Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 20, 2022

Workman Publishing: Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think about Abortion by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Blackstone Publishing: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley


Bliss Books & Wine, Kansas City, Mo., Opening Delayed By Liquor License Red Tape

Bliss Books owners La'Nae Robinson and La'Nesha Frazier

The opening of Bliss Books & Wine in Kansas City, Mo., has been delayed after owners and sisters La'Nesha Frazier and La'Nae Robinson were denied a liquor license. 

According to the Kansas City Star, Kansas City's Regulated Industries Division refused the license on the grounds of density, explaining in a letter that there are already 11 businesses in a 3,000-foot radius with retail sales from drink/tavern liquor licenses. Some 9,151 people live in that same 3,000-foot radius area, and a "minimum population of 18,000 is required before a retail sales by drink/tavern license could be issued at this location."

The editorial board of the Star wrote that although the City Council revised some liquor license ordinances earlier this year, "the amendments didn't go far enough." Jim Ready, the manager of the Kansas City Regulated Industries Division, has also written in a letter that the city's "density model has become antiquated because there are many different types of businesses that have an interest in getting a liquor license that are not simply categorized as a 'tavern' or a 'package store.' "

Robinson and Frazier have gathered neighborhood support and spoken to a number of City Council members in advance of a meeting next month during which further changes to the city's liquor license laws will be discussed. If the city council ultimately approves the changes, the manager of the Regulated Industries Division would be able to approve or deny applications on a case-by-case basis.

Earlier this year, Frazier and Robinson ran a Kickstarter campaign that raised $44,073 to help them open their bookstore and wine bar. They had planned to open this month, but for now the store remains an online-only business.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

1,300+ Children's Book Authors Condemn Book Banning

On May 18, a letter signed by more than 1,300 children's authors and illustrators was sent to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In it, the authors condemned "the current wave of book suppression that specifically targets titles by creators who are LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous, and people of color."

The letter, organized and drafted by two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Christina Soontornvat, cited "the efforts by organized groups to purge books from our nation's schools" and called upon "Congress, statehouses, and school boards to reject the political manipulation of our schools, to uphold the values of freedom and equality promised in the Constitution, and to protect the rights of all young people to access the books they need and deserve."

Christina Soontornvat

Soontornvat said she was recently told by a Texas school that she could not be invited to speak to students for fear that conservative parents in that district "would object to her living in a liberal city." (She lives in Austin.) Soontornvat said, "The pro-banning groups have overwhelmed an education system that was already overtaxed from dealing with the pandemic.... They are creating an atmosphere of bullying and fear by pushing their political agendas and personal beliefs on schools, and it's the children--our readers--who are suffering the consequences."

The signers include authors such as Jason Reynolds, Judy Blume, Rick Riordan, Jacqueline Woodson, Jenny Han, Angie Thomas and Yuyi Morales. You can read the letter here and find more information about the book ban open letter on the We Need Diverse Books website.

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

NVNR Day 2 Author Dinner: 'Look Who's in Town'


The closing event of New Voices, New Rooms, the joint NAIBA/SIBA virtual event, was the "Look Who's in Town" Author Dinner, hosted by Amanda Toronto, children's buyer and Brooklyn store manager for WORD Bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J.

Geraldine Brooks was up first, and she described her novel Horse (Viking, June 14) as a midlife gift: instead of a red convertible, hers "took the form of a black pony." Her love of horses caused her to become a tad distracted during a luncheon invitation to Plimoth Plantation, where Brooks had researched her novel Caleb's Crossing (Viking); she'd been invited on the pretext of being pitched a novel based on a woman who'd lived on the plantation, "But I'd already written that book," Brooks said, so she tuned in to different conversation. A man a few seats away was speaking of having overseen delivery of an 1850s horse skeleton from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to the International Museum of the Horse in Kentucky. Brooks went home determined to learn more. What she discovered was not only the story of a magnificent racehorse and stud sire called Lexington, but also of the Black groom depicted in a painting alongside the horse, known simply as "Jarret, his groom." Brooks said, "The idea of the Black groom in the painting took hold, and I realized I couldn't leave the story of race in the past. I needed to bring it into the present."

Alice Elliott Dark also went down a bit of a research rabbit hole with her novel Fellowship Point (Marysue Rucci/Scriber, July 5). A friend of hers was cataloguing thousands of acres of land that had been given to the University of California, mostly from women. Dark learned that women were allowed to own land in the late 1800s, but were not allowed to have a say in what happened to that land until 1900; only male relatives could make those decisions. Dark was intrigued by the idea that women "walked more lightly on the land," and focused on two characters, friends Agnes and Polly, both 80 years old, and what happens when they're in control of a sizable amount of land on the coast of Maine. Developers are eyeing Fellowship Point, and Polly and Agnes, both "vibrant" and involved, have differing ideas of what to do with it. The book explores "land ownership, land stewardship, who does it belong to and why," Dark said. Polly and Agnes are also Quakers, so themes of justice, nature and conservation also enter the novel.

"My parents were married when they had me, just to different people," Isaac Fitzgerald began--the opening line of his memoir, Dirtbag, Massachusetts (Bloomsbury, July 19). Fitzgerald refers to himself as a "child of passion," raised in the inner city of Boston; his parents were "unhoused," and although one tends to think of the opulence of the Catholic church, "we were more Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day." Yet the author said he was at his happiest when they were poorest. When the family moved to North Central Massachusetts, they were confronted with the leavings of the dead milling industry and a destitute population. "The most surprising thing to me," Fitzgerald said, "was that my family blew apart and then came back together. All of life is about having conversations that might one day bring about healing."

Chef and author Michael W. Twitty beautifully integrated the themes of the previous speakers, saying how moved he was by them: "A big part of this is how we tell our stories," he said. "I am touched by everyone here." Twitty spoke of the exhaustive research and interviews he did for Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew (Amistad, August 9). "As a queer Black Jewish Southern man," Twitty said, the cover of the book was very important to him, and his husband spent 20 hours creating a gay challah, a rainbow challah, a red, green and black challah pictured on the cover. "My mother always wanted me to know, what does it mean to be a woman? She can't go anywhere without her womanhood," Twitty said, drawing a parallel to being queer, Black and Jewish, and taking who he is with him. "Food sets the table for conversation. Conversation is dialogue and also conflict," he said, adding that you can't get two Jewish people to agree on the best way to make challah bread, for instance. "But in all this disunity, there is commitment," Twitty observed. With Koshersoul, "I wanted to put ancient laws in an American context." He said, "The kitchen table is where you work out your Sturm und Drang. It's where I learned a lot about our culture, politics. The kitchen table is where you receive tradition and create new ones." --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job>

The SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund Launches

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has launched the SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund, a division created to support new and impactful charitable activities of the organization. The fund's projects will not be limited to SCBWI members but will be available to the entire children's book community. 

"We believe the best way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the SCBWI is to create and fund programs that benefit the life-affirming spirit of children's book creators everywhere," said Bruce Coville, longtime member of the advisory council. 

SCBWI's executive director Sarah Baker added: "I'm excited for the new opportunities the Impact and Legacy Fund will provide for members of the children's book community all over the world." 

The mission of the fund is to provide specific endowments, grants, awards and programs which enhance the reach and impact of creators of children's books. Initially, the fund will be guided by Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI and retired executive director, working along with a steering committee of 13 volunteers. 

The SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund is launching with two initiatives:

The Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World will be given annually to an author or author/illustrator of a book for children or young adults recognized for both its excellence and for its contribution to understanding that helps create a better world. 

The Student Advocates for Speech project, a collaboration with the National Coalition Against Censorship, is a grant from the SCBWI to support NCAC's new Student Advocates for Speech project, whose mission is to empower the next generation of leaders to engage in discussion and analysis of the essential tenets of free expression. 

Cottonwood Books, Baton Rouge, La., Closes

Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge, La., which had announced earlier this year that it would be closing if a buyer wasn't found, officially closed its doors for the final time May 7. In a Facebook post, owners Danny and Nancy Plaisance wrote: "Cottonwood Books has given our family so many wonderful memories and experiences. We have made lifelong friendships with our amazing customers and we cannot express how grateful we are for each and every one of you. Thank you for being so loyal and supportive all these years, we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you for 37 wonderful years, it's been a great ride!"

"My husband would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. It's his happy place," Nancy Plaisance told WBRZ shortly before the final day. "When Danny bought the bookstore it had 5,000 books in it, and over the years through donations or trades, he grew the used section to 45,000. As much as he'd love to stay here, it's just come to the end of the road."

"It was a big part of my life... that's an understatement. If it's one thing I feel like I'm going to miss, it's going to be my customers, without a doubt," Danny Plaisance added.

Obituary Note: Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy
(photo: Joy Yagid)

Children's book author and editor Jim Murphy died suddenly on May 1 at age 74. He was a two-time Newbery Honor winner, a National Book Award Finalist, a winner of the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, and recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime contribution to young adult literature.

His publisher HarperCollins recounted that the Radcliffe summer publishing program and a chance encounter earlier with a book banned by a teacher "set him on a lifetime of writing and the pursuit of a publishing career. And, after a brief and scary detour as a construction worker working on the 47th story of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper, Jim returned his sights to children's books and never looked back." He published "carefully crafted, rigorously researched nonfiction books, studded with rich detail and deep history and containing the voices and experiences of eyewitnesses."

They included The Boys' War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War (Clarion, 1990); The Great Fire (Scholastic, 2001), about the Chicago fire; An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (Clarion, 2003), the country's first epidemic; Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever (Clarion, 2015), about the African American "janitor" who developed a groundbreaking operation to repair heart defects in babies and oversaw the white heart surgeon from Johns Hopkins who performed them; and Truce (Scholastic, 2009), about the Christmas truce on the front lines of World War I.

Reflecting on his life, Murphy said, "Life is made up of journeys. Some are physical, but most are interior journeys of the heart and soul. The important thing is to face each with a positive attitude and try to learn about the world and... to laugh and have fun along the way."


Image of the Day: 'Goodnight Moon'--in Space!

Earlier this week, astronaut Tom Marshburn on the International Space Station shared a zero-gravity reading of Goodnight Moon. The out-of-this-world event, which included an "Ask an Astronaut" q&a and an art project inspired by the book, was part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd's classic, and was sponsored by Crayola, NASA and HarperCollins Children's Books. The event can be viewed on Crayola's Facebook page.

'Welcome, Recent Graduates, to the World of Reading for Fun'

Posted on Facebook by Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.: "Welcome, recent graduates, to the world of Reading For Fun. Cozy mysteries, romance, historical biographies of random people you never thought you'd be interested in (but now you are!), and poetry collections written by cats await."

Personnel Changes at Hachette Book Group

Laurel Stokes has joined Hachette Book Group as backlist director. She was most recently national account manager at HarperCollins Publishers, and prior to that was a client support associate manager for Penguin Random House Publisher Services.

Media and Movies

Stan Lee 'Returns' to Marvel Studios 

In what was described as "a unique deal," the late and legendary Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, Avengers and Hulk, is returning to Marvel Studios. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Marvel has signed a 20-year deal with Stan Lee Universe, a venture between Genius Brands International and POW! Entertainment, to license the name and likeness of Lee, who died in 2018, for use in future feature films and television productions, as well as Disney theme parks, various "experiences" and merchandising.

"It really ensures that Stan, through digital technology and archival footage and other forms, will live in the most important venue, the Marvel movies, and Disney theme parks," said Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands. "It's a broad deal."

Describing Lee as a mentor, Heyward said he spearheaded the venture because, in the aftermath of Lee's death and the revelations of conflicts in Lee's final years, "there needed to be a steward of his legacy." The company is now sifting through Lee's files and dealing with offers, all through a protective lens. "The audience revered Stan, and if it's done with taste and class, and respectful of who he was, [uses of his likeness] will be welcomed. He is a beloved personality, and long after you and I are gone, he will remain the essence of Marvel." 

Movies: Catherine, Called Birdy

The first footage has been released for Catherine, Called Birdy, Lena Dunham's adaptation of Karen Cushman's 1996 medieval coming-of-age book. IndieWire reported that the project "has been in the works for 13 years--almost the exact age as the historical YA novel's heroine." Dunham writes, directs and executive produces film, which she has described as the "most ambitious project" of her career.  

Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) stars "as the titular precocious Birdy, who is set to be married off for money so that her father (Andrew Scott) can save their English manor in the year 1290," IndieWire noted. The cast also includes Joe Alwyn, Ralph Ineson, Billie Piper and Isis Hainsworth. Catherine, Called Birdy premieres in theaters September 23 and on Prime Video October 7. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Orwell Shortlists

Shortlists have been released for the £3,000 (about $3,735) Orwell Prize for Political Fiction as well as the Orwell Prize for Political Writing (nonfiction), both of which recognize works that "strive to meet Orwell's own ambition 'to make political writing into an art.' " The winners will be named July 14. Shortlists for all four Orwell Prize categories are available here. The book finalists are:

Political Writing 
Behind Closed Doors by Polly Curtis 
Spike by Jeremy Farrar & Anjana Ahuja 
The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber & David Wengrow 
My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden 
Uncommon Wealth by Kojo Karam 
Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller 
Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit 
The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan 
Shutdown by Adam Tooze 
Do Not Disturb by Michela Wrong 

Political Fiction 
Cwen by Alice Albinia 
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam 
Assembly by Natasha Brown
The High House by Jessie Greengrass 
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan 
The Colony by Audrey Magee 
Appliance by J.O. Morgan 
There Are More Things by Yara Rodrigues Fowler 
Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner 

Reading with... Isabel Cañas

photo: Kilian Blum

Isabel Cañas is a Mexican-American speculative fiction writer. After living in Mexico, Scotland, Egypt and Turkey, among other places, she has settled (for now) in New York City, where she is working on her Ph.D. dissertation in medieval Islamic literature and writes fiction inspired by her research and her heritage. The Hacienda (Berkley, May 3, 2022) is her debut novel, a dark gothic set in the 19th-century Mexican countryside, with a house haunted by more than just the supernatural.

Handsell readers your book in about 25 words:

When new bride Beatriz moves into her widower husband's profoundly haunted estate, she must rely on a local priest's dark secrets and her own wits to survive the hacienda's malicious spirits.

On your nightstand now:

An ARC of Book Lovers by Emily Henry. Reading romance kept me sane as I trudged through the final leg of writing my Ph.D. dissertation. Matrix by Lauren Groff, which is incredible, languishes next to my e-reader. I have picked it up and put it down several times, because literary fiction does not mix well with my poor, burned-out, post-dissertation brain. I found the first few books of the Mediator series by Meg Cabot in a used bookstore while on vacation and picked them up for an indulgent high school throwback. And I'm savoring an early copy of House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson, a gloriously dark and atmospheric sophomore novel that I predicted--just from hearing the pitch!--would swallow me whole. Reader, I was absolutely right. Put House of Hunger on your TBR pile yesterday.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw was the first novel I read where the heroine's bilingualism was her superpower. I was a young reader who struggled with the transition from learning how to read and write in Spanish in Mexico to elementary school in the U.S. Even when I received conflicting messages about language from the world around me, Mara empowered me to take pride in my own ability to speak two languages.

Your top five authors:

Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Roshani Chokshi and S.A. Chakraborty. The first four became well-known for their young adult novels; I came of age as a writer in the YA space and learned so much about plot, atmosphere, economy of language and pacing from their novels. Chakraborty achieves with flying colors what I strive to do with my writing: she takes history and spins it golden with wonder. I adore her work.

Book you've faked reading:

Every academic has a list of books they've faked reading for a graduate seminar, a class they taught or their dissertation. My list comes with me to the grave!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor breaks every writing rule you've ever heard of and is a glorious, compassionate triumph of fantasy literature that grapples with a timeless question: Are forgiveness and reconciliation possible in the aftermath of a devastating war?

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore. McLemore's novels are an auto-buy for me for their lyricism, their effortless magical realism and their heartwarming (and heartbreaking) queer themes. The Mirror Season did not disappoint on any of these fronts. It is very precious to me.

Book you hid from your parents:

Miraculously, I found Tithe by Holly Black on the shelf of the library of my extremely conservative Catholic high school. I smuggled it home and devoured it in secret. I think I guessed that even my more enlightened parent would have had her feathers ruffled by a 14-year-old reading a YA novel with such a dark cover and even darker themes.

Book that changed your life:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. I don't make this choice lightly, as I no longer read Díaz. When I picked up this novel at the age of 21, I was certain I wanted to be a writer but was unmoved by the literary fiction I thought I should be reading and writing. In Oscar Wao, I encountered a portrayal of a Latinx character obsessed with writing a fantasy novel. Every Latin American or U.S.-based Latine writer I had ever encountered in print wrote literary fiction or magical realism, so I thought I had to as well. That was the first time that I realized, whoa, I'm allowed to be Latina and write genre? I started writing my first fantasy novel that year and haven't stopped writing genre since. Representation matters.

Favorite line from a book:

"Barrabas came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy." --Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits

Five books you'll never part with:

Strange the Dreamer for the aforementioned reasons.
A used copy I found of Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits that looks exactly like my mom's original, well-loved and extremely beat-up paperback edition.
In Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence, there is a ticket to visit the author's museum in Istanbul for free. I used it. When I got my book signed by Pamuk, I asked him to sign that page. He laughed and obliged.
My heavily annotated copy of Story Genius by Lisa Cron, which revolutionized how I approach plot and character.
And the Redhouse Ottoman Turkish dictionary that shepherded me through graduate school.

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

Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows. I was told it was an excellent book to study for craft, but I did not expect to be swept away so thoroughly. Bardugo's mastery of voice, plot and world-building are unparalleled; this is the closest you get to perfection in young adult fantasy literature.

Book Review

Review: Night of the Living Rez

Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty (Tin House Books, $16.95 paperback, 296p., 9781953534187, July 5, 2022)

The dozen stories of Morgan Talty's vivid debut collection, Night of the Living Rez, certainly stand alone--eight of them were previously published in various prestigious journals including the Georgia Review and Narrative magazine, which also awarded him a 2021 Narrative Prize. To discover all 12 together, however, becomes a richly enhanced experience, their intertwining links creating a more sustained, rewarding read. Talty sets his fiction in the "rez," the Penobscot Indian Nation community of which he, too, is a citizen; here, it's called the "Panawahpskek Nation," whose spelling difference (and more) is elucidated in a note at the end of the book.

Talty writes each story in first-person, jumping back and forth between David the boy and David the man. His second story, "In a Jar," introduces young David and his mother, who have "left our life down south with my father and sister" and moved into a Panawahpskek home. He finds "a glass jar filled with hair and corn and teeth," a discovery that invites the medicine man Frick, who deems the jar "bad medicine," seemingly setting in motion a future cursed with suffering and disappointment. In "Food for the Common Cold," Mom and Frick argue vehemently about having a child of their own. Grammy forces cigarettes onto David, mistaking him for her dead younger brother, in "The Blessing Tobacco." Teenage troubles multiply in "Smokes Last," but David twice saves his sister in the titular "Night of the Living Rez."

As an adult, David battles drug addiction, unemployment, malaise, spending most of this directionless time with Fellis, a fellow addict who admits to "bumming from [his] mom for thirty-one years." Beth takes David in when his mother has had enough of his transgressions. David cuts Fellis's frozen hair from the ice in "Burn," hunts porcupines in "Get Me Some Medicine," plans to sell museum treasures in "Half-Life." Decades after the fact, he recalls how he temporarily lost his vision at age 10 after a haunting family tragedy in what might be the collection's finest, "The Name Means Thunder."

Through David's maturing eyes, Talty illuminates his narratives with empathy, vulnerability and, occasionally, unexpected humor. He writes with assuredness, with an eyes-wide-open frankness that make his characters feel immediately, if not familiar, then certainly knowable. Joining the ranks of Tommy Orange, Brandon Hobson and Terese Marie Mailhot, Talty's strikingly successful debut is poised to expand the growing circle of lauded Indigenous writers. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Morgan Talty's superb debut collection showcases 12 interlinked stories featuring a single Native narrator from his troubled childhood to the challenges of his adulthood.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Caddie Lessons for Booksellers

Confront the challenge together, as a team. Although the final decision isn’t up to you, your input is still a critical ingredient in the process. Focus and mutual understanding are key in the moment. Several possibilities exist as your discussion begins, but options are weighed together and narrowed down to three, then two, then one. It's a ritual, performed again and again: caddie advising golfer, bookseller handselling to reader.

As you may have guessed, I've been thinking about books and golf, prompted unexpectedly by a May 2 Facebook post from Magic City Books in Tulsa, Okla., where this year's PGA Championship is currently underway at Southern Hills Country Club.

"We are idea people over here," Magic City Books posted, adding: "During the upcoming PGA Championship, we're considering starting the PAGE Championship. While other people watch golf, you get through as many books as possible. Still working out the details." 

I like it. As the tournament approached, Magic City Books created a golf-themed endcap display and on Wednesday night, the store sold books during an in-person event at Lafortune Park Golf Course featuring Alan Shipnuck and his new title, Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar. Earlier, Magic City Books had also duly noted the troubles Phil Mickelson has gotten himself into this year (widely chronicled, just Google his name) .

Despite being the defending PGA champion, Phil is not in town. But Magic City Books is on its game, and inspired me to collect a few moments from my past where reading, bookselling and golf happened to cross paths: 

Caddying was my first "real job." For two perfect summers beginning when I was 14, I "looped" at a failing resort course in Vermont. Being a caddie might seem as easy as reading the number on a golf club and handing it to your player on request, but complexity lurked everywhere. By the second summer, I was playing the game and had evolved into a pretty good caddie. Relying on observation, experience and instinct, I could, for example, caution my golfer that the rustling tops of those trees walling in the second green were no wind gauge, just a siren song masking dead air below. Seeing was often not believing. And I learned a lot about reading people. 

In 1972, I bought my first copy of Michael Murphy's now classic novel Golf in the Kingdom. It remains in print and I suspect the story would still resonate. A young philosophy student on his way to an ashram in India spends a pivotal day at the fictional Burningbush Links in Scotland, where he is captivated by a mysterious golf guru named Shivas Irons, who observes that golf "is always a trip back to the first tee, the more you play the more you realize you are staying where you are... you reenact that secret of the journey. You may even get to enjoy it."  

From 1973 to 1997, I lived in Rutland, Vt., which was also the U.S. headquarters of Tuttle Publishing. Founder Charles Tuttle, who died in 1993, had served as an American soldier in Tokyo after World War II. He fell in love with Japanese culture and made it his life's mission to introduce this world to American readers, one of whom turned out to be me. Sometime during the 1980s, I met Mr. Tuttle when we fortuitously played a few holes together on a local golf course. I had the chance to thank him personally for the amazing world he had given me. 

In 2003, I read Who's Your Caddy?: Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf, in which Rick Reilly recounts his caddie-for-a-day adventures with a variety of golfing celebrities, including a future president ("You do not interview Trump. You just try to be in the Doppler radar when his tornado blows by and sucks you in."). 

During the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., I spent three days walking the course in close proximity to some of the world's best golfers. Ducking the weekend crowds, I escaped on Friday afternoon and drove south to the Abbey of the Genesee, where I strolled the quieter grounds of a Trappist monastery, found a spot under a tree, and just read. That was a good decision, a caddie's call. Read the situation, make adjustments as needed. 

Renowned sports psychologist and bestselling author Bob Rotella has worked with many of the best players on the PGA tour as a kind of mind-game caddie. In the winter of 2004, the bookstore where I worked hosted an event for his title The Golfer's Mind. I first knew him, however, about 35 years before that night as one of my college lacrosse teammates. 

While introducing Bob at the event, I said, among other things, that I'd learned a great deal about myself on the golf course--much more, sometimes, than I cared to know. And even though I seldom played golf as well as I wanted to, I hoped my work as a bookseller was up to the level I'd once hoped my golf game would be. 

In his first book, Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect, Bob wrote: "The process, not the end result, enriches life." I think that's how I played the handselling game, one book and one reader at a time. John Updike also hit the mark in his story "Farrell's Caddie," when wizened Scottish looper Sandy growls: "Ye kin tell a' aboot a man, frae th' way he gowfs." And you can tell a lot about booksellers from the way they handsell. 

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

Powered by: Xtenit