Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 2, 2015

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley

Quotation of the Day

Nick Offerman Ready for A Confederacy of Dunces

"I am simply tumescent at the prospect of assaying the beloved character of Ignatius J. Reilly with our team of magnificent and weird artistic champions. It seems only fitting that I should follow seven seasons of Ron Swanson's beef with the pudding of Toole's corpulent fop."

--Nick Offerman on playing the lead in a stage adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, as quoted by the New York Times.

Blackstone Publishing: What Remains by Wendy Walker


New Owners for Vermont's Bennington Bookshop

Effective today, the Bennington Bookshop, Bennington, Vt., is under new ownership. Linda Foulsham and Phil Lewis, who moved from North Carolina, succeeded longtime owners Rick and Ellen Havlak, who posted on the store's Facebook page: "In the past 35 years we have grown from the little hole-in-the-wall at 414 Main Street in 1979 to our beautiful space at 467 Main Street--the place we have called home for the last 20 years.

"The Bennington Bookshop is the oldest independent bookstore in Vermont, so we are pleased to see that our business will survive and hopefully thrive into the next decade and beyond."

An open house will take place on Friday to give customers the opportunity to meet the new owners.

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, Kans., Expanding

Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, Kans., is expanding: the back of the current space is becoming a cafe area, while a classroom and event/meeting area next door will be accessible "through a doorway to the back portion of the adjacent building," the Hutchinson News reported. Construction began last month. Owner Melanie Green anticipates completing  the project by late spring or early summer.

"I've always wanted to offer a café... it just makes a lot of sense," said Green, who opened the bookstore in 2013. "I know there's a demand for it. Now they have another reason to come to a great bookstore."

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Portland's A Children's Place Relocates

After 15 years at 48th & Fremont in Portland, Ore., A Children's Place bookstore opened last week at its new location on 1423 N.E. Fremont St., in a shopping plaza anchored by Whole Foods Market, the Oregonian reported.

Owner Pam Erlandson said that while the store has a smaller footprint, "everything will be the same.... I have wonderful dedicated customers... and we're excited to meet new people."

A grand re-opening celebration has been scheduled for March 14.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

Obituary Note: Leonard Nimoy

As most of the universe knows by now, Leonard Nimoy, best known for playing Mr. Spock on Star Trek, died on Friday. He was 83. Happily, he lived long and prospered.

A man of many talents and interests beyond the role that defined him to the public, Nimoy wrote two memoirs: I Am Not Spock, which appeared in 1977, followed by I Am Spock (1995). He also published several volumes of poetry that were illustrated with photographs he took. A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passage of Life was published in 2002. He also published several books of photography, including Shekhina (2005), a collection of pictures with a spiritual, Jewish theme, and The Full Body Project (2007), featuring his photos of full-bodied women.


Image of the Day: Paul Von Drasek

Last Wednesday, at Micawber's Books in St. Paul, Minn., Capstone threw a surprise retirement party for Paul Von Drasek (above l., with Micawber's owner Tom Bielenberg). Ashley Andersen Zantop, Capstone's chief content officer, said of Von Drasek, who has been trade sales manager at the house since 2009, "Capstone could not have asked for a finer champion of our trade publishing efforts. Paul is the genuine article. He has a deep love for books, their creators, their supporters and the people who curate and sell them. His dedication to the ideal of connecting the right book with the right reader shows in every relationship he's nurtured in the industry."

Among people sending messages were Gary L. Gentel, president of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing, who said, "Paul is a true gentleman of the old school. During difficult times, he was a person of character and integrity, often doing what was best for the company at his own personal expense. Our paths had crossed early in his career, and I only regret that I didn't have the privilege of working with Paul over a longer period of time. This industry needs people like Paul and we're all better human beings and publishers because of his service."

And Laurie Brown, senior v-p of sales & marketing at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing, said, "I first met Paul at lunch just before we were going to begin working together. He arrived with a stuffed three-ring binder, while I didn't even have a pen. I thought, 'Oh no, this will never work!' And because he is the kindest, nicest, most thoughtful (and thorough!) person imaginable, that turned out to be one of my very luckiest days followed by years of working side-by-side and then the richest pleasure of all, abiding friendship with a man without peer."

Von Drasek has more than 30 years of sales experience in publishing. Before joining Capstone, he was director of field sales at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing, where he worked on the integration of the Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt's field sales forces. Before that, he was executive director of sales at Harcourt and worked in sales management positions at Little Brown, Houghton Mifflin and Penguin. His last full day at Capstone was last Friday, but he will be consulting on a part-time basis through April. He will continue to serve on the board at the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, a nonprofit organization supporting students ages 6-18 with their writing skills and homework, emphasizing cross-curriculum creativity. He may be reached at or

Tonight KALW Explores Indie Bookselling in the Bay Area

Tonight at 7 p.m. Pacific time, public radio station KALW in San Francisco airs an hour-long City Visions show on "the future of Bay Area independent bookstores." With a focus on "what it takes to stay open in the face of Amazon, rising rent, minimum wage hikes, and more," co-host David Onek will interview Alan Beatts, founder of Borderlands Books, San Francisco, which has been saved by its many fans from closing over the minimum wage law; Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books, which has two stores in the city; Michael Tucker, co-owner of Books Inc., which has 11 stores in the Bay Area; and Dave Tilton, co-owner of Vallejo Bookstore, Vallejo.

Jeff Kinney: Diary of a Future Bookseller

While it's short on details, the Boston Globe Magazine had a q&a with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney about the bookstore he plans to open in his hometown of Plainville, Mass., 35 miles southwest of Boston, this summer. (He said last year that the store will be in a new three-story structure and that he has taken a two-day Paz & Associates workshop on opening a bookstore.)

Among our favorite parts of the q&a:

"The reason that we wanted to create a bookstore in our town of Plainville is because, quite frankly, I feel angry that so many bookstores have gone away. Bookstores have always been such a big part of my life and my wife's life, and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to provide our kids and our community with a place where they could be exposed to new ideas, cultural events, and other people who love to read...

"I think that a lot of independent bookstores are thriving these days. People love books and they don't want to see them go away. We'd like to be a part of that movement....

"I do plan to be an occasional part of [the store], but if this is about me, then it's not going to succeed, or if it depends on my presence, it's not going to succeed. I want it to succeed on its own merits. I think that I'll make appearances, do things like teach a cartooning class or maybe down the line a screenwriting class. I am actually eager to work as a staffer there. I'd like to receive books and shelve books and maybe do some book talking of my own. That's something that I'm actually looking forward to, maybe working the cafe occasionally. I never got to do that kind of a thing, and I think it would be fun."

Norton Editor Robert Weil on a Remarkable Family, Career

During the Festival Neue Literatur in New York City last month, Robert Weil, executive editor at Norton, received the 2015 Friedrich Ulfers Prize, honoring a person "who has championed the advancement of German-language literature in the United States." His acceptance speech, which can be read here, is a remarkable commentary on a family's lifelong passion for reading and knowledge and culture, standing in contrast to a Nazi regime many of them had to flee in order to survive.

Weil said, in part, "Like my insatiably curious mother, I have been fascinated by that which I cannot explain, so I have devoted a good part of my career to bringing some clarity, at least for me, to that 12-year-gap, that caesura, which in the end becomes a study of far more than a mere dozen years. And as a result of this historical curiosity, I have embraced, as an editor, dozens of works of history and literature, which all seem to relate, in one way or another, to Germany's momentous history and vibrant literature and music."

Personnel Changes at Rizzoli International Publications

At Rizzoli International Publications:

Shanta Inshiqaq has joined the company as international sales director. She has 15 years of international sales experience and was most recently international and field sales director at Bloomsbury and prior to that, international sales manager at Penguin.

Casey Whalen has been promoted to manager, special sales and Universe calendars. Casey joined the company in 2011 as assistant manager, special sales.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Chris Offutt on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Chris Offutt, author of The Same River Twice: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $14.95, 9780743229494).


Today on the Meredith Vieira Show: Bethenny Frankel, author of I Suck at Relationships So You Don't Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781451667417).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Julie Holland, author of Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, The Sleep You're Missing, The Sex You're Not Having, and What's Really Making You Crazy (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594205804).

Also on Today: Brit Morin, author of Homemakers: A Domestic Handbook for the Digital Generation (Morrow, $22.99, 9780062332509).

Movies: The Danish Girl, Cymbeline

A first peek has arrived for director Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech, Les Miserables) The Danish Girl, based on the novel by David Ebershoff and starring Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Indiewire reported. The cast also includes Matthias Schoenaerts, Alicia Vikander and Amber Heard.


"Shakespeare gets rocked" in a new trailer for Cymbeline, starring Ethan Hawke. Indiewire reported that director Michael Almereyda (Hamlet) "once again dips into the Bard's work, and rounds up Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson, Anton Yelchin, Bill Pullman, Delroy Lindo and Kevin Corrigan for this tale of a brutal battle between corrupt cops and a biker gang." Cymbeline will be released in theaters and to VOD March 13.

Books & Authors

Awards: Sunday Times EFG Short Story Shortlist; SIBA Longlist

The shortlist for the Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award are:

Rebecca F. John for "The Glove Maker's Numbers"
Yiyun Li for "A Sheltered Woman"
Elizabeth McCracken for "Hungry"
Paula Morris for "False River"
Scott O'Connor for "Interstellar Space"
Madeleine Thien for "The Wedding Cake"

The winner receives £30,000 (about $46,320), and the runners up win £1,000 (about $1,545). The winner will be announced on April 24.


More than 100 books have been included on the longlist for the 2015 SIBA Book Award and can be seen here. Bookstore members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance will vote by April 1 on the long list to determine finalists. A jury of SIBA booksellers will then judge the finalists, and winners will be announced on July 4, "Independents Day."

Book Review

Review: I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son

I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell (Knopf, $24.95 hardcover, 9780385352307, March 10, 2015)

For those who haven't yet encountered his writing in magazines like the New Republic and The Believer, Kent Russell's debut collection of journalism and personal essays serves as a convenient introduction to his distinctive voice and his work exploring some of the more remote reaches of American popular culture.

Russell's vivid style is in full flower with his account of the Gathering of the Juggalos, a Woodstock-like music festival created by Psychopathic Records, the label founded by Insane Clown Posse. While he has a keen eye for some of the more dubious aspects of an event he calls an "admixture of third-rate fun fair and perdition," Russell doesn't succumb to the temptation to make easy sport of it. His measured approach is similar in a profile of Tim Friede. A truck plant worker from Fond du Lac, Wis., Friede has devoted his life to immunizing himself against the venom of the world's deadliest snakes, and Russell accords grudging respect to a man who "was born a freak of nature, being within it yet transcending it."

Russell is an avid sports fan, and his passion is reflected in the story of John Brophy, a former hockey enforcer, whose role was to mete out physical punishment to opponents, now living out his last days in an assisted living facility in Nova Scotia. In "Artisanal Ball," he provides a fascinating glimpse into the Amish world of Lancaster County, Pa., describing the fiercely competitive baseball played by young men in their period of Rumspringa, the time when they are permitted to experience life outside their traditional culture.

There are repeated interludes throughout the book recounting a visit Russell pays to his parents in California in the fall of 2013. Summoned there by his father, who hints that he may be dying, Russell writes essays (titled like diary entries, with a date only), that are part family history, part ill-matched buddy story. Above all, they're vulnerable dispatches negotiating the generational tensions between two men, one passing through late middle age and the other stumbling into early adulthood. Russell urges his father to accompany him on a trip to the latter's Ohio birthplace, a journey the elder Russell repeatedly deflects. Instead, they embark on an overnight drive down the northern California coast, a trip whose high points include stops at the homes of Jack London and William Randolph Hearst.

Whether it's hip-hop, venomous snakes or long-buried family memories, Kent Russell is the kind of writer whose sharp vision and lively prose have the power to seduce readers into paying attention to subjects they might never imagine were engaging. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Kent Russell's first collection of journalism and personal essays explores some of the more remote reaches of American pop culture and his family history.

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