Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 4, 2017

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


Two Former Kramerbooks Managers Opening D.C. Bookstore

Solid State Books, coming soon.

Two former longtime Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café managers who left the store earlier this year after disagreements with its new owner are opening Solid State Books, a 4,300-square-foot bookstore, in the H Street Corridor in Northeast Washington, D.C.

The store will be located in the Apollo, a development at 600 H Street NE, and will offer, the store said, "multidimensional programming, a café with beer, wine, coffee and snacks, and an expansive family-friendly reading area for children, all designed to serve H Street's diverse and rapidly growing residential community. Solid State Books will hold in-store author and cultural events and will take advantage of the Apollo's lounge and rooftop pool deck for community events." The anchor of the development is a new Whole Foods market.

The store added that it aims to "provide downtown Washington, D.C., with the vital intellectual and social hub it so desperately needs. We are a city of readers, writers, students, artists, activists, and politicos. Solid State Books will be the nexus for all of these diverse groups, engaging the community through our slate of dynamic programming and an unparalleled bookstore experience."

Scott Abel

Opening this fall, Solid State Books is owned by Scott Abel and Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, who together have "nearly 30 years of combined experience in independent bookselling and publishing." Abel was general manager of Kramerbooks from 2007 until this year, while Cumsky-Whitlock worked for several publishers and was mostly recently head buyer at Kramerbooks.

Cumsky-Whitlock told the Washington Post: "This area is perfect for a bookstore. There are so many families, children and young people, and yet there's a giant hole when it comes to books."

Jake Cumsky-Whitlock

Abel and Cumsky-Whitlock were part of a group of six senior managers who left Kramerbooks in February, including assistant buyer Stephanie Hess, who is working with Solid State. They reported clashing with Steve Salis, head of the pizza chain &pizza who bought the bookstore and café last November and has made significant changes.

The Washington Post said that Abel and Cumsky-Whitlock have secured some $600,000 in funds for the new store, including a bank loan for about half that amount and the rest "from friends and community members, who contributed between $1,000 and $25,000 each to the bookstore. The co-owners will pay them back over the next six years." (They borrowed the community lending program idea from Greenlight Bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

The reinvigorated Northeast section of Washington has also attracted Politics & Prose. Its new branch, which was announced in May and is scheduled to open this fall, is in the Union Market District, less than a mile from Solid State's location.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

YA Author Laura Moser Running for Congress

Laura Moser

Bookseller Becky Anderson isn't the only book world citizen who has thrown her hat into the political ring this year. YA author Laura Moser moved from Washington, D.C., back to her hometown of Houston, Tex., in order to challenge Republican incumbent Congressman John Culberson for District 7 in the 2018 election.

A journalist and a writer, Moser is the co-author (with Lauren Mechling) of a YA novel series that includes The Rise and Fall of a 10th Grade Social Climber; All Q, No A: More Tales of a 10th-Grade Social Climber; and Foreign Exposure: The Social Climber Abroad. She also wrote the biography Bette Davis (Life &Times).

After last year's presidential election, Moser founded the activist network Daily Action. Prior to moving back to Houston, she and her husband, Arun Chaudhary, had lived in D.C., where he worked as a videographer and political consultant for President Obama.

In Vogue magazine, Moser wrote: "Our return to Texas, the state that led the charge for eroding women's reproductive rights, could not have come at a more critical time. My grandfather arrived in Houston in 1942 as a refugee from Nazi Germany. He had lost everything—his profession, his language, his money--but the city welcomed him, as it has hundreds of thousands of immigrants over the years. Because of my family history, Houston had always represented to me a place of hope and possibility, where totally dissimilar people could come together and make their own stories. I married a man whose Hindu father grew up in the rural north of India and whose Jewish mother grew up in the Bronx. Our Jewish children, with their father's Indian last name and their mother's bright-blue eyes, were now residents of the most diverse city in America."

Regarding her decision to run for Congress, Moser told the Forward in May: "I wanted to take it to the next level. I happened to be from this Congressional district that voted for Hillary, a lot of split-ticket voters here. They elected the same really right-wing Tea Partier to Congress. There are only 23 districts in the country where that is the case, and we really have to win all of them. And I thought since I have this background, a record of proven activism, that I was in a unique position. I've never wanted to be in politics before, [but] the Senate healthcare panel is 13 men, and I'm just kind of tired of men making decisions about everything. So I just thought, why don't I try? I want my kids to be proud of me, I want to be an example to them. If I'm not happy with what's going on, I try to change it myself."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Forbes' Highest-Earning Authors: J.K. Rowling Tops List

J.K. Rowling
(photo: Mary McCartney)

J.K. Rowling has returned to the top of Forbes magazine's Highest-Paid Authors list for the first time in nearly a decade, displacing James Patterson. Forbes also reported that "fans of the printed (or digital) word will be cheered to know that although five writers on our list had novels made into movies this past year, they nonetheless earned the bulk of their bucks from their books. The top 11 writers sold nearly 30 million volumes in the U.S. over the past 12 months, logging $312.5 million in pretax income."

Falling off the list this year were Veronica Roth, as well as George R.R. Martin and John Green, though "both will likely return; Martin has four Thrones prequels in the works, and Green is publishing Turtles All the Way Down, his first novel in five years, this October," Forbes noted.

To formulate its list, Forbes looks at print, e-book and audiobook sales from Nielsen BookScan figures; considers TV and movie earnings; and talks to authors, agents, publishers and other experts. Earnings were tabulated from June 2016 to June 2017 and are pretax; other fees are not deducted. This year's top-earning authors are:

1. J.K. Rowling ($95 million)
2. James Patterson ($87 million)
3. Jeff Kinney ($21 million)
4. Dan Brown ($20 million)
5. Stephen King ($15 million)
6. John Grisham ($14 million)
6. Nora Roberts ($14 million)
8. Paula Hawkins ($13 million)
9. E.L. James ($11.5 million)
10. Danielle Steel ($11 million)
10. Rick Riordan ($11 million)

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Fla.'s Second Edition Book Shop to Close

Second Edition Book Shop, a new and used bookstore in Davie, Fla., will close October 1. In an e-mail message to patrons, owner Danielle Whatley, who opened her first shop in 2003 and moved to the current location in 2013, said: "This decision was not an easy one to make and pains us more than anything, but this is the end of the story for us. We've fought the good fight against things like Amazon Prime, big box stores, and the dreaded e-book out of our own love for the reading community, but truth be told, the store hasn't been profitable in years and I can no longer keep this ship afloat.

"I couldn't have done any of this without my support staff and good friends Patty, Laurel, Stephanie, Ashley, Kelly and Raquel. They've stepped in over the years and allowed me to attend family gathering and school functions without hesitation. I'd especially like to thank my longtime customers that have made this whole journey worth every second. We've shared many ups and downs over the years, but I wouldn't change a thing."

For fans of the store's resident feline bookseller, Whatley noted: "Yes, Catsby is retiring to my home. We're both ready!"

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Obituary Note: Geoffrey Godbert

British poet and editor Geoffrey Godbert, who "published more than a dozen collections of his own poetry; was joint editor of the Greville Press with Harold Pinter and Anthony Astbury; and produced two very successful anthologies, 100 Poems by a Hundred Poets (1986) and 99 Poems in Translation (1994)," died July 3, the Guardian reported. He was 80.

In a tribute, William Oxley wrote that knowing he "could not make a living solely from writing poems," Godbert "joined the publicity department of the publisher Bodley Head.... His first collection, Ides of March (1975), attracted the attention of W.S. Graham and George Barker, two poets especially liked by Pinter; in turn, it drew Pinter to Geoffrey's work. When Geoffrey and his friend Astbury, a schoolmaster and poet, decided soon afterwards to found a small press named after the 17th-century poet Fulke Greville, Pinter became involved. For many years, with his aid as patron, they were able to publish fine press editions."


Image of the Day: Feeding a Crowd

Seattle's Book Larder: A Community Cookbook Store hosted Michelle Tam, founder of Nom Nom Paleo, and her cookbook Ready or Not! 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes (Andrews McMeel). Tam said, "Big hugs of gratitude to everyone who braved the summer heat to come see us this evening--and huge thanks to our awesome friends at Book Larder for preparing the tasty bites from Ready or Not! for Seattle-area Nomsters."

Helping Out a Former Bookseller

Michael Winingham and Danielle Borsch with Dani.

From Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.: "A couple of weeks ago, my beloved former events coordinator, Danielle Borsch, who had been working for the last few years at Vroman's, took a sales rep job with Norton selling to college professors. She and her partner and four-month-old baby moved to Sacramento for the job one week ago. A few days ago, a fire in the adjacent apartment forced them out and soot and smoke destroyed nearly all their belongings. They had not yet set up renters' insurance and are staying in a hotel while they try to sort out with the landlord and the landlord's insurance. Since they are new to Sacramento, they have no friends or family there, no local support network. They have set up this GoFundMe page."  

Kleindienst added that Borsch "began her career in bookselling when she came to work for us in 2008.  She was a stellar addition to our team and we were sad to see her go when she and Mike relocated to the Los Angeles area so Mike could be nearer to the film industry. (He writes film scripts). Vroman's was very lucky to gain Danielle, whose most recent job there was managing their satellite store.

"It breaks my heart to think what could have happened to them and that they have lost everything. I don't have to tell you that booksellers and writers live a threadbare existence. Their daughter is just four months old and when they fled the fire, she had only the diaper she was wearing and a blanket."

Cool Idea of the Day: Porter Square Books' Overnight Readathon

To celebrate its 13th birthday and support literacy for young readers and students, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., is hosting an Overnight Readathon from Saturday, October 7, at 8:30 pm., to Sunday, October 8, at 7 a.m. The cost is $25 and all proceeds will go to the Porter Square Books Foundation.

Most of the night will be spent reading, but there will be food and snacks--beginning with pizza at 10:30 "because what sleepover is complete without pizza?" Game and activity breaks include Anomia, Mad Libs and Dick: The Card Game or Bards Dispense Profanity.

Breakfast is scheduled for 6 a.m., followed by prizes and raffles and at 7 "stumble bleary-eyed and well-read into the fall morning."

All attendees will be enrolled in the raffle. Every additional $25 donated to the Foundation earns an extra entry, and the top donor will win a special prize of 20% off every purchase at Porter Square Books for one year.

Created in 2014, the Porter Square Books Foundation has a mission of fostering "a love of reading and of books, particularly among children and families in our local communities whose access to them may be limited by economic or cultural factors. Our primary means of achieving this has been through facilitating interactions between children and authors, and by donating books to children and families."

Road Trip: '8 Bookshops You Need to Visit in Buenos Aires'

Showcasing "eight bookshops you need to visit in Buenos Aires," the National Student called the city "a book lover's paradise. Wherever you go in the city, you will find people reading; in cafés, on the subway, lounging on park benches. Reading is central to the life of this city, and that's reflected in the striking number of bookshops it hosts."

Media and Movies

On Stage: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

Initial casting has been announced for the Broadway transfer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Playbill reported. Seven performers who appeared in the original West End production in London are transferring, including Jamie Parker and Noma Dumezweni, who won Olivier Awards for their performances as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, respectively, as well as Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley. Also in the cast are Anthony Boyle, who won an Olivier for playing Scorpius Malfoy, along with Poppy Miller (Ginny Potter), Sam Clemmett (Albus Potter) and Alex Price (Draco Malfoy).

"We have assembled an extraordinary cast for Broadway," said director John Tiffany. "Our Cursed Child family is growing with 28 brilliant new actors bringing their unique talents to our production. I also can’t wait to dive back into it with seven of our original London cast members reprising their thrilling performances for New York audiences. The adventure continues..."

Performances will begin at the Lyric Theatre in March 2018, with an official opening set for April 22. 

TV: First They Killed My Father Trailer

A trailer has been released for First They Killed My Father, the Netflix drama based on Loung Ung's book First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Deadline reported. The project was directed by Angelina Jolie, who wrote the script with Ung and produced it with Cambodian-born documentary filmmaker Rithy Panh.

"While recent headlines focused on an improvisational exercise used during the casting of local children--Jolie and Panh heatedly disputed the version of events depicted in Vanity Fair--the film is actually a tremendous accomplishment," Deadline noted.

Panh said the film "is important to the people of Cambodia because it is the first time that one of the most crucial periods of our history has been told on such a major scale and shot in our country and in our Khmer language.... A film is a viewpoint, a personal narrative; it does not answer all the questions, but it contributes to a dialogue and to the passing on of knowledge from one generation to the next."

Books & Authors

Awards: Wainwright Golden Beer Book

For the second time, John Lewis-Stempel has won the £5,000 (about $6,565) Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize, which celebrates the best books about nature and U.K. travel, for Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War. In 2015, he won the award for his book Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field.

Chair of judges Julia Bradbury said: "Where Poppies Blow is destined to be a modern classic. An extraordinary book about the healing power and resilience of nature in the darkest of times. Beautifully written and profoundly moving it is a reminder of the atrocities of war but John Lewis-Stempel cleverly weaves in the story of the animals and wildlife that survive, die and thrive alongside the men and women who lost their lives."

Reading with... Michelle Kuo

photo: Kathy Huang

Michelle Kuo is the author of the memoir Reading with Patrick (Random House, July 11, 2017), a story of race, inequality and the transformative power of literature. She taught English at an alternative school in Helena, Ark., in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. After graduating from Harvard Law, she returned to Arkansas to tutor a former student being held in county jail. Kuo also was an immigrants' rights lawyer at Centro Legal de la Raza, a nonprofit in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, Calif. She advocated for tenants facing evictions, workers seeking unpaid wages and families facing deportation. She has taught courses through the Prison University Project at San Quentin Prison, and has also clerked for a federal judge at the Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Kuo grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich.

On your nightstand now:

Michael Schmidt's The Lives of Poets, which a friend lent me; some Robert Lowell poetry; and a pamphlet on identifying birdsong, a sure sign that I've gone mental.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Charlotte's Web, the story of a friendship between a spider and a pig named Charlotte and Wilbur, was the first time I consciously processed as a kid that books could have sad endings. I haven't read it in a while, as I'm afraid that I won't cry at the end.

Your top five authors:

George Eliot, Marilynne Robinson, James Baldwin, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy.

Book you've faked reading:

Unfortunately, there are many--off the top of my head, Proust. The classic thing that I say is, "I've read parts of it." Which is not technically untrue. I know this looks like insecurity, but I like to think of it as having a proper sense of shame.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Middlemarch, Middlemarch, Middlemarch. It is beautiful, funny and humane. And the book changes as you grow older, like a fellow living thing.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A book on Matisse's cut-outs made me feel the kind of happy wonder at color and shape that maybe children feel when they're doing an art project. And I also think Negroland by Margo Jefferson has a beautiful cover.

Book you hid from your parents:

...My own? I showed my parents the dedication (to them) and then scurried off with it. (I talk about my parents in it.)

Book that changed your life:

The Brothers Karamazov. I was fascinated. My parents are from Taiwan and, for a lot of reasons related to Taiwan's history, didn't talk at all about political and religious identity. The book introduced me to these fundamental Western battles between belief and the reaction against it, between old traditions and new atheism. The gesture of that kiss Alyosha gives his brother seemed powerful and foreign to me, and I wanted to know more about the idea driving the kiss and, more broadly, radical moments of reconciliation.

Favorite line from a book:

"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence." --Middlemarch by George Eliot

Five books you'll never part with:

Black Boy/American Hunger. Richard Wright lived in Helena, Ark., almost a century before I got there as a teacher. It's precious to me that he gives such an intimate picture of towns across the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta--one that we get perhaps nowhere else in literature. And when he gets to Chicago, he throws himself into political battles, heeding the "passionate call for the revolutionary." Reading, I felt intense admiration: he was an outsider in so many ways, and knew on some level that he would become disenchanted, but he still put his body and soul into activism and social change.

Norton Anthology of Poetry. I realize I am kind of cheating here, but this way I can get all the poets.

From Christ to Confucius. My husband, a historian, wrote this, so I'm biased. I watched him toil over this for the first five years of our relationship, and he's definitely the kindest man on earth (even if he refuses to memorize love letters of characters in 19th-century novels, see below), so it would be wrong not to take it with me in a death-island situation.

Middlemarch. I try not to judge people who don't like it.

Gilead. I read this book on the porch of my house in Arkansas and fell in love with the voice--tender, searching and wise. Then I taught it in a county jail in Arkansas and later to students at San Quentin Prison. Some students drew inspiration from the book, writing their own letters to loved ones; something about her voice made them want to write, and replicate its warmth.

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

Persuasion by Jane Austen. I'd do anything to read, for the first time, that love letter from Wentworth! "I am half agony, half hope," he writes to Anne Elliott, asking her if she still loves him after all their years apart. His love, he says, has been constant, never deviated. Who wouldn't want to receive a love letter like that? I tried to get my husband to memorize and recite it to me, no luck.

What bothers you the most in writing:

Unearned cynicism.

Book Review

Review: Sourdough

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 hardcover, 272p., 9780374203108, September 5, 2017)

Lois Clary spends her days writing code for cutting-edge robot arms at General Dexterity, a super-hip San Francisco startup, and her nights passed out on the couch in her minuscule apartment. For sustenance, she relies mostly on slippery nutritive gel, until the day she finds a mysterious takeout menu stuck to her front door. Intrigued by the bold font and simple choices (spicy soup, spicy sandwich or a double-spicy combo of both), Lois calls in--and her life will never be the same.

Plagued by constant stress-related indigestion and loneliness, Lois finds antidotes for both in her new (spicy) diet and in the two brothers who run the restaurant out of their apartment. Beo, who answers the phone and cooks, and Chaiman, who delivers her orders, become Lois's lifelines, but must leave the country suddenly because of visa issues. The brothers give Lois an unexpected parting gift: their sourdough starter, tucked into a pottery crock, and a CD of melancholy music to keep it company. Lois has never baked bread in her life, but she begins feeding the starter and experimenting with loaves, and before long, she has a standing order at her workplace cafeteria and a lopsided brick oven in her backyard. Robin Sloan takes readers on a wildly geeky, flour-dusted ride through the strange hierarchies of the Bay Area food and techie communities in his second novel, Sourdough.

Sloan applies the same incisive humor and wit that leavened his first novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, to the hyper-competitive world of artisan restaurants and farmers markets. When Lois is turned down for a spot at the coveted Ferry Building market, she gets invited to a new (literal) underground one on an island in the bay. Although she's thrilled to have a place to sell her wares, Lois is vaguely troubled by some of the "experimental" food being sold at the market, plus she's not sure exactly who--or what--is behind it all. Meanwhile, life as a code monkey is becoming less and less appealing, as the sourdough starter (and the baking) becomes more demanding. Unsure of her ability to keep up with either one, Lois begins sending SOS e-mails to Beo in Berlin, while using a bright blue General Dexterity robot arm to help increase her sourdough production. The plot bubbles along like Lois's sourdough starter, and the results, in and out of the oven, are surprising.

Mixing equal parts snark and heart with a dash of charm and a sprinkling of mystery, Sloan has concocted a winning story that--like its namesake bread--carries a satisfying tang. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Robin Sloan's second novel is a wild, geeky, flour-dusted ride through the oddball food and techie communities of San Francisco.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: My 'Summer of Love'

During the Summer of Love 50 years ago, I was 17 and out of it. I watched nightly news snippets about SoL on our black and white TV, which considerably diminished the moment's tie-dyed, surrealistic charms. I read Ian Fleming, not Jack Kerouac.

For me, it was the Summer of the A&P and Summer of Soccer. I stocked shelves, ran the cash register and waited on customers. My co-workers, all much older, loved me because I was efficient, customer-friendly and had short hair. Per regulations, I wore dark slacks, white shirt, brown snap-on bowtie and apron. I was the societal antidote to Flower Power.

I didn't go to San Francisco until 1987, but by then the damage had been done. I'd inhaled the works of Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Ginsberg, Kerouac and the gang. Naturally, I made the requisite pilgrimage to City Lights Books. It occurs to me now that I might have even said hi to buyer Paul Yamazaki in the bookstore then. Who knows? But it would be another decade-plus before we were officially introduced as fellow booksellers of a certain age at a publisher dinner at BEA in Chicago, of all places (shades of the Summer of '68).

"No bookstore was more influential during that time than City Lights, and it's one of the reasons the bookstore continues to endure today, influencing a new generation in the North Beach neighborhood," San Francisco Travel noted this spring in featuring "six essential books recommended by the staff at City Lights to relive the Summer of Love."

I hadn't thought about SoL for a long time until I read and bookmarked that piece, which was soon followed by a cascade of headlines popping up on Google News: San Francisco, 50 years on from the Summer of Love; Hippies are occupying the museums of San Francisco right now; Summer of Love from the vantage of a participant; Summer of Love and Rage; The secret messages of San Francisco's Summer of Love; Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent.

Head-spinning, perhaps even groovy.

Summer of Love display at Politics & Prose

A couple of weeks ago, I saw that Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., was showcasing the highs and lows of SoL. P&P created a book display to commemorate the anniversary, featuring "recent works about the 1960s as well as some writings from that era"; and limited edition tie-dye P&P t-shirts. The bookstore also noted that a half-century later, "a public activism of a different sort is emerging this summer, reflected in a number of books being released on such hotly debated topics as civil rights, women's rights and immigration."

And then I noticed this: "Did you know that Green Apple Books and the Summer of Love share a birthday? That's right, it's fifty years since we opened our doors.... In case you haven't yet been to the De Young exhibit or seen the Conservatory illuminated, this week we've compiled a list of books to help you fully get into the spirit of the Summer of Love. So crank up the Janis and the Jimi and dig in!"

A few days ago, caught up in my SoL reveries, I recalled that when I was a bookseller in Vermont during the late 1990s, I sold stock at an off-site poetry reading by Ed Sanders, the legendary Sixties figure who co-founded the Fugs and has written: "1967! Yes. It saw a swelling of hope in America. The culture seemed like the swelling bug of a flower of instant promise." (Sanders wrote the song "Summer of Love" for a 20th anniversary concert). Unhip confession: It was only when I met Sanders at that poetry reading, which occurred around the time of SoL's 30th anniversary, that I discovered his historical significance. Still out of it after all those years.  

Yesterday, I looked up the Friday, August 4, 1967 edition of the New York Times and saw this headline: "45,000 More Men to Go to Vietnam; Goal Now 525,000." And above Roger Jellinek's review of Robert Conot's Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness: "Books of the Times: Burn Baby Burn." No mention of hippies or Haight-Ashbury flower children that day. 

During my Summer of Love, I played right wing on a summer soccer league team that included college and high school players, along with a handful of Italian and Polish immigrants who worked at the local marble mill. Soccer was my first love. I still recall the precise feel of the ball when I caught it with my instep just right on a corner kick and sent it arcing toward the crowded goal area, as if I were tossing chum into a pool of sharks.

Sometimes a teammate would execute a perfectly timed leap above the roiling surface to meet the ball as it descended, and with a flick of his head deflect it into the upper corner of the goal, beyond the outstretched arms of the flailing goalie. A mad celebration would erupt, with hugs and laughter, almost unbridled joy and, just for an instant in a crazy SoL way, with love.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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