Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012: Maximum Shelf: Alif the Unseen

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crown Publishing Group (NY): Here One Moment Liane Moriarty

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke


Madeline McIntosh Promoted to COO at Random House

Effective immediately, Madeline McIntosh has been promoted to chief operating officer of Random House. She has been president, sales, operations and digital, a position she has held since she rejoined the company in 2009.

Random House CEO Markus Dohle said that McIntosh "has been, and continues to be, a vital part of the transformation of our organization as we redefine the way our sales and corporate operations support and collaborate with our publishing divisions…. The excellent work that Madeline and her teams are doing to support our publishing programs has ensured that we have become even more content- and author-centric as well as reader- and market-focused."

Before rejoining Random House, McIntosh was's director of Kindle content acquisition for Europe for a year. Earlier she worked at Random House and Bantam Doubleday Dell for 14 years, most recently as publisher of the Audio Publishing Division and earlier in various sales positions, including senior v-p, director, adult sales.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Shame on You: How to Be a Woman in the Age of Mortification by Melissa Petro

Pynchon Goes Digital

Thomas Pynchon, "one of the last great holdouts" in refusing to allow e-book editions of his work, "has struck a deal with the Penguin Press to publish his entire backlist in digital form," the New York Times reported, calling the author's decision "another step toward the ubiquity of the e-book, even for authors who stubbornly resisted." The e-book versions of his seven novels and one story collection are available beginning today, with prices ranging from $9.99 to $12.99.

As might be expected, the reclusive Pynchon did not comment on the decision, but Ann Godoff, Penguin's president and editor in chief, said, "It wasn't exactly the elephant in the drawing room, but we just felt that the moment was right. There has been a great desire to have all of Tom's books in digital format now, for many years. He didn't want to not be part of that.... I think he wants to have more readers. Every writer wants to have as many readers as they can possibly get. But I don't think this will change his public profile, in terms of him being out there in public. In fact, I know it won't."

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

Live from BEA: Streaming by the Numbers

This year's edition of BookExpo America featured live streaming of many author events, which are now available for viewing on BEA's Livestream Channel or the BEA homepage. Show director Steve Rosato reported on the Bean blog that "total viewer minutes so far equates to more than 20,000 hours of total viewing which is equal to 842 days or 2.3 years by more than 58,000 unique viewers. It is worth noting that BEA enjoyed a very global audience that have tuned in."

From June 1 to 11, there were 10,014 unique viewers (511,688 viewer minutes) for the Author Breakfast channel and 48,340 unique viewers (701,297 viewer minutes ) for the Author Stage channel. The top five countries viewing the Author Breakfast channel were the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and Germany. The U.S. and U.K. also topped the charts for global Author Stage channel viewership, followed in the rankings by Canada, Australia and Japan.

"Over the next 3 weeks, BEA will edit much of the footage we captured so it is more bite sized and we will also post audio from the majority of the great conference sessions," Rosato wrote, adding that when this task is accomplished, the best place for viewing it will be

Government 'Considering' Large Kindle Touch Order

The U.S. State Department is "considering a no-bid, $16.5 million contract with Amazon" to provide Kindle Touches for its overseas language-education programs, paidContent reported. The life of the contract would be one base year plus four option years. The DoS will now wait for Amazon's proposal and then negotiations can begin.

According to the DoS document, the selection was made because it considered the Kindle "the only e-Reader on the market that meets the Government's needs, and Amazon as the only company possessing the essential capabilities required by the Government."

Devices from Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo were rejected by the DoS for reasons that related to the availability of international 3G, text-to-speech features and battery life. The government document said "the portability and durability of the Kindle is unique, and is required by the government due to overseas shipment requirements and use in public facilities by students." PaidContent noted that "Worldreader, in its pilot program giving Kindles to kids in Ghana, found Kindles actually break a lot, but perhaps other e-readers break more?"

Among the reasons listed for eliminating Apple's iPad from consideration was the DoS's contention that the device's "additional features are not only unnecessary, but also present unacceptable security and usability risks for the government's needs in this particular project."

Nicholas Hoare Update: 'Stay of Execution' for Montreal Store

Canadian independent bookstore chain Nicholas Hoare, which announced in March that it was closing its Ottawa and Montreal locations while expanding the Toronto store, said yesterday the Montreal shop will remain open until the end of the year.

It had been scheduled to shut down July 31 when its lease expired, but the "stay of execution on the Montreal location came after Westmount Mayor Peter Trent intervened on behalf of the bookstore," CBC News reported, adding that the landlord has agreed to "extend the lease on a 'trial basis' and to consider a longer-term lease, provided some conditions are met."

Owner Nicholas Hoare said, "We are therefore throwing down the gauntlet. Since we have been operating the store pro bono for quite some time ourselves, it is now our customers' call, not ours, as to whether we leave or stay in January."


A Tribute to Maurice Sendak at the Met

Yesterday, in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum of Art, friends and colleagues honored Maurice Sendak, who died on May 8 at the age of 83. The tribute opened with a clip from the film Tell Them Anything You Want, directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze. In it, Sendak spoke about what set him apart from other artists: "I was more honest than anybody."

Michael di Capua was an editorial assistant when he discovered Maurice Sendak on the shelves of the old Scribners bookstore on Fifth Avenue. He pulled out the volume Schoolmaster Whackwell's Wonderful Sons by Clemens Brentano (Random House, 1962) and noticed the artwork by a fellow named Sendak. Di Capua wrote to him, suggesting he do a collection of the Brothers Grimm. Soon after, di Capua received a phone call in his cubicle: "Sendak calling," said the voice on the other end. They sat down to sandwiches and iced tea "at a little dump half a block from Sendak's Ninth Street apartment," di Capua recalled, and discovered their mutual love of Verdi, Mahler and Mozart. That was in October 1962. The editorial assistant was 24; Sendak was 34. During the course of their half-century working together, they finally did publish that collection of Grimm tales as two small volumes in a slipcase in 1973.

Maurice Sendak contacted Art Spiegelman after the publication of Maus. Spiegelman proposed to the New Yorker's David Remnick a piece with Sendak around the time of the publication of his We're All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy. He'd heard Sendak was "a kvetch, a crank and a hermit." Instead, Spiegelman found a "kindred spirit." After hours of discussion, Spiegelman took the lines he liked most ("because comics is the art of compression") and asked Sendak, "Want to draw it with me?" They worked together at the drawing table in Spiegelman's studio. They'd start out drawing to Sendak's Mozart then move to Spiegelman's 1920s jazz recordings (Sendak requested a playlist afterward, according to Spiegelman). Their joint comic strip appeared in the New Yorker on September 27, 1993. Spiegelman said "the shadow of the Hitler years were on my shoulder and his." When he first saw In the Night Kitchen, Spiegelman believed that he saw in that Oliver Hardy character, "the transmutation of Hitler's mustache," and also of a child being baked into a pie. Sendak's work, Spiegelman said, "transcends good and evil."

Tony Kushner, who put together the memorial with Kyle Warren, began his remarks by commenting on the scene in the film about the very small group Sendak said he'd have missed if he hadn't been born. Kushner speculated that others, like him, might have felt "a small twinge of annoyance" at those he'd left out. "Even Herman [Sendak's German shepherd] walked out of the frame when he said Jennie was the love of his life." Jennie, the star of Higgledy Piggledy Pop: Or There Must Be More to Life, appeared "in every book I did for as long as she lived," Sendak declared. Kushner said Sendak frequently tested his friends' loyalty, but "always believed in love whether or not he believed in its constancy." He needed to be alone to work but he also loved companionship.

As the 11-year-old girl next door when Sendak and Glynn moved to their home in Connecticut, Lynn Caponera started out taking care of their dogs. She ended up taking care of Sendak. Caponera said that when Sendak first moved in, "I didn't know what he did for a living, I just knew he told the best stories." They'd see a rabbit in the woods, then head to his library where he would pull down a volume of Beatrix Potter to demonstrate that "the rabbit on paper was as alive as the one in the woods."

Caponera closed with a letter "from his favorite book":

As you probably noticed, I went away forever. I am very experienced now and very famous. I am even a star.... I get plenty to drink, too, so don't worry.... If you ever come this way, look for me. Jennie  

--Jennifer M. Brown

Image of the Day: Book Your Lunch

Yesterday a Book Your Lunch event hosted by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C., and held at the Lazy Goat, featured Karen White, author of Sea Change, just published by NAL. Here are White (c.); Fiction Addiction owner Jill Hendrix (r.); and Hendrix's mother, Nancy McFarland (l.).


Doing Booksellers Proud on Jeopardy

A: Kathy Wright of the University Bookstore, Seattle, Wash.

Q: Who won $38,398 on Jeopardy last night?


John Green's BEA in Three Minutes or Less

In his latest "Thoughts from Places" video, author John Green offered a whirlwind tour of his trip to BookExpo America, and "thinks about celebrity and secular worship after meeting the super-cool Chris Colfer from Glee, as well as some of his favorite writers, including Darin Strauss and Jeffrey Eugenides. Also discussed are writers M.T. Anderson, Shannon Hale, Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Michael Chabon, Kadir Nelson, Ally Condie, and Lois Lowry. And some so-called real housewives. Boy, that's a lot of name-dropping."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ben Fountain on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, $25.99, 9780060885595). As the show put it: "Celebrated by Fox News, a squad of Iraq war soldiers takes a victory tour to drum up support for the war that includes a Dallas Cowboys football game. Ben Fountain follows his hero, a poorly educated Texas boy, into the wilds of debased American celebrity. We discuss the difficulty of writing a novel composed from multiple kinds of 'now' language: hip-hop, press-release-ese, sportscaster talk, black street language, Texan tall-talk."


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Buzz Bissinger, author of Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547816562). He is also on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight.


Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black, authors of America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom (Da Capo Press, $26, 9780306821004).


Tomorrow night on Charlie Rose: Jim Mann, author of The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power (Viking, $26.95, 9780670023769).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (Penguin, $36, 9781594203350).

TV: Masters of Sex

Showtime has picked up the drama pilot Masters of Sex, ordering 12 episodes of the series starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. John Madden (Shakespeare in Love; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) directed the pilot. The series is adapted from Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier. The cast also includes Caitlin Fitzgerald, Nicholas D'Agosto and Teddy Sears.  

Movie: The Woman in the Fifth

The Woman in the Fifth, based on the novel by Douglas Kennedy, opens this coming Friday, June 15. Ethan Hawke plays an American writer in Paris whose life is changed by a strange widow (Kristin Scott Thomas).


Books & Authors

Awards: Danuta Gleed

Ian Williams won the $10,000 Danuta Gleed Literary Award--given annually by the Writers' Union of Canada for a "best first English-language collection of short fiction"--for his book Not Anyone's Anything, the Toronto Globe & Mail reported. The jury praised Williams for being "fresh, funny and intelligent," with a knack for crafting "gripping, convincing dialogue."

Book Brahmin: Anthony Swofford

Anthony Swofford's first memoir, Jarhead, was adapted into a 2005 film directed by Sam Mendes. He's also the author of the novel Exit A and his writing has appeared in Harper's, the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian and Slate. Swofford's new memoir, Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails, was published by Twelve on June 5, 2012. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, the writer and photographer Christa Parravani, and their daughter.

On your nightstand now:

The Good Father by Mark O'Connell; The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore; Cathedral by Raymond Carver; Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction by Bhikhu Parekh; Fortunate Son by Lewis B. Puller, Jr.; The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I Want to Be a Fireman by Carla Greene. I read anything I could get my hands on, including my older sister's books--she had better taste. The fireman book is my only childhood book I still have possession of, and for a reason I can't figure out, it sits next to Escoffier in the dining room cookbook shelves.

Your top five authors:

Joan Didion, Don DeLillo, Julio Cortázar, Tim O'Brien and Joy Williams.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked reading Moby Dick for about 15 years until I read it over three days while sitting from noon to 4 a.m. at my favorite dive bar in Manhattan, Peter McManus at 19th Street and 7th Avenue. Now I fake having read Don Quixote and all of Dostoevsky except Notes from Underground and the first 50 pages of The Gambler.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A Doubleday paperback of Stendhal's The Red and the Black with a cover drawing by Andy Warhol and a paperback of 'Til Death by Ed McBain with a troubled woman in a nightgown on the cover.

Book that changed your life:

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar. I had heard from teachers and writers that "if it works, it works" when attempting to explain innovation in prose writing. But only after reading Hopscotch did I know what that meant and begin to understand that with prose anything is possible.

Favorite line from a book:

"War is the poetry of men, by which they seek to gain attention and relief throughout their lives" --from Thomas Bernhard in Gathering Evidence. Bernhard was combative and ornery and had witnessed the ravages of war as a young boy in Germany.

I'll include a second if you don't mind: "But this too is true: stories can save us." Tim O'Brien wrote this in The Things They Carried, which I first read as a college student, a few years out from my own war. I didn't believe him at first, and then I started to write, and now I believe him, and we all must.

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

Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner. Like Hopscotch, Absalom, Absalom taught me the power of finely rendered prose.

Your favorite cookbook:

The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His 24-hour "Donnie Brasco" pork shoulder is transcendental.


Book Review

Children's Review: Liar & Spy

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb/Random House, $15.99 hardcover, 192p., ages 9-12, 9780385737432, August 7, 2012)

When seventh-grader Georges (named for the painter Seurat) and his family must sell their house and move to an apartment in Brooklyn, everything changes for him.

Narrator Georges understands that his architect father losing his job meant they needed to sell their house--even though Georges loved the fire escape his father built in his room. He also understands that his mother, a nurse, now needs to work more double shifts to make up for that loss of income. But Safer, a boy his age who lives upstairs in his Georges's building, helps Georges pass the time by keeping a lookout for the mysterious Mr. X, who lives on the fourth floor, always dresses in black and hauls suitcases around. What could be in them? Safer teaches Georges how to sit very still for long stretches and observe their building's security camera. "Boredom is what happens to people who have no control over their minds," Safer tells Georges. Together they discover a key in Mr. X's laundry and speculate about what it might open. When Georges gets bullied at school, his friendship with Safer grows in importance. Until Safer asks Georges to keep watch while Safer slips into Mr. X's apartment to uncover where the key fits, and Georges becomes uneasy about his role in what he calls "breaking and entering."

Fans of When You Reach Me will enjoy the urban setting and the notes that Georges and his mother send back and forth to each other via Scrabble tiles. Georges's mother has always told him that, as with Seurat's paintings, Georges needs to look not at the dots but at the big picture. However, as things heat up at school and with Safer, Georges's father says, "You can't just wait for it to be over." And Georges realizes that "Life is really just a bunch of nows, one after the other. The dots matter." As she did with When You Reach Me, Newbery Medalist Rebecca Stead once again captures precisely the experience of crossing the threshold from childhood into young adulthood, when longtime friendships feel tenuous and growing up means allowing the truth to outshine the lies we once told ourselves. Stead populates this uplifting novel of friendship and forgiveness with winning young characters, and equally appealing adults. And no matter how alone Georges may feel at times, the author surrounds him with people he can count on--even if he doesn't always realize it.

Part comedy, part mystery, part adventure tale, Stead's latest novel is sure to please her fans and win her new ones. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: Newbery Medalist Rebecca Stead once again homes in on the pains and pleasures of growing up, in this adventure novel that weaves in friendship and mystery.


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