Also published on this date: Monday, October 31, 2022: Maximum Shelf: The House of Eve

Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 31, 2022

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Quotation of the Day

Booksellers 'Eager to Find the Soul Medicine that Their Communities Needed'

"In late September of 2022, I flew to Denver and spoke at the MPIBA FallCon. I talked about my sobriety and writer's block and the hard battle I'd been through over the past five years. I discussed losing my community and how I had been and was still fighting hard to reenter.... When I made it to the display floor, the room was teeming with booksellers who were eager to find the soul medicine that their communities needed. And I thought to myself, this is what my latest novel is about. Art and community. People supporting each other. And as I interacted with the booksellers in the room, I experienced an abundance of courage, empathy, patience and humility.

"Sometimes when I look at social media or the news or elsewhere, I can be tricked into thinking that there is a scarcity of courage, empathy, patience, and humility in the world. But there's not. Maybe we are just too often pointing the cameras at the wrong things."

--Matthew Quick, whose novel We Are the Light (Avid Reader/S&S) is the #1 November 2022 Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


International Booksellers Conference Set for Prague in March

The European & International Booksellers Federation will host the first RISE Booksellers Conference March 19-20, 2023, in Prague, the Czech Republic, in the Clarion Congess Centre. Registration is free and is open to booksellers around the world. Travel and accommodations are up to attendees; the Clarion Congress Hotel is offering special rates. The conference will be held in English, with German and French translations. Events include a program on March 18, the day before the conference begins, that will highlight the literary history of Prague.

The conference schedule includes several keynotes and panels that address a range of topics, such as green and sustainable bookselling; how to set up a bookstore day or week; offering diverse and inclusive titles; using social media, including BookTok; children's books; events; working with libraries; manga and graphic novels; local partnerships and more. In addition, booksellers will be able to set up meetings in advance with booksellers from other countries "to enjoy a coffee together."

Register here. For more information about the program, click here.

RISE Bookselling is a network program organized by EIBF and co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union. RISE Bookselling was announced earlier this year and has included bookseller exchanges, under which a participating booksellers spends three days in a foreign bookstore. EIBF represents national booksellers associations and booksellers around the world; through the associations it represents more than 25,000 individual booksellers.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

HQN Books Relaunched, Renamed Canary Street Press

HarperCollins's Harlequin Trade Publishing is relaunching and renaming its main romance imprint, HQN Books, as Canary Street Press. The change reflects in part the company's goal of publishing "a greater variety of modern, commercial love stories."

While remaining a romance imprint, Canary Street Press will publish more "inclusive stories that represent everyone's happy ever after." Canary Street Press will appear in trade paperback, hardcover and mass market formats.

Canary Street Press editorial director Susan Swinwood said, "The Canary Street Press name was inspired by the Canary District, an historic area in downtown Toronto that has undergone a renewal, and is an example of a modern, revitalized community with a rich heritage. Canary Street Press is expanding our editorial direction to celebrate romance for every reader looking to see themselves in a HEA."

Harlequin Trade Publishing executive v-p and publisher Loriana Sacilotto commented: "Canary Street Press will be a destination imprint for romance of all kinds as we add new and fresh voices to our existing author list and continue our focus to bring new readers to the genre."

Canary Street Press's first title, to be published in February, will be Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher, which will be available in print for the first time. Never Never is a three-part collection, a "dark, twisty romance about two soulmates trying to find their way back to each other, and the secrets that stand in their way."

Regular publication of Canary Street Press will continue with new titles beginning in summer 2023. Those titles include:

Even If the Sky Is Falling (May 30), an anthology of six stories by Taj McCoy, Farah Heron, Lane Clarke (writing as S.T. Cori), Charish Reid, Sarah Smith and Denise Williams. "Filled with hope, humor, and heat, the stories explore the chances a couple may take when they mistakenly believe the world is ending."

Mickey Chambers Shakes It Up (June 6) by Charish Reid, "a witty, contemporary love story with high emotional stakes and a multicultural cast, about a widowed bar owner who, upon returning to college at 42, inadvertently hires the woman who turns out to be the adjunct instructor of his online writing class to help tend bar at his failing establishment."

The Secret to a Southern Wedding (July 19), the first book in Synithia Williams's new Peachtree Cove series, which is "filled with southern charm, good friends and bad decisions, about a woman determined to stop her mother's impulsive wedding to man she barely knows, only to find herself irresistibly drawn to the groom's son."

Exes and Prose (July 25), the sophomore rom-com from Erin LaRosa, "a friends (with benefits)-to-lovers story about a romance author who's never been in love and who makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer's block: reunite with her exes to learn why--and document it all for her millions of new online followers."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Ulrich's, Ann Arbor, Mich., Closes After 88 Years

Ulrich's, a bookstore serving the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., closed today after 88 years in business, M Live reported.

Located at 1200 S. University Ave., near the University of Michigan's Central Campus, the bookstore was founded in 1935 and acquired by Follett in 2015. Follett told M Live that the bookstore's lease was up in November, but did not give an explanation for why the lease was not renewed. Ulrich's manager Tracy Buse, meanwhile, said she was unable to comment on the closure.

"We hope to find new avenues to collaborate with the University of Michigan campus in the future," Follett spokeswoman Leann Fowler said.

A note on the front of the bookstore read: "We want to thank all of our patrons and members of the community for all of their support over the years. Go Blue Forever!"

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Obituary Note: Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern, "who drew on nature, history and his own experiences to write prizewinning poetry laced with wistfulness, anger and humor," died October 27, the New York Times reported. He was 97. Stern, whose This Time: New and Selected Poems won the National Book Award for poetry in 1998, "came to poetic prominence relatively late," with his first published poem, "The Pineys," appearing in the Journal of the Rutgers University Library in 1969, when he was 44; and his first collection, Rejoicings,  published in 1973. His second collection, Lucky Life (1977), was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Stern served in the Army Air Forces in 1946 and 1947, after which he resumed his studies, receiving a bachelor's degree in political science at Pitt in 1947 and a master's degree in English at Columbia University in 1949. He spent a year in Europe, "supposedly working on a Ph.D., a degree he never completed," the Times noted, adding that he "did find his poetic calling there," as he wrote about in "The Red Coal," a 1981 poem that begins: "Sometimes I sit in my blue chair trying to remember/what it was like in the spring of 1950/before the burning coal entered my life.' "

"When poetry entered my life," Stern explained in a video interview, describing what the poem was about. "When the spirit entered. When I suddenly, self-consciously, said, 'I am a poet.' "

Over the years he taught at a number of institutions and taught poetry at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, "where his readings would draw standing-room-only crowds," the Times wrote. He retired from teaching in the mid-1990s. In 2010, he received the Award of Merit Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2012 his Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 was awarded the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress.

Stern's many honors also include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bess Hokin Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Bernard F. Conners Award from the Paris Review and the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2000 to 2002. 

Stern's most recent poetry collection, Blessed as We Were: Late Selected and New Poems, 2000-2018, was published in 2020. The Times noted that a few years earlier he had published Divine Nothingness, a collection that includes "Writers' Workshop," a poem "inspired by a neglected apple tree in his yard when he lived in Iowa. He thought the tree was worthless until he picked up an apple off the ground and discovered that it was delicious."

"It's got to do with this concept that's dominated a lot of my poetry," he said in an interview, "particularly my early poetry: the sense that the ignored, the ignoble, the detested, the despised, the abandoned was truly worthy, be it people, be it nature. I always honor the unrecognized, the lost."

From Stern's poem "Still Burning":

walking afterwards through the park or sometimes
running across the bridges and up the hills,
sitting down in our tiny dining room,
burning in a certain way, still burning.


Cool Idea of the Day: Cincy Book Bus Depot's Counter

Melanie Moore, owner of Cincy Book Bus, a mobile bookstore (built out of a 1962 VW Transporter truck), shared a peek behind the scenes of renovations for what will be the Book Bus Depot in Sharonville, Ohio, and one notable addition in particular. 

"Meet Jai, everyone! He's a good friend but he's also the behind the scenes Book Bus master carpenter," Moore posted on Facebook. "When I first started this venture, he's the one who custom built all my book boxes for the truck. When I had a crazy idea for my counter at The Depot, I knew I needed Jai. He's from Vermont but took the time to make my vision a reality which was no easy feat. The Book Bus Depot sales counter looks amazing! Thanks, Jai!!"

Personnel Changes at Algonquin Books

Marisol Salaman has joined Algonquin Books as publicity manager. She was previously a senior publicist for the Portfolio & Sentinel imprints at Penguin Random House.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Irving on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Good Morning America: Matthew Perry, author of Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir (Flatiron, $29.99, 9781250866448). He will also appear tomorrow on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Also on GMA: Bono, author of Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story (Knopf, $34, 9780525521044).

The View: Aubrey Plaza, co-author of The Return of the Christmas Witch (Viking Books for Young Readers, $19.99, 9780593350836).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: John Irving, author of The Last Chairlift (Simon & Schuster, $38, 9781501189272).

Good Morning America: Lottie Bedlow, author of Baking Imperfect: Crush, Whip and Spread It Like Nobody's Watching (Thunder Bay Press, $24.99, 9781667202013).

Today Show: Christopher Andersen, author of The King: The Life of Charles III (Gallery Books, $29.99, 9781501181597).

Tamron Hall: Jessica Willis Fisher, author of Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice (Thomas Nelson, $28.99, 9781400332908).

Rachael Ray: Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi, authors of Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things (Clarkson Potter, $32, 9780593234389).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Sohla El-Waylly, co-editor of The Best American Food Writing 2022 (Mariner, $17.99, 9780063254411).

Movies: The Pale Blue Eye

Vanity Fair offered a first look at The Pale Blue Eye, the new historical thriller starring Christian Bale as a retired constable in 1830 who joins forces with a young Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling) to solve a series of grisly slayings. Based on the 2006 novel by Louis Bayard, the film debuts December 23 in theaters and January 6 on Netflix. It is Bale's third collaboration with filmmaker Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace), who has been developing this movie for nearly a decade. 

"Every character in the story has secrets," Bale said. "And while Poe seems to be the one who is clearly putting on a performance, he is actually the most sincere. Everyone else is more quietly putting on a performance, but no one is who they are pretending to be." 

Cooper added: "I thought, okay, I have an opportunity to do three things with this film: Fashion a whodunit, a father and son love story, and then a Poe origin story. Poe at this young age was quite warm and witty and humorous and very Southernly. The experiences that I'm putting forth in this film led him down the darker paths that we have come to know him for."

The Pale Blue Eye also features "an increasingly rare return to the screen for 91-year-old Robert Duvall, a longtime friend of Cooper, who turns up as another hermit-like scholar living in the woods. Duvall's Jean-Pépé is a world traveler and occult expert whose library provides clues about what might be behind the series of bizarre slayings," Vanity Fair wrote.

Books & Authors

Awards: Mark Twain American Voice Winner; Readings Winners

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton (37 Ink) has won the $25,000 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, which is sponsored by the Mark Twain House & Museum and "honors an exemplary work of fiction from the previous calendar year that speaks with an 'American Voice' about American experiences."

Walton will be honored this coming Friday, November 4, during the American Voice Award Celebration, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Conn.


The winners of the 2022 Readings Prizes, which aim "to support emerging Australian voices," are sponsored by the Melbourne bookshop, and include a A$3,000 (about US$1,920) prize for each author, are:

Fiction: Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au. Readings said in part that in this novel, "A daughter arranges to meet her mother in Japan; a reunion of sorts. As they travel through art galleries and temples, share meals and hotel rooms, it is clear that deeply held expectations are not being met. This is a powerful exploration of family, creation and regret that also plays with elements of time and perspective. It is a story that ponders questions of connection."

Young Adult: Underground: Marsupial Outlaws and Other Rebels of Australia's War in Vietnam by Mirranda Burton. Judges said in part, "We all loved this graphic novel for the complete world that Mirranda created and the way she wove playful elements into this social and local history. We became captivated by the stories and the resilience of each of the characters. The Vietnam War may seem quite surreal (or like ancient history) to today's youth, but its legacy continues to affect many lives. Mirranda's breathtakingly detailed illustrations not only enhance the immersive quality but also help make the story highly accessible and attractive to a wide range of ages and tastes."

Children's: The Sugarcane Kids and the Red-bottomed Boat by Charlie Archbold. Judges said in part: "This middle-grade novel is a propulsive adventure with diverse characters, and a compelling page-turner that will appeal to a wide range of kids. A great Australian story set in the vivid, sticky mangrove rainforests of Far North Queensland, this romp of a mystery novel reminded us of classic children's adventure books, where a group of friends use ingenuity and teamwork to win the day and right the wrongs they see around them."

Book Review

Review: The Easy Life

The Easy Life by Marguerite Duras, trans. by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan (Bloomsbury, $18 paperback, 208p., 9781635578515, December 6, 2022)

Nearly 80 years after its publication in France, The Easy Life by Marguerite Duras is now available for the first time in English, thanks to translators Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes. It's a dark and ruminative novel that displays Duras's talent for creating a memorable narrator and then sustaining considerable tension over the course of what amounts to an extended internal monologue.

Set in rural France, The Easy Life's story is told by Francine "Françou" Veyrenattes, a self-absorbed 25-year-old woman who lives on a farm with her younger brother, Nicolas, and their parents. The novel opens with a shocking act: Nicolas's violent assault on his uncle Jérôme that inflicts a mortal wound on the older man, though he survives in agony for more than a week. It's a prolonged dying that Françou describes in painful detail.

Françou wrestles with her guilt over provoking the attack by revealing Jérôme's affair with Clémence, the mother of Nicolas's infant child, just one element of the "chaos" (along with "boredom" one of her favorite words) that surrounds her. Layered over this baroque family dynamic are more entanglements involving Françou and Tiène, a visitor to the farm, and Luce Barragues, a woman who attaches herself to Nicolas when Clémence departs without her baby, but whose real quarry is the enigmatic Tiène.

Instead of plumbing the complexities of this romantic quadrilateral, Duras makes a radical shift in the novel's second section. Françou departs, after another family tragedy, for a beach resort on France's Atlantic coast where in isolation she ruminates in almost hypnotic fashion on the events that have brought her there. "I construct my solitude," she muses, "the largest palace of solitude anyone's ever seen, the most impressive. And I both fear it and marvel at it." She grapples with her obsessive thoughts, only to find that "the more I set them aside, the more deafening than ever they return, those chatterboxes," her despair best captured in the moment when her voice briefly shifts from first to second person. Even in this tranquil setting, amid the "blue and hoarse sound of the sea," she becomes enmeshed in another incident involving a sudden fatality.

"I overwhelmed myself with tragedy, it broke out everywhere, from all sides," Françou observes in the novel's final pages, as she struggles to reconcile herself to the prospect of decades of a life shadowed by these events. The Easy Life is anything but easy; it's a compelling portrait of a mind in turmoil and of the relentless, unforgiving demands of a true moral reckoning. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In Marguerite Duras's second novel, a young woman wrestles with the moral implications of several tragic deaths.

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