Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 18, 2015


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

St. Martin's Press: See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem Into a Breakthrough Success by Danny Warshay

Harper: Free Love by Tessa Hadley

Walker Books Us: Ferryman by Claire McFall

Shadow Mountain: The Slow March of Light by Heather B Moore

Berkley Books: Women who defied the odds. These are their stories. Enter giveaway!

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

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

News

Amazon: Agreement with PRH; Updated Paperwhite

Amazon and Penguin Random House have signed new long-term sales agreements for both the U.S. and U.K., the Bookseller reported. Amazon confirmed the agreement, but no details were available.

According to reports last month, the companies were in tough negotiations on an agreement to replace the one that ended at the end of May. The Bookseller speculated that negotiations may have been affected by the European Commission's announcement last week of an investigation of Amazon, particularly over the "most-favored nation" clauses in its contracts with publishers (which require it to receive prices as low as competitors).

---

In other Amazon news, at the end of June, the company will begin shipping a new version of its Paperwhite dedicated e-reader with higher resolution (twice the number of pixels per inch) and new typography and layout capabilities. In the U.S., the new Paperwhite retails for $119, the same as its previous edition. Amazon called the Paperwhite its "most popular Kindle."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay


Barnes & Noble in Walnut Creek, Calif., Closing

After landlord and tenant couldn't agree on a lease renewal, the Barnes & Noble in Walnut Creek, Calif., is closing in January, the San Jose Mercury News reported. B&N v-p for development David Deason told the paper that the company is looking for a new location "in Walnut Creek or the area."

The Mercury News said that B&N would face "fierce competition for high-end retail outlets."


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


Mississippi Book Festival Makes Debut August 22

The first Mississippi Book Festival will take place Saturday, August 22, at the State Capitol in Jackson. The festival will feature more than 75 authors who will read, sign and participate in 20 panels; more than 50 exhibitor booths (all indie stores in the state have been invited to exhibit and sell books); themed tents, including cooking and photography; live music; food booths; children's events; and more.

Organizers noted that despite being the home of many writers and having a rich literary tradition, Mississippi has never had a statewide literary festival. Last year, a group began meeting to organize the event; among them were representatives from local bookstore Lemuria Books, the University Press of Mississippi, the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Arts Commission and Mississippi Public Broadcasting. On the board of directors are John Evans from Lemuria; Richard Howorth, co-owner of Square Books in Oxford; Jamie Kornegay, owner of Turnrow Book Co. in Greenwood; and Scott Naugle, co-owner of Pass Books/Cat Island Coffeehouse in Pass Christian. The nonprofit festival aims to promote literature, libraries and literacy in Mississippi.

In a blog post for the festival, John Evans of Lemuria wrote, in part: "In my 40 years of bookselling, I have witnessed the power of real books in the hands of readers. In our first statewide book festival, the Mississippi Book Festival, we will celebrate the joys of reading and the authors who bring our culture to the page. Reading real books is where it all starts....

"The first Mississippi Book Festival, I hope the first of many, will bring awareness to our strong literary history. Perhaps this festival will be the first step toward creating a Literary Book Trail in Mississippi and eventually, a Mississippi Writers Museum."

Author John Grisham will participate in the official kickoff of the festival and appear later on the panel "What Reading Means for Our Culture: Reading, Writing and Journalism's Influence in Mississippi," along with Pulitzer-winning journalist Jerry Mitchell and William Ferris, founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, former director of the NEH and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Other panels focus on such subjects as "Margret Walker Alexander, Eudora Welty and the Making of Literary Jackson," "Eudora Welty: Letters, Flowers, Loves, and the Latest Scholarship," the Civil War, African-American history, civil rights history, contemporary Southern fiction, poetry, historical fiction, comics and cartoons in Mississippi and more.

Among the authors who will appear at the festival are two booksellers: Turnrow Book Co.'s Jamie Kornegay, author of Soil, and Lisa Howorth, author of Flying Shoes and co-owner of Square Books. In addition, the festival will host former Governor Haley Barbour, author of America's Great Storm; Sara Gruen, author of At the Water's Edge; Rick Bragg, whose upcoming book is My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South; Ellen Gilchrist, author of Acts of God; Greg Iles, author of The Bone Tree; and Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances.


Chronicle Books: Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel


Politics & Prose, ABA Return to National Book Festival

In other book fair news, for the second year in a row, Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., will be the bookseller at the National Book Festival and the American Booksellers Association will provide promotional and other assistance. Ingram will help with logistics. Until last year, only chain bookstores had sold books at the event.

P&P co-owner Bradley Graham commented: "We're honored to have been invited back and look forward to what promises to be another terrific gathering in D.C. of authors and readers."

The 15th annual National Book Festival, whose main sponsor is the Library of Congress, takes place Saturday, September 5, at the Washington Convention Center.


Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


Roger Bilheimer Retiring, 'Going Fishing'

Roger Bilheimer

Roger Bilheimer, who many in the industry know best as the head of press relations for BookExpo America for many years, is retiring. More formally, he is head of Roger Bilheimer Associates, which has a variety of clients in the business. Before founding that company 20 years ago, he was v-p, executive director of publicity at Dell and associate director of publicity at Pocket Books.

In a Facebook post, Bilheimer wrote, in part, "I am done, over with an awesome career in the book industry, which I have loved, but it's now time to move on. I am spending lots of time in North Carolina with my daughter and son-in-law and grandson who live in Chapel Hill and my son who is a doctor starting his residency in Philly. It's all very, very good and I'm finding lots of good things to do. I'm going fishing tomorrow."


Obituary Note: Nelson Doubleday, Jr.

Nelson Doubleday Jr., the onetime head of Doubleday & Company and part owner of the New York Mets, died yesterday. He was 81.

As the New York Times put it, "Books and baseball defined Mr. Doubleday's life." His grandfather Frank Nelson Doubleday founded the eponymous publishing house. His father, Nelson Doubleday, "built the business into a mass-market powerhouse." And according to legend, great-great-grandfather Abner Doubleday invented baseball.

In 1980, with several partners, Doubleday & Co., which Nelson Doubleday, Jr., controlled, bought the New York Mets baseball franchise. The team prospered, but the publishing company did not, and in 1986, he sold the company--minus the Mets--to Bertelsmann. Doubleday soon became part of Bantam Doubleday Dell, which later became part of Random House, then Penguin Random House (where Doubleday is part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group). Nelson Doubleday, Jr., sold his interest in the Mets to partner Fred Wilpon in 2002.


Foyles Flagship a Year Later: Siôn Hamilton Reflects

"I think that booksellers could learn a lot from other retailers," said Siôn Hamilton, the retail operations director of Foyles in London. Just a year ago, Foyles opened its new flagship store at 107 Charing Cross Road. Hailed by the company as the "bookshop of the future," the store features a huge, open atrium, a full-service cafe, an art gallery and a multi-purpose events space, along with floors and floors of books. Hamilton was instrumental in designing the store, and he sat down with Shelf Awareness recently for a conversation about his inspirations, the place of the bookshop in modern society and how the new store has fared so far.

"Take a decent stationery shop," mused Hamilton, who studied other kinds of retailers while designing the store. "If you're selling notebooks, all you've got is your display. So you have to think really cleverly about merchandising. I think as booksellers we do a good job, but I don't think we're necessarily as on it as other forms of retail."

In February 2013, Foyles hosted two much-publicized workshops to discuss what the bookshop of the future would consist of. Authors, librarians, booksellers, publishing professionals and many others attended the events. According to Hamilton, it was an invaluable experience for not only testing out the store's own ideas but also fielding suggestions from the public. One that jumped out at Hamilton in particular was an attendee's suggestion to put a Yo! Sushi–style conveyor belt of books into the new store.

Siôn Hamilton on the Foyles staircase

"That was the one that made everyone laugh in the workshop," recalled Hamilton. "It was really funny. But there was something about it that I just couldn't shake."

While going up an escalator in a London Underground station one day, he realized that he could keep the spirit of the conveyor belt idea intact by using the long staircase along the four floors of the flagship's atrium. As people walk up or down the staircase and pass the books displayed along the inside wall of staircase, "you're the conveyor belt," he said. "It's been very, very successful. We've gotten lots of positive feedback from customers."

Hamilton encourages his staff constantly to experiment with and evaluate displays. By getting displays right, Hamilton asserted, booksellers can convert readers to new genres and even introduce people to reading. He's learned over the years that how books are displayed is just as important as the books themselves.

"That sort of field of dreams thing doesn't exist," he said. "I think sometimes booksellers think, if I just get the right stock and put it right there, it'll be fine. My intuition is, after 10-odd years [at Foyles], that display, lighting, things that other retailers would take as no-brainers are really important. Sometimes as booksellers we don't pay enough attention to making sure displays are as welcoming and inviting as possible."

While designing the flagship store, Hamilton hoped to imbue it with a sort of social hum and energy that can be found in places like art galleries and museums. Putting the cafe, events space and art gallery all near each other at the top of the building, he said, helped the store feel like a vibrant, social space.

"There's a little background hum that puts an energy in you," said Hamilton. "You feel like you're socially involved in something. You're not on your own."

That type of social interaction, the feeling that a customer is in a "marketplace of ideas," is in Hamilton's view a big reason why bookshops continue to exist. Another is the type of serendipitous discovery that comes from browsing a carefully thought-out display or from chatting with a bookseller. Hamilton recalled that when he was growing up in South Wales, he had to take the train into the big city to find the sorts of books that he wanted to read. A teenager in that position now could just order all his books online.

"So the question you ask is, why am I coming to a bookshop?" posed Hamilton. "It has to be that serendipity. It has to be because I like touching the physical objects. And it has to be a social thing, doesn't it?"

Since the flagship store opened, Hamilton has seen sales go up. The biggest trend that Foyles has noted, Hamilton reported, is selling more general, commercial titles to a broader base of people. Although the flagship only moved down the street, it's already attracting a wider range of customers.

"There's a younger demographic," said Hamilton. "More tastemaking kind of people are turning up than before."

Foyles Waterloo

Shortly before opening the flagship, Foyles opened a new store in the Waterloo train station. That store, Hamilton said, though small, is working beautifully. "It's such a strong bookshop," he continued. "I've been really, really impressed and surprised by the range of titles we can shift there. It's a spot of calm in the station. We even get the station staff in there browsing."

At all of its locations, Foyles is pushing its staff to speak to customers more, to "just chat to them." It's about making customers feel as welcomed as possible, Hamilton explained. And talking with customers can, of course, lead to sales, but it's about more than that: the whole process of handselling provides customers with a story.

"They want a story," he said. "Sometimes a customer wants a story because a book is a personal item. It's that magic, isn't it? That's what you want to carry home with you in your pocket." --Alex Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: Alive at Bookpeople

Earlier this week BookPeople in Austin, Tex., hosted a launch party for Chandler Baker's debut YA novel, Alive (Disney). More than 100 people packed into the bookstore for cookies, drinks and to meet the author.


Customer Advice: Narrowing Down Your Pile at a Bookstore

photo: facebook.com/tinhouse

"You just went in the bookstore for one book--you swear, just one!," Bustle noted in showcasing "13 thoughts everyone has while trying to narrow down her pile at a bookstore."

"If you belong to the tribe of the book-obsessed, you know this scene all too well, and that's only how it begins," Bustle wrote. "By the time you start making your way to the register, you've got a Volkswagen-sized loot of books that you've got to dwindle down to an amount that will still let you make rent this month. The dwindling process is an emotional struggle for the book-lover, because let's be real, you need every single one of the books you picked up. You just do!"


Personnel Changes at Elsevier, Sourcebooks

At Elsevier, Allison Risko has been promoted to senior v-p of the Pharma & Life Sciences Solutions business in Global STMJ. She was formerly v-p of specialty products for the Pharma Solutions business. Before joining the company four years ago, she was senior v-p of professional services for Kaplan EduNeering. Most importantly, she is adored sister of Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko.

---

Margaret Coffee has joined Sourcebooks as national account manager for schools and libraries. She was formerly sales and marketing director for Egmont USA and earlier worked at Albert Whitman, Scholastic, Candlewick Press and Penguin.


Book Trailer of the Day: Thank You, Goodnight

Thank You, Goodnight by Andy Abramowitz (Touchstone). Framed as a webcast dubbed "When the '90s Ruled," the trailer features Touchstone (and Scribner) publicity director Brian Belfiglio as an overly enthusiastic 1990s-obsessed host interviewing author Andy Abramowitz, who is in character as the book's protagonist, Teddy Tremble. Tremble is the leader of the one-hit wonder band Tremble, whose heyday occurred in the '90s. In the trailer, they're on the verge of releasing what they hope is their comeback album.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brad Thor on Today

Tomorrow on the Today Show: Brad Thor, author of Code of Conduct: A Thriller (Emily Bestler/Atria, $27.99, 9781476717159).

Also on Today: Karen Kingsbury, author of Chasing Sunsets: A Novel (Howard, $22.99, 9781451687507).

---

Tomorrow on the Talk: Cindy Williams, co-author of Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life (Taylor Trade Publishing, $22.95, 9781630760120).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Roosevelt Reading Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend 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, June 20
8 a.m. Jonathan Last, editor of The Dadly Virtues: Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love (Templeton Press, $24.95, 9781599474892). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

10 a.m. Coverage of the 2015 Roosevelt Reading Festival at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

7 p.m. Peter Singer, author of The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically (Yale University Press, $25, 9780300180275), at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y.

7:45 p.m. Sally McMillen, author of Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780199778393).

8:45 p.m. Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (Basic Books, $28.99, 9780465059997). (Re-airs Sunday at 3:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. Mona Eltahawy, author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780865478039). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. James McPherson, author of The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters (Oxford University Press, $27.95, 9780199375776), and Louis Masur, author of Lincoln's Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction and the Crisis of Reunion (Oxford University Press, $24.95, 9780190218393), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.


Sunday, June 21
9:15 a.m. Matt Shatz, head of revenue strategy and partnerships with Oyster, at BEA.

1 p.m. Elaine Bell Kaplan, author of 'We Live in the Shadow': Inner-City Kids Tell Their Stories through Photographs (Temple University Press, $25.95, 9781439907900). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

1:30 p.m. Leo Braudy, author of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon (Yale University Press, $15, 9780300181456). (Re-airs Monday at 1:30 a.m.)

1:45 p.m. Philip Seib, author of Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era (Palgrave Macmillan, $28, 9780230339439). (Re-airs Monday at 1:45 a.m.)

4:45 p.m. While at BEA, John Grisham discusses his reading and writing habits.

5:15 p.m. Michael Shnayerson, author of The Contender: Andrew Cuomo, a Biography (Twelve, $30, 9781455521999).

6:30 p.m. Bryan Denson, author of The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802123589).

7:30 p.m. Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches: Salem, 1692 (Little, Brown, $32, 9780316200608), at BEA.

10 p.m. Stanley McChrystal, co-author of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Portfolio, $29.95, 9781591847489).

11:30 p.m. Bryan Doerries, author of The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307959454), at BEA.



Books & Authors

Awards: International IMPAC Dublin Literary

Jim Crace won the €100,000 (about $112,660) International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Harvest (Vintage). Calling the work a "powerful and compelling novel," the judges noted that "at times, Harvest reads like a long prose poem; it plays on the ear like a river of words. But then again, Jim Crace is a consummate wordsmith; his understanding of human nature is uncanny and he never drops a stitch from start to finish. All human life is here: its graces and disgraces and there is life too in every small stone, flower and blade of grass."


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
Medicine Walk: A Novel by Richard Wagamese (Milkweed Editions, $24, 9781571311153). "Nature versus nurture is an age-old controversy. Does a boy become the man he is because of his genes or his upbringing? Franklin Starlight is a 16-year-old Ojibway boy who was raised by a man who is not his father and is not Indian. He teaches Franklin self-reliance, the value of hard work, and integrity. Eldon, Franklin's real father, is an alcoholic who he has rarely seen. Now Eldon is dying, and he wants Franklin to accompany him into the back country to help him die and be buried in the warrior way. This is a flawlessly written novel about the stories that make us who we are." --Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

Dinner With Buddha: A Novel by Roland Merullo (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781565129283). "Otto Ringling and Russian Buddhist monk Volya Rinpoche are on the road again! The third book in Merullo's series is another divine combination of spirituality, adventure, and humor. While Otto is still pondering life's big questions, Volya continues to try to get him to understand that life is just not as complicated as we make it. As with the first two books, I totally devoured the thought-provoking conversations, the random encounters with people along the way that leave a lasting impact, and Otto's continued search to find a good meal 'on the road.' Rich, wise, and delightful!" --Jamie Hope Anderson, Duck's Cottage, Duck, N.C.

Paperback
The Meursault Investigation: A Novel by Kamel Daoud (Other Press, $14.95, 9781590517512). "The Meursault Investigation is a complex and subtle reckoning with the legacy of colonialism and the silences it imposes. Although the novel was conceived in the shadow of Camus' The Stranger, readers realize quickly that it haunts those shadows not because it lacks its own light, but because Daoud wants to plumb the depths of that darkness to tell a story that demands to be heard. I hope everyone listens." --Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, Calif.

For Ages 8 to 12
Murder Is Bad Manners: A Wells and Wong Mystery by Robin Stevens (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 9781481422123). "Hong Kong transplant Hazel Wong serves as Watson to Daisy Wells' Sherlock Holmes in this debut middle-grade mystery series set in 1934 at Deepdean School for Girls. After Hazel finds the body of Miss Bell, the science teacher, it suddenly disappears, setting the Wells and Wong Detective Society on the case. Hazel narrates the story through her casebook, revealing that she is the more analytical of the pair. There are plenty of red herrings and wrong turns, but in the end Wells and Wong solve the case and leave readers eager to read more of their appealing tales." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

For Teen Readers
The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg (Arthur A. Levine, $17.99, 9780545648936). "Carson is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mother to care for his ailing father. His life is changed forever, however, when he meets Aisha, a young girl who has just announced to her family that she is a lesbian. Carson is dealing with family issues, but his developing friendship with Aisha impacts his life in such a way that he is able to come to terms with his family. This heartwarming story demonstrates the power of love and determination and how true friendship can change the course of your life." --Kathy Taber, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, Ind.

For Ages 4 to 8
Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, 9781596439849). "This nonfiction picture book makes it fun to learn about the water cycle, from water to steam and from clouds to rain and back again. Younger readers will like the poetic, rhyming text, and older readers will learn something new from all the water cycle facts. Chin's stunning illustrations add to this innovative and informative book." --Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 23:

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell (Grand Central, $27, 9780446557900) centers on a successful writer trying to get rid of her own famous character.

The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781476749112) follows an interior designer who gets involved with the family of a missing financier.

Wicked Charms: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton (Bantam, $28, 9780553392715) is the third entry in the Lizzy & Diesel series.

Truth or Die by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316407014) is a thriller about a lawyer who discovers a secret. (Monday, June 22.)

Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll by Fred Goodman (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547896861) is the biography of an accomplished music manager.

Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide by Michael B. Oren (Random House, $30, 9780812996418) is the memoir of Israel's ambassador to the U.S.

Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least by Jessica Jackley (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780679643760) looks at businesses begun in poor countries.

A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for Our World by Daniel Goleman (Bantam, $26, 9780553394894) explores the Dalai Lama's philosophy.

Now in paperback:

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: The Official Graphic Novel Prelude by Jackson Lanzing and Collin P. Kelly (KaBOOM!, $14.99, 9781608867509).

Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk by Russ Crandall (Victory Belt Publishing, $34.95, 9781628600872).


Book Review

Review: Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola (Grand Central, $26 hardcover, 9781455554591, June 23, 2015)

Sarah Hepola, the personal essays editor at Salon, begins her courageous and very funny memoir in the middle of a sexual encounter in Paris while on a magazine assignment. She does not remember who the man is and last recalls only returning to her hotel the previous evening after a night out with a friend. She's woken up after another blackout, into another day of trying to fill in the blank spaces where pivotal scenes should be.

Hepola grew up in Dallas, the painfully self-conscious child of non-conformist parents who could leave the same can of beer untouched in the refrigerator for days. She had her first beer at six and was hooked. As an adult, she moved to New York to be a writer. In her hard-partying circle, heavy drinking was a badge of honor; it let her be uninhibited and funny, and it pleased men. Though troubled by her blackouts, she admitted to a problem with alcohol only with heavy dose of irony. Drinking was dangerous and felt like a reward, irresistible until it finally wasn't, and she made her way back to sobriety and a deeply felt, more rewarding life.

Hepola is unambiguous about the costs of alcoholism. Friends drift away. Her health and self-esteem suffer in predictable ways. But Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget is anything but mundane: Hepola is a wonderful writer who can convey wrenching candor and wit in the same breath. "There's a certain brokenness that cannot be fixed by all the downward dogs and raw juice in the world," she writes when a friend offers yoga schedules and healthy food. Her experience may be common but it feels fresh and compelling, using humor to provide the necessary perspective to go beyond confession to uncomfortable truths.

Hepola also uses her experiences to explore the physiology of blackouts and to ask difficult cultural questions about women and drinking, the issue of consent, the role of alcohol in rape culture and the right of women to live without fear of sexual assault regardless of how they dress or what they consume. She looks at contemporary culture's ubiquitous promotion of drinking, the reward for a long day or a vital symbol of celebration or an essential social lubricant. These questions are provocative and important, and they add heft to a narrative already brimming with insight, humor and courage. This stunning memoir will resonate with readers struggling to understand their demons, and it marks the arrival of a very talented writer. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: A witty, insightful memoir that traces a bright young journalist's rocky path to sobriety, with unfailing frankness and larger questions about contemporary cultural attitudes toward drinking.


Powered by: Xtenit