Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 1, 2017

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Editors' Note

Happy Labor Day!

Because of the Labor Day holiday, this is our last issue until Tuesday, September 5. Enjoy the long weekend!

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Quotation of the Day

'Serendipity in Stores'

"Retail is critical for us because it is the experience. Our books really have to be discovered.... There is some serendipity that happens at a store...."

--Tyrrell Mahoney, president of Chronicle Books, in an interview on Marketplace

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura


'Parnassus on Wings': Parnassus Opens at Nashville Airport

Parnassus Books, the Nashville, Tenn., bookstore founded in 2011 by author Ann Patchett and Karen Hayes, has, in association with Hudson Group, opened a branch at Nashville International Airport. The 915-square-foot store is at the intersection of Concourses A and B in the terminal, in space where Hudson had a store. The Parnassus Books store at Nashville Airport offers "a hand-picked collection, including the latest fiction and nonfiction releases, a wide range of bestsellers and favorites, plus local and regional titles and staff recommendations."

"As someone who spends about a third of my life in the Nashville airport, I've had a lot of time to dream about a branch of Parnassus Books on the concourse," Patchett commented. "There are few things I hate as much as not having the right book for the plane. With Parnassus in the airport, no Nashville traveler will have to worry about not having something great to read."

Hayes added: "The Nashville airport is already a welcoming hub full of local flavor. It makes perfect sense to extend that hometown vibe to the airport bookstore."

This marks the third expansion for Parnassus. In 2016, the main shop nearly doubled in size, to 5,000 square feet. Also last year, the store rolled out its bookmobile, a book truck it calls Parnassus on Wheels. "Think of the airport store as 'Parnassus on Wings,' " Hayes added.

Hudson Group has similar joint airport relationships with other independent bookstores, notably Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif.; Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.; and Bookworks of Albuquerque, N.Mex. Hudson and Hudson Booksellers have locations in more than 80 airports and other transportation centers across the country and offer a wide selection of books.

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Fake News? B&N Sale Rumor

Yesterday, shares of Barnes & Noble rose 6.9%, to $7.75, on rumors that the company was working with financial advisors to sell the company. But as has happened several times in the recent past, the rumors appeared to be false.

A B&N spokesperson told Benzinga that the company is "not engaged in a sales process."

The rumor began with a DealReporter report that B&N was working with Guggenheim Securities in talking to potential suitors, including Apollo Global Management and Platinum Equity.

Benzinga pointed out B&N has worked with Guggenheim since at least 2013, adding, "The rumors follow pressure by activist investor Sandell Asset Management Corp. urging the board to perform a strategic review and consider a sale."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Bookstores on the Move: Ellen Plumb's and Gulliver's Books

In mid-August, Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore, Emporia, Kan., moved across the street to 1122 Commercial St., because of "maintenance issues with the old space that caused damages to books," the Bulletin reported.

Marcia Lawrence, who founded the store last year, said, "We had an unfortunate event, a lot of rain and a leaky roof... and a landlord who wasn't taking care of the building. Those things combined to create a loss of over $3,000 worth of books."

Another benefit of the new location is that it "provides more area for a wider display of books and bookstore gift items for customers," the Bulletin wrote.

Members of the Emporia High School football team helped Lawrence move the store.


On October 3, Gulliver's Books, Fairbanks, Alaska, is moving into smaller quarters, according to webcenter11. The store is offering 30% off all books. The lease at its current location ends this month.

Co-owner Bryan Wiskeman said there are "a multitude of reasons" for the move, "but basically declining sales over the last few years are forcing us to downsize between the current state of the economy and people's changing shopping habits. We've just had a decline in sales and we have to respond to that. Reducing our inventory, obviously we're going to need to take our shelves from here to over there. They've got to be mostly empty to do that. At some point we'll start taking the inventory over that we want for the new store."

In May, Gulliver's closed its Second Story Café and put the store up for sale. Bryan and Christy Wiskeman, who bought Gulliver's in 2012, added that they were exploring other options besides a sale.

Amazon Opening Warehouse in Salem, Ore.

Amazon plans to open a million-square-foot warehouse in Salem, Ore., the company announced. Employees will handle larger items, such as sports equipment, gardening tools and pet food.

Three months ago, Amazon announced it was opening a warehouse in Troutdale, for which, the Portland Business Journal noted, Amazon is receiving a five-year tax abatement worth close to $9.6 million.

Amazon also operates a sortation center in Hillsboro and a Prime Now hub in Portland.

As usual, local and state officials gushed about having Amazon open a warehouse. Governor Kate Brown said, "Amazon's continued expansion in Oregon means more jobs and bright futures for the Oregonians who work there and live in the surrounding communities. I'm committed to making sure Oregonians can build the skills to work alongside innovative technology and continue their education at the same time."

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett said, "We're excited to welcome Amazon to Oregon's capital. This is great news for our local economy and small businesses. Salem is looking forward to partnering with Amazon to create innovative jobs and develop a lasting relationship with our vibrant community."


Image of the Day: Remembering Hue 1968

On Tuesday, Mark Bowden (r.) visited Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., to talk about his new book, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Atlantic Monthly Press). He was joined by (from l.) Vietnam veteran Mike Downs, Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and Vietnam veteran Andrew Westin. The stories of both veterans--who were at the Battle of Hue--are in the book.

Congratulations, East Bay Booksellers!

Evans, Reid and Johnson signing the paperwork to make the store's transition official.

Last night, John Evans and Alison Reid formally turned over ownership of DIESEL in Oakland, Calif., to Brad Johnson, longtime manager of the store, which is now East Bay Booksellers. They posted this note to customers.

Dear Reader,

This is our last note to you from #1 DIESEL, in Oakland. At midnight tonight DIESEL in Oakland becomes East Bay Booksellers, with Brad at the helm.

It has been indescribably wonderful being your local booksellers for the last 28 years. The community you've welcomed us into and that we've created and maintained together has been so important to us, and still is! (We will continue to live in the neighborhood, so we will still see you around--but no longer behind the counter, or shelving books.)

Thanks so much for all of our conversations; for the events that we've shared; for the love of books and recommendations we've exchanged; and for keeping reading, and writing, and all of our imaginations alive in times that have challenged our humanity and our conviviality.

As we have often written: 'Thank you for supporting the fragile ecology of free speech which independent bookstores help to sustain.' Thank you, again, for this too.

As many of you know, DIESEL can be found in Larkspur, and in Southern California, in Brentwood. We look forward to seeing you there. But for those of you who stay close to home and live in or near Rockridge--enjoy the new East Bay Booksellers, with the same wonderful booksellers who have been working for DIESEL the last few years. They will carry on that most-wonderful of East Bay literary traditions: the fine art of independent bookselling.

We will be having a joint party on Saturday September 23rd. Please come by to share stories and toast the past, present and future. Hope to see you there.

With Gratitude,

Alison & John

Happy 30th Birthday, Raven Book Store!

Congratulations to the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan., which is turning 30 this month and will celebrate with a week of festivities starting on Friday, September 8. That evening the store will welcome customers with free food, drinks and live music, and all books from 1987, the year the store opened, will be 30% off.

The rest of the weekend will see Alyssa Nutting drop by on Saturday for a reading of her new book Made for Love, and on Sunday the Raven will host an off-site event with Romalyn Tilghman, author of To the Stars Through Difficulty. On Tuesday, September 12, Raven will launch The River Bank by University of Kansas writing professor Kij Johnson. And on Thursday, September 14, authors Denise Low and Dennis Etzel will read from their new books, A Casino Bestiary and This Removed Utopia.

Personnel Changes at Avid Bookshop

At Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.:

Managers have been hired for both stores: Caleb Huett is the Five Points shop manager and Elizabeth Willis is the Prince Avenue shop manager.

Hannah DeCamp has been promoted to the new position of children's book manager. She'll continue to handle school orders, school book fairs and school author visits but will also begin buying for the kids' sections in both shops.

Rachel Watkins has been promoted to the new position of communications manager. She was formerly events director.

Rachel Kaplan has been promoted to events director. She was formerly events assistant.

Kerri McNair is now a part-time events assistant in addition to working regular bookselling shifts.

Tyler Goodson, formerly general manager of Avid Bookshop, is now an inventory manager, focusing on buying adult frontlist and backlist for both shops.

Will Walton has also become an inventory manager, helping with ordering, being the point person for publisher returns, and continuing to stock the poetry and small press sections.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ginger Zee, Graham Norton on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Ginger Zee, contributor to Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America, edited by Larry Smith (Kingswell/Disney, $15.99, 9781368008389).

Also on GMA: Graham Norton, author of Holding: A Novel (Atria, $25, 9781501173264).

TV: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Season 2

A Season 2 trailer was released for BBC America's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, based on the novels by Douglas Adams, that "reveals that Dirk (Samuel Barnett) and his pal Todd (Elijah Wood) will be reunited by the law," Indiewire reported. "Meanwhile, Todd's sister Amanda (Hannah Marks) appears to have figured out how things are connecting also. And it's very quick, but we're happy to see the corgi has returned as well as Bart (Fiona Dourif) looking a little bit sooty and the newly bearded Ken (Mpho Koaho). There's also a prince with pink hair."

Books & Authors

Reading with... Albert Flynn DeSilver

photo: Stephanie Mohan

Albert Flynn DeSilver is the author of several books of poems and the memoir Beamish Boy. His latest book is Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life (Sounds True, September 1, 2017). He teaches writing and mindfulness workshops at the Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, Shambhala Mountain and writing conferences nationally.

On your nightstand now:

The Old Coyote of Big Sur: A Biography of Jaime De Angulo by Gui de Angulo. It's a fun (if not particularly well-crafted) read about the life and drama of the great mytho-poetic-anarchist-cowboy-linguist and his life and times in early 20th-century northern California and Big Sur, which inspired the likes of Henry Miller, Kerouac and the rest of the Beats.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. I was recently on my way to the Balearic Islands (off the coast of Spain) when I stumbled upon this book set in Southern Spain about a young woman who takes her ailing mother to a special clinic to help her heal. It was described as "beautiful and menacing." Sign me up. I am working on my second novel, which is also about a traumatic relationship between a mother and daughter, and so I relished the read and was not disappointed. The writing is wry and precise, cutting and brilliant with characters as crisp as the Mediterranean light.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. This is the first book I remember sweeping me away, and which sparked an emotional response to an imagined world.

Your top five authors:

Besides poets? Too hard to limit to five, but here it goes: Federico García Lorca for his exquisitely weird and beautiful imagery cast into song (even in translation--preferably by W.S. Merwin). Gertrude Stein for her musicality, improvisation and innovation with language. Paul Auster for his strange and compelling storytelling, tragic, obsessive, emotionally complex characters and his fantastic settings. Richard Brautigan for his wacky, unexpected emo-poetic-magic. Marguerite Yourcenar for her erudition and mytho-poetic sensibilities. I also love Ian McEwan, Sherman Alexie and a zillion other writers.

Book you've faked reading:

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. War and Peace: I lifted it up, admired its heft, held it in my hands for a long time feeling the weight of the war and peace, let it seep in and realized, I'm good! Jane Eyre: I couldn't get past the weird spelling of "air," so I carried it to the café and used it instead as a fan. My wife read The Brothers Karamazov, and afterward, I gave her an especially big hug, and then it was as if I had read it myself.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke--obviously too classic to say anything further about. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is a contemporary take on the story of the Buddha (who cares if Hesse was a little off); it exposed me and a million other people to Buddhism. The Crystal Text by Clark Coolidge: How do you write 150 pages of un-catagorizeable text that's not really a poem, a memoir or a story, but more of a riff on perception, beauty and language--and get away with it? The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera taught me how much the deeply personal is so very political, and that repression lies hidden and not so hidden at the very edges of democracy. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr is exactly as titled and highly quotable. This book is a must for any writer looking to write a memoir. Mary Karr is one of the most insightful poetic writers of our time; I love her so much that I decided to open Writing as a Path to Awakening with a quote from her book, "To tap into your deepest talent, you need to seek out a calm, restful state of mind where your head isn't defending your delicate ego and your heart can bloom open a little."

Book you've bought for the cover:

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy: a beautiful woman in a red bikini is lying on a shadowed staircase at the edge of a dark sea. At the end of the day, I am but a simple beast. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown: big, bold, colorful text splashed across the cover. They Called Her Styrene by Ed Ruscha. Just that, all the story you need. This is a collection of his visual text pieces, many of which are only a couple words leading to a vast, richly imagined world in the viewer's head.

Book you hid from your parents:

They taught me to read everything and anything; there was nothing to hide.

Book that changed your life:

One Night Stand & Other Poems by Jack Spicer. I had been in a graduate MFA program in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute and went to my first poetry reading where poet Paul Hoover read a line from Spicer's Imaginary Elegies--"the poet builds a castle on the moon made of dead skin and glass"--and I freaked. I thought that was the weirdest, most beautiful thing I ever heard. And that very night I started writing. Within a year or two, I gave up the camera for a pen.

Favorite line from a book:

"The poet builds a castle on the moon made of dead skin and glass." --Imaginary Elegies by Jack Spicer

Five books you'll never part with:

See above, plus Moon Palace by Paul Auster, The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens, The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram, Sensitive Chaos by Theodor Schwenk, The Revenge of the Lawn by Richard Brautigan, the collected poems of Emily Dickinson, Whitman, Lorca, Neruda, Cendrars, O'Hara, etc.

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

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar. This is such a smart and wonderful book, reimagining the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world. I read it almost 15 years ago after an artist friend had mentioned it several times, and I'm due to be re-immersed in such depth of erudition and poetic beauty! While reading, I love to imagine Yourcenar's life up on Mount Desert Island, Maine, writing away in solitude while surrounded by beauty.

Book Review

Review: Best Day Ever

Best Day Ever: A Psychological Thriller by Kaira Rouda (Graydon House, $26.99 hardcover, 352p., 9781525811401, September 19, 2017)

This uncomfortably creepy thriller from Kaira Rouda (The Goodbye Year) capitalizes on the current buzz about the prevalence of narcissists and psychopaths, and will surely leave readers wondering how well they really know their loved ones.

Paul Strom, lifelong resident of "this politically decisive, coastally deprived state" of Ohio, seems at first glance like a relatively normal, if somewhat arrogant, husband and father. A successful advertising executive in Columbus, Paul proudly provides for his beautiful stay-at-home wife, Mia, and their two boys. Lately, though, his marriage has turned distant. Paul blames Mia's anxiety over her inexplicable weight loss and fatigue, as well as rumors of his infidelity--which he assures both Mia and the reader are pure fabrications. He plans to spirit Mia away for a perfectly planned getaway at their cabin on Lake Erie, the ideal romantic retreat, and give her the best day ever. However, Mia seems not only disengaged but downright tense on the drive to the lake, and Paul's increasingly patronizing and entitled attitude--toward Mia, his former mentor at work whom he helped out the door, and even his supposedly beloved home state ("no-till farming, pro-fracking, pro-GMO, pro-Monsanto")--begins to signal something beyond mere egotism. By the time Paul and Mia reach their cabin, readers will realize Paul is not the doting husband he appears and wonder what he really has in store for his wife. Mia, on the other hand, has a few surprises of her own.

Rouda understands that true horror comes from that skin-crawling feeling when ordinary life suddenly looks not quite right. Just as Mia cannot escape from Paul, Rouda's use of him as narrator means the reader is in too deep to get away as his apparent normalcy morphs into paranoia and cruelty. The risk he poses, to his wife as well as their neighbors, acquaintances and even his own children, gives one the urge to shout "run!" at every human being who comes into contact with Paul. Rouda smartly grounds the story with plenty of detail about Ohio, which Paul describes with a native authority that lends depth to his character and reality to the setting. Though the feeling of seeing through the eyes of a monster may not suit every reader, adventurous thriller lovers and fans of Lee Irby's Unreliable will find Best Day Ever a similarly mind-twisting walk on the sinister side. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A husband plans the perfect weekend for his wife, but his pretense of romance hides dark truths.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Labor Day & a Broken Gold Pen that Still Works

"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

--Gary Snyder, "Hay for the Horses"

In 2010, I saw one of my life and literary heroes, Gary Snyder, walk slowly to a podium and gaze out at an audience of at least 600 writers, writing instructors, writing students and writing program administrators before reading from his work at an AWP conference in Denver, Colo.

"I can't believe how big this is," he said. "Go for it, kids. America needs more good writers," 

Like many people, I stumbled on Snyder's work in the early 1970s by way of Jack Kerouac's novel The Dharma Bums, in which he was loosely reimagined as the character Japhy Ryder. I still have my copy of Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems. I picked it up back then for $1.50 and read "Hay for the Horses" for the first of hundreds of times.

Monday is Labor Day.

Work. I'm 67 and I haven't "bucked hay," literally or figuratively, all my life. Over the past 25 years, I was a frontline indie bookseller for a long time, and then an editor at Shelf Awareness. Prior to that, I worked as a freelance writer/specialty food sales rep (two years), a windsurfing trade magazine editor (five years) and a freelance writer/prep cook (five years).

I bought Riprap in '71, just before my senior year in college. I was working part-time at a Grand Union supermarket in my hometown. The following spring, the store manager offered me a full-time position "until you figure out what you want to do with your life," as he put it. Nine years later, I was still there, doing a good job, but thinking: I sure would hate to do this all my life.

In 1979, I published a poem in a tiny literary journal called Lacuna and made what seemed at the time like a logical professional decision: I should figure out a way to write for a living. I didn't know any other working writers, but I thought it was a now or never situation if I was ever going to stop "bucking hay."

That fall, I gave a month's notice and my supermarket co-workers threw a party to wish me well in my glamorous new career as a writer. They didn't know exactly what that meant. I pretended I did know. We drank a lot, remembered good work stories and bad, and they gave me a small, gift-wrapped box that contained a gold Cross ballpoint pen. It had an inscription. On one side was "R.H. Gray 12-20-79" and on the other "1116," which was the store's corporate identification number.

And now, almost 40 years later, I hold that same Cross gold pen in my hand. It hasn't worked for decades and I've never tried to fix it. No, I take that back. As an icon, it has never stopped working. Grand Union store #1116 was once my work space; as was the frigid apartment where I lived during my first winter as a "full-time" writer; as was the café where I took a job as a prep cook just three months after leaving the grocery world. Writing, I quickly discovered, was scary work; scarier than the supermarket.

A decade ago, I taught an English Comp. course at a local community college for awhile. Many of my students had lousy jobs or were unemployed; just looking for a break, another chance, a fresh start, whether they were 23 or 43. Work was one of the things I asked them to write about. We read Snyder's "Hay for the Horses" and Philip Levine's "What Work Is" together. They already knew what work was. Levine's poem is intricate, but they worked their way through it with me. If a poem can be "gotten," some of them got it. And if they never read another poem, they really read that one.

In a Paris Review interview, Levine described Detroit in the late '80s as a city where "nothing grandly heroic is taking place... Nothing epic. Just the small heroics of getting through the day when the day doesn't give a shit, getting through the world with as much dignity as you can pull together from the tiny resources left to you. It's the truly heroic."

I get that. As a bookseller, I naturally loved handselling, but I also took pleasure in stocking shelves and in the awareness of my fingers dancing instinctively across a keyboard, ringing up purchases during a rush. It was an echo of my Grand Union days, and even before that, in high school, of working part-time at an A&P store. Customers would line up at my cash register because I was fast and accurate... and proud of it.

I've been lucky in my work, even if I didn’t always know it at the time. I've still got that Cross gold pen. And Labor Day is one of my favorite holidays.

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

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