Also published on this date: Monday, November 21, 2022: Maximum Shelf: The House Is on Fire

Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 21, 2022


Viking: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Island Press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food--All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin

Holiday House: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Zonderkidz: The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories

Tordotcom: Witch King by Martha Wells

News

Reports: PRH-S&S Deal Ending

Simon & Schuster parent company Paramount Global is letting the agreement for Penguin Random House to buy S&S expire, according to a Reuters report that has not been confirmed or denied by any of the parties. Today the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are also reporting that the deal is ending.

PRH had intended to appeal the federal court judge's decision on October 31 to block the deal for antitrust reasons but was unable to get Paramount Global to join the appeal and renew the offer, the reports say. Under the terms of the deal, PRH will pay Paramount Global a "break-up" fee of $200 million.

If in fact the PRH-S&S deal ends, Paramount Global will be able to entertain other offers. The two most likely companies interested in buying S&S are HarperCollins and Hachette.


Blackstone Publishing: Émilienne by Pamela Binnings Ewen


Snow Belts Buffalo, N.Y., Area Booksellers

A massive lake effect storm buried parts of the Buffalo, N.Y., area under more than six feet of snow over the weekend, and indie booksellers are still digging out. Among the bookstores checking in on social media: 

The Bookworm & BW Gifts, Buffalo: "So this is how it gets done: family and ingenuity. (Yes everyone is safe and sound back on the ground) If you know you know, WWPD is the Heaton motto! Thanks to kids and grandkids the load on the roof is lighter and minds can rest easy. More cleanup tomorrow so we can open on Monday."

Fitz Books and Waffles, Buffalo: "We're here if you need your FITZ fix. Books, waffles, coffee and more in downtown Buffalo!" And later: "Upon looking out the window, we determined that we should close today, in the interests of all parties. See you on Monday!"

The Little Book Store, Watertown: "Snow day! Stay at home and read! Shop online."

Dog Ears Bookstore & Café, Buffalo (Friday night): "We’re giving it a shot and will try and dig ourselves out tomorrow and be open by 10. We will keep you posted--check back in the morning. In the meantime stay warm, stay safe and be good to your neighbors!" Saturday morning: "Due to travel issues, stock availability and employee sickness, we will have to stay closed for one more day. We apologize and want you all to know how much we appreciate your support. We will do our very best to have some hot coffee brewing, some warm scones and a good book ready for purchase tomorrow. Stay warm, keep safe and read wonderful stories." And Saturday night: "Have to shut her down again tomorrow! Shoveled in but still kinda buried plus there is a big game at 1 tomorrow. Stay home, cheer on your team and let the amazing crews free up the roads for Monday so you can all stop by for a coffee and a scone on your way to work."


GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams


B&N Returning to NYC's Upper East Side

Two years after closing its East 86th St. store in New York City, Barnes & Noble is opening a new location on the Upper East Side, Patch.com reported.

Slated to open in spring 2023, the store will be located at 1556 Third Ave., at 87th St., in a space that used to belong to a Duane Reade. The bookstore will span roughly 8,000 square feet--much smaller than the 55,000-square-foot store B&N closed in 2020. At the time, the company said that store was "too large, and too expensive."

"It is very good news to bring our bookstore back to the Upper East Side," said B&N CEO James Daunt. "It was very sad to close in the depths of the pandemic and especially pleasing now to reopen with one that is so dramatically more attractive."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo


Malvern Books in Austin, Tex., to Close

Malvern Books, Austin, Tex., will close December 31, nine years after being launched by the late bookseller and publisher Joe W. Bratcher III, who died this past July 28. 

In a Facebook post announcing the decision, manager Becky Garcia wrote: "We've had a wonderful time sharing our favorite books with you over the past nine years, and it's been an honor to celebrate the work of so many brilliant writers through our readings and events. Malvern Books is the realization of Joe Bratcher's vision--Joe dreamt of a bookstore that would carry the books he loved, mostly poetry and fiction from small, independent presses. He wanted to promote writers and translators of books from other countries, while also championing the work of local writers.

"When Joe first talked to me about opening Malvern Books, I must admit I was skeptical. I didn't think we'd find an audience. It was 2012 and everyone was saying that bookstores were dead, Kindle and online shopping were the future. I anticipated many quiet sales days, with Joe and I just sitting there, looking at each other. He told me if that's how it ended up, well, at least we'd have a chance to chat--and since we always seemed to laugh a lot when we talked, it sounded like a good way to spend some time. And so from then on, whenever we'd have a really slow sales day, with just a few people coming in, we'd look at each other and say, 'We're living the dream!' and we'd laugh."

Malvern Books opened in the fall of 2013, and "we were shocked by how many people came by," Garcia recalled. "You showed up and you loved what we had to offer.... All along the way, we were lucky enough to have truly wonderful staff members who loved the books we carried and who helped us build the store we have now. Their work has been invaluable and we could not have done this without them.

"On July 28th of this year, we lost Joe. I can't tell you how hard it has been to try and carry on in this space without him. Our little Malvern world has not been the same since, and, as much as we love this store and our amazing customers, Malvern Books simply cannot continue without our Joe."


Obituary Note: Geoff Cochrane

Geoff Cochrane

New Zealand poet and fiction writer Geoff Cochrane, "whose sudden loss is immense to our literary landscape and to the people who knew and loved him," died recently, the Spinoff Review of Books reported. He was 71. Cochrane published 22 books. In 2009, he was awarded the Janet Frame Prize for Poetry (2009), the inaugural Nigel Cox Unity Books Award (2010), and in 2014 was made an Arts Laureate.

Kirsten McDougall, writer and former publicist at Victoria University Press (now Te Herenga Waka University Press), Cochrane's publisher, observed: "He always liked to call me that--'my publicist.' Though it was hard getting Geoff any publicity for his perfectly chiseled slim volumes. He wasn't a hot young thing or a venerated old thing; his work was widely ignored by those who give out prizes and seats at festivals. But he was always so grateful for anything I did for him....

"In 2014, the Arts Foundation awarded Geoff a laureate. For someone on a benefit in a council flat, the A$50k [about US$33,840] that came with it was a veritable jackpot. I accompanied Geoff to Auckland along with his publisher ('my publisher'), Fergus Barrowman. On stage he looked like an ancient jockey, tiny in his brand new Farmers straight leg jeans, beanie, polar fleece and Bata Bullets, but still quick as a whip. He wrote in a letter to me that year: 'I've always felt that I stood at the end of too long a queue ever to get my turn. But what could be sweeter than being able to call oneself a laureate?' "

From Cochrane's poem "Channel Hopping":

I'm young in my dreams, still young,
and I still have some ink in my pen,
but one repents of wanting to be known.

Writer Anne Kennedy recalled that "I don't fear death, but I do fear cremation" were the last words in Cochrane's final book, Chosen. "Angular, funny, a bit scary--actually, freeze-your-blood scary. That was Geoff, his life and work. The lines keep coming, as they always will: His high, almost-romantic rhetoric, as in his iconic The Sea the Landsman Knows--'that dark heave of menace/ You pilot your sleeping skipper through.' His essence-of-people--'How do spell psychosis? he might ask' (Robin). His Wellington; he so loved Wellington and showed it to us--Lambton Quay is 'an edifice packed with architectural clout/ of a scrolly, antique kind' (Things are not as they were)."

On Cochrane's death, New Zealand poet laureate Chris Tse wrote "Starship (version)" in tribute to him:

Geoff is dead
but some of us remain--

some might say stranded, some might say perched
in the life-long queue to transfer to 
whatever comes next. There's Geoff--speeding now
towards a reunion with Gareth and Chris and Peter.

And here--little bits of him on our shelves 
and in the curious corners of our brains 
where snatches of his lines rewrite themselves 
until they are synapse and nerve.

Time grants us intervals--we jerk between
learning to be present and knowing presence 
is too soft to last forever. Survival is
not allowing either to consume you.

"How far I've come. 
How far I've been alive."


Notes

Image of the Day: Miami Book Fair: A Week of Celebration

The Miami Book Fair took place this past week--eight days of literary events, culminating in a well-attended street fair over the weekend. Among the many panels and presentations was a bookstore-focused conversation asking "Do We Need Bookstores in the 21st Century" (spoiler: yes, we do!), and if so, what makes a good one? Moderated by New York Times columnist Pamela Paul, the panel featured Jeff Deutsch (In Praise of Good Bookstores), director of Chicago's Seminary Co-op Bookstore; Robert Martin, founder of TheIndependentBookseller.com; and authors Hernan Diaz and Tananarive Due. They discussed the value of community connection (and their personal bookstore connections), and of curation and serendipity in the bookstore experience, and shared their favorite bookstores. Watch the panel here. Pictured: Diaz; Due; Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books stores in the Miami area and co-founder of the Fair; Deutsch; Martin; Paul.


Personnel Changes at Harlequin, Macmillan

At Harlequin Trade Publishing, Bess Braswell will oversee the marketing, packaging and overall promotional strategy of Canary Street Press in her new role as senior publishing director. She will continue to manage Inkyard Press as well.

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At Macmillan:

Francesca Oddo-Budinoff has joined the company in the central marketing department as director, marketing strategy.

Darlene Fernandes has been promoted to senior manager of DEI strategy and digital innovation.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tommie Smith, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Michelle Obama, Jerry Seinfeld

Today:
Good Morning America: Tommie Smith, co-author of Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice (Norton, $22.95, 9781324003908).

Today Show: Nathan Chen, author of One Jump at a Time: My Story (Harper, $25.99, 9780063280526).

Fresh Air: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human (Scribner, $32.50, 9781982117351).

Tamron Hall: Michelle Obama, author of The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times (Crown, $32.50, 9780593237465).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: David Duchovny, co-author of Kepler (Dark Horse, $19.99, 9781506733456).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar, authors of The World Record Book of Racist Stories (Grand Central, $29, 9781538724552). They will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

Tomorrow:
Today Show: Jerry Seinfeld, author of The Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Book (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781982112769).

Jennifer Hudson Show: Tabitha Brown, author of Cooking from the Spirit: Easy, Delicious, and Joyful Plant-Based Inspirations (Morrow, $30, 9780063080324).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Alex Aster, author of Lightlark (Amulet, $19.99, 9781419760860).


Movies: Bullitt

Bradley Cooper has been cast in Bullitt, Steven Spielberg's upcoming film about Frank Bullitt, the character made famous in the 1968 Steven McQueen movie. IndieWire reported that the project, inspired by the 1963 novel Mute Witness by Robert L. Fish, will not be a remake of the original film by Peter Yates, but a completely original story featuring Bullitt.

Cooper will join Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger as producers. Oscar-winning Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer will write the screenplay for the new Bullitt film, with McQueen's son Chad and granddaughter Molly executive producing.



Books & Authors

Awards: Baillie Gifford, Ernest J. Gaines, National Outdoor Book Winners

Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell has won the £50,000 (about $59,440) 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.

Organizers said that Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne, published in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, "gives readers a window into the little known myriad of lives that poet John Donne lived. Sometime religious outsider and social disaster, sometime celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing. He was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, an MP, a priest, the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral--and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language."

Chair of judges Caroline Sanderson said, "Exquisitely rendered, [Super-Infinite's] passion, playfulness and sparkling prose seduced all of us. Rundell makes an irresistible case for Donne's work to be widely read 400 years later, for all the electric joy and love it expresses. And in so doing, she gives us a myriad reasons why poetry--why the arts--matter."

---

Mother Country by Jacinda Townsend (Graywolf Press) has won the $15,000 2022 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, given annually by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to support an emerging African American fiction writer. The award is given to honor the late Ernest Gaines, whose stories gave voice to African Americans in rural areas.

Townsend called Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying "one of the books that most taught me how to weave searing social justice with the pleasure of storytelling, so it is a special honor to be part of this long tradition of excellence in African-American literature. Writing is such a lonely enterprise for African-American storytellers, given that most of the industry's gatekeepers are not us. It's lovely to know that the community I started writing for, the community for which I will always primarily write, has read my work and found that it resonates. I am particularly looking forward to working with children in the Baton Rouge schools, as I am passionate about arts education."

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Winners and honorees for the National Outdoor Books Awards, sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, have been announced. See the 19 winners and silver medalists in the 10 categories here.


Top Library Recommended Titles for December

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 December titles public library staff across the country love:

Top Pick
The Circus Train by Amita Parikh (Putnam, $17, 9780593539989). "Lena is a polio survivor whose father is an illusionist with a traveling circus. One day she rescues Jewish stowaway Alexandre. Growing to be more than friends with World War II looming, the two are torn apart when disaster strikes. A beautiful story mirroring the horrors of war with the innocence of young love, this is for fans of historical fiction and circus tales like Water for Elephants." --Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, Tex.

A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson (Berkley, $17, 9780593334461). "Moving back to his parents house after getting fired and dumped feels like failure to MBA graduate Xavier. He believes it is just a matter of time until he rebounds and gets his old life back. Then he meets Logan; chef, musician, father, utterly irresistible, and finds himself having to choose between love and his career dreams. You won't be able to put down this charming small town romance." --Alicia Ahlvers, Henrico County Public Library, Henrico, Va.

The Ingenue: A Novel by Rachel Kapelke-Dale (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, ‎ 9781250834560). "Former piano prodigy Saskia returns home after her mother's death to find her family home has been bequeathed to someone else. Saskia is a believable and tragic figure as she searches for answers to questions that have been years in the making. What makes an ingénue and what destroys her? For fans of My Dark Vanessa." --Courtenay Reece, Millville Public Library, Millville, N.J.

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Grand Central, $28, 9781538708279). "As the effects of climate change begin to overwhelm America, we meet Wanda, a girl born during and named after a devastating hurricane. With civilization faltering in the face of mounting challenges, she must learn to live differently. The depiction of climate change and its effects here are bone-chilling, but Wanda's resilience is inspiring. For fans of Station Eleven." --James Ludy, New Canaan Library, New Canaan, Conn.

Ms. Demeanor: A Novel by Elinor Lipman (Harper, $27.99, 9780063274341). "After a neighbor's complaint, Jane finds herself with her law license suspended and wearing an ankle monitor for six months. Her sister persuades her to try food blogging and soon Jane's cooking for another house-arrested tenant while trying to discover the identity of her accuser. This is a breezy fun read with a dash of romance and mystery for fans of Tom Perrotta and Jennifer Weiner." --Sharon Hutchinson, Keytesville Library, Keytesville, Mo.

Queen of Myth and Monsters by Scarlett St. Clair (Bloom Books, $25.99, 9781728259673). "Vampire King Adrian and his beloved Queen Isolde return in this searing erotic romance in which peril hides at every turn. St. Clair takes the reader on another high-stakes thrill ride as the couple works to establish their reign in a dark fantasy realm of mortals and immortals. Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Guild Hunters." --Donna Rasmussen, Librarian-at-Large, Northern N.J. Libraries

Someone Had to Do It: A Novel by Amber and Danielle Brown (‎Graydon House, $16.99, 9781525899966). "An ambitious intern and a conniving rich girl clash in this riveting dual POV thriller set in the world of big New York fashion houses. A fun, fast-paced read with a villain who's a ton of fun to root against! For fans of All Her Little Secrets." --Mara Bandy Fass, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Ill.

The Sunshine Girls: A Novel by Molly Fader (Graydon House, $17.99, 9781335453488). "Clara and Abbie are mourning the loss of their mother, BettyKay, when a stranger named Kitty shows up. They attended nursing school, and through diaries and flashbacks, the reader learns about their loves, friendships, and secrets. Well developed characters made this an enjoyable story!" --Debbie Lease, Hillsdale Public Library, Hillsdale, N.J.

The Widowmaker: A Black Harbor Novel by Hannah Morrissey (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250795977). "As the case of Clive Reynolds' disappearance 20 years ago unfolds, Detective Ryan Hudson discovers a link to his partner's murder. Skillfully woven together, the characters draw readers into a web of lies and deceitful actions that will keep them guessing who is the threat until the end." --Janet Makoujy, New City Library, New City, N.Y.

Witcha Gonna Do? by Avery Flynn (‎Berkley, $17, 9780593335215). "This is a very light magical romance. When a witch with no powers curses her witch family, she must work with her hot nemesis to save her family--and the world from domination." --Lou Ann Shoultz, Mattoon Public Library, Mattoon, Ill.


Book Review

Review: Bloodbath Nation

Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster, Spencer Ostrander, photographer (Grove Press, $24 hardcover, 160p., 9780802160454, January 10, 2023)

So much has been written about gun violence in the U.S., a country that buries 40,000 of its own as a result of gunshot wounds each year, that it's fair to question whether there could be a new way to look at the problem. Taking a crack at it is Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy; Report from the Interior), whose Bloodbath Nation is deft and dogged and entirely too contemplative to be a screed, even at its febrile peak.

The book is a multipart essay chronicling the nation's fixation with guns, and it begins with one particular citizen's fixation: "For two or three years after emerging from diapers, I walked around with a six-shooter dangling from my hip." (Auster means the toy version.) Accounts of his personal experience with guns merge with sociological observations and a partial inventory of mass shootings in the U.S. Auster is sparing with his vitriol, largely reserving it for gun culture: "the annihilation of strangers has been turned into both a competitive sport and a sinister new variant of contemporary performance art. It is America's latest gift to the world, a psychopathic footnote to such previous wonders as the incandescent lightbulb, the telephone, basketball, jazz, and the vaccine against polio."

And yet throughout the book, Auster seems to be not so much in a state of rage as genuine perplexity. About the only-good-guys-with-guns-can-save-bad-guys-with-guns argument, he writes in what seems like true puzzlement, "If the problem is too many bad men with guns, would it not be wiser to take those guns away from them rather than arm the so-called good men, who in many if not most instances are considerably less than good, and thereby eliminate the problem altogether, for if the bad men had no guns, why would the good men need them?"

Will the message of Bloodbath Nation reverberate outside the echo chamber of Auster's fellow gun-control advocates? His generally measured tone makes it seem possible. Also potentially persuasive are several dozen black-and-white photographs by previous Auster collaborator Spencer Ostrander (Long Live King Kobe), who has visited many of the sites of mass shootings in the U.S. since 2003--a Macy's in Washington State, a schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and so on. The buildings, shops and restaurants--closed, abandoned, often since torn down--cluster moment-of-silence-like between chapters and embody a feeling that Auster notes is commonly shared by shooters: loneliness. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: Paul Auster's look at the tragedy of gun violence in the U.S. is deft and dogged and entirely too contemplative to be a screed, even at its febrile peak.


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