Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 11, 2022

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


NYC's Three Lives & Co. Moves Back to Longtime Space

Three Lives & Company owner Toby Cox
(photos: Brian Palmer)

Last week, Three Lives & Company, New York City, moved back into its longtime space at 154 W. 10th St. in Greenwich Village after nearly 18 months at a nearby temporary space. Owner Toby Cox said, "It's hard to believe we're back on our corner, our home of 40-plus years, and in a fully restored and beautiful space. Onward!"

The store had to move because of structural work, repairs, restorations and more. Cox explained in an e-mail to customers: "The shop will look very reminiscent of the one you remember: hardwood floors, a black tin ceiling, the same red doors up front and the same custom-built wooden bookcases, worn smooth by time. There will be some changes--no doubt our regulars will notice every little detail immediately!--but the biggest difference is that you will no longer have to worry about debris falling from the ceiling or that rattling, dripping air conditioner above the entryway. Thanks to the work of a dedicated construction crew, our little old building on West 10th and Waverly can stand for centuries more."

Troy Chatterton, manager, and Miriam Chotiner-Gardner, buyer.

He added that the store's "interim home" at 238 W. 10th St. "between Bleecker and Hudson has served us very well, and we will certainly miss our neighbors in this part of the West Village. It has been a pleasure to join the block's lineup of independent shops. We have picked up lots of new readers in the past year and a half, and we hope you follow us back east--it's not so far! We will see you on the corner!"

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

Capital Books, Sacramento, Calif., Responds to Mass Shooting

Following a mass shooting in downtown Sacramento, Calif., on April 3, Capital Books has added a memorial to the victims in one of its windows and is welcoming "customers looking for a safe place to visit the area and look for help with processing their grief."

The shooting, which occurred early on the morning of April 3, was the deadliest in Sacramento history and took place next door to the bookstore. While the store did not suffer any direct damage from gunfire, some survivors used the store's entranceway to take shelter from stray bullets.

"For someone who sells words for a living, this is a tragedy that you can't really express just how you feel about it," said store co-owner Ross Rojek. "Knowing that people were packing themselves in our doorway to try and stay alive adds an extra layer of sadness as we opened and closed each day this week."

Rojek noted that the bookstore also provided shelter for community members fleeing tear gas and panicked crowds during the early days of the George Floyd protests. "When you call a bookstore a safe place for the community, you usually don't mean it literally, but however we need to be there for the community, we will be."

SUV Crashes into Rakestraw Books 

"File under 'Unexpected Events,' " Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif., posted on Facebook last Wednesday, noting that "yesterday afternoon someone drove an SUV through the front window of the bookshop! Luckily no one was hurt though a lot of books were badly damaged. Susan, Anastasia, Amy, and Mark (Susan’s husband) got the mess cleaned up (there were glass shards all the ways at the back of the shop); boarded up the left hand side of the shop front; and filed a police report. We will be open for business as usual today at 9:30 AM. Come say hi (and maybe buy a book!)."

Obituary Note: Richard 'Buster' Keenan

Richard "Buster" Keenan

Richard "Buster" Keenan, longtime bookseller and projects manager at Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, Colo., died on March 31. He began at the store in 1988, and worked in a variety of jobs throughout his tenure. More important than his job titles, Boulder Bookstore remembered, "Buster was the person who took care of the people and the things at the store."

The store continued: "Buster was a technological savant. He mastered IBID, Square One and iMerchant. He'd answer any question the staff had about computers both hardware and software, personal and professional. He kept the more than 30 computers in the store running, frequently relying on scavenged parts that anyone else would have given up as junk....

"Buster threw himself into whatever project was happening around the store. If there was an offsite event, he was there setting up the computers. If we had a remainder pallet arriving, he was carrying in boxes. If we were putting on a Harry Potter party, he was dressed as Hagrid, ready to help with anything."

Keenan was also supportive of his colleagues, "always there for his bookstore family. He was a wonderful baker and frequently made blondies and cakes for the staff. Occasionally, he would whip up chocolate mousse in the biggest bowl he could find. On March 14 (Pi Day), he would bring in up to a half a dozen pies. This year, he brought in four macaroni and cheese pies for the staff along with two dessert pies."

Boulder Bookstore owner David Bolduc called Keenan "one of a kind. We've been friends for 33 years, and I miss him already."

General manager Arsen Kashkashian added: "Buster was so thoughtful. If you mentioned that you liked something he made or a kind of candy he had on his desk he'd stock up on it. I had to be careful or I'd end up with a vat of his vegetarian chili. When an employee left the store, Buster often gave them a gift of whatever it was that they liked best. He was just a wonderful person to everyone."

Keenan was a board member of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association in the late 1990s; he brought his blondies to meetings and conferences and served as a one-man welcoming committee to new booksellers.

Anne Holman, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, remembered: "At my first trade show in 1999, he was there with brownies and a kind word. Booksellers can be a daunting bunch, and I've always felt like he was one of my first friends in the industry."

Norton field sales manager Meg Sherman added: "Buster was always quick to help. I originally met Buster when I spent two days with him in early 1994, learning the ins and outs of the Square One POS system. He trained me so that I could train the rest of our booksellers at Chinook Bookshop [in Colorado Springs]. Years later, he had volunteered to come down to Chinook to help us with inventory and when I called him to tell him not to come down (because the staff was just told that the store was closing), he came down anyway and stayed for the whole day. He was my rock that day."

A ceremony celebrating Keenan's life will be held at the bookstore on the evening of May 22. Please send photos and memories for sharing via e-mail here. And to RSVP, click here. In lieu of flowers, Keenan's family has asked people to make donations to BINC in his honor.

The Free Speech and First Amendment Debate: Why One Bookseller Is Leaving the ABA

Nicole Sullivan

After private discussions and e-mails with American Booksellers Association board members and staff about objections to changes in the association's approach to free speech and the First Amendment, among other matters, Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar, The Bookies and the nonprofit BookGive in Denver, Colo., member of the ABA Advisory Council 2016-2018 and president of the Mountains & Plains Independent Bookseller Association 2017-2020, has written the following open letter to the ABA explaining why she is ending her membership in the association.

Dear ABA,

I've learned so much from you over the years, have enjoyed your support, and am grateful for the friendships you've facilitated. My store wouldn't be where it is without you. I am thrilled, heartened, and encouraged to see the strides that have been made in creating a much more diverse membership and board of directors and am delighted in the growing number of minority-owned bookstores that are opening each day around the country. Representation matters and you are succeeding in uplifting and giving voice to the marginalized. For that, I applaud you.

The achievements made in the diversity of our membership, however, need not upend the association's identity and mission as a trade association that, at its best, is a strong advocate for member bookstores and a defender of free speech. In recent years, we've witnessed the ABA focusing less on bookstores and more on booksellers. As bookstore owners, we recognize that our staff are the backbone of everything we do and should be acknowledged as such. It is essential that bookstore owners create environments that are welcoming and equitable for all employees; we must do our best to provide all employees with a livable wage, paid time off, and health benefits. We must give them a voice and listen to their needs to the very best of our abilities as small business owners and as it aligns with our stores' missions. As business owners, we look to the ABA to support us in achieving these goals.

With that in mind, I would like to remind the ABA that many of our employees are right out of college, experiencing the workplace for the first time. Many still have much to learn about how to advocate for themselves in a professional manner through open, honest, and mutually respectful communication. A part-time bookseller with lofty and worthy ideas should not feel entitled, however, to change the mission of the store in which they've worked for a year or less. We need the ABA to recognize that store owners, like me, who have dedicated my time, mine and my families' resources, my life, essentially, should not be expected to bow to the demands of staff who, while lending a great deal to the day-to-day operations and curation of my stores, know little to nothing about what it takes to keep our doors open and the lights on.

It takes more than passion and idealism to get the keys to the kingdom and it has been my experience the past few years that some members of the ABA staff, board of directors, and committees have not only enabled, but encouraged some of my staff members to burn it all down on their way out the door when I've refused to acquiesce to their demands. My store is far from the only one that has experienced this, and it should go without saying that this is an incredibly toxic way to manage a business association. It seems you might be suffering an identity crisis. Are you a trade association representing your member bookstores? Or are you a labor association representing bookseller workers?

Your stance on the First Amendment only furthers the strife within our stores. By implying that the First Amendment is a "tool of the oppressor" or in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment, where does that leave those of us who have built our very business models on the tenets of the First Amendment? If the implication is that those of us who will still sell any book to anyone are not "anti-racist" enough and, therefore, perhaps even racist, then please pause and re-read the previous two paragraphs. I'd like to make very clear, at this point, that those of us still advocating for the First Amendment are not arguing against curation. This is a red herring. We all curate our stores, shelves, displays, and marketing. What we are arguing against is the vilification of books and the refusal by some booksellers to SELL (i.e., special order) titles or authors with which they disagree. The more booksellers who feel it is not only their right but their duty to turn away customers trying to access books for whatever reasons, will quickly find the indie bookstore narrative to be not only that we are "too expensive" (we love having that conversation, right?) but that we are judgmental and self-righteous. In that way, we will actively narrow our collective customer base to solely those who align with our politics. That might feel comfortable and "safe" but how will that pay our bills? How will that help more indie bookstores open in more communities or grow their businesses beyond their immediate communities? How will that lead to our employees being able to pay their rent or buy groceries? How will that open closed minds? Again, it seems that you might be suffering an identity crisis. Are you a trade association representing your member bookstores? Or are you a social justice organization?

As a dues paying member, I'm growing increasingly confused about how my dues are being used. If they are being used to undermine business owners and, intentionally or not, pit employees against owners, then I'm out. If my dues are going towards paying ABA staffers to select which books, publishers, and authors get access to me so I can then decide what, in turn, to offer to my customers, then I'm out. If my dues are going to programming that increasingly vilifies free expression, the single most important tool in protecting books from condemnation, rather than business education and advocacy, I'm out. If my dues are going to the short-sighted appeasement of identity politics without an eye toward the long-term sustainability and objectives of our industry, then I'm out.

I've heard from dozens of bookstore owners who feel the same but can't take the steps to leave the membership because you provide their websites. I've recently invested resources in a solution that allows my store to divest from the dependence on IndieCommerce, which is currently holding so many of my colleagues hostage to the ABA. I will still proudly affiliate with Bookshop but am prepared to forgo the payout I've enjoyed through my ABA membership. It is a small price to pay for upholding the commitment I've made to respect my customers' rights to read and to serve my community in the ways in which they've come to expect.

As much as it saddens me to part ways, I will continue to hold out hope for a future ABA that can find a path forward that adheres to the mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion in tandem with the First Amendment and that continues advocating for bookstores and practical ways in which we can support the needs of our employees. The current ABA seems to be sowing more division and conflict than unity around our mutual love of books so I've decided that my dues will be better used in supporting the National Coalition Against Censorship and PEN America. Please understand, this is one of the toughest decisions I've made in my nearly decade-long career.


Video: 'The Biggest Project Eagle Eye Books Has Ever Taken On!'

Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, Ga., shared a YouTube video, noting: "So we decided to get rid of our old 20 year old carpet, which I always called 'the big green beast.' I don't know how we pulled it off, we decided on March 1st to do it and had 3 weeks to plan. Every day we had to figure out how to move over 20k books and shelves. We did it in 3 days. We asked for volunteers and the support we got was just so overwhelming. We had over 80 people who offered to volunteer, but we could only manage so many. Our heart was full from their attitude, love, enthusiasm and hard work. I loved getting to know each and every one of them. I made a video of the project thanking them and doing a time lapse of all 3 days from our security cams to show just how big the project was. I am not gonna lie, the time lapse is satisfying."

Cool Idea of the Day: Literati Bookstore's Airport Staff Picks

Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich., noted: "Detroit Airport travelers seeking last-minute reading adventures, rejoice! We partnered with the Ink by Hudson bookstore at the Detroit Airport to provide a few shelves of staff picks from your favorite Literati booksellers!"

Personnel Changes at Random House

Tiffani Ren has joined the One World and Roc Lit 101 team at Random House as marketing associate.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Molly Shannon on Fresh Air, Today, Colbert's Late Show

Good Morning America: Delia Ephron, author of Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316267656).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Kel Mitchell, author of Blessed Mode: 90 Days to Level Up Your Faith (Thomas Nelson, $22.99, 9781400229185).

Fresh Air: Molly Shannon, author of Hello, Molly!: A Memoir (Ecco, $27.99, 9780063056237). She will also be on the Today Show this morning and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert tomorrow.

The View: Melissa Rivers, author of Lies My Mother Told Me: Tall Tales from a Short Woman (Post Hill Press, $28, 9781642937404).

Watch What Happens Live: Lala Kent, author of Give Them Lala (Gallery Books, $17.99, 9781982153854).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Viola Davis, author of Finding Me: A Memoir (HarperOne, $28.99, 9780063037328).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Robin Roberts, author of Brighter by the Day: Waking Up to New Hopes and Dreams (Grand Central, $24, 9781538754610). She will also appear on Tamron Hall.

The View: Valerie Biden Owens, author of Growing Up Biden: A Memoir (Celadon, $28, 9781250821768).

Watch What Happens Live: Julia Haart, author of Brazen: My Unorthodox Journey from Long Sleeves to Lingerie (Crown, $28.99, 9780593239162).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Brad Meltzer, author of The Lightning Rod: A Zig & Nola Novel (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062892409).

TV: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

"Amy Poehler and Peacock are cleaning house," Deadline noted in reporting that the streaming network has ordered a non-scripted series based on Margareta Magnusson's 2018 book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. Poehler will produce via her Paper Kite Productions, alongside Queer Eye producer Scout Productions, and will narrate the series.

"We are so excited to work on such a life-affirming project with the genius creators at Scout," said Poehler. "Swedish Death Cleaning reminds us to focus on what is truly important."

Rod Aissa, executive v-p, unscripted content, NBCUniversal Television & Streaming, commented: "In this series, viewers will be taken on an honest and emotional journey as they watch everyday people conquer their worst fears and discover who they really are on the inside. We hope our compassionate and dynamic series sparks conversation within each household and breaks the stigma around mortality and the tough reality of letting things go."

David Collins, co-founder & executive producer, Scout Productions, added: "Very rarely do you find a piece of IP this special. To be able to craft it into a format with humor and heart alongside a comedic genius like Amy Poehler is a genuine career highlight. What a full-circle moment to bring a splashy series to Peacock nearly 20 years after Queer Eye for the Straight Guy launched on Bravo. Queer Eye reshaped the way we look at life, and The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning will transform the way we look at death."

Books & Authors

Awards: Whiting Winners

The 10 winners of 2022 Whiting Awards, which "recognize early-career achievement and empower recipients to fulfill the promise of exceptional literary work to come," have been announced. Each recipient receives $50,000. This year's winners are:

Claire Boyles (fiction)
Rita Bullwinkel (fiction)
Ina Cariño (poetry)
Anthony Cody (poetry)
Anaïs Duplan (nonfiction)
Alexis Pauline Gumbs (nonfiction)
Megha Majumdar (fiction)
Jesse McCarthy (nonfiction)
Nana Nkweti (fiction)
Claire Schwartz (poetry)

Book Review

Review: Are We Ever Our Own

Are We Ever Our Own by Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes (BOA Editions, $17 paperback, 224p., 9781950774616, May 24, 2022)

The BOA Short Fiction Prize promises "collections [that] are more concerned with the artfulness of writing than the twists and turns of plot." Cuban Irish American author Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes (The Sleeping World) effortlessly displays both craft and narrative in the 11 loosely interlinked stories of Are We Ever Our Own.

Fuentes divides her fiction into three parts, the first and third sections labeled "fantasma," meaning ghost, which include a spectral single story each. The opening "Ana Mendieta Haunts the Block" deftly mixes fact and fiction: Ana Mendieta was a Cuban American artist possibly murdered by her husband; The Block was the home, now museum, of artist Donald Judd. Fuentes places spirited Ana in the Block, where tour guide Simon witnesses the museum cleaner Paula and her niece Caridad Armando-Mendoza become scapegoats for Ana's wandering mischief. In the closing fantasma, "The Ballad of Tam Lin," covered-wagon traveling performers and their peripatetic theatrics--both professional and personal--are recalled by the troupe leaders' daughter. The nested stories-within-stories each heighten "this disappearing": a lost father, dead sister, tragic lovers.

The connection between first and last stories relies on names--names shared by scattered members of the Armando Castell family who populate Part II, aptly subtitled "begin again," as if to offer provenance and then far-flung progression. "The Burial of Fidelia Armando Castell" establishes the Armando Castells, who share a divided-up mansion in La Pieza, Cuba, with the Agüero Gijóns; references to an "occupation" locate the story at the end of the 19th century. Fidelia Armando Castell and Rosa Agüero Gijón grow up closer than sisters; one is silenced by rape, the other by murder. Half a century later, in "Palm Chess," Carmen Fidelia Beracierto Armando Castell, travels from Miami to La Pieza to film the "history... buried in ground I know nothing about." That footage is rediscovered in "Loli & Magda," screened over a Wisconsin lakeside evening of oxtail soup and flowing alcohol. Caridad Armando-Mendoza from the opening "Ana Medieta" resurfaces in the titular "Are We Ever Our Own," as the contemporary curator/editor of a 1960s epistolary exchange between two artists, one of them another Armando Castell.

These Armando Castell women are imbedded throughout Fuentes's intricately plotted narratives: most are unknown to each other; many are artists of diverse genres; none ever seem quite settled. With deft precision, Fuentes parses a compelling multigenerational history of womanhood revealed through complicated relationships, disturbing violence, wrenching longing and sometimes, bittersweet, hard-won autonomy. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes's impressive BOA Short Fiction Prize-winning collection showcases 11 intricate stories linking the Armando Castell women through generations.

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