Also published on this date: Monday, May 13, 2013: Maximum Shelf: The Boys in the Boat

Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 13, 2013


Chooseco: Chimera (Weregirl #2) by C.D. Bell

Riverhead Books: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Barron's Educational Series: Dear Dinosaur: With Real Letters to Read! by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne

Timber Press: Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family's Quest to Heal the Land by Scott Freeman

HarperCollins: Laura's Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

Quotation of the Day

Reaching Out to the 'World Beyond Our Front Doors'

"What does bother me is thinking about all the people out in the world beyond our front doors who would thoroughly enjoy being here but still haven't found us.... As a person who enjoys being sociable I have to restrain myself constantly from approaching total strangers and saying, 'Hi! You don't know me but I've been watching you and I think you'd have a wonderful time at the bookstore where I work.' The liabilities that could result from this behavior clearly outweigh any imagined benefits.

"It's frustrating because I see potential Annie Bloom enthusiasts everywhere; they're in supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops and sometimes they're in the car stopped beside mine at a red light. You would not believe how hard it is for me NOT to open my car door and hand the driver next to me a bookmark from the store. Yes, I carry bookmarks around with me and sometimes I hand them out to people who already know me such as bank tellers and baristas."

--Jeffrey Shaffer, a bookseller at Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore., in a post on the PNBA's NW Book Lovers blog

Avery Publishing Group: The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen


News

Nook Simple Touch Discount Works in U.K.

Barnes & Noble's major price cut on Nooks has apparently worked well in the U.K.: B&N's retail partners report that the Nook Simple Touch is sold out in most locations and B&N's own site lists the device as "sold out," according to Good e-Reader.com.

Last week, B&N cut the price of the Simple Touch to £29 (about US$44.50) from £79 ($121). Good e-Reader added: "Not only has the discounted Simple Touch seen success with the price drop, but the brand name is at record levels of visibly. This is primarily attributed to the sponsorship of the London Evening Standard's Get London Reading campaign, and B&N also donated 1,000 e-readers to the national literacy charity Beanstalk."


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


Collected Works Goes on the Air

Since last month, Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse has been producing a live, hour-long radio program called Collected Words, broadcast on KVSF in Sante Fe, N.Mex. It airs on Wednesdays at 10 a.m., and previous episodes are available as podcasts.

Collected Words came into being when Hutton Broadcasting, owners of KVSF, approached Dorothy Massey and her daughter Mary Wolf, owners of Collected Works, about creating a radio show. Although they both jumped at the opportunity, neither Wolf nor Massey wanted to be featured on the program. "To have us on every week would not be that exciting," said Wolf, laughing. "And besides we're both a little mic shy."

So they turned to members of the community and friends of the store, and the show premiered on April 3, with host James McGrath Morris, Sante Fe resident and author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power, and guests Carl Rollyson, author of American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath, and Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. (Morris is hosting a show on biography on the first Collected Words each month.)

The program has a changing selection of guests and topics of discussion. Wolf "donated" one show to the emerging Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, while another episode was hosted by Cecile Lipworth, managing director of V-Day, an international women's movement and organization. Wolf is also considering a program featuring a discussion with other independent booksellers, and a variety of episodes focused on various genres of literature.

"It's about passing on the gift we were given," Wolf commented. "It's Collected Words Presented by Collected Works, but it's not about the store anymore than the books in our store are about us. It's about providing a voice for local authors and artists and organizations that otherwise would not have a public voice." --Alex Mutter


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Four Indie Presses Create International Crime Month

The three-martini lunch may be extinct in publishing, but that doesn't mean that some good ideas are not still hatched over drinks. Such was the case last fall when Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions, suggested the idea of an International Crime Month over a few beers in Brooklyn with Johnny Temple, publisher of Akashic Books, and Dennis Johnson, co-founder and publisher of Melville House.

No stranger to international crime fiction, Europa was about to launch a line called World Noir, and the press was looking for a way to celebrate the success of international authors published on American shores by independent presses. Temple and Johnson signed on right away. Soon after, they reached out to Grove/Atlantic and the Mysterious Press, which led Jason Pinter, senior marketing manager of those presses, to join the International Crime Month committee, which meets monthly over beer and pretzels.

The committee picked June as International Crime Month and immediately got to work with independent booksellers to create a month-long series of events featuring some of the four publishers' top writers in the genre, along with publishers, editors and critics.

The inaugural event will be held on Tuesday, May 28, on the eve of BookExpo America, at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where Otto Penzler will moderate a panel featuring authors Maurizio de Giovanni (from Italy, published by Europa), Marek Krajewski (Poland, Melville) and Jessica Hagedorn (Philippines, Akashic). The trio will appear at Bookcourt in Brooklyn the following evening for an event moderated by critic Hirsh Sawhney. At BEA that Friday, Morgan Entrekin joins the other publishers on a panel that officially kicks off International Crime Month.

Then Reynolds, Temple, Johnson and Pinter will travel to New England for events at Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.; Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.; and R.J. Julia, Madison, Conn. Events will also be held in mid-June at WORD in Brooklyn, N.Y.; McNally Jackson in New York City; Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.; and 57th Street Books in Chicago, Ill. On June 29, Keir Graff, novelist and editor of Booklist Online, will moderate a conversation at the American Library Association annual meeting in Chicago with authors Zane Lovitt (Australia, Europa), Mark Billingham (U.K., Grove), Bayo Ojikutu (Nigeria, Akashic) and Wolf Hass (Austria, Melville). Click here for a complete list of ICM events.

By bookending the first International Crime Month with BEA and ALA, Reynolds said, the group hopes to gain as much exposure as possible and build the foundation for a larger event next year that will include more presses and events across the country--and continue to spread the group's message about the health and power of international crime writing.

Johnson pointed out that crime fiction greats Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler rooted their stories in the Great Depression and the politics of the era. "As it turns out," he said, "there are writers around the world writing for similar reasons, telling similarly inspiring stories of the everyday heroism of holding on against the evils of the day."

"American independent publishing has long been defined by collaboration and mutual support--not to mention mutual admiration," Temple observed. "Especially when the endeavor is rooted exactly where it should be: in the bricks-and-mortar stores that remain the bedrock of our existence."

"Crime fiction has flourished throughout the years primarily due to the support of independent booksellers, and we wanted to help their customers find that next riveting read," said Pinter. "The authors inspire us, fellow independent-minded publishers inspire us, and, yes, beer does inspire us, too." --Bridget Kinsella


DK Publishing: Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock



Notes

Image of the Day: Between Katy Budget Books and Texas

Last Thursday, Katy Budget Books, Houston, Tex., hosted an event for Marie Bostwick, whose new Cobbled Court Quilt novel is Between Heaven and Texas (Kensington). She met a group of enthusiastic fans and quilters. After the event, the store posted on its Facebook page: "If you want to get your 'mom' a great book, brimming with Texas sized laughter and wit, Between Heaven and Texas is a great choice. We have autographed copies left, so come right in."


Berkley Books: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


Bookmans Loves Stephen Chbosky

"Every bookstore should secure Stephen Chbosky for a signing," noted the Bookmans Entertainment Exchange blog in a post about a recent event for the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower at its Grant, Ariz., store. The crowd "was too large to accommodate everyone who wished to have a book or DVD signed in the hour we had scheduled with Chbosky. He stayed 15 minutes later than planned and still didn't get through the line, so he promised to return. He kept his promise and returned after he was finished with his other obligations, staying until everyone had time to meet him.

"It was an honor and a priviledge to have Chbosky in our store and we're especially grateful that he signed every last book, poster and DVD his fans brought. We couldn't have asked for an author with more humor and insight to represent the voice of adolescence that transcends any generation. Stephen Chbosky, come back to Tucson any time!" You can see a video of Chbosky addressing audience questions at Bookmans Grant here.


Gottwals Books: New 'Secret' Location

On its Facebook page, Gottwals Books, which has five locations in Georgia, displayed a photo of a new work-in-progress with the message: "Shhh... it's a secret! We've got a new bookstore location coming soon... here's a shot from the inside. We're not going to reveal its location yet. Construction crews are working hard to make this a beautiful store. More images will follow as work progresses!" Gottwals's website, however, offers a pretty good clue regarding the new location: "New Orleans, La., Coming Soon!"


Midpoint Distributing Mr. Food Test Kitchen

Midpoint Trade Books is now handling distribution for Mr. Food Test Kitchen, the cookbook publisher whose titles offer recipes from the nationally syndicated Mr. Food cooking show. Its fall title is Mr. Food Test Kitchen Sinful Sweets & Tasty Treats, which will publish in October.

Former butcher Arthur Ginsburg, also known as "Mr. Food," became a national television personality and cookbook publisher after his popular series of 90-second, "Quick 'n' Easy" television segments was picked up by CBS Television Distribution (formerly King World) in 1982. He emphasized easy-to-find ingredients, triple-tested recipes and no-nonsense products for the everyday cook. He was also one of the first authors to sell his books on QVC.

Since Ginsburg's death last year, Howard J. Rosenthal has been the on-air personality for the show, which continues to be aired in more than 120 markets and reach more than 3 million daily viewers.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dan Brown on Colbert

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Rip Esselstyn, author of My Beef with Meat: The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet--Plus 140 New Engine 2 Recipes (Grand Central, $25, 9781455509362).

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This morning on the Today Show: Elisabeth Rohm, author of Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted (Just Not as I Expected) (Da Capo, $24.99, 9780738216638). She will also appear on Fox & Friends.

Also on the Today Show: Jessica Buchanan and Erik Landemalm, co-authors of Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six (Atria, $26, 9781476725161). They will also appear on NPR's Morning Edition, Dr. Phil, Hannity and the Colbert Report.

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Robert A. Caro, author of The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Vintage, $18.95, 9780375713255).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Edna O'Brien, author of Country Girl: A Memoir (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316122702).

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Today on PBS's Tavis Smiley Show: Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead, $28.95, 9781594631764).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Kylie Bisutti, author of I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model (Tyndale House, $19.99, 9781414383095). She will also appear on Kathie Lee & Hoda, Extra and Bill O'Reilly.

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Emily Matchar, author of Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451665444).

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Tomorrow on CBS's Jeff Probst Show: Kjerstin Gruys, author of Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body by Not Looking at It for a Year (Avery, $26, 9780399160172).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Allen Frances, author of Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062229250).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Tell Me More: Kim Wong Keltner, author of Tiger Babies Strike Back: How I Was Raised by a Tiger Mom but Could Not Be Turned to the Dark Side (Morrow, $13.99, 9780062229298).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Marcia Coyle, author of The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451627510).

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Tomorrow on Katie: Mika Brzezinski, author of Obsessed: America's Food Addiction--and My Own (Weinstein, $26, 9781602861763).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Dan Brown, author of Inferno: A Novel (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385537858).


Books & Authors

Book Review

Review: Transatlantic

Transatlantic by Colum McCann (Random House, $27 hardcover, 9781400069590, June 4, 2013)

In Transatlantic, Colum McCann shows decisively that his success at weaving disparate narratives into a gorgeous tapestry in Let the Great World Spin wasn't an accident, with an honest, sensitive examination of the connections between Ireland and the United States over the past 150 years that's every bit the equal of its predecessor.

At the center of the novel are the stories of Lily Duggan, a young servant who flees the potato famine for America, and three of her female descendants who bring the story to the present day. With admirable stoicism, these women endure the loss of sons in violent conflict from the American Civil War to Northern Ireland's "Troubles," and somehow they persevere. "We seldom know what echo our actions will find," one of these women writes in a letter that links their four lives, "but our stories will most certainly outlast us."

McCann seasons the stories of his fictional creations with vivid evocations of several historical figures, each experiencing a different sort of transatlantic crossing. John Alcock and "Teddy" Brown's flight in June 1919, the first nonstop trip across the Atlantic, provides the novel's thrilling first chapter. Frederick Douglass, who visited Ireland in 1845, is a man ambivalent about endorsing Irish independence while seeking to rally support for the antislavery cause. And George Mitchell, the retired senator who successfully brokered peace in Northern Ireland, is inspired by the "vague hope of helping to turn the long blue iceberg, the deep underwater of Irish history," his struggle revealing as much about diplomacy's complexity as any work of nonfiction.

Whether describing a town that "genuflected to the water," stars that "collandered the Wexford night" or the "kites of language" that prolonged contemporary political debates, McCann has a gift for captivating imagery. Those pictures become all the more striking because of his preference for terse, occasionally fragmentary prose that seems well-suited to this story.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Irish history understands "she was a country that liked to be hurt." Yet, as painful as that history may be, McCann is clearly seized by the imperative to revisit it; as one character observes near the novel's end, "There isn't a story in the world that isn't in part, at least, addressed to the past." Tender, poetic and teeming with a deep understanding of life, in all its tragedy and grace, Transatlantic is a novel indisputably worthy of its subject. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: The National Book Award winner's reflection on the bonds between Ireland and the United States is convincing proof that he deserves a place in the first rank of contemporary novelists.


Deeper Understanding

Literary America: Stories from the Places We See

Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow (Ballantine), embarked earlier this year on a cross country author tour. This is the fourth installment of her notes from her trip:

This may be the World's Longest Book Tour, but we haven't talked all that much about books. Still, they abound in the places we are traveling. I've been a reader for even longer than I've been a writer, and this country is rich for me in literary associations. It's not so much that traveling has brought the books I've read to life--it's that the books I've read are bringing alive the country.

In Washington, D.C., it's political thrillers, of course, like John Grisham's The Street Lawyer or the Alex Cross novels. There's a certain cold hardness that authors tell us we can expect from this city--the inability to trust anyone, even ourselves.

Not one menacing figure in the thrilling crowd at Arlington, Va.'s One More Page.

But the reception we received at One More Page in Arlington, Va., was the opposite of cold. It was like a family reunion when you really like your family. Booksellers Terry Nebeker and Sally McConnell set out wine and welcomed me like a long-lost friend. People I'd known from childhood gathered at this event along with writers I've met during my publication journey. Friends from social media appeared in all their three-dimensional glory. New customers wandering in to browse got caught up in an impromptu night out. Not a single shot was fired; no one even bribed anybody. And still this night was more exciting than any political thriller I've read.

Author Lee Mims shares the stage, or the front of the room, at Pomegranate.

JKS Communications, the independent publicity team that is the brains--and heart--behind this tour, has deep ties in North Carolina, but that only partially explains our many stops there. The other reason is how literary the state is. At Pomegranate Books in beautiful, coastal Wilmington, I met local author Lee Mims, with whom I'd previously done an event. Lee and I are now a few months into our infancy as published authors, and I wondered if our talk would be different from the first one we did. More seasoned, or jaded. But as one North Carolina writer after another walked into the store--Emily Colin, Shelia Boneham--Lee and I were just as giddy as the day our books appeared.

The marquee at Vero Beach Book Center, or, How To Feel Like a Superstar as an Author.

Why, through the ages, have so many writers wrestled with the pen? It must have more to do with the human need to share a story than any expectation of glory, for the path to publication is fraught with peril. But some events on this tour do yield star power, and Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, Fla., was one: from the movie marquee sign out front to the store bestseller list, from an array of books up front to booksellers like Melissa Wade and Cynthia Callander who are geniuses of events and handselling. And not coincidentally, this bookstore draws customers in waves bigger than the ones on the beach for which it is named.

But we were talking about authors and the stories we find on the road. South Carolina is Pat Conroy country, Florida belongs to Hemingway, and in Georgia ghost stories abound.

The low country greeted us with a crab boil and bushels of oysters. We ate and smacked and sucked our fingers. Food was also an element at my event on tiny, coastal Pawleys Island. The Moveable Feast is a legendary series put on by Litchfield Books, a bookstore that's managed to turn a weekly event into a community mainstay. When I phoned to make my hotel reservation, a delightful voice drawled, "Oh, now, then are you the author?" You'll forgive me--I've mentioned that my publication road was very, very, very long--if I say that I heard these words in capitals. The Author.

I couldn't believe that my event at The Sea View Inn, where the luncheon and book signing were held, was sold out. The room filled with friendly faces, open smiles and the scent of fried chicken. I was overwhelmed--and had to step outside for a moment. I went down to the edge of the sea, and I admit that I cried. Pat Conroy had brought this country to life for me, albeit a coarser, meaner version of it. But his words were the brine that cured my image of South Carolina once upon a time. And now I was adding my own.

Charleston has been named the top tourist destination in the world--even over Paris. And when you're in this charming city, you can see why. Blue Bicycle Books hosted local author Leah Rhyne, author Tina Whittle and me at a sit & sign that proved if you put three writers into a room, they can talk forever.

There is a white sheen over my memories of high school, and it was put there by Hemingway. I confess to never becoming a fan. But your feeling about a particular author's work changes when you see the land of which he wrote. In April, we were not exposed to the sun's brutal broil, but there was a heat to each of the bookstores we visited.

At Murder on the Beach, mystery authors Mary Stanton and Joanna Campbell Slan joined me for a riveting discussion about the art and craft of penning tales. But it was mystery bookseller Joanne Sinchuk who brought out the Florida glam, turning a late night into a party with sangria, tapas and talk.

There is time-gone-by quality to Deland, Fla., and the Muse Bookshop, whose titles you see through an iridescent shimmer of sunshine. I felt as if I had walked into a Jo-Ann Mapson novel when I got there. Not Mapson's precise settings, of course, but her books brilliantly depict the kind of spider-webbing that binds certain communities. Many townspeople turned out for my event, and when one was late, bookseller Janet Bollum called her at home to remind her. No fewer than half the attendees friended me on Facebook later that week.

The hallowed halls of Mitchell Kaplan's Books & Books.

Inkwood Books in Tampa recently changed hands, and is now owned by the enthusiastic and determined Stefani Beddingfield. The night I spent there, alongside mystery author Tom Gill, featured a conversation with a longtime newspaperman named Steve Otto. As we discussed old and new media, the reporter-sleuth novels of Bryan Gruley, Brad Parks and Todd Ritter came to life for me in a new way. Steve spoke about how his paper had been whittled down to a skeleton crew--but how in the hands of new owners, it may just be coming back.

Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan is as gallant and noble as one of Harper Lee's Southern gentlemen. Kaplan is famous for helping to restore what he calls the "fragile literary ecology," much as Rachel Carson turned the tide against environmental pollution. He was instrumental in establishing the world famous Miami Book Fair, and has seven branches of Books & Books, including one in the Cayman Islands. Bookseller Steve Moss played fabulous host when my event turned into a mini writers retreat: two hours of concentrated ramble about the writing life for the published and emerging writers who attended. Only Hemingway was missing, but in the hallowed halls of Books & Books... you felt him.

As Shel Silverstein says, If you are a dreamer, come in... to The Book Lady.

In Georgia, Spanish moss hangs like shrouds from the trees, and the entire landscape appears haunted. Mystery author Tina Whittle again appeared with me at The Book Lady, in which proprietress Joni Saxon-Giusti manages to make the old seem not just new, but ahead of its time. This bookstore has bowed floorboards and an intricate mesh of rooms. Each display is a tapestry, calling to mind studies that show what we miss when we search digitally, as opposed to stumbling upon finds. You don't know what you'll get when you descend into the Book Lady. And after spending a little time there, you'll realize that this is the whole point.

Gone with the Wind is a war anthem and an elegy, and the scene when Atlanta burns is likewise burned into generations of readers' minds. But the city is peaceful and thriving now, and at FoxTale Book Shoppe, I found further evidence of literary life on the road.

Jamie Mason with her debut novel not quite at rest.

Booksellers Ellen Ward, Gary Parkes and Carol Reynolds turned the store into a Halloween-esque amusement park for the event I did with debut novelist Jamie Mason. There was a real coffin on the floor, in which attendees could (and did) lie down for the freakiest holiday card photo ever. There are hasty burials in both my novel and Mason's Three Graves Full, hence the macabre theme.

There's also a dog in my book, a black lab named Weekend, and of course, a lot of snow. The booksellers at FoxTale had arranged a stuffed black lab beside a bluish-white field of cotton. And as I stood there and hugged the dog, I thought about the many books that seeing America has now brought to life--and how the booksellers at FoxTale did so with my own.


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