Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 9, 2006


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

News

Notes: Audacity of Audacity; New Metaphysical Store

Helped by positive reviews ("that rare politician who can actually write," according to Michiko Kakutani) and great media (Oprah and 60 Minutes, among others), The Audacity of Hope by Senator Barack Obama will be No. 1 on this Sunday's New York Times bestseller list and is "something of a publishing stunner," as today's Times put it.

The book has sold 182,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan figures, and has beaten out John Grisham's first nonfiction book and Bob Woodward's State of Denial. The book is also different from most political books. As Mark LaFramboise, of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., told the paper: "Obama is out of the ballpark completely. Even comparing books by administration officials, nothing comes close. We're expecting this to just build and build and build."

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The bookstore at the Unity by the Sea Church, Gleneden Beach, Ore., opened yesterday and will specialize in "prosperity, healing, relationships and the nature of consciousness," the Newport News Times reported. Stocking new and used books, the store will be managed by volunteers.

"We're working closely with the Crystal Wizard down the road to make sure that we complement each other's offerings," manager Marie Fields told the paper. "Between the two stores, we have just about anything anyone could want in the area of metaphysics."

Featured titles this month include Myrtle Fillmore's Healing Letters and Ralph W. Trine's In Tune With the Infinite, Metaphysics for the 21st Century. In December, the store will feature Masaru Emoto's The Secret of Water.

The store is located at 7040 Gleneden Beach Loop, Gleneden Beach, Ore. 97388.

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Congratulations to Joyce Meskis, owner of the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., who has won Historic Denver's Ann Love Award, which celebrates "people who may not consider themselves traditional preservationists but have shown initiative, creativity and commitment to preserving the history, culture and architecture of Denver," according to Rocky Mountain News.

Last June the flagship Tattered Cover store moved into the Lowenstein Theater. The owner of the Theater, St. Charles Town Co., won a community preservation award from Historic Denver.

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Craig Maxwell, owner of Maxwell's House of Books in La Mesa, Calif., did not join the ranks of bookseller-mayors Tuesday. Mayor Art Madrid won re-election with about half the vote, while Maxwell and another candidate split the rest of the vote, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Past and current bookseller-mayors include Neal Coonerty of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., Richard Howorth of Square Books, Oxford, Miss., and Tom Lowry of Lowry's Books in Three Rivers and Sturgis, Mich. (and mayor of Three Rivers).

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The Eskridge House Book Store, a used bookstore, opened last Friday in Burbank, Calif. Co-owner Linda Allen told the Burbank Leader, "We like the people in Burbank because they're all creative types."

The store specializes in classics, children's classics, romances, histories and popular modern fiction.


Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Martha Stewart Cleans Up Tonight

This morning on the Early Show: Ron Smith, author of Scambusters!: More than 60 Ways Seniors Get Swindled and How They Can Prevent It (Collins, $14.95, 0061120235).

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Today on the Megan Mulally Show: Philip Rosenthal, creator and executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond and author of You're Lucky You're Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom (Viking, $25.95, 0670037990).

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Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Zadie Smith, author of On Beauty (Penguin, $15, 0143037749). As the show describes the segment: "Obliquely about On Beauty, this intense, abstract conversation is about what a novel is and how it represents a particular culture, and about what a culture is and how it can create the illusion of identity. The search for identity, Smith maintains, is a delusion. The search for beauty and truth depends upon destroying the lie of identity."

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Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Andrew Blechman, author of Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird (Grove, $24, 0802118348).

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The Tonight Show welcomes Martha Stewart, whose new book is Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home (Crown, $45, 0517577003).


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


Book TV This Weekend: The Civil War and Civil Wars

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 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 Web site.

Saturday, November 11

8 a.m. History on Book TV. University of Virginia professor Gary Gallagher, author of The Antietam Campaign (University of North Carolina Press, $34.95, 080782481X), among other Civil War titles, leads a group of high school history teachers from Taos, N.M., on a tour of Antietam National Battlefield Park in Sharpsburg, Md., where on September 17, 1862, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing, the bloodiest day in U.S. history.

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 1991, Pulitzer Prize-winner, New York Times editorial writer and senior fellow at the World Policy Institute Tina Rosenberg discussed her book Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America (Penguin, $17, 0140172548). A series of portraits that include a Maoist guerrilla in Peru, a Chilean student leader supporting Pinochet and an Argentinean interior officer responsible for the death and torture of hundreds, the book explores the lives of people involved in the violent Latin American political movements and regimes of the 1980s. She also considers the role of the U.S. in the region.
 
9 p.m. After Words. Herman Belz, a professor of history at the University of Maryland, interviews Nicholas Lemann, staff writer at the New Yorker, dean of the School of Journalism at Columbia and author of Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War (FSG, $24, 0374248559), about the sad, brutal story of Reconstruction in the South, focusing on Mississippi. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)


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


TV Movie: Last Chance Café's First Showing

The TV movie adaptation of Linda Lael Miller's 2002 Western romantic suspense novel, The Last Chance Café (Pocket Star, $7.99, 0671042513), stars Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame and makes its debut on the Lifetime Channel next Monday, November 13, at 9 p.m. Eastern time. The movie scored a mention last Monday on Access Hollywood, which took a walk with the show's canine actor, who won a reality contest and thus a role in the movie. The movie is scheduled to run again on November 19.

Miller just formed an association with the Humane Society of the United States, a co-sponsor, with her current publisher, Harlequin Books, of her "Most Awesome Adopted Pet Contest."  Information on the contest, a downloadable Last Chance Café movie watch party kit and more about Miller's new novel, Deadly Gamble, are available on her Web site.


Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman


Books & Authors

Awards: Giller Winner Lam

Vincent Lam, a Toronto doctor and author of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, a short story collection that has not been published in the U.S., won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, presented Tuesday night in Toronto. The C$40,000 (about $35,400) prize is one of the most prestigious in Canada.

Margaret Atwood, who presented Lam with the award, had helped him become a published author after they met on an Arctic nature cruise (where Lam was the ship's doctor). She called Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures "subtle in emotion and occasionally gruesome in humor," the Toronto Star reported.

For his part, Lam, whose family are ethnic Chinese from Vietnam, said, "My parents came to this country when multiculturalism was just beginning to be acknowledged. As their son and as the second generation, I am proud to be here."

The Star described the linked stories in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures as "a door into the world of successful, assimilated young Chinese-Canadian professionals, written with the authority of an insider. The 12 tales in Lam's book follow these characters' path from medical school at the University of Toronto to the city's crowded hospitals where, as physicians, they face a variety of difficult patients."



Deeper Understanding

On the Road with Politics and Prose

Politics and Prose customers looking for information about Mexican history and culture can ask the store's co-owner, Carla Cohen, for reading suggestions. They can also take much bigger step and accompany Cohen and other Politics and Prose patrons on a trip to experience the country first-hand.

"Mexico is a particularly fascinating country," said Cohen, who for the past several years has taken groups of travelers on 10-12 day excursions to different regions south of the border. "I think people are too Euro-centric and they ought to know something about our own hemisphere."

Longtime Politics and Prose customer and Washington, D.C., resident Marifrances Hardison has gone on two trips to Mexico with Cohen. "I chose the trips because I knew they would be well thought out and there would be interesting people going," Hardison commented. "I was so impressed by Carla's enthusiasm and her very careful planning of details, such as which towns and places to visit, which ones to spend extra time in, where to eat, what museums to see [and] which artists' homes to visit."

Cohen organizes regional trips as well, including a day-long jaunt to Fallingwater, a private residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mill Run, Pa., that is a National Historic Landmark.

Recently Cohen took travelers on a two-night art and architecture tour of New York State's Hudson Valley. The trip included stops at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, the Vanderbilt mansion, the Rockefeller family estate and the Storm King Art Center. "I love showing people these places," said Cohen, who has also taken groups to Philadelphia and the Brandywine River Valley as well.

The first Politics and Prose trip took place in 1990, shortly after the Berlin Wall came down, when Cohen decided she wanted to visit the city and witness history in the making. She invited Politics and Prose customers along, and 24 people joined her on the trip. They placed "a lot of faith in me," said Cohen. "It was a really great group of people, and we had an amazing experience."

For each trip, Cohen gives participants a reading list. Given the duration of the Mexico trips, Cohen said, "that's one where I really try to get people to read something about the country's history and culture beforehand." (See her reading list for Mexico in the following story.)

Cohen often brings advance reading copies on a range of topics with her on the Mexico trips. She passes them around among the group's travelers, who offer feedback. Peter Pouncey's Rules for Old Men Waiting was one title that received an enthusiastic endorsement, and Cohen later arranged an author appearance for Pouncey at Politics and Prose. "The book has gone on to sell quite well for an unknown author," noted Cohen. "That's an unforeseen consequence of what happens on the trips."

Aside from the Mexico trips, which she coordinates with an independent travel planner, Cohen arranges the excursions herself, and it's an initiative she'd like to expand. "I could do more of this if I had somebody who I really trusted to do it because I think there's a real market for it," she said. "It has to be marketed carefully, and I don't always do all that I can to advertise and make people understand what a special thing this is." Travel agents have approached Cohen over the years, but she has declined their services. "They're very conventional in what they want the group to do," said Cohen.

Cohen alerts customers to Politics and Prose trips through the store's printed newsletter, which is mailed every month, and weekly e-mail updates. "The real way in which people respond to the trips is by e-mail," said Cohen. Trip participants do not have to be Washington, D.C., residents or even Politics and Prose customers. "One year," Cohen noted about a trip to Mexico, "we had half non-D.C. people," who heard about it primarily through friends and relatives who frequent Politics and Prose.

As for upcoming journeys, Cohen plans to keep taking travelers to Mexico (the next trip is scheduled for this coming February and will cost $2,600 a person with a $550 single supplement) as well as to regional destinations like Fallingwater--for now at least. "Nothing is a fixed thing with me," she said. "There are so many places I think would be fun to visit."

A friend of Cohen recently returned from a trip to South Africa. When Cohen inquired about the group she traveled with, her friend replied, "It was fine, but it wasn't Politics and Prose."--Shannon McKenna


Mexico: A Reading List

Can't make it to Mexico? Enjoy these books on Carla Cohen's insightful list of reading suggestions for her travel group participants.

It is challenging trying to understand the mix of factors that has created modern Mexico. I have listed a variety of books that will help you begin to sort out this diverse and deep nation.

Art

Frida, the classic biography of Frida Kahlo, is by Hayden Herrara (Harper, $24.95). This richly detailed and quite balanced book, admittedly big, is a lot of fun to read when we see and hear a lot about Frida. Like all good biographies, Frida's life is described against the history of her times, in this case modern Mexico. Diego and Frida's involvement with left wing politics and their close association with Trotsky makes the biography more than just a series of descriptions of the paintings (although Herrara does that well).

This gem of a book, Mexican Painters, was published in 1941. Because it is in the public domain and republished by Dover, it is only $14.95. The author MacKinley Helm lived in Mexico in the '30s and interviewed most of the painters. It's an intimate description of their lives and their work. There are many illustrations but unfortunately, all in black and white. This book is also a good choice to help deepen our understanding of Mexican art in the '30s.

A book that is a great guide to and souvenir of the Mexican art experience is Mexican Muralists: Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros (Chronicle, 1998, $29.95). This gorgeous paperback has all color photos of the greatest of the murals.

Finally, there is a book of photos of Oaxaca that will give you a flavor of that remarkable city, Oaxaca: The Spirit of Mexico by Judith Cooper Haden (Artisan, $30). This is to inspire you and for you to remember afterwards.

History and Politics

Two New York Times correspondents, Julia Preston and Samuel Dillon, collaborated on a book called Opening Mexico (FSG, $15). They covered the end of PRI rule after 50 years and the new government under Vicente Fox. They may have been more optimistic about the changes wrought as a result of Fox's election when they wrote the book than they would be now, but I thought the book was a great summary of modern Mexican politics.

The Buried Mirror by Carlos Fuentes (Houghton Mifflin, $29.95). This book by Mexico's brilliant novelist, historian and diplomat explores the continuing tensions between the culture of the Spanish conquerors and that of the Indians, four centuries after conquest. This is a rich cultural history and an incredibly beautiful book. (More on Fuentes below.)

Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas
(Houghton Mifflin, $17) draws parallels between five native cultures in North and South America: Aztec, Maya, Inca, Cherokee and Iroquois. The book is organized by periods: Invasion, Resistance, and Rebirth in which the actions of each culture are discussed. This is a superb history of the conflict between the conquerors and the conquered. The author, Ronald Wright, is an English historian now living in Canada.

Fiction

The book that I love is Harriet Doerr's 15-year-old Stones for Ibarra (Penguin, $14). It's a touching evocation of a North American's efforts to understand Mexico. Recommended for everybody who travels in Mexico.

The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (Back Bay, $14.95) is a lush and lovely evocation of the realities and the myths of Mexico. The story takes place before the Mexican Revolution and tells about a liberal rancher, Don Tomas Urrea (a relative of the author), who is forced to move to a more distant state to escape the brutal dictatorship of Portofirio Diaz. The hummingbird's daughter is Teresita, Don Tomas' illegitimate daughter, whom he recognizes and protects. Teresita has remarkable healing powers and becomes a figure revered by the Indians.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage, $13.95) is a story of a Mexican-American family. Each summer the Reyes family returns to Mexico City to visit the extended family. Cisneros uses the young Ceyala's voice to tell the stories of the family on both sides of the border.

The leading Mexican writer who is translated is Carlos Fuentes. The Death of Artemio Cruz (FSG, $15) is considered to be his masterwork, but there are other shorter books that are less daunting.

Graham Greene wrote The Power and the Glory (Penguin Classics, $14) after spending only a few months in Mexico in the late 1930s, but he completely captures the feeling of the land and people. This marvelous book tells about the whiskey Priest, who somehow survived the efforts in anti-clerical Mexico of the '30s to eliminate all clergy, and how he manages to find and bestow grace among the angry and confused people.

Travel Memoirs

On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan (Broadway, $14.95) is a must when you travel to the Colonial cities. Cohan and his wife moved to San Miguel in the late '80s and their description of that town and others will be especially evocative to travelers to the same places. Cohan tells enough about himself to keep the reader's interest, but the observations of life and Mexico are the heart of the book. His descriptions of the rhythms and layers of Mexico are excellent.

Survivors in Mexico by Rebecca West (Yale, $17). This ambitious work was begun by West as an effort to do for Mexico what she did for Yugoslavia in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. But it was not completed and therefore not published until 2004.

Travel Guides

The Lonely Planet ($27.99) is the best guide to Mexico. It is heavy, admittedly, but it is full of terrific information: good history, guides to the places we will be visiting. The new edition is better than ever.

Fodor's ($21.95) is much improved and very reliable for food. There are much shorter descriptions of the sites and less history.

If you want to take a smaller volume, you might want to use the Moon guides, which are very good as well. For example, Handbook to Oaxaca ($17.95) has excellent descriptions of the archeological sites and the museums.

Unfortunately, there are no small guides to Vera Cruz because fewer tourists go there.


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