Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 2, 2008

Grove Press: Brother Alive by Zain Khalid

Bantam: All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers

Union Square & Co.: A Broken Blade (The Halfling Saga) by Melissa Blair

Sourcebooks Landmark: The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

Simon & Schuster: Recording for the Simon & Schuster and Simon Kids Fall Preview 2022

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 2 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Quotation of the Day

'I End Up Coming Out With All Kinds of Stuff'

"There is nothing like the atmosphere of a traditional bookstore. I usually don't come in with a specific thing or, if I do, I forget what I came in for and end up coming out with all kinds of stuff. Costco does that to me, too."--Ismael Viramontes, a customer at the new concept Borders store that opened yesterday in National City, Calif., in a San Diego Union-Tribune story. Viramontes added that he buys a third of his books online.


Harper: We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman


Notes: Dutton's Considered; Bookseller Honors

All Things Considered visited Dutton's Brentwood, Los Angeles, Calif., on Wednesday, its last day in business. Owner Doug Dutton said that he had had unhappy visions of final sales at which people would paw through the last books, but instead the closing has been "a very civilized, loving experience. . . . It's really been wonderful."

David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times was one of many people praising the store. Dutton's, he said, had "some kind of indefinable feeling of comfort, culture and intelligence, and I think that's irreplaceable."


Congratulations to Tom Albright, who in our world is best known as owner, with his wife, Lisa Stefanacci, of the Books Works, Del Mar, Calif. This week he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The honor stems from his day job: he is a professor and director of the Vision Center Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and was recognized "for his groundbreaking research in neuronal structures and visual perception. His recent studies have unveiled the existence of multiple areas devoted to the processing of visual information."


Congratulations, too, to I Love a Mystery Bookstore, Mission, Kan., near Kansas City, which was one of the winners of the Kansas City Small Business Monthly's annual 25 Under 25 Awards, honoring 25 outstanding local businesses with fewer than 25 employees. (Some 750 companies were nominated.) The store carries more than 20,000 volumes of new and used mystery fiction.


Perhaps this should be a Media Heat item. In any case, on Tuesday, May 6, one of the stars of As the World Turns will be the Clinton Bookshop, Clinton, N.J. According to the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, during the show two characters fight over a rare book in the store.


Tundra Books: The Further Adventures of Miss Petitfour (The Adventures of Miss Petitfour) by Anne Michaels, illustrated by Emma Block

Image of the Day: Whale of a Book Signing

Last Saturday, John Straley signed copies of his new book, The Big Both Ways (Alaska Northwest Books), at Old Harbor Books, Sitka, Alaska, which sold more than 150 copies. The first 100 buyers received an extra treat: a ticket for a two-hour whale-watching cruise and reading for this coming Sunday.

Photo: Jan Straley



KidsBuzz for the Week of 05.16.22

ABA News: Ingram Partnership; BEA Events; Small World Books

Lots of news in Bookselling This Week yesterday:

The American Booksellers Association and Ingram Book Company and Ingram Publisher Services have formed a partnership for Ingram to underwrite bookseller education the next three years, starting with the ABA's Day of Education at BEA, on Thursday, May 29, BTW reported.

"We present education to about 1,000 booksellers each year," Avin Mark Domnitz, ABA CEO, stated. "This strategic partnership will help us extend that reach, and importantly, keep education free to ABA members."

Skip Prichard, president and CEO of Ingram Book Group, commented: "We've made an enormous commitment to independent bookstores by building one of the largest field sales forces in the industry. We believe that the partnership we're announcing today enhances those efforts."


The National Association of College Stores is sponsoring two events in conjunction with the Day of Education: a College Store Literary Luncheon featuring Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire, and Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, and the 4% Challenge: Strategies to Increase General Book Sales, an afternoon program that NACS's Cindy Thompson describes this way: "the goal . . . is basically to build a national idea exchange. . . . What would it take to increase your sales by four percent? We're trying to bring people together to . . . talk about what's working, and highlight some of the people that have been successful."


From 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, the African-American Booksellers Committee hosts its annual program, which includes an opening luncheon and author presentations; a keynote address by Terry McMillan, author of Waiting to Exhale; and workshops on bringing African-American books to life in films and on television and how to maximize sales to book clubs.


Children's programming at BEA will include, among many other events, an authors' tea at Hotel ABA from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28; sessions and the Association of Booksellers for Children annual meeting during the Day of Education; the Friday Children's Book & Author Breakfast; and Speeding Dating with Children's Authors on Saturday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Last but not least, Bookselling This Week profiled Small World Books in Venice Beach, Calif., owned by Mary and Bob Goodfader. A general literary bookstore, focusing on paperback backlist in fiction, poetry, children's books, mysteries and science fiction, Small World Books was founded by Mary's mother, Mildred Gates.


GLOW: Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West

Rough Guides on BEA: Driving in LA

This is the second in a series of tips on managing Los Angeles and BookExpo America from Rough Guides:

"And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile . . ."

The best way to get around L.A. is to drive. Actually, the BEST way is to be driven . . . in a classic Rolls Royce by a proper British chauffeur who zips you around town to swap Grey Poupon with other like-minded individuals. But we all work in publishing, so a rental "economy class or similar" it is.

All the major car rental companies have branches throughout the city, and most have their main office near LAX, linked to each terminal by a free shuttle bus. Try, a car rental aggregator to find, and compare, discounted rates.


The L.A. freeway system is the largest in the world. With more than 250 miles of steamy asphalt to navigate, it's no wonder that the system can also be a bit confusing. Further complicating matters, many highways have two (sometimes three) names, as well as a number.

Your best bet is to rent a car with a GPS device option (rates start around $12 a day). Be sure to mention it when making your reservation, whether on the phone or online.

Your second best bet is to offer to drive a fellow attendee, then pass them a map and declare them "navigator." Practice your L.A. Road Rage by verbally abusing your navigator for not choosing the correct exit on the eye-popping, four-level Downtown interchange known as "The Stack." Four major freeways branch out from this monster, so plan extra travel time in case your crummy navigator screws up again!

For shorter trips, especially between Hollywood and West L.A., the wide avenues and boulevards are a better option (sometimes the only one) and afford more views of the city.

Parking is a problem in much of L.A., parts of which feature the most aggressive meter-enforcement policies in the nation. To avoid a visit from the ticketing ninja, always be aware of the many different parking restriction signs lining a given street. Some lampposts have been known to sport as many as four of these do-'n'-don't dazzlers at a time (over-accessorizing! tch! tch!) so think about using the valet option whenever available. Also note that hotel parking may cost an additional $25-$35 per day.

Parking . . . on the Freeway:

Coincidentally enough, the best way NOT to get around L.A. is also, to drive. Gridlock can occur at any time of day, so listen to AM news stations (such as 980 and 1070) for frequent traffic updates. Also, plan an alternate route--if you do run into nastiness, you don't have to stay there!


Next Week: Ordering In, Dining Out!

Options for food whether you're unpacking or unwinding...

Even with a GPS device, a map is always a good idea, might we suggest The Rough Guide City Map: Los Angeles. For more L.A. travel tips, check out your official BEA travel guide, The Rough Guide to Los Angeles, or visit Also, access Rough Guides from your iPhone at


Vintage: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mary Tillman on Her Son, Pat

Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Edgar Prado, author of My Guy Barbaro: A Jockey's Journey Through Love, Triumph, and Heartbreak with America's Favorite Horse (Harper, $25.95, 9780061464188/006146418X).


Sunday on the Today Show: Gene Robinson, author of In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (Seabury Books, $25, 9781596270886/1596270888).


Sunday on 60 Minutes: Mary Tillman, author of Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman (Modern Times, $25.95, 9781594868801/1594868808), about her son who left the NFL to fight in Afghanistan.

Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley

Books & Authors

Awards: The Edgars; Arthur C. Clarke Prize

Winners of the Edgar Allan Poe Awards, sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and announced last night, are:

  • Best Novel: Down River by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur)
  • Best First Novel by an American Author: In the Woods by Tana French (Viking)
  • Best Paperback Original: Queenpin by Megan Abbott (S&S)
  • Best Fact Crime: Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi (Norton)
  • Best Critical/Biographical: Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley (Penguin Press)
  • Best Short Story: "The Golden Gopher" in Los Angeles Noir by Susan Straight (Akashic Books)
  • Best Juvenile: The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion Books for Young Readers)
  • Best Young Adult: Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin)
  • Best Play: Panic by Joseph Goodrich (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
  • Best TV Episode Teleplay: "Pilot" for Burn Notice, teleplay by Matt Nix (USA Network/Fox Television Studios)
  • Best Motion Picture Screenplay: Michael Clayton, screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: "The Catch," in Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)


Richard Morgan's novel Black Man, "a science fiction thriller, which follows a black, genetically-modified assassin, or Variant Thirteen, in pursuit of a serial killer," has won the 2008 Arthur C. Clarke award for science fiction.

According to the Guardian, Morgan "was thrilled at the award, greeting the winner's . . . cheque with the words 'holy shit.'"

"There has been a lot of controversy about this year's shortlist," he said later. "It's nice to have won against the mainstream contenders because it shows the genre has tremendous self-confidence."

The shortlist included The Red Men by Matthew de Albuitia, The H-Bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter, The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall, The Raw Shark Texts by Stephen Hall and The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod.


Book Brahmins: Brian Sack

Brian Sack, author of In the Event of My Untimely Demise: 20 Things My Son Needs to Know, an April 29 book from HarperOne, writes humor for a variety of publications and appears as comic relief on CNN Headline programs Glenn Beck and the soon-to-debut Not Just Another Cable News Show. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons. Here he answers questions we ask of people who make us laugh and think at the same time.

On your nightstand now:

I've almost finished Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. It's an account of the Coalition Provisional Authority's attempts to reconstruct Iraq right after the war. It's like reading about a guy falling on his face 450 times; a real-life sequel to Joseph Heller's Catch-22.  And it's eye-opening. Prior to reading this I did not know that Halliburton rounded up and killed cats that were in the Green Zone. Who runs that company, Darth Vader?
Favorite book when you were a child:

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien. I studied the runes in the illustrations so that I could write swears in Dwarven language. I was lonely a lot.

Your top five authors:

Douglas Adams because Hitchhiker's Guide was right up my alley both in humor and style, and he was net-savvy quite early. Robert Hughes because Fatal Shore painted such a detailed picture of Australia's founding that I felt like I'd been there and his Culture of Complaint helped de-program me after college. P.J. O'Rourke for sharing my love of sarcasm, cynicism and politics. Primo Levi for his vivid, Mel Gibson-defying, memoirs and touching analysis of the Holocaust. Heinrich Hoffmann for writing Struwwelpeter in 1845. It's a great book for kids that teaches them valuable lessons like "cats will watch you burn to death if you play with matches" and "eat your soup or you will die." I love Germans.

Book you've faked reading:

Voltaire's Bastards by John Ralston Saul. It's like my own personal Mount Everest. I keep trying, and I keep turning back.

Book you are an evangelist for:

Culture of Complaint by Robert Hughes. After four years of political indoctrination, in what should have been film school, here was this guy screaming "womyn is not a word, you moron!" and generally making me realize what nonsense I'd been through. It was a breath of fresh air.
Book you've bought for the cover:

The Language Police by Diane Ravitch. I saw the book sitting on top of a bar and immediately interrupted some guy's date to ask him if I could look at it.
Book that changed your life:

All books change your life in some fashion. Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero convinced me not to move to Los Angeles. Dave English's Slipping the Surly Bonds made me sign up for flight training. And Drudge Manifesto persuaded me not to invite Matt Drudge over the house.
Favorite line from a book:

"Nothing reveals a lack of comic inventiveness more reliably than the presence of reflexive epithets, eliciting snickers not because they exist within any intentional 'context' but simply because they are crass words that someone is saying out loud."--Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason.

When I read that, she sold another book. I spent 10 years doing improv comedy in a group that never swore or went blue--not because we were prudes or saints but for the reason that she articulated perfectly.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Thinking about that book brings back memories of me really, really enjoying it. I just hope it was because I loved the book and not because I was a shy, friendless virgin in the boondocks with nothing else going on.



Book Review

Book Review: The God of War

God of War by Marisa Silver (Simon & Schuster, $23.00 Hardcover, 9781416563167, April 2008)

Don't be fooled by the title. This is not a war story. The God of War is an exquisitely shaped gem of a childhood memory novel, a tight little drama about mothers and sons with characters as complex as life.

Ares Ramirez is both the angry 12-year-old at the center of the story and the narrator looking back on the year everything changed. He tells the reader right from the start what will happen in 1978--a ne'er-do-well boy will die, Ares's own six-year-old brother Malcolm will become famous and Ares himself will be incorrectly declared a hero by the press. How and why this will all come about creates considerable suspense.

Home for Ares is a trailer in Bombay Beach in Southern California, not far from the Salton Sea. His mother, irresponsible, charismatic Laurel Connors, is enjoying nature and allowing her two sons to raise themselves, with a little help from her Vietnam vet boyfriend of three years. Her youngest son doesn't talk but can flawlessly imitate birdcalls. Ares guards his brother from school bullies and cranky teachers, eternally guilty knowing that when Malcolm was a baby, he dropped him and Malcolm hit his head.

With the roar overhead of test planes dropping bombs and a desert full of dangerous treasures, three boys, a bicycle and a buried gun at the beach have a fateful convergence in this carefully crafted novel. To reveal any more would be to cheat you of the surprises in the second half of the book. Author Marisa Silver doesn't waste a word, and every scene counts in this coming-of-age story so full of love and misunderstanding.--Nick DiMartino


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: A Day of Unity for Heroes & Villains

Comic books were the gateway drug that made me a lifelong reader; more on that later. Now, back to our story, already in progress:

Maybe you knew they were coming again for the seventh consecutive year, but they are closer than ever. They're on your planet! Soon, they will be in your country, your state, perhaps even your town. Just listen to the dramatic voiceover on this promotional video, and you'll begin to understand:

Saturday, May 3rd . . . heroes and villains . . . from across the universe . . . will unite for one goal . . . Free Comic Book Day.

Or travel to for the graphic details, including a list of sponsors and a search tool for locating participating comic book stores near you.

There has been a wave of media coverage leading up to Saturday's festivities. I think columnist Drew Hendrickson at the Daily Aztec--San Diego State University's student newspaper--sums up the process nicely: "Here's how the day works: You show up to a participating comic book store, tell the nice clerk you're there for Free Comic Book Day, and he or she will give you a modest-size stack of comics (in varying genres) for free. That's it."

He also offers an intriguing long-range perspective on his own reading habits: "I tend to gravitate toward graphic novels because although they're essentially a giant comic book, they have the word 'novel' in them so I feel like I'm reading something important. Plus, if some poller came around looking into reading statistics, I'd look like a freaking genius with how many books I could claim."

Wired's blogger GeekDad notes that this weekend "we will descend en masse on our local specialty retailers, hopefully with our geeklings in tow, and emerge resplendent with swag."

And a piece in the Journal-Gazette, headlined "Drawing adults to comics stores," suggests comic book shops "these days cater as much as anything to adults who are still fond of reading stories of superheroes." Not breaking news to aficionados, perhaps, but Tracy Scott, owner of Books, Comics & Things, Fort Wayne, Ind., says the point of Free Comic Book Day is "largely to get people into comic book shops who don't know they exist."

Reading all the recent news items about FCBD made me recall, for the first time in many years, just how important a role comics played in my reading life. So I'll celebrate in a quiet, nostalgic way because a long time ago comics lured me into the magical world of words and images where I still work and play. 

As a teenager back in the late Paleolithic era--aka the 1960s--I was a comics fanatic, one of those kids who knew the day each month that new issues arrived at the store. i was also, without realizing it, a prescient collector. Since my obsession happened to coincide with the rising popularity of the Marvel line, I bought the first couple dozen issues of new releases like Spider-Man and The Mighty Thor, as well as less well known titles like Rawhide Kid and Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos.

All extremely valuable collectibles now, I'm sure.


Those comics might have made me a rich man, but I treated them casually, as if simply reading was the prime directive. Naive, I know. Then I dispensed the collection to younger brothers during a high school "put away childish things" phase.

FCBD reminds me of all that.

I've also observed the phenomenal growth of graphic novel sales as a bookseller, and seen this category transcend age, gender and genre barriers. The shelving of Art Spiegelman's Maus and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in history or biography/memoir sections means something, as does this week's New Yorker article on the septuagenarian comic book artist and editor who turned the 9/11 Commission Report into a graphic bestseller.

Recently, in an English course I teach at a local college, we compared Kafka's "The Hunger Artist" to R. Crumb's graphic adaptation of the story. One of my younger students--not a recreational user of the reading drug--later said that he loved both versions and planned to look closer at this "graphic novel stuff."

Who knows why we become the readers we do?

So, to all those adults who told me to get my nose out of comics and go play in the sun, I offer two bits of advice: Use plenty of sunscreen and have a happy Free Comic Book Day!--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


KidsBuzz: Katherine Tegen Books: Case Closed #4: Danger on the Dig by Lauren Magaziner
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