Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 29, 2011

Sharjah Book Authority: Publisher's Conference

John Scognamiglio Book: In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

Candlewick Press (MA): Better Than We Found It: Conversations to Help Save the World by Frederick Joseph and Porsche Joseph

Parallax Press: How to Live: The Essential Mindfulness Journal (Mindfulness Essentials) by Thich Nhat Hanh, illustrated by Jason Deantonis

Shadow Mountain: Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together by Tara Teaspoon

Berkley Books: The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

MIT Press: Rethinking Gender: An Illustrated Exploration by Louie Läuger


Image of the Day: Caprice and Cinnamilk


Author and TV screenwriter Caprice Crane launched her latest novel, With a Little Luck (Bantam), Wednesday night with a reading at the Barnes & Noble in Manhattan's Upper East Side for an audience of several dozen fans (including her mother, actress Tina Louise). The book's about a Los Angeles deejay with a persistent belief that bad things come in threes who's just come off her second consecutive bad relationship... which makes her extremely skeptical about the new guy who's interested in her. "Well, I do believe things happen in threes," Crane said in response to a question about how much the main character has in common with her, "and I do believe I've had terrible luck with men."

Another audience member asked if she'd ever been approached about creating a real-life version of Cinnamilk, a drink that tastes like the milk left in the bowl after eating cinnamon-flavored cereal that plays a prominent role in her first novel, Stupid and Contagious. "I've NEVER had a reading where people don't ask for Cinnamilk," Crane laughed--and, indeed, the concept seems to have gained traction outside the book; it even has its own Urban Dictionary entry. "One of these days, it's going to be a reality." --Ron Hogan


Camcat Books: Armadas in the Mist: Volume 3 (The Empire of the House of Thorns) by Christian Klaver

World Book Night Coming to the U.S.

Big news in several ways.

World Book Night, which was held for the first time in the U.K. this past March 5, is expanding to the U.S., and the head of it here will be Carl Lennertz. A steering committee is currently being formed. The second World Book Night takes place next April 23, the international day of the book.

Lennertz is leaving HarperCollins, where he has been v-p, retail marketing, for the last eight years, and starts as CEO of the U.S. division of World Book Night on September 1. In a statement, he said: "I have loved everything about my time at Harper--the books, the people, everything. I am very sad to leave, but I couldn't pass up this chance to be a part of such an exciting venture as World Book Night in the U.S. Building on the wonderful success of the first World Book Night in the U.K., we are just at the beginning of our planning here. There will be much more news to report in September, but for now, mark your calendars: April 23, 2012."

Before joining HarperCollins in 2003, Lennertz worked at ABA's Book Sense (now known as IndieBound), where he helped launch it, started the book picks program and national and regional bestseller lists. Earlier, he had been at Random House for 16 years, starting as a sales rep and eventually becoming marketing director for Knopf, Pantheon and Vintage. Before that he worked in bookstores for five years.

World Book Night founder Jamie Byng commented: "We always hoped that World Book Night would become a global initiative that truly lived up to its name. And so having the American book industry embrace it so wholeheartedly and Carl Lennertz coming to join the World Book Night team is helping that dream become an even more far-reaching reality."

During the first World Book Night, some 20,000 people gave away a million specially printed books--40,000 copies each of 25 titles. "Givers" selected one of the 25 titles and handed out 48 copies of it to whomever they wanted on World Book Night. The featured books included Life of Pi by Yann Martel, New Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Beloved by Toni Morrison. For the U.K. division, the 25 titles that will be promoted next year will be announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.


She Writes Press: Canaries Among Us: A Mother's Quest to Honor Her Child's Individuality in a Culture Determined to Negate It by Kayla Taylor

Notes: Borders Selling Name, Too; Northshire Going Solar

Borders Group wants to sell its brand names, logos, Internet domain name, membership and customer lists and other "intellectual property" at an auction on September 14, it revealed in papers filed in bankrupty court. The auction will be to either a single bidder or multiple bidders. Borders called the properties "valuable assets" and said that it has already received "multiple inquiries from interested parties." Borders wants to sell the assets soon because of ongoing maintenance costs for them, particularly, and because some of the information will lose value over time.

Borders plans to appoint a "consumer privacy ombudsman" to deal with privacy issues concerning information about the company's customers--to be sure that all sales uphold its privacy policies.


Beginning tomorrow, Fred Meyer Stores will begin selling Barnes & Noble Nook e-readers at its 132 stores, which carry food, clothing and general apparel and are in the Pacific Northwest. Besides B&N, retailers selling the Nook include Books-A-Million, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Staples. 


Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vt., is going solar. Owner Chris Morrow plans to add photovoltaic panels to the store's roof this fall if the project receives its permits, the Rutland Herald reported.
"I estimate that it'll offset about 10% of our electricity use, maybe a little more," he said. "We’ll have a monitor on the sales floor in our 'sustainability' section which will show the public how much it's generating at any one time.... So part of it's going to be an educational function."

Morrow told the Herald he is planning to take advantage of other federal and state programs that promote renewable energy. "Through bookselling, I'm trying to bring in some of my environmental interests," he said.


Check out what may be the first live tweeting (with photos) of a marriage proposal in a bookstore, as recounted by the Bay Citizen. The event took place in Omnivore Books, San Francisco, Calif. Our favorite of the tweets: "SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Book trailer of the day: Keep Our Secrets by Jordan Crane (McSweeney's McMullens), a November children's title, in which the author demonstrates how, thanks to thermal ink, some black parts of the board book reveal images when rubbed.


"During summer vacation, part of me wants to spend my hard-earned sheckles traveling the world and eating amazing food. The other part of me just wants to lie on the couch with a good book. Now... I can do both," noted NPR's Susan Gilman in recommending five new food memoirs that "are about love affairs with food, and the journeys that led their authors into the kitchen."


"I discovered The Lord of The Rings in Lagos one sweltering summer," Claire Armitstead writes in the Guardian's new "Summer Readings" series, which asks writers "about their most indelible holiday book encounters."


"Houses for Books: Five Architecturally Impressive Libraries" were showcased by Curbed, which noted: "Until each and every book is catalogued on the Internet for consumption on a Kindle we're going to need libraries, so they might as well look good."

--- suggested five "great vacation spots where book lovers can unwind and while away the hours"


Dear Dean. If you needed some advice, wouldn't On the Road's level-headed Dean Moriarty be your first choice to ask? Flavorwire followed up last week's literary advice from Miss Havisham with some pointers from the road warrior himself.

First question: "You are a child of the rainbow who bears his torment in your agonized priapus. You are Oedipus Eddie, scraping bubble gum off of windowpanes. What do you have to say for yourself?"


From muggle to snozzberry, Lil Chase, author of Boys for Beginners, chose her top 10 unwords for the Guardian. "Making up words is essential when creating a new world--Tolkien went so far as to invent a whole language of Elvish and should be applauded his dedication," she wrote. "But all books create a world, even if that world is a modern-day high school in the suburbs of Northampton. Slang changes rapidly. The best way to ensure colloquial words don't date is by being original. When writing for children, publishers scrutinize swear words, but you can worm your way round the censors by inventing new profanity."


Did you know that American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis may be the favorite book of someone who "secretly thinks you're an idiot?" The Awl showcased "favorite books of the secretly jerky," as suggested by the Hairpin's Molly Shalgos.


Breakthrough books. Wary Meyers featured a "basement stacks" installation created for the VIA Advertising Agency in Portland, Ore. The company "recently renovated and moved their offices into the old Baxter building, which served as Portland's public library from 1888 until the 1960s."


Effective immediately, Diamond Comic Distributors will distribute Cryptozoic Entertainment's Walking Dead Board Game to the book market worldwide. The Walking Dead Board Game is based on Robert Kirkman's comic and AMC-TV series The Walking Dead.

Cryptozoic was founded last year and publishes comics, games and trading cards and is best known for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.


CamCat Publishing: The Darker the Skies (Earth United) by Bryan Prosek

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Maureen Hancock, Psychic in Suburbia

Tomorrow on the Style Network's Style Exposed series: the premiere of the one-hour documentary Psychic in Suburbia, which features medium and psychic Maureen Hancock, author of The Medium Next Door: Adventures of a Real-Life Ghost Whisperer (HCI, $14.95, 9780757315640).


Barefoot Books: Save 10%

Books & Authors

Awards: World Fantasy Nominees, Achievement Winners

The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011, honoring people who have shown "outstanding service to the fantasy field," are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer. They will be celebrated at this year's World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30 in San Diego, Calif.

Beagle is best known for The Last Unicorn and for the screenplay he wrote for the animated film of the same name. He works include his first novel, A Fine and Private Place, his YA novel Tamsin and his recent story collection, Sleight of Hand. Gorodischer, who lives in Argentina, is best known for her short story collection Kalpa Imperial.

Also, nominees for the World Fantasy Awards in eight categories have been announced and can be voted on by members.

Book Brahmin: Camilla Läckberg

Camilla Läckberg grew up in Fjällbacka, on the west coast of Sweden. Though she'd always wanted to be a writer, she studied economics at Göteborg University. After attending a crime-writing course organized by the writers' association Ordfront, she began the story that came to be her debut novel, The Ice Princess, which was published in Sweden in 2003. That was followed by a book a year, with the seventh book in her series about Fjällbacka residents Patrik and Erika just published in Sweden. Her second book to be published in the U.S. is The Preacher (Pegasus Books, April 2011). 


On your nightstand now:

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly. I am a huge Michael Connelly fan, as is my husband, and I was absolutely thrilled to meet him during Thriller Fest last summer at Otto Penzler's bookstore, the Mysterious Bookshop, in New York City.

Favorite book when you were a child:

This is a fairly common answer amongst Swedes I am afraid: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. There is even a museum devoted to Astrid and the Pippi series now!

Your top five authors:

Siri Hustvedt, Michael Connelly, Ann Rule, Val McDermid and Peter Robinson. Getting blurbs from Ann and Val was an incredibly fulfilling moment for me as a writer, and as a reader, too. I have been reading Ann for so many years, and she has been a huge influence on my work.

Book you've faked reading:

Everything and anything by Kafka.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This is my biggest reading experience ever, and it's actually the only book that makes me jealous. I wish so badly that I was the one who had written it!

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I was about 11 or 12 when I saw this in the bookstore. And it was so beautiful I just had to have it. I remember there were these gorgeous shells painted in lush pastel on the cover, and I just had to own it.

Book that changed your life:

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. This was the first Agatha Christie I read, and I actually believe that is when I decided to become a crime writer. When a review in a magazine called me "the Agatha Christie of modern times," it was the best compliment I have ever received. (Well maybe except when my husband once said I looked like Megan Fox... liar!) 

Favorite line from a book:

"Frankly my dear I don't give a damn." The lady certainly has attitude. I was a teenager when I read Gone with the Wind and I desperately wanted self-confidence and attitude like that. But it didn't rub off on me, unfortunately. I was no Scarlett O'Hara--I was a very meek bookworm with thick glasses and braces. 

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

The Secret History by Donna Tartt.


Book Review

Book Review: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin Press, $25.95 hardcover, 9781594202995, August 23, 2011)

Every sentence that Alexandra Fuller writes in this sequel to her memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight displays such candor, sincerity, intimacy and unashamed delight in the eccentricities of her family that she renders all the Fullers irresistible. The reader is captivated by their humor, courage under fire, perseverance and overarching love for the land they've made their own: Africa.

At first glance, one might consider Nicola Christine Victoria Huntingford Fuller and Timothy Donald Fuller indifferent or careless parents and alcoholics, perhaps certifiable. A closer look reveals a great love story, huge amounts of loyalty and forgiveness, a capacity to come back from heartbreak so deep that the mind cannot fathom it and a dogged belief that they have a home in Africa--where they fit better than in England or Scotland, where they were born.

Alexandra is not given much quarter by her mother, who says things like: "You know, you're just like Christopher bloody Robin. That wretched child also grew up and wrote an Awful Book even after all those lovely stories and poems his father wrote for him. He went on and on about what a rotten parent A.A. Milne was and about how A.A. Milne hadn't hugged Christopher bloody Robin enough."

Nicola herself was reared by adventuresome parents: her mother, who had a "charmed and feral childhood," and her father, who "taught himself engineering and was hired to build the branch railway line from Eldoret to Kitale. 'He had a donkey for transport," Mum says, "but the donkey fell in love with a herd of zebra and ran away to be with them. After that Dad had to use a bicycle.' " These are people of bottomless resources in the face of any adversity.

And adversity came in large doses. The family moved around Africa, running from war, running from the loss of three children. The only survivor other than Alexandra is her older sister, Vanessa, whose eccentricity is her insistence that she cannot read. Nicola suffered periodic bouts of absolute madness, but continued to hope that the next move would be the right one. With each move, Bobo, as she is called by her family, gives us a list of what went along: the family menagerie, always considerable; "Mum's collection of books, the two hunting prints, linens, towels, the bronze cast of Wellington and the LeCreuset pots." When asked why they kept going back, Nicola says: "It was Africa, that was the main thing--we wanted to go back to Africa. We longed for the warmth and freedom, the real open spaces, the wild animals, the sky at night."

The perfect equatorial light of Africa is mentioned several times and, at the end, sitting under the Tree of Forgetfulness on their banana and fish farm in Zambia, Fuller helps us see it. Within it, her parents are finally at home. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A captivating sequel to Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, this story of Alexandra Fuller's parents is one of love and loss in equal doses, all backlit by the red African sun.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Golf in the Kingdom Plays Through

There are books that take a long time to make their way from page to screen, and then there is Michael Murphy's Golf in the Kingdom. Earlier this week, the New York Times explored the 40-year journey to adapt and film what many golfers consider "practically a sacred text" about a young philosophy student on his way to an ashram in India who spends a pivotal day at Burningbush Links, where he is captivated by a mysterious Scottish golf guru named Shivas Irons. The film opens for an exclusive New York engagement today (details of the national release will appear on the movie's Facebook page).

Golf in the Kingdom is--and I simplify because simplification is the point (though complexity is the point as well)--about life as a journey and not simply a headlong rush to a destination. "A round of golf partakes of the journey, and the journey is one of the central myths and signs of Western man," Shivas writes in his journal. "We tend to see everything as part of the journey. But other men have not been so concerned to get somewhere else--take the Hindus with their endless cycles of time or the Chinese Tao. Getting somewhere else is not necessarily central to the human condition."

The narrative of Michael's life-altering day with Shivas Irons at Burningbush is Part One of Golf in the Kingdom. Part Two consists of the narrator's "attempt to make sense of some passages which I was fortunate enough to copy from his journals." Section headings include The Mystery of the Hole ("In no other game is the ratio of playing field to goal so large.") and How the Swing Reflects the Soul, in which Shivas considers artist Hieronymus Bosch as a golfer: "Ye can see it when ye look at the picture o' Hell in his 'Garden of Earthly Delights.' "

What can I tell you? It's complicated. So how do you get all this and more into a movie?

"I've been waiting for this a long time," Murphy, who is 80, told the Times. "I had got to calling Golf in the Kingdom the world's longest virtual movie, coming soon to a mind near you."

I bought my first copy of the book in 1972, when it was published by Viking, and have read it a thousand times. I've waited decades for this movie, and now I'm almost afraid to see it because of the version that has played in my mind all these years.

The film was shot at Bandon Dunes, a golf resort in Oregon "that looks more Scottish than much of Scotland," the Times noted. Stephen Goodwin wrote about the course in his book Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes, an "account of how golf enthusiast Mike Keiser turned his vision into one of America's premiere golfing locations," as Algonquin's blog noted in its own anticipatory post about the movie.  

Good journeys take patience and vision.... and time. The novel itself has had an interesting journey, given its status as a 40-year-old book that is still in print and being read.

There have been other golf books in my reading life. Pete Dexter's Train is great, and every passage about golf in a Walker Percy novel is a treasure ("The first sign that something had gone wrong manifested itself while he was playing golf."). But Golf in the Kingdom and I have been on the course together for a long time.

Just another journey, as Shivas Irons might write--and did, fictionally speaking, when he noted that if a round of golf "is a journey, it is also a round: it always leads back to the place you started from... golf is always a trip back to the first tee, the more you play the more you realize you are staying where you are.... you reenact that secret of the journey. You may even get to enjoy it."

Years before I bought my first copy of Golf in the Kingdom, I was just a 14-year-old kid who needed a summer job and found one as a caddie at a nine-hole course in a nearby town. I remember how terrified I was at first, wondering how the hell I could possibly do this when I knew nothing about golf. Then the caddie master showed me a set of clubs, with numbers on the heads, and said that if the golfer asked for a 9-iron, I just had to reach for the one stamped 9. Eureka! A monkey-brain job, I thought, though I still screwed up as soon as the first guy I caddied for asked, "How far to the green, son?"

A long way, man--a lifetime's journey, and then some. --Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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