Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 13, 2015

Harper: The Farewell Tour by Stephanie Clifford

Dial Press: Sam by Allegra Goodman

Flatiron Books: The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland

Blackstone Publishing: Blood Circus by Camila Victoire

Wednesday Books: Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

Berkley Books: Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina

Ronin House: So Close (Blacklist #1) by Sylvia Day

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

Quotation of the Day

Nick Hornby: Tell Boys Books Are 'Highly Inappropriate'

Nick Hornby

"I have boys, and boys are particularly resistant to reading books. I had some success recently with Sherman Alexie's great young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian--I told my son it was highly inappropriate for him, and one of the most banned books in America. That got his attention, and he raced through it."

--Nick Hornby, author most recently of Funny Girl, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera


'Racist' Atticus Finch: Go Read a Watchman?

The carefully orchestrated campaign for the release tomorrow of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee has been thrown into some disarray by a usual suspect: the New York Times first broke the book's embargo with a front-page review on Friday by Michiko Kakutani with the headline: "Kind Hero of Mockingbird Is Cast as Racist in New Book." (Online, the headline was later toned down to the infelicitous "Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman Gives Atticus Finch a Dark Side.")

The Times described Go Set a Watchman, set in the mid-1950s, two decades after To Kill a Mockingbird and featuring many of the same characters, as "a lumpy tale about a young's woman's grief over her discovery of her father's bigoted views." Atticus Finch, the wise, calm, principled, inspiring hero of To Kill a Mockingbird, is now a 72-year-old racist grump who flirts with the Ku Klux Klan, says nasty things about blacks and fulminates against Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in public schools. In a typical passage, according to the review, Finch says to his daughter, Jean Louise--the adult name of Scout, the seven-year-old narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird--who's visiting from New York City, "Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?" and "The Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people."

More pre-embargo reviews followed, none of which were as harsh as the Times's. The Washington Post cited "a less noble Atticus Finch." The Guardian called Go Set a Watchman "more complex than To Kill a Mockingbird, but less compelling," adding that it is, "in most respects, a new work, and a pleasure, revelation and genuine literary event, akin to the discovery of extra sections from T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land' or a missing act from Hamlet hinting that the prince may have killed his father."

The Wall Street Journal, sister company to the book's publisher, HarperCollins, wrote: "Go Set a Watchman is a distressing book, one that delivers a startling rebuttal to the shining idealism of To Kill a Mockingbird. This story is of the toppling of idols; its major theme is disillusion.... for the millions who hold [To Kill a Mockingbird] dear, Go Set a Watchman will be a test of their tolerance and capacity for forgiveness. At the peak of her outrage, Jean Louise tells her father, 'You've cheated me in a way that's inexpressible.' I don't doubt that many who read this novel are going to feel the same way."

Reaction has ranged from shock and disappointment to caution and reserved judgment to undiminished enthusiasm about getting to read another work by the author of To Kill a Mockingbird--whatever its quality--and a curiosity about comparing the two works and understanding how one led to the other.

On social media, some people said they have cancelled orders and don't intend to read the book. "I don't need my heart broken," said one disappointed fan. On Twitter, Curtis Sittenfield wrote, "I wish I didn't feel this way, but the publication of the new Harper Lee book reminds me of a wedding everyone knows should be called off."

But for others, the book still has great appeal despite--or because of--the book's twists. On Twitter, Chelsea Gunter wrote: "Atticus Finch is the bad guy? I can't fathom the idea. Can't wait to get my hands on the book!"

Harper Lee, seen here in 1963, wrote Go Set a Watchman in the mid-1950s.

The Times itself seemed to try to shift back from the harshness of its Friday review, running a story yesterday with the headline "While Some Are Shocked by Go Set a Watchman, Others Find Nuance in a Bigoted Atticus Finch." It wrote, in part: "After the initial shock, some writers and literary critics see added value in a more complex, and flawed, version of Atticus. If Mockingbird sugarcoats racial divisions by depicting a white man as the model for justice in an unjust world, then Watchman may be like bitter medicine that more accurately reflects the times."

And Charles J. Shields, author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, told the newspaper that the book's publication was well-timed, saying, "We could turn this into a plus in our national conversation about racism and the Confederate flag. It turns out that Atticus is no saint, as none of us are, but a man with prejudices."

The reviews have led to renewed interest in the book's publication. As has been reported many times, when Lee submitted the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman, her editor, Tay Hohoff, suggested she rewrite the tale from Scout's point of view as a child. That rewrite became the iconic To Kill a Mockingbird. The original MS went unpublished, and it was only after Harper Lee's sister, Alice Lee--her literary guardian--died last year, that Go Set a Watchman's "discovery" and publication was announced. Harper Lee is 89 and in a nursing home--and many aren't convinced that she is capable of judging whether the book should be published or not.

The publisher has consistently presented that title as a kind of newly discovered, stand-alone gem, "a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s," as Jonathan Burnham, Harper's senior v-p and publisher, put it earlier this year. In fact, it seems to be more of a fledgling work that is of interest only because of its relation to a much better, mature work.

In the end, Go Set a Watchman may have best been left in the Harper Lee archives and used by scholars and others to understand the author's development as a writer and the development of the story and characters in the one book that was publishable. Still, the book is out, and is an event that at least calls more attention to its deserving sibling.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Women's Health Care Physicians: Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month (7TH ed.)

Go Set a Watchman: Events Rundown, Part 3

The show must go on! The eve of Go Set a Watchman's release is here, and even more bookstores have festivities planned for today and tomorrow (see previous announcements here and here).

Books-A-Million is offering an exclusive bundle of Harper Lee bookmarks and bookplates with copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and Watchman called "The Collection" for $45. The bundle also includes a guide to the roots of literature in Lee's home state, Alabama. Some Books-A-Million locations will open at midnight tonight, with free 16 oz. drinks from BAM's Joe Muggs cafes available until 1 a.m.

BAM and are also organizing a series of three literary community events tomorrow in Birmingham, July 15 in Huntsville, and July 16 in Mobile, Ala., from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The events, called the "The Next Chapter," bring community leaders and authors, including Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, together for live readings and discussions.

"I know what Harper Lee and her books' themes mean to the state of Alabama," said Terence Finley, president and CEO of Books-A-Million. "Having the opportunity to be a part of such an important discussion on what these themes represent for the next generation of Alabamians is a privilege."

Waterstones cafes in the U.K. will be serving coffee in themed cups

In addition to Barnes & Noble's previously announced all-day Mockingbird read-a-thon today, all locations will open early tomorrow at 7 a.m. From 7 to 10 a.m., Watchman buyers will receive a free tall hot coffee from B&N's cafe. Sessalee Hensley, B&N's book buyer, said, "This is the most exciting publishing event in my 40 years of bookselling--I never thought there was a chance of there being anything else from Harper Lee. Scout is one of the most enduring characters in 20th century literature, curious and honest to the core, and I can't wait to see how she has grown into a young woman."

"Everyone at Barnes & Noble is excited for the launch of Go Set a Watchman, which we expect to be the number one book when it's released on July 14 and one of our top-selling books this year and beyond," said Mary Amicucci, B&N vice-president, adult trade and children's books. "There's a built-in audience for Go Set a Watchman because To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read backlist books we have, with sales doubling at Barnes & Noble this year alone.

Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass., opens at 11 p.m. tonight for the midnight release of Watchman. Morning people needn't envy the night owls--Titcomb's reopens at 7 a.m. with coffee and muffins.

Titcomb's shares a surprising connection with Harper Lee: Tom Hallock of Beacon Press, friend of the store, is the great nephew of Harper Lee's original editor at Lippincott, Tay Hohoff, whose guidance helped create To Kill a Mockingbird out of Go Set a Watchman. (The New York Times has a long story today about Hohoff titled "Invisible Hand That Nurtured an Author and a Literary Classic.") "Every visit 'she brought me everything Lippincott had published since our last visit that could conceivably be of interest to an 8 or 10 year old boy," said Hallock, according to Titcomb's newsletter. "This sense of bounty, and of a life that was so different than any I'd known in suburban New Jersey intrigued me. I wonder now if these visits didn't give me the first taste of the life in books I would eventually choose for myself."

BookShop West Portal, San Francisco, Calif., hosts a dramatic reading of Mockingbird tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. by local performance ensemble Word for Word.

The Bookworm, Omaha, Neb., hosts a series of three "pop-up book discussions," beginning with a look at Mockingbird tonight at 6:30 p.m. Watchman will be discussed Monday, August 8 at 6:30 p.m., and Harper Lee herself is the topic of a final meeting on September 14, also at 6:30 p.m. All ages are welcome and no reservation is necessary.

Watermark Books and Cafe, Wichita, Kan., plans a bookseller-led Mockingbird discussion tomorrow at 7 p.m. From July 14-18, the Cafe features a Maycomb Menu, offering a Scout Special ham sandwich with a choice of Boo Radley blackberry cream soda or a slice of Lane Cake. Maycomb Menu purchasers receive 10% the cover price of Watchman. Readers can also share clips of their favorite Mockingbird passages on Instagram using the #GoSetAWatchman and #readICT hashtags with @watermarkbooksandcafe.

Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif., celebrates Watchman's release with a party on Friday, July 17, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person, limited to four per household, available in store or over the phone. Ticket costs cover a copy of Watchman, "snazzy hors d'oeuvres" served during a screening of the Mockingbird film, and a chance to win a 35th anniversary copy of Mockingbird signed by Harper Lee (valued at $1,200), to benefit the Friends of the Danville Library.

Square Books, Oxford Miss., held a marathon reading of Mockingbird last Saturday, July 11. Today at 5:30 p.m., the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library will show the Mockingbird film. Square Books opens at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow with complimentary coffee and donuts in its cafe.

Books & Books hosts a free screening of Mockingbird at the Coral Gables Art Cinema tomorrow at 1 p.m., followed by a "Southern Supper" at the Books & Books location across the street. Copies of Watchman ordered in advance or purchased tomorrow are 20% off the cover price at any of Books & Books' South Florida locations.

Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa., and County Theater will screen Mockingbird tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. A copy of Watchman is included with each ticket. --Tobias Mutter

Berkley Books: Jane & Edward: A Modern Reimagining of Jane Eyre by Melodie Edwards

Obituary Notes: William Conrad Gibbons; Tom Piccirilli

William Conrad Gibbons "a foreign policy expert at the Library of Congress whose multi-volume account of the relationship between Congress and the executive branch during the Vietnam War has served as a cornerstone of historical writing on the war ever since its first volume was published in 1984," died July 4, the New York Times reported. He was 88.

The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Gibbons’s four-volume "magnum opus was seized on by historians like the authors Stanley Karnow (Vietnam: A History), Don Oberdorfer (Senator Mansfield) and Robert Dallek (Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973)," the Times wrote, adding that it "was an important source" as well for Robert McNamara’s memoir, In Retrospect, written with Brian VanDeMark.


Author Tom Piccirilli, who "published over a dozen ambitious and accomplished crime and horror novels," died July 11, Locus magazine reported. He was 50. Piccirilli's novels included Stoker Award winner The Night Class (2003) and Edgar finalist The Cold Spot (2008). Locus noted that he was also an "accomplished author of bleak and quirky short fiction" and "a prolific poet who produced many volumes, among them Stoker Award winners A Student of Hell (2000) and Forgiving Judas (2014)." 

ECW Press: We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan


Island Books Owners Named Citizens of the Year

Congratulations to Roger and Nancy Page, co-owners of Island Books, Mercer Island, Wash., who were honored by the City Council as 2014 Citizens of the Year. The award recognizes "individuals or entities whose achievements may have gone unrecognized in some settings, but who have improved Island life through a broad base of community service, fundraising, or other means."
The city noted that the Pages "believe their business and personal goal is to serve the community in a welcoming and caring manner, which includes hosting special events and countless fundraisers over the years. Many Islanders, for example, will recall the 2,000 midnight attendees at a Harry Potter release, with bookstore staff in costume. To date, the Pages have raised more than $300,000 in donations to a variety of community causes."
"The more we give, the more the community gives back to us. We are very grateful for this honor," said Roger Page.

Revisiting Baghdad's 'Street of Ideas'

"For decades Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad was a place of refuge for the city's intellectuals and book lovers," BBC World Service said in a report from the legendary book market that was devastated in 2007 when a car bomb exploded and killed 26 people. Correspondent Jonny Dymond returned to a thriving but cautious Mutanabbi Street, which was closed when he last visited seven years ago.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Fresh Air

This morning on the Today Show: Judd Apatow, author of Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy (Random House, $27, 9780812997576).


This morning on CBS This Morning: Jimmy Carter, author of A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501115639).


Today on Fresh Air: Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547).


Today on Diane Rehm: Lennard J. Davis, author of Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest U.S. Minority Its Rights (Beacon Press, $26.95, 9780807071564).


Tonight on the Late Late Show with James Corden: Judy Greer, author of I Don't Know What You Know Me From: My Life as a Co-Star (Anchor, $15, 9780345806734).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Dick Wolf, author of The Ultimatum: A Jeremy Fisk Novel (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062286833).

TV: The Shannara Chronicles; Sherlock Xmas

MTV has released a first peek at its upcoming drama series The Shannara Chronicles, based on Terry Brooks's fantasy book series, reported. The 10-episode series will premiere in January. Production on the show, which stars Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett, Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton and John Rhys-Davies, wrapped last month in New Zealand.


"Sherlock is taking a literal jump back in time for the upcoming Christmas special," Indiewire reported in showcasing a teaser trailer, noting: "Somehow, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) will find themselves zapped back one hundred years to Victorian era England, and while it's not clear yet how showrunner Steven Moffat gets the pair there narratively, it seems they will have a winking good time doing it."

Books & Authors

Awards: Thriller Winners

The winners of the 2015 Thriller Awards, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers, are:

Hardcover Novel: Megan Abbott, for The Fever (Little, Brown)
Paperback Original Novel: Vincent Zandri, for Moonlight Weeps (Down & Out Books)
First Novel: Laura McHugh, for The Weight of Blood (Spiegel & Grau)
E-Book Original Novel: C.J. Lyons, for Hard Fall (Legacy Books)
Young Adult Novel: Elle Cosimano, for Nearly Gone (Kathy Dawson Books)
Short Story: Tim L. Williams, for "The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)

Other awards given during the ThrillerFest X Awards banquet on Saturday:

ThrillerMaster: Nelson DeMille, in recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre.
Silver Bullet Award: Kathy Reichs

Book Review

Review: Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink by Juliana Barbassa (Touchstone, $27 hardcover, 9781476756257, July 28, 2015)

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink by Juliana Barbassa (Touchstone, $27 hardcover, 9781476756257, July 28, 2015)

The size of a small continent, rich with natural resources and miles of coastline, and home of the mighty Amazon River, Brazil, a country of 200 million people, has never quite lived up to its potential. While Brasilia is its official capital and São Paulo its largest city, Rio de Janeiro is the city that symbolizes Brazil for the rest of the world. Its rugged rocky peaks surround beaches full of multi-racial, barely dressed carousers playing soccer and drinking the ubiquitous Brahma beer. In 2010, when Brazilian-born journalist Juliana Barbassa joined the Associated Press Brazil desk, Rio had just been awarded the 2016 Olympics, to follow the 2014 World Cup. The economy was booming, President Lula da Silva was at the height of his popularity and the feeling among Rio's Cariocas was that their time had come. Then the Brazil soccer team was crushed by Germany in the Cup semifinals, Lula's successor, Dilma Rousseff, was under fire for corruption, and executives of Petrobras were caught stealing millions of dollars from the state-owned oil company. What's going on down there? Dancing with the Devil in the City of God is Barbassa's story about the city of her birth and its many contradictions, celebrations and tribulations.

Rio's bids for the World Cup and Olympics were based on the promise that investment in the required venues would include addressing the notorious crime and poverty of the city's slums, which rise up the mountains from the wealthy coastal neighborhoods below. Barbassa's first stop is to visit these favelas and see in person the "teenage gangsters who rested the butt of their semi-automatics against jutting hip bones and glared from the backs of motorcycles." Cities unto themselves, the favelas of Rio are cobbled from stolen cement, diverted water and bootlegged power ("entwined bundles of cables thicker than a man's arm... PVC pipes snaking up, down, and around hurdles" and "the nauseating stench of sewage"). Barbassa watches the heavily armed Pacification Police Units invade the slums to clean out the gangs and allow the housing authority to move in to relocate citizens to new slums farther from the city center.

Moving from one neighborhood and urban problem to another, Barbassa stumbles into a convoluted bureaucratic nightmare renting an apartment. She visits the gigantic Gramacho landfill that holds 60 million tons of trash, which will be closed for the Olympics with no replacement plan in place. Guided by a biologist and crocodile expert, she sees where the area's native caimans are being run off by new high-rise condos near the proposed Olympic Villages. She interviews women and gay people who complain that Rio's famous Carnival atmosphere has more abuse and homophobia than advertised. Although Rio is her hometown, Barbassa doesn't shy from the many problems hiding behind its glittering facade. Nevertheless, one can see her smiling in agreement with a comment she overhears from a British visitor to the World Cup: "I'm here in the sun, right, up to my waist in water, drinking a beer, and watching football. What's not to like?" --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Brazilian-born journalist Juliana Barbassa takes to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to uncover stories behind the city's remarkable position as host of both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

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