Also published on this date: Monday, July 15, 2019: Dedicated Issue: BOOM! Studios

Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 15, 2019

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft


Virginia's Hooray for Books Closed by Flooding

photo: Kristen Gilligan

Hooray for Books, the children's bookstore in Old Town Alexandria, Va., was flooded after heavy rains a week ago, and has been closed since then. Yesterday, on social media, the store announced it should reopen this coming Wednesday, July 17.

NBC Washington interviewed owner Ellen Klein about the flood and remediation that's been underway and should be finished tomorrow. Klein said that after the flash flood, there was two inches of standing water in the store, and carpeting and the lower parts of some walls are being replaced.

Damage to inventory was minimal but donations to the Read-A-Palooza book drive were "not as fortunate." The store plans a new book drive to start on Wednesday.

Yesterday the store wrote: "Thank you for reaching out so quickly and in so many ways, and thank you for your patience and understanding while the remediation continues. We appreciate all the offers to help with book drives and fund-raisers, as well as to help sort out the store."

Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny

First Bookselling Without Borders Residency Winner Begins Work in Italy

John Francisconi

John Francisconi, general manager of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., has arrived in Rome, Italy, and will spend the next three weeks working at Otherwise Bookshop, the first residency fellow in Bookselling Without Borders's residency program.

"I'm thrilled to see what can be learned in translation by this opportunity," Francisconi said. "Besides learning more about one of the world's richest literary hubs by fully immersing myself in Italian culture, I can't wait to collaborate with the team at Otherwise Bookshop, and learn more about the global scope and local roles of independent booksellers."

Francisconi is one of 14 U.S. booksellers to receive a scholarship from BWB this year either to visit one of four international book fairs or to participate in two international bookstore residencies, in Rome, Italy, and in Kolkata, India.

The scholarships enable booksellers to take part in a program of bookselling education, specially designed tours, panel discussions, and meetings with international authors, publishers, and booksellers. With these scholarships, BWB aims to connect booksellers to the global literary conversation and through them to widen Americans' perspectives of diverse and international literature.

Founded in 2016, Bookselling Without Borders has expanded every year and is supported by Catapult, Counterpoint, Europa Editions, Graywolf Press, Grove Atlantic, Melville House, Milkweed Editions, Other Press, Princeton University Press, Rutgers University Press, Seagull Books, Seven Stories Press, Soft Skull, Shambhala Publications and the University of Chicago Press.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

MPH Bookstores Closing Last Two Outlets in Singapore

MPH Bookstores is closing its last two stores in Singapore, the Straits Times reported. The two stores are in Raffles City and at Parkway Parade and will close July 28 and September 1, respectively. The company is owned by Malaysia's MPH Group, which has 26 bookstores in Malaysia.

MPH Bookstores general manager of business development Ivy Tan said that the company is considering opening a new outlet, but had no further information about it. In a statement, she said, "We are currently undergoing some restructuring and streamlining our resources to make way for new business initiatives. Despite the bleak outlook that the book industry may appear to be facing right now, we are confident that bookstores will continue to be relevant. We have seen bookstore chains in the United Kingdom that have managed to overcome these challenges and turn around their business."

The Straits Times said that in an April interview, MPH Bookstores area manager Ismail Osman said that in Singapore sales have declined by 40% over the last decade and the company had resorted to "perpetual discounting." He also said that high rental costs can make up as much as 65% of operations costs. MPH has also felt pressures from the tight labor market and online competition.

The newspaper noted that MPH Bookstores "dominated the Singapore book scene from the 1970s to 1990s, before the arrival of the likes of bookstore chains Borders and Books Kinokuniya. Its Stamford Road flagship store closed in 2003 after nearly a century, while its Robinson Road branch made way for development in 2017."

Barefoot Books: Save 10%

Sasquatch Publisher Gary Luke to Retire

Gary Luke

Sasquatch Books publisher Gary Luke will retire August 1 after 25 years with the company. Editorial director Jennifer Worick will head up the adult publishing program following Luke's departure, while associate publisher Jenny Abrami oversees the  children's imprint Little Bigfoot.

Luke began his career in the trade as an education book representative for Dell Publishing in Chicago. He went on to hold editorial positions in New York at Dell, New American Library and Simon & Schuster before joining Sasquatch Books. During his tenure at Sasquatch, the company shifted from being part of the Seattle Weekly to private ownership and eventual acquisition by Penguin Random House in 2017.

"Gary has been an inspiring colleague to so many of us over the years--staff, authors, and industry friends. We will miss his unique and irreverent sensibility," said Sasquatch president Sarah Hanson, who has worked with Luke since 1996.

Luke commented: "I am one lucky guy to have shared in the creative process over so many years with such interesting authors and the exceptionally dedicated book people at Sasquatch."

Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug

Obituary Note: Lucette Matalon Lagnado

Lucette Matalon Lagnado, who won the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, her 2007 memoir of her family's Egyptian-Jewish past, has died, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. She was 63.

The Man in the Sharkskin Suit recalled the Jewish community in Cairo before and after World War II and the life of her father, a prosperous clothier. Another memoir, The Arrogant Years, focused on her mother. She co-wrote Children of the Flames, a 1991 book that grew out of her reporting about Dr. Josef Mengele's experiments at Auschwitz and the efforts to seek justice for his victims.

A longtime journalist, Lagnado had an internship with the investigative reporter Jack Anderson, was a columnist for the Village Voice and was executive editor at the English-language Forward. In 1996, she joined the Wall Street Journal and had been a cultural and investigative reporter since then.


Image of the Day: Tin House Summer Workshop

The final event of the Tin House Summer Workshop, which took place this past week in Portland, Ore., was a panel called "On Writing Towards Joy," featuring Garth Greenwell, Kelly Link and Justin Torres, moderated by Elizabeth DeMeo. Pictured: (back) Tin House Writing Workshops director Lance Cleland; Tin House assistant editor Elizabeth DeMeo; Tin House Writing Workshops assistant director India Downes-Le Guin; (front) Greenwell, Torres and Link. (photo: Yashwina Canter)

Happy 50th Birthday, Left Bank Books!

Congratulations to Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., which celebrated its 50th anniversary last Friday. The day before, Left Bank posted on Facebook: "Attention! It is our birthday! While we won't be celebrating the night away until October, July 11th marks 50 years since we first opened that first door on Skinker. We've been through a lot since then, and we'd like to thank all of you for being here with us."

Citing the classic business advice "location, location, location," West End Word reported that "eight years after it opened, Left Bank Books moved to the corner of McPherson and Euclid avenues in 1977 and became a cherished fixture in the burgeoning historic Central West End neighborhood.... The shop has thrived as a vibrant community hub and stayed true to its activist mission."

Co-owner Kris Kleindienst, "who was hired as a clerk in 1974, had scraped together $1,000, along with fellow employees Barry Leibman and Justin James, to buy out the bankrupt owners collective. Now in her 45th year [with the store], she continues to lead into the 21st century along with her partner and husband, Jarek Steele, who has been there 17 years," West End Word wrote.

"We are not just the past. We are the future. I refuse to be put into a coffin," Kleindienst said. "We have a unique identification. We've hung on because we're something familiar. You know what you're going to get when you come here. I also feel that we must earn that loyalty every day. I don't take it for granted."
Kris Kleindienst (r.) and staffers show off their anniversary gear.

Kleindienst offered high praise for Left Bank's booksellers: "We have a strong staff. It's community, it's a safe space. They are very supportive. They're a really great group of people.... A human being answers the phone and if they can't help, they get another person to help a customer. It's basic hospitality. They have individual expertise, so we try to find the right person to help. They're like research librarians."

In a detailed profile of the bookshop, St. Louis magazine noted that Kleindienst "had no idea she'd spend her life finding books that would patch the holes in people's souls, smash open windows in their minds, bring them out of musty apartments into a welcoming community."

At Left Bank, tradition blends fluidly with adaptation: "There's this new generation of folks who are taking over or starting stores," Kleindienst said, "and the phrase they are using is 'mission-based.' They're talking about doing things that are social justice–oriented, of being mindful of the communities they serve.... I think people want authenticity. The age of computer screens is morally and spiritually bankrupting, and people are lonely. We need the serendipity of stumbling on things, of saying, 'I went here, and this thing happened to me.' Nothing ever happens to you on a computer screen, and nobody cares who you are."

Co-owner Steele agreed: "Amazon can tell you what happened in the past; a bookstore can predict what might happen in the future. I like to think we're becoming more important. This has to do with the way truth is being handled at this moment. Somebody can come into this bookstore and find a lot of different ideas, not just surface social media headline sorts of ideas. People have to have a quieter, more focused, in-person physical space to do that. And actual human connection is more important now than ever."

Green Apple Books in San Francisco, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, tweeted: "Our heartiest birthday wishes to our friends @LeftBankBooks in St. Louis on the 50th anniversary! Welcome to the geezer-bookstore club!"

Chicago Distributing Three More Presses

The University of Chicago Press is adding three new marketing and distribution partners, who will be distributed by the Chicago Distribution Center around the world. Chicago will also handle marketing and sales representation for two of the presses--Dalton Watson and CavanKerry.

Founded in 2000 by Joan Cusack Handler and Florenz Eisman with an emphasis on "demystifying poetry," CavanKerry Press has 96 titles in print or under contract. It also stresses community outreach programs with diverse audiences.

Owned by Glyn and Jean Morris, Dalton Watson Fine Books publishes high-quality collectors' books focused on automobiles, including titles about Bentleys, Maseratis and sports car racing in the South. Its Icon series has published titles about Steven McQueen and the Beatles.

Founded by Armen Carapetyan in 1944, the American Institute of Musicology focuses on Medieval, Renaissance, and early Baroque music and has published more than 675 scholarly volumes, including the yearbook Musica Disciplina.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Colson Whitehead on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Colson Whitehead, author of The Nickel Boys: A Novel (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385537070).

On Stage: Because of Winn Dixie

The musical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s novel Because of Winn Dixie "has leaped off the page and come to life at the Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., now playing through September 1," Playbill reported in featuring a highlights video. The production is directed by John Rando, with music from Tony winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and lyrics and book by Tony nominee Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde).

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Writers' Short Story Winner

Cypriot writer Constantia Soteriou won the £5,000 (about $6,280) Commonwealth Writers' Short Story Prize, recognizing the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English--including entries translated into English--from the Commonwealth. The winning story, "Death Customs," was translated from Greek into English by Lina Protopapa, a translator and cultural critic based in Cyprus. It is the first translated work to win the  award.

Chair of judges Caryl Phillips praised "Death Customs" as a "remarkable short story that manages to be both personal--following, as it does, the painful narrative of a woman who has lost her son--and deeply political, in that it charts the division of a land as it topples into civil war. We are encouraged to view the descent into bloodshed and mayhem as a domestic squabble between two brothers who can only be reconciled in death. The voices employed are beautifully resonant, and the story shifts gears, and ranges across time, with eloquence. 'Death Customs' is poetically intense and complex in form and subject-matter, yet the story remains admirably lucid and moving, and deservedly wins the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize."

Soteriou, whose books include Aishe Goes on Vacation and Voices Made of Soil, commented: "I feel honored and happy to win this amazing prize; it feels like a reward for all the hard work I have been doing over the last eight years, writing about the perspectives of women on the political and historical events of Cyprus. This prize is a recognition for giving voice to those who did not have the chance to be heard before; those who were left behind to pick up the mess of the war. I grew up seeing the faces of the mothers and the wives of the missing people; those were the real victims of the war. Women should not be victims of any war. Women are the continuation of life. I wrote this story to salute their strength."

SIBA's Summer Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Summer Okra Picks, "a collection of the best forthcoming Southern books of the season" that "have a following among Southern indie booksellers, who can't wait to introduce them to new readers," are:

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis (Sourcebooks Landmark)
The Substitution Order by Martin Clark (Knopf)
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson (Morrow)
The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins (Gallery)
Sing a Song by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Keith Mallett (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Stay by Bobbie Pyron (Katherine Tegen)
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom (Grove Press)
My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder (Walden Pond Press)
The Edge of America by Jon Sealy (Haywire Books)
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead)
No Judgments by Meg Cabot (Morrow)

Book Review

Review: Amazing Racers: The Story of America's Greatest Running Team and Its Revolutionary Coach

Amazing Racers: The Story of America's Greatest Running Team and Its Revolutionary Coach by Marc Bloom (Pegasus Books, $27.95 hardcover, 336p., 9781643130798, August 6, 2019)

Marc Bloom (Run with the Champions) was as astounded as anyone when the boys' cross-country team from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, in upstate Manlius, N.Y., demolished the competition, including the far-and-away favorites, at a major regional race in 2004. Bloom followed F-M for more than a decade as it continued to dominate their sport. Like coaches, runners and fans everywhere, Bloom wondered: What are they doing up there in Manlius? In Amazing Racers: The Story of America's Greatest Running Team and Its Revolutionary Coach, he examines the student athletes and their coach, Bill Aris, offering an answer to that question, if not a prescription to follow in their very fast footsteps.

A dogged marathoner and cross-country coach, Aris studied the methods of New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, as well as philosophies from the ancient Greeks and classic rock-and-roll. But it was iconoclastic Australian coach Percy Cerutty who gave Aris his guiding philosophy: a lifestyle Cerutty dubbed Stotan, from a blending of stoic and Spartan. Stotan training is the surprisingly straightforward key to F-M's astonishing success: clean eating, good sleep, hard work; an emphasis on teamwork, humility, harmony with nature and mind-body connection. F-M's prodigies are "regular" kids, their accomplishments born not of technology or special talent but hard training, inspired by and devoted to their coach. In pep talks, Aris might make references to Jim Morrison or Churchill alongside Aristotle, Cerutty or the brilliant Australian miler Herb Elliott. His athletes sometimes tease him, sometimes compare him with God. And, indeed, Aris's coaching style and super-close-knit team can feel a little cultish at times--at least to those of us on the outside.

Also exceptional is Aris's approach to gender in sport: he ignores it. F-M's girls undergo the exact same training, lifestyle expectations, radical honesty and tough love: "We're not boys or girls. We're athletes." In 13 appearances at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN), F-M's girls won 11 championships, rounded out by second- and fourth-place finishes. The boys won eight top-five finishes in the same 13 years. F-M is the only team in the country to qualify for NXN every year since the race began. Beyond their athletic performances, these high school students exude calm and maturity when discussing selfless race tactics and the importance of clean living.

Amazing Racers is an inspiring illumination of a sensational team. Bloom's consistent and sincerely awestruck tone drives home just how special this story is, celebrating both the dedicated young athletes and their leader. His close reading of races, often called in heart-racing play-by-plays, is supplemented by research in sports physiology and psychology, and the history of cross-country racing. This book is thorough in its studies as well as its praise. While readers looking for the secret to victory may be disappointed--the prescription is, basically, just hard work--there is much to inspire everyone from the armchair racer to the elite athlete in this heartfelt biography of running royalty. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: When a little-known high school cross-country team inexplicably explodes into national domination, a journalist asks why, and uncovers a coach and kids both amazing and remarkably ordinary.

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