Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Workman Publishing: Cat Jokes vs. Dog Jokes/Dog Jokes vs. Cat Jokes: A Read-From-Both-Sides Comic Book by David Lewman and John McNamee

Poisoned Pen Press: Death Comes to Marlow (The Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood

Amulet Books: Aaron Slater and the Sneaky Snake (the Questioneers Book #6) by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Candlewick Press (MA): Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

Orchard Books: When Things Aren't Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Chronicle Books: Is It Hot in Here (or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth)? by Zach Zimmerman

Berkley Books: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix


Ex-CEO Parneros Sues B&N for Breach of Contract, Defamation

Fired abruptly as CEO on July 2 for unspecified "violations of the company's policies," Demos Parneros has sued Barnes & Noble, charging breach of contract and defamation. Parneros asks for, among other things, severance (of more than $4 million in cash plus equity), damages and punitive damages. The suit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Parneros charged that the impetus for his firing was a failed bid this past spring to buy B&N by "a book retailer" whose offer had been accepted by B&N but who then backed out in early June after conducting due diligence. (There was no indication what company this was, and such a bid has not been publicly acknowledged until now.) Following the failure of that bid, the suit continued, executive chairman Len Riggio "felt that he no longer had a graceful exit from the company" and that "B&N could not survive without him as the founder making the decisions." He then "became hostile to Parneros," no longer responding to his phone calls or texts, and meeting with others in management and giving orders without discussing it with Parneros.

At a July 2 meeting with Riggio and an attorney from B&N's law firm, Parneros was fired "without warning or justification," and the company "refused to pay the severance due under his contract, in contrast to previous CEOs, who were paid millions of dollars in severance. B&N then issued a press release that falsely stated that Parneros had violated company policy and did so in language and in a manner that defendant knew full well was false but would be read as reporting that Parneros had engaged in serious sexual misconduct." That "falsely and irrevocably damaged the reputation Parneros had worked for thirty-five years to build."

The alleged policy infractions involved Parneros's treatment of CFO Allen Lindstrom, whose work, the suit said, Riggio and the board thought was substandard, as well as two interactions with a female executive assistant that Parneros said were innocuous but which he apologized for. (One was a conversation about her vacation in Quebec and whether Parneros said a certain hotel where he and his wife had stayed was the type where "you would put out," which he denied saying. The other was whether they stood side by side or back to back to compare how tall they were when she said they were the same height.)

The suit also paints a picture of Len Riggio as erratic, personally abusive, unprofessional, disparaging about many current and former executives and often using crass, crude language. One example: "In numerous meetings, Riggio attacked a [B&N executive] who had been given additional responsibility. Riggio described her as unqualified, having no taste, being lazy, and having a big ego. In one meeting with Parneros and Lindstrom, Riggio described [the person] as a 'fat pig' and asked, 'How can someone who looks like that have any taste? Just look at her.' Parneros tried to redirect the conversation toward business needs and away from personal attacks and said that if Riggio did not think she was the right person for the position, they should talk about a change. Riggio responded, 'Yeah, get her out of here. I don't want to ever talk to her again or see her face around here.' Parneros reminded Riggio that there were a large number of open positions and that defendant needed to hire a lot of new talent. Riggio said he knew that, but she should not stay. Referring to such personal attacks, Lindstrom told Parneros to 'get used to that; that's Len [Riggio].' "

In response to the suit, Barnes & Noble issued this statement: "The lawsuit filed by Demos Parneros is nothing but an attempt to extort money from the company by a CEO who was terminated for sexual harassment, bullying behavior and other violations of company policies after being in the role for approximately one year. The allegations contained in the complaint about Len Riggio are replete with lies and mischaracterizations. They are an example of someone who, instead of accepting responsibility for blatantly inappropriate behavior, is lashing out against a former employer. The Board, advised by legal counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, unanimously terminated Mr. Parneros' employment following a thorough investigation that revealed multiple examples of significant misconduct. Mr. Parneros not only violated his employment agreement, but also compromised the trust and respect that we strive to foster throughout our organization.

"For more than 50 years, since founding Barnes & Noble, Mr. Riggio is widely known amongst his business associates, colleagues and employees for his impeccable reputation and as an individual and leader that upholds the highest standards of integrity and decency.

"Mr. Parneros' actions were unacceptable and not representative of the high standards by which Barnes & Noble operates. At Barnes & Noble, we are committed to providing an inclusive, welcoming, respectful and safe workplace."

The suit argued that during Parneros's 14-month tenure as CEO at B&N--described as "a financially troubled business"--he had made headway, laying "the groundwork for better performance, including an expense reduction plan, a new store prototype, and a pipeline of new sales categories." In addition, he "made an effort to repair and build B&N's relationships with publishers, who were unhappy with past treatment by the Company," and "pushed to modernize B&N in a variety of areas, including customer service, pricing, and online experience." He also sought to create a succession plan and increase diversity in hiring as well as fill a variety of empty positions at the company.

The suit alleged that Parneros has had a difficult time professionally since his firing at the beginning of July. A headhunter told him he is "unhirable." Another said his career is "essentially over."

In addition, after his firing, he was forced to resign as a board member of Key Bank, Cleveland, Ohio, which "caused Parneros humiliation, a significant income loss, and a severe limitation of his ability to serve on a public board in the future."

In another slight, after his firing, Endicott College, Beverly, Mass., where he had given the commencement speech on May 19 and which had given him an honorary degree, "removed references to Parneros as having been a speaker and honoree from its website."

Parneros's law firm is Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, which specializes in representing workers in employment cases.

Forge: Raw Dog: The Naked Truth about Hot Dogs by Jamie Loftus

Binc's Bank on Booksellers Bidding Opens September 9

Bidding for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation's Bank on Booksellers online auction will open at noon Eastern time on September 9 and run until noon EST on September 15.

Nearly 100 authors, illustrators and celebrities have contributed hand-decorated piggy banks for the auction, and proceeds will go to funds for booksellers needing help for everything from natural disasters and homelessness prevention to domestic violence.

Celeste Ng's contribution.

Bank on Booksellers began in 2016 as a fundraiser for an employee at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., and this year's contributors include Deborah Roberts and Al Roker, Louise Erdrich, Jason Reynolds, and many others.

"We've been amazed at the incredible support we've received from the book industry and beyond," said Binc executive director Pam French. "We couldn't be more impressed at their piggy-painting prowess and we can't thank them enough for donating their time and talent to help Binc assist booksellers and their families after emergencies."

There will be a launch party for Bank on Booksellers at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the decorated piggy banks will be displayed.

A full list of contributors can be found here, and the decorated piggy banks can be viewed on the auction site.

Zibby Books: Super Bloom by Megan Tady

Avid Bookshop's Five Points Store Reopens

Forced to close temporarily after flooding last Friday caused extensive damage, Avid Bookshop's Five Points store in Athens, Ga., re-opened yesterday, tweeting: "Thank goodness for an amazing landlord and a fabulous community." Friends of the Avid had created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help the bookstore. Owner Janet Geddis opened the location in 2016; the original Avid, which is on Prince Ave. in Athens, opened in 2011.

On Facebook, Avid Bookshop announced the reopening, adding: "Bear with us as we get things back in order--it’ll probably be a little messy for a bit. We are incredibly lucky not to have suffered more damage. Quick action from our staff, the construction company on site, our landlord, some customers who were present, and even one guy we were interviewing for a job pitched in to minimize long-term damage. Yesterday we began the laborious process of dealing with insurance companies (yes, plural) and are still calculating the overall cost of this water damage, from missed sales to damaged books to sodden merchandise to wages. Thank goodness for an amazing landlord and a fabulous community. We are resilient because of your support. Thanks so much for shopping online and/or buying some extra loot at Avid on Prince the last few days. We value being a part of Athens and a part of the literary world, and we appreciate your rallying around us now and always. Much love to you all."

Deadline Nears for Patterson Holiday Bonus Nominations

Thursday, September 30, is the deadline to submit nominations for James Patterson's Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program, which has pledged $250,000 to provide independent bookstore employees with some extra cash around the holidays this year.

In partnership with the American Booksellers Association, Patterson will distribute bonuses in amounts ranging between $750 and $1,500 to individual booksellers. The grant application asks just one question: "Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?" After reviewing the answers, Patterson will select the winners from bookstores across the country. All past recipients of Patterson grants are eligible for this year's bonuses, and booksellers can nominate themselves.

Rachel Cass, head buyer at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., received a bonus in December 2017. "With this program, Mr. Patterson is using his money and platform to acknowledge the importance of independent bookstores and to recognize the work of individuals who make bookselling happen every day around the country," she said. "It's an incredible gift to our industry."

Obituary Note: Sam Cornish

Sam Cornish, Boston's first poet laureate, who championed the poetry " 'of where you are'--poems that touched readers physically and emotionally, politically and spiritually," died August 20, the Boston Globe reported. He was 82. During his tenure from 2008 to 2014, "he visited schoolchildren and senior centers, encouraging all he met to embrace the poems they were drawn to, whether written by 'poets of the six-pack' or giants such as T.S. Eliot" and "wanted nothing less than to bring 'poetry to people who do not read it.' "

Cornish "was long associated with the New England Mobile Book Fair, formerly ran a bookstore in Coolidge Corner with his wife for many years, and had worked at what is now Brookline Booksmith. Legend has it that he once alphabetized the Booksmith's fiction section backwards in order to place the work of writers he favored closer to the front of the store," the Globe wrote.

On its Facebook page, the New England Mobile Book Fair posted: "We lost a beloved member of our Book Fair family yesterday, Sam Cornish. We will pass along information about services as soon as they become available. If you haven't seen Sam's website, take a second. Click on interviews for a couple of great pieces. Rest in Peace Dear Sam."

In addition to publishing several books, Cornish taught literature and creative writing, primarily at Emerson College. His works include poetry collections Dead Beats (2011); An Apron Full of Beans: New and Selected Poems (2008); Songs of Jubilee: New and Selected Poems 1969–1983 (1986); and Generations (1971); as well as children's books Your Hand in Mine (1970) and Grandmother's Pictures (1967).

Cornish "traveled Boston's streets, watching the world through his thick glasses, missing nothing," the Globe noted. Poet Doug Holder, who published Dead Beats, recalled: "He'd have his little camera with him, taking snapshots. In a way, that's how his poetry worked--with little snapshots, and by noting everything that happened in the streets.... He was very genuine and very much a poet of the people. He gave everyone hope."

From "The South Was Waiting in Baltimore":

I was poor even
then my shoes were holes
held together
by threats & good luck but I read Camus
& listened to Martin
Luther King


Image of the Day: Boats on the Bay by the Bay

After the launch of her picture book Boats on the Bay at Book Passage By-the-Bay, Sausalito, Calif., author Jeanne Walker Harvey hosted the after-party at her nearby home, joined by the team from her publisher, Cameron Kids. Pictured: (l.-r.) Melissa Nelson Greenberg, children's art director; Amy Novesky, children's book editor; Jeanne Walker Harvey; and Nina Gruener, children's book publisher.

Happy 40th Birthday, Auntie's Bookstore!

Congratulations to Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Saturday, September 8, with a daylong party and daylong discount. The first 40 customers will receive a free Auntie's tote with surprises inside. Other highlights: a 40th anniversary Auntie's T-shirt, a raffle basket, baked goodies, and an honorary cake cutting.

Auntie's opened in 1978 as the Book and Game Company and moved into its current location in 1994. John Waite, owner of nearby Merlyn's comics and games store, bought Auntie's from Chris O'Harra in 2016.

'Hidden Histories' of 10 NYC Indie Bookstores

Showcasing the "hidden histories of 10 of NYC’s independent bookstores," Untapped Cities wrote: "New York is home to many independent and secondhand bookstores. Though rising rents have shifted the locations of a lot of these stores, many are still open for business. Beyond the book stacks, though, lies hidden histories, interesting facts, or other things you might not know from passing by the bookshop on the street or a stop inside. We went to ten of our favorite bookstores to learn about some of the secrets and little known facts about each bookstore."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Kaplan on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: David A. Kaplan, author of The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court's Assault on the Constitution (Crown, $30, 9781524759902).

Movies: A Dog's Journey; Little Women

Amblin Partners has begun principal photography on A Dog's Journey, the sequel to the 2017 film A Dog's Purpose, Deadline reported. Both projects are based on the books by W. Bruce Cameron, who wrote the new script with Cathryn Michon and Wally Wolodarsky & Maya Forbes. 

Directed by Gail Mancuso and with Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad reprising their roles from the original, A Dog's Journey has added Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott and Henry Lau to the cast. Gavin Polone is producing. A Dog's Journey is set for domestic release via Universal on May 17, 2019.


Emma Watson will join Greta Gerwig's remake of Little Women, "playing the part originally intended for Emma Stone, who was unable to join the project because of promotional obligations for the Fox Searchlight film and award season contender The Favourite. With production expected to start next month, Sony moved quickly to approach Watson," Variety reported.

Gerwig is writing and directing, with Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet and Florence Pugh in negotiations to star in Sony's retelling of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel.

Books & Authors

Awards: Rona Jaffe Writers; Academy of American Poets

The winners of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards, given annually to six women writers who demonstrate "excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers," have been announced. Each of the six receives $30,000 and will be honored at a private reception September 13 in New York City. The winners are Chelsea Bieker (fiction/nonfiction), Lisa Chen (nonfiction), Lydia Conklin (fiction), Gabriela Garcia (fiction), Karen Outen (fiction/nonfiction), and Alison C. Rollins (poetry).


The Academy of American Poets announced the 2018 winners of its annual poetry prizes. This year's recipients are:

Sonia Sanchez won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes "outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry." AAP chancellor Terrance Hayes said "her life and poems reflect a steadfast devotion to humanity, a love for womanhood, black culture and education. Her poems display a masterful fusion of political and spiritual urgencies."

Martín Espada received the $25,000 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which honors "distinguished poetic achievement."

Craig Morgan Teicher's The Trembling Answers (BOA Editions) won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for "the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year."

Geffrey Davis's Night Angler (BOA Editions, 2019) won the $5,000 James Laughlin Award, which is given "to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year."

Raquel Salas Rivera's x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems of the nation) won the Ambroggio Prize, a $1,000 publication award given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winning manuscript is published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.

David Larsen's translation of Names of the Lion by Ibn Khālawayh (Wave Books) was cited for the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, which "recognizes a published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence."

Anthony Molino's translation of The Diary of Kaspar Hauser by Paolo Febbraro (Negative Capability Press) won the $25,000 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize, which is given for "the translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry."

John Bosworth won the $1,000 Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award, which recognizes a student poet.

Reading with... Max Allan Collins & A. Brad Schwartz

Max Allan Collins is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and creator of the gangster classic Road to Perdition. A. Brad Schwartz is a doctoral student at Princeton University and the author of Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News. They've joined forces to write the definitive account of America's great crime epic: Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago (Morrow, August 14).
On your nightstand now:
Collins: Noir City Annual 2017 from the Film Noir Foundation. It collects the best from a year's worth of their online magazine.
Schwartz: I've decided this will be the summer I finally tackle Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote by Cervantes, though I'm probably tilting at windmills.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Collins: Dick Tracy Versus the Brow by Chester Gould, collecting a story from the wartime '40s, the great comic strip in its prime. Other favorites, if I might be allowed, were The Saint and the Sizzling Saboteur by Leslie Charteris, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Doyle and Tarzan and the City of Gold by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Schwartz: As children often do, I strongly identified with Mary Shelley's misunderstood monster--like me, an only child, so I have to say Frankenstein, which is still in my top five. Only later would I come to appreciate how Shelley both created a myth and established an entire genre, all before she turned 21.
Your top five authors:
Collins: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout--I could go on, of course.
Schwartz: I have to echo my co-author on Hammett and Chandler--two of the all-time great mystery writers, and among the finest American novelists. I'll add three of the writers whose work influenced me the most: Edgar Allan Poe (I memorized "The Raven" in high school and will recite it at the slightest provocation), Alan Moore (for Watchmen, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in that order) and another guy with "Allan" in his name (I'll let you guess who).
Book you've faked reading:
Collins: None. Except my algebra textbook.
Schwartz: The first week of seventh grade, I carried around John Steinbeck's East of Eden to impress all my teachers. I still haven't read it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Collins: Frankly, if it's not out of line to say, my own--usually the latest Nate Heller novel (Better Dead, for example). I've also been a defender and booster of Spillane, who became a friend and who, right before his passing, asked me to complete the unfinished novels in his files. Which I've been doing for over 10 years now.
Schwartz: Eliot Ness has been criticized for decades for the supposedly self-aggrandizing memoir, The Untouchables, that he co-wrote with Oscar Fraley. But after spending years researching his life, I'm amazed at how much that book got right.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Collins: Well, considering I own the painting of the edition by the great paperback artist James Avati, One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane. I would say Re-Enter Fu-Manchu, when I was in the fourth grade, but they had me at Fu-Manchu. The cover of that one, when I took it to school, got my parents called in to inform them of their wayward son.
Schwartz: Any number of editions of the Shadow novels by Walter B. Gibson (writing under the pseudonym Maxwell Grant). The phenomenally vivid pulp art covers by such artists as George Rozen and Jim Steranko are often better than the stories within.
Book you hid from your parents:
Collins: None. My mom was open-minded and my dad oblivious. They didn't even take Re-Enter Fu-Manchu away from me.
Schwartz: Dr. No and You Only Live Twice, both by Ian Fleming. I got ratted out each time (once by the school librarian!) but my folks let me finish reading them anyway.
Book that changed your life:
Collins: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Hammett invented and perfected the private eye form with that one novel (and then abandoned it).
Schwartz: I could say the same, but I'll also mention Max's novelization of the 1990 Dick Tracy film. Listening to that on audiobook when I was about five years old opened me up to his entire body of work--and led, all these years later, to us becoming partners in crime(-writing).
Favorite line from a book:
Collins: "They threw me off the hay truck around noon." The first line of The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, who would have been on that list of favorite writers above if the number had been six not five. Cain wrote tragic melodrama about ordinary people in love while caught up in crime.
Schwartz: "Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible." --T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Lawrence's life shows the perils of trying to act one's dream, but that will never stop us daydreamers from trying.
Five books you'll never part with:
Collins: Signed by each author: The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett; Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler; The Mirror Crack'd, Agatha Christie; I, the Jury, Mickey Spillane; Casino Royale, Ian Fleming. Number six is a signed The Bad Seed by William March, months before his passing.
Schwartz: Just five? A battered hardcover of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Complete Sherlock Holmes that my father read as a kid and passed on to me (having no idea what he was starting); a handbook on playwriting given to me by my fifth-grade teacher, one of the first people to believe in my writing abilities; a British paperback of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, which I bought while living in a villa outside Florence, Italy; a first edition of Road to Perdition that Max signed for me; and a copy of Barbara Bush's First Teachers that my mom got Hillary Clinton to autograph back in 1992.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Collins: The Southpaw by Mark Harris. Possibly the best first-person voice since Twain and Huckleberry Finn.
Schwartz: I doubt the perfectly executed plot, with the mind-blowing final twists, of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie will ever be topped, though The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express are close runners-up.
What made you want to be a writer:
Collins: Encountering the various authors mentioned above. I dreamed of joining their ranks. Most young Dick Tracy fans wanted to be a detective when they grew up. I wanted to be his creator, Chester Gould (a dream that came true, when I became the second writer on the strip, when Gould retired in 1977).
Schwartz: As a little kid, I loved hearing stories and kept asking my parents to tell me some. Eventually, my mom ran out of material and suggested I come up with my own. I've never stopped.

Book Review

Review: The Boneless Mercies

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $18.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 12-up, 9780374307066, October 2, 2018)

The Boneless Mercies's 17-year-old narrator, Frey, is an adult in her own right. Her parents died when she was 12, and her uncle sold her to a Bliss House, which, when she was considered old enough to make the move from the "kitchen to the bedroom," she fled. She was found by an older woman named Siggy who took her in and introduced her to the death trade. "They called us... the Boneless Mercies," Frey tells the reader. "They said we were shadows, ghosts, and if you touched our skin, we dissolved into smoke. We made people uneasy, for we were women with weapons. And yet the Mercies were needed. Men would not do our sad, dark work."
Though Siggy has passed on to Holhalla, Frey is not alone: she is accompanied by the Sea Witch Juniper; Runa and Ovie, two young women who "under[stand] darkness and carr[y] it with them"; and Trigve, a young man the Mercies saved from freezing to death. Frey, Runa, Ovie and Juniper barely make a living as purveyors of merciful death and have grown weary of killing. "I was a Mercy-girl with no family, no home, no fortune," Frey says to the reader, "and yet my blood sang of glory." Frey and the Mercies decide to seek fame and fortune by traveling across Vorseland to defeat a beast that has been terrorizing the northern jarldom.
April Genevieve Tucholke's (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea) genderbent Beowulf is as dark and quietly mysterious as the fantastical winter in which it takes place. Her alternate Scandinavia is a land of powerful magics and eerie landscapes, bloodlust and genuine, deep friendships, that is full of foreboding, menace and eventual (though not unfettered) glory. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness
Shelf Talker: A band of brave young women seeking fame travels across Norseland to kill the Blue Vee Beast in April Genevieve Tucholke's all-female take on Beowulf.

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