Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 28, 2016


Penguin Press: How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency by Akiko Busch

Celadon Books: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Anthony Bourdain/Ecco: Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison by Jason Rezaian

Grove Press: Solitary by Albert Woodfox

News

#WI 11: Rocky Mountain Highlights

As if to emphasize to Winter Institute attendees the changing fortunes of bookselling chains and the lasting power of print books vis-à-vis digital, down a short block from the WI hotel in Denver was a recently shuttered Barnes & Noble and across the street was a sign for an R.R. Donnelly office.

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The Winter Institute's hotel was in a section of Denver that featured many marijuana dispensaries (weed is legal in Colorado), which some attendees said were very professionally run, cash-only operations that carded all who entered. Asked how business was, one dispensary staff member said sales had jumped on Friday and were up substantially through the weekend--at least partly because of WI attendees, some of whom wore their WI/Shelf Awareness badges in the shop.

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Speaking about Amazon at a session on Sunday and wanting to make a point about the difficulties faced by new and emerging authors, Douglas Preston said of his co-author on many titles, Lincoln Child, "Once the only person who attended an event for me was Lincoln's mother, and once the only person who attended an event for Lincoln was my mother."

At the same session, Richard Russo remembered a bookstore reading early in his career "where the bookseller optimistically set out a dozen chairs, then filled half of them with store employees."

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During the session at which the Civic Economics/ABA study Amazon and Empty Storefronts was presented, Dan Houston and Matt Cunningham of Civic Economics mentioned the Amazon Prime program, which Cunningham called "a game changer," particularly because Prime Now aims to delivery orders to customers within two hours. When asked for a show of hands for Prime members in the room, not one of the nearly 200 people there responded, resulting in a round of applause.

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Amy Cuddy began her keynote at Sunday's breakfast by paying tribute to the Tattered Cover, which she knew well because she had lived for a time in Colorado. "For me," she said, "the Tattered Cover is the icon of indie bookstores. Its logo is burned into my heart. I was so excited to be seated at the Tattered Cover table. I felt like a celebrity." Then Cuddy, whose new book is Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (Little, Brown), choked up, saying, "I give a lot of talks, but I've never been more honored to speak to an audience."

During her talk, Cuddy mentioned a staff member at Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, Mass., who recognized Cuddy while Cuddy was writing in the store, approached her and said that her life had been changed by Cuddy's famous TED talk on how body language shapes people. It had encouraged her finally to take the MCAT for med school, something she had wanted to do for a long time but had put off again and again. She told Cuddy, Cuddy said, that she did "the Wonder Woman thing," took the test "and totally nailed it!"

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Congratulations to the hardworking staff of the American Booksellers Association, which nailed it once again, putting on an event that seems only to get better every year. As ABA CEO Oren Teicher said about the "debrief" session on Tuesday at the end of the Winter Institute, "the most astonishing thing was that the energy in that room was as high as it was at the opening party on Saturday." And a special shoutout to Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, Miami, Fla., who more than a decade ago, while ABA president, had the idea of a winter meeting of booksellers... --John Mutter


Franklin Fixtures Store of the Month: Story & Song


Contract Extension for Bertelsmann CEO Rabe

Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe and the company's supervisory board have reached an agreement to renew his contract for another five years. "Since taking office a good four years ago, he has strategically realigned the group to become faster growing, more digital and more international in the long term," said supervisory board chairman Christoph Mohn. "The progress made on this path under Thomas Rabe's leadership has been enormous."

Rabe said that in a changing market environment, "we will work to align Bertelsmann to its three pillars of media, services and education with a view to high growth and profitability, in order to ensure the long-term independence of this fascinating company. We will continue to devote all our strength towards this goal in the years ahead."


GLOW: Henry Holt & Company: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi


With Book About Audre Lorde, Villarosa Media Launches

Former bookseller Clara Villarosa and her two daughters--who together have more than 50 years of journalistic and book world experience--have founded Villarosa Media, a boutique publishing company of high-quality fiction and nonfiction books primarily by and about African Americans and the African diaspora.

Clara Villarosa (center in photo), is the founder of the Hue-Man Experience bookstore in Denver, Colo., and the Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem in New York City and a former American Booksellers Association board member. With her daughter Alicia (r.), she is also the author of Down to Business: The First 10 Steps to Entrepreneurship for Women, published by Avery in 2009. Linda Villarosa (l.) is a former executive editor of Essence Magazine and award-winning New York Times health editor, a journalism professor at the City College of New York and author. Alicia Villarosa is a freelance writer and blogger.

Villarosa Media will publish new books from established authors as well as classic books reissued in digital formats with POD capability. The trio will also "support emerging authors and publish new voices with an eye on stories from non-traditional genres," they said. And they will work with individuals and organizations with established platforms and a large social media presence but may need a book to better establish their brands.

Clara Villarosa commented: "I've experienced first hand the ups and downs of publishing, including the Black Book Renaissance, a time when black authors were a hot commodity. Everybody on the subway had their nose buried in a Terry McMillan book. Then a tsunami hit the industry, and mainstream publishers fled the black book market. Now the tide has turned and there's an opportunity. We're here to help fill the void and bridge the gap between readers and writers by providing readers access to excellent literature and an outlet and marketplace for authors to publish their works."

Villarosa Media's first book is The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde, edited by Dr. Gloria Joseph, Lorde's partner in the latter years of her life. Told griot style (an African oral tradition of storytelling to maintain historical ties to the past), this combination anthology and biography brings together a range of prominent authors and activists, who submitted essays, reflections, stories, poems, memoirs and photos that illuminate how Lorde's literary vision and her turbulent and triumphant life inspired so many. The book, a kind of call-and-response biography, also contains conversations with Lorde, Joseph's personal photos and travelogues, and remembrances from her three memorials, in New York City, Berlin and St. Croix.

Linda Villarosa called The Wind Is Spirit close to her heart, saying, "Audre Lorde's fearlessness has always been an inspiration, so working on this book is like being a part of literary history as well as my own. Even now I feel her presence, literally. While shooting video in St. Croix sometimes there would be a sudden gust of wind. Gloria would simply say, 'There's Audre again letting us know she's here.' "

The book will launch on February 18, 6:30-10 p.m., at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York City. Other events include a discussion and book signing with the author, moderated by Sonia Sanchez on February 17, 2-4 p.m., at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture; and readings and book signings February 23 at Westchester Community College and on February 29 in Syracuse, N.Y.


New Press: Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom


Ramona, Calif.'s Unicorn Books and Gifts Moves

Unicorn Books and Gifts, Ramona, Calif., east of San Diego, recently relocated and celebrated its fourth anniversary. The shop moved into a 1,400-square-foot space three years ago, but a rent increase forced it to move again. Unicorn Books and Gifts is now located in the Ramona Hotel, an historic two-story, 105-year-old building with a western-themed red facade.

At 600 square feet, the new space is a downsize for the store. However, the space is divided into rooms, which offers plenty of wall shelving, according to owner Stacy Bart. "Everything from the old shop fit into the new shop except for the used books," she said. "We have about half on the shelves and the rest in a 12x15-foot cottage at the back of the property. The cottage will eventually have space for events."

The move took 10 days from receiving the keys to reopening the shop. "We could not have done that without the help of some very dedicated customers and friends," Bart said. "The first Monday after we closed, two of our best customers came with boxes and began packing. Within hours they had packed almost half the shop. Over the next few days, people kept coming by with boxes and many spent hours packing."

Friends with trucks, a customer with a van and "one very dedicated employee" kept the move fluid during week of record rainstorms across Southern California. The store reopened on Monday, January 11, and celebrated its anniversary on January 15. "All in all, we are exhausted but happy," said Bart. "The new shop is up and running. The shelves are stocked and customers are finding us. It almost seems as if we have been here longer than a week."

In addition to new and used books, Unicorn sells jewelry, local art, soap, candles, crystals, other gifts and New Age items. It also hosts weekly guided meditations, author events, psychic readings and more. The new location is 845 Main Street, just a block away from the old store at 738 Main Street. --Tobias Mutter


Rare Bird Books, a Vireo Book: The Crown Lord by William Sirls


Obituary Note: Neil Middleton

Neil Middleton, who died December 8, was "one of the best and the brightest of a vanishing breed in publishing: a man who believed in the power of the written word in the global struggle for social justice and emancipation," Pluto Press managing director Anne Beech wrote in the Bookseller. Middleton was 83. His first publishing job was with Sheed & Ward During the 1950s. He joined Penguin in the 1970s, where he "published the early work of authors who are now part of the progressive canon, including Sheila Rowbotham, Tariq Ali, R D Laing and countless others." In the early 1980s, he became editorial director of Pluto Press, and then established a new, independent publishing imprint, Earthscan, in 1987. Middleton also wrote several books on development and sustainability around the world.

Beech observed that Middleton's "scholarly antennae were second to none. His humanity, commitment, passion and joie de vivre were legendary. He will be sadly missed and exuberantly remembered by his many friends in what, with hindsight, seems a very different publishing world, one in which ideas and ideals were central--and made a difference."


Notes

Image of the Day: Stewart F. Lane at BroadwayCon

photo: Anthony Pomes

Stewart F. Lane, holding his book Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way (Square One), was joined by Kalyne Coleman (left) and Steven McCasland (right), both with Drama Book Shop, during Lane's book signing on day one of the first-ever BroadwayCon this past Friday at the Hilton Midtown in New York City.


On Exhibit: Outwrite Bookstore's Sign

The Atlanta History Center "is giving folks a way to reminisce" about Outwrite Bookstore, which closed in 2012 after 18 years in business, by showcasing a sign from the 10th Street side of the store in its Atlanta In 50 Objects exhibit. Georgia Voice reported that the sign was chosen "to represent the city's LGBT community after the Atlanta History Center solicited the public for ideas for objects that best represent Atlanta."

"I did not expect that they would want a piece that was as huge as the sign--it is 4 feet high by 11 feet wide," said former owner Philip Rafshoon. "It was stored at a good friend's house and I had actually forgotten exactly what it looked like.... I believe it is a fantastic way to include an LGBT landmark in this exhibit and I am very proud that it is included with other Atlanta landmarks such as the Varsity and Coca-Cola. Outwrite was not only a place for members of our community to gather, learn, and improve their lives but our visibility helped change the general public's attitudes about our lives."

Don Rooney, director of exhibitions and co-curator of Atlanta in 50 Objects, said, "We looked at the Outwrite sign eventually as something spanning time, and subject. It marked a geographic site, important in Atlanta's LGBTQ community.... Outwrite served as social, intellectual, and cultural meeting place. The sign as artifact would be something familiar, yet gone, for many people who had passed through that intersection over time."


Longleaf Services Adds New Clients

Longleaf Services, founded by the University of North Carolina Press in 2006 to provide fulfillment for university presses and non-profit publishers, has added three new clients. Longleaf will provide fulfillment and publisher services for Cornell University Press and the University of Georgia Press effective July 1, 2016. The University of Calgary Press will receive U.S. sales, marketing and fulfillment services effective March 1.

In 2014, Ingram began managing warehousing, fulfillment, POD and e-book content management solutions for Longleaf Services. Longleaf's other clients are Louisiana State University Press, Rutgers University Press, Syracuse University Press, University of Nebraska Press and University of the West Indies Press.

Personnel Changes at Hachette

Anthony Goff has been promoted to senior v-p, content development and audio publisher, at Hachette Book Group and has joined the executive management board. He started at Hachette in 2003 and has led the audio division since 2006. He is a past president of the Audio Publishers Association, where he currently serves as vice president.


Media and Movies

Bookish Ballet Trailer: The Most Incredible Thing

Check out this trailer for Justin Peck's 10th ballet for the New York City Ballet, in which he "tackles his most ambitious work to date--The Most Incredible Thing. Featuring a cast of more than 50, Peck collaborates with composer Bryce Dessner (The National) and contemporary artist Marcel Dzama to bring Hans Christian Andersen's dark 1870 fairy tale of the same name to the stage."


This Weekend on Book TV: Eddie S. Glaude Jr. on Democracy in Black

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, January 30
1 p.m. Edward Lucas, author of Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781632862259). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

5 p.m. Peter Whybrow, author of The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived (Norton, $27.95, 9780393072921). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 a.m.)

6:30 p.m. T.H. Breen, author of George Washington's Journey: The President Forges a New Nation (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451675429), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. Donald Alexander Downs, author of Arms and the University: Military Presence and the Civic Education of Non-Military Students (Cambridge University Press, $39.99, 9780521773218). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Tom Lewis, author of Washington: A History of Our National City (Basic Books, $40, 9780465039210). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m.)

9:15 p.m. Elaine C. Kamarck, author of Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates (Brookings Institution Press, $20, 9780815727750), at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:15 p.m.)

10 p.m. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul (Crown, $26, 9780804137416). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)

11 p.m. Craig Lambert, author of Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day (Counterpoint, $26, 9781619025257). (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)


Sunday, January 31
12:15 a.m. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue, authors of These United States: A Nation in the Making, 1890 to the Present (Norton, $39.95, 9780393239522), at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, N.J. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

5:15 p.m. Tim Flannery, author of Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, 9780802124067). (Re-airs Monday at 6:45 a.m.)



Books & Authors

Awards: Colby; Strauss Living

Nisid Hajari won the 2016 William E. Colby Award, which is presented annually by Norwich University "to a first-time author in recognition of a work of fiction or nonfiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations or international affairs," for Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Hajari, who receives a $5,000 author honorarium provided through a grant from the Tawani Foundation, will be honored during the William E. Colby Military Writers' Symposium April 7.

Carlo D'Este, executive director of the Colby Symposium, described Midnight's Furies as "noteworthy, superbly readable and very timely," adding that Hajari's book explores not only one of the "most historic events of the twentieth century but one that has powerful implications for the vital interests of the United States in one of the most unstable and dangerous regions of the world, where extremism and terrorism prevail."

Hajari, who oversees Asia coverage for Bloomberg View, the editorial page of Bloomberg News, said, "To join the company of such distinguished military and historical writers as Jon Meacham and Dexter Filkins is a tremendous honor, and it's particularly gratifying that the judges chose to highlight a subject that may be unfamiliar to many American readers."

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The American Academy of Arts has given authors Jesmyn Ward and Adam Haslett the Strauss Living award, which "provides winning writers $100,000 for each of two years to 'devote time exclusively to writing.' Both must forego paid employment for those two years," the Associated Press reported. Ward's novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award. Haslett's books include You Are Not a Stranger Here, which was a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist, as well as an upcoming novel, Imagine Me Gone.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 2:

The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544387669) explores the first African-American presidency.

The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family by Gail Lumet Buckley (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802124548) chronicles six generations of one family's history.

Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine, $28.95, 9780345541406) is the 31st mystery with psychologist Alex Delaware.

Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb (Berkley, $28, 9780399170898) is the 42nd In Death mystery.

Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron (Soho Crime, $25.95, 9781616954253) is the 13th entry in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series.

In the Land of Armadillos: Stories by Helen Maryles Shankman (Scribner, $25, 9781501115196) sets a series of short stories in Nazi-occupied Poland.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780618663026) follows an opera singer in 19th-century Paris.

Beasts and Children by Amy Parker (Mariner, $15.95, 9780544370135) is a collection of short stories about interconnected families.

Fast into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail by Debbie Clarke Moderow (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544484122) is the memoir of an Iditarod dog sledder.

Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor (Riverhead, $30, 9781594487101) is a history of individual Iranians trying to shape their country's future.

United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists by Peter Bergen (Crown, $28, 9780804139540) explores Islamist terrorists born and raised in the United States.

My Broken Pieces: Mending the Wounds From Sexual Abuse Through Faith, Family and Love by Rosie Rivera (Celebra, $26, 9781101990063) is the memoir of the sister of Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera.

Paperbacks:
Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It by Grace Helbig (Touchstone, $19.99, 9781501120589).

Always Too Much and Never Enough: A Memoir by Jasmin Singer (Berkley, $16, 9780425279571).

Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls by Lindsay King-Miller (Plume, $16, 9780147516787).

Movie:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on Seth Grahame-Smith's reimagining of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, opens February 5. A movie tie-in (Quirk Books, $14.95, 9781594748899) is available.


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
The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell (Soho Crime, $25.95, 9781616955908). "Alienation and obsession are dissected in this unsettling, spare novel. Nishikawa, a listless college student, happens upon a dead man during a nighttime walk. He inexplicably picks up the pistol lying by the body and brings it to his apartment. From this precipitous moment, the weapon becomes an obsession. Nishikawa finds his tedious reality taking on new meaning through the possibilities of an object that was designed to kill, and yet he must conceal his fetish from his classmates, lovers, and--most importantly--the police, who suspect that he has the gun. This award-winning noir novel, translated from Japanese, is an unflinching, dark story of one man's expanding consciousness--and threat." --Cindy Pauldine, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

The Children's Home: A Novel by Charles Lambert (Scribner, $24, 9781501117398). "Tragically disfigured and reclusive, Morgan lives in a secluded country estate with only his housekeeper, Engel, to keep him company--until the children start to arrive. The first, an infant named Moira, is left in a basket on the doorstep; others soon follow--including the oddly precocious David--the eldest at five years old. But what does the children's enigmatic presence portend for Morgan and the world in which he lives? Through lyrical prose, Lambert creates an absorbing and dream-like narrative that recalls both the pastoral gothic of Shirley Jackson and the dystopic vision of John Wyndham." --Dan Doody, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

Paperback
West of Sunset: A Novel by Stewart O'Nan (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143128243). "This novel begins after F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda have streaked across the Jazz Age sky like bright, shiny shooting stars. Scott is in Hollywood working as a script doctor and shakily holding on to sobriety; Zelda is in a mental hospital clinging to sanity just as tenuously. Unaccustomed to the workaday world, Scott struggles to prove his worth in Hollywood by showing up to work on time, paying his bills, and living a life of quiet desperation. Gone are the days of wine and roses; Scott must now learn to live as if there is a tomorrow. O'Nan offers a subtle portrait of an American icon as an ordinary man attempting to redefine himself after nearly losing it all." --Kerry Spaulding, University Book Store, Mill Creek, Wash.

For Ages 4 to 8
Violet and Victor Write the Most Fabulous Fairy Tale by Alice Kulpers, illustrated by Bethanie Murguia (Little, Brown, $17, 9780316212021). "Violet is quite imaginative, while Victor is rather realistic. Violet is on a quest to write the best fairy tale ever, while Victor doesn't see the point. But when they collaborate on a story, something special happens! Twins Violet and Victor have a relationship not unlike most siblings, with enough rivalry to make the tale realistic, but also demonstrating how much good and fun can come from cooperation." --Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban (FSG, $16.99, 9780374302160). "In Sepahban's debut novel, Manami literally loses her voice when her family is forcibly relocated from Bainbridge Island, Washington, to the Manzanar internment camp in California. Now relying on her family members, Manami attempts to make sense of the new circumstances of her life. Despite the systematic containment of her new experiences, Manami must decide what is worth speaking up about. Based on the strong first-person narration, readers know Manami's voice is worth hearing, but will she realize it in time to make a difference?" --Toffer Lehnherr, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn.

For Teen Readers: Revisit & Rediscover
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger (Speak, $8.99, 9780142413432). "Three high school seniors are given an assignment to reflect on their favorite times in high school and My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger is the funny, thoughtful, and oh-so-sweet product. Alejandra, T.C., and Augie tell their stories in alternating chapters, remembering school musicals, baseball games, Mary Poppins, social activism, and the year they made a little boy's dream come true." --Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Private Citizens

Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte (Morrow, $14.99 paperback, 9780062399106, February 9, 2016)

With Stanford degrees, plenty of drugs and alcohol, and a fragile sense of purpose, the four friends in Tony Tulathimutte's first novel, Private Citizens, struggle to succeed in early 21st-century San Francisco. A Stanford graduate himself, Tulathimutte is wise to the jargon, angst and self-centered preoccupations of these smart Silicon Valley millennials buzzing around the edges of adulthood. There's recently defunded post-doc scientist Henrik, who finds a welcoming place to hole-up with his generous friend Will, a "short Asian guy" with a vast digital porn collection and a fixation on the disabled entrepreneur and former teen pageant queen Vanya. Child of privilege and aspiring social-activist Cory is annoyed by her libertine former roommate Linda's seeming ease among San Francisco's underground--although would-be writer and transplanted New Yorker Linda has nothing nice to say about the City by the Bay: "This little ukulele-strumming cuddle party... was nothing but a collapsed soufflé of sex kitsch and performance readings, book clubs, writing workshops... [where] the little journals and bookstores were on a drip-feed of pledge drives, and the only thing to say about the McSweeney's tweehouse of interns was that they had nice packaging."

Private Citizens is at its best when Tulathimutte takes on his character's various hustles to get ahead in the real world. Cory is trying to revive the nearly insolvent nonprofit Socialize with a free festival in Dolores Park on Pride Weekend. To fund it, however, requires her to rely on big corporate sponsors and her father's largesse. As quid pro quo, he insists that she attend a Marin business retreat where, with self-righteous distaste, she overhears a couple of young digital entrepreneurs in hoodies and cargo shorts discuss their start-up plans: "Still in stealth mode working on rollout strategy.... Invite-only beta. Gotta roll out the front-end and monetization, do a bit of dogfood, then UX the unwashed before we demo at South By." Will is writing code for Vanya's webcam scheme, Sable, which she pitches to early-stage venture money as "in the disability space... [where] the tent is as big as it gets: The hearing and vision impaired. Little people. MD, MS, CP, CF. The whole autism spectrum. Wounded veterans, paraplegics, diabetics." Linda avoids writing as a serious vocation by drifting through high-voltage drug parties in high-end apartments with "the framed Chris Ware panels, the wall-mounted collector's guitars and Godard poster." Sidetracked by cutbacks in science research grants, Henrik redirects his energy toward breaking through Linda's sarcastic, nihilist façade to connect in a more serious romantic relationship.

Tulathimutte transcends the easy potshots at millennial sanctimony to capture the sincerity of his protagonists' friendship, and their real desire and effort to be decent participants in an adult community. School's over, and it's time for them to be "private citizens" in a world they may not have made but which is all the world they have. He has put his hyper-critical generation under a magnifying glass and found compassion and generosity after all. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Tulathimutte's funny, observant first novel tracks the lives of four self-absorbed Stanford graduate millennials trying to make it in San Francisco.


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