Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 2, 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.


Violet Volumes Bookstore Coming to Victor, Idaho

This summer, married couple Whitney Jensen and Skye Gunter will open Violet Volumes Bookstore in Victor, Idaho, Buckrail reported.

Violet Volumes Bookstore will carry predominantly new books with a small selection of used titles. The general-interest inventory will feature diverse authors and include books for all ages, with one of the shop's two rooms being devoted to children's books. They plan to host weekly storytime sessions and book clubs for both children and teens, and they've launched a GoFundMe campaign specifically for the children's room.

Jensen told Buckrail that they plan to "encourage reading among youth in the community and offer space for them to be excited about books. We plan to be a gathering space for the community where everyone feels welcome."

Their plans for adult events, meanwhile, include book clubs, sewing circles, and open mics. Jensen noted that she has reached out to local makers and artisans about selling their work in-store.

Formerly a teacher, Jensen decided to open a bookstore after suffering a brain injury that made being in a classroom all day unfeasible. At the same time, Idaho's Teton Valley region has been without a bookstore for years, and the couple are stepping in to fill a community need. For inspiration, Gunter and Jensen are drawing from stores like Jackson Hole Book Trader in Jackson, Wyo., and the Strand in New York City.

So far, the community has responded very well to their plans, with Jensen saying they've been "overwhelmed by the positive response."

Their lease begins this month, and they plan to be open for business in June.

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For Sale: Booksweet in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Booksweet bookstore, which opened during the summer of 2021 in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been put up for sale by co-owners Shaun Manning and Truly Render. In a letter announcing the decision, Render wrote: "Shaun and I are so proud of how our readers and community partners have helped us to grow the shop's reader base, revenue, and community impact over the past three years. It has sincerely been the honor and privilege of a lifetime. 

"As many of you have likely experienced at some point in your lives, sometimes the needs of your family evolve in ways that don't quite fit your career--even if it's a dream job like caring for the coolest little bookshop on earth. That's the case with us and Booksweet. We love the shop deeply and we love our family even more. In fact, we love it all so much that we know when it's time to pass the torch."

They are hoping to find a buyer who is interested in a turnkey or full asset purchase of the shop to keep Booksweet alive and well for generations to come. They will offer to provide full training, introductions, and comprehensive transition support. The 2,400-square-foot retail space is located near the University of Michigan's north campus.

"As with everything we do, we are committed to transparency and accessibility," Render noted. "To support this ethos, we have attractive and highly competitive financing options to help build in-roads for you if this is your dream. This is a really incredible opportunity for a skilled co-op and/or individual owners who have the time/flexibility to bring the shop into its next era. The shop is so ready for you. The community is so ready for you. It's your time to shine--and we can't wait to see what happens next."

For more information, contact Booksweet by e-mail at

The Sharjah Booksellers Conference: Greenlight's Jessica Stockton Bagnulo Reports

Jessica Stockton Bagnulo is owner of Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., founded in 2009 and one of our favorite bookstores. Last weekend, she attended and spoke at the third annual Sharjah Booksellers Conference in the United Arab Emirates. Here she offers her observations and impressions of the conference.

Attendees at the Sharjah Booksellers Conference
(photo courtesy Sharjah Book Authority)

Looking at the incredible futuristic skyline of the mega-city of Dubai and Sharjah, I could never help thinking of all of my favorite science fiction stories and films, and was half-surprised not to see flying cars zipping between the towers. It was a different vision of the future I glimpsed at the Sharjah Booksellers Conference though: a future of new connections and collaborations, of new ideas and possibilities for the global culture of books and literacy. As conference MC Kenny Chan, consultant and ex-senior director at Books Kinokuniya, said in his emotional welcome, "I put my hand on my heart and say there has never been a more important time for bookselling. In the future we will not only survive, we will thrive."

The Sharjah Booksellers Conference is the newest gathering hosted by the Sharjah Book Authority, which also hosts the much larger annual Sharjah International Book Festival and the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival. A Sharjah government initiative to promote reading locally as well as international ties in the world of literature, the SBA pours an incredible amount of resources into these events, including inviting international booksellers like me as guest speakers. I was asked to lead a workshop on "Bookseller Partnerships"--something I am passionate about, though I was a bit nervous about how our little Brooklyn shop's experience would relate to that of booksellers from throughout the world.

As it turned out, I was both right to be humbled and surprised to be inspired by the ways in which we were all able to connect. I sat at a conference table and led workshops (several times over the two-day conference) with booksellers from Cameroon, Italy, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, India, Bulgaria, Kuwait, Uganda, Mauritania, and Nepal, among other countries. I learned that many bookstore companies across the world are also publishing companies, and spoke to booksellers who run companies with dozens or even hundreds of store locations. I learned that books in English are in demand everywhere, but financial and physical logistics can make access complicated.

I was educated about incredible business models I'd never imagined, like the bookseller in Kuala Lumpur who creates 10-day pop-up remainder book fairs in cities and countries with very little access to books. As Big Bad Wolf co-owner Andrew Yap describes it, it's like "the circus coming to town" for "the 97%" of readers worldwide who would have a hard time buying books at retail prices. I heard from booksellers in several French-speaking African countries who organized a multi-country book caravan, pooling staffing and organizing author events out of a van for an entire season!

And yet for some of these incredible booksellers, some of the ideas that our store has been refining for years--bookstore crawls, community lender funding, in-store school book fairs, offsite ticketed author events, etc.--were new and exciting. I was able to share our models, answer questions, and engage in conversations that promise to continue long after the conference.

More than once over the weekend, I thought how valuable it was to be one of very few Americans in the room: decentering our own familiar stories opens up a far vaster world.  At the opening of the conference, the chair of the Sharjah Book Authority, Sheika Bodour Al Quasimi (yes, she's a princess AND a top executive), described the conference as "a microcosm of global collaboration"--and it really felt like it could be true. Another bookseller, Federico Lang of Librería Luces in Málaga, Spain, gave a presentation about ideas for an informal international alliance of booksellers.

Jessica Stockton Bagnulo at Kinokuniya, Dubai
(photo: Kuo-Yu Liang)

I definitely added new bookstores to my travel bucket list: the swoon-worthy new Giunti Odeon (a converted theater) in Florence, Italy; the scholarly meeting place Mandala Book Point in Kathmandu, Nepal; and the stores of new bookselling friends in London (Waterstones), Kerala (DC Books), and Dakar (Plumes du Monde). (And of course I got to sneak in a visit to the local Kinokuniya bookstore in the massive Dubai Mall, for which I'm grateful to our SBA host and guide Kuo-Yu Liang!)

I'll admit that there were elements of the weekend-long conference that were a bit disorienting: the local cultural expectations, the sheer number of languages spoken, not to mention the eight-hour time difference from New York. But it's my experience that good things always happen when booksellers work on building community together, and that was absolutely happening at the Sharjah Booksellers Conference. I look forward to seeing how this international community can continue to develop.

Obituary Note: Paul Auster

Paul Auster

Paul Auster, "the prolific novelist, memoirist and screenwriter who rose to fame in the 1980s with his postmodern reanimation of the noir novel and who endured to become one of the signature New York writers of his generation," died April 30, the New York Times reported. He was 77. Auster published more than 30 books, including 18 novels and several acclaimed memoirs and assorted autobiographical works, along with plays, screenplays and collections of stories, essays and poems.

"Auster played brilliantly throughout his career in the game of literary postmodernism, but with a simplicity of language that could have come out of a detective novel," said Will Blythe, the author and former literary editor of Esquire. "He seemed to view life itself as fiction, in which one's self evolves exactly the way a writer creates a character."

In 1969, after earning a master's degree in comparative literature from Columbia University, Auster "did a stint working on an oil tanker before moving to Paris. There he scraped together rent money by translating French literature while starting to publish his own work in literary journals," the Times wrote. He published his first book, a collection of translations called A Little Anthology of Surrealist Poems, in 1972. In 1974, he returned to New York City. 

Auster's career began to gain momentum in 1982, with his memoir The Invention of Solitude, a rumination on his distant relationship with his recently deceased father. His first novel, City of Glass, was rejected by 17 publishers before it was published by a small press in California in 1985. The book became the first installment of the New York Trilogy--along with Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986)--three novels later packaged in a single volume.

His other novels include In the Country of Last Things (1987), Moon Palace (1989), Leviathan (1992), The Book of Illusions (2002), 4 3 2 1 (2017), and Baumgartner (2023). Among his memoirs are Hand to Mouth (1997), Winter Journal (2012), and A Life in Words (2017). Other books include The Story of My Typewriter (2002, with illustrations by the painter Sam Messer), Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane (2021), and Bloodbath Nation (2023).

He also wrote several screenplays, including Smoke (1995), directed by Wayne Wang and based on a Christmas story Auster published in the Times, which noted that it "drew deeply from his life in Park Slope, where he shared a brick townhouse with his wife, the novelist Siri Hustvedt." The director and writer also collaborated on a follow-up, Blue in the Face. Auster would go on to write and direct Lulu on the Bridge (1998) and The Inner Life of Martin Frost (2007).

Auster was named a chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1991. He was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize and voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

"I think he was a really exciting and compelling voice of his generation," Alys Moody, a professor who teaches postwar American literature, told NPR. "Auster will be remembered for being one of the leading figures in a post-modern tradition that's reimagining how central language is, and how central writing is, and how central above all storytelling is."

Faber posted on social media: "Paul was a towering figure on the Faber list and among the truly great innovators of the literature of the past half century. We are a company of Paul Auster fans and many of us will be thinking today of our first Paul Auster book and the path it led us on."

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, where Auster had previously served as a v-p, commented: "In addition to shaping the worldviews of generations of Americans through his bracing and beloved novels, Paul Auster was a writer's writer, consistently standing in solidarity with authors in China, Iran, Russia and around the world who were persecuted for what he was able to do freely: exercise his imagination and tell stories."

The Guardian featured several tributes from fellow authors, including Ian McEwan, who said, "If his imagination seemed so spacious it was because he was as much a European as an American writer. If he had Thoreau at his back, he also had Beckett. It is possible to cross a Paul Auster Platz and walk down a rue Paul Auster. Not many novelists have been so honored."

Colum McCann observed: "One of the beauties of literature is that it remains with us even beyond death, and the thing we can celebrate is that we will have Paul's words still speaking to us down through those years yet to come."

"All along, my only ambition had been to write," Auster observed in his brief memoir, Hand to Mouth (1995). "I had known that as early as 16 or 17 years old, and I had never deluded myself into thinking I could make a living at it. Becoming a writer is not a 'career decision' like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don't choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you're not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days.... All I wanted was a chance to do the work I felt I had it in me to do."

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

This past week, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to more than 970,000 of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 970,499 customers of 250 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features 11 upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, May 29. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of the April pre-order e-blast, see this one from Chevalier's Books, Los Angeles, Calif.

The titles highlighted in the pre-order e-blast were:

Children of Anguish and Anarchy by Tomi Adeyemi (Holt)
Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown)
Hip-Hop Is History by Questlove (Auwa/FSG)
The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley (Morrow)
Fire Exit by Morgan Talty (Tin House)
Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell by Ann Powers (Dey Street)
Swift River by Essie Chambers (S&S)
Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood (Berkley)
The Art and Science of Connection by Kalsey Killam (HarperOne)
Parade by Rachel Cusk (FSG)
Roswell Johnson Saves the World by Chris Colfer (Little, Brown)


Image of the Day: Steven Hale at Union Ave. Books

Union Ave. Books in Knoxville, Tenn., welcomed Steven Hale, author of Death Row Welcomes You: Visiting Hours in the Shadow of the Execution Chamber (Melville House), in conversation with Professor Jason R. Smith. Pictured: Hale with store manager Brynn Martin.

Chalkboard: Thunder Road Books

"No game tonight, but the Knicks take on the Sixers again tomorrow night!" That was the NBA playoff update from Thunder Road Books, Spring Lake, N.J., which shared a photo of its latest sidewalk chalkboard message, including a quotable NBA star player: " 'The playoffs are fun, man. That's all I've got to say.'--Luca Doncic. We've got to say.... What's everyone reading during the commercials? Come check out spring's newest releases."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sunny Hostin on the Sherri Shepherd Show

Good Morning America: J.S. Park, author of As Long as You Need: Permission to Grieve (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9781400336845).

Sherri Shepherd Show: Sunny Hostin, author of Summer on Highland Beach: A Novel (Morrow, $30, 9780062994257).

This Weekend on Book TV: The National Black Writers Conference

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, May 4
2 p.m. Tom Wheeler, author of Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (‎Harper Business, $18.99, 9780061129803).

3:05 p.m. Brady Crytzer, author of The Whiskey Rebellion: A Distilled History of an American Crisis (Westholme Publishing, $30, 9781594164002).

4:05 p.m. Presentation of the 2024 Bancroft prize to winners Elliott West and Carolyn Eisenberg at Columbia University.

Sunday, May 5
8 a.m. Stephen Breyer, author of Reading the Constitution: Why I Chose Pragmatism, Not Textualism (Simon & Schuster, $32, 9781668021538). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:05 a.m. W. Joseph Campbell, author of Lost in a Gallup: Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections (‎University of California Press, $27.95, 9780520397781). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:05 p.m.)

10 a.m. David E. Sanger, author of New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and America's Struggle to Defend the West (Crown, $33, 9780593443590). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 to 6 p.m. Coverage of the National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. A discussion on race, technology and social media with Emily Raboteau, author of Lessons for Survival: Mothering Against the Apocalypse, Christina M. Greer, author of Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream, and Bettina Love, author of Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal.
  • 2:57 p.m. A discussion on the healing power of literature with Patricia Spears Jones, author of The Beloved Community, Marita Golden, author of The Strong Black Woman: How a Myth Endangers the Physical and Mental Health of Black Women, and Kevin Powell, author of The Kevin Powell Reader: Essential Writings and Conversations.
  • 4:19 p.m. A discussion on writing Black history with Victoria Christopher Murray, co-author of The First Ladies, Pamela Newkirk, author of Diversity, Inc.: The Fight for Racial Equality in the Workplace, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.

6 p.m. Kara Alaimo, author of Over the Influence: Why Social Media Is Toxic for Women and Girls--And How We Can Take It Back (Alcove Press, $29.99, 9781639106684).

7 p.m. Leah Payne, author of God Gave Rock and Roll to You: A History of Contemporary Christian Music (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780197555248), at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Ky.

Books & Authors

Awards: Edgar Winners; Reading the West Shortlists

Winners of the 2024 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, and television, were announced last night:
Best Novel: Flags on the Bayou by James Lee Burke (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Best First Novel by an American Author: The Peacock and the Sparrow by I.S. Berry (Atria Books)
Best Paperback Original: Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto (Berkley)
Best Fact Crime: Crooked: The Roaring '20s Tale of a Corrupt Attorney General, a Crusading Senator, and the Birth of the American Political Scandal by Nathan Masters (Hachette Books)
Best Critical/Biographical: Love Me Fierce in Danger: The Life of James Ellroy by Steven Powell (Bloomsbury Academic)
Best Short Story: "Hallowed Ground" by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
Best Juvenile: The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto by Adrianna Cuevas (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers)
Best Young Adult: Girl Forgotten by April Henry (Christy Ottaviano Books)
Best Television Episode Teleplay: "Escape from Shit Mountain"--Poker Face, written by Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman (Peacock)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: "The Body in Cell Two," Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May-June 2023 by Kate Hohl (Dell Magazines)
The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award: Play the Fool by Lina Chern (Bantam)
The G.P. Putnam's Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award: An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
The Lilian Jackson Braun Memorial Award: Glory Be by Danielle Arceneaux (Pegasus Crime)
Grand Masters: Katherine Hall Page, R.L. Stine
Ellery Queen Award: Michaela Hamilton, Kensington Books


Shortlists have been selected for the 34th Annual Reading the West Book Awards, sponsored by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association and honoring the best fiction, non-fiction, and illustrated books for adults and children set in one of the MPIBA states, or created by an author or artist living or working in the region. Member stores and readers will now vote, and winners will be announced on June 13. To see the shortlists in eight categories, click here.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 7:

Long Island by Colm Tóibín (Scribner, $28, 9781476785110) follows the protagonist of the novel Brooklyn 20 years later.

Summers at the Saint: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, $29, 9781250278388) follows the widowed owner of a resort on the coast of Georgia.

Clive Cussler The Heist by Jack Du Brul (Putnam, $32, 9780593713587) is the 14th Isaac Bell adventure.

You Never Know: A Memoir by Tom Selleck and Ellis Henican (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780062945761) shares the life story of an actor best known for starring in Magnum P.I.

Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me by Whoopi Goldberg (Blackstone, $28.99, 9798200920235) is the entertainer's family memoir.

The One and Only Family by Katherine Applegate (Harper, $19.99, 9780063221123) is the final book in the middle-grade One and Only series which began with the Newbery Medal-winning The One and Only Ivan.

The Ministry of Time: A Novel by Kaliane Bradley (Avid Reader Press, $28.99, 9781668045145) is a time travel romance about a near future woman and a British naval officer from 1845.

The Instruments of Darkness by John Connolly (Atria/Emily Bestler, $29.99, 9781668022313) is the 21st thriller with private investigator Charlie Parker.

Red Side Story by Jasper Fforde (Soho Press, $29.95, 9781641296281) takes place in a dystopian future where people are segregated by color vision.

I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv by Illia Ponomarenko (Bloomsbury, $28.99, 9781639733873) documents events in Ukraine's capital at the onset of Russia's invasion.

Maxine Gets a Job by Alexandra Garyn and Bryan Reisberg, illus. by Susan Batoriillus (Random House, $19.99, 9780593642917) features Maxine, the Instagram famous corgi, figuring out her career aspirations.

It's Not Hysteria: Everything You Need to Know About Your Reproductive Health (But Were Never Told) by Dr. Karen Tang (Flatiron, $30.99, 9781250894151) explores misunderstood or ignored aspects of women's reproductive health.

The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth by Zoë Schlanger (Harper, $29.99, 9780063073852) grows our understanding of intelligence in plants.

The Quiet Coup: Neoliberalism and the Looting of America by Mehrsa Baradaran (W.W. Norton, $32.50, 9781324091165) explains how many of America's economic and political problems are the results of neoliberal policies and court decisions.

The Deer and the Dragon: No Other Gods Book 1 by Piper CJ (Bloom Books, $18.99, 9781728280172).

I Shouldn't Feel This Way: Name What's Hard, Tame Your Guilt, and Transform Self-Sabotage into Brave Action by Alison Cook (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9781400234806).

Radical Respect: How to Work Together Better by Kim Scott (St. Martin's Griffin, $18.99, 9781250623768).

You Should Be So Lucky: A Novel by Cat Sebastian (Avon, $18.99, 9780063272804).

The Joy Challenge: Discover the Ancient Secret to Experiencing Worry-Defeating, Circumstance-Defying Happiness by Randy Frazee (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9780718086169).

The Five Year Lie: A Domestic Thriller by Sarina Bowen (Harper, $18.99, 9780063280601).

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:

Clear: A Novel by Carys Davies (Scribner, $24, 9781668030660). "Insightful and memorable, Clear is an elemental portrayal of loneliness, language, and unlikely companionship. Set on a harsh and unforgiving isle in northern Scotland, Davies elegantly shares how regular daily moments can be profound." --Miriam Roskam, Mountain Shire: Books & Gifts, Winter Park, Colo.

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Emperor and the Endless Palace by Justinian Huang (Mira, $28.99, 9780778305231). "The Emperor and the Endless Palace is a hard novel to sum up, but let me try: an erotic love story, three eras, loyalty, betrayal, intrigue, mythology. The story is gloriously addictive and will keep you turning page after page!" --Kathy Baum, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.

The Great Reclamation: A Novel by Rachel Heng (Riverhead, $18, 9780593420126). "An epic historical fiction in an area most Americans know little about. Ah Boon and Siok Mei's paths diverge between fighting oppression and moving Singapore into the 'modern' world. So many relevant issues in this thought-provoking read." --Audrey Huang, Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass.

Ages 4 to 8
Gaga Mistake Day by Emma Straub and Susan Straub, illus. by Jessica Love (Rocky Pond Books, $18.99, 9780593529461). "Possibly one of the very best grandma books out there. Gaga and her granddaughter are both characters you want to be friends with as they get up to shenanigans while Mom and Dad are out, and the illustrations make them jump off the page." --Jess Iverson, Booked, Evanston, Ill.

Ages 8 to 12
Blood City Rollers by V.P. Anderson, illus. by Tatiana Hill (Labyrinth Road, $21.99, 9780593485699). "Fast moving, silly, with the right amount of introspection. Mira gets injured and can no longer skate, disrupting her parents' plans for the Olympics. Luckily, she's kidnapped by a vampire roller derby team who is in desperate need of a 'mandatory human.' " --Jamie Kovacs, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Teen Readers
Every Time You Hear That Song by Jenna Voris (Viking Books for Young Readers, $12.99, 9780593623398). "This book shined in portraying the complicated feelings that a hometown can inspire, especially for young adults trying to find who they want to be. It's impossible not to relate to Darren as she decides how much of her past she'll take into her future." --Julia Boaman, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, Del.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Long Run: A Creative Inquiry

The Long Run: A Creative Inquiry by Stacey D'Erasmo (Graywolf Press, $17 paperback, 192p., 9781644452929, July 9, 2024)

Anyone looking for useful insight into the creative process will find it in Stacey D'Erasmo's stimulating The Long Run: A Creative Inquiry. In this brief but impressively substantive exploration of the lives and work of eight artists who have sustained enduring careers, D'Erasmo also interrogates her own path as a novelist, literary critic, and teacher as she searches for the answer to one pressing question: "How do we keep doing this--making art?"

D'Erasmo (Wonderland, The Art of Intimacy, The Complicities), who teaches creative writing at Fordham University, selected a group of subjects in their late 60s or older--all of whom she interviewed at length--for her investigation: dancer Valda Setterfield, landscape designer Darrel Morrison, writer Samuel R. Delany, actress Blair Brown, composer and conductor Tania León, artist Amy Sillman, singer-songwriter Steve Earle, and visual artist Cecilia Vicuña. Though most of these artists are not household names, each has produced a substantial, critically praised body of work and, crucially for D'Erasmo, has maintained a highly visible presence over decades.

As one would expect from such a diverse collection of talents and careers, no single explanation is comprehensive enough to provide an answer to D'Erasmo's central question. As a result, her book is less interesting for formulating some grand theory of long-term creativity than it is for how it succinctly excavates the often hard-earned lessons learned from each artist's life. León's career, for instance, has been deeply influenced by the decision she made to leave her native Cuba at age 24 in 1967, but a chance encounter while she worked as a substitute rehearsal pianist in New York City set her on an unexpected course. After reading D'Erasmo's brief account of Steve Earle's drug and alcohol-drenched life, most people understandably will wonder how he's still alive; he somehow overcame that dissolution to reinvent himself as a writer of short stories and a novel and, most recently, a composer for musical theater. Episodes of challenge and response like these surface in the lives of each of D'Erasmo's subjects.

In what D'Erasmo refers to as a "fugitive, occasional memoir," she also generously describes her own creative struggles, tracing the early stages of her career in the '80s and '90s, when she publicly identified herself as queer, and the crisis she confronted when she was denied tenure in 2014, after a decade teaching at Columbia University's School of the Arts. She's now in her early 60s and, like all of the artists she admiringly profiles, her ability to survive doing creative work displays a combination of grit and adaptability. In all of these lives, there's inspiration aplenty for anyone with the courage and determination to set out on the artist's way. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Novelist and critic Stacey D'Erasmo explores the work of eight longtime successful artists while reflecting on the arc of her own creative life.

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