Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 12, 2024


Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.

News

The Storybook Shoppe, Bluffton, S.C., Opens in New Home

At the Storybook Shoppe's new location.

The Storybook Shoppe, Bluffton, S.C., reopened on Saturday in a new location, in Tanger Outlets 2, "persevering as a Hilton Head area community staple," the Island Packet reported. On January 5, the children's store was told by its landlord that it needed to vacate its longtime home by February 10. The store had had a month-to-month lease for years.

Owner Sally Sue Lavigne told the Island Packet that Tanger Outlets reached out to her at the end of January and since then they've been painting, assembling bookshelves and preparing to create a "beautiful magical environment."

While the move has been "crazy," Lavigne said it's been worth it to see community members enjoying the store once again, adding, "Bookstores are the heart of a community. They're not only a place to get a book, but they're a place to gather and meet new friends."

Lavigne purchased the bookstore from previous owner Nancy Beaupre in 2015. Her landlord, Peter Palladino, bought the building in 2016. Palladino also gave notice to another small business in the building, in order to make room for a new tenant that will occupy the entire commercial space.


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Mayhem's Bookstore & Board Game Cafe Coming to Lancaster, Pa.

Mayhem's Bookstore & Board Game Café will open this summer in Lancaster, Pa. LNP reported that the new business will occupy a 2,400-square-foot retail spot at 102 W. King St and "feature 200-plus board games as well as a selection of graphic novels. The café will sell coffee and tea drinks as well as breakfast pastries and some snacks."

Mayhem's Bookstore & Board Game Café is owned by brothers Peter Milazzo and James Leavy along with their cousin, Rabeya Dougherty. Milazzo has experience working in the hotel and construction industries while Leavy formerly managed a comic book store in State College. Doughtery is a trained pastry chef who has worked for a variety of catering companies in Philadelphia, LNP noted

The store's name comes from Leavy's Dungeons & Dragons persona and the shop reflects their lifelong love of tabletop gaming. It is scheduled to open by July 1.

Mayhem's stated goal is be "more than just a place to grab a book or play a game. We strive to be a sanctuary where stories come alive, strategies are honed, and laughter never ends. Our passion for bringing people together shines through our carefully curated selection of board games, from timeless classics to the latest obsessions, and our expansive library of manga and graphic novels, each promising an adventure."


International Update: BA's Annual Membership Workforce Survey; RISE Bookselling Industry Insights

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has published the findings of its annual Membership Workforce Survey, which is part of what the association calls its "ongoing and long-term commitment to make bookselling, and the wider book, media and creative industries, more inclusive and representative of all demographics and communities." The key findings of the survey are:

  • 68% of respondents identified as female (vs. 51% of the population*), down from 71% in 2022
  • 8% of respondents' gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth (vs. 1% of the population*), up from 7% in 2022
  • 8% of respondents identified as being from ethnic minority groups (excluding white minorities) (vs. 18% of the population*), up from 7% in 2022
  • 28% of respondents identified as having a disability or long-term health condition (vs. 18% of the population*)
  • 24% of respondents have a neurodiverse condition (vs. 15% of the population [ACAS]), up from 23% in 2022
  • 32% are currently experiencing mental health problems (vs. one in six in the population [Mind])
  • 64% of respondents had professional backgrounds (vs. 37% of the population [Social Mobility Commission]), up from 59% in 2022
  • 13% of respondents attended an independent or fee-paying school (vs 7% of the population [Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission])
  • 85% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that they feel included, respected (80%), like they belong (83%), and can be their authentic selves (81%) at work
  • 80% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that their organization values and is committed to diversity and inclusion and 72% said it is making progress addressing diversity and inclusion
  • 58% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that the culture in the bookselling industry is inclusive, up from 52% in 2022

*All comparison population figures unless otherwise stated refer to the England & Wales 2021 census.

BA managing director Meryl Halls said: "Now in its second year, the BA's Membership Workforce Survey is essential in our journey towards diversifying bookselling and attracting and representing booksellers from all demographics and communities. Once again run in partnership with EA Inclusion, this information will help us assess and approach issues around barriers of access and representation, so that careers in bookselling are open to people of the widest possible range of backgrounds as well as ensuring booksellers already in the industry can thrive. From this year's statistics, we can continue to take pride that bookselling remains a de facto safe space for many demographics, from LGBTQ booksellers, to those with neurodiverse conditions or disabilities, long-term health or mental health conditions. It is positive to see that the overall bookselling industry culture is perceived by even more booksellers as an inclusive sector, but we must make better steps in improving the representation of booksellers from minority groups and continue to make progress on our commitments to diversity and inclusion."
  
Overall, 275 booksellers from 158 bookshops took part in the survey. The survey took place between October 2023 and early January 2024.
 
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Bookshops and Book Procurement, the fourth RISE Bookselling Industry Insights paper, has been published. RISE Bookselling is a three-year EU-cofunded project run by the European & International Booksellers Federation aimed at increasing the capacity and resilience of the European bookselling sector.
 
In its latest research paper, RISE examines a complex and worrying topic for bookshops across Europe: the increasing difficulty and lack of chances for smaller bookshops to participate in the supply of books to public schools and libraries. 
 
The paper looks into three countries as case studies--Ireland, Germany and Finland--assessing the state of play of bookshops' involvement in book procurement to public schools and libraries. In doing so, it identifies common challenges in these countries (e.g., the increasingly large size of tenders, the prioritization of competitive price over other criteria, the expectation to supply ancillary services, etc.), and put forward several calls to action to help ensure a more balanced and inclusive approach to book procurement for bookshops of all sizes and in all locations.
 
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Bookseller dog: Posted on Instagram by Red Lion Books in Colchester, England: "Meet Connie! The Red Lion Bookshop Dog!" --Robert Gray


Obituary Note: William Whitworth

Writer and editor William Whitworth, who "wrote revealing profiles in the New Yorker giving voice to his idiomatic subjects and polished the prose of some of the nation's celebrated writers as its associate editor before transplanting that magazine's painstaking standards to the Atlantic, where he was editor in chief for 20 years," died March 8, the New York Times reported. He was 87.

Giving up a promising career as a jazz trumpeter after college, he worked for the Arkansas Gazette and later the New York Herald Tribune. In 1966, William Shawn, the New Yorker's legendary editor, hired Whitworth, who "injected wit into pensive 'Talk of the Town' vignettes. He also profiled the famous and the not so famous, including the jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus (accompanied by photos from his former Herald Tribune colleague Jill Krementz) and the foreign policy adviser Eugene V. Rostow," the Times noted, adding that Whitworth expanded his profile of Rostow into a 1970 book, Naïve Questions About War and Peace.

From 1973 through 1980 at the New Yorker, then at the Atlantic Monthly, where he was editor until retiring in 1999, and later when he worked on books, Whitworth was most valued as a nonfiction editor. "Apart from the writers he shepherded, prodded and protected, his role was largely unheralded outside the publishing industry. To colleagues who often wondered why he abandoned reporting, he suggested that he couldn't lick 'em, so he joined then: He had simply become fed up with editors, newspaper editors in particular, mangling his prose which would nonetheless be published under his byline," the Times wrote.

"You want to fail on your own terms, not in somebody else's voice that sounds like you," he said at the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers in 2011.

Whitworth edited "implacable perfectionists" like the film critic Pauline Kael and author Robert A. Caro, who was eventually so satisfied with the final excerpts from The Power Broker, published in the New Yorker, that when the Atlantic published a condensation of the first volume of his Lyndon B. Johnson biography, Caro asked Whitworth to edit it.

Essayist Anne Fadiman, who worked with him at the American Scholar after he left the Atlantic, said that for Whitworth, "editing was a conversation and also a form of teaching."

Garrison Keillor credited him with a life-altering decision, recalling that after writing an article for the New Yorker about the Grand Ole Opry, "he pushed me to do a Saturday night variety show myself, patterned on the Opry, which led to A Prairie Home Companion, which provided me with employment for years to come. Unusual. Like a sportswriter becoming a major league pitcher, or an obit writer opening a mortuary. I've been grateful ever since."

Literary agent Lynn Nesbit remembered Whitworth as a "stunningly brilliant and discerning editor" whose "own ego never got in the way of his editorial brilliance." Charles McGrath, another former New Yorker editor who later edited the New York Times Book Review, said that Whitworth, unlike Shawn, "was more beloved than feared."


Notes

Abrams to Sell and Distribute Red Comet Press

Abrams will sell and distribute Red Comet Press titles in North America, effective with the fall 2024 season. Red Comet Press will be sold in the U.K. and Europe by Abrams & Chronicle Books. In the rest of the world, Red Comet Press will be sold and distributed by Abrams's network of global agents. The company has been distributed by Publishers Group West.

Founded in 2021 by Angus Yuen-Killick and Michael Yuen-Killick, Red Comet Press, Brooklyn, N.Y., specializes in children's books for readers 0–12, working with both new and established U.S. and international authors and illustrators, and books in translation from countries such as Japan, Ukraine, France, and the Czech Republic. Its list includes the Tummy Time board book series, Yellow Butterfly by Ukrainian creator Oleksandr Shatokhin, and If You Believe in Me by Rosemary Wells. Forthcoming titles include My Book and Me (June), a poem about the joys of books by Newbery Medal author Linda Sue Park and two-time Caldecott Medal illustrator Chris Raschka, and We Sing from the Heart (November) by Mia Wenjen, a picture book biography about Simon Tam and his struggle to trademark his band's name, The Slants, an effort that took him all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mary McAveney, president and CEO of Abrams, called Red Comet Press "a vibrant and creative force in children's publishing. Their unique and diverse books are a perfect complement to the Abrams' catalog. We look forward to bringing their exciting array of children's books to more readers through the strength and expertise of our dedicated sales team."

Red Comet Press publisher Angus Yuen-Killick said, "Our sensibility will dovetail beautifully with the portfolio of Abrams children's books and its current roster of publishing partners."

Red Comet Press editorial and creative head Michael Yuen-Killick said, "Abrams has some of the most acclaimed storytellers in the business. What an honor to be alongside them and working with the Abrams team."


Personnel Changes at IPG

At IPG:

Mark Noble has been promoted to v-p of business management & operations from v-p of business management.

Sidney Thompson has become business development manager.

Anna Torres has been promoted to publisher development manager from publisher development specialist.

Kenneth Duncan has rejoined the company as digital marketing coordinator.

Bianca Rodriguez has been promoted to marketing associate from marketing assistant.

Valerie Pedroche has been promoted to associate publicist from assistant publicist.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sasha Issenberg on CNN

Today:
CNN's Early Start with Kasie Hunt: Sasha Issenberg, author of The Lie Detectives: In Search of a Playbook for Winning Elections in the Disinformation Age (Columbia Global Reports, $17.99, 9798987053621).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Tamron Hall, author of Watch Where They Hide: A Jordan Manning Novel (Morrow, $29, 9780063037083).


TV: 3 Body Problem

Netflix has released a new trailer for 3 Body Problem, based on Liu Cixin's novel The Three-Body Problem. Deadline reported that the series, from creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo, will debut March 21. 

The project stars Jovan Adepo, John Bradley, Rosalind Chao, Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, Jess Hong, Marlo Kelly, Alex Sharp, Sea Shimooka, Zine Tseng, Saamer Usmani, Benedict Wong, and Jonathan Pryce.

Benioff and Weiss (Game of Thrones) and Woo (The Terror: Infamy, True Blood) are co-creators, executive producers and writers of the series. Derek Tsang and Andrew Stanton will direct and co-executive produce. Additional directors include Jeremy Podeswa and Minkie Spiro.



Books & Authors

Awards: International Booker Longlist

The longlist has been released for the International Booker Prize. A shortlist will be announced April 9 and the winner May 21. The winning author and translator share £50,000 (about $64,050), while shortlisted titles are each awarded £5,000 (about $6,405) to split between authors and translators.

This year's longlisted books were translated from Albanian, Dutch, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. The longlisted titles are:

The Silver Bone by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk
Simpatía by Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, translated by Noel Hernández González & Daniel Hahn
Not a River by Selva Almada, translated by Annie McDermott
Undiscovered by Gabriela Wiener, translated by Julia Sanches
White Nights by Urszula Honek, translated by Kate Webster
Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell Youngjae & Josephine Bae
What I'd Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma, translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey
Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior, translated by Johnny Lorenz
The House on Via Gemito by Domenico Starnone, translated by Oonagh Stransky
Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo, translated by Leah Janeczko
A Dictator Calls by Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson
Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann
The Details by Ia Genberg, translated by Kira Josefsson


Book Review

Review: All Fours

All Fours by Miranda July (Riverhead Books, $29 hardcover, 336p., 9780593190265, May 14, 2024)

Whether it's directing films or performing in them, fashioning visual art, or writing, Miranda July (The First Bad Man) has demonstrated she's a multitalented creative. That talent manifests itself again in her second novel, All Fours, an unconventional but engaging story about one woman's attempt to navigate the sometimes perilous passage through the middle years.

It would be reductive to describe All Fours as the story of a midlife crisis, but July's highly self-aware 45-year-old unnamed narrator who considers herself a "minor celebrity" and "semi-famous" dramatically engineers a major detour in her comfortable, but far from emotionally fulfilling, life. Less than 30 minutes away from the home in Los Angeles where she lives with her husband, Harris, a record producer, and their seven-year-old ungendered child Sam, she abandons her "vision quest-style journey" to New York City, an odyssey intended to culminate in six days of luxury at the Carlyle Hotel. Instead, she holes up in a "shabby, pale-yellow stucco motel" in the town of Monrovia, Calif., where she spends the $20,000 she earned from licensing to a whiskey company for its ad campaign a "sentence about hand jobs, but out of context it could also apply to whiskey" on professionally redecorating her room.

It's in that lavishly appointed space over the course of the next two weeks that she engages in one of recent literature's more unusual affairs (if it can be called that) with Davey, a man nearly 15 years her junior, who works at a Hertz dealership and dreams of becoming a professional hip-hop dancer. For July's narrator, the emotionally charged moments that transpire in room 321 of the Excelsior during the time she was supposed to be engaged in her cross-country trek trigger a profound re-examination of her life, one that provides a more revealing journey than any she might have experienced on a conventional road trip. Among other things, her relationship with her husband is fundamentally changed, as the two of them consider how they might move together into the future in a new way.

July's narrator is, by turns, intriguing and exasperating, but her forays into her past and a future she struggles to envision are never dull or predictable. "I was a kaleidoscope, each glittering piece of glass changing as I turned," she tells her friend and frequent confidante Jordi, a sculptor. With an often wry but consistently provocative approach, July relies on her complicated protagonist's insight to interrogate a variety of weighty themes, including female sexuality, creativity, and the sense many have as they cross the threshold of the mid-40s that a clock is ticking more insistently. For all those reasons, All Fours is a frequently surprising and refreshingly original story. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this wry and unconventional take on middle age, a woman abandons the cross-country journey she hopes will illuminate the path of her life only to find some answers closer to home.


Deeper Understanding

Anastasia Rubis on Oriana: A Novel of Oriana Fallaci

Anastasia Rubis

Anastasia Rubis's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the New York Observer, and various literary journals. One of her stories, "Blue Pools," was included in the anthology Oh, Baby (Creative Nonfiction) and another story, "Girl Falling," was a Notable Essay in Best Essays of 2014. Here she discusses her debut book, Oriana: A Novel of Oriana Fallaci, about the Italian journalist who was best known for her provocative interviews of world leaders, coming March 19 from Delphinium Books.

Who was Oriana Fallaci?

Oriana Fallaci was the best reporter in the world in the 1970s, in a class with Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters as a kick-ass interviewer. She was known for her revealing q&as with world leaders, who often regretted speaking with her, but they did so because it was prestigious. Oriana was totally self-made: born working class in Florence and forced to drop out of university to support her family. Yet she rose to fame as "the greatest interviewer of her day" (Newsweek) and "a legend" (Dick Cavett). She was a rebel and trailblazer. She lived for many years in Manhattan and died in 2006.

What inspired you to write about Fallaci?

Her candid, personal style of journalism, which jumps off the page, and her daring to smash all the rules. She was brilliant, confident, audacious--she could speak her mind, say anything to anybody. And she was glamorous, like Joan Didion, with Italian style and the latest fashions, hairstyle, nail polish. She thrilled me with how strong and assertive a woman could be. Christiane Amanpour has said, "I wanted to be her!" and calls her a role model. Oriana made a huge contribution to journalism--she revolutionized the art of the interview. And she championed human rights and freedom. I wanted to tell that story.

Why isn't Fallaci better known?

In Europe, she's a celebrity. In America, we have short attention spans, or maybe she was too "foreign" or "only" a print journalist, she wasn't on television. In 1973, she did rocket to fame here when she interviewed Henry Kissinger and sadly got him to admit Vietnam was a "useless war." He was embarrassed and called it his worst conversation with any member of the press.

Is the novel timed to come out for Women's History Month?

Yes. Women's contributions are often overlooked by history. We're left with the impression that women are nice, nice--helpers and nurturers--but the truth is, women have always been smart, powerful, making big decisions and leaving their mark. We need to shine a light on more stories of women and their achievements.

Was Fallaci as fierce in her private life as she was in professional life?

No. She was two women. Privately she was sensitive and vulnerable. Most likely she attempted suicide once when her heart was broken. Oriana's story is poignant because she bulldozed her way to the top of her profession yet suffered setbacks in her personal life and had deep regrets. We don't get everything, is my takeaway, even if we are determined and try really, really hard.

In the 1970s, Fallaci wrote about sexism, reproductive choice, and work/life balance. If she were writing today, would she find women's lives improved?

Maybe.  But... no. Witness the #metoo movement, the backslide in reproductive rights, the emotional labor carried by women, unequal pay. Oriana said it was tough to be a woman, but it was an adventure that was never boring. She never regretted being a woman, even when she had to work twice as hard as a man to be respected in the newsroom.

Why historical fiction?

I'm fascinated by real life, more than fiction. Give me books and movies "based a true story"--and I'll madly Google afterward to see what was true and what was altered.

Oriana is a love story?

Yes, her big love was Alexander Panagoulis, the Greek hero and poet she met while interviewing. Before that, Oriana had a seven-year relationship with a married war correspondent, but Alexander was her first real partner. They had only three years together. I won't say why.

The novel is described as sexy. Why?

Oriana was 44 and Alexander was 34. She had the big career; he was just out of prison as a political dissident. But she was a workaholic and he introduced her to the pleasures in life: sex in the afternoon, sure, but also swimming in the Aegean Sea and dining at an outdoor taverna under a starry sky.

Did your Greek background play a role in your interest in this story?

Definitely. I grew up summers a few miles down the coast from where Oriana and Alexander first met. He fought against Greece's dictatorship of the '60s and '70s, and I learned the awful history of the military junta that took over my parents' birthplace. Oriana and Alexander are heroes in Greece; in fact, I first found one of her books on a remote Greek island, in a dusty souvenir shop. I'd never seen them in American bookstores.

How did you research Oriana?

I read all her books, articles, etc. and studied her guest appearances on the Dick Cavett and Charlie Rose shows on YouTube. My favorite moment is when she disagrees with Charlie Rose's mansplaining with a "No, no, no, no, no!"--five times in a row. It's a master class in standing up for yourself. I had a blast at Boston University studying her archives, putting on white gloves and handling original manuscripts, letters, newspaper and magazine articles, even her original interview cassettes. When I heard her smoker's voice questioning Walter Cronkite, e.g., her voice was seared into my brain and I was able to bring it to the page.

What are some of your favorite lines from Oriana the character in your novel?

The only thing to do when you're scared is act. Every woman is two women. I was at the height of my profession. But when I looked down from my mountaintop, it was as if I'd climbed the wrong mountain. This is it? 

How about examples of real-life Fallaci grilling her interview subjects?

  • To Henry Kissinger, she said: To what degree does power fascinate you? Try to be frank.
  • To Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy: I am wondering if you like women, beyond the sex, I mean.
  • To Colonel Gaddafi of Libya: I haven't told you that you are a dictator yet. But I will now.

Christiane Amanpour has said Fallaci's interviews should be required reading for all journalists, and I agree. Her collection Interview with History and Power is still in print.

Where did Fallaci get her courage?

At age 14, she fought in the Italian Resistance with her father against Hitler and Mussolini, carrying a grenade on her bicycle and secret messages in her braids. She was in constant danger and forced to surmount her fear. Later, when she had to interview a big shot in the White House or a palace, she was not intimidated. A childhood of fear had burned off her fear.

Please describe your road to publishing.

It took 11 years, two agents, two freelance editors, and many stomach aches until I finally I sold it myself to Delphinium. I am "unrepresented," which sounds like I'm crashing the party. But I couldn't give up, because I was writing about a woman who never gave up. Oriana called herself stubborn; I guess I am, too.

Do you have another novel in the works?

Yes, I'm halfway done with a novel about growing up on a Greek island. But I might ask chatGPT to finish it while I clean my desk or lay on a beach.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. Never Lie by Freida McFadden
4. Small Town Swoon by Melanie Harlow
5. The Reason I Married Him by Meghan Quinn
6. The Secret Fiancée by Catharina Maura
7. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
8. Where's Molly by H.D. Carlton
9. Ask for Andrea by Noelle West Ihli
10. Pretty Rings and Broken Things by Kat Singleton

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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