Also published on this date: Friday, September 21, 2012: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Crewel

Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 21, 2012

Gallery/Scout Press: Island Rule: Stories by Katie M. Flynn

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Tordotcom: The Dead Cat Tail Assassins P. Djèlí Clark

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Wheel of the Year: An Illustrated Guide to Nature's Rhythms by Fiona Cook, illustrated by Jessica Roux


Walmart Dumps Amazon Kindle Line

Walmart will discontinue selling Amazon's Kindle products, "severing its relationship with a major competitor and placing a bet that consumers are more interested in Apple's iPad and other gadgets," Reuters reported. In May, Target made a similar move.

Walmart called the decision consistent with its overall merchandising strategy, while Reuters noted that the retailer "has been trying to catch up to Amazon in online sales."
TechCrunch suggested that "the moves made by Walmart and Target seem more like the sign of a deepening schism between strictly online retailers and those with brick-and-mortar businesses to maintain. Amazon has historically been pretty happy to drive wedges into that gap, too.... Amazon was more than happy to reinforce the notion of physical retailers as showrooms while it laughed all the way to the bank."
BGC Financial tech analyst Colin Gillis told the New York Times that by selling Kindles, Wal-Mart was "encouraging its customers to step into that ecosystem.... Every time you pick up your Kindle, they're trying to get you to buy patio furniture. If I were Walmart, I certainly would not be encouraging my customers to go down the path of owning a Kindle and buying things from Amazon."

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

Former BAM Exec Challenging Termination

Douglas Markham, who was fired last month as executive v-p and chief administrative officer at Books-A-Million, has hired attorney Mark White to investigate his termination, alleging that BAM objected to his having been "in the Navy for 25 years while pursuing a business career," the Birmingham News reported.

Markham, who holds the rank of captain, had been the CAO at BAM since August 2009 and prior to that was CFO. He was on active military duty in 2009 from January through July, according to BAM filings with the SEC, the News wrote.

White said the investigation is in its early stages, and that a response to the firing "in the legal arena" is expected in coming weeks.

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

Shortlist in Aisle 3: Loblaws in Partnership with Weston Prize

Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws will carry the five shortlisted titles for this year's $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction at more than 200 stores nationwide. Quillblog reported that prize organizers are hoping the new partnership with Loblaws will "have a sales impact similar to that of the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize."

The genesis of the partnership was "an industry luncheon hosted by Hilary Weston earlier this year in which publishers expressed their desire for retail support in addition to the prize money," Quillblog noted. Weston Prize finalists will be announced September 25, with a winner named November 20.

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 09.25.23

Obituary Note: Barbara Kimenye

Barbara Kimenye, "one of East Africa's most popular and bestselling children's authors" who sold more than a million books throughout English-speaking Africa, has died, the Guardian reported. She was 82.


Image of the Day: The Art of Word Origins

Earlier this month, Book Passage hosted a pre-publication event for Phil Cousineau and artist Gregg Chadwick for The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins (Viva Editions). The book appears on October 16, Noah Webster's birthday and National Dictionary Day. Showing off Chadwick's painting, his take on the word "Deadline," from The Painted Word (from l.): Johanna Rupp of Book Passage, Chadwick and Cousineau.

Photo: Jo Beaton


Brooklyn's 'Indie Lit Impresarios'

"Who actually puts the 'lit' in the much-vaunted Brooklyn lit scene?" asked Brooklyn magazine in its profile of "those tireless, slightly mad individuals who love books, writing and writers so much that they open bookstores, tirelessly promote reading series and read through hundreds upon hundreds of stories, that we might all benefit."

Among the "indie lit impresarios" profiled were booksellers Jenn Northington, events manager at WORD Books, and Greenlight Bookstore co-owners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting.

Regarding Brooklyn's effect on the publishing world, Northington observed that "every city has its own specific book culture, and there's only going to be so much overlap with other regions. I will say that the intense amount of competition for attention and attendance has pushed a lot of us to try new things with events, take risks, and tweak formats in ways that we might not otherwise, and then if they're successful, those tweaks get used other places as well (since publishing and bookselling really are just one big family). But then again, I steal ideas from stores like Rainy Day Books, which is in Missouri, and the King's English, which is in Salt Lake City, so it goes both ways."

Photo: Ashley Minette/Brooklyn Magazine

Cool Idea of the Day: Ferry Tales

For its monthly Ferry Tales book group program, the Kitsap Regional Library takes to the water via the Washington State Ferries system on the trip between Seattle and Bainbridge Island. At Boing Boing, librarian Audrey Barbakoff explained that in "the direction of the commute, a group of regulars discusses one title each month; in the other, I host a drop-in, ask-a-librarian session. I love helping our community of commuters get to know each other, expand our reading horizons, and just share an incredibly enjoyable ride!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bob Woodward on Face the Nation

Tonight on 20/20: Kristen Johnston, author of Guts (Gallery, $25, 9781451635058).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Mark Kriegel, author of The Good Son (Free Press, $27, 9780743286350).


Tomorrow on CNN's Weekend: Ken Follett, author of Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy (Dutton, $36, 9780525952923).


Tomorrow on NPR's Writer's Almanac, Garrison Keillor will close by reading the poem "Things You Can't Do in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, #11" from On the Transmigration of Souls in El Paso by Bobby Byrd (Cinco Puntos, $9.95, 9780938317197).


On Sunday on Face the Nation: Bob Woodward, author of The Price of Politics (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451651102). He will also be on NBC's Chris Matthews Show.


Sunday on MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes: Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594488047).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Stephen Tobolowsky, author of The Dangerous Animals Club (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781451633153).

Movies: Hobbit Trailer; Casting Emily Dickinson

A new trailer has been released for Peter Jackson's much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in which the "merry dwarves are back along with menacing monsters and fresh footage... This one also has extra Gollum," reported. The film is set for a December 14 release, and will be followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Dec. 13, 2013; and The Hobbit: There and Back Again on July 18, 2014.


Cynthia Nixon will play poet Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion from British director Terence Davies (House of Mirth), who also wrote the screenplay for the film that "will trace Dickinson's life from precocious schoolgirl to the tortured recluse who saw only seven of her more than 1,000 poems published in her lifetime," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

"I wrote the screenplay with Cynthia in mind," Davies said. "It was the kind of dream casting you hope for. I never, for a moment, imagined my wishes would materialize. Cynthia has such a strong feeling for the work--and now she is our Emily Dickinson. I'm over the moon."

"When I read what Terence had written, I was consumed by the character he had so beautifully put on the page," Nixon observed. "Emily Dickinson's words and Terence's somehow dovetail to create a heady elixir. When I put the script down, I knew it was a story that I simply have to be part of."

Books & Authors

Awards: Edna Staebler; Roald Dahl Funny Prize

Joshua Knelman won the $10,000 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction, which recognizes a first or second published work by a Canadian author that has a Canadian setting or significance, for his book Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art, Quillblog reported.


Finalists have been named for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, which will award each winner in two categories £2,500 (US$4,054) at a ceremony in London November 6. Chair of Judges Michael Rosen observed that "it is splendiferous to see that children's books are still celebrating the art of a right old malarkey." Check out the complete Roald Dahl shortlist here.

Book Brahmin: Paul Elie

Paul Elie, for many years a senior editor with Farrar, Straus & Giroux, is now a senior fellow with Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. His first book, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, received the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in 2003. He lives in New York City. His new book, Reinventing Bach, was just published by FSG.

On your nightstand now:

Gordon Bowker's new biography of James Joyce.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone by Robin Lee Graham. It was retitled Dove for a tie-in with a TV movie.

Your top five authors:

Flannery O'Connor; John McPhee; Richard Holmes; Richard Rodriguez; and Bertrand R. Brinley, author of The Mad Scientists' Club series.

Book you've faked reading:

Joshua, Judges, Ruth and other patches of the Bible....

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Myth of Samson by David Grossman--at once a retelling and a midrashing of the Samson story by the great Israeli writer. I was going to call him "the great Israeli novelist," but he is one of the many novelists whom I admire mainly for their nonfiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Vaclav Havel's Open Letters, a 1991 Knopf hardcover with a jacket, by Chip Kidd, consisting of postage stamps featuring the dissident president's visage: the jacket captured the swiftness and definiteness of the political changes taking place in that part of the world.

Book that changed your life:

John Rockwell's All American Music.

Favorite line from a book:

"Pietas and tax evasion thus magnificently combined, Waugh set out for America on the strangest adventure of his life." It goes something like that. It's from Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years, the second volume of a two-volume biography by Martin Stannard, and it suggested how worldly and otherworldly concerns could come together in a literary biography the way they came together in the subject's life. Waugh's adventure led him to Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and other American Catholic writers, and Stannard's book led me to write a book about them, called The Life You Save May Be Your Own.

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

Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners, which I read during a college summer abroad. So much older then--younger than that now.....

Book you wish existed so that you could read it:

A group portrait of the great American Jewish writers: Singer, Malamud, Bellow, Kazin, Roth, Wallant, Michaels, Ozick....


Book Review

Review: May We Be Forgiven

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes (Viking, $27.95 hardcover, 9780670025480, September 27, 2012)

A horrific murder marks the start of May We Be Forgiven, A.M. Homes's madcap novel of family life in post-9/11 New York suburbia. Yet, despite this jarring beginning and assorted subsequent traumas, including pedophilia and medical emergencies, this novel is strangely upbeat. Narrated by Harold Silver, a history professor who finds Richard Nixon more compelling than his accomplished, lukewarm wife, May We Be Forgiven never seems to take itself too seriously, much in the way that Harold certainly never takes himself seriously.

Living in a sleepy Westchester suburb and teaching apathetic college students, Harold is plagued with fantasies he can barely admit to himself. Harold's one decisive act in an otherwise aimless existence--to allow his brother George's wife, Jane, to seduce him--leads to gruesome tragedy and the dramatic reconfiguring of his life. George ends up behind bars for murder, Harold's wife divorces him and Harold finds himself the primary guardian of George's two preteen children. Harold himself has no experience with children, feels responsible for their mother's death and is finally beginning to realize how much of his life he has lived in the shadow of his towering younger brother.

A high-flying, psychopathic TV executive, George bullied Harold throughout their childhood and manages to continue terrorizing him even from jail. Confronting the wreckage of his life, Harold comes to realize that just as understanding the history of America--in the form of Richard Nixon, one of its most provocative figures--is critical to understanding the contemporary nation, Harold's own personal history is integral to who he has become. But Harold also dares to hope that history does not have to be destiny, that there is still a chance for him to somehow emerge from George's shadow.

Before Harold can begin the task of rewriting his own history and that of his broken family, a series of bizarre adventures ensue that includes the alluring world of Internet sex, a treatment facility where George is treated like a movie star and a secret cache of short stories written by Nixon himself. Despite its serious subject matter, the dialogue in May We Be Forgiven consists of snappy comebacks reminiscent of Seinfeld and Woody Allen movies. In the Westchester of A.M. Homes, irony is the pervasive flavor--but ultimately even this is overridden by the importance of family and relationships in a time of anxiety. --Ilana Teitelbaum

Shelf Talker: A novel of suburban life in post-9/11 New York that combines deep melancholy with crackling, satirical dialogue.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Regional Bookseller Shows--There's an App for That

The thing about trade shows in our business is--no surprise--that there's always a lot of print matter stacking up in all those tote bags and backpacks. This is a good thing, of course, but adding a show catalogue to the burden may sometimes feel, if you prefer your clichés with a twist, like the book that broke the camel's back.

I used BEA's mobile app this year, but didn't expect to have the option for the regionals and was pleasantly surprised to find one available at the recent Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance show.

How did that happen?

SIBA's executive director Wanda Jewell said she had long wanted an app for the show, "but the cost and commitment everywhere I looked was too much." Then she learned about MobePlace. After exploring the possibilities, she decided to give it a try.

"Since all was still in beta, it was a bit buggy and involved several do-overs but each time I needed their support (even over Labor Day weekend) they were there with a fix, help, or updates as they were needed," Jewell noted. "Having to put the content in more than once turned out to be a good lesson, and as I added content and worked with the software I figured out work-arounds and strategies to make the app work for #SIBA12. We weren't able to announce the app until the Thursday before the trade show as we were working right up till then, but I will use it again and I will encourage my colleagues to use it. It is quite an elegant yet free solution."

Reaction among attendees was generally positive. "I applaud Wanda for encouraging SIBA stores to stay technologically up to date," said Jill Hendrix of Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C. "As with any new technology, there were some bugs with the debut appearance of the app, but I love the idea of looking at my phone calendar for trade show event times and room numbers instead of having to locate my paper program among the slew of catalogues, galleys and other ephemera one carries around at a trade show."

Curiosity induced Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., to download the MobePlace app, and she "ended up using it quite a bit. The different views were nice to have--look at meals, education, social events or everything all together in a calendar format. I was very pleasantly surprised."

Although he doesn’t consider himself a "particularly 'technological' person," Jeff McCord of Bound To Be Read Books, Atlanta, Ga., also found the app helpful: "The printed SIBA show programs this year were the best ever and I tried to carry it with me everywhere I went. But sometimes it was at the bottom of my bag, or I had left it on the bedside table, or whatever, and I could just flip on the MobePlace app and find out where I needed to be in a few seconds."

Shane Gottwals of Gottwals Books, Warner Robins, Ga., had mixed feelings: "It was useful, but I liked using my printed guide since I could circle the events I wanted to attend. Yes, it was easy to use. For an event like this, though, a printed guide was much better. That's a lot of information to pack into a small mobile app screen."

Bloggers Heather O'Roark (Book Addiction) and Sandy Nawroot (You've GOTTA Read This!) offered slightly different reactions. O'Roark "didn't use it as much as I could have because I had my program with me at all times. But I did think the app was extremely convenient and a good addition to SIBA." Nawroot, on the other hand, "used it instead of the printed itinerary for the event. It was at my fingertips in a matter of seconds. This was a very handy tool."

Nathan Halter, member relationship manager at the American Booksellers Association, praised the layout of the app as "very user-friendly and I was a bit surprised by how deep the app went, how much information they were able to include."

He also noted that "other regionals might be (and probably should be) interested in developing an app for their events. One of my first thoughts when using it was that I think it would make a lot of sense for us to develop a similar app for some of the events we host (i.e., Winter Institute); it makes attending these events much easier for the attendees."--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Wicked Son: Adam Unrehearsed by Don Futterman
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