-demand machines and data storage become so affordable that consumers can keep entire libraries in their homes? By the end of the conversation, some participants suggested that, instead of bricks-and-mortar, future bookstores might be based in portable trailers, moving from one location to the next, wherever business is likely to be. (The bookstores that stay in buildings, though, will almost certainly have cats or serve drinks. Of that much, the room was certain.) --Ron Hogan



Plough Publishing House: Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters


Obituary Note: Jeffrey Zaslow

Jeffrey Zaslow, columnist, author and co-author of such books as The Last Lecture, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger's autobiography and Gabrielle Giffords's recent book, died on Friday in a car accident in northern Michigan. He was 53.

The night before his death, Zaslow had done an event at McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey for his latest book, The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters, about a bridal shop in Fowler, Mich. Zaslow is survived by his wife, Sherry Margolis, a news anchor for a Detroit TV station, and three daughters.

Gotham Books, one of his publishers, called Zaslow's death "a shock and a tragedy to all of us at Gotham and Penguin and to his beloved readers. Jeff was a truly good man, husband and father and that quality came through in his books. As a reporter he had an eye for the subtle, human details of
 people that captured them. He was a born storyteller. We were honored to work with him and have him as a friend. We shall miss him."

The Wall Street Journal, where Zaslow wrote a regular column called "Moving On," offered a long tribute. Editor Robert Thomson said: "Jeff's writing, for the Journal and in his books, has been a source of inspiration for many people around the world and his journalistic life has been a source of inspiration for all journalists."

The Journal noted that in his columns, Zaslow's "subjects ranged from the anguish of losing a car in the Disney World parking lot, to the power of fathers' lunchbox letters to their daughters, to the distinctive pain of watching a beloved childhood stadium go under the wrecking ball. More recently, he became one of America's best-selling nonfiction writers."

Zaslow's Journal column became the basis for some of those bestsellers. In an extensive obituary, the New York Times recounted that The Last Lecture, written with Randy Pausch, "began as a hunch. Professor Pausch had announced that he was dying of an ailment similar to Lou Gehrig's disease and was planning to sum things up in a last lecture for his students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in September 2007. Thinking it might make for a good column for the Journal, Mr. Zaslow, a Carnegie Mellon alumnus, drove from his base in Detroit to hear what he would say." The lecture was a hit, and Zaslow and Pausch worked together on the book based on it.

Among Zaslow's other books were Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, written with Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly; Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, with Chesley B. Sullenberger; The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship; Talk of Fame; Take It from Us; and Tell Me All About It.


Grove Press: Writers & Lovers by Lily King


IBPA's Pub U Opening in March in San Francisco

The 24th annual Independent Book Publishers Association's Publishing University will be held Friday and Saturday, March 9-10, in San Francisco, making a move from its traditional time at the beginning of BookExpo America.

The keynote speaker for the Saturday lunch is Otis Chandler, founder and CEO of Goodreads, who will speak in a "fireside chat" format hosted by Michael Wolf, v-p of digital publishing at GigaOM and commentator on technology market trends for CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

The Friday opening keynote speaker is Steve Piersanti, founder, president and publisher of Berrett Koehler, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a publisher of progressive books on current affairs, personal growth and business and management--and is a pioneer in digital publishing.

Pub U also features more than 50 industry experts who aim to provide publishers of all sizes hands-on, how-to tools to promote, market and sell more books. The 24 breakout sessions will cover sales, marketing, social media, copyright and more. General sessions focus on Amazon and Google. There are also sessions for self-published authors and new publishers as well as private consulting sessions with experts. An early bird session features Dan Poynter, publishing authority and author of The Self Publishing Manual.

For more information, go to ibpapublishinguniversity.com.



G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Notes

Image of the Day: Defending Jacob

Last Thursday, Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., hosted an event for William Landay and his new book, Defending Jacob (Delacorte Press). The book has been named an Indie Next pick, a B&N Recommend and an Amazon Best Book of the Month. Last but not least, Shelf Awareness recently reviewed the title. Here: Landay with fans.

 


YA Authors on the Power of Austen

Tonight, young adult authors Shannon Hale (Midnight in Austenland; Princess Academy), Elizabeth Eulberg (Prom and Prejudice; Take a Bow) and E. Lockhart (The Boyfriend List; National Book Award finalist The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) will lead a live group chat on Figment.com. The event begins at 8 p.m. EST.

 Hale, Austen, Eulberg and Lockhart.

Join the trio as they grapple with the answers to these questions: Why do we keep coming back to Austen again and again? How is it that her heroines, created 200 years ago, still inspire thoroughly modern characters like Bridget Jones? And why does the idea of a trip to Pembrook Park (the setting of Hale's Midnight in Austenland)--where 21st-century guests don bonnets and enjoy a taste of Regency romance with handsome gentleman actors--sound like the best vacation ever?

The authors will take questions from readers in the second half of the event. And as a lead-up to the live chat, Figment invites teens to try their hand at the quiz "Could You Survive Regency England?" They can also read Hale's essay on her lifelong love affair with Pride and Prejudice and Eulberg's essay on what she learned about writing by reading Austen. 

 


World's Best Foreign-Language Bookshops

Inspired by the recent announcement that Waterstones will open a Russian-language bookshop inside its flagship Piccadilly store in London, the Financial Times recommended its "favorite foreign-language bookshops in major cities," including Idlewild Books in New York City, which recently opened a foreign-language branch in Brooklyn.
 


Boswell's Boswell: Store Introduces Its Booksellers

Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., has drawn inspiration from Algonquin's "Booksellers Rock!" blog series to present its own get-to-know-your-booksellers series "Introducing Your Boswellians!"

First up was bookseller Melissa "Mel" Morrow, who offered a great reason for wanting to work in a bookstore: "So. Many. BOOKS!!! Super-happy nerd overload!!"
 


Media and Movies

Sneak Peek: The Twilight Saga--Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Customers who turned out Friday night at 500 Target stores nationwide for the midnight release of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 DVD were treated to a five-minute sneak peek at Breaking Dawn, Part 2, which will be released in November (the official trailer makes its debut next month).

MTV.com reported that the clip shown Friday night "featured greetings from pretty much the whole cast" as well as the "full Vampire Bella--scarlet irises, pale skin and, in a moment of footage that elicited screams when it was shown, the first tease of her new, vampire abilities. Audiences saw Bella speed across the room, just like the blink-and-you'll-miss-them Cullens, and for a lot of fans, that move seemed to set the stage for just how awesome kick-butt Bella could be with super-human powers."
 


Media Heat: The Vow Couple on Today

This morning on the Today Show: Dr. Steven Craig, author of The 6 Husbands Every Wife Should Have: How Couples Who Change Together Stay Together (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781439167984).

Also on Today: Kim and Krikitt Carpenter, authors of The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie (B&H Books, $14.99, 9781433675799).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Robert Kagan, author of The World America Made (Knopf, $21, 9780307961310).

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Today on the View: Karen Gravano, author of Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Me! (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250003058). She is also on Good Morning America today.

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Today on the Wendy Williams Show: Taylor Armstrong, author of Hiding from Reality: My Story of Love, Loss, and Finding the Courage Within (Gallery, $25, 9781451677713).

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Tonight on the Daily Show: Fawzia Koofi, author of The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future (Palgrave Macmillan, $26, 9780230120679).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Anne Rice, author of The Wolf Gift (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307595119).

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Tomorrow on Ellen: Kris Jenner, author of Kris Jenner . . . And All Things Kardashian (Gallery, $26, 9781451646962).

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Tomorrow on the View: Deborah Feldman, author of Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Simon & Schuster, $23, 9781439187005).

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Tomorrow night on Nightline: Kayt Sukel, author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships (Free Press, $25, 9781451611557).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: William J. Broad, author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451641424).



Books & Authors

Awards: Betty White Receives Grammy for If You Ask Me

In the Grammy category of Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audiobooks and Story Telling), the winner last night was If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White (Penguin Audio).


Book Review

Review: Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come by J.G. Ballard (W.W. Norton, $24.95 hardcover, 9780393081787, March 2012)

Kingdom Come is the second of two J.G. Ballard novels that had been unpublished in the United States during the author's lifetime. As with Millennium People (2011), it's heavily grounded in the themes that dominated much of Ballard's fiction during the 1990s and 2000s--especially the dark side of that era's economic prosperity. Where that earlier novel posited a middle-class revolt in a fashionable London gated community, Kingdom Come probes a thriving suburb nestled in the shadow of Heathrow, where a shopping mall anchors the community's gradual slide into a 21st-century fascism.

Richard Pearson arrives in Brooklands after his father is killed by a lone gunman in a mall shooting, only to learn that the primary suspect has been released based on the testimony of prominent eyewitnesses. He smells a rat and, wondering if there's a conspiracy that's somehow related to the town's nationalistic undercurrent of racism, he decides to stick around and investigate.

Ballard isn't especially interested in subtlety here; his characters just come right out and say things like, "Consumerism is about a lot more than buying things.... It's our main way of expressing our tribal values." A psychiatrist Pearson suspects of being in on the plot, whatever the plot is, drives the message home, projecting "elective psychopathy" as a path out of the boredom that comes with prosperity's fulfillment of material ambitions. "The consumer society is a kind of soft police state," he declares. "We think we have choice, but everything is compulsory. We have to keep buying or we fail as citizens."

Kingdom Come is less concerned with its story than with its themes; Pearson's vacillating personality sometimes seem to defy emotional logic for the sake of extending Ballard's opportunities to jab at high consumerism. And, honestly, describing the mall's sound system playing "a sweetened reworking in the Mantovani idiom of the Horst Wessel song" as ambient music is laying it on just a bit thick. That said, Kingdom Come works better as a story than Millennium People and Ballard's other fiction from this period and, in a way, the Metro Centre shopping mall of this final novel becomes a reworking of the eponymous luxury skyscraper in Ballard's  classic High Rise (1975) pushed in an equally surreal and violent direction.

The Collins English Dictionary defines "Ballardian" as dealing with "dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments." Kingdom Come is all that and then some--a fitting capstone to the Ballard legacy. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Like William Gibson, Ballard's late fiction looked at the cutting edge of contemporary society with a science fiction writer's critical, extrapolative eye.

 


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