Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


Politics and Prose Opening Branch in Union Market

Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., is opening a branch in the Union Market district in Northeast Washington, joining other retailers in "a row of soon-to-be renovated warehouses" next to the indoor market that was revived several years ago, the store announced. The new location is expected to open this fall.

This marks the revered bookstore's first freestanding branch operation. Last week, Politics and Prose said that it was shutting down its remaining bookselling operations in several Busboys & Poets restaurant/community centers in the capital, which was its first foray into regular bookselling outside its longstanding store. (In a statement about the Busboys & Poets shift, the store said it planned "to announce some other initiatives soon.")

The new store will be smaller than the main store "but big enough to carry a wide range of books and non-book items," the store said. Politics & Prose plans to host author events and other literary programs in the area, creating what it calls "a new, Metro-accessible destination for people interested in meeting writers, enjoying books, and engaging in conversation." Some author talks will be held in event space attached to the new store while larger ticketed events will take place in the Dock 5 Warehouse venue and elsewhere in Union Market. Politics and Prose also hopes to have classes, workshops and children's activities in the neighborhood.

"Union Market stood out to us as a vibrant neighborhood with a rich history in a part of the city currently underserved by bookstores," said Bradley Graham, owner, with his wife, Lissa Muscatine, of Politics and Prose. "It has great potential to become a thriving literary community."

Steve Boyle, managing director of Edens, the company revitalizing the Union Market area, commented: "Politics and Prose is a unique brand in the city, let alone the country. They are best in class in their space, nationally recognized, and locally owned. An aggregator of community for a number of years and longtime friends of Union Market."

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

New Owners for Otto's Bookstore, Williamsport, Pa.

Otto's Bookstore, Williamsport, Pa., one of the oldest bookstores in the country, has been bought by Kathryn Nassberg and her husband, Isak Sidenbladh, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported.

"The staff will stay on and the location will remain the same," Nassberg told the newspaper. "We will work hard to ensure that Otto's remains the book-lover's paradise that everyone knows and loves. That history is extremely important to us and we look forward to serving the community to preserve Otto's as the landmark destination it has been for generations."

In January 2016, longtime owner Betsy Rider had put the store up for sale. Founded in 1841 as a business that sold books, window shades, wallpaper and insurance, Otto's has been in the Rider family since Betsy Rider's father, Jacob Roesgen, bought the store in 1928 after working there for many years. She and her mother took over the business in 1958, when her father died. She told the Sun-Gazette that she had mixed feelings about the sale: "I am very much relieved that there are good buyers who will keep the clientele happy and on the other side it's not my store anymore." Rider has worked in the store for 60 years.

Betsy's son, Tom Rider, will continue working at Otto's. The new owners said, "We feel that it is very important to have the Rider family as a part of Otto's. They have been the face and the heart of the store for over a century and their dedication to the community has been tremendous."

The Sun-Gazette wrote that Nassberg's family has been a part of the community for more than 200 years and has been friendly with Rider's family. Sidenbladh is a native of Sweden and his family owns "one of the oldest continuously running book publishers in Scandinavia."

"It seemed like a natural fit," Nassberg commented. "My family has been loyal customers of the store for decades. I have fond memories of visiting the store as a child, just as my mother did years before."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Random House Marketing Restructures

Because "our marketing operation needs a more dynamic structure to ensure our consumer is at the core of our marketing strategy," Random House has created a new department structure that aims to let the team "focus on creating and executing unique marketing campaigns that are not only reader-centric, but also promote cross-functional collaboration," Sanyu Dillon, executive v-p and director of marketing, wrote in a memo to staff.

The related following appointments have been announced:

Leslie Prives has been promoted to the newly created position of senior director, integrated marketing operations. She joined the company as director of digital marketing in 2015 and earlier worked at Digitas and Ogily CommonHealth. She will head the new integrated marketing operations team, which includes the creative services department, copy department, audience development and marketing technology department and the newly formed digital campaigns & media planning department.

Maxwell Minckler has been promoted to director, marketing insights and analytics. He joined the company in 2014 from Disney Interactive.

Obituary Notes: Denis Johnson; Brian Doyle

Denis Johnson

National Book Award-winning author Denis Johnson, "whose novels and short stories about the fallen--junkies, down-and-out travelers, drifters and violent men in the United States and abroad--emerged in ecstatic, hallucinatory and sometimes minimalist prose," died May 24, the New York Times reported. He was 67. Although Johnson published a book of poetry, The Man Among the Seals, at 19 and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Iowa, "addictions to alcohol and drugs, including heroin, derailed him.... Johnson initially believed that sobriety would damage his creativity, but later realized that his addictions were not fueling much writing."

"I finally figured it only meant I'd be writing three paragraphs less a year because I'd only written two stories and 37 poems in almost a decade," he told New York magazine in 2002.

By the early 1980s, "he was sober and had begun a prolific few decades, turning out novels, plays, poetry and journalism," the Times noted. His books include Angels, Jesus' Son; Tree of Smoke, which won the 2007 National Book Award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist; Train Dreams, a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer; Nobody Move; and The Laughing Monsters.

"Denis was one of the great writers of his generation," said Jonathan Galassi, Farrar Straus & Giroux's president and publisher. "He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was."

Alex Bowler, his U.K. publisher at Granta, called him a "singular writer and author of at least two immortal masterpieces.... His writing was so vital and distinct. It never patronized the reader and was work of such sympathy and energy. He was a genius."

In a New Yorker magazine tribute, Tobias Wolff wrote: "I need hardly say that his is one of the most distinctive voices in our literature, and that he has written work that will abide--Angels, Fiskadoro, The Incognito Lounge, Jesus' Son, and more. That voice, though--the inventiveness and exactitude and dark underlying wit, sometimes flowering into startling bloom, as when the mad, drug-addled orderly Georgie, in the short story 'Emergency,' having been asked what he does, replies, 'I save lives.' "


Brian Doyle

Author Brian Doyle died on Saturday from complications related to a brain tumor, the Oregonian reported. He was 60.

Doyle wrote "Mink River, the Oregon Coast novel beloved by book clubs nationwide; Martin Marten, the Oregon Book Award-winning novel about a boy and a pine marten growing up side by side on Mount Hood; and books about pinot noir, Catholicism, and the heart, to name just a few more," the newspaper said.

"He spun sometimes puckish, sometimes heartfelt short stories about life's follies and oddities ("Bin Laden's Bald Spot"), humorous yet poignant essays ("Children and Other Wild Animals"), and prayers that were less about a particular faith than about universal compassion and gratitude ("Prayer for Cashiers and Checkout-Counter Folks")."

His most recent book, The Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World: A Novel of Robert Louis Stevenson, was published by Thomas Dunne Books in March.

Doyle also was the longtime editor of Portland magazine, the University of Portland publication, and earlier was an editor at U.S. Catholic magazine and Boston College magazine. He also wrote regularly for the Sun magazine, the Daily Guideposts website and other publications. He was a friend and supporter of many in Oregon's literary community.

Broadway Books, Portland, where Doyle read "dozens of times," is paying tribute to the man who it said "has given the universe hundreds of thoughtful and gorgeously written essays and almost as many books" by donating 20% of its sales tomorrow to a GoFundMe campaign to retire the mortgage on Doyle's house to help his wife and children. At 7 p.m., "Brian's good friend Robin Cody will be reading at the bookstore, along with another Ooligan author, Brian Friesen…. In addition, both Robin and Brian are donating the profits from the sales of their books that night to the fund. Also, an anonymous (and very kind) donor has offered to match the Broadway Books donation to Brian's fund!"

Recently Doyle wrote this "Last Prayer," a wonderful example of his energy, wit, humor, tenderness and heartfelt love:

Dear Coherent Mercy: thanks. Best life ever.

Personally I never thought a cool woman would come close to understanding me, let alone understanding me but liking me anyway, but that happened!

And You and I both remember that doctor in Boston saying polite but businesslike that we would not have children but then came three children fast and furious!

And no man ever had better friends, and no man ever had a happier childhood and wilder brothers and a sweeter sister, and I was that rare guy who not only loved but liked his parents and loved sitting and drinking tea and listening to them!

And You let me write some books that weren't half bad, and I got to have a career that actually no kidding helped some kids wake up to their best selves, and no one ever laughed more at the ocean of hilarious things in this world, or gaped more in astonishment at the wealth of miracles everywhere every moment.

I could complain a little right here about the long years of back pain and the occasional awful heartbreak, but Lord, those things were infinitesimal against the slather of gifts You gave mere me, a muddle of a man, so often selfish and small. But no man was ever more grateful for Your profligate generosity, and here at the very end, here in my last lines, I close my eyes and weep with joy that I was alive, and blessed beyond measure, and might well be headed back home to the incomprehensible Love from which I came, mewling, many years ago.

But hey, listen, can I ask one last favor? If I am sent back for another life, can I meet my lovely bride again? In whatever form? Could we be hawks, or otters maybe? And can we have the same kids again if possible? And if I get one friend again, can I have my buddy Pete? He was a huge guy in this life--make him the biggest otter ever and I'll know him right away, okay?

Thanks, Boss. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. See You soon.

Remember--otters. Otters rule. And so: amen.


Image of the Day: Three-Fer at Village Books

Authors Garth Stein (Enzo & the 4th of July Races), Suzanne Selfors (Spirit Riding Free) and Kevin Emerson (Last Day on Mars) visited Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., on May 25 for a special three-author children's storytime event.

'Lit 50': Chicago Book World List Honors Many Booksellers

Newcity Magazine's "Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago" includes the owners, directors or founders of nine Windy City bookstores, and one of them--Sarah Hollenbeck, co-owner of Women & Children First, is on the list twice, both for her work at the store (cited along with co-owner Lynn Mooney) and as co-curator of the Conversation, the monthly cultural and political discussion held at the store formed in January in response to the Trump election.

Others on the Lit 50 list: Kendra Curry-Khanna, executive director of 826CHI; Suzy Takacs, owner of the Book Cellar; Nina Barrett and Jeff Garrett, owners of Bookends & Beginnings; Stacy Ratner, founder of Open Books; Eric Kirsammer, owner of Quimby's Bookstore and Chicago Comics; Jeff Deutsch, director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores; and Rebecca George and Kimberly George, owners of Volumes Bookcafe.

In its introduction to the list, Newcity wrote: "The literary community of Chicago has long responded to political and social change and this year is no exception. Public funding is being stripped from arts, humanities and science institutions that foster America's generative creativity and imagination. In anticipation, writers, bookstores and literary enterprises began the year with Writers Resist, a citywide flexing of creative voices against a president who has made clear his narrow and faulty view of Chicago. It's a year where independent bookstores, when confronted with Amazon's brick-and-mortar plans, banded together to remind readers and consumers that buying local helps retain communities. It's a time when the first national museum dedicated to writers comes to town, when the city comes together to celebrate the centennial of the late Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, when young people gain sustenance from the biggest slam poetry festival in the country and our independent publishers continue to shape conversations across the nation."

Novelists/Booksellers Handselling Summer Reads

"In the spirit of driving discovery," the New York Times asked six "novelists in the independent book[selling] business what they are reading and recommending to customers this summer." The writing handsellers included Emma Straub of newly opened Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Ann Patchett of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn.; Jonathan Lethem of Red Gap Books in Blue Hill, Maine; Jeff Kinney of An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Mass.; Louise Erdrich of Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, Minn.; and Judy Blume of Books & Books in Key West, Fla.

Personnel Changes at Carson-Dellosa; Casemate Group

Noelle Ebner has joined the Carson-Dellosa Publishing Group as v-p of sales. She has 25 years of experience in educational publishing, including more than 15 years as director of sales at Scholastic (teacher resources division) and four years as director of sales with Frank Schaeffer Publications.


Samuel M. Caggiula has joined Casemate Group as U.S. Group publicity director. He formerly held executive positions at the Franklin Library, the publishing division of the Franklin Mint; Running Press Book Publishers, where he helped launch Running Press Kids; Rowman & Littlefield Publisher Group; and Skyhorse Publishing. Recently he worked for digital publisher YourTango and consulted with Southard Communications.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Senator Al Franken on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: Mike Tyson, co-author of Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus D'Amato (Blue Rider Press, $28, 9780399177033). He will also appear on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Harry repeat: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines, co-authors of The Magnolia Story (Thomas Nelson, $26.99, 9780718079185).

Fresh Air: Senator Al Franken, author of Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (Twelve, $28, 9781455540419). He will also be on the View and CBS This Morning.

Daily Show: Dr. Elizabeth Ford, author of Sometimes Amazing Things Happen: Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward (Regan Arts, $27.95, 9781941393437).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Ben Falcone, author of Being a Dad Is Weird: Lessons in Fatherhood from My Family to Yours (Dey Street, $25.99, 9780062473622).

CBS This Morning: Douglas Brunt, author of Trophy Son: A Novel (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250114808).

Harry repeat: Holly Robinson Peete, author of Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express (Scholastic, $17.99, 9780545094689).

The View: Chelsea Clinton, author of She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (Philomel, $17.99, 9781524741723). She will also be on the Today Show.

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Matt Frazier, co-author of The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts--and the Rest of Your Life (The Experiment, $24.95, 9781615192663).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Gabourey Sidibe, author of This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544786769).

Books & Authors

Awards: Rathbones Folio; Restless Books Immigrant Writing

Hisham Matar won the inaugural £20,000 (about $25,680) Rathbones Folio Prize, recognizing "the best work of literature, regardless of form, written in English and published in a given year," for The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, which was also a Pulitzer Prize winner this year. The judges said The Return "shows what a novelist at the top of his game can do with nonfiction. It gives the reader the same aesthetic, the same satisfaction of the great literary works that enter our lives and stay with us forever."


Finalists have been announced for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, honoring "a debut work of nonfiction by a first-generation immigrant." The winner receives a $10,000 advance and publication by Restless Books in print and digital editions. This year's finalists are:

King Leopold's Daughter by Mona de Vestel
Far from the Rooftop of the World by Amy Yee
The Body Papers by Grace Talusan
The Fifth Season by Nikita Nelin

Book Review

Review: The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing

The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing by Margot Livesey (Tin House, $15.95 paperback, 224p., 9781941040683, July 4, 2017)

Literature lovers looking for a better understanding of their favorite works as well as writers who are struggling to create good literature will find new insights in Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing. Margot Livesey (Mercury) is an admired writing teacher and a graceful and perceptive writer, the author of eight novels. This collection offers her experienced opinions and insights on the mechanics of writing fiction, novels in particular. It is also a memoir of her development as a writer in the context of her life and relationships. She describes her early misunderstandings and errors in composing fiction, and how she has moved from unconscious to conscious choices of techniques.

Livesey discusses the pleasures and dangers of research, how suspense is created and sustained through a novel, how to construct and use memorable "round" and "flat" characters, and the use of dialogue vs. scenes. In one chapter, she considers the relationship between fiction and the real world, and the choices to be made between the extremes of neatly constructed fiction such as Pride and Prejudice, and what she calls "antifiction"--more chaotic and vague stories full of historical detail, such as Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. "As soon as we start to connect the lives of our characters with the real world, we are taking a step toward making our fiction sound like antifiction."

Much of her teaching is by example, using walk-through analysis of classic novels and stories such as Madame Bovary, Persuasion, A Passage to India and The Portrait of a Lady. She distills useful advice from authorities such as Aristotle, Francine Prose, E.M. Forster and offers "sixteen golden sovereigns" of advice that she has extracted from reading Shakespeare. Bad writing can also be educational in her experience, but the main thing is to read with careful attention to how an author succeeds and fails. "For the practicing artist, influence requires a more active engagement. We must work to be influenced." There are many good books on the art of writing, but even those who have a collection of favorites will appreciate these clear and thoughtful essays on writers and the architecture behind their art. --Sara Catterall

Shelf Talker: Admired writer and teacher Margot Livesey combines memoir, analysis of classic works and discussion of techniques in this useful and enjoyable essay collection.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Buttons and Pain by Penelope Sky
2. Fallen Crest Forever (Fallen Crest Series Book 7) by Tijan
3. Rescuing Kassie (Delta Force Heroes Book 5) by Susan Stoker
4. Dating-ish (Knitting in the City Book 6) by Penny Reid
5. Boys South of the Mason Dixon by Abbi Glines
6. The Jack Noble Series: Books 4-6 by L.T. Ryan
7. Duke of Manhattan by Louise Bay
8. The Wright Boss by K.A. Linde
9. White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte
10. Sex God by Marie Force

[Many thanks to!]

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