Also published on this date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012: Maximum Shelf: In Sunlight and in Shadow

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grand Central Publishing: Dava Shastri's Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Minotaur Books: Hello, Transcriber by Hannah Morrissey

Bloomsbury Publishing: This Is Happiness by Niall Williams

Mineditionus: The Longest Storm by Dan Yaccarino

Atheneum Books: Out of My Heart by Sharon M Draper

Bloomsbury Publishing: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Blackstone Publishing: I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad

Scholastic Press: Room to Dream (a Front Desk Novel) by Kelly Yang


Next Chapter in Wisconsin Closes

Very sad news: Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis., which was founded by Lanora Hurley in 2009, closed abruptly yesterday.

In a statement, Hurley wrote in part, "Thank you to all of our loyal customers for your support. Thank you to our friends in publishing for allowing us to bring the most unique and entertaining voices to others. Thank you to authors near and far, whose visits and kind words will always be remembered. Every story has an ending."

The store was in the site of one of the old Harry W. Schwartz Bookseller locations, a store that Hurley managed. (Hurley was one of two Schwartz veterans to open stores in the wake of its closing: Daniel Goldin opened Boswell Book Co. in a Schwartz location in Milwaukee.) She had earlier been a manager and buyer at Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., and worked at a Borders.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Just Haven't Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Amazon: Same-Day Shipping?; Fire Review; On Not Selling A-Books

The flip side of Amazon's collection of sales tax in many more states is the building this year of 18 warehouses, mostly in heavily populated states like California, New Jersey and Virginia.

In an interview with the New York Times, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reiterated that the company's warehouse building "frenzy" will allow it to reduce its two-day shipping times by as much as a day, putting, the paper said, "the much-rumored same-day delivery--the elusive aspiration of every online merchant--potentially within reach in some metropolitan areas."

Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that if Amazon is able to do this, "it will be the dominant retailer in the decade to come."

Amy Thomas, owner of Pegasus stores in Berkeley and Oakland, Calif., expressed the frustration of many in the industry, telling the Times: "Amazon is so aggressive on so many fronts. It's hard to keep putting out fires everywhere. They sell e-books. They're becoming publishers. And now they want to do same-day shipping. They're an octopus."


In a product review entitled "More Soot Than Sparks from This Fire," the New York Times found claims by Amazon executives that the new Fire is "the best tablet at any price" laughable. "I'm not exactly sure what's been seeping into the water supply at Amazon's Seattle offices, but it's making the executives a little loopy," David Pogue wrote.

The Fire lacks a camera, GPS navigation, speech recognition, a to-do list, a notes app, and "it trails the iPad in thickness, screen size, screen sharpness, Web speed, software polish and app availability. It can only dream of the iPad's universe of accessories, cases and docks." There are bugs and incomplete features, like the camera that doesn't take pictures. And "one extremely promising advertised feature is missing entirely: individual accounts for your children, with parent-governed time limits for each activity (movies, games, reading and so on). Next month, says Amazon."

Pogue commented: "Once again, Amazon seems to have scrambled for the holidays, with the intention of polishing its software later."

Still, the Fire is "not a disappointment." Pricing makes it "either much less expensive than similarly equipped rivals, or much better equipped than similarly priced ones." Screens are good enough to be used as TVs, sound quality is excellent, the home screen and ability to read magazines much improved.

Overall, Pogue said, "the Kindle Fire HD models are attractive, confident viewers of movies, TV shows, Web pages and books. They tap into Amazon's increasingly appealing online world of entertainment and information stores."

Pogue was much more positive about the new line of Kindles, "each spectacular in its own way. The PaperWhite has built-in illumination, like Barnes & Noble's GlowLight model but with slightly more even lighting and a lower price ($120, with ads). And the basic, no-frills Kindle costs only $70, the lowest ever."


Richmond magazine chronicles the tension created by Amazon's publishing operations: in this case, David Robbins, a Richmond, Va., area author whose previous nine books were published traditionally, has an upcoming spy novel, The Devil's Waters, that is published by Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint.

Local bookseller Fountain Books, which has long supported Robbins, is, however, not carrying this book. Owner Kelly Justice explained: "It's published by my competition, so I can't do that. It puts me in a very awkward position because I've been selling David's books since his first, which is now out of print. It's disappointing and saddening that I won't be able to support this book. It breaks my heart, honestly." (Check out Justice's great new ring in the photo accompanying the Richmond magazine story.)

Chop Suey Books in Carytown, which sells only a limited number of new titles, has no set policy about Amazon books. "We've carried one of their books, The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning, and it was because customers wanted it," said assistant manager Andrew Blossom.

Piet E. Jones, owner of the Book Room, said Amazon "can sell their e-books at below cost to drive out competition [and] they are working toward monopoly status, so that they can control every aspect, from publishing to distribution. That's a scary move."

Author Robbins is unapologetic, saying, "This is all about the future of publishing. The Kindle, the Nook, online, PDAs, iPads... people are reading at a higher pace today. There isn't a problem with reading. There's a problem with writers making a profit."

Annick Press: Living with Viola by Rosena Fung

Leigh Haber New Books Editor at O

Effective September 17, Leigh Haber is joining O, The Oprah Magazine as books editor. She was most recently editor-at-large at Chronicle Books and consultant to the publishing-on-demand platform Blurb. Earlier she held editorial roles at Scribner, Hyperion, Rodale and Harcourt. She replaces Sara Nelson, who joined earlier this year.

Bloomsbury Continuum: Making Nice by Ferdinand Mount


Image of the Day: Lunch with Jericho Books at SIBA Show

Last Saturday at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in Naples, Fla., Hachette sponsored a lunch to showcase three of the authors whose works are being published by Jericho Books, a new imprint headed by publisher and v-p Wendy Grisham. Pictured from l. to r.: Justin Lee, author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate; Wanda Jewell, SIBA's executive director; Brian McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World; Wendy Grisham; and Becca Stevens, author of Snake Oil: The Art of Healing and Truth-Telling.

GLOW: Top Shelf Productions: Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia, trans. by Gabriela Soares

Occupy U.K. Library: Squatters Reopen Shuttered Facility

Last week, eight squatters entered a  recently closed north London library through an open window and "reopened the facility to residents with the help of local volunteers," the Guardian visited the shuttered Friern Barnet library and "spoke to both the squatters and community volunteers campaigning to keep the local library open."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Still Life by Sarah Winman

GBO Picks The Canvas

The German Book Office has chosen The Canvas by Benjamin Stein, translated by Brian Zumhagen, as its September book of the month. The novel will be published on September 26 by Open Letter Books ($16.95, 9781934824658).

The publisher wrote: "Loosely based on the true story of Binjamin Wilkomirski, whose fabricated 1995 Holocaust memoir transfixed the reading public, The Canvas has a singular construction--its two interrelated narratives begin at either end of the book and meet in the middle. Amnon Zichroni, a psychoanalyst in Zurich, encourages Minsky to write a book about his traumatic childhood experience in a Nazi death camp, a memoir that the journalist Jan Wechsler claims is a fiction. Ten years later, a suitcase arrives on Wechsler's doorstep. Allegedly, he lost the suitcase on a trip to Israel, but Wechsler has no memory of the suitcase, nor the trip, and he travels to Israel to investigate the mystery. But it turns out he has been to Israel before, and his host on the trip, Amnon Zichroni, has been missing ever since.

"A mind-bending investigation of memory, identity, truth, and delusion, The Canvas is... a novel whose meaning depends on the order in which it is read."

Born in East Berlin in 1970, Benjamin Stein was an editor and correspondent for various computer magazines and has been a corporate IT adviser since 1998. He owns the author-run publishing house Edition Neue Moderne and writes the literary weblog Turmsegler.
Brian Zumhagen has been a weekend anchor at WNYC since 2003. His career in journalism started in 1993, with an internship in the press office of the German Green Party's parliamentary delegation. He also won a grant from the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship to produce radio features for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Parallax Press: How to Live When a Loved One Dies: Healing Meditations for Grief and Loss by Thich Nhat Hanh

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hanna Rosin on The End of Men

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Danny Danon, author of Israel: The Will to Prevail (Palgrave Macmillan, $17.15, 9780230341760).


This morning on Imus in the Morning: Larry Flynt, co-author of One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History (Palgrave Macmillan, $25, 9780230105034).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Tony Danza, author of I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High (Crown Archetype, $24, 9780307887863). He will also appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Also on Fox & Friends: Mike Gallagher, author of 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate (Threshold, $27, 9781451679250).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594488047). She will also appear on Current's Joy Behar Show.


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Tim Gunn, co-author of Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet (Gallery, $28, 9781451643855).


Tomorrow on CNBC's Squawk Box: Bob Woodward, author of The Price of Politics (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451651102). He will also appear on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.


Tomorrow on CNN's Starting Point: Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner, co-authors of Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us (Abrams, $18.95, 9781419704598).


Tomorrow on NPR's the Takeaway: Mark Mazower, author of Governing the World: The History of an Idea (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594203497).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Junot Diaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594487361).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Akhil Reed Amar, author of America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (Basic, $29.99, 9780465029570).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Colbert Report: James Carville, co-author of It's the Middle Class, Stupid! (Blue Rider, $26.95, 9780399160394).

Rebel Girls: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, 4 edited by Lilly Workneh

Movie Projects: Matched; The Shipkiller

David Slade (Hard Candy, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) will direct Disney's Matched, based on the YA novel by Ally Condie. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Michelle and Kieran Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) "wrote the script for the project, which is still in development." Reached, the third book in Condie's trilogy (after Crossed), will be released in November by Dutton Juvenile.


Robert Connolly (Balibo) will direct The Shipkiller, adapted from Justin Scott's novel, for Valhalla Entertainment and Australian film company Arenamedia, reported. Connolly called the source material "an extraordinary novel that was almost made in 1979 with Sean Connery and David Niven... Ever since seeing Phillip Noyce's terrific Dead Calm, I had wanted to find the perfect thriller at sea and this is surely it."

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Kathleen Alcott

Born and raised in Northern California, Kathleen Alcott now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work appears on The Rumpus and in American Short Fiction; Slice; Volume 1 Brooklyn; Explosion-Proof; and Rumpus Women, Volume 1, an anthology of personal essays. Her debut novel, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, was just published by Other Press. She is currently at work on her second novel.


On your nightstand now:

Adam Haslett's You Are Not a Stranger Here. I'm at a turning point in the novel I'm working on, and so my reading habits turn to shorter works; I think it's a support system. I need short, powerful injections as I can't commit to a longer narrative. Each story in Haslett's collection is a reminder of how much power lies in negative space.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. There's a tattoo on my wrist to prove it, and it makes me happy every day, when I wake up and see it.

Your top five authors:

David Foster Wallace, Lorrie Moore, Gabriel García Márquez, Vladimir Nabokov and Alice Munro.

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible. I was raised without religion, but I always had a sense of how Christianity had influenced storytelling, and I wanted a closer connection to that power. The summer I was maybe 13, I carried it around and tried to cultivate an earnest interest. I failed and went swimming instead.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I have had serious, up-all-night discussions overseen by the close presence of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. It's as if I could not speak falsely with the book around. My torn-up, stained, dog-eared, underlined copy was lost in the mail when I moved across the country, and I may have cried.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead, a collection of love stories compiled by Jeffrey Eugenides. I just remember running my hands over the embossed heart in the bookstore and heading to the cashier straightaway.

Book that changed your life:

My father read me stories from García Márquez's Strange Pilgrims when I was eight or nine, and I think that was the first time I truly recognized the writer's curatorial agency--like, he can make those kids drown in light? You can do that? That was attractive to me, because I was always trying to paint my surroundings as a little more spectacular, and it occurred to me this was the true path toward that. I started writing less traditionally after hearing those stories: hallways that turned to jungles at night, dead people coming back to eat the leftovers in the fridge.

Favorite line from a book:

"Never a temple, her body had gone from being a home, to being a house, to being a phone booth, to being a kite." --Lorrie Moore, "Real Estate," Birds of America

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

Lauren Groff's Arcadia. She so capably architected a whole universe that grew as the protagonist Bit did--it's this stunning string of bells that slowly add up to an unforgettable song--and I never wanted to leave.


Book Review

Children's Review: H.O.R.S.E.

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers (Egmont, $18.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 5-up, 9781606842188, October 9, 2012)

In this brilliant meditation on basketball and imagination, Caldecott Honor artist Christopher Myers (Harlem; Wings) describes the game as a series of maneuvers, bluffs and boasts between two players who connect through competition. It's an exercise of the mind more than the body, though there's no doubt as to the athleticism of the two young men.

A boy in a yellow T-shirt and gray headband approaches another, sporting a blue jersey and a Pan-African wristband. Myers unites them from the start with the blue background behind the yellow T-shirted new arrival, and the golden backdrop behind the blue-jerseyed host. The words of the "guest" appear in black type, and the words of the host in brown type. The gray slate court acts as an oasis among a horseshoe of tall buildings slightly out of focus; the two players come in crystal clear, and stand out in their brightly colored attire and softly bending lines. Myers renders the city streets and structures in collage, and paints his figures in brushstrokes that suggest movement and connection. The new arrival asks the host (the blue-jerseyed boy possesses the ball), if he'd like to play a game of horse. "Horse?" the host replies. "Yeah," says the boy in the yellow jersey, explaining the rules. One person shoots "any kind of shot" and the other player has to shoot the same shot or he gets a letter. The first to spell "horse" is out. The host gets the rules: "Right, we call it 'ghost' where I come from.... You start."

Myers depicts the guest with arms that stretch as if they could reach the basket while his feet remain rooted to the ground, "Okay, layup with my eyes closed," he says. "That's just too easy; we'll be here all day," replies the host.  Each new shot ups the ante and takes the competitors farther afield, to the rooftop of a skyscraper, and sailing over the Pacific.  They take "out of bounds" to a whole new level. Myers builds on the ancient nature of the game (described so eloquently in the author's note about his research and artwork for Jabberwocky) and the age-old human instinct to win.

This imaginative urban tall tale begins in the known sphere of the cement playground and spins out of this world, among the stars. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: Caldecott Honor artist Christopher Myers exploits the setting of a city basketball court to its full potential as urban legend.


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