Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Holds Alert: New Look At Autism

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 11.57.00 AMNoted science writer and WIRED reporter Steve Silberman appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, sending his new book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (Penguin/Avery; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) rocketing up Amazon’s sales rankings.

A history of autism, its evolution, and the way the scientific world has approached its diagnosis, NeuroTribes is changing the conversation
on the subject.

Jennifer Senior, who says the book is “beautifully told, humanizing, important” in her piece on it in the NYT Sunday Book Review, highlights just one of the ways Silberman shines new light on the very definition of autism:

The autism pandemic, in other words, is an optical illusion, one brought about by an original sin of diagnostic parsimony. The implications here are staggering: Had the definition included Asperger’s original, expansive vision, it’s quite possible we wouldn’t have been hunting for environmental causes or pointing our fingers at anxious parents…This is, without a doubt, a provocative argument that Silberman is making, one sure to draw plenty of pushback and anger. But he traces his history with scrupulous precision, and along the way he treats us to charming, pointillist portraits of historical figures who are presumed to have had Asperger’s, including Henry Cavendish and Nikola Tesla.

Likely to become a classic in the field, it is already listed along with works by Andrew Solomon and Temple Grandin and comes with a forward by Oliver Sacks.

Holds are exceeding a 3:1 ratio across the country in libraries we checked.

Order Alert: THE VISITING PRIVILEGE

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

9781101874899_dba60For its Labor Day weekend issue, arriving when subscribers are likely to have more time to read it than usual, Sunday’s NYT Magazine devotes the cover to a profile of an author few readers know, Joy Williams. Her new book, arriving next week, The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories (RH/ Knopf), writes Dan Kois, culture editor at Slate, “cements her reputation as not merely one of the great writers of her generation, but as our pre-eminent bard of humanity’s insignificance.”

A reminder, the magazine has done this before, featuring another author on the cover who was also a greatly admired but largely unknown short story writer, George Saunders, making his book The Tenth of December a long-running best seller.

Kois lavishes Williams with praise, saying, “To call her 50-year career that of a writer’s writer does not go far enough. Her three story collections and four darkly funny novels are mostly overlooked by readers but so beloved by generations of fiction masters that she might be the writer’s writer’s writer.”

The list of authors lining up to sing her praises is a modern who’s who of greats. Don DeLillo, George Saunders, and Karen Russell are quoted, with Russell saying Williams is “a visionary” and “resizes people against a cosmic backdrop.’’

In a few share-worthy lines Kois offers a quick introduction:

Her stories often reveal themselves as parables, and her writing on the environment is equal parts fire, brimstone and eulogy…The typical Williams protagonist is a wayward girl or young woman whose bad decisions, or bad attitude, or both, make her difficult to admire: She drives away while her husband is paying for gas, or ransacks a houseguest’s room to read her journal.

Orders are very light (or nonexistent) in libraries we checked.

Crystal Ball: GIRL WAITS
WITH GUN

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

9780544409910_db716-2Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits with Gun (HMH; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) is gathering velocity.

Stewart spoke with Steve Innskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday. The charming interview sent her debut novel (after successful nonfiction titles) racing up Amazon’s sales rankings.

Separately, Girl Waits with Gun was also reviewed on NPR by author Genevieve Valentine. “Charming” is a word that comes up frequently there as well, with Valentine saying “It might seem odd to be reading about an old-fashioned farmstead shootout and thinking about how charming it is, but if you’re reading Girl Waits With Gun, you might as well get used to it. You’ll be thinking that a lot.”

As we reported in the look ahead to books coming out this week, Stewart’s novel has four prepub stars and is both an Indie Next and a LibraryReads pick.

Holds are topping a 3:1 ratio at some libraries and are strong everywhere we checked. Don’t be surprised if it shows up on best seller lists next week.

THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN Reviewed

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.20.58 AMNPR posted a sneak peek of Terry Pratchett’s The Shepherd’s Crown (HarperCollins; HarperCollinsAudio and Blackstone Audio) last week and on its heels comes Michael Dirda’s RA-friendly review and very helpful summary of the entire Tiffany Aching story arc.

Writing in The Washington Post, Dirda guides readers through Tiffany’s adventures, starting with The Wee Free Men (2003) and continuing through A Hat Full of Sky (2004), Wintersmith (2006) and I Shall Wear Midnight (2010). He explains both the story arc and the point of the adventures.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.43.34 AMDirda clearly admires Pratchett and adores Tiffany, sharing an excerpt from The Wee Free Men:

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. . . . “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

“There’s me,” said Tiffany.

Writing about his feelings when reading, re-reading, and thinking of that passage, Dirda says, “Even now, I feel a thrill just typing those words.”

Readers’ advisory librarians in search of a quick catchup will be happy not only with Dirda’s summary but the way he shares his joy in the entire series.

The review ends with a quick summary:

The Shepherd’s Crown is certainly a worthy crown to Terry Pratchett’s phenomenal artistic achievement, though sharp readers will recognize that some elements… are never fully developed. Moreover, anyone expecting lots of laughs will need to revisit some of the other books set on Discworld… much of this novel concerns itself with death and life’s purpose, while also examining the claims of tradition against the need for change and progress. Above all, though, The Shepherd’s Crown — like all of Pratchett’s fiction — stresses the importance of helping others.

Eight Titles to Know and Recommend, the Week of Aug. 31

Friday, August 28th, 2015

spiders-web  purity

It’s a game of “Is this one better than that one” for critics this week, as they look forward to two big launches on Tuesday. We’ve already looked at the earliest reviews of The Girl in the Spider’s Web (RH/Knopf; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print).  People magazine adds theirs online today (the review is not in the new print issue; usually it is the other way around), judging it a worthy successor. That makes the Washington Post the only holdout so far

The other title is Jonathan’s third book, Purity. (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio). It’s also had several early reviews, which we summarized. Many more have been added since.

Going beyond the cliched adjective “highly anticipated,” Entertainment Weekly ‘s Leah Greenblatt writes, “A new Jonathan Franzen novel arrives only every five or 10 years, and when it does, it feels like a banquet. His books are almost always centered on familial entanglements and identity, but they’re never just that: There are brilliant stand-alone chapters to devour, detours to savor, bitter little scraps to nibble and spit out.”  This one is no exception, says Greenblatt, Objecting to Franzen’s “often shockingly ugly take on women” (although she says he is an equal opportunity insulter, since his “male characters hardly come out unscathed”) and to the novel’s abrupt ending which seems to indicate Franzen tired of his characters, she gives it a B.

The daily NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani, whom Franzen referred to in 2008 as “the stupidest person in New York City,” calls this a “dynamic new novel,” which, “After its somewhat stilted start …kicks into gear, with Mr. Franzen writing with gathering assurance and verve.” Addressing Franzen famous misanthropy, she says he “has added a new octave to his voice … [the] ability here to not just satirize the darkest and pettiest of human impulses but to also capture his characters’ yearnings for connection and fresh starts — and to acknowledge the possibility of those hopes.”

LA Times chief critic David L. Ulin’s is more qualified, saying “The novel is a bit of a mixed bag, largely because of all the plotting, which has never been the author’s strong suit; both The Corrections and Freedom succeed despite, not because of, their narrative contrivances. All the same, it remains compelling to read Franzen confront his demons, which are not just his but everyone’s.”

People magazine makes it their “Pick of the Week,” [not online yet] calling it “Wickedly smart and funny about power and desire, sometimes flabby and contrived yet still irresistible: pure Franzen.”

The titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet,EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Aug. 31, 2015

Consumer Media Picks

9781609452865_4717cThe Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante, (Europa Editions)

The cult Italian author‘s final book in her Neapolitan Novels series is featured on the cover of this week’a NYT Book Review.

The writer explains in a Vanity Fair interview that “You Don’t Need to Know Her Name.”

 

Peer Picks

9781476798172_61985Did You Ever Have A Family, Bill Clegg, (S&S/Gallery/Scout Press)

There’s a pile-up of excitement for this book, featured at BEA, with stars from all four pre-pub journals, plus picks by Indie Next as well as LibraryReads:

“Clegg’s devastatingly beautiful fiction debut is the portrait of a community in the aftermath of a tragedy. June Reid, the broken woman at the epicenter of the novel, is struggling with a loss so profound that she is unable to see beyond her grief, unaware that it has touched many people. Clegg tells their stories with heartbreaking sensitivity and insight.” — Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, CT

9780544409910_db716-2Girl Waits with Gun, Amy Stewart, (HMH)

Also arriving with four prepub stars and picks by Indie Next and LibraryReads:

“When the Kopp sisters and their buggy are injured by Henry Kaufman’s car, Constance Kopp at first just wants him to pay the damages. As she pursues justice, she meets another of Kaufman’s victims, the young woman Lucy. Stewart creates fully developed characters, including the heroine, Constance, who is fiercely independent as she faces down her fears. The time period and setting are important parts of the story as well, providing a glimpse of 1914 New Jersey.” — Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA

It is also reviewed in the week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review and author Stewart answers the burning question from the L.A Times, “What made Amy Stewart leave garden bestsellers behind for the novel Girl Waits with Gun?” She reveals she has and answer to reviewers’ hopes and is working on anther novel featuring Constance Kopp.

9780399174001_ee04bThe Gates of Evangeline, Hester Young, (Penguin/Putnam)

Indie Next and LibraryReads

“Journalist Charlie Cates goes to gloomy, swampy Louisiana to write a book about the disappearance of a young child. Her research uncovers family secrets, lies, and clandestine affairs. This first book in a new series is incredibly suspenseful, with a vivid setting, a supernatural tinge, and an intricate plot that keeps you guessing until the end.” — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ

9781250072320_3d213Jade Dragon Mountain, Elsa Hart, (Macmillan/Minotaur)

Indie Next:

“Hart has written an excellent historical whodunit set in a remote province of Imperial China in 1708. Li Du, a librarian in exile, investigates the murder of an old Jesuit priest a few days before the arrival of the emperor. Full of mythological, cultural, and historical details, Jade Dragon Mountain also offers a fascinating analysis of the period when foreign businessmen began coveting China’s riches, in particular its tea. The plot is tight, the characters and suspects are fully developed, and the story keeps readers guessing with a few extra surprises at the end. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading more adventures featuring Li Du.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

At BEA Shout ‘n’ Share, Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Library System said, “The language, the prose is so beautiful it takes you into the story and keeps you going page after page.”

Tie-ins

Hitting theaters today is the movie adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien, Z For Zachariah (S&S/Atheneum, 1975; tie-in edition, Simon Pulse, 8/18/15), reviewed in the NYT today. Concluding on HBO this Sunday is the series Show Me A Hero, based on the book by Lisa Belkin.

9781481455923_8feea  9781481456029_20445

Scheduled for publication this week are new trade paperback editions of the six titles in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series and the three in the prequel, The Infernal Devices. ABC Family is adapting the series. It is expected to being in early 2016. To fuel fan interest, the official site ShadowHuntersTV.com was launched recently.

For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV. For tie-ins, link to our catalog on Edelweiss.

GEORGE Shines

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 11.20.02 AMA middle grade novel that features a transgender girl trying to find acceptance is building buzz.

George by Alex Gino (Scholastic; Scholastic Inc. Audio; OverDrive Sample) is one of IndieBound’s Autumn ’15 “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers” and was part of The New York Times story on transgendered children’s books. Trade reviews are glowing, using words such as “inspiring” “radiant” and “required purchase.”

Today’s NPR’s Morning Edition joined the bandwagon in a wide ranging story that includes how Scholastic is marketing George as a book for everyone.

In a seemingly odd comparison, Scholastic sees the marketing strategy along the same lines as their approach to The Hunger Games. Editorial director David Levithan told NPR, “It’s kind of crazy to remember now, but that book was initially seen as a potentially difficult sell. After all, it’s about kids killing each other.”

But like Suzanne Collins’s breakout, Levithan knew that readers would relate to the story once they gave it a chance, and believed they just needed to get George in front of people who would hand-sell it. Scholastic sent it to 10,000 teachers and librarians and Gino appeared at major book fairs to get booksellers behind it.

That strategy is in keeping with the author’s goals. “I want it to be a book that someone passes to someone and says, ‘You have to.’ ” Gino told Kirkus.

Nancy Pearl Revisits
Her Home Town

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.08.25 PM This week on the NPR affiliate KUOW show “On the Record,” librarian Nancy Pearl talks about Angela Flournoy’s debut The Turner House (HMH; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), a book set in Nancy’s hometown of Detroit.

The novel, which was a May Indie Next pick and one of our Eight Titles to Know and Recommend for the week of April 13, is set in the East Side of Detroit, from the early 1950s through the 2000s.

About a large African American family with 13 children, it focuses on the oldest son and youngest daughter, it blends history, including the Civil Rights era in Detroit and the northern migration, into the story of place and family.

Nancy suggests it for readers interested in characters and calls it “such a good reading experience.”

THE SPIDER’S WEB, First Reviews

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.24.18 AM

Today is the release day in the U.K. for the English-language version of The Girl in the Spider’s WebA Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series by David Lagercrantz (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; RH Large Print).  We won’t see it here until Tuesday, and critics are in a competition to review it first.

Daily New York Times critic, Michiko Kakutani, has reviewed all the previous titles in the series. Her take on the new book  is summed up in these lines, “Though there are plenty of lumps in the novel along the way, Salander and Blomkvist have survived the authorship transition intact and are just as compelling as ever  … Spider’s Web is less bloody, less horror movie lurid than its predecessors. In other respects, Mr. Lagercrantz seems to have set about — quite nimbly, for the most part — channeling Larsson’s narrative style, mixing genre clichés with fresh, reportorial details, and plot twists reminiscent of sequences from Larsson’s novels with energetically researched descriptions of the wild, wild West that is the dark side of the Internet.”

USA Today chimes in, “Rest easy, Lisbeth Salander fans — our punk hacker heroine is in good hands.”

The Washington Post‘s Patrick Anderson is less enthusiastic, saying, “I recall the Larsson books unfolding gracefully. Lagercrantz’s narrative is fragmentary and confusing. It’s almost impossible to keep track of all the hackers, scientists and killers who emerge briefly, vanish, then turn up again after you’ve forgotten them,” It ends with a reference to Larsson’s long-time companion who fought against the continuation of the series, “Don’t be fooled. Gabrielsson was right; Larsson deserves better than this.”

The book is currently at #33 on Amazon’s sales rankings and holds are heavy in many libraries.

O Magazine Fall Reading List

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Labor Day is around the corner, bringing with it fall reading lists.

O Magazine offers one of the first, “16 Books to Curl Up With This Fall,”

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.01.27 AMTopping the list is Negroland by Margo Jefferson (Random/Pantheon). Contributor Roxane Gay says this nonfiction account of a part of Chicago where upper-class African Americans were sheltered by privilege is a “powerful memoir [of] social history [that] deftly explores the tensions that come with being a part of America’s black elite…Using short riffs alternating with longer meditations, [Jefferson] reveals all that it takes to be a citizen of this rarefied group, including the emotional costs … Equally revelatory are her descriptions of moments when the protective bubble of Negroland is punctured.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.01.59 AMFor psychological thriller fans there is Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen (Penguin; OverDrive Sample), which contributor Sarah Meyer summaries as a “sinister account of the reclusive Eileen, whose prospects for escape from her abysmal life take a turn for the worse when a friendship with a coworker spirals into obsession.” Meyer also says it is “rife with dark emotions and twisted fantasies.” Featured at BEA’s Editors Buzz Panel this year, this Indie Next pick, published earlier this month, has already received strong advance attention, including the cover of the 8/16/15  NYT Sunday Book Review. The author was featured last week on on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Unsurprisingly, many libraries show growing holds.

MISS MANNERS for Academics

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Editors Note: We’re pleased and delighted to announce that EarlyWord Kids Correspondent Lisa Von Drasek will be serving on the 2017 Caldecott Award Selection Committee.

Unfortunately, this means that she will be on hiatus as our Kids Correspondent until her Caldecott duties are wrapped up.

She will still report on the occasional “grown-up” title she falls in love with, as she does below:

9780553419429_3ba86Flying under the radar is The Professor is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job (RH/Crown, original trade pbk.) by academic employment consultant and former tenured professor, Karen Kelsky, who gives a no-holds-barred look at the academic market. It should be required reading for PhD candidates, recent graduates, prospective PhDs, and recent-hires on the tenure track.

Although the majority of the books I review are children’s and Young Adult titles, I have a side interest in business particularly professional development and management, so when I spotted a DRC of this book, I downloaded it.

As one of the lucky few who landed a full time academic appointment in an R1 university, I had read Kelsky’s blog also titled The Professor is In as well as her columns in the Chronicle of Higher Education for her practical, snark-tinged advice.

Kelsky has no patience for readers who ignore the obvious. Tenure-track positions are few and far between. Bottom line: there is a glut of qualified graduates for the rare full-time positions. She dispenses tough-love advice laying out the cost (economic and emotional) of trying to land one. “Achieving financial, emotional AND intellectual well being in academia is somewhat akin to climbing Everest blind.” For those who insist on getting on the tenure track, she provides best-case scenarios and information on how to achieve academic and employment goals. For those who do not achieve their goal, she also provides suggestions for repositioning job skills.

A cross between Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy and Miss Manners, Kelsky is the faculty mentor we all wish was in the office next door.

I can attest that her ideas work. Kelsky makes the case for sucking it up, jumping through the hoops and not making excuses. No one has time to write. Write anyway. Are academic leaves available? Apply for them. This was exactly my problem. My teaching and the daily tasks of my department left no time. There was a leave that I could apply for but I hadn’t been in position very long. I thought that my projects weren’t “good enough,” “research oriented enough” or “what these leaves were for.” I went back to the call for proposals only to discover that I had just a 24-hour window before the deadline, so I sucked it up, jumped through the hoops, made no excuses and got my application in.

A month ago, I received a letter from our director that I am approved for a 6 week writing leave. Seriously, this book is life-changing.

Sneak Peek: THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.24.18 AMEntertainment Weekly has the “U.S. exclusive” excerpt of The Girl in the Spider’s WebA Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series by David Lagercrantz (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; RH Large Print)

The site prefaces the sneak peek with this mini review:

“[In] David Lagercrantz’s highly-anticipated (and thrillingly good) continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, … Lisbeth is taking more risks than we’ve ever seen, and Blomkvist is desperate to get a scoop for Millennium to salvage his journalistic reputation.”

The UK Daily Mail has the same excerpt for their side of the pond but has added their own illustrations.

Security has been tight about story details according to both the WSJ and the Daily Mail, but all of that ends soon. The book will be released on August 27th in the UK and on Sept. 1 in the US.

Eye On: IN A DARK, DARK WOOD

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.18.09 PMRuth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood (S&S/Gallery/Scout Press; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) has hit the NYT’s Hardcover Fiction Best Sellers list at #11.

It was our crystal ball pick last week and is gaining momentum. Some libraries are showing holds exceeding a 3:1 margin with others inching towards that threshold.

 

Seven Titles to Know and Recommend, the Week of Aug 23

Friday, August 21st, 2015

9781451692228_12ac2Next week the media will continue placing attention on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and on journalist Gary Rivlin’s book, Katrina: After the Flood (S&S). Having already appeared on the cover of the 8/9/15 New York Times Book review, an excerpt is featured in this week’s New York Times Magazine. The author is set to appear today on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, this coming Thursday on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show and on CBS Sunday Morning next week.

The titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet ,EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Aug 23, 2015

Holds Leader

9780399163845_8c77d  A_is_for_Alibi

X, Sue Grafton, (Penguin/Putnam)

Sue Grafton not only gets marquee billing on the cover of her new book, she appears to not even need a title, just the image of a letter (what a contrast to the cover of her first book from 1982, where the title gets top billing and her name gets near;y equal billing with her main character’s). The twenty-fourth in her series, it gets stars from Booklist, Kirkus, and PW. Booklist says “Grafton has never been better.” Kirkus adds “Grafton’s endless resourcefulness in varying her pitches in this landmark series … graced by her trademark self-deprecating humor, is one of the seven wonders of the genre” and PW says this is a “superior outing.”

Advance Attention

9781501105432_8a246A Window Opens, Elisabeth Egan, (S&S)

As a former magazine and book editor Elisabeth Egan has a leg up on other first-time novelists. Add to that the fact that she once worked for Amazon, an experience echoed by her character’s punishing job at a company called Scroll, and that Amazon’s working conditions have been in the news lately, and you have a formula for strong media coverage. Indeed, Eagan is profiled in the daily New York Times and her novel is reviewed in this Sunday’s NYT Book Review and is a People magazine pick.

It is also an Indie Next pick:

Alice Pearse has just accepted a job with Scroll, (a forward-thinking bookstore) but Susannah, her friend who owns the neighborhood bookstore, asks her, “Would you really work for an operation that will be the final nail in the coffin for Blue Owl Books?” On her first day, Alice must set up meetings with 30 agents and editors and assemble 425 top titles to sell in Scroll’s lounges. The job is in addition to having three children, a dog, a husband in the midst of a career change, parents, siblings, and friends. Alice soon realizes this career may not be exactly what she envisioned and must ask herself, what matters the most? — the very question that many of us ask ourselves every day. A delightful, inspiring, and moving tale that will be a top choice for any book group. —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

9781250010025_487a7The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion, Tracy Daugherty, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s)

Interest in Didion grew with the publication of her memoir about her husband’s death, The Year of Magical Thinking, a National Book Award winner, best seller and the basis for a successful Broadway play, so this first biography of the writer has been eagerly awaited. Reviewing it last week, Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-. It is reviewed, or  more accurately, simply “described” by Michiko Kakutani this week in the New York Times, but the L.A. Times is not a fan, saying the book doesn’t tell us any more than we could learn simply by reading Didion’s own words.

Peer Picks

9781631490477_1c402Best Boy, Eli Gottlieb, (Norton/Liveright)

The Washington Post’s review calls it “An unforgettable novel.” It is an Indie Next pick and the #1 LibraryReads pick for August:

“What happens when someone on the autism spectrum grows up, and they aren’t a cute little boy anymore? Gottlieb’s novel follows the story of Todd Aaron, a man in his fifties who has spent most of his life a resident of the Payton Living Center. Todd begins to wonder what lies beyond the gates of his institution. A funny and deeply affecting work.” — Elizabeth Olesh, Baldwin Public Library, Baldwin, NY

9781250022080_12de6The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, Louise Penny, (Macmillan/Minotaur)

Supported by a two-page centerfold ad in the NYT Sunday Book review this week, Penny’s latest is an Indie Next pick.:

“Penny scores again with this story of the struggle between the forces of good and evil in the tiny Canadian village of Three Pines. Retired homicide chief Armand Gamache must use all of his detective skills and worldly wisdom to solve the murder of a young boy, an investigation that uncovers a threat to global security. The eccentric citizens of this remote outpost add their own color and knowledge to the unraveling of this complex mystery. This book is a pure delight!” —Sarah Pease, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, MA

9781616204204_321a5The Fall of Princes, Robert Goolrick, (Workman/Algonquin)

LibraryReads:

“I loved this novel about the rise and fall of a man in NYC during the 80s, when money was easy to make and easy to spend. What happens when you can get anything you want, and what does it really end up costing you? The story of the people working in the financial industry during that time is interwoven with the reality of AIDS, cocaine and the changes going on in society. So many sentences were so well-written that I found myself stopping to take them in and relish them.” — Jennifer Cook, Cheshire Public Library, Cheshire, CT

Ron Charles on PURITY

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.58.49 AMRon Charles, book critic for The Washington Post, is among the first to review Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Purity (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio), which he calls a “trenchant analysis of the sins of parenting, the destruction of privacy, and the irresistible but futile pursuit of purity”.

With his trademark wit he summaries the novel over the course of the review: “[It] traces the unlikely rise of a poor, fatherless child named Pip. When we meet Pip — short for Purity — she is buried beneath $130,000 of student debt and working at a marginally fraudulent business in Oakland that sells renewable energy… For those of you sitting in the back, purity is the theme of this novel, and — spoiler alert! — it turns out that nobody is as pure as he or she claims to be: Everybody harbors secrets: shameful, disgusting, sometimes deadly secrets. If that adolescent revelation gets a bit too much emphasis in these pages, at least it’s smartly considered and reconsidered in the seven distinct but connected sections that make up the book.”

The Cliff Notes version of his long and detailed consideration is this: he thinks it is better than Freedom and not as much fun as The Corrections.

This will be, of course, one of many reviews to come. The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Telegraph, and The Independent have already weighed in. At this point, holds are in line with orders for the September 1 pub. date.

RA Alert: A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.02.03 AM2015 might be termed the year of the famous lost manuscript given that new old writings by Harper Lee, Truman Capote, and Dr. Seuss have come to light.

Now comes another twist, the reemergence of an author somewhat lost to time, Lucia Berlin.

Don’t know who she is? You are not alone. For decades only a handful of people were aware of her work, most notably championed by short story master Lydia Davis.

Berlin was born in Alaska in 1936 and lived in multiple locales, from Chile to NYC. She had a hard childhood, was an alcoholic, and lived a peripatetic, rowdy life, according to The New York Times in a Books section profile.

She wrote short stories that were thinly veiled slices of her own life. Her first was published when she was 24, in Saul Bellow’s magazine The Nobel Savage, according to the NYT. Small presses published collections of her stories at various times after that but she largely stayed below the radar, dying in 2004.

FSG is betting on her again with A Manual for Cleaning Women (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample), a collection of 43 stories that remind Elizabeth McCracken, she tells the NYT  “of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, which is the most beloved book of stories I know from the past 20 years among writers.”

The collection is getting strong and glowing attention. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A saying, that the stories are written “in sentences so bright and fierce and full of wild color that you’ll want to turn each one over just to see how she does it. And then go back and read them all again.”

O the Oprah magazine made it the top pick in their “16 Books to Curl Up With This Fall,” saying the collection “reilluminates a neglected talent.”

The New Yorker has a piece on Berlin by Davis who says that the “stories make you forget what you were doing, where you are, even who you are.”

John Williams, who wrote The New York Times profile, weighs in with “Her stories speak in a voice at once direct and off-kilter, sincere and wry. They are singular, but also immediately accessible to anyone raised on the comic searching of Lorrie Moore or the offbeat irony of George Saunders.”

Holds are strong and the collection has risen to #52 on Amazon sales rankings.

UPDATE: The daily NYT‘s critic Dwight Garner reviews it Aug 19. While  full of praise for the author (“Reading Ms. Berlin, I often found myself penciling curses of appreciation in the margins”), he thinks many of the lesser stories should have been left out.