Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 28, 2012

Atheneum Books: Bulldozer's Christmas Dig by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster

Other Press: Lemon by Yeo-Sun Kwon, translated by Janet Hong

Ballantine Books: The Maid by Nita Prose

Quotation of the Day

Bookstore 'Has to Grab You, then Settle into a Comfortable Place'

"A good bookstore is a lot like the products it sells: It has to grab you, then settle into a comfortable place, all the while building upon itself, opening up new aspects and ideas with each chapter until you're ultimately hooked. It has to envelope you in a world you can get lost in and can't wait to get back to once you've left so you can find out what happens next."

--The Boise Weekly, from its description of the Rediscovered Bookshop, which was the readers' choice for Best Local Bookstore for the fifth straight year.


House of Anansi Press: Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling by Esi Edugyan


Sign of the Times: E-Book Recall/'Reprint'

An announcement, in its entirety, made yesterday by Little, Brown:

"Yesterday the eBook file for The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling was released to all U.S. eBook retailers. There were issues with that file, including the adjustability of font color and size and adjustability of margins. As soon as Hachette was made aware of these issues, a replacement file was uploaded to all eBook retailers. Hachette has requested that each retailer contact their customers directly about reloading their eBook. Any consumer who purchased the eBook on Thursday, September 27, before approximately 3:00pm ET, who has not heard from their retailer, should contact them and request that their eBook be reloaded. No consumer should have to repurchase the eBook."


GLOW: Clarion Books: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Kelly Gallagher Joining Ingram from Bowker

Ingram Content Group has made two appointments, both effective October 8:

Kelly Gallagher is joining the company as v-p of content acquisition and will head selling and business development for POD and digital distribution products. He is currently v-p of publishing services at R.R. Bowker.

Pep Carrera is joining the company as chief information officer. He was formerly chief technology officer at RAPP, a marketing services provider.

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

Google Launches Nexus 7 & Digital Content in Japan

Google has made its Nexus 7 tablet available online for 19,800 yen (US$250) to the Japanese market, along with local language movies and e-books. Reuters reported that Japan "has rapidly embraced the smartphone, with devices running Google's Android operating system tripling in the past year, according to Google. Google said that Japan now ranks third in terms of downloaded applications from its Play store." The Nexus 7 will be available in retail stores October 2.

Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani

Natan Book Award Founded for Nonfiction

On its 10th anniversary, the Natan Fund, which "inspires young philanthropists to actively engage in Jewish giving by funding innovative projects that are shaping the Jewish future," is creating the Natan Book Award, to support "the writing, marketing and publicity of a new nonfiction book on Jewish themes."

The Book Award offers up to $50,000 in two stages. The first provides up to $15,000 to an author to support the writing process. The second provides up to the total of the remaining funds to "craft a customized digital and in-person marketing and publicity strategy for the book at the time of its publication. The second stage will leverage Natan's networks across the Jewish, nonprofit, and philanthropic communities."

The Natan Book Award Committee will be chaired by Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for the Atlantic and author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, and Franklin Foer, editor-at-large for the New Republic and author of the forthcoming Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame. Committee members include Simon Lipskar, president of Writers House; Matthew Hiltzik, president and CEO of Hiltzik Strategies; Tali Rosenblatt-Cohen, a freelance writer and former literary agent; and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Artemesia Publishing, LLC: The Last Professional by Ed Davis, illustrated by Colin Elgie

Pinocchio's Children's Bookstore to Close

Pinocchio's: The Children's Bookplace, Memphis, Tenn., will close this fall. Co-owners Judy Korones and Miriam Epstein announced their retirement "after 35 wonderfully satisfying years" on the bookstore's Facebook page Tuesday.

They had considered selling the store "and are still open to offers, but haven't received much interest," the Commercial Appeal reported.  

"We're ready to let it go, we are," said Korones. "But there's tears and sadness.... There's no question that business has slowed. We feel the effects of Amazon. That was coupled with our ages and our husbands' ages. We have family responsibilities.... But 35 years, that's enough. I really think it's time."

Sterling: Dracula: Deluxe Edition by Bram Stoker, illustrated by Edward Gorey


Sue Woodman, Mimi Henderson Join Island Books

Sue Woodman and Mimi Henderson have joined Island Books, which opened its second store, in Newport, R.I., on September 1.

Woodman is the former owner of A Novel Idea in Bristol, R.I., and currently runs the Naval War College bookstore in Newport. She will work at Island Books mid-week in the afternoons and on Saturdays.

Henderson worked at Island Books' other location, at Wyatt Square in Middletown, for many years and helped during the holidays the last few years. She will work at both Island Books locations.

In the store's newsletter, owner Judy Crosby wrote that at the new store, "Business has been excellent, the neighbors incredibly welcoming and the area merchants so very helpful. We're still filling the shelves with the latest and greatest books for your perusal, and ordering cards, gifts and toys to fill the nooks and crannies. The space is warm and inviting and the books interesting so we hope you'll stop by and have a look for yourself!"

Island Books' new store is located at 135 Spring St., Newport, R.I. 02840; 401-619-5881.

Acorn Books: Launching a Better Business Plan

In Bookselling This Week, Ginny Jewell and Marie Shane, co-owners of the recently opened Acorn Books, Dover, Del., traced the step-by-step process through which they were able to create a sound business plan and obtain financial backing before launching their new business.

The roles of the YWCA's Women's Entrepreneurship Division and SCORE--community resources funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration--and the Dover Federal Credit Union in the process were detailed, along with the Delaware Economic Development Office, which committed to a participatory loan.

"I'll be honest, the loan amount was not that big, but the fact that it was federal money made a huge difference in our opening," said Jewell. "DEDO handled the ribbon cutting and the guest list for the cutting. Since it was federal monies, we invited the federal delegation. The governor spoke, two senators spoke, and so many people showed up.  It was a huge success! Plus, we were on the cover of the paper six times during this process."

Acorn continues to work with SCORE, YWCA, and DFCU on different aspects of their business. "The old adage is true; it takes money to make money," Jewell noted, adding that the key is the people behind the organizations who believe in a business. "Nothing could replace the main thing that got people on board: our passion for our industry, our amazing staff and our devotion to literacy."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ahnold on 60 Minutes

Today on NPR's Morning Edition: Gillian Cross, author of The Odyssey (Candlewick Press, $19.99, 9780763647919) along with illustrator Neil Packer and Candlewick publisher Karen Lotz.


This morning on the Today Show: Len Berman, author of The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $19.99, 9781402272264).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Sheila Bair, author of Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself (Free Press, $26.99, 9781451672480). She will also appear on MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes.


Tomorrow on Fox's Huckabee: Anthony Robles, co-author of Unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion (Gotham, $25, 9781592407774).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416599074).

Also on Weekend Edition: Christopher Bonanos, author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95, 9781616890858).


Tomorrow on NPR's Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me: Tim Gunn, co-author of Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet (Gallery, $28, 9781451643855).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Susan Isaacs, author of Goldberg Variations: A Novel (Scribner, $26, 9781451605914).


Sunday on Face the Nation: Bob Woodward, author of The Price of Politics (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451651102). He will also on CNBC's Wall Street Journal Report.


Sunday on 60 Minutes: Arnold Schwarzenegger, author of Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781451662436). He will also be on CBS's NFL Today.

On Stage: Stephen King's Misery

William Goldman, who wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film version of Stephen King's Misery, has written a new theatrical adaptation of the novel for Warner Bros. Theater Ventures. The production "is gearing up for its first public showcase, skedding a brief 11-perf run at the Bucks County Playhouse, the newly revitalized regional theater in New Hope, Pa.," Variety reported.

Although the brief run is being called a "limited developmental engagement" rather than a pre-Broadway tryout, Variety suggested that "a future life for the stage title seems certain should the preem prove a success."

Books & Authors

Awards: Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets announced this year's winners of its annual poetry prizes. The recipients will be honored October 19 during the Poets Forum at the New School in New York City. This year's award winners are:

Gary Snyder won $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes "outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry."
Brenda Hillman received the $25,000 Academy of American poets fellowship, which honors "distinguished poetic achievement."
David Wojahn's World Tree (University of Pittsburgh Press) won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for "the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year."
Catherine Barnett’s The Game of Boxes (Graywolf) won the $5,000 James Laughlin Award, which is given for a second book of poetry published in the U.S.

5 Under 35

The National Book Foundation has announced the 2012 "5 Under 35" honorees, recognizing five young fiction writers, as chosen by previous National Book Award winners and finalists:

Jennifer duBois, A Partial History of Lost Causes (Dial Press, 2012). Selected by Andrew Krivak, fiction finalist for The Sojourn, 2011

Stuart Nadler, The Book of Life (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, 2011). Selected by Edith Pearlman, fiction finalist for Binocular Vision, 2011

Haley Tanner, Vaclav & Lena (Dial Press, 2012). Selected by Téa Obreht, fiction finalist for The Tiger's Wife, 2011, and 5 Under 35 honoree, 2010

Justin Torres, We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011). Selected by Jessica Hagedorn, fiction finalist for Dogeaters, 1990

Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn (Riverhead, 2012). Selected by Julie Otsuka, fiction finalist for The Buddha in the Attic, 2011

They will be honored on Monday, November 12--at the start of National Book Awards Week--during a celebration at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, hosted by musician Neko Case, with poet and photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis as DJ.

Book Brahmin: Robert C. Sibley

Robert C. Sibley is a senior writer with the Ottawa Citizen and an adjunct professor of political science at Carleton University, where he lectures on modern political theory. He is the author of A Rumour of God: Rekindling Belief in an Age of Disenchantment. His new book, The Way of the Stars: Journeys Along the Camino de Santiago, was just published by the University of Virginia Press.

On your nightstand now:

I read several books at a time, picking up one or the other depending on the mood. Currently, I have four books on the go: re-reading Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending; George Painter's Marcel Proust: A Biography; and David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan of the Apes.

Your top five authors:

John Fowles, Philip Larkin, Virginia Woolf, John Updike and W.G. Sebald.

Book you've faked reading:

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene.

Book you're an evangelist for:

James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime. Salter's writing is pristine, offering an understated appreciation of life's epiphanic moments.

Book you've bought borrowed for the cover:

William Golding's Lord of the Flies. I remember as a boy visiting the local library and seeing the cover with the blood-dripping pig's head on a pole. Just had to read the book.

Book that changed your life:

The Magus by John Fowles. This is a dangerous book for a 16-year-old to read. The notion of taking part in a "god game" haunted me for years.

Favorite lines from a book:

We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
--T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding," The Four Quartets

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

Ulysses by James Joyce. Just can't seem to finish this book.

Book you read repeatedly:

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. I return to this book every two or three years. For some reason, it always makes me laugh.

Writers you especially admire for their writing:

Andre Aciman, a marvelous travel writer able to capture the emotional paradoxes of travel; James Salter, a master at evoking human emotion in only a few words; Ernest Hemingway, who is simply the best at making the reader feel the concrete world he describes; and last but not least, the poet Philip Larkin who has an amazing ability to create images in the reader's mind that come as close as words allow to conveying the emotion or idea the poet wishes to express.


Book Review

Review: Between Two Fires

Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman (Ace, $25.95 hardcover, 9781937007867, October 2, 2012)

Fans of Christopher Buehlman's first novel, Those Across the River, who were hoping for another chilling horror story will be caught off guard--and then likely delighted--by his followup, Between Two Fires.

France, 1348: A former knight, his land and family taken from him after he had the misfortune to be on the wrong side at the battle of Crécy, wanders with a pack of brigands across a countryside decimated by plague, where the ranks of the dead grow so quickly they are left to rot where they fall. When they come across one nearly adolescent girl still alive, Thomas feels compelled to save her from his colleagues, but his mood promptly sours when she insists on accompanying him. He doesn't even want to know her name; as she correctly guesses, that would just lead to having feelings for her.  So he's even less thrilled once she tells him the dream she's had: "I have to go to Avignon. I'm not sure why. I have something I have to do. And you have to make sure I get there safely."

If you know your medieval history, you'll recognize the significance of their destination: Avignon was the home to a string of 14th-century popes, and the real-life pontiff Clement VI will eventually play a key role in Buehlman's drama. Long before we get to that point, however, the story has become increasingly dark and downright phantasmagoric. This comes as no surprise: From his opening lines, Buehlman suggests the Black Death, among other contemporaneous crises, is the devil's work. "It was the hour of the fallen angel," he warns. "And God had stopped the fountain of His love." Or so it must seem to those living through this terrible time....

And yet, while demonic forces throw one horrific obstacle after another at the unlikely partners--now accompanied by an alcoholic priest facing a severe crisis of conscience--Buehlman maintains a firm focus on Thomas and his inner turmoil. He's a classic anti-hero, in that his cynicism is intensified by the knowledge that good has existed in the world but is denied him, and his gruff (and profanity-laced) banter with the girl, and later with Père Matthieu, is easily recognized as a shield to protect his most intimate wounds. Though Buehlman sorely tests him along the way, we never doubt Thomas will rise to the occasion as the girl's holy mission becomes clearer.

By combining modern horror dynamics with a convincing medieval setting, Christopher Buehlman secures his status among today's leading dark fantasy authors. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Beuhlman's second novel starts out as a medieval variant of True Grit, but gradually transforms into a horror story with welcome echoes of early Stephen King.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Bookmakers & Book Makers

Maybe it's because I live in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. As Edna Ferber wrote in Saratoga Trunk, her novel set in the late 19th century, "July and August there's nothing like it in the whole country. Races every day, gambling, millionaires and pickpockets and sporting people and respectable family folks and politicians and famous theater actors and actresses, you'll find them all at Saratoga."

Maybe it's because Yaddo, the legendary colony for writers and artists, is located about two furlongs east of the top of the stretch at Saratoga Race Course; or maybe it's because of something author Curtis Sittenfeld said a few years ago in the New York Times, recalling an editor who told her: "People think publishing is a business, but it's a casino."

Whatever the reason, gambling and literature have long been interconnected for me, and this is the season--shortly after summer's thoroughbred horse races and just before publishing's thoroughbred literary prizes--when I tend to think about betting lines and their relationship to the world of books.

I frequently check in with British bookmaker Ladbrokes for the latest Man Booker Prize and Nobel Prize in Literature odds. Just can't help myself; probably my English heritage sparking an instinctive punter's urge to handicap literature. And, of course, I work daily in one of the most odds-against industries imaginable. Publish a new book in this market? Who'd take that wager? Yet there we all are at the betting windows again and again, season after season, looking for a winner.

In England, bookmakers and book makers often share newspaper space. Just before the Booker shortlist was announced, a Guardian headline proclaimed: "Booker prize: Hilary Mantel is bookies' top tip for shortlist." Earlier this week, in an article covering the shortlist for the Royal Society Winton Prize, the Bookseller routinely added: "William Hill has already called on The Better Angels of Our Nature as the most likely winner, with odds of 2-1."

And thus to the question of the day: What are the current odds? As of this morning at Ladbrokes:

Man Booker Prize
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (9-4)
Umbrella by Will Self (11-4)
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (5-1)
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (5-1)
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (6-1)
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (8-1)

Nobel Prize in Literature
Haruki Murakami (5-1)
Bob Dylan (10-1)
Mo Yan (12-1)
Cees Nooteboom (12-1)
Ismail Kadare (14-1)
Adonis (14-1)
Ko Un (14-1)
Assia Djebar (14-1)

In what seems to be an annual rite, a "flurry of hefty bets" on Dylan for the Nobel was noted by the Guardian, which predicted that a hard rain's a-gonna fall (sorry, couldn't resist) on his chances, since "experts consider his real prospects vanishingly small." Alex Donohue, a spokesman for Ladbrokes, quipped: "We're happy to 'fill the satchel' in bookmaking terms as we expect the Dylan backers to part with their cash again this year."

As horseplayers say, "I wouldn't bet that with your money."

What bookies fear most is big money backing a surprise prohibitive favorite that goes on to win. This happened in 2009 for Wolf Hall, when a "rush of bets" in a 48-hour period after the Booker longlist had been announced slashed Mantel's odds from 12-1 to 2-1.

"Odds on book prizes are not a particularly sophisticated science," the Guardian noted at the time. "The bookies will generally work on a pretty simple basis--they'll chuck the shortest odds on the writers who are most famous, and work from there." The Mantel betting frenzy was "just a case of bookish betters taking advantage of the advantageous odds put on Mantel by a relatively unbookish bookie."

This year, however, "all of the momentum is with Mantel and punters are confident in her bid for the first ever repeat win," said Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes. "She cost us dearly in 2009 with Wolf Hall and this year looks set to be no different."

In Croupier, one of the best movies ever made about gambling and writing, aspiring novelist and casino croupier Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) says, "Gambling's not about money... Gambling's about not facing reality, ignoring the odds."

If I could walk up to a betting window for well-read gamblers right now, I'd buck the odds and wager on Alison Moore to win the Booker and Mo Yan the Nobel. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to place your literary bets.--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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