Book of the Week: MATTERHORN

The HBO series The Pacific launched last week, Hurt Locker won big at the Oscars, the Green Zone, a movie based on a book about soldiers in Baghdad releases today — it feels like we’re surrounded by American wars, both past and present.

And now, coming next week, one of the most anticipated novels of the season is about a group of Marines in Vietnam, Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes.

It has an interesting publishing history. The author, a Vietnam Marine veteran himself, spent years looking for a publisher. Berkeley nonoprofit El Leon Press finally acquired it and published it. The author then submitted it to B&N’s “Discover Great New Writers Program,.”  B&N loved it, but felt it needed the help of a larger publisher for marketing and distribution. Independent publisher Grove Atlantic stepped up and became co-publisher.

If you’re wondering how women will respond to this gritty, realistic portrayal of war (leeches are only part of it), in an interview in Shelf Awareness, Marlantes says,

I have to say, it was women who rescued this book from obscurity. So many women were early readers, and so many women love the book. One of the best blurbs for Matterhorn is from a woman, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Christina Robb. I think the intense relationships appeal to women readers, and they are curious about not only Vietnam but about combat in general. I’ve had several women call me or e-mail me with statements like, “Until I read your novel, I never understood why my brother is all by himself up in Alaska” or “why my husband behaves as he does.” This is very gratifying to me.

Rival retailers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as independent booksellers, are all backing it. It was the talk of the American Booksellers Association’s MidWinter Institute last month and they made it an Indie Next pick for April. Amazon is featuring it on the Books home page as the lead titles of seven Best Books of the Month, resulting in a steady rise on Amazon’s sales rankings. B&N is promoting it with e-mail campaigns and special instore displays (in a further sign that B&N expects it to be a big book, they’ve alreay issued a press release, lauding their own involvement with the book’s publication).

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
Karl Marlantes
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press – (2010-03-23)
ISBN / EAN: 080211928X / 9780802119285

Blackstone Audio; UNABR

17 CDs; 1-4417-4228-5; $123.00
2 MP3CDs; 1-4417-4231-5;$44.95
Playaway;1-4417-4234-6; $79.99
15 Tapes; 1-4417-4227-8; $105.95
Audio available from OverDrive

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