Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 27, 2017

Yen Press: The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station by Takeshi Murase, Translated by Guiseppe Di Martino

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

St. Martin's Press: Sacrificial Animals by Kailee Pedersen


Books Are Magic Opening in Brooklyn May 1

For author Emma Straub and her husband, graphic designer Michael Fusco, owning an independent bookstore had always been something of a fantasy, something that they imagined doing later in life, if at all. That changed last October, however, after they learned that the owners of their beloved, local indie BookCourt were retiring, and closing the store at the end of the year. After that, Straub recalled, things "happened rather fast." Now, she and Fusco are gearing up for the opening of their own independent bookstore Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, on May 1.

"When we learned that they were closing, we thought, oh, it's not someday, it's now," said Straub. "It's just been full steam ahead since October. We are very much in the business of becoming a business."

Straub and Fusco will open Books Are Magic in an 1,800-square-foot storefront in a section of Cobble Hill that borders the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill. The store will sell new books for all ages, with about 1,000 square feet of selling space for adult titles and 800 square feet for children's books. After looking at only two locations, Straub and Fusco knew that they had found the right spot for their store; she described it as "unique" and said they loved that it was "not just a vanilla rectangle" but an "eccentric, warm space" with lots of exposed brick and big arched windows.

"We knew that we wanted it right away," recalled Straub.

Michael Fusco and Emma Straub

The inventory for Books Are Magic is still being put together, with Straub so far doing the buying while Fusco is managing the construction. Straub said she's building the inventory one book at a time, and compared the process with "choosing what to name your child many thousand times in a row." She's gotten help and advice from sales reps, distributors and other Brooklyn indies, including WORD Bookstore and Greenlight Bookstore, about how big the initial orders should be. Some of the titles that Straub is particularly excited to stock and sell include Maile Meloy's novels Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter; Robert Sullivan's nonfiction books The Meadowlands and Cross Country; and the poetry of Camille Rankine, Morgan Parker and Ocean Vuong, for adults. For kids, she's excited to sell "as much Carson Ellis as humanly possible" along with the work of Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl, Jon Klassen and many more. Added Straub: "I could go on forever, of course--that's why I'm opening a bookstore."

As for sidelines, Fusco and Straub are designing a lot of the merchandise for the store themselves; Fusco is a graphic designer, and both he and Straub used to work for the band the Magnetic Fields making and selling band merchandise. The store will offer customized gear such as pens, mugs and tote bags, along with cards and a larger selection of sidelines for kids. At the moment, Straub said that there are no plans for any kind of food or drink service, but noted that she has "strong feelings about baked goods" and may keep a jar of chocolate chip cookies at the counter.

Once Books Are Magic opens, Fusco will be at the store every day. Straub, meanwhile, said she will be there less frequently, and be most involved with organizing events and doing outreach. They are also currently hiring, with the plan being to have around eight or nine staff members in addition to themselves. Straub has already started booking events; the first official event will be a signing on May 9 with J. Courtney Sullivan, whose new novel, Saints for All Occasions, is going on sale that day. Others include cookbook-focused events with Matt Rodbard and Julia Sherman, a visit from Michael Chabon tied to the paperback release of Moonglow this fall, and a variety of kids' programming. When asked about a grand opening celebration, Straub answered that their plans for the opening are "only grand in that we plan to be open as soon as possible," and that when they do have a party, it will be more of a "Surprise! We're open!" sort of thing.

Prior to starting the process of opening a store of their own, Straub and Fusco had, in their fantasies of bookstore ownership, entertained the idea of taking over BookCourt once the owners retired. They both felt a deep connection to the store: they were close with the owners and shopped there frequently, and Straub had worked for four years there as a bookseller.

"We always had the fantasy that when they were ready we would take over," said Straub, "because it was our place, and we loved it."

Though that hasn't come to pass exactly, they are working to carry on BookCourt's role in the community and attempting to fill the void left in its absence. Straub reported that community members are thrilled that they're opening a bookstore so soon after BookCourt's closure, and the response has been even better than anticipated.

"We knew people were going to be relieved that there was still going to be a bookstore in the neighborhood," she said. "But I truly did not anticipate the monsoon of excitement." --Alex Mutter

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New England Mobile Book Fair Aims to Move, Downsize

New England Mobile Book Fair, Newton Highlands, Mass., is planning to move from its current 32,000-square-foot space to something "significantly smaller," about 4,000 square feet, the Boston Globe reported. The store's lease is up at the end of the month, and "revenues have been dropping year after year," Tom Lyons, who bought the store in 2011, told the newspaper. He had 36 employees and is now down to 22. "With one or two exceptions, large independent bookstores just can't exist anymore," he said.

Lyons plans to whittle down his inventory of a million volumes and carry more children's books, which now are 50% of inventory, and bolster mysteries, fiction, history and cookbooks. He'll shed some categories that don't sell as well anymore, including business, humor, sports, religion and self-help.

In a Globe followup, Lyons said that news of the move had resulted in many calls from people "who have space that they want me to look at. It's gratifying there's that kind of support."

One example: Boston City Councilor Matt O'Malley, who "has happy childhood memories of visiting New England Mobile Book Fair with his mother," told the paper that he hopes the store will move to West Roxbury. "It's one of my favorite places and it would be the perfect complement to our business district."

GLOW: Torrey House Press: Life After Dead Pool: Lake Powell's Last Days and the Rebirth of the Colorado River by Zak Podmore

At Age Three, the Wild Detectives in Dallas Makes Changes

The Wild Detectives, the bookstore, café and bar in Dallas, Tex., has celebrated its third anniversary with several changes: it's inviting "the Dallas literary community to choose the books that will be sold in the store," the Dallas Observer wrote; it hired Lauren Smart to head a revamped literary events program; and it's changing its hours, opening later in the morning and extending bar hours on Saturdays "to keep the literary conversations going."

The Wild Detectives bar will now be open until 1 a.m. on Saturdays, rather than until 12 a.m., and the store will open now at 10 a.m. rather than 8:30 a.m.

Lauren Smart, who headed the store's month-long festival Women Galore last year, will focus on the store having one event per week rather than several, and specialize in events that are "more interactive and discussion-focused" than traditional author readings, q&as and book signings.

The idea of having more book selections from "literary friends" grew out of the store's annual December request of people to send their best picks for books, movies and records, Andres de la Casa-Huertas, brand director for the Wild Detectives, told the Observer. The recommended books tended to be titles that hadn't been released during the year, books from "their own personal to-read list."

So now the focus is on "a broad selection of titles people have found relevant in one way or another," he continued. "All in all, we wanted to pay more attention to those books that people would like to read over the fast-paced rotation of titles that the industry imposes."

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Hachette U.K. Launches 'The Future Bookshelf'

Hachette U.K. has launched "a new diversity initiative" called the Future Bookshelf, "a creative writing hub... to make publishing more accessible for writers who feel they aren't well represented by the industry," the Bookseller reported. The initiative is designed to guide users of the website through the process of writing, editing, submitting and publishing, and will offer monthly tips and shareable infographics from its authors and other experts. The Future Bookshelf is part of Hachette's "Changing the Story" program.

"As publishers, the books we produce should reflect the diverse society we live in, but in order for that to happen the industry needs to be open and accessible to all people, from all backgrounds, " said Kate Craigie, assistant editor at Hachette imprint John Murray. "That was the motivation behind The Future Bookshelf: to utilize the expertise of our authors and industry insiders to reach out to the authors of tomorrow and give them the opportunity to share their writing with us."

Obituary Note: Joanne Kyger

Joanne Kyger, "a leading poet of the San Francisco Renaissance and a rare female voice of the male-dominated Beat generation," died March 22, the Chronicle reported. She was 82. Kyger wrote almost 30 collections of poetry, beginning with The Tapestry and the Web (1965). In Time: Poems 2005-2014, published by City Lights Publishers, she "showcased themes informed by her longtime practice of Zen Buddhism and her concern for the environment," the Chronicle noted. Her prose collections include Strange Big Moon: Japan and India Journals 1960-1964 (1981). She had been working on a new book, There You Are: Interviews, Journals, and Ephemera, which will be published in September by Wave Books.

City Lights publisher Elaine Katzenberger said Kyger "was a trailblazer, fearless and full of insight. Her poetry has influenced generations of younger poets, and there are many in the Bay Area and beyond who will be missing her fierce humor and generous mentorship."

Kyger's circle included poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, as well as the man who would be her husband, from 1960 to 1964: Gary Snyder. The couple lived in Japan and traveled throughout India with the poets (and partners) Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, the Chronicle wrote. She returned to California in 1964.

"She was very much a poet of daily life and of nature," Garrett Caples, Kyger's editor at City Lights, told KQED. "And she used those as a vehicle to get in touch with more metaphysical questions.... The place of poetry has shifted so much in our culture versus when the beats were in their heyday. So she's the last in the group of poets thought of as not simply as poets but also commentators on world affairs."


'Inside London's Oldest Bookshop'


An inside look at the "positively Dickensian" Hatchards, London's oldest bookshop, was offered by Londonist, which noted that the shop "was opened by a chap called John Hatchard in 1797, and has been in its current Piccadilly home for over 200 years.... You're unlikely to find a tome for sale in here that you wouldn't find anywhere else in London, but for books with a side of nostalgia, head to Hatchards. On a drizzly day, with the sound of buses splashing through the puddles outside on Piccadilly, it's a warming place to be."

'The 10 Most Unconventional Bookstores In the World'

"Is there any place better than a bookstore?" asked Bustle in offering some advice to booklovers: "So check out some of the most unconventional bookstores the world has to offer. And then visit your local indie bookseller, because it's always the right time to buy more books."

Personnel Changes at IDW Publishing, Sourcebooks

Michael J. Martens has joined IDW Publishing as director of trade sales, where he will act as IDW's liaison with Penguin Random House Publisher Services, which, effective in April, will be the company's distribution partner for trade paperback and hardcover titles to the book and mass markets.

He had been a consultant to IDW and before that worked at Dark Horse Comics, where he held a variety of positions, including v-p of marketing, v-p of business development and v-p of trade sales, until resigning last year. His comics career began in 1982 at Capital City Distribution, where, as one of the first employees, he was simultaneously transportation manager, sales manager and v-p of customer service.

"Michael was, and continues to be, a key player in pioneering the graphic novel category in libraries and bookstores," IDW president and COO Greg Goldstein said. "His expertise and unparalleled relationship with our new distribution partner will give IDW an even greater advantage for continual success and steady growth in today’s competitive market."


Kay Mitchell has been promoted to assistant publisher at Sourcebooks, a new position focusing on business opportunities--for the next year, particularly new initiatives and strategic marketing communications in the e-commerce division. She was formerly manager, office of the publisher. She joined Sourcebooks in 2005, working in the editorial department, then as assistant to the publisher, and in children's marketing and publicity.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tressie McMillan Cottom on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Mo Gawdat, author of Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy (North Star Way, $25.99, 9781501157554).

Today: Lilly Singh, author of How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life (Ballantine, $26, 9780425286463).

Also on Today: Rachel Dolezal, co-author of In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World (BenBella, $24.95, 9781944648169).

Fresh Air: Tressie McMillan Cottom, author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (New Press, $26.95, 9781620970607).

Live with Kelly: Andrew McCarthy, author of Just Fly Away (Algonquin, $17.95, 9781616206291).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Jay Chandrasekhar, author of Mustache Shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and Other Adventures in Comedy (Dutton, $27, 9781101985236).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel (Random House, $28, 9780812995343).

Good Morning America: Siphiwe Baleka and Jon Wertheim, authors of 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed-Out (Touchstone, $16.99, 9781501129773).

Dr. Oz: Keke Palmer, author of I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice (North Star Way, $24.99, 9781501145391).

Daily Show: Helene Cooper, author of Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451697353).

TV: The Handmaid's Tale

Hulu has released a new trailer for its upcoming series The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel, Deadline reported. The project stars Elisabeth Moss in the lead role. She is joined by Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, Ann Dowd, Amanda Bruge, Madeline Brewer and O. T. Fagbenle. The Handmaid's Tale premieres on Hulu April 26.

"I think the book's been around for 35 years, and every time someone reads it, they say, 'Wow, this is timely,' " showrunner Bruce Miller said recently. "And I think one of the things that is the most interesting about the book is how relevant it is all the time; that there are aspects of the book and people pick out different aspects of the book that really ring true for them."

Books & Authors

Awards: J. Anthony Lukas; Shaughnessy Cohen

The winners and finalists of the 2017 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards, administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard are:

The J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize:
Winner: Gary Younge for Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives (Nation Books)
Finalist: Zachary Roth for The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy (Crown)

The Mark Lynton History Prize:
Winner: Tyler Anbinder for City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Finalist: Adam Hochschild for Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Award:
Winner: Christopher Leonard for Kochland (Simon & Schuster)
Finalist: Helen Thorpe for The Newcomers (Scribner)


The Writers' Trust of Canada has named the five finalists for the C$25,000 (about US$18,690) Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which recognizes "a book of literary nonfiction published the previous year that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life." The winner will be announced May 10 in Ottawa.

Book Review

Review: Oola

Oola by Brittany Newell (Holt, $16 paperback, 272p., 9781250114143, April 25, 2017)

Lush, edgy, lyrical, bad-ass, pensive, taxing--it's hard to paint Oola into a picture that captures its striking prose and fearless curiosity about identity and obsession. In performance artist, drag queen, recent Stanford graduate and Pushcart nominee Brittany Newell's first novel, 25-year-old Leif is shaking off a "screamo and Foucault" adolescent past, "sewing Situationist patches to our jackets with dental floss" while housesitting for his moneyed New England family's network of friends with empty domiciles around the world. Oola is a striking six-foot music student raised by a metal band roadie and casino hostess "in a dinky town north of L.A., just around the corner from Neverland Ranch." They meet at a hipster London flat party; and with the impulsiveness of unencumbered youth of means, they take off on a global romance in great houses across Europe, the Middle East, Canada and, finally, at a remote cabin in Big Sur.

As the sparkle of discovery shines on the hidden pleasures of sex, drugs, food, conversation and the mysteries of each other, Leif becomes obsessed with Oola's body and habits, turning his observations into what he envisions will be a novel of celebration. He boasts: "I loved to watch Oola in the shower.... I came to memorize her postures, the hygienic loop (rinse, wash, repeat) that, like prayers of digestion, lent me a glimmer of infinity via the banal."

Deftly managing her narrator's adulatory voice, Newell eases her narrative from the lovers' giddy days when they "binge on rice and Siracha... play Twister on the porch by starlight... [and] sit on the porch in the morning, butt-naked, reading the paper," to when Leif becomes helplessly fixated: "I loved her mosquito bites, which pulsed radioactively under my lips.... I traced her scabs with my thumbnail and interrogated her bruises." Leif begins to wear Oola's tossed-aside clothes, blossoming into a streak of transvestitism as she retreats into insomnia, moonstones and "iron-fortified breads and blocks of cadaver-colored tofu." Five drafts into his manuscript, Leif seems to know neither himself nor Oola, as she falls into a dangerous downward health spiral and senses finally, "That's me. Never the poet, always the trope."

Like Leif's book, Oola is a novel of discovery--ever shifting and digging deeper. It is a diary, a romance, a dark trip over the edge. Capturing today's zeitgeist of an experimental, hungry, indulgent youth, it also harkens back to the masculine, queer, trippy work of William Burroughs and Hubert Selby. But Newell is very much her own woman, even with a male narrator who reflects, "I loved like no one else did, I went where no one dared to go. I planted my flag in the moon--then I swallowed it whole.... I went into a certain wild and things got wild indeed." Still, make no mistake. As the title suggests, this is Oola's story--not Leif's. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Fearlessly exploring the nuances of gender, sexuality, obsession and identity, Brittany Newell's first novel is a wicked, lyrical trip into self-discovery.

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