Also published on this date: Thursday, February 27, 2020: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Trowbridge Road

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 27, 2020

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


Former Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs CEO Opening Bookstore

Richard Peddie, former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the professional sports and commercial real estate company that owns both the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs, is opening a bookstore in Amherstburg, Ontario, in June, CBC reported.

The store, called River Bookshop, will reside in a storefront that dates back to 1885 and will carry some 6,000 books at opening. Peddie plans to restore the shop's exterior to look as it did in the late 19th century, and wants the interior to have a "Victorian new and now" design, with a fresh, airy look, a fireplace, comfortable seats and book wraps with movable ladders.

"I really believe that small communities need great libraries and great bookstores in this day and age," Peddie told CBC. "I'm investing in the community, and if that costs me a little bit of money, that's fine."

Peddie is still in the process of building the store's opening inventory, and recently consulted with representatives from major publishing houses to get a sense of what he should stock. The general-interest store will include sections on social issues such as climate change and racial equality. This week Peddie hired Lori Wightman, a former resource assistant at Amherstburg's Carnegie Library for more than 16 years, to be the store's lead bookseller.

"I am excited for the opportunity to be in on the ground floor building an amazing Bookshop in Amherstburg," Wightman said. "It combines all my favorite things--getting books, reading books, and recommending books."

Wightman is now looking to hire several bookseller associates to work at River Bookshop.

"Especially in the United States, independents are really coming back, and they're coming back here too," Peddie said. "It's coming back and if you do the right things, I'm hoping that what we're doing is going to help bring it back."

Amherstburg is on the U.S. border, several miles south of Detroit, Mich.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Books & Barrels Coming to Longview, Tex., this Spring

Books & Barrels, a bookstore and wine bar, will open later this spring in Longview, Tex. The 2,500-square-foot store will sell general-interest titles for all ages, and will feature a bar offering local wines and draft beer from a local brewery.

"I always thought it would be neat to open a bookstore, especially since we don't have many places to buy books in our city," said Laura Nevils, one of the store's three co-owners. She'll be opening the store in partnership with her husband, Chad Nevils, and mother Joanna Burrows.

"We've always been avid readers and I want to share that with others," Nevils continued. "Wine wasn't always a part of the plan, but it didn't take long. We have a lot of friends that enjoy wine, so we thought it was a great idea."

While none of the three partners has experience in bookselling, Laura Nevils has a business background, Chad Nevils had a career in oil and gas, and Burrows has a background in medicine. Nevils said she's always had a dream to open a bookstore, and her husband has been supportive. She added: "I thought it would be nice to include my mother because we do so much together already."

When asked how she decided that now was the right time to open an independent bookstore, Nevils answered that "we didn't really decide," and that things simply began falling into place much faster than any of them had planned.

In addition to the wine bar, the store will also feature a children's corner where kids can hang out. On the subject of events, Nevils reported that she's already been in contact with the East Texas Writers Association about doing book signings with local authors. Eventually she hopes to bring in more widely known authors, and she and her local library have discussed doing some adult programming in the future. The library will also install a little free library at the bookstore's building.

"The community has been very positive," said Nevils. "So many people are very excited for something like this to be put in our downtown area."

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

Waterstones Booksellers Receiving 6.2% Raise

Starting April 1, booksellers working for the U.K. bookstore chain Waterstones will receive a 6.2% raise, the Bookseller reported

While the raise coincides with a 6.2% increase in the U.K.'s national living wage--from £8.21 to £8.72, or about $10.60 to $11.25--Waterstones will be giving a 6.2% raise to all of its booksellers, even those who already make more than the national living wage. Waterstones has four broad bookselling bands--bookseller, senior bookseller, lead bookseller and expert bookseller--and employees in all of those categories are up for the raise.

"Once again, we have chosen to reward all bookselling bands rather than simply to raise the minimum, so that our most experienced booksellers benefit as much as a new starter," Waterstones COO Kate Skipper wrote in a letter to staff. "Salaries for bookshop managers and support roles will be reviewed in the autumn, following the same performance review cycle as this year. To take another step forward towards our goal to deliver rewarding bookselling careers is pleasing, particularly in such a hostile economic environment and we do so with thanks to you all."

After recording a profit last year of £22.7 million (about $29.3 million), Waterstones has come under pressure from living wage campaigners to pay its booksellers higher wages. Just this week, campaigners sent nearly 1,000 e-mails to managing director James Daunt directly about raising the company's wages.

Last April, Waterstones booksellers received a 4.85% raise, along with a 4% bonus paid in 2019. In 2018 and 2017, the company's booksellers received raises of 4.4% and 4.17%, respectively.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Attacks on Several French Bookstores Condemned

François Hollande being escorted from the Folies d'Encre bookstore during the protest.

Last Wednesday in France, an appearance by former French President François Hollande at the Folies d'Encre bookstore in Montreuil, in Seine-Saint-Denis, on behalf of his new children's book, Leur République (Their Republic), was disrupted by demonstrators, and Hollande was forced to leave. This followed a recent attack on the Meura bookstore in Lille, which also focused on an appearance by Hollande for a different book, Répondre à la crise démocratique (Responding to the Crisis of Democracy).

The European and International Booksellers Federation said in a statement, "We are strongly condemning these attacks, and calling for reestablishment of bookstores as safe spaces for debate and in support of protected human right of freedom of expression."

In a statement, the Syndicat de la Librairie Française (the Association of French Bookstores) noted the two attacks and others, which in some cases have resulted in broken shop windows and destroyed books. The association said the incidents show "the radicalization of the political opposition" as well as the end of some people's respect for bookstores as public places for "debate about ideas and for diverse opinions."

The association added that it "condemns very strongly these actions and reaffirms the role that bookstores have and continue to have at the heart of our republic."

Changes for Pulpwood Queens Book Club

Kathy Murphy, founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club--with nearly 800 chapters internationally--and host/organizer in January of the 20th anniversary Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Tex., has unveiled several changes and additions to her ongoing projects.

Brooklynn Bradley-LaFleur

"I can no longer continue to run everything behind the scenes and host the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend, too," Murphy said in announcing that Brooklynn Bradley-LaFleur will be the new organizer and host for Girlfriend Weekend 2021, as well as oversee a pair of new projects.

"Kathy is my first cousin, but I've always called her my 'Aunt Kathy,' and I've been involved with the Pulpwood Queens from the beginning," Bradley-LaFleur told the Longview News-Journal. "I'm planning to write a book soon, and I've always dreamed of immersing myself in the Pulpwood Queens. Aunt Kathy will still be doing appearances and still be the 'queen.' She will still be doing the book selections, but Paul Roberson, our webmaster, and I will be stepping up and taking about 75% of the load off of her shoulders."

Murphy described Bradley-LaFleur as "a dynamo, and along with my wonderful webmaster, Paul Roberson, is starting two new Pulpwood Queen initiatives under Pulpwood Queen Academy." 

A new Pulpwood Queen All Access Online Book Club "will bring even more author content into our official reading list and a new, for lack of a better phrase right now, 'So You Want to Write Your Story or Book,' where our authors are going to be mentoring to new writers," Murphy said. "We are very excited about these new reading developments! I'll still be selecting the books, for now, working behind the scenes, but between the three of us, I will be able to enjoy it more and reap the fruit of my 20-year labors."

Murphy loves "to select authors who are new voices in literature and help them, whether first time, first book or those just waiting to be discovered in a big way. This is my life's passion and why I invest in their body of work."

She added: "They say you want to get a job well done, look for the busiest person you know. That would be Brooke and Paul. We all juggle our other jobs and lives but I can assure you, they are as passionate about writing and reading as I am. I am blessed."

Obituary Note: Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler

Bestselling author Clive Cussler, who wrote more than 70 books and founded the National Underwater & Marine Agency, died February 24. He was 88. On his Facebook page, Cussler's wife, Janet Horvath, posted: "It is with a heavy heart that I want to share the sad news that my husband, Clive passed away on Monday. It has been a privilege and a great honor to share in his life. I want to thank you, his fans and friends for all the support, for all the good times and all the adventures you have shared with him. He was the kindest, most gentle man I ever met. I have always loved him and always will. I know, his adventures will continue."

Noting that his "vivid literary fantasies and his larger-than-life exploits swirled together for four decades," the New York Times reported that "his work--mostly action thrillers of the James Bond-Indiana Jones kind, plus nonfiction accounts of his marine quests and a few children's books--made him a global celebrity." His books sold more than 100 million copies and were translated into 40 languages.

Cussler's novels often featured Dirk Pitt, "an undersea explorer who cheats death and saves the world as he foils the diabolical plots of megalomaniac villains, while satisfying his taste for exotic cars and lusty women," the Times noted, adding that he "also connected with readers by turning his love for scuba diving into an oceanic lifestyle that paralleled and validated his superhero."

His commercial breakthrough was Raise the Titanic! (1976), and his first nonfiction book was The Sea Hunters (1996, with Craig Dirgo). In addition to the Dirk Pitt books, Cussler also wrote other series, including The NUMA Files (with Graham Brown or Paul Kemprecos); The Fargo Adventures (with Grant Blackwood or Thomas Perry); The Oregon Files (with Jack DuBrul or Mr. Dirgo; and The Isaac Bell Adventures (with Justin Scott). His nonfiction works include Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed (with Dirgo) and Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt. His latest book, Journey of the Pharaohs: A Novel From the NUMA Files (with Graham Brown), is scheduled to be published in March by Putnam.

Cussler first created the National Underwater and Marine Agency as a fictional government organization that employed Dirk Pitt, but in 1979 he founded an actual NUMA as a private nonprofit group committed to "preserving maritime heritage through the discovery, archaeological survey and conservation of shipwreck artifacts," the Times wrote.

The Guardian noted that in the early 2000s, Cussler agreed to work with co-authors in order to publish more frequently. " 'I don't give a damn,' he said in a 2015 interview, in reply to criticism of the move. 'I never had a highfalutin view of what I write. It's a job. I entertain my readers. I get up in the morning and I start typing.... I want it to be easy to read. I'm not writing exotic literature. I like snappy dialogue and short descriptions and lots of action."


Image of the Day: Stace's Bookstore Visit

Author and musician Wesley Stace (above, right) was in Frostburg, Md., last weekend for a sold-out concert at Clatter Cafe. Before the show, he stopped by Main Street Books to sign copies of his books. During his evening performance--a tribute to John Wesley Harding featuring Robert Lloyd (l.)--Stace asked the audience, "What did you all do to deserve an excellent book store like Main Street Books?"

Celebrating The Paper Bag Princess

On Saturday, March 7, booksellers across the country will celebrate Paper Bag Princess Day, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the "feminist fairy tale" as well as International Women's Day weekend. Annick Press has made programming materials available for booksellers, librarians and teachers and, so far, more than 100 indie booktores are planning parties to celebrate Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko's 1980 picture book.

Susan Tunis, events coordinator at Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco, Calif., loves handselling The Paper Bag Princess. "I was just a smidge too old to read this book as a kid," Tunis said, "but the adult bookseller in me celebrates every time I put this in the hands of a child! For the girls, I hope it brings empowerment, and for the boys... maybe a little humility and empathy?" Miranda Atkins of A Little Bookish in Ooltewah, Tenn., said her daughter was a toddler the first time she read the book. "It was so refreshing to see a heroine save herself and proudly saunter off in her paper sack! I've made it a point to share the story with all the little girls in my life."

Sally Sue Lavigne dressed as her favorite children's book character at Children's Institute last year.

At the Storybook Shoppe, Beaufort, S.C., owner Sally Sue Lavigne is planning a week of programming that will include a story time, dragon crafts, an in-store costume parade and a few school visits. Britt Margit Hopkins, marketing and publicity manager of Second Star to the Right Books in Denver, Colo., will start off March 7 with a story time "where all are invited to dress up in their most princess-y garb. Our entire staff (boys included) plans on wearing tiaras." Stephany Pachowka, a children's bookseller at Hockessin BookShelf in Hockessin, Del., will be tying the store's event to an already popular program: "We will be featuring The Paper Bag Princess at our monthly Tales for Tots story time.... We will read and discuss why Princess Elizabeth is a Princess of all Princesses and design our own paper bag dresses as the activity for the day."  --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Personnel Changes at Little, Brown; S&S Children's; Bloomsbury Children's

At Little, Brown:

Sabrina Callahan has been promoted to v-p and executive director of publicity. She was formerly executive director of publicity.
Jessica Chun has been promoted to marketing director of Little, Brown Spark from associate marketing director.
Shannon Hennessey has been promoted to associate publicist from publicity assistant.
Alyssa Persons has been promoted to senior publicist from publicist.
Juliana (Jules) Horbachevsky has been promoted to assistant director of publicity for the Spark and Voracious imprints from publicity manager.


Lisa Quach has joined Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing as marketing manager. She was most recently senior marketing coordinator at Big Honcho Media.


Ksenia Winnicki has joined Bloomsbury Children's U.S. as senior publicist. She was formerly senior publicist at Tor.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Thomas Chatterton Williams on Real Time with Bill Maher

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race (Norton, $25.95, 9780393608861).

This Weekend on Book TV: In-Depth with April Ryan

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, February 29
6 p.m. Ingrid Newkirk, co-author of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781501198540).

6:40 p.m. Fergus M. Bordewich, author of Congress at War: How Republican Reformers Fought the Civil War, Defied Lincoln, Ended Slavery, and Remade America (Knopf, $32.50, 9780451494443), at Book Passage Bookstore in Corte Madera, Calif. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Kate Winkler Dawson, author of American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI (Putnam, $27, 9780525539551), at BookPeople in Austin, Tex. (Re-airs Monday at 2:10 a.m.)

8:40 p.m. Diane Ravitch, author of Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America's Public Schools (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525655374).

10 p.m. Cal Thomas, author of America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers ... and the Future of the United States (Zondervan, $22.99, 9780310357537). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Charlotte Alter, author of The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America (Viking, $27, 9780525561507), at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sunday, March 1
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with April Ryan, author of Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9781538113363). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

7 p.m. Megan Kate Nelson, author of The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner, $28, 9781501152542), at Concord Bookshop in Concord, Mass.

Books & Authors

Awards: Stanford Travel Winners; PROSE Excellence Winners; Nebula Finalists

Paul Theroux has won the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing. Organizers said, "The acclaimed American travel writer and novelist, best known for The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), has enjoyed a long career studded with accolades, awards and honours. A number of Theroux's novels have been made into films and later this year Apple Films will release a ten-part TV series based on his Mosquito Coast."

Vivien Godfrey, chairman and CEO of Stanfords, added: "Paul has enjoyed a truly global existence, spending time in Malawi and Uganda, Singapore and London, as well as his native home in America. His travel writing consequently carries rich descriptions, portraying an intimate knowledge and understanding of the people and places he has been. His epic trips, undertaken on foot, by road, and rail--and on occasion in a kayak--embody the spirit of a true adventurer and that is at the very heart of all we do at Stanfords--many congratulations and well deserved Paul."

Winners in the Stanford Awards' 10 travel writing categories are:

Travel Book: Underland by Robert Macfarlane
Travel Memoir: A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer
Photography Travel Book: Trope City Editions (second volume) by Sam Landers and Tom Maday
Illustrated Travel Book: Atlas of Vanishing Places by Travis Elborough
Children's Travel Book: Fire Girl, Forest Boy by Chloe Daykin
Food & Drink Travel Book: Fire Islands by Eleanor Ford
Fiction With a Sense of Place: Little Faith by Nicholas Butler
Travel Adventure: Rough Magic: Riding the World's Wildest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer
Debut Travel Writer: Extreme Economies by Richard Davies
New Travel Writer: Close to Home by Kirstin Zhang


The winners of the PROSE Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers and honoring scholarly publications that are best in class, are:

Biological & Life Sciences: Clinical Psychopharmacology: Principles and Practice by S. Nassir Ghaemi (Oxford University Press)
Humanities: Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered by Carmen C. Bambach (Yale University Press)
Physical Sciences & Mathematics: 99 Variations on a Proof by Philip Ording (Princeton University Press)
Reference Works: Roman Architecture and Urbanism: From the Origins to Late Antiquity by Fikret Yegül and Diane Favro (Cambridge University Press)
Social Sciences: The Cult of the Constitution by Mary Anne Franks (Stanford University Press)


Finalists for the 2019 Nebula Awards, sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, have been announced and can be seen here. Awards will be presented May 30 during the SFWA Nebula Conference, which takes place May 28-31 in Los Angeles.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 3:

Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride (Riverhead, $28, 9780735216723) takes place in 1960s New York, where a church deacon shoots a housing project's drug dealer.

Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century by John Loughery and Blythe Randolph (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982103491) is the biography of the pacifist activist.

Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328866745) tells the story of a poor Russian immigrant who married a rich man and became a socialist activist.

Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice (That Go a Long Way) by Barbara Bush (Twelve, $22, 9781538734940) contains guidance from the late, former first lady.

A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump by David Plouffe (Viking, $25, 9781984879493) gives election advice from Barack Obama's former campaign manager.

The Back Roads to March: The Unsung, Unheralded, and Unknown Heroes of a College Basketball Season by John Feinstein (Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385544481) explores the less famous teams of Division 1 college basketball.

Long Range by C.J. Box (Putnam, $28, 9780525538233) is the 20th thriller with Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett.

You Are Not Alone: A Novel by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250202031) is psychological suspense about a woman whose glamorous new friends may be dangerous.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry Books, $24.99, 9781481431873) is the first book in a new series in Clare's Shadowhunters world.

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter (HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780358003199) features a group of orphans who band together to save their home.

Hannah's War by Jan Eliasberg (Back Bay Books, $16.99, 9780316537445).

War and Peas: Funny Comics for Dirty Lovers by Jonathan Kunz and Elizabeth Pich (Andrews McMeel, $14.99, 9781524854072).

The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here by Hope Jahren (Vintage, $14.99, 9780525563389).

Girl at the Edge by Karen Dietrich (Grand Central, $15.99, 9781538732939).

The Burnt Orange Heresy, based on the novel by Charles Willeford, opens March 6. Donald Sutherland stars in the story of an art dealer hired to steal a painting. A movie tie-in edition (The Overlook Press, $16, 9781419740459) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

When We Were Vikings: A Novel by Andrew David MacDonald (Gallery/Scout Press, $27, 9781982126766). "I could not put this book down. Readers rarely have the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone with a disability and experience their lives in a meaningful way. We rarely see people with Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome depicted as truly feeling, flesh-and-blood people who experience love, lust, heartbreak, and disappointment, who face challenges as they strive for their dream. Zelda is my new hero! She is undaunted and unflappable as she grapples with her dreams and life experiences. Your journey with her will be all too brief, but it is one that will stay with you long after you read the last page." --Rebecca Gottberg, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland (Tin House, $22.95, 9781947793286). "This look into the hidden life of Carson McCullers is a brilliant mix of biography and personal memoir. Shapland depicts the life of one of our most beloved and least-known authors in a search for the ultimate meaning of love. It will make you ask yourself difficult questions and delve into the complexities of your own heart. Looking at Carson, Jenn Shapland makes us all vulnerable, more human, more open." --Pepper Parker, Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash.

Freefall: A Novel by Jessica Barry (Harper, $16.99, 9780062874849). "There used to be a carnival ride where you would stand against a wall and as the ride spun faster and faster, the floor would drop out but the force of the spin would keep you pinned to the wall. I got the same feeling when reading Jessica Barry's Freefall. The plot moved faster and faster until I felt myself holding my breath, right up until the final page. Clear your schedule and order takeout before you start this thriller!" --Mary O'Malley, Anderson's Bookshop, La Grange, Ill.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro (Philomel, $17.99, 9781984836274). "In The Heart of a Whale, mesmerizing illustrations combine with a story that is at first sweet, then melancholic, and at last endearingly hopeful. This book transported me into a world of soothing colors, beautiful reflections, and a touching message." --Alexa Ochocki, Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (Katherine Tegen, $16.99, 9780062875853). "Zoe Washington is my new favorite middle-grade heroine! When she receives a letter from Marcus, her birth father, on her 12th birthday, Zoe begins corresponding with him in secret. Marcus is in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit, and Zoe is determined to find out the truth while also trying to excel in her baking internship and manage middle-school friendship drama with her neighbor Trevor. In her excellent debut novel, Marks skillfully balances a difficult social justice theme with lighthearted elements and lovingly rendered familial relationships." --Anna Millsaps, bbgb books, Richmond, Va.

For Teen Readers
A Heart So Fierce and Broken (The Cursebreaker Series) by Brigid Kemmerer (Bloomsbury, $18.99, 9781681195117). "Cursebreakers rejoice! The sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely is here! This story follows Grey and introduces a new heroine: Lia Mara from the enemy kingdom of Syhl Shallow. Filled with the same propulsive action and slow-burning romance as the first book, the sequel turns the first story on its head, leaving you to wonder who the real hero of the series will be. A cliffhanger ending will have you counting down the days until the next book in the series is released!" --Carrie Deming, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Later: My Life at the Edge of the World

Later: My Life at the Edge of the World by Paul Lisicky (Graywolf Press, $16 paperback, 240p., 9781644450161, March 17, 2020)

In his searing, lovely memoir Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, Paul Lisicky (The Narrow Door; Lawnboy) looks back at Provincetown, Mass., 1991-1994. It's a place for a young gay man to find a community; a haven for artists; a belated coming of age; the height of the AIDS epidemic; a place known simply, in the author's mind, as Town. It is "the edge of the world" both geographically and metaphorically. "Town a lyric bubble outside past and future. Town a dream that rips up all your intuitions about narrative."

Paul is in his early 30s when he moves to Provincetown as a Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, after years of graduate school. Early pages express his difficulty in leaving his mother, breaking up an interdependence. In Town, he finds a community where it feels safe to be openly gay, where sex is readily available. "I'm a good ten years behind them, a hormonal teenager in adult skin." This is a revelation, but with a heavy-looming shadow. Young men are dropping all around him; Town is also a place to die. "AIDS takes hold of a life, with all of its ideals and aspirations, and throws it to the pavement like a jar." Even as Paul's life blossoms, sex and death are interwoven. Later realizes that they will never be separated again.

This is not a memoir purely of loss and mourning, although those themes are always present. Young Paul wants a boyfriend, enjoys flings and explorations, settles down and breaks up. He sees sex and death and politics all around him, the patterns of the summer people ("summer is as wonderful as it is awful"), economic and cultural shifts. The literary life of Provincetown serves as background for his life there, taken as a beautiful given; careful readers will recognize other famous writers even when they are noted only by first name.

Lisicky's prose showcases his precise ear for language and eye for descriptive detail. "If horniness weren't narrowing my perception, I'd be able to step back and see how cinematic it is to see these bodies moving--it is like a scene out of Fellini if Fellini had been queer. No wonder the moon likes it here." Under such loving observation, Town is both microcosm and macrocosm. Later is a personal memoir but also a witness to the way in which the gay male experience is forever, irreversibly changed by disease. "Tender boat, still afloat, even though it's springing leaks.... As easy to tear open as skin." This is a book of yearning, of love and sorrow and wanting and, yes, hope: deeply vulnerable and attuned to the divine. To be read for historical context or simply for its stunning truth and beauty. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Paul Lisicky's memoir of early '90s Provincetown illuminates his own coming of age and portrays gay romance under the shadow of AIDS in lyrical, thoughtful prose.

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