Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 29, 2013

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft


Literary Benefit for One Fund Boston

The Boston literary community is holding a reading this Thursday, May 2, at 6 p.m., at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., Boston, to support those most affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. Among those reading are Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate; Sue Miller, author of While I Was Gone and The Lake Shore Limited; Fanny Howe, poet, fiction writer and essayist; author and AGNI editor Sven Birkerts; and poet Jill McDonough. Others will be named later.

A donation of $10 is suggested, and all proceeds will go to One Fund Boston. The organizers' fundraising goal is $5,000.

This reading is sponsored by Boston Review, AGNI, Ploughshares, Grub Street, BU Center for the Humanities and College of General Studies, the Woodberry Poetry Room, Consequence Magazine, the Mass Cultural Council, Suffolk University Poetry Center, the Academy of American Poets, the ALSCW, the Mass Poetry Festival, Harvard Bookstore, Black Ocean, Aforementioned Productions, the National Writers Union and the Boston Poetry Union.

Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny

Rowman & Littlefield Acquires Down East Books

Rowman & Littlefield has purchased Down East Books, formerly a subsidiary of Down East Enterprise. Down East Books will keep its Rockport offices, as well as editor Michael Steere and two sales representatives. The purchase involves Down East Books, Shooting Sportsman Press, Fly Rod & Reel Books and Countrysport Press but does not include Down East Magazine.

"We've been thinking about [this sale] since the beginning of the year," Bob Fernald, CEO of Down East Enterprise, told the Bangor Daily News. "We had a very good year in 2012... but when we looked at it, we knew that in order to grow the business we either needed a lot more money, or we needed to find someone else who did.... It's a difficult time to be a small publisher. You can either do a few books of uncompromising quality--which is the route we took--or you can publish lots of inexpensive, low-quality books and keep overhead down. That's not something we wanted to do, so selling to Rowman & Littlefield was the answer... we look forward to a long relationship."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Keeping Venice's Booksellers Above Water

photo: Gabrio Pojana

A group of 100 authors has drawn up a "manifesto" to help save the bookshops of Venice, Italy, calling on the Venice Biennale "for their help in mobilizing intelligence and artistic talent worldwide to invent new forms of support for local bookselling" in order to save the city's bookshops from extinction, the Bookseller reported.

As part of the Venice, City of Readers campaign, organizers created a map showing the "living, dying and dead bookshops in Venice" to accompany the manifesto that asks Italian Members of Parliament to "recognize quality bookshops and support for independent bookshops in particular."

"This isn't just literary breast-beating and hand-wringing but a list of very practical requests and suggestions targeted at specific institutions that are in a position to make an actual difference," said British author Michelle Lovric. "And shame on those institutions if they don't respond!"

Barefoot Books: Save 10%

Obituary Note: Bryan Pearce

Bryan Pearce, longtime CEO of the University Book Store, Seattle, Wash., died on April 20 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 55.

He began working at University Book Store in 1990 and became CEO in 2002, a position he resigned from in February because of his illness.

Louise Little, his successor as CEO and previously director of human resources, said, "Bryan lived this last year with an incredible amount of focus and determination, not to mention courage. He was a teacher, mentor, friend, and colleague who inspired those of us who worked with him to be the best that we could be. To say he will be missed does not come close to describing the extreme sense of loss we are feeling."

Jill McKinstry, director of the university's Odegaard Undergraduate Library and a University Book Store trustee, told the Daily that "doing what was best for students was Bryan's passion. For a leader... compassionate in running a very large operation with nine stores, he always asked the questions... 'How does this affect students?' "

Pearce served on the boards of several associations, including the Independent College Bookstore Association.

Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug


Image of the Day: Publishing Triangle Winners

Photo: Seth Bookey

Author/historian John D'Emilio, winner of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement at Thursday's Triangle Awards (l.), with Publishing Triangle treasurer Trent Duffy. In his acceptance, D'Emilio spoke of students in his LGBT history classes as being surprisingly "for the most part neither L, G, B or T. I want them to become missionaries for our history." Other Publishing Triangle award winners, including NEA literature director Ira Silverberg (Leadership Award), can be found at

Author-Bookseller-Entrepreneur Ann Patchett

Author-bookseller Ann Patchett was called a prime example of entrepreneurs who "don't take no for an answer," in a Wall Street Journal article about how entrepreneurs' ideas often run counter to accepted general wisdom.

"Sometimes, though, entrepreneurs know something that the critics don't," the paper wrote. "It's more than just a gut instinct. They grasp some fundamental aspect of the situation that others don't--a nuance of the market, for instance, or what makes potential customers tick. And sometimes that insight pays off big-time."

Patchett recalled that when she considered opening a bookstore in Nashville, Tenn.--which became Parnassus Books--people said "opening a bookstore was the stupidest thing you could do. You might as well be selling eight-track tapes. It's dead; it's over."

Patchett's twist was keeping Parnassus much smaller than the two large, profitable bookstores in Nashville that had closed.

Now the store is "thriving," the Journal wrote. "Ms. Patchett's partner in the venture, Karen Hayes, says it has exceeded their sales projections every month they've been open."

Cool Idea of the Day: Books for Commuters

In a new program, Next Stop Coffee Shop, Glen Ellyn, Ill., has partnered with two stores, the Bookstore and Bundles of Books & Gifts, "to make it easier for commuters to have something to read during their daily rides," reported.

On the coffee shop's website, train riders can fill out a request to purchase a book--from either partner--or to rent a book from Bundles of Books & Gifts, and pick up the book at Next Stop.

Sue Little and Jabberwocky Bookshop Honored

Congratulations to Sue Little, owner and founder of Jabberwocky Bookshop, Newburyport, Mass., who was honored over the weekend at the Newburyport Literary Festival. The Festival cited "her dedication to local readers and her many contributions to the Newburyport community."

Little founded Jabberwocky in 1972, when she had to go into Boston regularly to fill her reading habit. She told WickedLocalNewburyport: "There's always going to be writing, there's always going to be creative storytelling. Since the dawn of time, we've had storytelling. We were telling stories in caves. It's how human beings make sense of the world. I believe this fervently. That's the importance of literature. It's a part of us. It's who we are. And I don't think that's going to change any time soon."

She added that the ultimate form of creative storytelling is "up for grabs. I think we're going to have to revisit that. And our ability to reward creative people who make these stories that help us make sense of the world, that, too, I'm a little unsure of. That's the importance of the bookstore, that's the importance of literature. That's why I got into it in the first place."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nathaniel Philbrick on Fresh Air

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Fred Stoller, author of Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star (Skyhorse, $24.95, 9781620877067).


This morning on Fox & Friends: Kim Wong Keltner, author of Tiger Babies Strike Back: How I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom but Could Not Be Turned to the Dark Side (Morrow, $13.99, 9780062229298).


Today on the View: Sherri Shepherd, author of Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even If You Don't Have It) (It, $25.99, 9780062226242). She'll also be on Good Morning America tomorrow.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: William Friedkin, author of The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir (Harper, $29.99, 9780061775123).


Today on Fox's Kilmeade & Friends: David Rohde, author of Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East (Viking, $27.95, 9780670026449).


Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Mark Geragos, co-author of Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works... and Sometimes Doesn't (Gotham, $27, 9781592407729).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Carol Burnett, author of Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476706412).


Today on Anderson Live: Crystal McVea, co-author of Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again (Howard, $15.99, 9781476711874).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Marc Maron, author of Attempting Normal (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780812992878).


Tomorrow on the Joan Hamburg Show: Lidia Bastianich, author of Lidia's Family Kitchen: Nonna's Birthday Surprise (Running Press Kids, $16.95, 9780762446551).


Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Alejandro Junger, author of Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062075864.

Also on Dr. Oz: Mark Bittman, author of VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health... for Good (Clarkson Potter, $26, 9780385344746).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution (Viking, $32.95, 9780670025442).

Movies: As I Lay Dying Pic

The first image has been released from James Franco's film adaptation of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, staring Franco, Jim Parrack, Danny McBride, Ahna O'Reilly, Logan Marshall-Green and Tim Blake Nelson. "No distribution yet, but As I Lay Dying is one of the more interesting wildcards at Cannes," Indiewire noted. "Another Franco lark or a step up for the filmmaker? We'll soon find out."

Books & Authors

Awards: South Asia Children's and YA Lit

Winners of the 2013 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, presented annually by the South Asia National Outreach Consortium "for up to two outstanding works of literature, from early childhood to secondary reading levels, which accurately and skillfully portrays South Asia or South Asians in the diasporas," are The Rumor by Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Kanyika Kini (Grades Pre-K-4) and Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely Through a Never-Ending War by Deborah Ellis (Grades 5–12). The winners will receive their prizes at a ceremony in Madison, Wis., on October 19.

AAUP's Books for Understanding: Chechnya

Because of the general public's interest in the Chechen roots of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, the latest Books for Understanding bibliography from the Association of American University Presses aims to provide a "critical understanding of the history and culture of the Caucasus region and on the recent Chechen wars." With 26 titles from 11 university presses, the Chechnya bibliography includes:

  • A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya by Anna Politkovskaya (University of Chicago Press)
  • The Geography of Ethnic Violence: Identity, Interests, and the Indivisibility of Territory by Monica Duffy Toft (Princeton University Press)
  • The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus by Bruce Grant (Cornell University Press)

Book Review

Review: The House at Belle Fontaine

The House at Belle Fontaine by Lily Tuck (Atlantic Monthly Press, $23 hardcover, 9780802120168, April 2013)

The men in Lily Tuck's new collection of stories, The House at Belle Fontaine, don't come off well. They drink too much, sleep with younger women, ignore their children and abuse their domestic help--but, mercifully for their wives, they also often die young in car wrecks, wars or suicides.

The women in these stories, on the other hand, are largely self-aware, adventurous and stoic. They don't dwell on their own disappointing behavior or impulses, but, like the university student seduced and impregnated by her Greek professor in "Sure and Gentle Words" (a reference to both Hesiod and the professor's seduction technique), they take some pride in themselves "not merely as a wife and mother... but as someone with a past, someone who had had an adventure."

Tuck's fiction, including the 2004 National Book Award winner The News from Paraguay, is filled with strong worldly women who travel or live wherever they want--whether their men join them or not. Her work is always elegantly concise, capturing intimacies and emotions with just a few words of description and telling dialogue. In a typically revealing exchange in "St. Guilhem-Le-Désert," Anne and Nina, two former college classmates share a week at Nina's small French cottage. Nina asks about Anne's marriage:

" 'Is there someone else?'
"Anne shakes her head. 'Sometimes I wish there was.... It's just so trivial and predictable. And I guess it always boils down to the same thing--sex, which in our case is nearly nonexistent.... But I want more and I want it to be different.'
" 'Different is not necessarily better,' Nina says."

In the same way that unsatisfactory sex and marriage dominate the stories of The House at Belle Fontaine, random fatal disease and accident destabilize the characters' relationships. The stories take place across the globe, but their settings don't change Tuck's fundamental focus on the vicissitudes of relationships between men and women--and in this she is a master. If her women usually come out on top, perhaps it's because they have figured it out better than men. As she notes in the story "Lucky," concerning one character and her former art teacher and ex-husband, "She had surprised herself and learned a lot from Alec. If only, she thinks, she had not married him." --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Lily Tuck's new story collection continues her wise exploration of romantic relationships where the women are usually far stronger than the men.

Deeper Understanding

Maria's Bookshop Bestsellers--And Why

"It really does encapsulate the spirit of our community," said Libby Cowles, community relations manager of Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colo., as she reflected on the store's list of bestsellers for the week ended April 20. "You see adventure stories, great fiction, some nonfiction mixed in and some humor as well. It's a good snapshot of Durango."

Atop the list is Making Mavericks: The Memoir of a Surfing Legend, which tells the life story of Richard "Frosty" Hesson, one of the first surfers to ride the massive waves known as "mavericks." The book serves as a companion of sorts to the film Chasing Mavericks, starring Gerard Butler. Last week, Hesson visited the store for a packed, SRO event.

"Frosty started 20 minutes early and stayed until closing," Cowles recalled. "He said the only thing missing in Durango was the ocean. It was a really fun community event; we hope to bring him back again sometime."

Jonathan Evison's new book, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, was the store's fourth-bestselling book in advance of an appearance on April 22. The event was held at a local brew pub called Ska Brewing Company World Headquarters, where Evison was in conversation with Ted Holteen, an editor at the Durango Herald, and Bryant Liggett, the manager of local radio station KDUR. Beyond the buzz created by a large, much-anticipated event, Cowles and other staff members have given The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving a strong push. Said Cowles: "Half of our staff has read it, and are really behind it."

One of two books from local authors is Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche by Bill Plotkin, founder of the Animas Valley Institute, a Durango nonprofit organization that specializes in wilderness- and nature-focused spiritual programs. The book is Plotkin's third, and he will come to the store in early May. "He's got something of a local following," Cowles explained. "But the book is also doing pretty well nationally."

The guidebook The Best Durango Hikes, edited by a writer from the Durango Herald, is another local favorite and longstanding bestseller. "It's on the list most weeks of the year," Cowles commented.

Cheryl Strayed's bestselling memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail has also been a consistent performer. "It's huge all over the country, but there's something in that book that really speaks to our community," said Cowles. "We're a community of hikers; it goes beyond just the national push."

The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin's debut novel about an orchard caretaker's decision to shelter two young women who have fled from life in a brothel, has also performed well over time. Maria's Bookshop caters to nearly 100 local reading groups, and The Orchardist has been a popular pick with those groups.

At number seven on the list is M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans, which tells the story of a married couple who live an isolated existence as lighthouse keepers off western Australia. The novel has also been supported by Durango's local reading groups. Cowles explained: "Our biggest customer base consists of strong readers who like literary fiction."

Dan Schultz's nonfiction book Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West, is at number three on the list. Although Schultz is not a local author, the book has a local connection, recounting the search through the Colorado and Utah wilderness for three men who killed a Cortez, Colo., police officer in 1998. "Folks remember when it happened," said Cowles. "They still have questions about it."

"Every week there's some kind of 'wild card' on the list," Cowles said, and last week it was The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Cowles figures that both World Book Night, for which The House on Mango Street was one of the selections, and an order placed by a local school factored into it being number two on the bestseller list. "For a couple weeks now we've had a display in the front of the store with World Book Night books. People have always heard about it, now they're picking it up."

Rounding out the list is Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Kitty) by Jeremy Greenberg. "We do really well with bad kitty or bad dog books," said Cowles, laughing. "There's usually an impulse-buy humor book on the list. For the last few weeks it was T-Rex Trying, now it's this.

"We keep them on our front counter, and they do really well, with our staff always giggling at them." --Alex Mutter

The Maria's Bookshop Bestsellers:


  1. Making Mavericks: The Memoir of a Surfing Legend by Frosty Hesson (Skyhorse Publishing, 9781620878750)
  2. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage, 9780679734772)
  3. Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West by Dan Schultz (St. Martin's Press, 9780312681883)
  4. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin, 9781616203153)
  5. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Vintage, 9780307476074)
  6. Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche by Bill Plotkin (New World Library, 9781608681785)
  7. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Scribner, 9781451681758)
  8. The Best Durango Hikes by the San Juan Group of the Colorado Mountain Club, with Jeff Eisele (Colorado Mountain Club Press, 9780984221356)
  9. The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Harper Perennial, 9780062188519)
  10. Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed: (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Kitty) by Jeremy Greenberg (Andrews McMeel, 9781449427047)

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