Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 22, 2022

Harper: Evil Eye by Etaf Rum

Tor Books: Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

St. Martin's Press: The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang by Tom Clavin

Page Street Kids: Payden's Pronoun Party by Blue Jaryn, illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo

Annick Press: Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

Editors' Note

Happy Holidays!

In honor of Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness Pro for 2022. We hope everyone has a much-needed rest after yet another unusual year, and we wish all a bright, happy New Year. We'll see you again on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. (Feel free to send your holiday sales news and highlights, with pictures if possible, to

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T.J. Newman


Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books in southern Florida, has joined with others and the Coral Gables Foundation to form Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers (HUBB) to support Ukrainian booksellers, editors, printers, warehouse workers, libraries and librarians and others involved in the publishing industry so that literary culture in Ukraine survives. The other founders include Askold Melnyczuk, Carolyn Forche, Christopher Merrill and Jane Unrue.

The group is seeking donations that will be used to make direct grants to booksellers and others in the publishing industry in financial crisis; to help make printing and production facilities operational, and to assist in the purchase of books for libraries in regions affected by the war. All contributions are tax-deductible.

As HUBB wrote, "According to Oleksandr Afonin, president of the Ukrainian Association of Booksellers and Publishers, since February over 3,000 publishing professionals have lost their livelihoods. A number have lost their lives. Many bookstores and book warehouses in the eastern part of the country have been destroyed. Book sales in Ukraine dropped from 40 million last year to 4 million in 2022. Children began the school year without new textbooks."

For more information and to donate, click here.

GLOW: Pajama Press: The Imaginary Alphabet by Sylvie Daigneault

California Earthquake Update: Eureka Books, Chapman's Bookery and More

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck early Tuesday in Northern California's Eureka area. Yesterday, Chapman's Bookery and More in Ferndale posted on Facebook: "We are OPEN!! Doing the best we can with no power but lots of daylight. We will be cash only until the power comes back on. Fernbridge is still closed as of this post but Blueslide Road is open. Sending love and prayers to those who are dealing with the aftermath of this earthquake."

Later, the bookshop shared a photo of its sidewalk chalkboard message--"If this store is rocking, it's just an earthquake! (get your mind out of the gutter)"--noting: "Even during earthquakes, we still got jokes! We are OPEN for regular business hours!! Come on over and finish that Christmas shopping and support our local businesses."

On Tuesday, Eureka Books in Eureka checked in on Instagram, reporting: "CLOSED for the day. PLEASE come visit us once the power is back on! We lucked out! Just a few books to put back on the shelves."

The bookseller provided an update yesterday: "We hope everyone is getting what they need out there as we recover from the earthquake. If you're getting back to normal, please come down to Old Town and support our small local businesses who all lost one of their biggest days to recovery yesterday. The bookshop is warm and cozy today and we would love to see you on your way to say hi to all of our wonderful neighbors."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hike by Lucy Clarke

USPS Issuing Ernest J. Gaines Black Heritage Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service will issue a new Forever Ernest J. Gaines Black Heritage Stamp, the 46th stamp in the Black Heritage series. It honors the author whose works include the novels The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying. The first-day-of-issue event for the Ernest J Gaines Black Heritage stamp is scheduled for January 23, 2023, at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 

"Adding a vital African American voice to American literature, Ernest J. Gaines brought worldwide attention to generations of men and women who asserted their own dignity in the face of racial oppression and violence," the USPS noted. 

In 2013, Gaines accepted the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, calling it the greatest honor he had ever received. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation continues to endow an annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, which recognizes African American fiction writers who are just beginning to rise to national prominence.

Mike Ryan designed the stamp with art by Robert Peterson. Greg Breeding served as art director.

2nd & Charles in Laredo, Tex., Closing

The 2nd & Charles store in Laredo, Tex., is closing, likely at the end of the year, according to the Laredo Morning News. The store opened in 2017 and was only the second 2nd & Charles store in Texas. 2nd & Charles now has four stores in Texas, including the one in Laredo.

Laredo's Phoenix Bookstore, which opened in late 2019, closed early this year. The Morning News noted that Laredo has just one "major bookstore" now: a Books-A-Million, which owns 2nd & Charles.

Holiday Week Bookstore Winter Weather Advisory: #HolidayShopping #WinterStorm #CozyReading

Never inclined to shy away from clickbait headlines, the Weather Channel dropped this one yesterday: "Winter Storm Elliott to Bring Blizzard Conditions, High Winds as It Grows into a Potential Bomb Cyclone." As indie booksellers approach one of the most important weekends of the year, they have been providing considerably less frantic weather advisories on social media. Here's a sampling:

Schuler Books, Grand Rapids & Okemos, Mich.: "Last minute shopping? It's been a weird year and the holidays snuck up on a lot of us. And now we have this little winter storm named Elliott threatening to play the Grinch this Friday. A few thoughts: Will we have an actual Christmas blizzard just like in Rudolph? Who can say. But according to the weather forecasters it's possible. Don't let panic sink in. We're here to help!... Kind of like the USPS, neither snow nor rain, nor gloom of night, will keep us from being open when you need us."

The Green Dragon Bookshop, Fort Dodge, Iowa: "We got one last shipment in before the winter storm. Come and find a book to cozy up to while the snow is blowing for yourself or as a present."

A Room of One's Own, Madison, Wis.: "This week is going to be tough with snow and sickness! Please have patience if our hours are shortened or we are short staffed. We're still trying to make it the most wonderful time if the year! Stay safe and warm!"

Midland Street Books, Bay City, Mich.: "Do you ever feel like a book is saying exactly what you need to hear at that particular moment? This is one of those moments! With a winter storm incoming, you may want to get that last-minute holiday shopping out of the way today rather than waiting."

Downtown Book & Toy, Jefferson City, Mo.: "We're not anticipating this much snow but we are keeping an eye on the upcoming storm! We'll post more info as we go!"

Yardstick Books, Algoma, Wis.: "It's easy for Yardstick to get to work, inclement weather or no. We'll be here for your holiday book purchases (The Best Gift! Plus easy to wrap!) even if you have to tie a clothesline to your porch to get here. Stay safe. Read books."

Literary Book Bar, Champaign, Ill.: "No doubt you've seen the forecast. We're planning for our hours to resume as planned, but you never ~snow~ when things will go to plan. Keep an eye out here for any updates!"

Coyote Wisdom Metaphysical Bookstore, Lansing, Mich.: "We've combined our month long deals into a few days to try and beat the winter storm and finish Holiday Shopping!"

Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola, Iowa: "Bad winter weather looks imminent for Thursday and Friday this week, so today and tomorrow are the best days to do your holiday shopping! If the weather is bad enough, we will be closed on Thursday and Friday, but we will keep you up-to-date as we keep an eye on that Old Man Winter!"

Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, Ill.: "Yes, we've extended our hours and plan to be here for you this week for your holiday shopping needs. However, there's a whole snow-blizzard-major-weather situation forecasted. So, we'd like to suggest visiting us as early as you can, in case things get too weather-y out there. Not only do we want to help you with your holiday shopping, but we also want you to be safe."

Plaid Elephant Books, Danville, Ky.: "The freezing temps are rolling in tonight. Tomorrow will definitely be a Cozy kind of day!" 

Buffalo Books & Coffee, Buffalo, Minn.: "Okay folks, we hate to do this the week of Christmas, but we are CLOSING EARLY today (12-21) so our employees can get home safely.... We are also going to OPEN LATE tomorrow, so our employees can travel safely in the daylight.... Stay safe out there everyone!"

Epilogue Books, Rockford, Mich.: "Well friends, the weather is not looking good for Friday and Saturday. I encourage you to stop in Wednesday or Thursday to pick up orders and get the gifts you know people will love. If we get the storm they are forecasting, we will not be open; you all mean so much to us and we won't jeopardize the safety of our team members just to get some extra sales."

Afterwords Books, Edwardsville, Ill.: "Rumor has it that Snowmageddon 2022 is headed our way and during the last week of holiday shopping no less! Bread? ✔️ Milk? ✔️ Books and last minute Christmas gifts??? We got you!"

Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City, Iowa: "May the prediction of snow be the prediction of peace...."

Obituary Note: David Rhodes

David Rhodes

David Rhodes, author of six novels, all published or republished by Milkweed Editions, died November 10 following complications from surgery for cancer. He was 75.

Rhodes's first three novels--The Last Fair Deal Going Down, The Easter House, and Rock Island Line--were published in the 1970s. Although he continued to write, he wasn't published again for another three decades, not until after Milkweed editor Ben Barnhart discovered the three books and contacted Rhodes. Then, in 2008, Milkweed published Driftless. As recalled by Milkweed publisher and CEO Daniel Slager, "Titled after the region of southwestern Wisconsin in which the novel is set, Driftless represents characters who are as unglaciated as the place they live in. David's characters are radiant and deep, eccentric and soulful, driven by desires that are as mysterious as they are commanding. Driftless became a national sensation when it was published in 2008, and it was thrilling to be part of an American master novelist's return to a robust readership.

"Jewelweed followed in 2014. Rich with his distinctive sense of empathy and wonder, David's fifth novel expanded his capacious vision, in which the seemingly mundane becomes magical. Not long after, David approached me with a concept and a plan to develop the novel that would become Painting Beyond Walls, his sixth novel, which we published this fall. Engaging with contemporary genetics, philosophy, and history, Painting Beyond Walls is perhaps David's most ambitious novel. It explores what makes us human, what could make us better, and how and why it is important for us to come together in community." (See our September 23 Shelf Awareness for Readers interview with Rhodes here.)

Slager called Rhodes "a beautiful human being. He was voraciously curious yet refreshingly humble, wonderfully funny, keenly perceptive, and perhaps above all, deeply caring. David's was an essentially generous spirit, and one invariably left an exchange with him feeling enriched."

His wife, Edna Rhodes, said, "He was kind and open, with a lively mind and quick wit. He delighted in thought-provoking discussions on any subject imaginable with anyone who was willing. He read widely. Books, philosophy, nature, wildlife, bees, and dogs gave him great joy. When you engaged with him you felt free from anonymity, rooted in community."

Rhodes won many awards for his books, including the Milkweed National Fiction Prize (2008); the UW-Whitewater Chancellor's Regional Literary Award (2009); the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts (2010); and the Wisconsin Notable Author Award (2018). Driftless was named a Best Book of the Year by the Christian Science Monitor and California Literary Review and called "the best work of fiction to come out of the Midwest in many years" by Alan Cheuse at the Chicago Tribune. Jewelweed was a runner-up for the All Iowa Reads program in 2015.


'Three Reasons Why You Should Visit' Wheatberry Books

Wheatberry Books, Chillicothe, Ohio, offered "three reasons why you should visit today:

  1. We will be closed on Saturday to celebrate Jólabókaflóðið (more on that later) and on Sunday to celebrate Christmas. 
  2. Looks like some very wintry weather is headed our way, so get here before you are snowed in!
  3. Just look at this cozy corner! Come sit a spell while the holiday spirit is in full swing."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Serena Williams on Drew Barrymore

Tuesday, December 27:
Drew Barrymore repeat: Serena Williams, author of The Adventures of Qai Qai (Feiwel & Friends, $18.99, 9781250831408).

Monday, January 2:
CBS Mornings: Tami Charles and Bryan Collier, author and illustrator of We Are Here (Orchard Books, $18.99, 9781338752045).

Movies: Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb

Turn Every Page, the documentary from Sony Pictures Classics, will open in New York and Los Angeles on December 30. Directed by Lizzie Gottlieb, the film explores the remarkable 50-year relationship between two literary legends--Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro and his editor, Robert Gottlieb--as they race to complete their joint work.  

Their working relationship has forged one of publishing's most iconic and productive partnerships. Caro, whose book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (edited by Gottlieb) continues to be a bestseller after 48 years, is now 87 and working to complete the fifth and final volume of his masterwork, The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Gottlieb, 91, waits to edit it. 

Directed by Gottlieb's daughter, Lizzie Gottlieb, Turn Every Page "explores their remarkable creative collaboration, including the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of Caro's The Power Broker and the LBJ series. With humor and insight, this unique double portrait reveals the work habits, peculiarities and professional joys of these two ferocious intellects. It arrives at the culmination of a journey that has consumed both their lives and impacted generations of politicians, activists, writers and readers, and furthered our understanding of power and democracy," Sony Pictures Classics noted.

Gottlieb "has been the editor in chief of Simon and Schuster, Knopf, and the New Yorker," said Lizzie Gottlieb: "While my father is very close to many of his writers, there is something different and special and strange about his relationship with Caro. They have been working together for 50 years and are now in a race against time to finish their life's work..... These men are camera shy and not prone to sharing their process with the public, but I realized that they might open up to me. If I could capture what goes on between them, I could open a window into a secretive creative process, a vanishing world of book publishing, and reveal one of the great untold stories of creative alchemy."

This Weekend on Book TV: Todd Harr on Last Rites

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, December 24
3:05 p.m. Andrew Nagorski, author of Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781982172831). (Re-airs Sunday at 3:05 a.m.)

6:55 p.m. Todd Harra, author of Last Rites: The Evolution of the American Funeral (Sounds True, $26.99, 9781683648055). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:55 a.m.)

Sunday, December 25
2 p.m. Efrén C. Olivares, author of My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration From the Front Lines (Hachette Books, $29, 9780306847288). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

5 p.m. Marybeth Gasman, author of Doing the Right Thing: How Colleges and Universities Can Undo Systemic Racism in Faculty Hiring (‎Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691193076). (Re-airs Monday at 5 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Bespoke Booker Shortlist Christmas Competition Winners

The Booker Prize Foundation announced the winners of its personalized Booker shortlist Christmas competition. The contest was launched last month, offering entrants the chance to win one of five individually curated Booker shortlists for a loved one, each made up of six books from the Booker Library and inspired by their favorite reads. 

Contest entrants "had to tell us who you would like to win the prize for and list some of their favorite books, as well as some of their other interests. We then selected five winners at random at the beginning of December, to receive these Christmas-themed parcels," the organizers noted. A complete list of the inaugural winners and the shortlists that Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation, chose for them, can be found here

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 27:

Ms. Demeanor: A Novel by Elinor Lipman (Harper, $27.99, 9780063274341) follows a lawyer on house arrest for public indecency.

Wicked Dreams by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush (Kensington, $28, 9781496734013) is a thriller set on an island off the coast of Oregon.

The Lipstick Bureau by Michelle Gable (Graydon House, $28.99, 9781525804908) is historical fiction based on a real female spy in World War II.

The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly: Life Wisdom from Someone Who Will (Probably) Die Before You by Margareta Magnusson (Scribner, $19.99, 9781982196622) gives lighthearted advice for aging gracefully.

Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth Breakthrough: Turn Back the Clock, Reset the Scale, Replenish Your Power by Kellyann Petrucci (Rodale Books, $27, 9780593579121) advocates consumption of bone broth.

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson (Katherine Tegen, $19.99, 9780063032651) is the fifth standalone YA mystery featuring Stevie Bell.

The Famously Funny Parrott: Four Tales from the Bird Himself by Eric Daniel Weiner, illus. by Brian Biggs (Delacorte Press, $15.99, 9780593378205) is an illustrated chapter book about Freddie Parrott (a parrot) and his loyal butler, Peccary.

High Stakes: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Dell, $9.99, 9781984821737).

Feeding the Soul (Because It's My Business): Finding Our Way to Joy, Love, and Freedom by Tabitha Brown (Morrow, $17.99, 9780063242852).

What Color Is Your Parachute?: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success New Edition by Richard N. Bolles (Ten Speed Press, $19.99, 9781984861207).

Selected new titles appearing Tuesday, January 3:

The House in the Pines: A Novel by Ana Reyes (Dutton, $27, 9780593186718) follows a woman investigating her friend's mysterious death.

The Siege of Loyalty House: A Story of the English Civil War by Jessie Childs (Pegasus Books, $28.95, 9781639363100) is a history of Basing House and its three sieges between 1643 and 1645.

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert (Joy Revolution, $19.99, 9780593482339) is the romance author's first title for young adults.

The Stolen Heir by Holly Black (Little, Brown, $20.99, 9780316592703) is the first book in a duology that takes place in the same world as the Folk of the Air series.

Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen (Vintage, $17, 9780593314449).

Fatal Fascinator (A Hat Shop Mystery Book 7) by Jenn McKinlay (Berkley, $8.99, 9780593546772).

Book Review

Review: The Faraway World

The Faraway World: Stories by Patricia Engel (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $26 hardcover, 224p., 9781982159528, January 24, 2023)

The 10 short stories in Patricia Engel's fifth book, The Faraway World, contrast dreams and reality. Money and religion are opposing pulls for her Latinx characters as they ponder whether life will be better at home or elsewhere.

These stories, all told in the first person, are set in Colombia, Cuba or the U.S.--often, the narrators have roots in more than one, so their loyalty is split. In "La Ruta," Mago, a Havana cabbie, becomes infatuated with a passenger who's visiting churches 300 days in a row as a way of praying to join her aunt in San Diego. Mago in turn contemplates leaving his nagging girlfriend, Florencia, who delivers a grim punch line: "I realized life is hard and miserable no matter where you live."

In "Guapa," 40-something Indiana works in a New Jersey factory and is addicted to cosmetic surgery, for which she regularly flies home to Colombia. When her crush on a younger co-worker leads to an ironically horrendous incident, she voices a conclusion similar to Florencia's: "Bad fortune is as certain yet unpredictable as the weather."

Existence is indeed bleak for some characters here, but moments of connection can temper the tone. In "Libélula," a housekeeper resents her employers--fellow Colombians in New York City--yet learns that she, effortlessly, possesses something they covet. The standout, fable-like in its framework, is "Fausto," starring Paz, who works in her father's restaurant in Miami, and her boyfriend Fausto Guerra, a security guard. The couple are saving up to get married, but their plans go awry when Fausto is drawn into illegal schemes. (How apt that parts of the protagonists' names translate to "war" and "peace.")

"The Book of Saints" has the most noteworthy structure, alternating stages in the lives of a young Colombian woman and the American man she meets via a dating agency. As that title suggests, devoutness is important throughout the collection. In "Ramiro," for instance, a kid living in a Bogotá slum gets a second chance as a priest's assistant, but greed vies with his piety.

Other plots concern a missing Colombian-American teen ("Aida"), an aspiring Russian novelist ("Campoamor") and a woman reinterring her brother's remains ("The Bones of Cristóbal Colón"). In the final story, "Aguacero," expats commiserate over the troubles of their past: "Colombia is a rabid dog," they assert.

Engel (Infinite Country; Vida) spins morally complex and troubling stories featuring flawed but gutsy characters. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Patricia Engel's 10 short stories are narrated by plucky, imperfect characters who weigh up wealth and piety as they contemplate their chances in their homeland or abroad.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Dark Is Rising for the Yuletide Season

My holiday season gift-giving past performance record for this column over the 16 years of its existence has been appalling, downright Scrooge-like. To make amends, I'm sharing a book-related Yuletide gift you can immerse yourself in daily from winter solstice to year's end. 
The Dark Is Rising, a 12-part dramatization of Susan Cooper's classic 1970s novel for BBC World Service, is now available on BBC Sounds and Apple Podcasts. From December 20-31, daily radio broadcasts are being released on BBC World Service at 8:30 a.m. U.K. time, mirroring the real-time of Cooper's wintry tale.

A co-production of Complicité and Catherine Bailey Productions, The Dark Is Rising "tells the story of Will Stanton, an ordinary boy who begins to have eerie and magical experiences on his 11th birthday, one snowy December. Will discovers that he belongs to a group of ancient, time-travelling beings called the Old Ones, who are guardians of 'the Light'--and must wage an unending battle against the forces of 'the Dark.' Listeners will be drawn into a spine-tingling, immersive winter soundscape--we recommend wearing headphones to experience the full 'binaural' 3D-sound effect."

The novel was co-adapted by bestselling author Robert Macfarlane (The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Underland: A Deep Time Journey) and Simon McBurney, actor and Complicité's artistic director (they discuss the project here). In addition to co-adapting, McBurney directed the performances and voiced the narrator. The cast also includes Toby Jones, Harriet Walter, Miles Yekinni, Natasha K. Stone, Maggie Barnes and 13-year-old Noah Alexander Will.

A word about "binaural" sound: in 2016, I saw McBurney's stage production The Encounter in New York. The production was "based on" Petru Popescu's book Amazon Beaming, but it became so much more when filtered through McBurney's imagination. I sat in a sold-out Broadway theater, wearing headphones like everyone else in the audience, and became part of this incredible act of storytelling. Safer than being lost in the Amazon jungle, but mind-blowing nonetheless.

Listening to The Dark Is Rising is a very different experience, but also a genuinely mind-bending way to encounter a book. 

In the Observer recently, Macfarlane wrote: "I first read Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising the summer I turned 13, the year the Berlin Wall came down. I read it by torchlight under the bedclothes, not because of parental curfew or power cut, but because that seemed the safest place to read what was, unmistakably, the eeriest novel I'd ever met....

"I know of many other writers and artists, among them Katherine Rundell and Helen Macdonald, for whom Cooper's work has also been influential. For Max Porter, the series 'did more for my imagination, for my vocabulary, for any curiosity or concern I had for Englishness, for history, for listening, than anything I learned at school'; it gave him and his brother 'a mythology that we could see and feel around us in rural England, and on our windswept holiday weeks in Snowdonia.' "

In 2017 Macfarlane gave a copy of the novel to McBurney, who subsequently read it aloud to his son, Teyo, and then read it to him again, after which he and Complicité developed the idea of adapting it.

"I jumped at their invitation of involvement," Macfarlane recalled. "It made immediate sense to me to translate The Dark Is Rising into sound. For this is a novel, far more than most, to which one listens with the mind's ear as well as seeing in the mind's eye. Its soundscape is deeply complex; brimful of noises, melodies, songs and chants. Speaking aloud is crucial within it: words hold force when given voice--you must watch what you say."

As the Covid pandemic shuttered theaters globally in May 2020, McBurney livestreamed The Encounter free for a week, and I experienced it a second time--with headphones, but now alone at my desk instead of inside the packed Golden Theatre in Manhattan--and became fully immersed once more. As I have again now with The Dark Is Rising.

In an interview back then, McBurney observed that one of the principal metaphors of The Encounter "was to have these headphones, so to cut yourself off from the usual sense of being in a collective audience and to make it a highly individual experience. And also, as a consequence of my speaking into several microphones and using a binaural microphone, to make it seem as if there is space around you, rather than speaking from the stage out.... Now it's not just the technical expertise; it is of course the fact that part of the subject of it are the stories we tell, and this sensation of telling a story... So you have two forms of intimacy, if you like, that are going on and then you have the subject matter, the fact that you are going on an imaginative journey and a literal journey."

As Macfarlane observed: "People have been telling stories to one another around fires of one kind and another for thousands of year. Cooper learned the power of storytelling in the air raid shelter as bombs fell around her. I first read her books by torchlight, and they helped me cope with the anxiety I felt then at the possibility of nuclear conflict. Now new-old fears--climate chaos, war, ecological collapse--menace our minds. The dark is always rising, and it is the work of the greatest stories to hold it back."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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