Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Walker Books: Malamander (Legends of Eerie-On-Sea) by Thomas Taylor, illustrated by Tom Booth

Little Brown and Company: Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Sharjah Book Authority Publishers Conference October 27th-29th --Register Now!

Candlewick Press: Judy Moody, Book Quiz Whiz (Judy Moody #15) by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

Bloomsbury Publishing: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

Workman Publishing: Guitar: The World's Most Seductive Instrument by David Schiller

Letters

B&N Bookseller: 'We Pull Books Out of Thin Air, Too'

Ann Dorough, community relations manager at the Barnes & Noble in Gaithersburg, Md., writes in response to a quotation in yesterday's issue about the ability of independent booksellers to match a book with a vague customer request, which "you can't get . . . online or at a big chain store":

As a seven-year veteran of three different Barnes & Noble stores--large, medium and small--in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., I can tell you that our booksellers produce this exact "pull the right book out of thin air" customer service every single day--often several times an hour. I have great respect for our indie store counterparts, but I must challenge this unfair generalization. I can personally vouch that our booksellers are avid readers, as dedicated to the written word as booksellers anywhere, and they enjoy tracking down both bestsellers and obscure rarities. And our booksellers are fully aware that communicating their passion for books is not only good business, but it is fulfilling work as well.
 

 


Magination Press: My Singing Nana by Pat Mora, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez


News

Notes: Open Mind's Grand Opening; Another Read-a-Thon

The Open Mind Center, a holistic center offering gifts, books, classes and services in the area of wellness, is opening in Roswell, Ga., a suburb north of Atlanta, and will have its grand opening celebration on Saturday, November 22. On that day, every 45 minutes prizes such as free nutritional analyses, massages, energy healing and more will be given away.

The Center has 6,800 square feet of space, of which about 1,000 square feet is devoted to retail. In that section, a quarter of the products will be books. The owner is Charmaine Taylor.

The Open Mind Center is located at 1575 Old Alabama Rd., Suite 213, Roswell, Ga. 30076; 678-243-5074; theopenmindcenter.com.

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The Read-a-thon held last weekend at Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., raised nearly $1,000, which will go to the Children's Literacy Foundaiton, the Montpelier Times Argus reported. Some 22 and a half hours into the round-the-clock event, four people were still reading.

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More on the imminent closing of Jeffery Amherst Bookshop, Amherst, Mass. Owners Howard and Joy Gersten, who are 78 and 74 respectively and understandably want to retire, had talked to some people about selling the shop, but "no one fit the bill," Howard told the Springfield Republican.

The pair bought the store 30 years ago sight unseen. Not only that, neither had bookstore experience. He worked in marketing in New York City and she had worked in a school library in New Jersey. "We always had a secret dream to own a bookstore," Howard said.

The paper noted, "But for 30 years, thanks in part to selling textbooks for Amherst College and stocking some for the University of Massachusetts, they have made a living." Howard added, "It's been fantastic. The people that we met and dealt with, the faculty the people at the (Amherst) college . . . so many writers."

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"You can go see a movie for $20 or you can read a book for $2 or $3. It's a good time for people to spend the evening reading to their kids," Ryan Osborne, owner of the Bookkeeper used bookstore, Westminster, Colo., told TheDenverChannel.com, which reported that Osborne "has had a slight increase in sales over the last few weeks, possibly in connection with lower gas prices. But he also said when times are tough, people are not only looking for bargain buys, they go back to basics."

The news was not so optimistic for Lynne Benedict, owner of Storyville Books, Denver, which recently closed. "I was this close to being profitable. I could almost taste it," she said. "And then the economy started turning into this giant sucking black hole."

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Effective with spring 2009 titles, the New Press will be sold and distributed by the Perseus Books Group. New Press distribution has been handled by Norton.

 


University of Pittsburgh Press: The Firebird: The Elusive Fate of Russian Democracy (First Edition, Pitt Russian and Eastern European Studies Series)


Obituary Note: Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman, author of 18 mysteries featuring Navajo Tribal Police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, among other books, died on Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M. He was 83.

The New York Times wrote that "Hillerman's evocative novels, which describe people struggling to maintain ancient traditions in the modern world, touched millions of readers, who made them best sellers. But although the themes of his books were not overtly political, he wrote with a purpose, he often said, and that purpose was to instill in his readers a respect for Indian culture. The plots of his stories, while steeped in contemporary crime and its consequences, were invariably instructive about ancient tribal beliefs and customs, from purification rituals for a soldier returned from a foreign war to incest taboos for a proper clan marriage." It was a remarkable series.

Hillerman was one of the nicest authors we ever met, and he was so obliging in signing copies of his books that one bookseller joked that a rarity in the Southwest was an unsigned Hillerman mystery.

 


H1: Ignited: Triggered by Mark Waid and Kwanza Osajyefo, illustrated by Phil Briones


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alec Baldwin on Fatherhood and Divorce

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Guy Fieri, author of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes (Morrow, $19.95, 9780061724886/0061724882).

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Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show's Readers' Review: a discussion of The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (Vintage, $14.95, 9781400079490/1400079497).

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Tomorrow on the Tavis Smiley Show: Jacques Pepin, author of Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way (Houghton Mifflin, $32, 9780618142330/0618142339).

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Tomorrow on CNN's Glenn Beck Show: Alec Baldwin, author of A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312363369/0312363362).

 


Berkley Books: Tom Brown's Guide to Healing the Earth by Tom Brown and Randy Walker



Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 4:

Divine Justice by David Baldacci (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446195508/0446195502) follows a secret agent being hunted by the U.S. government after a high profile assassination.

Midnight: A Gangster Love Story by Sister Souljah (Atria, $26.95, 9781416545187/1416545182) examines the struggle of a young Sudanese immigrant trying to survive life in New York.

Recipes for the Good Life
by Patti LaBelle, Judith Choate and Karen Hunter (Karen Hunter, $25, 9781439101520/1439101523) provides more than 100 new recipes.

Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399155222/0399155228) takes place in 2060 where Detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas must find a priest's killer.

The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren (Howard Books, $17.99, 9781416559009/1416559000) examines the religious roots of Christmas.

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton (Ballantine, $26, 9780345495938/0345495934) is the seventh entry in the Meredith Gentry series.

Hitman: Forty Years Making Music, Topping the Charts, and Winning Grammys by David Foster (Pocket, $26, 9781439103067/1439103062) is a memoir by the producer, arranger, songwriter and performer.


Now in paperback:

Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon
by Melissa Anelli and J.K. Rowling (Pocket, $16, 9781416554950/1416554955).

Paula Deen's Kitchen Wisdom and Recipe Journal
by Paula Deen and Sherry Suib Cohen (S&S, $18.95, 9781416597025/1416597026).

 


Book Review

Book Review: Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio



If over-the-top Italian buffoonery doesn't offend, you're in for a treat. The catchy title of this short Italian novel is matched by a very clever idea. Author Amara Lakhous gives you 11 points of view as various immigrants--an Iranian cook, a Dutch film student, a Bangladeshi grocer, an Arab who sells fish--interact and misunderstand each other in a Roman piazza. It's been embraced by modern Italian literature as an authentic Italian work by a non-Italian, and the author, like the central character, is an Algerian who has made Italy his home.

The novel is comprised of 11 police testimonies interspersed with diary entries. We meet various regulars in the piazza--Benedetta, the prejudiced old concierge, Marini, the arrogant Milanese professor, Elisabetta Fabiani, the eccentric whose adored dog Valentino has gone missing--and slowly realize why they're all giving testimony. Amedeo, a character whom every one of them genuinely loves and a happily-married translator who has befriended them all, is mysteriously missing and has become the prime suspect in a murder that's happened in the apartment house elevator, the stabbing of a young tough known as the Gladiator whom everyone genuinely hates.

The title of the novel comes from the proposed name of the soon-to-be-shot black-and-white neorealist-style movie that the Dutch film student wants to make about these characters, starring the characters themselves. Much of the novel is laugh-out-loud funny, and its darkly comic spin on the immigrant mindset clearly comes from the author's own experience. It's a comedy, a mystery, a satire, a burlesque, a noir--in short, it's frothy and fun, it breaks all the rules and has a good time doing it.

The novel only really stumbles when it tries to be a murder mystery. Though this reader didn't guess who did it, the crime and the criminal are so little explored that it's patently only a plot device and hard to take seriously. The disappearance of Amedeo, and its satisfying resolution, would have been enough.

Still, that's a minor quibble. Though the characters at times come a hair too close to caricatures, and the murder mystery frame is a flimsy one, there's no denying that going from testimony to testimony is a hoot and you close the book smiling.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: An Italian noir-comedy-satire, written by an Algerian, that effectively breaks rules and has a good time doing it.

 


Ooops

We Eat WPA Crow

Our roundup of current WPA books missed one, and we're especially chagrined because it's by Pat Willard, wife of Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. It's America Eats!: On the Road with the WPA--the Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts That Define Real American Food (Bloomsbury USA, $25.99, 9781596913622/1596913622), which was published in July.

 

 

 

 


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