Also published on this date: Wednesday, August 19, 2015: Maximum Shelf: The Story of My Tits

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Little Brown and Company: A Line in the Sand by Kevin Powers

Berkley Books: Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Berkley Books: The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Ballantine Books: The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley


University of Akron Press Back in Business

The University of Akron Press, which was shuttered in July as part of the school's effort to trim $40 million in expenses, has new life. The Beacon Journal reported the university rehired staff members Carol Slatter and Amy Freels. Jon Miller, associate professor of English, will serve as transitional director, taking over for Thomas Bacher.

University president Scott Scarborough said the press "has been and will continue to be a vital part of the academic core of this institution."

The earlier decision, along with other cuts, "helped fuel a swell of negative publicity against the university and led to a protest last week outside the board of trustees meeting, where Scarborough and the trustees admitted that they have made mistakes when rolling out the financial plan," the Beacon Journal wrote.

UA Press operations will be moved into the University Libraries system and the school "will take all steps necessary to make sure it maintains its well-earned reputation as a vibrant, active academic press, and to maintain its full membership in the Association of American University Presses," Scarborough added. "It will honor all existing publishing commitments, continue to seek out new, high-quality works to add to its catalog, and proudly continue to support its nationally recognized poetry series."

Editorial board member Kevin Kern said the university president's statement "strikes the right tone and seems to be a long-term commitment."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

Mississippi Authors Call for Change to State Flag

Authors John Grisham, Richard Ford and Kathryn Stockett joined other notable Mississippians, including actor Morgan Freeman and former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, in signing a letter that called for removal of the Confederate emblem on Mississippi's state flag.

"It is simply not fair, or honorable, to ask black Mississippians to attend schools, compete in athletic events, work in the public sector, serve in the National Guard, and go about their normal lives with a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved," the full-page ad in Monday's Clarion-Ledger titled "A Flag for All of Us" stated. "It's time for Mississippi to fly a flag for all its people."

Greg Iles, another author who signed the letter, said "clinging to the past through symbols is hurting Mississippi now. And it has the potential to cripple economic development going forward."

Grisham noted that the change is "simply the right thing to do, and at the right time. The war is over. Let's preserve its history and heritage but get rid of the symbols that continue to divide us."

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Quarto Publishing Launches Seagrass Imprint

In fall 2016, Quarto Publishing Group USA is launching Seagrass, a children's book imprint that will publish 12-16 titles annually. Josalyn Moran, formerly v-p of children's books at Barnes & Noble, children's publishing director at Chronicle Books and, most recently, v-p of publishing at Albert Whitman & Company, will develop the list.

"Seagrass Press is an ideal name for a children’s book publisher," Moran said. "A seagrass meadow protects the shoreline and is the ideal environment for juvenile coastal wildlife, both nurturing and sheltering young animals and plants as they grow. Seagrass Press will publish highly visual and immersive books for children in grades pre-K-5; books that feature the wonders of the physical world--land, sea and air, and earth's human, animal and plant inhabitants."

Ken Fund, president of Quarto Publishing Group USA, commented: "As Quarto continues to expand our children's publishing program, both here in the U.S. and abroad, Josalyn's keen insight into the marketplace provides a unique opportunity for a creative and diverse new imprint. We're thrilled she's joining the team."

Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

Hummingbird Aims to 'Democratize E-Book Retailing'

American West Books, Sanger, Calif., a major book supplier to Costco, Sam's Club, Whole Foods and other retailers, has founded Hummingbird Digital Media, which will supply organizations and individuals, including independent bookstores, with a turnkey program that allows them to offer clients and customers a catalogue of the most popular e-books and audiobooks. The program is also available for nonprofits, print and online media, book publishers, professional associations, chain retailers, conferences, book clubs, speakers, bloggers and authors.

The company slogan is "We're democratizing e-book retailing," and it wrote, "Imagine a world where e-book sales were not dominated by three huge companies. Imagine a world where thousands of individuals and organizations could compete with Apple's iBooks, Amazon's Kindle, and Barnes & Noble's Nook."

"What we've developed is a program where anyone and everyone can get into the e-book and audiobook business with a few mouse clicks," Stephen Blake Mettee, Hummingbird Digital Media president and chief visionary officer. "We like to say we are unleashing the power of the many."

The HDM platform will launch in the fall; anyone interesting in joining its merchant network may register at There is no charge to become a merchant.

The program includes an app for reading and listening and a web-based storefront for the discovery, purchasing and downloading of digital media. The app is operating-system agnostic, meaning it works on iPhone, iPad, Android devices such as Nook and Samsung, and the Kindle Fire. Both the app and the storefront carry the brand identity of the organization or individual.

The e-book and audiobook catalogue will include "hundreds of thousands" of titles from thousands of publishers, including Workman, Sourcebooks, Macmillan and HarperCollins.

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake


Image of the Day: Writers' League & Pulpwood Queens

From Kathy L. Murphy, owner of Beauty & the Book, Hawkins, Tex., and founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club: "I attended a Writers' League of Texas workshop recently at the Waskom Public Library. What the Writer's League is doing through grants is have these workshops all over the state for free. Talked a long time with Suzy Spencer of the league and they have excellent new programs for writers, including a half-hour consultation free for members and more including their incredible Writers and Agents Conference in Austin. Two more workshops coming up in East Texas and I am attending. Here I am with my Pulpwood Queen authors and peeps and all of them are coming to our 2016 Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend!" Pictured from l. to r.: Suzy Spencer, Lisa Wingate, Kellie Coates Gilbert, Judy Christie, Kathy L. Murphy and Tiajauna Anderson Neel.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Happy 140th, Burke's Book Store

Congratulations to Burke's Book Store, Memphis, Tenn., which is celebrating 140 years of independent bookselling this year. Opened in 1875 by Walter Burke on North Main Street, Burke's is one of the city's oldest businesses and has been hosting several anniversary events, leading to an open house in the fall.

In conjunction with the anniversary celebration, Burke's has launched a "Buy Burke's an Anniversary Gift" IOBY fundraising campaign to purchase a custom delivery tricycle, which will be used for neighborhood deliveries, store events and activities, and possibly a bookmobile cart.

Indie Bookseller is National Poetry Slam Champion

Melissa Lozada-Oliva performs at the 2015 National Championship in Oakland. (photo: Adam Rubinstein)

Melissa Lozada-Oliva, a supervisor at Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., was part of the House Slam's five-person team that beat 71 other competitors from all over the U.S. to become National Poetry Slam Champions. WBUR reported that the 2015 National Championship in Oakland, Calif., "was four nights of slam poetry that began last Wednesday. It came down to four teams performing Saturday night at Oakland's Scottish Rite Theater-- Hawaii; Berkeley, California; Denver, Colorado; and House Slam from Boston."

In the fourth and final round, Lozada-Oliva "responded to a New York poet's mocking of millennial women's ways of speaking by charging that 'men silence women's voices,' " WBUR noted.

"I knew that when Melissa did her last poem, when we got the first judge's score, that we'd won," said Janae Johnson, who co-founded the House Slam in July 2014 with Porsha Olayiwola. "There were definitely tears."

Personnel Changes at Ingram

At Ingram Content Group:

Margaret Harrison has been named director of product metadata. Before joining Ingram, she was e-book global supply chain manager at Oxford University Press.

Ed Spade has been named senior content acquisition manager. Formerly he was director of digital publisher for Nickelodeon.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Orr on Diane Rehm

Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: David Orr, author of The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594205835).


Tomorrow on SiriusXM Radio's the Maggie Linton Show: D.S. Lliteras, author of Viet Man (Rainbow Ridge, dist. by Square One, $16.95, 9781937907327).

On Stage: Kaytek the Wizard

Kaytek the Wizard, a 1933 children's novel by Janusz Korczak, will be staged as a marionette show at next June's Nashville International Puppet Festival. Based on the 2012 English translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and published by Penlight Publications, the production is being adapted by Brian Hull, who has been writer/director of children's programming at the Nashville Public Library since 1997 and created several previous literature-based puppet programs, including a Shakespeare series. The library's first International Puppet Festival in 2008 brought in 18,000 people, and the second in 2013 attracted more than 21,000.

Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Dr. Henryk Goldszmit, a pediatrician and child psychologist who ran a Warsaw orphanage on innovative educational principles. When the orphans were transported from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, he insisted on staying with them. They died in the Treblinka concentration camp. Goldszmit left behind a large written legacy, including books on education, plays, essays and stories for children

TV: Loving Day; Luna: New Moon

Showtime has acquired the rights to Mat Johnson's recently published, semi-autobiographical novel Loving Day as a potential comedy series, and "talks are underway with high-end writers to collaborate with the author on penning the adaptation," reported. Johnson will executive produce the project, along with Peter Gethers (Lay the Favorite) and Jeffrey Levine (Too Big to Fail) of Random House Studio.


NCIS: Lost Angeles showrunner Shane Brennan and CBS Television Studios have secured the rights to Luna: New Moon, the first book in an upcoming science fiction series by Ian McDonald, reported. Brennan will write the adaptation. The book is being published September 22 by Tor.

Books & Authors

Awards: Center for Fiction First Novel Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for the $10,000 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. The winner will be announced December 8 in New York City. This year's shortlisted titles are:

After the Parade by Lori Ostlund (Scribner)
Against the Country by Ben Metcalf (Random House)
Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam (Penguin)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown)
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press)
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus (FSG)

Book Brahmin: Michael Dirda

photo: Chester Simpson

Michael Dirda, a weekly book columnist for the Washington Post, is the author of Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books (Pegasus Books, August 15, 2015). He is also the author of a memoir, An Open Book, and of four previous collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure. His biographical-critical study, On Conan Doyle, received a 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the online Barnes & Noble Review and several other literary periodicals, as well as an occasional lecturer and college teacher. In 1993, he received the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

On your nightstand now:

The Sea of Blood by Reggie Oliver (Dark Renaissance Books), selected short stories--two dozen in all--by one of the best living writers of "strange tales." Also, the spring 2015 issue of Wormwood, "a journal of the fantastic, supernatural and decadent," published by Tartarus Press and edited by the multi-talented Mark Valentine, whose own weird tales are wonderful and varied. Not least, a slew of mysteries by Paul Halter, Yukito Ayatsuji, Noël Vindry and others from Locked Room International.

Always on my nightstand: The Literary Life: A Scrapbook Almanac of the Anglo-American Literary Scene, 1900-1950 by Robert Phelps and Peter Deane; The Guide to Supernatural Fiction by Everett F. Bleiler; and Tellers of Tales: British Authors of Children's Books from 1800-1964 by Roger Lancelyn Green.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Elementary school: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas--perhaps the greatest of all adventure novels, as well as an inspirational example of the power of education.

Junior high school: Walden by Henry David Thoreau. If I could, I would write like Thoreau.

High school: Immortal Poems of the English Language edited by Oscar Williams. I memorized many of these poems as I walked to high school. Best thing I ever did as a teenager.

Your top five authors:

William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Stendhal, Anton Chekhov, P.G. Wodehouse.

Book you've faked reading:

None. As a book reviewer, you can't afford to fake knowledge of a book you haven't actually read. But there are plenty of books I should have read, that people think I've read, but that I haven't (e.g., Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time and Samuel Richardson's Clarissa). They've been on my "to be read" list for a long time, and someday I hope to get round to them.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Just one? My whole career has been built on telling other readers about books I love and that they might love too. Can I pick a subgenre? The Icelandic sagas. Imagine spaghetti westerns with swords. But the book I've read more often than any other is Stendhal's autobiographical Vie de Henry Brulard (The Life of Henry Brulard). Another favorite I champion is James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner--similar to, but in some ways better than, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And a third is wistful Cyril Connolly's The Unquiet Grave. Mon semblable, mon frère! And then there are the essays of Vincent Starrett, and the uncategorizably wonderful short stories of Howard Waldrop, and the mysteries of Edmund Crispin, and almost everything Jack Vance ever wrote ("Ixax at the best of times was a dreary planet"), and Jan Morris's Hav, about the best of all imaginary cities, and so many others.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Backwoods Teaser by Gil Brewer (Gold Medal Books, 1960). From the cover: "She wasn't exactly a tramp..." The artist? Robert McGinnis, of course. His are the impossibly gorgeous women guys of my generation dreamed about--and sometimes still do.

Book that changed your life:

Nikos Kazantzakis's Zorba the Greek. I read the book when I was 16 and came to a sentence, written by a repressed young Englishman who has just met the larger-than life Zorba. It said, "I had fallen so low that if I had had to choose between falling in love with a woman and reading a book about love, I would have chosen the book." Recognizing myself, I finished the novel and went out on my first date the following week.

Favorite line from a book:

An impossible question. My little Book by Book is a collection, with mini-essays, of favorite passages and quotations from my reading. But here are two longtime favorites.

"As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there,
Or a general raises his hand and is given the field-glasses,
Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind.
Something will come to you...." --Richard Wilbur, opening of "Walking to Sleep"

"We refilled our glasses with cognac, after which all things seemed possible." --William Gerhardie, Doom

Which character you most relate to:

It depends on what you mean by "relate to." A fictional character I want to be like? Bond, James Bond. A character I am somewhat like? On good days, Kim, from Rudyard Kipling's novel; on bad ones, Eeyore, from A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. My favorite character in fiction? Elizabeth Bennet, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Jorkens Remembers Africa by Lord Dunsany. I found these tall tales--told by a bibulous old clubman--filed under "Travel" in my high school's library. On the title page, a frontispiece shows a hunter in desperate combat with a unicorn. Each story is more fantastic and more wonderful than the last. Plus, Dunsany is one of the great masters of evocative English prose.

Motto above your desk:

"It was not by gentle sweetness and self-abnegation that order was brought out of chaos; it was by strict method, by stern discipline, by rigid attention to detail, by ceaseless labor, by the fixed determination of an indomitable will." --Lytton Strachey, on Florence Nightingale (from Eminent Victorians)

Book Review

Children's Review: Little Elliot, Big Family

Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato, illus. by Mike Curato (Holt, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780805098266, October 6, 2015)

Little Elliot, a very small, polka-dotted elephant from 1940s Manhattan, met his best friend in Mike Curato's Little Elliot, Big City, but now, in Little Elliot, Big Family, he feels quite lonely when Mouse scurries off to a family reunion without him.

Mouse is hoping her (or his, but let's say her) grandmother made an extra-large batch of cheese chowder for her "parents, grandparents, 15 brothers, 19 sisters, 25 aunts, 27 uncles, and 147 cousins" who will be attending the festivities. Evidently not one for sedentary moping, Elliot decides to leave his quiet brownstone to take a walk through the city streets. Nostalgic, Edward Hopper-esque scenes (in "pencil with digital color," says Curato) capture the essence of New York City in the winter: a ride on the subway with bundled-up people, Central Park's leafless trees, children skating at Rockefeller Center, a moody view across the water of the Statue of Liberty. No one notices the small elephant, but he sees fathers and daughters, sisters sharing secrets, grandmothers singing to babies... and it makes him feel even more alone. Even the Montrose movie theater's showing of Jungle Adventure is deserted, and the double-page spread where Elliot's little white head bobs in a darkened sea of burgundy seats is poignant indeed.

Emerging into the freshly fallen snow after the movie, Elliot hears his name in the night. "Was it the wind? No, it was Mouse. 'I missed you!' said Mouse. 'I missed you too,' said Elliot." Without further ado, Mouse and Elliot traipse off to the family reunion--a lavish candlelit feast in a human's attic, with dozens of white mice dancing, eating and making merry surrounded by golf clubs, steamer trunks and, happily, a steaming tureen of cheese chowder. (A sneak preview of the party in the opening pages shows the mice using bottle caps for plates, and alphabet blocks and spools of thread for seats, Borrowers-style.) The mice make a game out of sliding off Elliot's trunk onto a makeshift trampoline, and he plays the squeeze box with the band. "At the end of the day, Mouse counted the whole family again... and added one more."

Children often feel like outsiders for so many reasons, and that lonesome feeling is reflected here in handsome, sweeping city scenes in muted hues, each haunted by the tiny white elephant, a solitary observer of a busy world where it seems that everyone has family but him. Elliot's warm welcome into the mouse family is a happy ending to the aching story of longing to belong. Icing on the cupcake: keen readers who examine endpapers will spot a framed image of Elliot and Mouse amid the funny, fantastically elaborate Mouse family portrait gallery, featuring some rodent riffs on famous paintings like Picasso's The Old Guitarist and Van Gogh's Sunflowers. --Karin Snelson, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Elliot, the tiny elephant from New York City, and his best friend, Mouse, star in this satisfying-as-cheese-chowder story of friendship and family.

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