Also published on this date: Tuesday, August 11, 2015: Dedicated Issue: Loyola Press

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


Hemingway-Focused Store Reopens Up in Michigan

photo: Petoskey News

The Red Fox Inn Bookstore, Horton Bay, Mich., has reopened this summer as owners Ernest and Prudence Hartwell told Petoskey News that they wanted to honor their father and longtime bookstore owner, James Vol Hartwell, who died March 22.

Mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's 1923 story "Up in Michigan" as "Fox's house," the seasonal store specializes in Hemingway titles, memorabilia and souvenirs. It also sells Petoskey stones, rare books, histories, art and signs.  

"Our plan for the next few years is to not only keep up the store, but get the whole house ready for our family to visit during the summer when the store is open," Ernest Hartwell said.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Bodleian Library Launching Children's Imprint

Bodleian Library Publishing, which is part of Oxford University's Bodleian Library, will launch a children's imprint focused on republishing "forgotten gems" and beautifully illustrated titles. The Bookseller reported that two titles per season will be released, beginning in September with Penguin's Way and Whale's Way by U.S. author Johanna Johnston, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. The books were first published in the 1960s. Distribution is by John Wiley & Sons.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Obituary Note: David Nobbs

British comedy writer David Nobbs, who "struck gold" in 1975 with his novel The Death of Reginald Perrin and went on to write "a series of sometimes interconnected novels and scripts chronicling changes to British life across the decades," died August 9, the Guardian reported. He was 80. A popular TV adaptation, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, ran between 1976 and 1979, followed in 1996 by The Legacy of Reginald Perrin and Reggie Perrin in 2009.

Phoning It In: The Three-Year Swim Club

It's the stuff of publishers' dreams--and nightmares. Grand Central was thrilled when The Three-Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway was chosen as a buzz book at BookExpo America. To keep the buzz going, the publisher scheduled a series of bookseller pre-pub dinners. Then, last week, as Jimmy Franco, Grand Central's publicity director, landed in San Francisco to host an event, his phone was filled with a flurry of e-mails: Checkoway had suffered a concussion and could not travel.

"I actually thought of getting a plane back to New York that night," said Franco. But with some quick thinking and the assistance of Tom McIntyre, Hachette's Northern California sales rep, they were able to not only bring the author to the booksellers via phone from Utah, but offered the attraction of a special guest calling in from Hawaii: 77-year-old Jerry Miki, a second-generation swim team member.

The Three-Year Swim Club tells the unlikely story of a Japanese-American teacher, with little knowledge of swimming, who inspired a group of children of sugar company workers--kids who swam in the plantation's irrigation ditches--to become champions. In 1937 Soichi Sakamoto drew up a three-year contract for his club members to commit to fierce training--with their sights on the 1940 Olympiad in Tokyo.

World War II cancelled the Olympics that year, but at a time when Japanese were feared and discriminated against, the Swim Club prevailed in national and world competitions and expanded beyond the initial three years to produce two generations of the best swimmers in American history.

Checkoway told the booksellers that she was shocked no one had told the story before--until she met the surviving members of Swim Club while working on the book. "They were some of the most intensely private, humble, gracious and generous people I have ever met," she said. Still, the author wondered, "How could a group of people known as the greatest athletes of their time be forgotten?"

Sheryl Cotleur and Vicki DeArmon from Copperfield's with Green Apple Books' Kevin Ryan at the accidentally authorless event for The Three-Year Swim Club.

Calling from the island of Kona, Miki explained that, until statehood in 1959, Hawaiian society "was completely segregated," and no one wanted to acknowledge the exploitation of sugar workers. Checkoway described the conditions of the sugar plantations as "the closest to slavery in the 20th century in our country."

"Coach Sakamoto never harbored any resentment," said Miki. "He just worked us and praised us to rise above ourselves. He taught us discipline, hygiene and the spirit of never giving up." In 1957, Miki graduated both from high school and Swim Club to attend college in Indiana on a swimming scholarship.

He described a typical day for the club--which trained seven days a week--that started right after school and went as late as 10 p.m. They'd do sprints, swim laps, use kickboards and inner tubes, do some more sprints and then get out of the pool to do wind sprints. By Miki's time on the team, Coach Sakamoto had arranged for the use of an outdoor pool for practice and zealously raised money for the team to travel for competitions.

"That was really special, I gotta say," remarked Kevin Ryan from Green Apple Books when the call with Miki ended. Other booksellers shared stories of their own swimming experiences. Bill Dito from Books Inc. shared that he once worked for a sugar company in Hawaii.

As for the book, Christopher Phipps from Diesel, A Bookstore suggested that The Three-Year Swim Club "could take the place of The Boys in the Boat." That is the exact kind of buzz a publisher dreams of--and reason enough for hosting a dinner even when the guest of honor cannot attend. "You make lemonade," said Franco. And dare we say, a splash? --Bridget Kinsella


Image of the Day: Celebrating Suzy Staubach

Last Saturday, many friends from the book world celebrated Suzy Staubach's career and retirement from the UConn Co-op at her lovely home in rural Connecticut. Among the crowd (from l.): Carole Horne of the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass.; Nan Sorensen of the New England Independent Booksellers Association; Staubach; and Fran Keilty of the Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, Conn.

Bookshops: 'Where Love Stories Begin'

In an ode to bookshops as places "where love stories begin," Bert Wright, curator of the Mountain to Sea dlr Book Festival and former bookseller, observed in the Irish Times that while there are many reasons to root for the survival of bricks-and-mortar bookstores, one of the most important "is the conviction that bookshops, like libraries, art galleries and theatres, satisfy a fundamental human appetite for culture and community and are therefore worth preserving. Always too, of course, there is the feeling that you meet more interesting people in bookshops."

Noting that the "notion of bookshops as hang-outs for cruising and schmoozing often crops up in novels and in popular culture in general," Wright added that "it's not just readers and writers who find bookshops romantic, for many a bookseller has met their soul mate on the job. Twenty years ago this August I met mine. Reader, I married her."

Cool Yet Sad Display Idea: 'Our Most Stolen Books'

From a post yesterday on the Facebook page for Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.: "Yes folks, it's a display of our most stolen books!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Eric Berkowitz on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Eric Berkowitz, author of The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Good Sex, Bad Laws, and Changing Identities (Counterpoint, $28, 9781619025295).


Tomorrow on WAMU's the Kojo Nnamdi Show: Ruth Galm, author of Into the Valley (Soho Press, $25, 978161695509).


Tomorrow on CNN's New Day and CNBC's Closing Bell: Claire McCaskill, co-author of Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476756752).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Joe Domanick, author of Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451641073).


Tomorrow night on Conan: Jason Segel, author of Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic (Delacorte, $16.99, 9780385744270).

Movies: Steve Jobs; Fantastic Beasts

The new trailer for Steve Jobs "opens with the line 'The two most significant events of the twentieth century: The Allies win the war and this.' It's difficult to argue the influence and importance of Steve Jobs, the controversial and mercurial co-founder of Apple. But this latest biopic, an adaptation of the Walter Isaacson biography of the same name, is looking to pull back the curtain," Word & Film wrote. With Michael Fassbender in the title role and Seth Rogen as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, the movie is directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and will be the centerpiece of this year's New York Film Festival before hitting theaters nationwide October 9.


Colin Farrell "is the latest Muggle to join the cast of the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off," Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," Entertainment Weekly reported. The film, directed by David Yates from J.K. Rowling's script, is scheduled for a December 2016 release. The cast also includes Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller and Alison Sudol.

Books & Authors

Awards: Goldies

The Golden Crown Literary Society announced winners of the 2015 Goldies, which are "dedicated to education, promotion and recognition of lesbian literature." The 11th annual awards ceremony "brought together lesbian fiction pioneers Rita Mae Brown, Lee Lynch, and Dorothy Allison, all sharing a stage for the first time," the Advocate reported. You can view a complete list of Goldies winners here.

Book Review

Review: The Wake

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Graywolf Press, $16 trade paper, 9781555977177, September 1, 2015)

The Wake is a singular debut novel by Paul Kingsnorth (One No, Many Yeses; Real England), set in England immediately following the Norman invasion of 1066. Its first-person narrator is a landowner named Buccmaster, who has lost everything to the attack: his family, his home, his land and his privilege. He takes to the fens and woods, with revenge in his heart and an intention to drive the French from his land and all of England. There he becomes one of the guerrilla fighters known as green men, whose chapter in history is little known.

What makes this powerful story distinctive is Kingsnorth's decision to write the story in what he calls a "shadow tongue," an Old English hybrid of the author's invention, made slightly more understandable to the modern reader. This choice presents an undeniable challenge to the reader, and requires substantial extra effort to pursue the story. (Hint: try reading aloud, to hear cognates and the rhythm of the speech). But Kingsnorth defends his strategy: it evocatively renders Buccmaster's voice, and brings to an already gripping saga a layer of new meaning, in that the reader has to participate in creating that meaning through interpreting unfamiliar words. A partial glossary deciphers some words, but many are left for the reader to define via context clues and, yes, guessing. Some readers will be turned away. But those who persist will find the language easier to follow after 20-40 pages, and will be rewarded by Buccmaster's riveting narrative.

Buccmaster is a follower of the eald (old) gods, as was his grandfather, the gods of wilde places on the earth and its wihts (creatures). His father was not. "I will not spec of my father," he says, but the story of his father is only one of the details that this unreliable narrator leaves out. As Buccmaster travels overland on foot, gathering companions who also wish to drive out the French, he journeys as well into the myths and traditions of his elders, and envisions a grand role for himself. The fate of his band of green men is as tenuous as that of England, as their leader struggles with reality.

The Wake is an ambitious novel in its themes and scope, in addition to its unusual linguistic decisions. As the English folc in his story become disconnected from their land, they lose their freedom: "if the frenc cums and tacs this land and gifs these treows [trees] sum frenc name they will not be the same treows no mor." As an impassioned defense of the natural world and people's responsibilities toward it, the novel acts as a metaphor for modern times. Buccmaster's personal narrative is a lesson in pride and its dangers, a glimpse of another culture in its own language. Kingsnorth's captivating first novel is thought provoking, multi-faceted and intriguingly rendered. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This compelling novel of resistance to the Norman Invasion, told in a hybrid of Old English, will satisfy motivated readers of history, ecology and the persistent pull of the old gods.

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