Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 18, 2017


HarperCollins: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Johns Hopkins University Ptess: Playboys and Mayfair Men by Angus McLaren / A Year of Writing Dangerously by Keith Gandal

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

News

New Owner for American West Books

Josh Mettee has sold American West Books, Sanger, Calif., which supplies books to chains such as Costco, Sam's Club, Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble, and other retailers, to Christopher Robbins, who joined the firm four years ago.

Mettee has headed the company since 1993. "I'd just turned 19 and was in my first year of college when I took over a defunct regional wholesaler," Mettee said. "It's been a great run for 24 years, and I'm looking forward to new challenges."

Robbins was previously CEO of Gibbs Smith, the Utah publisher, and is founder and publisher of independent press Familius.

Mettee will turn his attention to Hummingbird Digital Media, in which he has a controlling interest. The two-year-old company is, he says, "democratizing e-book and audiobook retailing" by supplying organizations, including bookstores, publishers, nonprofits and others, free turnkey platforms for selling digital books.


AuthorBuzz: Indie Bookstore Readers


St. Louis's Novel Neighbor Expands Next Door

Next Door at the Novel Neighbor

Founded three years ago, the Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo., near St. Louis, has expanded and now has an event space called Next Door at the Novel Neighbor.

Owner Holland Saltsman has envisioned the store "as a place that will foster community and encourage people to shop local. The store's workshops, camps, and small events have been very successful--and the new space will allow for even more creative programming and events to be offered."


Zondervan: To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation) by Tamera Alexander


'Britain's Rudest Bookseller' Sells Bookshop

Bloomindales

Known as "Britain's rudest bookseller" and "the Basil Fawlty of books," Steve Bloom, owner of Bloomindales in Hawes, has sold his store and left the business, Richmondshire Today reported.

Bloom, who admits to being "medium to low rude," received widespread criticism earlier this year for charging a 50 pence (about 65 cents) fee for browsing in the used store. Twenty complaints about that and his general behavior were lodged with the local parish council, but Bloom continued to require the fee. Townspeople said he was rude in other ways as well.

"I hope that none of the people who have been trying to drive me out are claiming any kind of victory, because it isn't," Bloom said. "I have left of my own free will.

"It got very difficult sitting in my shop listening to people talking about me as the man who charges 50p entry," Bloom continued. "I will not miss the moaning. I'd be sitting there and have to listen to people saying 'This is the shop that was on the news' and 'He's the one who charges entry just to look at his books' and it gets to me.... I gained a certain notoriety and I suppose much of it was of my own invention but I don't have regrets."


B&N Opens at Youngstown State University

The new Barnes & Noble bookstore on the Youngstown State University campus, Youngstown, Ohio, opened yesterday. WKBN News reported that the store stocks "textbooks, YSU apparel, school supplies and a section dedicated to books for the general public, similar to what can be found in any Barnes & Noble." The store also features a Starbucks café.

A grand opening is planned for August when students return to campus for the fall semester.


Obituary Note: Stephanie Wolfe Murray

Stephanie Wolfe Murray, a co-founder of Canongate who "completely transformed" Scotland's publishing industry, died June 24 in the Scottish Borders, the Scotsman reported. She was 76. While at Canongate, Wolfe Murray published Alasdair Gray's debut novel, Lanark: A Life in Four Books, and Jimmy Boyle's autobiography, A Sense of Freedom, written while the author was still in prison. She was also instrumental in the founding of the Scottish Publishers Association and was on the founding board of the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Wolfe Murray, the daughter of a Liverpool solicitor, had no formal training in publishing when she and her husband, Scottish journalist Angus Wolfe Murray, joined the industry in 1973. Canongate began with the publication of a collection of Edgar Allan Poe short stories and a novel written by Bob Shure, a friend of Wolfe Murray and her husband who had been having trouble getting his book published. The couple worked in an office on Edinburgh's High Street and named the company after Edinburgh's Canongate area.

After separating from her husband, Wolfe Murray took charge of running the company on her own. In addition to Lanark and A Sense of Freedom, she published Charles Palliser's novel The Quincunx, along with the work of lesser known writers and poets, and according to the Scotsman she was most proud of "reviving old, and often forgotten, Scottish works as Canongate classics" and "developing the Kelpies series of Scottish children's books."

Following her retirement from Canongate in 1994, she turned her attention to charity work; around 2000, she spent two years in Kosovo rebuilding homes and giving humanitarian aid. She is survived by husband, with whom she reunited some 30 after their separation, and their four sons.


Notes

Image of the Day: Mysteries at the Fountain

On Sunday, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va., hosted a "cozy mystery event" panel discussion moderated by owner Kelly Justice (far right). The participating authors were: Maya Corrigan, The Tell-Tale Tarte; Sherry Harris, A Good Day to Buy; Mollie Cox Bryan, No Charm Intended; and A.J. Herbert, Murder with Macaroni and Cheese. All are published by Kensington.


Happy 20th Birthday, BookStacks!

Congratulations to BookStacks, Bucksport, Maine, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year as a neighborhood institution that "has become a destination for locals and visitors to look for a new novel, to chat over coffee or to simply pet [owner Andy] Lacher's cat Leo," the Ellsworth American reported.

"I thought I would have been able to retire by now," said Lacher, whose shop features a window sign that says: "Books/ Pretty Good Coffee/ Magazines/ Newspapers/ Wi-Fi Hot Spot/ A Better Bottle of Wine." (The store began selling wine in 2013.)

Having survived chain and online competition for two decades, he observed: "To a really good, serious businessman, this would say 'Get out! This doesn't make sense, you're losing money, Andy.' But I'm not a good, smart businessman."

Despite his modesty, Lacher purchased the building BookStacks inhabits in May and is optimistic about the future: "It's obvious to me this summer's going to be our best summer ever. As Bucksport takes off, as the tide rises, so will I.... I want it to continue. I truly want this to continue."


Bookstore Cat of the Day: (The Great) Catsby

Posted yesterday on the Facebook page of new and used bookstore Second Edition Book Shop in Davie, Fla.: "My sweet CEOkitty and I recently spent an afternoon with SouthFlorida.com. I think he made them feel welcome."

SouthFLorida.com noted that Catsby "has more than 33,000 followers on Instagram. Danielle Whatley opened her first shop in 2003, and moved to the current location in 2013. She rescued Catsby about four years ago." 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joshua Green on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Joshua Green, author of Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin Press, $27, 9780735225022).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Ruth Ware, author of The Lying Game: A Novel (Gallery/Scout Press, $26.99, 9781501156007).

Also on GMA: Andrew Solomon, author of Far and Away: How Travel Can Change the World (Scribner, $20, 9781476795058).

Dr. Oz: Bob Arnot, author of The Coffee Lover's Diet: Change Your Coffee, Change Your Life (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062458773).

Fresh Air: Billy Bragg, author of Roots, Radicals & Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World (Faber & Faber, $29.95, 9780571327744).


Books & Authors

Awards: Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement; ITW Thriller

Colm Tóibín has been named the winner of the 2017 Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes authors for their complete body of work.

"Colm Tóibín's work invites readers to contemplate the deep sadness of exile--from mother or brother, from nation, from oneself--to understand how accidents of geography and family shape identity, and how quirks of circumstance can harden or soften hearts," said Sharon Rab, founder and co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. "The surprising turns in his fiction and nonfiction that illustrate the longings and complexity of his characters, even those whose actions we may deplore, remind us of our shared humanity and offer the possibility of reconciliation or simply of understanding, which are the first steps to making peace."

Tóibín commented: "Through fiction, we learn to see others. The page is not a mirror. It is blank when I start to write, but it contains a version of the world when I finish.... Good sentences offer us a way to imagine life in all its strangeness and ambiguity and possibility, alert us to the power of the imagination to transform and transcend our nature, offer us a blueprint not only for who we are but for who we might be, who we might become."

---

Winners of the 2017 ITW Thriller Awards, presented at ThrillerFest XII, are:

Best Hardcover Novel: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Grand Central)
Best First Novel: The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (Putnam)
Best Paperback Original Novel: The Body Reader by Anne Frasier (Thomas & Mercer)
Best Short Story: "Big Momma" by Joyce Carol Oates (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)
Best Young Adult Novel: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley (Tor Teen)
Best E-Book Original Novel: Romeo's Way by James Scott Bell (Compendium Press)

ThrillerMaster: Lee Child
Literary Silver Bullet Award: Lisa Gardner
Thriller Legend Award: Tom Doherty


Petty Curse Books and Close Enough for the Angels

"It doesn't fit into an easy niche," said Paul Madonna, cartoonist, creator of the comic strip All Over Coffee and author of the upcoming novel Close Enough for the Angels. Arriving on September 5 from Petty Curse Books, Close Enough for the Angels is Madonna's first novel and tells the story of a failed artist who has been a "one-hit wonder twice over." The book explores the nature of the creative process and is a blend of artistic media, with more than 100 ink-on-paper illustrations of locations in China, Japan and Thailand interspersed throughout the novel.

"It's not a graphic novel, it doesn't come from the comic world," explained Madonna. His comic strip, which ran in the San Francisco Chronicle from 2004 to 2015 and was published in two collections by City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, was likewise a sort of hybrid, blending poetry and ink-on-paper drawings in the conventions of a comic strip. He added that for much of his career, he has been creating things that "no one knows what to call."

At the heart of Close Enough for the Angels is Emit Hopper, who found sudden, fleeting success first as a musician in the 1980s and then as a literary darling in the 1990s. Twenty years on, he is the owner of a laundromat and has largely given up on his creative dreams. The story opens as Emit's lover Marie has been missing for more than a year. He takes a sudden journey to southeast Asia, and from there the narrative jumps between different stages of Emit's life and career while he unravels a mystery tied to a personal tragedy. The illustrations sprinkled throughout the novel, meanwhile, don't simply summarize scenes in the text.

"In a classic illustrated novel, you read on one page a scene of two people sitting at a cafe with the sun setting. You turn the page, and there is a picture of two people at a cafe with the sun setting out the window. That to me is redundant," said Madonna. He explained that the drawings in his book are a distinct part of the story, and though they are paired with the text in a tonal, emotional way, they don't simply replicate what the reader has just read.

"It's not obvious why we're reading this chapter and seeing this image," he said, adding that figuring out why a particular image is tied to a particular part of the text is something of a small puzzle for the reader to figure out.

Madonna began working on the project in 2010, and what he thought would be a two-year project turned into a six-year project. He first visited southeast Asia in 1999, and after falling in love with the region, "vowed to myself I would always go back and make something there." When Madonna was in the process of publishing his first All Over Coffee collection, he initially had a hard time of it, with publishers saying they loved his work but wouldn't publish the book because they thought it was regional and would sell only in the Bay Area. While most of the art in All Over Coffee did feature San Francisco, Madonna found that label frustrating, because he was receiving letters from and shipping art to readers all over the world. City Lights, which Madonna said understood that his work would have wider appeal, eventually published All Over Coffee and its follow-up, Everything Is Its Own Reward, but even though the latter collection featured drawings of more than a dozen cities, it was still considered by many to be a "San Francisco book."

Paul Madonna (l.) and Andrew Weiner.

"That frustrated me," remarked Madonna. "I decided the next one was not going to be a San Francisco book."

When it came to publishing Close Enough for the Angels, Madonna once again had some difficulties. He recalled that conventional publishers shied away from the large number of images in the project and were daunted by how expensive it would be to produce, and publishers more experienced with graphics did not want to take on a novel. He eventually decided to create 50 handmade copies of the book, to be sold as high-price art objects. Spurred on by that success, and while discussing the project over lunch with friend and Abrams sales representative Andrew Weiner, Madonna and Weiner decided to publish the book themselves. They created a two-person publishing company, Petty Curse Books, with one project: Close Enough for the Angels.

"It was a really interesting process," said Weiner. "The challenge was to find someone who could accommodate a single book."

Weiner and Madonna found their way to Graphic Arts Books and Publishers Group West. Graphic Arts Books will distribute Close Enough for the Angels and host the book within its catalogue, and Ingram Publisher Services sales reps voted to have art from the book featured on the IPS catalogue cover. Added Weiner: "It's been a really great working relationship with them."

Close Enough for the Angels will launch with a party at the Bindery, the satellite events space of the Booksmith in San Francisco. From there, Madonna will make a number of stops in the Bay Area and along the West Coast, with some visits to other parts of the country as well. And Madonna has no shortage of future plans: his first solo museum show is opening in 2018, and for that he's writing an autobiographical book about the creative process, and he's been meaning to do a third All Over Coffee collection for a while. And if Close Enough for the Angels proves popular, he has two more books about Emit Hopper in mind. Said Madonna: "The hope is it will get enough attention and interest, so that I can continue running with those next two books." --Alex Mutter


Book Review

Review: Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult

Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy (Simon & Schuster, $26 hardcover, 336p., 9781451609950, August 15, 2017)

"It should go without saying that the best children's literature is every bit as rich and rewarding in its concerns, as honest and stylish in execution, as the best adult literature," Bruce Handy writes in the introduction to his debut, Wild Things. However, children's books, especially picture books, are often snubbed or dismissed by adult readers and critics, though they are "also as complicated, stubborn, contradictory, and mysterious" as any novel written with a grown-up audience in mind. In Wild Things, Handy, a veteran cultural critic and a longtime lover of children's literature, presents an intelligent, thoughtful and often funny critique-cum-defense of kid lit in general and a few classics in particular.

Beginning with Goodnight Moon (so ubiquitous in American nurseries that Handy dubs it "gear," like a stroller or pacifiers), he explores the cultural forces that shape these beloved stories and their large, underlying existential themes: Beatrix Potter's animal tales; Maurice Sendak's fever-dream picture books; Dr. Seuss's zany, rhyming early readers. Handy read many of these as a boy and rediscovered them when his two children were young, but his keen eye is rarely sentimental; he includes thumbnail biographical sketches of the authors and asks insightful questions about what makes their stories tick. Few critics would think to compare The Runaway Bunny to Portnoy's Complaint, but Handy gets away with it--partly because of his obvious delight in the former, which he calls "as incisive a treatise on the parent-child bond" as Philip Roth's novel.

Handy's chapters are arranged in a rough chronology, from very early picture books to a few stories for older children, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series and E.B. White's masterpiece, Charlotte's Web. His chapter on "Ramona Quimby, American Pest" is particularly enjoyable: Handy, like Beverly Cleary herself, is delighted by Ramona because "life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next." He explores Cleary's oeuvre of titles about ordinary suburban children, who are "as complex, vivid, and singular" as any characters with more dramatic life stories, and admits to a sneaking sympathy for Ramona--pest tendencies and all.

Throughout Wild Things, Handy draws on attachment theory, environmental concerns, religious questions, the teaching of literacy and other big, "grown-up" ideas. But the true joy lies in Handy's love for children's lit and his unabashed insistence that it holds treasures for even the most cynical of grown-ups. Like the books it champions, Handy's is surprising, wise, highly entertaining and thoroughly satisfying. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Cultural critic Bruce Handy presents a wise, witty exploration of children's literature and its lasting appeal for adults.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos
2. His Turn (The Turning Series Book 3) by JA Huss
3. The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely
4. Steal by Rachel Van Dyken
5. After All by Karina Halle
6. Kiss Me Cowboy by Various
7. The Workhouse Children by Lindsey Hutchinson
8. Pandemic by A.G. Riddle
9. Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil
10. Beautiful Mistake by Vi Keeland

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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