Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014: Maximum Shelf: Euphoria

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

St. Martin's: Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

Workman: Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen

Balzer + Bray: Cat the Cat Board Book by Mo Willems

Little Brown: Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

Chuckanut Writers Conference

Henry Holt: D-Day by Rick Atkinson

Feiwel + Friends: Justin Case #3 by Rachel Vail

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Warburg in Rome by James Carroll

Little Brown Books for Young Readers: The Young World by Chris Weitz

 

News

World Book Night U.S. Kicks Off

Many hundreds of people celebrated World Book Night U.S. eve last night at parties across the country, and the main event was held at the New York Public Library, where seven authors, contributors and hundreds of givers gathered for a program that was livestreamed. Executive director Carl Lennertz was a funny, informative emcee--and coined the phrase "giverati" to describe the crowd. Speakers included several givers; Broadway producer Sue Frost; David Garza, executive director of the Henry Street Settlement; and authors Victoria Bond, T.R. Simon, Garrison Keillor, Walter Dean Myers and Esmeralda Santiago.

In deference to the setting, many of the authors praised libraries. Malcolm Gladwell recounted reading most of the books in his local library by age nine and worrying that he would soon exhaust the collection. Then his father showed him the University of Waterloo Library, which was eight stories tall, and Gladwell assumed that would last until he was 18 or so. His resulting sole criticism of World Book Night was that it didn't exist in the 1970s and thus couldn't allay his fears.

Tobias Wolff remembered being introduced by a librarian to the work of Jack London, whom he liked so much that he took the name Jack for a while. (Some people in Washington state think Tobias is a pen name.) He's so comfortable in libraries, he said, that he writes his books in them--and has an office in the basement of his local library.

Trinity University Press: Unchopping a Tree by W. S. Merwin

Pannell Winners: Devaney Doak & Garrett, 4 Kids Books & Toys

Winners have been announced for the Pannell Award, given annually by the Women's National Book Association "to recognize and publicly applaud the work of booksellers who stimulate, promote and encourage children's and young people's interest in books." This year's winner in the General Bookstore category is Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, and the Children's Specialty Store winner is 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Ind., Publishers Weekly reported. We'll have more details on the winning stores in tomorrow's issue.

A jury of five book industry professionals selected the winners based on creativity, responsiveness to community needs and an understanding of young readers. The awards will be presented during the Children's Book and Author Breakfast on Friday, May 30, at BookExpo America in New York. Each winning store will receive a check for $1,000 and framed original art donated by a children's book illustrator.

Soho Press: Jack of Spies by David Downing

SIBA Sets Dates, Locations for 'The Fall Discovery Show'

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has finalized dates and locations through the next four years for its annual trade show, which has been re-christened the Fall Discovery Show, "a statement of commitment that every attendee will discover something new that will further their business."

Raleigh, N.C. (Sept 18-20, 2015) and Savannah, Ga. (Sept 16-18, 2016) are now on the itinerary, leading up to a celebration of SIBA's 40th anniversary in New Orleans in 2017. This year's show will be held September 19-21 in Norfolk, Va.--the first time SIBA has hosted its annual conference in the state.

Pegasus: The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg

Laurie Parkin to Retire from Kensington Publishing

Laurie Parkin, v-p and publisher of Kensington Publishing, will retire May 30 after more than three decades in the industry, including over 15 years with Kensington. She has published more than 6,000 books and worked with many bestselling authors, including Fern Michaels, Lisa Jackson, Robert K. Tanenbaum, William W. Johnstone and Joanne Fluke.
 
"Over the past 15 years as publisher, Laurie's love of publishing and selling books has been a driving force behind Kensington's success during a period of immense change in the industry," said president and CEO Steven Zacharius. "Laurie's leadership, perspective, creativity and enthusiasm in all areas of the publishing program will be greatly missed."

Rare Bird Books: Shrink Thyself by Bill Scheft

Indies Celebrate Earth Day

Many independent bookstores celebrated Earth Day yesterday in their own indie way. Here's a Facebook sampling:

Granada Books: "HAPPY EARTH DAY, SANTA BARBARA. This celebration of the beautiful blue planet that we live upon started in 1970, not long after the devastating oil spill off our coastline. Do something today to make our home a better place. Pick up a piece of litter, fix a leaky faucet, walk instead of drive, pause and smell the roses."

The Bookies, Denver, Colo.: "Tuesday Storytime. We're starting the morning in a circle--the best shape in which to share stories & the planet. Happy Earth Day!"

City Lights Booksellers, San Francisco, Calif.: Happy Earth Day gifts included "Gary Snyder on Ecology and Poetry--part 1" and "The Allen Ginsberg Project: Allen on Earth Day."

Reading Rock Books, Dickson, Tenn.: "Books to help you appreciate our beautiful home on this Earth Day."

Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: "Happy Earth Day! Stop by for a free packet of seeds for your garden."

Afterwords Bookstore, Edwardsville, Ill.:  "We still have some gorgeous succulents, lovingly created by local artisan, Flora Lorraine! What a great way to celebrate Earth Day or to gift to a lucky teacher or mom for Mother's Day!"

Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.: "Happy #‎EarthDay! Make your profile picture one of our magical Earth Day 2014 patches and spread the love of used books far and wide!"

Obituary Note: U Win Tin

Journalist, author and poet U Win Tin, "who became a leading opponent of the military rulers of Myanmar, where he was imprisoned and tortured for 19 years," died Monday, the New York Times reported, noting that sources differ on whether he was 84 or 85.

Notes

Image of the Day: Meet Mr. Met

AJ Mass, ESPN analyst and former Mr. Met, visited R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., over the weekend to promote his new book, Yes, It's Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots (Rodale). He was joined by local mascots from around the state.

Cool Idea of the Day: P&P's 'Writers at the Willard'

Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., has announced a new literary series in partnership with the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel. Earlier this year, P&P co-owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine enlisted author Mary Kay Zuravleff, "a longtime friend of the store and accomplished local author," to help expand the store's book activities. "Thanks to her efforts, we're delighted to announce a new literary series" at the storied hotel, P&P's owners said. Four events have been scheduled, beginning May 3 at an afternoon tea with Linda Przybyszewski, author of The Lost Art of Dress.

Zuravleff noted while P&P has 30 years of literary tradition "under our belt--the Willard has more than 150! In a prime Pennsylvania Avenue location two blocks from the White House, the hotel had a political history even before Lincoln lived there prior to his inauguration. While heads of state and world leaders frequently stay and entertain at the hotel, it also has served as a home away from home for legendary writers. You could put together a terrific reading list from the guests, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. Julia Ward Howe actually woke up one night at the Willard to scribble down the lyrics to 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic,' and Martin Luther King Jr. polished his 'I Have a Dream Speech' there."

"It offers something for everyone," Zuravleff told the Washington Post. "The literary and historical pedigree of the Willard is astonishing, as is the architecture."

Melissa Etheridge's Wedding Gift to Harrisburg Bookseller

Melissa Etheridge with David Kern (c.) and Joe Currin (photo provided by David Kern)

Singer Melissa Etheridge, who was in Harrisburg, Pa., for a concert in Hershey last night, stopped by Midtown Scholar Bookstore on Monday. With her partner, Linda Wallem, she "sipped tea and browsed the book selection," PennLive noted, adding that what happened next "made one lucky fan's night."

"I looked at her, and it looked like her and I was like 'It can't be her.' I was like shocked," said David Kern, the bookstore's events coordinator.

Etheridge asked Kern if he and his husband, Joe Currin, would be attending the show, but Kern said "the couple had got married a month ago in Maryland, and couldn't afford the concert tickets due to wedding expenses," PennLive wrote.

"She gave us tickets as a wedding gift," Kern said. "She was just so amazingly sweet."

BEA Children's Book Art Auction to Honor Dr. Seuss

This year's Children's Book Art Auction and Reception at BookExpo America will feature a special section of original pieces created to celebrate Dr. Seuss. "We are proud to honor an author and illustrator who was not afraid to challenge the status quo," said Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. The BEA auction honored an artist for the first time last year by soliciting original artwork dedicated to Maurice Sendak.

The auction, which is co-sponsored by ABFFE and the ABC Children's Group at the American Booksellers Association, will be held on May 28 at the Javits Center. Proceeds support ABFFE's defense of the free-speech rights of young readers.

Book Trailer of the Day: The Ghosts of Hero Street

The Ghosts of Hero Street: How One Small Mexican-American Community Gave So Much in World War II and Korea by Carlos Harrison (Berkley).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lorrie Moore on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: B.J. Novak, author of One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories (Knopf, $24.95, 9780385351836).

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Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Jason Padgett, co-author of Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544045606). He will also appear tomorrow on Fox's Cavuto.

Also on CBS This Morning: Nikil Saval, author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385536578).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!: Misty Copeland, author of Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781476737980).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Tell Me More: Pearl Cleage, author of Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs (Atria, $23.99, 9781451664690).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: David McCullough, Jr., author of You Are Not Special: ...And Other Encouragements (Ecco, $21.99, 9780062257345).

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Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Carla Hall, author of Carla's Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World (Atria, $29.99, 9781451662221).

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Tomorrow on the Talk: Tabatha Coffey, author of Own It!: Be the Boss of Your Life--at Home and in the Workplace (It Books, $24.99, 9780062251008).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Lorrie Moore, author of Bark: Stories (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307594136). As the show put it: "Lorrie Moore's darkly humorous collection of stories, Bark, follows men and women trapped by the absurdities of their everyday lives. Going through divorce or balancing care for others with their own desires, they express yearning but experience little satisfaction. Moore says she begins with feeling and people and then forages for language. Sometimes this means shadowing the work of others, as she shadows, in two stories, Vladimir Nabokov and Henry James. We discuss the permissibility of quoting prior authors when writers can't count on their readers having read the great books. She views these stories as referential echoes: conversations in the form of something new."

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything (Grand Central, $26, 9781455501762).

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Tomorrow night on Last Call with Carson Daly: Matt Taibbi, author of The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (Spiegel & Grau, $27, 9780812993424).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Ramachandra Guha, author of Gandhi Before India (Knopf, $35, 9780385532297).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: George Saunders, author of Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness (Random House, $14, 9780812996272).

David Foster Wallace Estate Objects to The End of the Tour

Relatives of the late David Foster Wallace have expressed opposition to the upcoming film The End of the Tour, based on David Lipsky's 2010 book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, the Associated Press reported.

Lawyers for Wallace's family and literary trust said Monday that they "have no connection with, and neither endorse nor support" the project, adding that "the trust was given no advance notice that this production was underway" and the film "is loosely based on transcripts from an interview David consented to 18 years ago for a magazine article.... That article was never published and David would have never agreed that those saved transcripts could later be repurposed as the basis of a movie."

Production on The End of the Tour, which was written by Donald Margulies, directed by James Ponsoldt and stars Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, wrapped last month.

Books & Authors

Awards: Jackson Poetry Prize

Claudia Rankine won this year's $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize. Sponsored by Poets & Writers magazine, the award honors "an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition" and is "designed to provide what all poets need: time and the encouragement to write." A reading and reception in her honor will be held June 9 in New York City.

Rankine's poetry collections include Don't Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf Press), Plot (Grove Press), The End of the Alphabet (Grove), Nothing in Nature is Private (Cleveland State University Press) and the upcoming Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf, October).

The judges noted that "in a body of work that pushes the boundaries of the contemporary lyric, Rankine has managed to make space for meditation and vigorous debate upon some of the most relevant and troubling social themes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Maintaining a firm grasp upon the tools we normally associate with the lyric poet, such as associative shifts and leaps, allusion, sonic agility, elegy, and a deep and resonant imagery, Rankine's poems also foster a quite nearly cinematic sense of suspense, striking notes of urgency, anxiety, and momentous inevitability."

Book Brahmin: Cara Hoffman

photo: Constance Faulk

Cara Hoffman's debut novel, So Much Pretty, was based on a murder she covered as a young reporter. She has won awards for her writing, including a New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for her work on the esthetics of violence. Hoffman has been a visiting writer at St. John's, Columbia and Oxford universities. Originally from upstate New York, she lives in Manhattan and teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College. Her novel Be Safe I Love You (Simon & Schuster, April 1, 2014) centers around a female soldier's return home from Iraq.

On your nightstand now:

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland. It's a brilliant, beautifully structured novel; the way she tells the story of two very different brothers is subtle and perfect. I've also been reading The Coming Insurrection by the Invisible Committee, and a Mozart score for Great Mass in C minor. We're performing it in May with St. George's Choral Society. I've been reading the music before bed in hopes of looking like a badass at choir practice.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It's hard to pick one, but Stuart Little by E.B. White, is just about perfect. As a kid, it made me feel free and brave. But I also loved Tove Jansson's Moomin books, especially Moominland Midwinter, in which the protagonist wanders and plays in a frozen landscape with strange creatures all winter while his family sleeps.

Your top five authors:

Paul Bowles, Flannery O'Connor, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Joan Didion, David Wojnarowicz.

Book you've faked reading:

I haven't really faked reading. I have sometimes pretended to have not read something so I wouldn't appear too nerdy. For instance, if someone asked me when I was in my 20s if I'd ever read anything by Harlan Ellison, I would've said no. And that is a lie.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Close to the Knives by David Wojnarowicz. It is simply a beautiful, radical, sexy, iconoclastic masterpiece. I've read this book again and again. Wojnarowicz was an artist and writer who died of AIDS in the '90s. The book is written over the period of time when he was diagnosed with the disease. It's part memoir, part fever dream, part manifesto. His descriptions of living on the street and fighting against the institutional powers that are assuring the death of his friends--and the detailed descriptions of everyday life at the time--are gripping. And his prose is lovely. You feel transported. The last several pages of that book, which are about a bullfight, are probably my favorite passages in any work of literature. It's simply transcendent.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie--the hardback first edition, which turned out to be beautifully written. On the cover is a picture of worn red children's shoes with button buckles on them. It's very understated and mysterious and pretty.

Book that changed your life:

Death on the Installment Plan by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. It's in part about Céline's childhood growing up poor in Paris. It's essentially a coming-of-age tale. His work is dark, smart, funny and poignant. He's known as the father of black humor, and I don't think I've ever laughed so hard reading a book (except for maybe Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, which was hilarious). But parts of Death on the Installment Plan made me feel like laughing and crying and throwing up all at once. A real triumph to achieve this with just words. It's true what they say about Céline changing the way people write, bringing visceral emotion to literature. The epigraph for Be Safe I Love You is a quote by Céline from Journey to the End of the Night, his novel about returning from combat in World War I.

Favorite line from a book:

I love this line from Wassily Kandinsky: "Everything that is dead quivers. Not only the things of poetry, stars, moon, wood, flowers, but even a white trouser button glittering out of a puddle in the street.... Everything has a secret soul, which is silent more often than it speaks." 

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. That book left me with such a sense of possibility and excitement. My mother gave it to me when I was a teenager, and it completely blew me away. I read the entire thing in one sitting. The authority with which she weaves her personal narrative and her personal disintegration with what's happening in America was stunning to me. Her work in so many ways revolves around the power of what's left unsaid. As a prose stylist, she's simply incomparable. I would not have become a journalist if not for reading her work. I'd love to have the feeling of picking up that book again for the first time.

Book Review

Children's Review: Gravity

Gravity by Jason Chin (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, $16.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 6-9, 9781596437173, April 29, 2014)

The attention-grabbing cover acts as entry point into the hidden world that awaits readers in Jason Chin's (Redwoods; Island) most ambitious and successful foray into the scientific realm. The author-artist once again mixes familiar and surreal elements as he explains the concept of gravity in 60 words and a captivating sequence of images.

Readers open the book to the title page, where the word "Gravity" appears in uppercase letters above a partially visible moon in deep space, hovering above the surface of the earth. Thus begins a series of images that constitutes a meta-reading experience. In the next illustration, the title-page spread shifts down at a slight angle: only the word "Gravity" and the moon appear, and two gulls fly beyond the spread-within-a-spread's upper border. With the turn of the next page, readers look beyond the edge of the open book to a wider vista--a shoreline, a farm, and a mountain range. The next two pages complete a central idea: "Gravity/ makes objects/ fall to earth." In Chin's illustration, the book drops spine-first in front of a child playing with a spaceman action figure and a toy rocket ship.

Chin's characteristic playfulness here enters the proceedings. Chaos ensues with the next two spreads: "Without gravity, everything would float away." The boy clings to a rock formation as the book, his playthings and even the sea take to the air. The spaceman action figure, toy rocket, sand pail and shovel enter deep space, along with (among other things) a lemonade pitcher, lemons, paper cups and a banana. Chin continues to mix science and imagination as he proclaims the facts ("The moon would drift away from the earth./ The earth would drift away from the sun") while also depicting time-lapse images of the action figure tumbling head over heels, the moon receding, and the earth increasing its distance from the sun. The spaceman's orange suit and perfectly circular helmet serve as ideal contrast to the earth's blue surface and the planet's position in relation to the moon and sun.

Chin then explains the nature of gravity ("Massive things have a lot of gravity and their gravity pulls on smaller things") and how it keeps the earth, sun and moon in orbit. He ends with a humorous twist that brings all of the objects back to earth--though not necessarily where they started. His endnotes go into further detail about gravity, and how its pull is determined by the mass of both objects.

Chin explains some very complex ideas with remarkably few words and enchanting illustrations. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: In Jason Chin's most ambitious and successful foray into the scientific realm, he explains the phenomenon of gravity with clarity in brief text and engaging images.

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