Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 11, 2017


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

News

Andover Bookstore Moving Across the Street

Andover's current location

The Andover Bookstore, which has been doing business in Andover, Mass., for more than 200 years and has been located at the back of Andover Village Square off Main Street for the past 50, is on the move. The Andover Townsman reported that John Hugo, "owner of the cozy, dark and inviting store, has decided to pick up stakes and move across the street, from 89 Main St. to 74 Main St., in a residential-looking building next-door to CVS."

Hugo, who also owns bookstores in Newburyport, Beverly and Marblehead, said he's looking forward to the move, which will happen overnight in early September. "Our cozy new home has unique character and loads of charm--detailed ornate woodwork, leaded windows, a soaring ceiling, and a fireplace," he said. "With a storefront that faces Main Street, even more readers will be able to discover us. I'm really excited about that. Once signage is up, it should really help sales."

The bookstore "had been on month-to-month with no lease since January" in its present location, he added. "The landlord wanted a restaurant and the rent that goes with that. We were in danger of getting kicked out at the moment a restaurant signed a lease. It's not a good feeling for the staff heading into the fourth quarter."

At the new location, the bookstore will occupy a first-floor space and downsize as the new square footage is about two-thirds of the current space, Hugo noted, adding: "It may be a smaller space but it's a better layout."


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


The Queens Bookshop Offering 'Sneak Peek' Weekend

For the second weekend, Queens Bookshop owners Vina Castillo, Natalie Noboa and Holly Nikodem are offering a sneak peek inside their new venture at 81-63 Lefferts Blvd. in Kew Gardens, Queens, N.Y., from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. On Facebook, they noted: "We always look forward to gushing about literature with our book loving community. Finally meeting you all in person has been amazing! Also, we will be restocking: blind date books, new totes (any cats & Poe fans!? We've got just the tote for you), new bookish mugs/prints, and we will add new titles onto our Favorites shelf." The trio launched their Queens Bookshop Initiative, with the aim of opening what is only the second general independent bookstore in Queens, last year.

After the initial sneak peek last Saturday, they posted: "Before we start day two of our store preview, we want to send a massive hug to everyone who came yesterday on our first day. We will never forget our first customer walking in (Kevin!) and the first book purchase (Grace!). We were so happily overwhelmed by the community's love and encouragement. We truly love you Kew Gardens, Queens, and those who trekked over from all around."

Kew Gardens Civic Association president Dominick Pistone told the Queens Chronicle: "I think they can do well. There are plenty of people in the neighborhood who wouldn't mind browsing through a local bookshop. I think it's a great thing for our neighborhood and I really hope it succeeds. I'm hoping they take off."


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


East Bay Booksellers Eyes September 1 Transition

A September 1 transition has been set for East Bay Booksellers, which was created through a change of ownership, name and business model for DIESEL, A Bookstore's location on College Avenue in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, Calif. The bookshop announced this week: "It's taken a long time--just shy of a year--but the transition of our Oakland store into East Bay Booksellers is very nearly complete. Current store manager, Brad Johnson, has raised the money he needs to move ahead. All that's left now are the legal and practical niceties. September 1 is marked on our calendars. Maybe now it is on yours, too."

Last November, Johnson and DIESEL owners Alison Reid and John Evans (who also own and will continue to own DIESEL stores in Larkspur and Brentwood) announced they hoped Johnson, manager of the Oakland DIESEL store, would be able to take ownership of the location and rename it East Bay Booksellers once he had adequate funding for inventory and capitalization.

On Facebook Tuesday, East Bay Booksellers posted: "Sooooo... how're you doing? Enjoying your summer? What's happening around here? Oh, you know, the norm: just transitioning ownership of a beloved bookstore and neighborhood staple. :) September 1, my friends! Spread the word. Party preparations are being made."


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Curt Jarrell: Help for a Bookseller

Curt Jarrell

Curt Jarrell, who's been a bookseller extraordinaire for more than 40 years, suffered a brain bleed in July and has just been released from the hospital. He'll be on disability for six months but needs some help with household expenses.

Friends have put together a YouCaring page to help "get Curt back to being a master bookseller, avid reader, and writer!" So far, the effort has raised nearly $1,700 towards a goal of $5,000.

And for publishers, Curt himself added: "My one wish outside of having my expenses covered is that I won't run out of Fall 2017/Winter 2018 ARCs so I'll know what I'll be selling to customers in my new store."

Called "the best friend a book ever had," Curt began his career buying mass market paperbacks for an airport/gift shop in the long-defunct International Hotel near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Then, starting in 1981, he worked at Waldenbooks, at Bibelot and most recently at the Barnes & Noble in Towson, Md., that closed in June. Once he recovers, he has a slot at the B&N in Bel Air, Md.


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obituary Note: Marshall I. Goldman

Economist and author Marshall I. Goldman, "who diagnosed deficiencies in Moscow's economic policies for decades and was among the first Kremlinologists to predict the downfall of Mikhail S. Gorbachev," died August 2, the New York Times reported. He was 87.

"Marshall Goldman counts among the pioneers of American studies of the Soviet economy,” said Paul Roderick Gregory, an economics professor at the University of Houston and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Goldman's books include Petrostate: Putin, Power and the New Russia; The Piratization of Russia: Russian Reform Goes Awry; What Went Wrong With Perestroika; Lost Opportunity: What Has Made Economic Reform in Russia So Difficult?; and Oilopoly: Putin, Power and the Rise of the New Russia.


Notes

Image of the Day: Busy Day at the Source

Source Booksellers in Detroit, Mich., hosted New Press authors Susan Burton (Becoming Ms. Burton) and Paul Butler (Chokehold) for a discussion and signing. It was a busy day--a local city tour also stopped by, and Source owner Janet Webster Jones had to entertain them on the sidewalk because the store was so crowded.


Redmond's Brick & Mortar Books Owners 'Living Their Dream'

"I think half the people I know have had that dream," Dan Ullom told the Seattle Times in a profile of the recently opened Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond, Wash., which he owns with his parents, Tina and John Ullom. The question ("Haven't you always dreamed of owning an independent bookstore?") is a familiar one, as is Ullom's goal to help Brick & Mortar "become what the best bookstores are: a hub for its community."

The Ulloms "know that it's no easy trick to sustain a business like theirs, when they can't offer the discounts available from online booksellers. Instead, they offer a personal touch," the Times wrote. "They're listening to what their customers want--Tina noted that they have greatly expanded their selection of greeting cards, after learning that no other Redmond Town Center store sells them--and are heartened by recent reports that show a rise in independent bookstores nationwide. The anecdotal evidence is encouraging."

"Hundreds of people have walked in the door, saying 'Thank you for being here,' " Tina Ullom said, adding that her bookselling peers have also been an inspiration. At a recent Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association meeting, "everyone said, 'I wake up in the morning and I'm happy to go to work. I love what I do.' "

"You can feel that good vibe at their store," the Times wrote.


'The 15 Coolest Bookstores in America'

"Sometimes the best way to understand a town is to visit its best bookstores," MSN wrote in showcasing its picks for "the 15 coolest bookstores in America." Noting that bookshops "are communal places that offer ideas in a tangible form and a venue for sharing a love of literature," MSN observed: "They add substance to shopping districts and reflect the literary passions and history of their communities, making each one unique and worth exploring even while on a tight vacation schedule."


Personnel Changes at Morrow; Scribner

At Morrow:

Shelby Meizlik has been promoted to the newly created position of v-p, special events and creative strategies for the William Morrow group imprints.

Kelly Rudolph has been promoted to senior group publicity director.

---

Rosie Mahorter has been promoted to publicist at Scribner. She was formerly an associate publicist.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Baron on CBS Sunday Morning

Today:
Fresh Air repeat: Barbara Cook, author of Then and Now: A Memoir (Harper Paperbacks, $16.99, 9780062090478).

Sunday:
CBS Sunday Morning: David Baron, author of American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World (Liveright, $27.95, 9781631490163).


Movie: Eat, Brains, Love

One Tree Hill writing team Mike Herro and David Strauss are the scriptwriters for the film adaptation of Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart. Rodman Flender is directing. Deadline reported that "Gunpowder & Sky first announced that they had signed an exclusive deal with DIGA Studios, an independent production studio founded by former MTV President Tony DiSanto, and Full Fathom Five to develop the teen zombie novel in 2016."

"With years of experience writing and producing successful series across multiple networks, both [Herro] and [Strauss] were a natural fit for Eat, Brains, Love," said Van Toffler, CEO of Gunpowder & Sky.

DiSanto added that the writers "did a fantastic job adapting the source material; the script retains the core DNA of what attracted us to the book, while at the same time creating something fresh and new, injecting into it their truly unique voice. I've also had the pleasure of working with [Flender] in the past on episodes of Scream, and had been a fan prior to that. He is a director with a clear vision and passion for the material. We're thrilled to have this combination of great talent behind this film."



Books & Authors

Awards: N.Z. Prime Minister's for Literary Achievement

Creative New Zealand has announced winners of the 2017 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement, each of whom will receive NZ$60,000 (about US$43,705) "in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature." This year's winners are internationally renowned Māori novelist Witi Ihimaera (fiction), literary historian and fine arts writer Peter Simpson (nonfiction) and popular poet and children's author Paula Green (poetry).

Arts Council chair Michael Moynahan said, "Our congratulations to this year's recipients who are being recognized for their extraordinary legacy of literary achievement. As leaders in their respective crafts, they have engaged New Zealand readers with their story telling and have inspired other New Zealand writers to build on their literary legacy."

In addition, the NZ$100,000 (about US$72,845) Michael King Writer's Fellowship, which is given annually "for a project that will take two or more years to complete," went to author and composer Dr. Philip Norman "to complete a lifetime of work studying New Zealand classical music identifying influential composers, works and performances, and tracing key developments through the decades."


Reading with... Lu Spinney

Lu Spinney's first book, Beyond the High Blue Air (Catapult, August 15, 2017), is a memoir about her son Miles, who, at 29, was in a snowboarding accident that caused a devastating head injury and left him in a coma. The book explores her family's anguish as they come to realize that, although Miles has been saved from death, he has not been brought back to a meaningful life. Diagnosed as being in a minimally conscious state, he eventually made it clear to his family and doctors that he did not want to continue living. A reflection on the current dilemma about the right to die, the memoir was described by Bee Wilson in the Sunday Times as a "profoundly moving and grippingly readable book [that] brings to mind The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

On your nightstand now:

There is a lovely Japanese word for what is on my nightstand now: tsunduko, which describes the pile of unread books that book lovers accumulate. I'm a compulsive book buyer and do eventually get around to reading them, but in the meantime the piles (not only on my nightstand) grow ever higher. Right now some of the pile is Lucia Berlin's Manual for Cleaning Women; I Love Dick by Chris Kraus; Maggie Nelson's Bluets; and Javier Marias's Thus Bad Begins. I'm reading Thomas Bernhard's memoir, Gathering Evidence--I've only just discovered him and am enthralled by his strangely visionary writing, despite its darkness.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I grew up on a farm in South Africa, a long way from anywhere and apart from my dog; books were my only companions. I loved anything to do with animals and also the Wild West (I devoured the Zane Grey novels, like Riders of the Purple Sage). But my special favourite was Rosina Copper by Kitty Barne. Told through the eyes of a young girl, it is the true story of an old, once proud, but now neglected polo pony that is discovered and brought back to health as a prize-winning show jumper. A heartwarming tale of an animal overcoming adversity, it satisfied all my childish instincts.

Your top five authors:

Proust is my all-time favourite author. To say so probably makes me sound pretentious, because I think many people (like I did) feel daunted at the prospect of reading him. I think it is a great pity that his name has accrued such a coating of intellectual snobbery, because he is compellingly readable and intensely rewarding to read. Once you're past the first few pages you are lost in his world and the rest is unputdownable.

After him my top choices have varied with time, but right now it would be W.G. Sebald, Zadie Smith (her nonfiction), Teju Cole, J.M. Coetzee and Elizabeth Hardwick.

Book you've faked reading:

I genuinely have never faked reading anything. Perhaps because I grew up in an unliterary household, where there was never any shame at not having read something. The shame of being caught out loomed worse than admitting my ignorance.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Proust, see above and below!

Book you've bought for the cover:

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald--it has a beautiful cover, but is also a beautifully written book.

Book you hid from your parents:

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence. It was banned in South Africa in the '60s, and I had got hold of a copy and felt proudly rebellious, only to find out that it was the cut and censored version anyway.

Book that changed your life:

I'm torn between Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Middlemarch by George Eliot. I read them around the same time, aged 12. I remember suddenly realizing that reading allowed me to enter other people's lives and understand them in a way nothing else could.

Favorite line from a book:

"...it almost broke my heart too, he thought; and was overcome with his own grief, which rose like a moon looked at from a terrace, ghastly beautiful with light from the sunken day."

It's a line from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I was rereading the book after my eldest son, Miles, had recently suffered a devastating brain injury, aged 29, and he was still in a coma. I found at the time that I was unable to read anything new, but found it soothing to reread old favourites.

That ghastly beautiful moon captured everything I was feeling.

Five books you'll never part with:

Virginia Woolf's diaries (edited by Anne Olivier Bell), which I can drop into at any point and find something dazzlingly fresh; The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle, which makes me laugh whenever I pick it up; Al Alvarez's The Savage God, his extraordinarily beautiful study and reflection on suicide; Dubliners by James Joyce, because of the sheer joyousness and brilliance of the writing; and In Search of Lost Time, Proust's masterpiece, the most illuminating, truthful and life affirming book I've ever read.

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

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy--I would give anything to experience the sheer pleasure of reading that for the first time.


Book Review

Review: Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.

Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle Allen (Liveright, $24.95 hardcover, 256p., 9781631493119, September 5, 2017)

It's not an uncommon story: a young black man gets in trouble with the law and takes a public defender's recommended plea to avoid a stiff sentence. After a decade in prison, he returns to an unfamiliar world as an adult unable to assimilate and support himself. Another arrest, another ticket to prison--and so it goes, until he is either killed or ends up serving a sentence extending long into old age. For Michael Allen, the endgame was a violent death on a street in Los Angeles at age 29. Only in his case, he had help from his older cousin Danielle Allen, a high-achieving elite college dean who clawed her way up from similar working-poor family roots. She observes, "There was no one else. Someone's always gotta be the safety net, and it was my at bat."

With her considerable resources and resolve, Allen guided Michael through enrollment and financial support at Valley Community College, helped him secure a job at a local Sears warehouse, led him through the DMV maze for a driver's license and found him an affordable studio apartment near his job and school. Cuz is her story of Michael's short life and her failed attempt to save him. It is also the revealing portrait of a genial, smart, handsome young man hiding a dark side--his street name and rap sheet aka was "Big Mike." Cuz is biography, memoir, sociological study and investigative journalism rolled into one, a plea for a reasoned overhaul of the criminal justice system to save the next generation of black men.

As Allen (Education and Equality, Our Declaration) shares memories of growing up with Michael, she speculates about what went wrong. How did she earn advanced degrees and professional success while he got busted for an attempted carjacking? With a hospitable, self-deprecating writing style embellished with archival family snapshots, Allen--a MacArthur Fellow and James Conant Bryant Professor at Harvard--puts aside her academic robes to dig through prison records and court transcripts to flesh out her memories of Michael's story. In the process, she learns more about his toying with the Crips and Bloods gangs in the neighborhood, and finds that the affectionate term he called her, cuz, was also a standard Crips salutation. In retrospect, she recognizes that "The light went out of Michael's eyes during his second stint in prison."

Allen's journey into her extended family's past uncovers marital abuse, alcoholism, and a trail of hardship--some of it self-inflicted and some a byproduct of location and circumstances. She doesn't flinch from her unpleasant discoveries, nor does she feel guilt for her absences while pursuing degrees in the Northeast and Cambridge, England. Very personal, Michael and Danielle Allen's family story is also unfortunately common. Cuz effectively straddles this divide, shedding light on an environment that creates too many tragedies and not enough triumphs--too many Michaels and not enough Danielles. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: In a personal exploration of the tragic life of her younger cousin, Danielle Allen uncovers discomforting facts about her family, instabilities in the African American experience and the inadequate U.S. criminal justice system.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Selling a Bookshop, Moving to Scotland

My first encounter with Wendy Welch occurred in August of 2012, when she e-mailed me with a potential news item idea that "just might be weird enough to interest your readers." She and her husband, Jack Beck, were looking for a "bookshop-sitter" to run their Tales of the Lonesome Pine shop in Big Stone Gap, Va., for a couple of months, "someone who is thinking about starting a bookstore 'someday' [and] would benefit from two months at no risk; or someone who doesn't want to own one but always thought it sounded fun to work there could have the experience for their bucket list." I wrote a column about it and, well, it all worked out

Later that year, I met Wendy at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance fall trade show in Naples, Fla. She was on a panel as well as promoting her soon-to-be-published book, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book.

In the years since, we've continued to correspond (often about her extraordinary, lit-themed cat rescue efforts). Earlier this week, Wendy informed me that they've decided to sell the bookstore and move to Scotland. As she put it, "We're headed home. It's time."

Wendy and Jack have a friend in Northern Ireland, Liz Weir, who runs a storytelling and ceilidh barn. "We are going to stay with her once we sell our bookstore and look around for the right property to run our bookstore and ceilidh place in Scotland," Wendy said. "That just means an event center where we can host workshops in music weekends and have some places for people to do Airbnb."

But first, they will be selling all 3,514 square feet of Tales of the Lonesome Pine. The asking price is $199,000 "if we leave the furnishings and such," Wendy noted. "You probably already know this, but if you live inside your business, the floor space equivalent to your living space is tax-deductible from your utility and mortgage bills in Virginia. In other words, the bookstore paid us to live inside it. We've lived upstairs and in the basement, and liked both."

Included with the house are the bookshelves and stock, all appliances "and if they want the beds and bedroom furniture and the cafe tables, that's fine," she added. "It could be fully ready to move into as we're leaving the blinds and stuff like that, but our stuff is from thrift stores, so 'cozy' rather than 'elegant' describes most of the store. Except the front three rooms with the oak and the upstairs sitting room--Jack redecorated those in the style of the 1903 time when the house was built. He wouldn't even use pre-pasted wallpaper; everything had to be of the period. And it is gorgeous....

Jack & Wendy

"I suppose one of my favorite memories of the house itself was when we cleaned out the upstairs apartment and discovered a crack in the wallpaper. Since Jack is a painter and decorator by trade, he started 'excavating' the paper and explaining the trends of the time as stripes gave way to fish gave way to flowers, each in more hideous color combos. We finally got down to wood—solid wood. This shop has great bones." (Jack offered a video tour in 2012)

Beyond the bookshop's physical attributes, however, Wendy cited "the intangible stuff that sounds cheesy when you try to quantify it. We've got a big cheerful supportive community that spins around the bookstore, and they're going to want to like whoever comes next to run it. They will support them as they did us, and help them get things done and make things go, and bring wine and laugh. It's not for sale; it's priceless and free at the same time. If the new owners want to inherit, they can, and if they want to forge a new path, the way is open for big changes. They're going to own the place, all four floors of it." She also said they "walk everywhere" due to the shop's convenient location. 

One of their favorite memories as booksellers occurred "the first Christmas we were here, broke and scared," Wendy recalled, "and Glenn came walking in the door two minutes before closing, snow on his cowboy hat, and handed Jack a bottle of really good Scotch that we could never have afforded back then. He said, 'I don't know what we did for fun before y'all got here.' And the tag said something like an old treasure for our town's newest treasure. After he left we cried. And Jack drank the whisky." 

Conceding that stories about their "first lean hard year might not be the way to sell the place," she stressed that Tales of the Lonesome Pine "does come with a good reputation now, and expectations from the community. We've also been part of a cat rescue that would welcome the next group continuing if they wanted to. Make fun stuff happen. Recommend books. And have fun doing it. That's what we want for the new owners. That and $199K." 

For more information, contact Wendy and Jack via Facebook, the Tales of the Lonesome Pine blog or by e-mail at jbeck69087@aol.com. They have written a great story in Big Stone Gap, and now it's time for the sequel.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now

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