Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 13, 2012

Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Quotation of the Day

Indies 'Provide Service to a Market of Intelligent People'

"Every independent bookstore is facing challenges right now. It affects your marketplace, but it doesn't have to kill you. You don't open a bookstore to make a million dollars.... I don't think customers should have to rescue us. It sounds too desperate. I don't think we're in that position and I don't think that attitude is helpful.... People still really like to hold a book in their hands. We provide service to a market of intelligent people. Even with e-readers and competition from the big chains, we'll do OK."

--Pat Catven, former bookshop owner and now a manager at Canadian indie Perfect Books in Ottawa, from a Citizen article headlined "Independent bookstores say news of their deaths greatly exaggerated."


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Obituary Note: Marion Cunningham

Marion Cunningham, "a former California homemaker who overcame agoraphobia later in life to become one of America's most famous and enthusiastic advocates of home cooking," died Wednesday, the New York Times reported. She was 90.

Ruth Reichl considered the author of classic cookbooks like Learning to Cook, The Breakfast Book and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook a mother figure: "She was the glue that held the nascent food movement together, the touchstone, the person you checked in with to find out who was doing what all over the country."

KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19

Waterstones Loses Operations Director

Steve Clark, operations director for British bookstore chain Waterstones, "has left the company with immediate effect," the Bookseller reported. Managing director James Daunt, who will take over Clark's responsibilities, told staff that Waterstones is entering a "period of very great change."

GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Washington Indie Changes Name & Focus

Congratulations to Snips & Snails & Tall Tales bookstore, Mukilteo, Wash., which held its grand opening last week. Formerly Mukilteo Booksellers, the shop's name was changed by new owner Joni Hardwick "in a nod to the popular nursery rhyme 'What Are Little Boys Made Of?' " the Beacon reported. The shop "has also changed its focus to children's books and activities," but still carries a selection of new and used books, as well as sidelines.

"It's not just a bookstore anymore," said Hardwick. "It's going to be bursting with activity."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Majerek's Reader's World 'Consolidates'

Majerek's Reader's World, Niles, Mich., has closed its doors and "is in the process of consolidating the bookstore into Majerek's Gift Shoppe, located a couple doors away at 213 E. Main St.," the Daily Star reported.

"We decided to combine all the products people expect from Majerek's in the past to be in one location," said owner Tom Majerek. "We opened up (Majerek's Reader's World) about three years ago in the hope that we, Niles, could support two shops, and with all the overhead, one shop is what we can support."

In the former bookstore space, Majerek plans to open a business that "has the working title 'United Niles,' as a local co-op where local people could sell their products," the Daily Star wrote.

"We are trying to create a shop for the people by the people," Majerek said. "It won't be a flea market or a farm market. It will be a nice retail shopping experience with local gifts, food products, arts, crafts--anything that is being made in the Niles area."

Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!


Image of the Day: WALT Is Now Making Books in Santa Cruz

On Wednesday, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., held a launch party for its new Espresso Book Machine, named WALT, which stands for "Writers Accepting Literary Technology" and honors Walt Whitman. Some 250 customers were on hand as the store printed a special edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass, including the preface to the original edition from 1855. Cutting the ribbon: (l.) Casey Coonerty Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz owner, and Sylvie Marie Drescher, the store's Espresso Book Machine consultant.


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Cool Idea of the Day: Bookstore Bike Crawl & Art Show

"Why not spend your Sunday biking to bookstores across the city as part of a bookstore bike crawl?" asked the Chicagoist regarding this weekend's Bookstore Bike Crawl & Art Show. The culture-seeking peloton will assemble at 1 p.m. at Heritage Bicycles, then roll out to Powell's North, the Bookworks, Unabridged Bookstore, Quimby's and Open Books before ending up at Powell's University Village, where the opening reception of the Bike Crawl Art Show will begin at 7 p.m.

Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

Lost in the Stacks: Brooklyn Librarians Rock Out

Lost in the Stacks is a jazz and blues band featuring New York City librarians who play at library branches and festivals across the city, including the Coney Island Blues Festival, the Literacy Banquet at the Central Library and in City Hall Park during National Library Week.

The Daily News profiled the group, formed eight years ago by Jack McCleland, who said, "This gives the people another image of librarians. There's this stereotype of librarians being this older woman with her hair in a bun shushing everyone. We're not like that. We have a lot of very hip and very cool people.”

Lead singer Rita Meade added: "When people are surprised that we're librarians, I think we're surprised. There are a lot of us out there with hidden talents."

photo: Matt Cole/NYDN

ARCs as 'Partially Formed Pod People'

In a blog post headlined "Kill My ARC," Elizabeth Fama, author of Monstrous Beauty and Overboard, shared her thoughts on the issue of advance-reader copy distribution at professional conferences and meetings (as well as what happens post-distribution), observing: "I know the physical ARCs don't belong to me, but the intellectual content does."

Fama added that the ARC for her book "is like the partially-formed pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers--it doesn't deserve to live." With that in mind, she had a request: "So please don't use my ARC for a 'good cause' after you've read it. To me, the ARC is not my book. It's an impostor of the real thing. Kill my ARC."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Walter Isaacson on 60 Minutes

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Jack McCallum, author of Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball (Ballantine, $28, 9780345520487).


Tomorrow on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me: James Carville, co-author of It's the Middle Class, Stupid! (Blue Rider Press, $26.95, 9780399160394). He will also appear tomorrow on Tavis Smiley and MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes and on Sunday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.


Tomorrow on Fox News' Huckabee: D.W. Gibson, author of Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today's Changing Economy (Penguin, $17, 9780143122555).


Sunday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos: James Carville, co-author of It's the Middle Class, Stupid! (Blue Rider Press, $26.95, 9780399160394).


Sunday on 60 Minutes: Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781408703748).

Movies: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Split in Two

Lionsgate will release the film version of Mockingjay, the third book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, in two parts, reported. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will hit theaters worldwide November 21, 2014, followed by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 on November 20, 2015. Catching Fire, based on the second novel, is coming out November 22, 2013.

In other Hunger Games news, Philip Seymour Hoffman has been cast as Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire, wrote.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Pinter; Wole Soyinka Prize Longlist

U.K. poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy won the £1,000 (US$1,543) PEN/Pinter Prize, awarded to a British writer who, in the words of the late playwright Harold Pinter, shows "a fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and societies," the BBC reported. Her most recent collection is The Bees.

"Carol Ann Duffy is a great poet," said judge Lady Antonia Fraser, Pinter's widow. She also praised Duffy's ability "to make important points through her work. She comments on contemporary events directly in a way we do not believe a poet laureate has done before."

In the tradition of the PEN/Pinter, Duffy will share her award with "an international writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs. Duffy will select the winner in association with the English PEN Writers at Risk Committee."


The Lumina Foundation has released the longlist for the biennial $20,000 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. The shortlist will be announced in August, with a winner named September 8. You can see the complete Wole Soyinka longlist here.

Book Brahmin: Mark de Castrique

Mark de Castrique is a film and video producer whose work has aired on PBS, HBO and network-affiliate stations. He is the author of the Sam Blackman mystery series, the Buryin' Barry series and two mysteries for young adults. He lives in Charlotte, N.C. The 13th Target, de Castrique's first stand-alone thriller, was published by Poisoned Pen Press on July 3, 2012.

On your nightstand now:

Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi--I'm enjoying this fresh perspective on the writing process and its relationship to map-making. Both are finding the way into and through the unknown. Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey--I know. I sound pathetically boring. What can I say? I bought this book out of gratitude to my junior high teachers who forced sentence diagramming upon me. Decades later I realize what a treasure those exercises were. Red Shift by Alan Garner--this complex YA novel occurs simultaneously during three time periods in England: the Roman conquest, Cromwell's Civil War and the late 20th century. Geographical location and a stone axe head link the characters across time. I'm realizing it isn't a book to pick up and put down, but requires concentration. The nightstand probably isn't the best approach to appreciate the story.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I went through so many different reading stages. I liked the Jack stories to be read to me. Then at an early age I read The Hardy Boys. In junior high, when not diagramming sentences, I discovered Sherlock Holmes and ripped through the canon in a few months.

Your top five authors:

Tough question. I'll limit the list to favorites of 20th-century genre fiction: Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Highsmith and John le Carré.

Book you've faked reading:

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I guess I don't have the literary chops to get into it. I wound up skimming the end.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Keena Ford series, first chapter books geared toward inner city children and written by my daughter Melissa Thomson. Hey, what Dad would say anything else?

Book you've bought for the cover:

Any Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer. Do you have to ask why?

Book that changed your life:

Books constantly shape my life, so it's a matter of choosing the point in time. This question made me think about how I became an English major in college. I'd placed out of all my requirements except a second-year English lit credit. I thought I'd get that course over first semester freshman year and focus on my math degree. One of the works we read was Milton's Paradise Lost. Most of the class hated it. I loved it. The sheer scope of what Milton created with the epic was amazing. The next semester I didn't take an English class, hated my math class and realized a new meaning for Paradise Lost. I found my way back into the fold, earned a B.A. in English, and 30 years later, returned for my Master's.

Favorite line from a book:

"My receipt," Lucas said. It's the last line of Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust when Lucas Beauchamp has just paid his legal fee in pennies. He stands "intractable and calm" in front of lawyer Gavin Stevens. Exasperated, Stevens asks, "What are you waiting for?" It's probably also the shortest sentence in the book. A few pages earlier, Faulkner interrupts the simple description of Lucas rising from his chair by inserting a parenthetical sentence stretching over two pages. I'd like to see Sister Bernadette's diagram of that convoluted maze of clauses.

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

The Lord of the Rings. Discovering the inventiveness of the Middle-earth landscapes, characters and worldview was a remarkable reading experience.


Book Review

Review: Vlad

Vlad by Carlos Fuentes, trans. by E. Shaskan Bumas and Alejandro Branger (Dalkey Archive Press, $17.95 hardcover, 9781564787798, July 18, 2012)

You expect a literate feast from Carlos Fuentes, but you probably would not have expected him to reanimate the classic vampire genre in Vlad, a playful but genuinely creepy sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula. The 40-something lawyer narrator, Yves Navarro, is summoned by his housebound elderly employer to take on a new client from an old Central European family. Count Vladimir Radu is almost 90 years old, with a 10-year-old daughter. He dresses entirely in black, wears a toupee, a fake mustache and sunglasses. He's looking for a remote house far away from everyone, with all the windows blacked out and a secret tunnel.

Fortunately, Navarro's wife is a real estate agent, and the Count is quickly housed in a nice mountainous neighborhood outside Mexico City. He invites Navarro over for a visit--at night, of course. Fuentes even throws in one of Dracula's signature lines of dialogue ("I never drink... wine"). But just when you want to dismiss him as theatrical cardboard, the long-lived Count causes a shivery chill by  giving Navarro a message to pass on to his wife: "Tell her she left her scent behind."

That's just the beginning, as the Count ("All my friends call me Vlad") begins to undermine Navarro's sense of security. Navarro finds a photo of his wife and 10-year-old daughter posted with thumbtacks at the Count's house. Lied to by the mother of his daughter's best friend, tricked by his employer, deceived by his wife, Navarro stumbles deeper and deeper into terror, always one step behind the vampire-savvy reader, who knows there's a reason the Count's home has no mirrors, every room has drains in the floor, and coffins filled with earth line the underground tunnel.

Painfully short, Vlad never mocks its source material, and if its classic vampire accoutrements (the garlic, the hunchback servant) are occasionally predictable, there's enough reality in Navarro's panicky struggles to save his family to make it uncomfortable and unsettling. Just in case the dinner served to Navarro of animal organs in sauce isn't enough for you, his corrupt employer provides a long, gut-twisting summary of the atrocities of Vlad the Impaler that is (unfortunately) unforgettable. The whole tour de force is a neat little riff on horror staples, swift and sure and scary, respecting its traditions but adding a fatalism and moral corruption that fit perfectly into Mexico City. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: The late Carlos Fuentes's genuinely scary sequel to Dracula, in which the Count moves to Mexico City and menaces a lawyer's wife and daughter.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Summer Reading--Same as It Ever Was

Whether you're lured by headlines promising entertainment (Beach Reads You Can't Put Down; 5 Geeky Beach Reads for this Summer), enlightenment (Beach Reads for Smart People; Brainy Beach Reads for 2012) or even a preemptive cure for beach book self-consciousness (Summer Reads that Won't Embarrass You), there's no avoiding the fact that it's high season for sun-drenched tomes.

Just the mention of "summer reads" or "beach books" can spark myriad reactions, including unbridled enthusiasm over the luxury of reading just for the fun of it; mild concern for good friends who insist on reading bad books; or loud cries of indignation about the end of civilization as we know it due to bestseller feeding frenzy (see Fifty Shades of Grey).

But even a quick perusal of the digital archives offers some intriguing 19th-century perspective. "Same as it ever was," as David Byrne counseled.  

"It is a well-established tradition that reading for the summer must consist of fiction, or other forms of what is called light literature," wrote O.B. Bunce in The Critic (1888). "From May to September the publishers vie with one another in the production of books that are designed to meet the supposed requirements of the season; on all hands we encounter catalogues of 'Summer Books' and suggestions to readers of volumes that are supposed to be light enough to accord with the idle humors and vagrant purposes of summer solstice."

Mr. Bunce suggested "the notion is so prevalent that light reading only should be undertaken in summer, that many a person, I am convinced, struggles to interest himself in a dull novel, sighing wearily over its pages, when by boldly discarding tradition he could in weightier matter find just the stuff that would awaken his mind, stir his faculties, and carry him through the hottest day with satisfaction and pleasure. Ennui may live in a novel, and die in the page of a philosopher."
In an 1885 edition of Friends' Intelligencer and Journal, the morality of youth was said to be at risk from summer reading fare: "There is no season of the year in which there is more trash read than during the midsummer weeks or months, when nearly every one takes some kind of a vacation. People seem naturally and willingly to fall into a sort of literary demoralization then.... Hundreds of young people return from a summer vacation with their literary tastes perverted, filled with unwholesome fantasies, a morbid sentimentalism the result of their unguided summer reading. 'Where we go,' said a lady, 'one has to read trash or nothing.' "

Since this is an election year, it's also worth noting a call for patriotic summer reading in a Baltimore American piece (1887) headlined "Patronize American Books," which scolded: "About this time many people, and especially the ladies, are selecting their reading matter for the summer season. Most of them, although they may wear the most expensive clothes, will buy the cheapest books. They will take the works of foreign authors because they can get them in the ten and twenty-cent reprints, and will ignore American books because they cost a little more. Now this isn't right."

Touting American literature as "full of beauty and strength and interest," the writer suggested that "patriotism, wisdom and self-interest should combine to make us determined to get fully acquainted with this literature.... Any young lady, or old one for that matter, or any young man can in a summer's reading get a very good acquaintance with the literature of this country, and such an acquaintance will be of untold good for the future as well as the present."

For the book trade, 19th century summer challenges included a perennial quest for "cool covers," literally. "Look which way one may the words 'Summer Reading,' 'Outdoor Books,' 'For Tourists,' 'Summer Series,' etc. meet the eye," the American Bookmaker reported in 1888. "It need hardly be said that these books are all complete in one volume, and mostly in paper or flexible covers.... But there is one thing which the book for summer reading should have and that is a cool cover. By cool cover is not necessarily meant a paper one. Some cloth covers have a trim and airy look about them, pleasant to the eye, agreeable to the touch."

The concept of "light" summer books was also on the mind of our friend Mr. Bunce, who concluded: "Light literature for summer reading is a notion that had its origins with men who read little else, but books light in weight are a desideratum that every one feels who wishes to carry his favorite author with him into the fields or the woods." Or the beach.--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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