Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

Quotation of the Day

'We're Inviting the Whole Family'

"We're on the cusp of something great with independent bookstores. We're not dying out; we're growing. We're connecting to our immediate communities and the larger world of books in new ways.... My mission as a bookseller and a black, female small-business owner is to enrich communities through strong, independent thinking and to ensure a competitive future in the retail world....

"Every independent bookstore is a reflection of its community and a challenge to that community to continue to grow. We reflect the true range of our communities in Silver Spring and Petworth. Loyalty Bookstores is not just making sure we have a seat at the table; we're inviting the whole family. Please sit down and join us."

--Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, D.C., in the Washington independent Review of Books

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile


S.F.'s Green Apple Books Buys Browser Books

Green Apple Books, which has two stores in San Francisco, is buying "Fillmore Street institution" Browser Books from Stephen Damon, effective October 1. The store, name and staff will continue, and "gradual improvements will be made over the coming months," Green Apple said, adding that the purchase reflects "Green Apple's need to grow in the face of challenges to bricks-and-mortar bookselling."

Founded in 1976, Browser Books carries a variety of books, with an emphasis on "fiction and literature, classic and contemporary as well as our collection in philosophy and religion, east and west, especially Buddhism." As Green Apple put it: "Thanks to Browser's 43-year successful run on Fillmore Street, a reasonable landlord and lease, an enthusiastic and well-read staff, a loyal customer base, and a successful GoFundMe campaign in 2017, the store is healthy." (The GoFundMe campaign reached its goal of $75,000, needed to deal with store debt and Stephen Damon's high medical bills.)

Browser owner Stephen Damon said: "I've owned Browser Books since 1981. I was diagnosed with a terminal illness a few years ago, but am very happy to see Browser continue under the new ownership of Green Apple. The store will have the same staff and continue to serve our community. I wish them the very best of luck!"

Green Apple co-owner Pete Mulvihill said: "We're proud to help shepherd the beloved Browser Books into the future. Kevin [Ryan] and I look forward to using everything we've learned about bookselling to help the Browser staff keep serving the neighborhood's readers."

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers Opening in Ala.

Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers will open this fall at 149 E. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 101 in Auburn, Ala. Co-owners June Wilcox and her husband, Mike Armor, also operate a sister store, M. Judson Booksellers, in Greenville, S.C. Current plans call for launching the bookstore in early October while Auburn University's football team is playing away games.

"Our drawings just cleared the city for the upfit," Wilcox told the Auburn Villager. "The fact that there are no home games in October seems like really great timing to us. We feel like getting our legs under us before the city has this huge influx of people. We'd like to get started in October and be ready when November comes, which will be pretty crazy."

According to the new bookshop's website, the store's name was chosen because Armor "grew up in Auburn and his dad owned several gas stations around town called Auburn Oil Company.... This was when a gas station was a place where you knew each other, where someone came out to your car to fill up your tank, clean your windshield, and catch up a bit. That's what we're going for with this little bookstore, too. We want to be a place where you can know a friendly face, fill your brain and your belly, and maybe see a little better when you leave."

"The bookstores here are much more focused on the university and they've got great gear and that kind of thing, but there wasn't a traditional independent bookstore, so we really felt like that was a great niche," said Wilcox. "You've got a college town, so you've got the right base for it."

In addition to offering a general selection of books, including new releases, the bookshop will host what Wilcox called "nontraditional kinds of events.... We really specialize in Southern literature and cooking, so we'll bring that same expertise here. We have the book readings and that sort of thing, but we have a real vibrant Lunch & Lit program where we have an orchestrated three-course lunch where an author comes and you get a book. We also do different cocktail events, just anything we can do that's kind of different. We're really going to try to figure out what would be ideal for this market, what would people want to do and then develop events around that."

Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers also plans to feature a coffee bar as well as wine and desserts. "That's the intent is to have coffee all day because they go really great together, coffee and books," Wilcox said. "But we'll also do the wine and desserts, and we'll be open later hours. That's something we've found that's really nice to have, something that's not a bar, a place that you can go and have a glass of wine and a nice dessert after going to dinner."

She added: "We're just super-excited to be a part of this community."

Paper Boat Booksellers Opens in West Seattle

Paper Boat Booksellers, a general-interest independent bookstore with titles for all ages, opens today in West Seattle, Wash. The 1,680-square-foot store has around 1,200 sq. ft. of selling space and carries all new books, along with a selection of sidelines including journals and toys.

Store owners Desirae and Eric Judy had planned for a soft opening on Saturday but, due to a systems failure, had to postpone until today. 

The store's first event, an author talk with Nicole Meier (The Second Chance Supper Club) and Jennifer Gold (The Ingredients of Us), is scheduled for Friday evening, and will feature a discussion, book signing and "sweet treats." An official grand opening, meanwhile, will likely take place in late September or October.

The store made its debut as a pop-up shop in April, with the Judys setting up in a gift shop in West Seattle on Independent Bookstore Day. They signed their lease for a space on California Ave. in early May.

Teicher, Godfray Share Their Optimism at BA Conference

Oren Teicher (l.) and Tim Godfray (photo: BA)

During the concluding "Face to Face" event at this year's Booksellers Association conference in Birmingham, England, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher and BA Group executive chair Tim Godfray, who are both retiring this year, reflected on their combined 77 years experience in the trade and expressed optimism for the future, the Bookseller reported.

Teicher said: "In your 47 years and my 30, despite all these changes that we've seen, despite all the challenges--it would be disingenuous not to understand the challenges that Amazon puts not just before the books sector but the retail economies overall--I am optimistic, and I'm optimistic for one most important reason, what I see here and what's been true in the States over the last six or seven years is that there's absolutely been a torch passed to a younger generation. There was a long period at ABA when I would look out at a room of people and we were all of the same age, we were all a group of aging baby boomers, that’s not true anymore. That has 180 degrees flipped.

"There's a whole lot of younger people in our business as obviously there are here, that gives me an enormous sense of optimism for the future. I think the torch has been passed. I don't minimize the challenges that that next generation of booksellers are going to have, but what I have observed, is there is a resilience about people in this business that is pretty extraordinary. People who own and operate bookshops are unique. I am optimistic, I'm sure whoever is sitting on this stage 30 years from now will also talk about the continued resilience of booksellers. I don't think we are going anywhere."

Reflecting on the state of British bookselling, Godfray observed: "Consumers are coming back to printed books, publishers appear to be making more beautiful, physical books, the media are supporting bookshops and consumers are much more aware of what their communities would be like without bookshops. I am optimistic. Leaving the BA at a time when you read in the trade press stories that independent bookshops are bucking the trend in our country that is going through a pretty gloomy period and having all this positive messaging and vibrancy and optimism coming out of the bookselling community in the U.K. and in Ireland is wonderful."

Obituary Note: Robert Frank

Robert Frank, "one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, whose visually raw and personally expressive style was pivotal in changing the course of documentary photography," died September 9, the New York Times reported. He was 94. Frank "was best known for his groundbreaking book, The Americans, a masterwork of black and white photographs drawn from his cross-country road trips in the mid-1950s and published in 1959."

First published in France by Robert Delpire in 1958, Les Americains used Frank's photographs as illustrations for essays, but the U.S. edition let the pictures tell their own story, without text, as Frank had conceived the book.

Featuring an introduction by Jack Kerouac for the U.S. edition, The Americans "challenged the presiding midcentury formula for photojournalism, defined by sharp, well-lighted, classically composed pictures, whether of the battlefront, the homespun American heartland or movie stars at leisure. Mr. Frank's photographs--of lone individuals, teenage couples, groups at funerals and odd spoors of cultural life--were cinematic, immediate, off-kilter and grainy, like early television transmissions of the period. They would secure his place in photography's pantheon," the Times wrote.

In his intro, Kerouac observed: "That crazy feeling in America, when the sun is hot and music comes out of the jukebox or from a nearby funeral, that's what Robert Frank has captured in tremendous photographs taken as he traveled on the road around practically forty-eight states in an old used car (on Guggenheim Fellowship) and with agility, mystery, genius, sadness, and strange secrecy of a shadow photographed scenes that have never been seen before on film."

Writing in 2004 about how much he admired Frank's book The Lines of My Hand (1972), musician Lou Reed noted: "To wish for the crazy times one last time and freeze it in the memory of a camera is the least a great artist can do. Robert Frank is a great democrat. We're all in these photos. Paint dripping from a mirror like blood. I’m sick of goodbyes. And aren’t we all, but it’s nice to see it said."

"The kind of photography I did is gone. It's old," Frank told the Guardian in 2004. "There's no point in it any more for me, and I get no satisfaction from trying to do it. There are too many pictures now. It's overwhelming."


Image of the Day: Well-Read Black Girl Book Club at Bookmarks

Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, N.C., hosted its first Well-Read Black Girl Book Club gathering, joined by authors Ibi Zoboi, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, who were in town for Bookmarks' annual Festival of Books & Authors. The three shared their new books, told stories about Haitian sayings and Haitian grandmas, spoke about the cultural importance of storytelling, answered questions and signed books. Bookmarks engagement coordinator Jessica Blackstock facilitated the event with the help of volunteer Ada White, and will continue to oversee Bookmarks' chapter of Well-Read Black Girl, which will meet again on October 21 to discuss Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.

Lexie Bean Selected for Bookshop Santa Cruz Writer Residency

Lexie Bean

Actor, writer and curator Lexie Bean, much of whose work revolves around themes of bodies, homes, cyclical violence, and queer foreshadowing, is the fourth recipient of the Bookshop Santa Cruz Writer Residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. As part of the residency, Bean will spend two weeks at the Wellstone Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains this fall, with room and evening meals provided. Bean will have the opportunity to participate in yoga sessions and open mic nights at the center, and will receive a consultation with Bookshop Santa Cruz buyers to discuss their project--a feature-length screenplay based on their forthcoming novel, The Ship We Built, to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2020--in relation to the publishing marketplace.

The Bookshop Santa Cruz Writer Residency was created in 2016 in honor of Bookshop Santa Cruz's 50th anniversary, with author Thad Nodine (Touch and Go) as the inaugural selection. The residency was open to any author working on a work of fiction, with an emphasis on fiction set in California, and will be offered annually through 2020. Authors Sarah Ringer and Steve Kettmann founded the Wellstone Center in 2012.

Bean said, "I'm looking forward to spending time in a place where my narrator would feel safe. I'm looking forward to finding a new favorite place of my own. I'm looking forward to making friends with the animals, and challenging myself to go deeper into my work and the world I'm creating."

Bookstore Video of the Day: Margaret Atwood at Waterstones

Almost 35 years after The Handmaid's Tale was published, Margaret Atwood officially launched The Testaments in London Monday night "to cheers of delight at a packed-out Waterstones Piccadilly," the Bookseller reported, noting that "crowds lucky enough to get a ticket gathered from the early evening to get their hands on the hotly-awaited, Booker-shortlisted novel--hyped as the literary event of the year--when it went on sale at midnight."

"It's definitely the biggest event for a long time and it's one of the most ambitious events we've ever put together," said Waterstones fiction buyer Bea Carvalho, comparing it with the launch of Harry Potter titles. "The big draw for this which those ones didn't have is we've got Margaret Atwood here this evening. We're so thrilled that she's in the U.K. for this."

The event "is part of a feverish publicity campaign" by the author, including Margaret Atwood: Live in Cinemas, an appearance last night at a sold-out National Theatre event with Samira Ahmed and Lily James, which was live-streamed to venues around the globe.

Personnel Changes at Penguin Young Readers; Simon & Schuster

Jocelyn Schmidt has been promoted to executive v-p, associate publisher, Penguin Young Readers. She was formerly senior v-p, associate publisher, and joined Penguin Young Readers in 2010.


Chris Wagner has been promoted to v-p, operations and distribution services, at Simon & Schuster and is responsible for all of S&S's domestic distribution operations in Riverside, N.J., and Milan, Tenn. He joined the company in 2018 as v-p, general manager of warehouse operations for what was then the new warehouse in Milan. Earlier he was v-p of distribution for the Perseus Books Group.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tan France on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Tan France, author of Naturally Tan: A Memoir (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250208668).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Sean Penn, author of Bob Honey Sings Jimmy Crack Corn (Rare Bird Books, $26, 9781644280584).

TV: The Last Kids on Earth

A new trailer has been released for Netflix's The Last Kids on Earth, the animated adaptation that will release globally the same day as The Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade (Viking Books for Young Readers), the fifth installment of the bestselling book series by Max Brallier.

The voice cast includes Nick Wolfhard as the lead character Jack Sullivan, along with Mark Hamill, Rosario Dawson, Catherine O'Hara, Keith David, Bruce Campbell, Garland Whitt, Montse Hernandez and Charles Demers. Brallier is on board as creator, executive producer and writer. The Last Kids on Earth makes its debut September 17 on Netflix.

Books & Authors

Awards: Crook's Corner, Nayef Al-Rodhan Shortlists

The shortlist for the 2018 Crook's Corner Book Prize, given to the best debut novel set in the American South, is:

The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar (Counterpoint Press)
Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner (Red Hen Press)
Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books)

The winner of the $5,000 prize, sponsored by Crook's Corner Café and Bar in Chapel Hill, N.C., will be announced January 6, 2020.


The British Academy has announced the shortlist for this year's £25,000 (about $30,855) Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, which recognizes a nonfiction book that "contributes to public understanding of world cultures. It is designed to illuminate the interconnections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide." A winner will be named October 30 in London. The shortlisted titles are:

Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah
How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy by Julian Baggini
A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Toby Green
Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell
Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture by Ed Morales
Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided by Aanchal Malhotra

Reading with... Brock Clarke

photo: Nate Eldridge

Brock Clarke is the author of eight books of fiction, including An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, The Happiest People in the World and two story collections. He is a professor in the English department at Bowdoin College, and lives in Portland, Maine. His most recent novel, Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?, was just published by Algonquin.

On your nightstand now:

Sigrid Nunez's Salvation City (which is the only of her novels I haven't read), Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (which I'm reading to my son), Patrick DeWitt's French Exit (which I've read and it's great and I haven't removed it from my nightstand--which is not a nightstand, by the way, it's a file cabinet--because I'm thinking I might want to read it again, right after I've read Salvation City).

Favorite book when you were a child:

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Because in it, I had a vision of a childhood much more interesting than my own. My own being landlocked. And, also, lacking in criminals.

Your top five authors:

Muriel Spark, John Cheever, Tove Jansson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Joy Williams. All writers who stake out the territory between the realistic and the surrealistic. It's my favorite territory. I like to think it's mine, too.

Book you've faked reading:

I assume by this you mean a book I've said or acted like I've read but in fact have not read (although I love the idea of faking reading a book. I mean, actively faking it, holding a book in my hands that I'm not reading but pretending that I am: sighing, laughing, furrowing my brow, throwing it across the room, etc.). I don't think I've ever said I've read a book that I haven't read. But I didn't get a teaching job once because I admitted during the interview that I hadn't read Naked Lunch and one of the interviewers made it clear that that made me a philistine, a philistine he was not going to hire.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. A 500-plus-page fever dream that I think is an even stranger, bolder book than his Never Let Me Go, which is another book for which I'm an evangelist (not that it needs more evangelists). James Wood once said that The Unconsoled created its own category of badness. He's right, except substitute "greatness" for "badness."

Book you've bought for the cover:

Jane Gardam's Old Filth. Funny, because the cover itself is plainish. So maybe it was the title itself that attracted me. So maybe this is a book I bought for the title. In any case, I didn't regret it.

Book you hid from your parents:

I don't think I've ever hid a book from my parent. But they might have hid books from me. Especially books about how to use chainsaws. Once when I was writing a story that involved a guy using a chainsaw (I am not a guy who has used a chainsaw), I called my father (who is a guy who has used a chainsaw) and asked him how a guy might use a chainsaw, and my father started talking me through it (knowing that I was wanting this information for a story, not because I wanted to use a chainsaw), and in the background I heard my mother yell, "Peter, no!" Because my father's name is Peter, and because my mother thought he was teaching me how to use a chainsaw and she did not like the vision of a future in which I knew, or thought I knew, how to use a chainsaw.

Book that changed your life:

I mean, they all have.

Favorite line from a book:

"Perhaps, being lost, one should get loster," from Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift

Five books you'll never part with:

Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Paul Beatty's Slumberland, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, Joy Williams's The Visiting Privilege, The Stories of John Cheever

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

Any Muriel Spark book. When she died, I remember feeling not so much sad as empty, adrift, because her dying meant I'd never read another book of hers for the first time.

Your new novel is called Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? Does this mean you don't know who Calvin Bledsoe is?

It's a rhetorical question. I know exactly who he is. Calvin--a meek middle-aged blogger for the pellet-stove industry who is whisked off by his mysterious ancient aunt to live a life of international crime--isn't so sure, though. I had a good time helping/making him find out. I hope readers have a good time finding out, too.

Book Review

Children's Review: Infinite Hope

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, $21.99 hardcover, 112p., ages 10-up, 9781534404908, October 15, 2019)

For four decades, Newbery Honoree and Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Ashley Bryan kept his military experiences in World War II a secret. The author and illustrator of children's books such as Freedom over Me and Can't Scare Me was 19 when the U.S. Army drafted him. Pulled from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, Bryan encountered something entirely foreign to him: segregation. "The sky, the sunlight--they enclosed us all equally. But the United States's policy of segregation... separated white people from Black people. While I had experienced prejudice in my lifetime... I had never experienced segregation before." Infinite Hope is Bryan's account of the war and the people, art and determination that carried him through.

Bryan's tour of duty started as part of the army's all-black 502nd Port Battalion, where "we were given training in automatically responding to orders and in acting as a group... it bored me terribly. To survive this boredom, I drew and drew...." Bryan wasn't mechanically inclined--it wasn't long before his comrades were doing his work and shooing him off to read or draw.

When the battalion was deployed overseas, they found acceptance and equality in places like Belgium and Scotland (where Bryan even had the opportunity to study at the Glasgow School of Art). No amount of kindness from the Scottish, however, could soothe the atrocities the black soldiers faced on the beaches of Normandy. "Black soldiers were ordered to use their mess forks to probe sand for anti-personnel bombs.... The fallen soldiers were buried in temporary mass graves, and it was again the Black quartermaster soldiers who were assigned this grim task.... Black soldiers were often removed first; the news media there did not want to show Blacks in their newsreels."

Despite the threat of death and the ugliness of racism, Bryan explains, "What gave me faith and direction was my art. In my knapsack, in my gas mask, I kept paper, pens, and pencils.... It was the only way to keep my humanity." Just as creating the art was an escape for Bryan, viewing it in Infinite Hope is an escape for the reader. Sketches and paintings he mailed home enrich this autobiography and show the depth of its subject. Juxtaposing the historical photographs with Bryan's work contributes to the reader's understanding of both the artist's perspective and his wartime experiences. And letters he wrote home to his friend Eva offer personal glimpses into his wartime thoughts and feelings. All together, these elements forge a striking exhibition of a master artist and national treasure.

Infinite Hope is a must for every library, public and personal. Whether readers enjoy history, literature or art, this book captures the intersection of them all in the life of a man who has made a lasting impression on the world. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: Renowned illustrator Ashley Bryan tells how art carried him through the horrors of war and racism during World War II in this memoir for young readers.

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