Shelf Awareness for Monday, September 8, 2008

Sharjah International Book Fair: Your Chance to Get Your Book in Front of 1 Million Readers - Oct. 30th - Nov. 9th, 2019 - Learn More!

Other Press: Nvk by Temple Drake

Quirk Books: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Magination Press: Stand Up!: Be an Upstander and Make a Difference by Wendy L Moss

St. Martin's Press: A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram #1) by Darynda Jones

Grand Central Publishing: PostScript by Cecelia Ahern

Quotation of the Day

Small Bookshops: 'An Essential Part of Life'

"I am keen to preserve what is good in life, and that is often at odds with what is most profitable in life. Leaving aside the price arguments about supermarkets, bookshops have, or should have, a special place in our culture. We need books, and books are best browsed in the energetic peace of a small store where the owner loves reading, just like we do. . . . Books are for everyone. Culture is for everyone. There is no need to apologise. No need to explain. The small bookshop where you are always welcome is an essential part of life."--Jeanette Winterson in the London Times.


Flame Tree Publishing: Detective Mysteries Short Stories by Various Authors


Notes: Powell's Blog; New Stores; Robert Giroux

Kudos for Powell's Books from the San Francisco Chronicle, which observed, "The best bookstore in the country has a blog that fits its eccentric ethos: quirky, smart, snarky and unapologetically literate, Powell's blog is for true book lovers only."


Barrister Books, Staunton, Va., which is scheduled to open September 13, is located, appropriately enough, at 1 Lawyers Row. The News Leader reported that the shop will carry "about 8,000 moderately priced books, along with a focused collection of rare and hard-to-find books for collectors. The store will include a children's nook and seating areas for adults." Owner Anthony Baker has been buying and selling books since 1965.


Books-A-Million has signed a lease to open a store in Blue Springs, Mo., near Kansas City, in the Adams Dairy Landing development at Adams Dairy Parkway and Interstate 70. The store is BAM's fourth in Missouri.


Robert Giroux, longtime editor-in-chief and chairman at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, has died. He was 94. The New York Times has a long, appreciative obituary article.


Alexis Akre, head book buyer and general manager of Olsson's Books & Records, which has five stores in and around Washington, D.C., left the company at the end of last week. In an e-mail, she said, "It's been a great pleasure and a wonderful learning experience over the last seven years. I've worked with very sharp people and had opportunity to take on many projects and responsibilities. I hope to have half the fun in my next endeavor."

During the summer, Olsson's filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 (Shelf Awareness, July 15, 2008).


BINC - Double Your Impact

Political Books: War Within War; Hot Sarah

Published today, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 by Bob Woodward (S&S, $32, 9781416558972/1416558977) has already ignited a war of words with the White House.

The book was excerpted in the Washington Post, and Woodward, associate editor at the Post, appeared on 60 Minutes last night and will be on a range of national shows today and tomorrow (see Media Heat, below).

National security advisor Stephen J. Hadley issued a statement last Friday disputing some key assertions in the The War Within about the Iraq War, including that President Bush was slow to acknowledge rising violence, was detached from a review of Iraq policy in 2006 and that the "surge" was just one of a handful of factors, including "groundbreaking" new covert techniques, that led to a decline in violence in Iraq.

Hadley wrote that the president "drove" the review process and talked about the violence publicly and called the surge the factor that allowed for such things as the new covert techniques to have an effect.

The White House has been quiet about Woodward's assertion that the CIA has engaged in extensive electronic surveillance of Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government. 


Ingram's Lightning Source continues to churn out copies of the only available biography of Governor Sarah Palin, Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down by Kaylene Johnson (Epicenter Press, $15.95, 9780980082562/0980082560). Some 40,000 copies were printed over Labor Day weekend and shipped last week (Shelf Awareness, September 2, 2008). "The number should reach 100,000 by early [this] week," according to Graphic Arts Center Publishing's Doug Pfeiffer, as quoted by the Oregonian. Graphic Arts Center, distributed by Ingram Publisher Services, is the distributor of Epicenter.


Kaylene Johnson's book will soon have a little competition in the race for sales. On October 10, Christian publisher Zondervan will publish a new biography of the Republican Vice Presidential nominee called Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader by Joe Hilley. Hilley is a lawyer with a master of divinity degree who writes fulltime and has published five novels that have addressed "such topics as judicial and political corruption, trafficking in women, and the scourge of meth labs on rural America."

The book, Zondervan said, will explore "themes from [Palin's] career in politics, her life as a hockey mom, and her strongly held Christian faith, explaining how they influence her new style of leadership and align with our changing economy in the information age."

"Regardless of your political persuasion, it is clear that Sarah Palin has quickly electrified the 2008 election and sparked a nationwide dialogue and debate," Moe Girkins, president and CEO of Zondervan, said in a statement. "We are honored to publish this book that will provide readers with a comprehensive look into the life and rising political career of Sarah Palin."


Like her father, Senator John McCain, Meghan McCain is out on the hustings: in her case, she's promoting both her father and her new children's book, My Dad, John McCain illustrated by Dan Andreasen (Aladdin, $16.99, 9781416975281/1416975284). The book made its debut last Tuesday. Tomorrow McCain will be on the Today Show, the View and Nightline. 


Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry M. Bartels ($29.95, 9780691136639/0691136637), a Princeton University Press book co-published with the Russell Sage Foundation in May, has picked up the endorsement of several prominent Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who last week, as reported by MSNBC, said on the campaign trail in Ohio, "There's a book that's come out right now, by a prominent economist--irrefutable--looking at the evidence showing that when Democrats have been in charge of the economy, the economy has grown faster and it's also been fairer in the sense that everybody benefits. And when the Republicans have been in charge, the economy has grown slower and there's been greater inequality."

By a Princeton professor of public and international affairs who is also director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, the book was also promoted by James Carville on CNN ("Obama can connect with voters on the economy by using history as a guideline. He should start by reading Unequal Democracy.") and Alan S. Blinder in the New York Times (Bartels "brilliantly" presents fact that "might help voters see what could be at stake, economically speaking, in November").

Princeton University Press reports a jump in media inquiries.


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

PublicAffairs Goes to Hollywood

PublicAffairs and Participant Media, which has produced An Inconvenient Truth, Syriana and The Visitor, among other films that aim to address a range of issues in entertaining ways, are cooperating on a project under with PublicAffairs will publish books based on Participant's films. The companies' first collaboration is a paperback original that "expands on the ideas presented" in the documentary Food, Inc., which had its world premiere yesterday at the Toronto Film Festival.

The book will be called Food, Inc.: How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer--And What You Can Do About It and will appear in conjunction with the wide release of the movie next year. The documentary features Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, and argues that the country's "food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment."

In the first part of the book, Pollan and Schlosser will offer an overview of the movie and the state of the food system. Director Robert Kenner will discuss the making of the film and the research done for it. The main part of the book consists of essays by experts on issues such as the relationship between food production and fossil fuels, the global impact of American agriculture and genetic engineering. Contributors include Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Anna Lappé, Robert Bryce and Peter Pringle. The book will also include resources for concerned readers.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

Suzy Staubach Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to Suzy Staubach, manager of the general books division at the UConn Co-Op, Storrs, Conn., who will receive the Lifetime Achievement in Service to the Literary Community Award, sponsored by the Connecticut Center for the Book. The Award and the Connecticut Book Awards, for which finalists were just announced, will be presented at 2 p.m., Sunday, September 21, at the Hartford Public Library.

Sam Pickering, author and professor of English at the University of Connecticut, will give the lifetime achievement award to Staubach. As the Center wrote, "In addition to her professional accomplishments, she is simply, as Sam Pickering said, 'nice and . . . has worked hard to better the place of books in Connecticut and not simply to better the lots of readers but to create readers.' " [Editor's note: we agree with Pickering that Staubach is one of the nicest people we know.]

Besides her position at the college bookstore, Staubach is a founding member and co-chair of the Connecticut Children's Book Fair, on the board of Curbstone Press, past president of the Connecticut Center for the Book, past board member of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, past board member of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, former vice president of the American Booksellers Association, a columnist for NACS's College Store magazine and last but not least, a potter and author of Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind's Relationship with Earth's Most Primal Element (Shelf Awareness, October 19, 2005).


Image of the Day: Katrina Benefit

At a recent benefit for KARES (Katrina Arts & Relief Emergency Services) and a party for New Stories from the South 2008 edited by ZZ Packer (Algonquin) at the Housing Works Bookstore in New York City: Packer (l.) with Tayari Jones, author of Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling.



Media and Movies

Warner Bros. and the Full-Throated Protest

Warner Bros.'s decision to move the air date of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to next July from this November has led legions of Potter fans to protest in a variety of ways, including through an online petition, YouTube videos and a barrage of e-mails to studio staff, the Wall Street Journal reported today in a front-page story.

"The withering attacks over a family-friendly franchise like Potter show how the nature of fan uprisings has grown increasingly hostile," the Journal wrote. "Thanks to the Web, angry fans can arm themselves with the latest information and speedily deliver profane brain dumps straight into executive email boxes. . . . Warner Bros. is in some ways a victim of the same forces that drove its success. The five prior Potter films have grossed almost $4.5 billion in world-wide box-office revenue, making the series the biggest franchise in history. In the past, Warner Bros. has invited staffers of Potter fan Web sites to movie premieres to help whip up hysteria ahead of upcoming movie releases. With its transgression, Warner Bros. inadvertently unleashed this powerful force against itself."

A Lucasfilm executive suggested that Warner be one with the force, as it were. "Sure, they have a problem on their hands, but they are also seeing the passion of their fans," he said. "The real problem comes when you have fans that don't give a damn."


Media Heat: Friedman's Green Revolution; Mr. Zbig Returns

Bob Woodward, author of The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (S&S, $32, 9781416558972/1416558977), appears today on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News and Larry King Live. Tomorrow he will be on Morning Edition, Fresh Air and the O'Reilly Factor.


This morning on Good Morning America: Thomas L. Friedman, author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America (FSG, $27.95, 9780374166854/0374166854). He also appears tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman.


This morning on the Today Show:

  • Carol Alt, author of This Year's Model (Avon, $13.95, 9780061366246/0061366242)
  • M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It (Wiley, $24.95, 9780470114636/0470114630)
  • Rick Riordan, author of 39 Clues: Maze of Bones (Scholastic Press, $12.99, 9780545060394/0545060397)


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Tom Gjelten, author of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking, $27.95, 9780670019786/067001978X).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals (S&S, $21, 9780743270755/0743270754).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis, author of Big Words for Little People (Joanna Cotler, $16.99, 9780061127595/0061127590).
  • Meghan McCain, author of My Dad, John McCain (Aladdin, $16.99, 9781416975281/1416975284). She will also appear on the View and Nightline.


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, author of America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy (Basic Books, $27.50, 9780465015016/0465015018).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Richard Brookhiser, author of George Washington on Leadership (Basic Books, $26, 9780465003020/0465003028).



Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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


The Grift by Debra Ginsberg (Shaye Areheart, $23.95, 9780307382726/0307382729). "Marina's drug-addicted mother used her to tell fortunes. Once she is free of her mother's controlling hand, Marina continues to make a living by telling people what they want or need to hear. But, gradually, the intertwined lives of her clients turn dark with lies and deceit as Marina begins to see things that her clients do not want to hear."--Jessilynn Krebs, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

Forget Me Not by Jennifer Lowe-Anker (Mountaineers, $24.95, 9781594850820/1594850828). "Jennifer Lowe Anker's memoir of carrying on after the death of her husband, world-class climber Alex Lowe, is a moving story of love, grief, and healing."--Robby Smith, Sheridan Stationery Books & Gallery, Sheridan, Wyo.

Ages 4-8

Jake Starts School by Michael Wright (Feiwel & Friends, $16.95, 9780312367985/0312367988). "The first day of school finds Jake a nervous wreck. As they were in the prequel, Jake Stays Awake, his parents are the picture of sainthood as they work through his 'problem' with him. Wright captures the most common of scenes from such inspired angles, with amusing details to spare."--Suzanne Perry, The Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, Wash.

For Teen Readers

Looks by Madeleine George (Viking, $16.99, 9780670061679/0670061670). "Looks ostensibly is about two high school girls, each with an eating disorder, one with near-morbid obesity and one tending toward anorexia. Their slowly converging lives allow George to explore the concept of vision and visibility in an incisive and original manner. In the end, the book suggests the only way to become invisible to the unwanted tyranny of hostile looks is to be truly seen. A challenging and beautiful book."--Kenny Brechner, Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Me.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Book Review: A Sun for the Dying

A Sun for the Dying by Jean-Claude Izzo (Europa Editions, $15.00 Paperback, 9781933372594, August 2008)

Medicating himself with Dolipran, only as sober as he absolutely needs to be, Rico is one of the homeless of Paris, living on the street and managing to stay numb and survive, but the discovery of his best friend's body frozen to death in the subway sends Rico out to find a place where he can die in the sun.

Sad stuff? Wrenchingly so, but Jean-Claude Izzo's final novel, A Sun for the Dying, is so fearless in facing the harsh inequities of life that it's exhilarating to read. Izzo swoops to the defense of the powerless with the zeal of a Dickens or Hugo, and his passionate love of his characters balances his determined look down into the abyss of human misery.

It's a long way back to Marseilles, Rico's sunny destination and the home city of the author, and two thirds of the novel is spent just trying to get there. On his way back across France, Rico has telling encounters and remembers chunks of his past, the women he's loved, the wife who left him.

The novel is studded with delightful, touching characters: Felix, the good-natured halfwit who looks and acts like a teenager with a football he's never without; Mirjana, the prostitute from Bosnia who considers herself already dead and takes pity on homeless Rico; and Abdou, the streetwise, parentless 13-year-old Arab boy who becomes Rico's guardian angel during his final days.

Son of an Italian immigrant, Izzo lived most of his life in his beloved Marseilles and wrote five novels that took place there before passing away in 2000 at the age of 55. His suspenseful novels read like a cross between Joseph Conrad and Albert Camus and are among the defining novels of an exciting new European genre, Mediterranean noir, an adaptation of the classic crime novel where the additional crime of social injustice is the setting for the human drama, all of it boiled in the hot tempers and sensuality of the Mediterranean sun.

Izzo is famous for making grown men weep, and it's embarrassingly true. So why was I sobbing as I closed this book? Because Izzo's vision of life, though unspeakably sad, rings boldly honest. He tells his melancholy tale of a fallen man's last days with a candid, unflinching look at the unfairness of modern life but done without whimpering, with grand, larger-than-life characters you can't help but love who stand up to their operatic fates with noble, near-suicidal defiance.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A melancholy tale of a homeless man's last days, as he journeys to find a place to die in the sun. Wrenchingly sad but exhilarating to read because of the author's passion and searing prose.


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