Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 18, 2012

Del Rey Books: The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu

Jy: Enemies (Berrybrook Middle School #5) by Svetlana Chmakova

Entangled Publishing: Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël

St. Martin's Press: The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Legendary Comics YA: Enola Holmes: Mycroft's Dangerous Game by Nancy Springer, illustrated by Giorgia Sposito

Sourcebooks: Helltown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod by Casey Sherman

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 2 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Bantam: All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers


Amazon Publishing's Challenge: Retail Sales

Amazon is a successful book retailer, but "cracking the publishing business hasn't been as easy," the Wall Street Journal reported in its examination of Amazon Publishing's track record to date, citing as an example Penny Marshall's recently released and highly publicized memoir My Mother Was Nuts: "In its first four weeks on sale, it has sold just 7,000 copies in hardcover, according to Nielsen BookScan. By comparison, actor Rob Lowe's memoir, 2011's Stories I Only Tell My Friends, published by Macmillan's Henry Holt & Co., sold 54,000 hardcover copies in its first four weeks."

Conceding that celebrity memoirs are never guaranteed bestsellers, the Journal noted that an equally relevant factor "in the book's poor sales is its severely limited availability. It wasn't stocked in the 689 stores of Barnes & Noble, Walmart or Target. Some independent booksellers don't stock the title either. Nor is the digital book for sale in e-book stores operated by Sony, Apple or Google."

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books stores in southern Florida, the Cayman Islands and New York, said his bookshops will special order Amazon titles for customers, but "I don't want to be a showroom for Amazon."

B&N's boycott "has hurt Amazon's publishing efforts in other ways," according to the Journal, which said the "number of big-name books signed by Amazon Publishing New York has slowed significantly this year.... Whether the company can regain its momentum with authors depends on how it responds to the boycott."

Entangled Publishing: Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël

Riggios to Fund More Homes in New Orleans

Barnes & Noble founder and chairman Leonard Riggio and his wife, Louise, who "came all the way from New York" in 2008 to create Project Home Again, are "at it again, with 100 new homes slated for completion in the next 12-18 months," the NOLA Defender reported, adding that the nonprofit "is geared towards the redevelopment of the city's most storm torn areas, specifically Northern Gentilly."

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority is investing $1.26 million in the project, and Riggio "made a point to note that the working class families he's targeting are the backbone of the city," the NOLA Defender wrote.

"I'm a Democrat," said Riggio. "Mayor [Mitch] Landrieu is a Democrat, and he's the first one I've heard in a long time use the term 'working class.' We chose Gentilly because it was a working class community."

GLOW: Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West

China's Other Nobel Prize Winner

In today's New York Times, an op-ed piece by Larry Siems, head of PEN American Center's Freedom to Write program, and Jeffrey Yang, translator of Liu Xiaobo's poetry collection June Fourth Elegies (Graywolf), contrasts the country's celebratory response to Mo Yan's Nobel Prize in Literature win last week with the Chinese government's negative reaction to Liu's Nobel Peace Prize honor in 2010.

"In his prison cell in northeast China, where he is serving an 11-year sentence for 'inciting subversion of state power' in his writings, Mr. Liu reportedly wept at the news and asked his wife to tell the world that he was dedicating the prize to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre," they wrote.

MPIBA: Last Chance: The Great Summer Reading Guide

Where Are They?: Pete Townshend Books Stolen After Event

Police are investigating the theft of 60 autographed copies of Pete Townshend's new memoir, Who Am I, which were stolen sometime after an October 11 event at Bookends bookstore, Ridgewood, N.J., where the Who's legendary lead guitarist had met with hundreds of fans and read from his book. reported that when the store's owner "returned the following day, he found the books--all of which had been signed by Townshend--had turned up missing. No signs of forced entry were discovered, according to police."

photo: Eugene Parciasepe, Jr.


Rowling Wows NYC Crowd

J.K. Rowling's appearance at New York City's Lincoln Center Tuesday night drew "2,500 cheering fans" who "gave Rowling a standing ovation as she walked on stage," USA Today reported.

"This is like a Stones concert," quipped Ann Patchett, who interviewed the author about her novel, The Casual Vacancy. Patchett, "as a writer and bookseller," praised Rowling "for doing more for reading than anyone else in my lifetime and for single-handedly keeping an industry alive."

"No, no, no," Rowling replied. "That's way too much responsibility."

Among the highlights was Rowling's analysis of the difference between her book and E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey: "The difference is that people have sex in my book, but no one enjoys it."

On NPR's All Things Considered, Margot Adler observed: "After the interview, some questions and a reading, the audience went row by row to get their books autographed. The huge line resembled airport security--you even had to hold your ticket out, but no one was peevish. There were smiles and laughter everywhere. As people left the theater, Melissa Anelli, who runs the Harry Potter fan site the Leaky Cauldron, said she noticed something important. 'No one was asking her about Dumbledore or Ron... they wanted to know about writing for grown-ups, they wanted to know about the differences in theme, and that's nice.' This is the generation that grew up with J.K. Rowling, Anelli says. Now they're adults, and they're ready to take the next step along with her."

Photo: AP Photo/Dan Hallman


Image of the Day: Heading to Troy as the Crow Flies

Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y., recently hosted a signing of As the Crow Flies by Sheila Keenan, illustrated by Kevin Duggan (Feiwel & Friends), a picture book whose rhyming story and pastel-and-graphite illustrations were inspired by the antics and activities of crows, particularly the thousands of them that roost near this Hudson River town. Here, the author and artist with Market Block Books manager Stanley Hadsell (standing).

Photo: Corbin Allardice

Cool Idea of the Day: Authors Celebrate Chester County Books

While the future is still uncertain for Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, Pa., several Philadelphia-area authors are planning to celebrate and show support for the beloved independent via two events to which the public is invited.

"Authors Say Thank You to CCBMC" nights are scheduled for October 26 and November 23, when area writers--including Jerry & Eileen Spinelli, Beth Kephart, Jen Bryant and Lisa Scottoline--will gather at the bookstore to shop and mingle with each other and customers.

"We hope everyone who loves buying books at this wonderful bricks-and-mortar bookstores will join us," said Kathye Fetsko Petrie, one of the events' author-organizers. "It's a chance for authors to thank CCBMC for three decades of providing space for readings, and for showcasing and publicizing our work. It's a chance for readers to meet and talk with a number of authors all at once, maybe get books signed. And it's a chance for everyone via their presence and purchases, to give back to a place that has given so much to the local book-loving community."

Petrie called CCBMC "the shining epitome of all that an independent bookstore is known and loved for, including warm and knowledgeable booksellers, and well-stocked shelves where you can find titles you came for plus make exciting discoveries.... Though we are sad it might all go away, these two Friday nights are intended as happy gatherings where we toast the past together, and are optimistic about the future."

Critical Shelving 101: Bookshop Recategorizes Lance Armstrong

A bookshop in Glasgow, Scotland, has attracted attention online and in the media this week for a photo of a single copy of Lance Armstrong's memoir Every Second Counts on display and relabeled as fiction.

The seven-time Tour de France winner has been accused of masterminding a covert doping ring. Just this week he lost his Nike sponsorship and resigned from his position as chairman of Livestrong, his cancer-fighting charity.

Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports called the bookshop's move an "effective statement," adding: "Granted, one bookstore making a clever stand isn't exactly painting a scarlet A (or D, for 'dope') on Armstrong's chest. But it illustrates a greater point: Armstrong has lost the faith of a significant percentage of the public, and may not ever get it back. At the very least, he's got a huge mountain to climb."

Dog-Eared Pages Best Bookstore in Phoenix

Congratulations to Dog-Eared Pages, Phoenix, Ariz., named best bookstore by Phoenix Magazine, which wrote: "How fitting that an independent bookshop should behave like something out of author J.K. Rowling's imagination. Behind a tiny room of mainly popular fiction, Dog-Eared Pages opens up like one of Harry Potter's tents into a massive library crammed with used and rare books in every genre imaginable. The store's wizards update their online inventory hourly, so you can be certain the Patricia Cornwell novel or 1957 Don Quixote reprint you've been eyeing is still on the shelf."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kofi Annan on Fareed Zakaria, Rachel Maddow

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Henry Kellerman, author of Personality: How It Forms (Lantern Books, $25, 9781590563533).


Tomorrow on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS: Kofi Annan, author of Interventions: A Life in War and Peace (Penguin Press, $36, 9781594204203). He will also appear on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.


Tomorrow on Martha Stewart Living: Scott Hutchins, author of A Working Theory of Love (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594205057).

Movie: Alex Cross

Alex Cross, directed by Rob Cohen and starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox and Rachel Nichols, opens tomorrow. The movie is based on the novel Alex Cross by James Patterson, which has also been published as Cross (Grand Central, $14.99, 9781455523535).


This Weekend on Book TV: Salman Rushdie

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, October 20
11 a.m. Seth Rosenfeld presents his book Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power (FSG, $40, 9780374257002). (Re-airs Sunday at 3:15 p.m.)

1:15 p.m. NPR's Robert Siegel interviews Salman Rushdie, author of Joseph Anton: A Memoir (Random House, $30, 9780812992786). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 p.m.)

2:45 p.m. Kate Obenshain talks about her book Divider-in-Chief: The Fraud of Hope and Change (Regnery, $27.95, 9781621570110). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

4 p.m. At an event hosted by Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, N.C., Joseph Wheelan recounts the life of a legendary Union general in his book Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan (Da Capo, $26, 9780306820274). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 a.m.)

5 p.m. Dan Hampton discusses his book Viper Pilot: A Memoir of Air Combat (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062130358). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

7 p.m. William Chafe talks about his book Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal (FSG, $28, 9780809094653). (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

8 p.m. Alex Berezow presents his book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left (PublicAffairs, $26.99, 9781610391641), which he wrote with Hank Campbell. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

9:30 p.m. Book TV interviews author Alice Walker about her landmark book The Color Purple 30 years after its publication.

10 p.m. After Words. Tucker Carlson interviews Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men--and the Rise of Women (Riverhead , $27.95, 9781594488047). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. 1812: Nicole Eustace talks about her book War and the Passions of Patriotism (University of Pennsylvania Press, $34.95, 9780812244311). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, October 21
1:15 p.m. Aaron O'Connell discusses his book Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674058279). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Monday at 1:15 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Philip Auerswald presents his book The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780199795178).

Books & Authors

Awards: Planeta Prize

Lorenzo Silva, who has published 39 books, won Spain's extremely lucrative €601,000 (US$788,714) Planeta Prize for his crime novel La Marca del meridiano, from a series about the Guardia Civil, MobyLives reported.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 9780374214913). "Booksellers and book lovers alike will adore charming Mr. Penumbra and his towering stacks of mysterious, code-filled tomes, as well as the array of eccentric old men that make up the store's late-night clientele. I now want to keep a log of our bookshop's customers by Mr. Penumbra's criteria: 'You must keep precise records of all purchases. Time. Amount. The customer's appearance. His state of mind. How he asks for the book. How he receives it. Does he appear to be injured. Is he wearing a sprig of rosemary on his hat. And so on.' Wonderful!" --Andrea Aquino, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Black Fridays: A Novel by Michael Sears (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399158667). "This is not just an inside look at Wall Street but also a heartbreaking look at a father's unconditional love for a son afflicted by autism. Jason Stafford has paid the ultimate price for cheating as a trader on Wall Street--two years in prison. Recently released, he is determined to reclaim his life and the life of his son, but his first job may be his last as he is asked to look into the trades of a man who died in a boating accident. Or was it murder? Exceptional writing, engaging characters, and a plot both complicated and fascinating. I look forward to the sequel!" --Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, Mich.

Among the Wonderful: A Novel by Stacy Carlson (Steerforth Press, $19.95, 9781586422011). "Among the Wonderful is an historical novel rich with images of 1840s Manhattan and the exhibits--both living and preserved--that populate P.T. Barnum's American Museum. Outwardly freakish but inwardly just like you and me, the living, breathing, feeling human characters Stacy Carlson has created remind us of our common humanity." --Susan Morgan, the Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, Vt.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Helen Ward (Templar Publishing, $16.99, 9780763660987). "A classic fable from Aesop is retold and illustrated in sumptuous watercolors. Depression-era New York City is bustling and loud and frightening for a timid country cousin. The country is, of course, too tame for a mouse used to the hubbub of the city. Fortunately, each has the perfect place to live." --Ellen Richmond, Children's Book Cellar, Waterville, Maine

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Maybe the Saddest Thing: Poems

Maybe the Saddest Thing: Poems by Marcus Wicker (Harper Perennial, $13.99 paperback, 9780062191014, October 23, 2012)

African-American poetry developed a strong legacy in the 20th century, from early masters like Lucille Clifton and Yusef Komunyakaa on to Terrance Hayes and Natasha Trethewey. Marcus Wicker is part of the newest generation of poets in this tradition; his debut collection, Maybe the Saddest Thing, was published as part of the prestigious National Poetry Series. The apt description of the collection by D.A. Powell, the selecting judge, echoes the poems themselves: "Flashing and dipping. Sampling and riffing," Powell writes. "Action painting meets the pop of hip-hop. Here is a dashing figure of speech and preach, a lovepoet to the stars... lyric wizardry astound the ears."

Riff, pop, hip-hop, preach, lyric: Wicker's is a new poetry for the 21st century. A glance at the titles reveals some of the key figures who are part of his world and his poetry: Richard Pryor, Pam Grier, Bruce Leroy, Dave Chappelle, J-Live. RuPaul is "fierce / in the way only a 6'7" black drag queen could be." At times, he addresses these icons directly: "[You] were not Public Enemy's sidekick," he tells Flavor Flav. "You hosed down whole crowds / in loudmouth flame-retardant spit." Bruce Leroy, however, receives a less favorable assessment: "You every-single-syllable-articulating, left-his-mojo-in-the-dojo,/ proper-posture-having, overzealous, no-break-dancing chump."

Wicker's poetry grabs onto the world around him and reels it in, from pop culture and music--jazz, hip-hop, rap--to harsher realities of drugs and burning meth labs ("even a white, grinning moon/ finds its cheekbones eliminated here"), the violence, the sadness, the sex ("wearing black leather,/ walked-in pumps, tackling her man/ by his leg with her tongue")--and the harsh poets of the streets. His singing poetry recalls the rhythms of Vachel Lindsay, always zeroing in on the language, the words, the phrasing and the beat beat beat.

Maybe the Saddest Things oozes with the poet's love of language and life, all kinds of life. Amidst the sadness are love poems ("Because your mouth/ is the nectar & squish of a peach. Because your lips are the color/ of a flowering quince") and even an aubade: "Could I call this poem an aubade if I wrapped it/ in fragrant tissue paper?" Wicker writes. "Yes. I meant to say/ Write it. And please, don't stop." --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: Check out Wicker and see what's happening with new Black poetry, dripping with hip-hop, with rap, with raw power and love and sadness.


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