Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mariner Books: The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice by Bobby and Cheryl Love

St. Martin's Press: The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New from Here by Kelly Yang

Other Press: The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier, translated by Adriana Hunter

Poisoned Pen Press: The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

Berkley Books: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James

Quotation of the Day

The Love of Books and Business

"I enjoy being a small-business owner. I enjoy not only books, but I enjoy running a small business. It's 50-50 for me. I like buying and selling things."--Bill Porter, who has just opened Adventures in Books, Colorado Springs, Colo., three years after closing Bijou Street Books, as quoted by the Colorado Springs Gazette.


Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Mina by Matthew Forsythe


Notes: New Stores; Heinlein's Response Checklist

Reading Time Books, a 4,000-sq.-ft. store and cafe, opens officially this month in Dallas, Ore., the Statesman Journal reported. Owner Dawn Lynn has been aided in the venture by Penny Cox, owner of the building in which the bookstore is located (she is "kind of my angel"), and by her family (some will help staff the store and cafe, and her father and husband are helping build fixtures).

The store will sell new and used books.


Early in October, Borders will land in Terminal B/C of the Philadelphia International Airport. The new 1,044-sq.-ft. store will stock more than 7,000 book titles, including audiobooks, as well as gift and stationery items.

Borders operates stores in a range of airports across the country.


In October 2009, Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in Lubbock, Tex., that replaces a nearby B&N. The new store will be in the South Plains Mall at Loop 289 and Slide Road. The day before that store opens, B&N will close its longtime location at 6707 Slide Road.


Morningside Bookshop, New York, N.Y., "is turning to locals for help," according to the Columbia Spectator, which reported that the shop, which occupies a building owned by the university, "has been granted multiple extensions on its rent and its owner hopes to sell a portion of the shop to neighborhood investors."

"Barnes & Noble has affected business, the Internet has affected business, and the economy has affected business," said Peter Soter, the shop's owner. "Books are a luxury item--they're not like clothes or insurance."

The bookstore plans to host a community outreach event on September 18.


"It's going to take a big novel to compete with the U.S. election this fall, and publishers are eager to supply one," Bloomberg reported in its preview of autumn fiction titles of note, including new works by Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and John Updike.


A letter from your favorite author may seem like a good thing, but in Robert A. Heinlein's case, that depended largely upon which box he checked. Follow the New Yorker's Back Bench blog link to Kevin Kelly's Lifestream, which features a form letter the legendary sci-fi author once used to answer his voluminous fan mail. Among our favorites:

(  ) You say that you have enjoyed my stories for years. Why did you wait until you disliked one story before writing to me?
(  ) I don't sell books. All my books are in print & can be bought or ordered at any bookstore or directly from publishers. Bookstores have "in-print" lists.
(  ) I get 4 or 5 or more requests each week for help in class assignments., term papers, or dissertations. I can't cope with so many and have quit trying.
(  ) Please do not write to me again.

Read Street, the Baltimore Sun's book blog, observed that "television executives are taking the silver screen's lead and turning literature into prime-time entertainment. . . . this year, I've counted at least eight shows on the lineup, including NBC's new brainchild, Crusoe. And that's not including the shows that now have their own book series. Cross-marketing galore."


Karen Rice has joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's trade and reference division as senior marketing manager for adult books and works in the company's New York office. She had been at Random House for 10 years, most recently as national account manager, Baker & Taylor, for Knopf and Crown, and district sales manager for independent booksellers in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey, specialty retailers and B&N College.


Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Ashes of Gold by J Elle

Another Quake: Epicenter Shifts Sarah to Tyndale House

Epicenter Press, publisher of the only available biography of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down by Kaylene Johnson, has shifted distribution of the title to Christian publisher Tyndale House Publishers. Tyndale is printing 250,000 copies of its edition of the book (which retails for $15.95 and has a new ISBN, 9781414330501) and begins shipping copies today.

In a statement, Doug Knox, senior vice president and publisher at Tyndale, said, "We're delighted to be able to work with Epicenter Press to expand distribution of this informative resource."

Less than two weeks ago, after Senator John McCain picked the Alaska governor as his running mate, Epicenter's longtime distributor, Graphic Arts Center Publishing, which is itself distributed by Ingram Publisher Services, worked with Ingram's Lightning Source to print some 40,000 copies of a new trade paperback edition of the book over Labor Day weekend (Shelf Awareness, September 2, 2008).

Word is that Epicenter was able to make the move because Graphic Arts Center's Chapter 11 filing in April 2006 nullified its distribution contracts, and after emerging from Chapter 11 in early 2007, no new contract was signed with Epicenter.


Disney-Hyperion: Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Media and Movies

Media Heat: This Year's Model

This morning on Good Morning America: Carol Alt, author of This Year's Model (Avon, $13.95, 9780061366246/0061366242).


Starting today on WETA's Author, Author!: an interview with Ross Raisin, author of Out Backward (Harper Perennial, $13.95, 9780061448751/0061448752).


Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: Melanie Fascitelli, author of Shop Your Closet: The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Closet with Style (Collins Living, $19.95, 9780061343810/0061343811).


Tomorow on the Diane Rehm Show: Gustav Niebuhr, author of Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America (Viking, $25.95, 9780670019564/0670019569).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: an American Bookworm in Paris, Part 2. As the show put it, "The young French critic, novelist and filmmaker Camille de Toledo [author of Coming of Age at the End of History (Soft Skull, $14.95, 9781593761974/159376197X)] tells the sad/exuberant story of young French intellectuals growing up at the end of everything. May '68 long past--in a post-modern culture of spectacle and dead activisms--how do the new intelligentsia find a way to re-activate their lives, their language and their culture?"


Tomorrow on Fresh Air: Andrew Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (Metropolitan Books, $24, 9780805088151/0805088156).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Newt Gingrich, author of Real Change: From the World that Fails to the World that Works (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596980532/1596980532).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Jamie Lee Curtis, author of Big Words for Little People (Joanna Cotler, $16.99, 9780061127595/0061127590).


New Press: Congratulations to Nobel Prize Winner Abdulrazak Gurnah

Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker Shortlist

The shortlisted titles (and their U.S. publishers) for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, which "promotes the finest in fiction," are:

  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Free Press, $24, 9781416562597/1416562591)
  • The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (Viking, $24.95, 9780670019403/0670019402)
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (FSG, $26, 9780374174224/0374174229)
  • The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant (Virago Press, $21.46, 9781844085415/1844085414)
  • The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher (Knopf, $27.95, 9781400044481/1400044480)
  • A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (Spiegel & Grau, $24.95, 9780385521727/0385521723, and a new paperback edition, $14.95, 9780385521734/0385521731)

The judges this year are Michael Portillo, former MP and cabinet minister; Alex Clark, editor of Granta; Louise Doughty, novelist; James Heneage, founder of Ottakar's bookshops; and Hardeep Singh Kohli, TV and radio broadcaster.

In a statement, Portillo, the jury chair, called the shortlisted novels "intensely readable, each of them an extraordinary example of imagination and narrative. These fine page-turning stories nonetheless raise highly thought-provoking ideas and issues. These books are in every case both ambitious and approachable." Two of the titles--A Fraction of the Whole and The White Tiger--are first novels.

This year some of the talk about the finalists focused on the omission of several major titles, particularly Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence. The Guardian quoted Portillo as saying, "In the opinion of [the judges] taken together, Salman Rushdie's was not one of the top six books for us. We didn't have a huge debate about it."

The winning title will be chosen and announced Tuesday, October 14.


GBO Pick of the Month: The Road to Rescue

The August German Book Office pick of the month is The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler's List by Mietek Pemper, which has been translated by David Dollenmayer and will be released by Other Press on October 21.

Pemper was born in 1920 to Jewish parents in Krakow, Poland, and studied law and business. After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he and his family were forced into the Krakow ghetto and later deported to the Plaszow concentration camp, where Pemper became secretary to the camp commandant, Amon Göth. With information gained from that position, Pemper helped Oskar Schindler save Jewish factory workers from concentration camps. After the war, he testified at the war crimes trials of Göth and other Nazis, studied sociology and settled in southern Germany, where he still works as a corporate consultant.

This memoir, co-written by Holocaust studies expert Viktoria Hertling and literary editor Marie Elisabeth Müller, focuses on how he helped Schindler save lives. Der Spiegel wrote, "Everything that the Brothers Grimm collected about cruelty seems harmless when Pemper begins to write." And the Tages-Anzeiger said that "Pemper's report goes far beyond the 'actual history' of [Schindler's] lists."

Dollenmayer won the 2008 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Moses Rosenkrantz's Childhood: An Autobiographical Fragment.


Book Review

Book Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken (Little Brown and Company, $19.99 Hardcover, 9780316027670, September 2008)

Long before it would have personal significance, a woman told Elizabeth McCracken, "You should write a book about the lighter side of losing a child." The strange suggestion "seemed like the saddest thing I'd ever heard," McCracken states in this powerful, beautifully written memoir, but it turned out to have eerie prescience. Years later, in April 2006, McCracken lost a son in the ninth month of pregnancy and she realized a depth of grief that would forever divide her life into before and after. Traveling back and forth between this tragic event and the following year when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, McCracken returns often to that long-ago comment, seeking not a "lighter side" of her loss, but understanding and reconciliation.
McCracken and her British husband (also a writer and teacher) were living in a rambling French farmhouse near Bordeaux as they awaited the birth of their first child whom they'd affectionately nicknamed Pudding. Although McCracken was almost 40, her pregnancy was effortless from the start; so much so that the couple felt confident choosing midwives to deliver Pudding in a rural hospital. At term (or, she now suspects, post-term), the baby stopped moving. McCracken visited her midwife who assured her it was nothing serious. At a clinic later that day, an ultrasound confirmed that the baby had died. He was delivered two days later.
McCracken relates these events and those of the following year with the patchwork quality of recent memory (the book was completed in June 2007), making her narrative both immediate and intimate. Some details--the exact shape and color of Pudding's mouth, the mortuary where he was cremated--stand out with excruciating sharpness. Others--the first few days after Pudding's death before they left France for good--are blurred in the wash of grief. Throughout, McCracken struggled with guilt and a life that was inwardly "ruined" but outwardly not at all changed. When she became pregnant again, McCracken and her husband--by then living in New York--interviewed several doctors until they found one they trusted. The birth of their son Gus did not erase the sorrow of Pudding's death only one year earlier but created a space for it within their joy.
McCracken's experience is a difficult one to imagine for anyone who hasn't been through it. That she was able to bear it with such courage is a credit to her strength of will. But that she is able to write about it with such honesty and beauty is a testament to her great literary talent.--Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker: A moving and brilliantly written memoir about the death of the author's unborn child and how she found peace afterwards.


Deeper Understanding

Republicans in Saint Paul: A Tale of Twin Cities

Martin Schmutterer, assistant manager of Common Good Books, Saint Paul, Minn., reports from the city that hosted the Republican National Convention last week.

The Republican National Convention was supposed to bring an economic boost to the Twin Cities after a difficult summer. While there's debate about how much money it really brought, our bookstore, Common Good Books, didn't expect to see busloads of Republican delegates, even though we were 10 minutes away from the Xcel Center, where the RNC took place.

The obstacles were too large. Delegates were bussed to Minneapolis to party. Our corner of Saint Paul, while close to the action and historically and architecturally rich, isn't the Mall of America. And our store is owned by Garrison Keillor, which is usually a draw, but probably not in this case (although the sheet music to his song "We're All Republicans Now" did sell very well this week). Still, we moved books around to make the store seem less partisan, added some token titles from Threshold and Regnery, and Sue Zumberge, the store manager, urged our employees to limit political commentary.

The RNC seemed like an alien invasion, an encounter with the Other. Hopefully they would come in peace. One of our regular customers spoke for many in our community when he asked, "What do Republicans look like?" When I asked a local deli employee if they were ready, he said they were still digging trenches and filling sand bags. We, as booksellers and as residents of Saint Paul, really did not know what to expect.

We didn't believe that the Republicans would come to the store. And they didn't. A Ron Paul supporter and a few RINOs (Republicans in name only) visited after the convention closed. Journalists from the Washington Post, Guardian, Time and NPR stopped in, but no one from the Daily Show.

Instead of counting on conventioneers we worked our base. Our programming began on Sunday with an event celebrating Bart Schneider's The Man in the Blizzard, a comic crime novel of neo-Nazi conspiracy, abortion politics, poetry and pot (Shelf Awareness, June 30, 2008). We sold books for Bill Press and Thom Hartmann. We helped launch a new collection of speeches by the late Senator Paul Wellstone. It was a plan that worked well for us, and led to our best week since December.

On the last night of the convention, the weather turned gray and cold, and we should have recognized it as a portent. The police presence had been on everyone's mind throughout the week. Everyone seemed to know someone who was detained or beaten, most of whom were not feces-throwing anarchists. Protesters were being arrested en masse and this night was expected to be the worst.

I sent bookseller Joe Finck home early because his long bus ride across town had grown longer over the last nights because of the protesters. Later, I went upstairs to Nina's, the café above the store, to refill my water glass. Joe was still outside, waiting with a growing, irritated crowd. The buses had been rerouted, and no one knew where to meet them. You could hear the "flash bangs" going off in the distance. When reports came in that hundreds of people were arrested that night, the weariness took over.

By Thursday, we were ready for the Communards, the riot police and the Republicans to all go home. As Joe said to me Thursday, "It's starting to wear on me, man. The hood can't take it anymore."


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