Big Titles; Week of 11/30

Sue Grafton’s U is for Undertow is the clear leader in the number of hold per copy for titles arriving next week, with nearly 4 times the number than the next-highest title, J. A. Jance’s Trial by Fire. People gives it 4 of 4 stars, saying, “expect to be spellbound.”

We’re surprised that Greg Mortenson’s Stones into Schools, the follow-up to his continuing bestseller, Three Cups of Tea (at #3 on the NYT Paperback Nonfiction list after 147 weeks) is showing less than 2 holds per copy on modest ordering. The Amazon rankings show more interest, where Stones into Schools is at #50.

Nonfiction, 12/1

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession
Julie Powell
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – (2009-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0316003360 / 9780316003360

Hachette Audio; 9781600245695; $29.98
Large Print; 9780316053822; pbk; $24.99
Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive

You’d think the success of the movie based partly on Julie Powell’s previous title, Julie & Julia would be the perfect setup for her second memoir, Cleaving, but library holds are fewer than two per copy on cautious ordering.

Originally timed to coincide with the release of the movie, the publisher suddenly decided to hold off until December, a move The New York Observer regarded with deep suspicion. Their take was that the filmmakers feared the story of Julie’s “insane, irresistible love affair with one of her close friends,” would turn off potential audiences (right! We only wish that books had such power over movies). The more likely story is that the publisher didn’t want it to compete with their two Julie & Julia tie-in editions.

Will fans of the Julie in Julie & Julia, the book or the movie, be willing to accept a darker Julie who is hurtful to her “sainted” husband Eric? How interested will they be with her turning from an obsession with Mastering the Art of French Cooking to an obsession with mastering the art of blood-and-guts butchery?

In an interview in USA Today, Powell herself predicts that people are “going to totally react very negatively. They’ll find me reprehensible. But to counterbalance the negativism, I hope there will be people who empathize with my experience, who maybe feel the book addresses things they wish they could talk about more.”

Entertainment Weekly gives Cleaving a B -, with kudos for the “gutsy, profane, energetic writer we first met mastering a stew from a recipe,” but put off by the fact that “…here, she’s in a stew of her own making, with ingredients that leave a strange taste.”

Elle magazine is less grudging,

Julie Powell’s follow-up to Julie & Julia paints a visceral, compulsively readable picture of what it looks like when you fully indulge with a fantasy object who isn’t your spouse…. She’s one of those narcissists who can’t be truly alone with herself, and while this fear drives her manic activities and her highly engaging accounts of them, it’s also what keeps a very good memoir from being great…Still, Powell has honed her writing chops along with her culinary skills, and her extended metaphor is dead on: how we can systematically hack each other apart without ever getting to the heart of our desires.”

We’ve included a link to a sizable portion of excerpts provided by the publisher; they prove that Powell has indeed honed her writing skills. Vegetarians be forewarned; there are many scenes of butchery.

Nonfiction, 12/1; continued

Mortenson, Greg,  Stones Into Schools, Viking

Michael F. Roizen, YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner’s Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy, Free Press/S&S

Armstrong, Lance, Comeback 2.0, S&S — Armstrong will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on 12/2.

Fiction, 12/1

Dunne, Dominick Too Much Money, Crown/Random House

Berry, Steve The Paris Vendetta, Ballantine/Random House

Jance, J.A. Trial by Fire, S&S

Zane, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Atria

Grafton, Sue U is for Undertow, Putnam

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