Also published on this date: Thursday, June 2: Maximum Shelf: I Will Send Rain

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 2, 2016

Workman Publishing: What a Blast!: Fart Games, Fart Puzzles, Fart Pranks, and More Farts! by Julie Winterbottom, illustrated by Clau Souza

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

St. Martin's Press: Wild: The Life of Peter Beard: Photographer, Adventurer, Lover by Graham Boynton

Bloomsbury Publishing: Girlhood by Melissa Febos

Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West


New Owners for Eagle Harbor Book Company in Washington

New owners Dave and Jane Danielson

Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash., has been bought by Jane and Dave Danielson. She is a longtime bookseller at the store and previously was events manager. He practiced maritime law before becoming a transitional justice and human rights lawyer focusing in Africa. The two plan, they said, to expand the store in new directions while "preserving the strengths and appeal of the current business."

The former owners are Morley Horder, René Kirkpatrick and Tim Hunter. Horder purchased the store in 1997, then brought in Kirkpatrick and Hunter in 2012 as managing partners so he could focus on several other business interests, including Handseller software for other indies.

"This bookstore has nourished and supported me, and I plan to pay it forward," Jane Danielson said. "We will continue to provide meticulous service, while expanding our focus to becoming a hub for cultural discourse, and community discussions.

"Bainbridge Islanders clearly consider us their bookstore," she continued. "We will work hard to maintain and grow that connection. We see a bright future for this independent bookstore."

Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley

powerHouse Arena Moving to Smaller Space in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The powerHouse Arena bookstore

powerHouse Arena at 37 Main St. in Brooklyn, N.Y., is closing its 10-year-old bookstore, gallery, boutique and performance and events space in the Dumbo section on June 30 and will reopen this summer as a bookstore without the arena space at 32 Adams St., "a few blocks away," according to Brokelyn.

Owner Daniel Power told Brokelyn that the landlord, which has helped the store over the years, wanted to more than double powerHouse Arena's $20,000 per month rent--which is considered significantly below market--but is assisting with the move to the new location, which it also owns.

The new store will have a different name and won't include powerHouse publishing, which is moving to 55 Washington St. For now, the store is holding a sale on just about everything, including books, other products as well as fixtures, furnishings and supplies.

Power told dnainfo that the new store is about half the size of the current space and includes a 600-square-foot mezzanine. He added that the store aims to partner with local businesses for events attracting crowds of more than 100, the maximum for its new location.

KidsBuzz for the Week of 05.16.22

Auntie's Bookstore Update: Clarifying the Transition

Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, Wash., offered further details regarding the transition of ownership that was reported earlier this week. According to head book buyer Melissa Opel, yesterday marked "the beginning of a transition process. Chris O'Harra will legally remain the sole owner and operator of Auntie's Inc. During this time period, John Waite will train with staff, become familiar with the day-to-day operations of the store and broaden his knowledge of Auntie's customer base and needs."

The bookstore is currently introducing Waite "as the new face of the store," Opel noted. "Chris's health has led her to look towards retirement, but will be in-store the majority of the transition period as an integral part of the training process. Our publisher reps, wholesalers and vendors can rest assured that Auntie's is moving forward with business as usual and will set up new accounts as the sale finalizes. Accounts will continue to be guaranteed by Chris O'Harra, with the additional financial guarantee from John Waite."

Blackstone Publishing: Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard

Indie Bookstore Day 2016: Average Store Gain 200%

In a survey of the 430 bookstores that participated in the second annual Independent Bookstore Day, held April 30, 94% of respondents (about two-thirds of participants) reported a sales increase compared to an average April Saturday and stores were up "an average of 200%" compared to a gain of 70% the previous year. Some 98% of stores said that they would participate again next year.

Altogether, 24,485 IBD items were ordered and shipped, and 375,000 IBD bookmarks were distributed. The most popular of the 11 exclusive items were The Neil Gaiman Coloring Book (HarperCollins), which had a print run of 4,150 and a one-day sell through rate of 84%, and the Bookstore Cats pencil pouch (Out of Print), which had a print run of 2,620 and a one-day sell through rate of 87%.

IBD received a lot of attention in traditional media, with more than 225 stories, up from 170 in 2015, in media ranging from the Los Angeles Times, HuffPo Books, the Boston Globe, USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle to the Florida Weekly, the Gainesville Sun, the Idaho Statesman and the Brooklyn Daily. Shelf Awareness is proud to be a media partner of IBD.

In social media, both #bookstoreday and #indiebookstoreday were trending the day before and on Independent Bookstore Day. On Facebook, IBD reached nearly 25,000 people, and in April, there were 404,000 Twitter impressions and 15,400 profile visits from Twitter.

States with the most participating stores were California, with 64; New York, 27; Washington, 18; Massachusetts, 17; and Illinois, 17.

IBD program director Samantha Schoech thanked a range of sponsors, people who provided all sorts of help, the regional independent booksellers associations, and "all our booksellers who came together to make Bookstore Day one huge, nationwide book party! Long live indie bookstores, readers, authors, and the whole book nerd ecosystem."

Next year's Independent Bookstore Day takes place on Saturday, April 29.

Ace Books: The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

Indigo Full Year: Revenue Jumps 11%

During the fiscal year ended April 2, revenue at Indigo Books & Music grew 11%, to C$994.2 million (about US$759.2 million), and net earnings were C$28.6 million (US$21.8 million) compared to a net loss of C$3.5 million (US$2.7 million) last year.

The company said revenues grew because of "continued double-digit growth in the general merchandise business and high single-digit growth in the core book business, boosted by the trend for adult coloring books.... The improvement in earnings was driven by revenue growth, improved margin rate, proceeds from the disposal of a lease and a lower tax expense."

During this year's 53-week reporting period, the company had seven fewer stores.

Sales at Indigo and Chapters superstores open at least 52 weeks increased 12.8% while sales at Coles and Indigospirit small-format stores rose 10.9%. Sales at grew 15.3%.

CEO Heather Reisman commented: "We are delighted with our full year results, which demonstrate that our transformation efforts have delivered real growth momentum. I am incredibly proud of the whole Indigo team and we all feel energized to continue providing our customers with the inspiring experience that we know they love."

B&N to Start Potter Celebration June 24

Barnes & Noble is planning a range of festivities leading up to the release at 12:01 a.m. on July 31 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One & Two. The bookseller will hold a month-long celebration, starting Friday evening, June 24, when all stores will host activities designed to give participants of all ages "the opportunity to relive the magic of Harry Potter" and enter for a chance to win a set of seven Harry Potter limited-edition cover prints. Customers can continue to enter (one entry per store, per day) during the next five weeks.

The June 24 parties will include a coloring station where participants can color Harry Potter-themed materials, including the four House crests (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) and a special Owl Post postcard that they can send to friends to invite them to the July 30 midnight party. Giveaways will include Harry Potter vintage posters, bookmarks and more. Stores will also host Harry Potter trivia events and B&N Cafes will offer Potter-themed food and drinks.

On Saturday, July 30, starting at 8 p.m., the stores will host Countdown to Midnight parties that will feature giveaways and a Muggle Wall where customers can share memories of Harry Potter. Two customers from each store who entered the sweepstakes will be chosen at random. On Sunday, customers can return to local stores during regular hours to share their perspectives on the new book and participate in additional Potter-themed events, activities and giveaways.

Amazon Opening Two Warehouses Near St. Louis, Mo.

Amazon is opening two warehouses in Edwardsville, Ill., a St. Louis, Mo., suburb. The company recently announced plans to open a warehouse in Joliet, southwest of Chicago, where it already has one warehouse.

The two Edwardsville warehouses will be about 700,000 square feet each. One will specialize in larger items like big-screen TVs and sports equipment while the other will handle smaller items such as books, toys and electronics.

Sadly for Illinois taxpayers, the company said city and state elected officials had been "very supportive of Amazon" and Governor Bruce Rauner praised Amazon for creating "more than a thousand great paying jobs."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Two Lives of Sara
by Catherine Adel West

GLOW: Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel WestWhen Sara King arrives in Memphis in the 1960s, she's unmarried, pregnant and on the run from a harrowing past in Chicago. She finds respite at The Scarlet Poplar boarding house, where she'll help Mama Sugar cook mouthwatering Southern food and pursue a second chance for herself and her baby son. Laura Brown, senior editor at Park Row Books, recommends this to readers of Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie and Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. "We're finally starting to see more historical fiction that doesn't center the white experience," Brown adds. Rich with research into segregation and the civil rights movement, this vibrant novel pairs a wrenching portrait of an unwed mother with a joyous celebration of African American culture in the South. --Rebecca Foster

(Park Row, $27.99 hardcover, 9780778333227, September 6, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: Mountainfilm

At the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colo., last weekend, Between the Covers bookstore moved to the Madeline Hotel in Mountain Village to host a "Reading Frenzy," free and open to the public, at which more than 35 authors spoke with fans and signed and sold their books. Among them were festival favorites Cheryl Strayed, Terry Tempest Williams, David Quammen, Paul Nicklen, Sarah Marquis, Conrad Anker (star of last year's film Meru) and his wife, Jenni Lowe-Anker.

Between the Covers owner Daiva Chesonis estimated that 500 people passed through and said book sales should be enough to "pay the rent for the next two months." Between the Covers has been involved with Mountainfilm for 20 of the festival's almost 40 years. In preparation for the event, volunteers (including bookseller spouses, relatives and coffee shop regulars) hauled more than a ton of books in Subarus up to Mountain Village, high in the mountains above the town of Telluride. --Shelley Woll

Savoy Bookshop: 'A Great Place to Pass a Rainy Afternoon'

At Savoy's grand opening

The Savoy Bookshop & Café was one of the highlights of Town & Country magazine's tour of Watch Hill and Westerly, R.I., an area described as "the definitive anti-Hamptons... fully rustic, authentically local, relatively un-gentrified (if the baseline is East Hampton), and unpretentious, with just the right dash of elegance."

"One of the most recent additions to the continued revitalization of downtown Westerly--a small town on the up and up--is the Savoy Bookshop, which opened in April," Town & Country wrote. "The store has beautiful built-in wood paneling and shelves and a whole floor devoted to kids, along with a café serving a variety of delectable baked goods. In other words, a great place to pass a rainy afternoon."

Happy 30th Birthday, Eight Cousins!

Eight Cousins, Falmouth, Mass., on Cape Cod, is celebrating its upcoming 30th anniversary in part with a new look: an updated, streamlined logo that incorporates its building's "majestic windows [that] are also the store's trademark," as co-owner Mary Fran Buckley wrote in an e-mail to customers. "Windows are symbolic: they let in the light and illuminate; windows also provide a view of the wider, and often unexplored, world--as do books. Books shed light, represented by the 'i' in Eight, which serves as a torch. Our new logo is sparse, yet strong. It represents the important role books play in our lives. Eight Cousins has, for the past 30 years, been one of the mainstays of the Falmouth community. We intend to build upon this tradition."

Early last year, she, Sara M. Hines and Eileen Miskell bought the store from Carol B. Chittenden, who founded Eight Cousins in 1986 with her mother, Betty Borg.

Hines added that in the countdown to Eight Cousins' birthday on July 1, the store will share a list of its 30 favorite books. Noting the store's roots as a children's store, she said she has "one request. Re-read your favorite childhood books. I feel confident that you will see something you never noticed before. You will finally get a joke, lesson, or message that will make you wonder how you could have possibly thought that this children's book was for kids!"

Miskell emphasized, too, that Eight Cousins has "grown from a children's bookstore to a bookstore for everyone with wonderful new (and of course the classic) children's books, the latest young adult titles, and a carefully selected, broad range of books for adults. We also have books on gardening, parenting, cookbooks, travel, religion, and more!"

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Rachel Fershleiser is joining Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing in the new position of executive director of audience development and engagement. She was formerly director of publisher outreach at Tumblr. Earlier she was community manager at Bookish, director of public programs at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, and worked in the publicity departments of Morrow and Scribner. She's also co-creator and editor of the New York Times six-word memoir series.

She will, the company said, "bring her wealth of social media and community building experience to HMH. At Tumblr, Rachel led the strategy for all author, publisher and reader initiatives and cultivated a passionate community of book lovers. She created the Reblog Book Club, the Great Tumblr Book Search, and supported over 100 blog-to-books from deals through publication and promotion."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pat Smith on the Talk

The Talk: Pat Smith, author of Second Chances: Finding Healing for Your Pain, Regaining Your Strength, Celebrating Your New Life (Bethany House Publishers, $19.99, 9780764212840).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Anderson Cooper, co-author of The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss (Harper, $27.99, 9780062454942).

This Weekend on Book TV: Mitch McConnell

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 4
5:45 p.m. John Nichols and Robert McChesney, authors of People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (Nation, $26.99, 9781568585215), at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore, Md. (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. Juan F. Thompson, author of Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307265357), at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.

8:30 p.m. Anja Manuel, author of This Brave New World: India, China and the United States (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781501121975).

10 p.m. Mitch McConnell, author of The Long Game: A Memoir (Sentinel, $28, 9780399564109). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Neal Bascomb, author of The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler's Atomic Bomb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544368057).

Sunday, June 5
12:15 a.m. Andrew Nagorski, author of The Nazi Hunters (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476771861). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

8:45 a.m. Lesley Stahl, author of Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting (Blue Rider, $27, 9780399168154). (Re-airs at 11:45 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Steve Forbes, co-author of Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity (McGraw-Hill, $26, 9781259641121). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

6:30 p.m. Howard Means, author of 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence (Da Capo, $25.99, 9780306823794).

10 p.m. Meg Jacobs, author of Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s (Hill and Wang, $35, 9780809058471).

Books & Authors

Awards: Polari First Book Longlist

The longlist for the Polari First Book Prize, which celebrates "the very best debut books that explore the LGBT experience, whether through poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction," is:

Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock
Arc by David Clarke
Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin
Jebel Marra by Michelle Green
Slap by Alexis Gregory
The Manservant by Michael Harwood
Trans by Juliet Jacques
Different for Girls by Jacquie Lawrence
Dead Man's Hand by Mark Lock
Physical by Andrew McMillan
The Good Son by Paul McVeigh
Kiss & Make Up by Carl Stanley

'Great Lakes Reads' Titles Unveiled

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the Minnesota Center for the Book, have announced "Great Lakes Reads," a collaborative project of the Great Lakes State Centers for the Book, with participation by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. The "Great Lakes Reads" list features authors either from or residing in each state or province adjacent to the Great Lakes. The inaugural books selected by each participating state and Ontario are:

Illinois: Maritime Chicago by Theodore J. Karamanski and Deane Tank, Sr.
Indiana: Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist by Edwin Way Teale
Michigan: The Waters of Michigan by Dave Lubbers and Dave Dempsey
Minnesota: The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin
New York: City of Light by Lauren Belfer
Ohio: The Lake Effect by Les Roberts (#5 in the Milan Jacovich mystery series)
Ontario: The Greatest Lake: Stories from Lake Superior's North Shore by Conor Mihell
Reflections of Presque Isle: A Visual Journey by the Erie Times-News and Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Wisconsin: Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories by Jennifer Morales

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 7:

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947135) follows the descendants of two half-sisters from 18th-century Ghana, one of whom was sold into slavery.

The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War by Arkady Ostrovsky (Viking, $30, 9780399564161) is an exploration of recent Russian history from the Economist's Russia editor and winner, last week, of the 2016 Orwell Prize.

I Almost Forgot About You: A Novel by Terry McMillan (Crown, $27, 9781101902578) focuses on a successful optometrist looking to make major changes in her life.

Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway's Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544276000) looks at the real-life boozing and bullfighting behind Hemingway's novel.

Commander in Chief: FDR's Battle with Churchill, 1943 by Nigel Hamilton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544279117) is book two in the FDR at War series.

The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson and A.L. Sonnichsen (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781481460217) is a YA novel by an Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star.

Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780544373419) follows a woman returning to her childhood Puget Sound home, made mysteriously inhabitable after an environmental disaster 20 years earlier.

The Extra by A.B. Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544609709) brings an Israeli living abroad back to her childhood home after her father's death.

This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society by Kathleen McAuliffe (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544192225) expands an Atlantic article into a book about parasites and their hosts.

Diary of a Chambermaid, a French film based on the novel by Octave Mirbeau, has a limited release June 10.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel by Elizabeth J. Church (Algonquin, $25.95, 9781616204846). "Church deftly traces the life of Meridian Wallace, an intelligent young woman who is searching for who she is and what she wants to become. As America braces for entrance into WWII, Meri falls for the ambitious Alden Whetstone, a much older but brilliant scientist. Aspiring to be a 'good wife,' Meri abandons her own academic pursuits in ornithology to follow Alden to Los Alamos, but the years that follow are filled with dashed hopes and compromises. Over the decades of her marriage, Meri attempts to fill the void of unrealized dreams by making a home and reclaiming her sense of self. Filled with sharp, poignant prose, the novel mimics the birds Meri studies, following her as she struggles to find her wings, let go, and take flight. Church gives readers a thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of the sacrifices women make in life and the courage needed for them to soar on their own." --Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Mirror Thief: A Novel by Martin Seay (Melville House, $27.95, 9781612195148). "Three stories are linked in this outstanding debut by criminal pursuits and Venice--not so much the actual place, but the idea of that place: in the late 1500s Venice, Italy, a man schemes to steal the most guarded technology of the day--a mirror; in 1950s Venice Beach, California, a thief discovers a mysterious text that seems to have unusual insights about that stolen mirror; and in 2015, a soldier purses the thief in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to retrieve the book about the mirror. As the stories draw together, Seay's thrilling novel dazzles at every turn. Unexpected and amazing, The Mirror Thief will leave readers breathless." --Jeremy Ellis, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Texas

The Book of Aron: A Novel by Jim Shepard (Vintage, $15.95, 9781101872741). "Shepard has performed a small miracle in channeling the voice of a young Jewish boy trapped in the Warsaw ghetto. He traces Aron's progression from country bumpkin and reluctant scholar to a 'macher' on the streets of Warsaw, where his cunning and courage prolong the lives of his increasingly oppressed and desperate family. Aron's story meshes with that of Janusz Korczak, well-known pediatrician, child rights advocate, and orphanage operator, when Aron is rescued from the streets after the death of all of his family members. The final scene of Korczak leading the ragtag parade of children to the train to Treblinka closes an astonishing portrayal of the Nazi evil viewed through the eyes of a very resourceful, tragic, but indefatigable child." --Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, Conn.

For Ages 4 to 8
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (Nancy Paulsen, $16.99, 9780399169137). "Stunning collage art and evocative, sensory writing will make Daniel Finds a Poem a favorite for teachers and families alike. Each full page spread has intricate visual interest perfectly paired with each animal's or insect's thoughts on life and poetry. Archer has created a true work of art that will be cherished by many new readers." --Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor (Katherine Tegen, $16.99, 9780062333469). "Being raised in a minimum security prison is pretty unusual--his mother is an inmate--but Perry is happy. He learns so much from his inmate mentors and has a better understanding of the meaning of family than most adults. When he is taken from the only home he has ever known to be fostered by a 'proper' family, Perry is determined to show the world that he was really quite all right just where he was. Connor's message is that your family is made up of the people who care about you, look after you, and put you before themselves. The word 'family' encompasses all those people, whether they are blood-related or not. I love this book!" --Clarissa Murphy, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.

For Teen Readers
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry (Algonquin, $17.95, 9781616205218). "A Fierce and Subtle Poison is the Young Adult read I have been waiting for! This lush, gorgeous tribute to Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter is an awe-inspiring delight for YA readers. In the tropics of Puerto Rico, 17-year-old Lucas meets the mysterious inhabitants of a cursed mansion. His encounter will endanger his life, but possibly save the disappearing girls of San Juan. Prepare to read this novel at breakneck speed!" --Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, Minn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere

A Thousand Miles from Nowhere by John Gregory Brown (Lee Boudreaux Books, $26 hardcover, 9780316302807, June 28, 2016)

If ever it could be said that a man had set his life on fire, that would be true of Henry Garrett, the protagonist of John Gregory Brown's bittersweet novel, A Thousand Miles from Nowhere. But over the course of this quietly seductive story, Brown (Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery) succeeds in transforming a character notable for "his peculiar proclivity for melancholy, his abysmally romantic attachment to sorrow" into a modest but appealing hero.

Henry's flight from New Orleans to the small town of Marimore, Va., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is the culmination of more than a year of disastrous choices that include leaving his wife, Amy (an author of exotic cookbooks), purchasing an abandoned grocery store with the inheritance from his mother's estate and quitting his job as a high school English teacher. It's hard to imagine his life getting much worse, until, shortly after he arrives in Virginia, he accidentally kills a prison inmate, who steps into the path of Henry's car in hopes of securing a $5,000 death benefit for his impoverished family.

As Brown patiently reveals in a series of ruminative flashbacks, what Henry calls his mind's "clatter and chaos, the clutter and noise, the wreck and ruin" are the legacy of a depressive father who abandoned his family when Henry was 14, and a reclusive artist mother who shut herself up in her bedroom to paint. As we come to understand his family's "penchant for madness," Henry gradually transforms from a man who looks like he's made willfully poor choices into a figure of real pathos.

The odd instrument of that metamorphosis is an epic love poem written by the late husband of Latangi Chakravarty, the owner of the Spotlight Motel in Marimore, where Henry lands, broke and exhausted, after his trek from New Orleans. Aided by Marge Brockman, the officious, kindhearted secretary to the local judge, Henry's first stumbling steps on the road to recovery soon become more sure-footed.

John Gregory Brown doesn't make it easy, at first, to live inside Henry's head as he seems to make little progress in keeping his demons at bay. But Henry's realization that "a life could be changed by a story" provides the energy for the novel's second half that finds him performing acts of charity, confronting the ruin of his native city and believing, against all evidence, that he can win back Amy's heart. A Thousand Miles from Nowhere is a charming portrait of how redemption can appear in the most unlikely circumstances. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Hurricane Katrina provides the backdrop for a charming story of one man's journey to recover his life.

KidsBuzz: Katherine Tegen Books: Case Closed #4: Danger on the Dig by Lauren Magaziner
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