We've still got plenty of spring events to go, but I'm already booking summer and fall. For summer, the touring authors are in place, and we're filling things in with locals, and folks heading over from Chicago, Milwaukee, and sometimes Minneapolis and St. Paul. But we're particularly excited about some of the folks who are leaving us a bit starry eyed. I've already written about David Sedaris (coming Sunday, May 26, 2 pm) and I'll be writing shortly about Jim Gaffigan (Saturday, June 15, 7 pm, the best Father's Day present ever), but today I'm writing for the gals. Yes, Lauren Conrad is coming to Boswell for a signing on Wednesday, June 12, at 7 pm for her novel Infamous, which goes on sale June 11.
Let's get to all the details you want to know. The $20 ticket includes a copy of her new novel Infamous.. That's the price with tax for Wisconsin residents, so the ticket will be listed online at $18.94.
We are co-sponsoring this event with Kohls, who features Lauren Conrad's "LC Lauren Conrad for Kohls" collection at their stores.Here's what the folks at Kohls have to say about the line.
"LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s delivers a contemporary, feminine collection of clothing, shoes and accessories for the fashion-conscious young woman. LC Lauren Conrad clothing is inspired by both breezy, beach looks and style staples. The collection incorporates delicate details like lace and ruffles with tailored, updated classics to offer you an entire wardrobe of fun and flirty pieces for any occasion."
Though a lot of readers outside the Milwaukee market don't know this, Kohl's is based in metro Milwaukee, headquarted in nearby Menomonee Falls.
Here's a little more about Infamous:
"Filming for season two of The Fame Game has begun, and star Madison Parker is doing something she never thought she’d do: avoiding the PopTV cameras. She knows Trevor will come groveling, and that she’ll go back to the show eventually—but on her terms. Fame can turn a girl into a pawn, and Madison knows that’s not the life she wants.
Fame can turn a girl into a target, too, something her Fame Game costars are quickly learning. Up-and-coming actress Carmen is trying to figure out who’s feeding gossip about her to the press, and all signs point to someone from her inner circle.
"Meanwhile, the tabloids have dubbed Kate 'The Boring One,' but if she’s so boring, why is she the one with the boyfriend and a stalker? Help comes from an unexpected place as Madison gives Kate pointers about how to work the reality-TV system. But will Kate take the advice too far?
As the girls’ careers heat up, so do their love lives, and they each discover that chasing their dreams almost always comes at a price."
And here is some more information about Lauren Conrad:
Lauren Conrad is best known for starring in the MTV hit series The Hills. She is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including the L.A. Candy series as well as Lauren Conrad Style and Lauren Conrad Beauty, her fashion and beauty guides. She has been featured on the covers of Elle, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, Shape, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.
We're very excited about (and honestly, honored to be part of) the event and hope you are too. Please help spread the word.
Welcome to our three-part blog post, celebrating National Children's Book Week.
a. Tonight we're selling books at the Women's Club of Wisconsin, 813 E. Kilbourn Avenue. The program, Wisconsin Women Write for Children features seven wonderful local authors: Carole Barrowman, Ann Bausum, Lois Ehlert, Janet Halfmann, Barbara Joosse,, JoAnn Early Macken, and Lisa Moser.
Starting time is 6:30 and admission is $15 ($5 for students), with registration available at the door.We'll have National Children's Book Week posters for all attendees and a free bag to the first 25 people to spend $15 or more.
b. On Thursday, April 16, 6:30 pm, we're co-hosting Amy Timbelake at the St. Francis Public Library, 4230 S. Nicholson Ave, 53235. She'll be there for her novel One Came Home. Random House originally added a school and public event mini-tour (she's also at Books and Company on Wednesday, at 4:30 pm) due to the strength of his review in Journal Sentinel.
"Timberlake set her story in 1871 in Placid, a fictionalized version of Wisconsin Dells. That year, the largest nesting of passenger pigeons ever recorded took place in the state: It might have taken up as many as 850 square miles in south-central Wisconsin. (Unfortunately, passenger pigeons have been extinct since 1914.)" Read the rest of the story here.
Once again, the first people to buy One Came Home at the library will get a National Children's Book Week book bag.
c. And of course we should highlight a few kids' books! One book on this week's Boswell's Best is The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle (Walden Pond), by Christopher Healy. It's the follow up to Healy's The Hero's Gide to Saving Your Kingdom, and features the Princes Charming--Duncan, Liam, Gustav, and Frederic, stepping out of the shadows of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose, to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. Susan Carpenter in The Los Angeles Times called this series "one of the more clever, hilariously successful incarnations of the current literary rage to rip apart and rewrite fairy tales."
The new book from Crystal Allen, whose How Lamar's Bad Prank won a Bubba-Sized Trophy received a Florida Sunshine State Award (it was raining the day of the ceremony, rumor has it) is The Laura Line. It's about 13-year-old Laura Dyson, who will do anything to prevent her class from making a field trip to the slave shack on her grandmother's property, but what if "anything" winds up putting the slave shack in jeopardy?
Here's a bit from book blogger Valeria Espinoza. "As soon as I saw this novel, I began reading it, right there in the bookstore. I was quickly fascinated with Laura and her life struggling in middle school. It took me back when I was in middle school simultaneously trying to fit in and be myself, or better yet, trying to figure out who I was. I loved Laura from the get go because we are all her in a fraction of our lives; not accepting who we are, or being afraid of who we want to be. The only obstacle in our lives is ourselves and that is evident in The Laura Line. Getting rid of that obstacle, of our own fears, is the hardest part and seeing this fight within the character herself, made it even more realistic and captivating."
Hey, a bookstore mentioned in a book blogger's review! That warms my heart.
Amie, Stacie, and Jane have all been anxiously awaiting The Mighty Lalouche (Schwartz and Wade) from Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall, whose illustrations you probably know from the Ivy and Bean series. It's about a humble postman in Paris, who, sacked from his job at the post office, turns to boxing to support himself and his pet finch, Genevieve. I should note that he doesn't seem cut out for the career, but he turns out to be a worthy opponent.
And finally, another book that made the rounds of booksellers, but hasn't yet made it into the blog is Mo Willems's That is Not a Good Idea (Balzer and Bray) It's also a period place, but takes the format of a silent movie. A hungry fox (his name is Hungry Fox) meets a blushing goose (That's Plump Goose, to you) and asks her to go for a stroll, and then asks her for dinner, as the audience (baby geese, or are they goslings) looks on in horror and tries to warn the participants, "that is not a good idea!"
Want to know more? You can watch this trailer:
The four titles reviewed in part C of this post are all Boswell's Best through at least May 20. Happy National Children's Book Week!
Monday, May 13, 7 pm, at Boswell Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Without a Summer.
Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo winner for her story “For Want of a Nail.” Mary serves on the board of directors of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She is also a member of JASNA, the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Pairing a Regency love affair with fantasy and intrigue, Without a Summer is Hugo winner Kowal’s third book in the Glamourist Histories series. Kirkus Reviews calls it a “creative, elegantly crafted novel” that offers “both a broad and an intimate canvas of human weakness and virtue.” When Jane and Vincent Ellsworth, talented painters who are commissioned to create magical works of art, begin to take an interest in the romantic life of Jane’s younger sister, Melody, the timing simply isn’t perfect. Weather manipulators have forced a cold snap to linger for a long time, affecting not only the crops that finance Melody’s dowry, but also political intrigue that will involve the Ellsworths’ particular skills if an international crisis is to be averted.
Here's the beloved fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss on Kowals' Glamour in Glass:
“Kowal does a startlingly good job of presenting a mindset that is very alien to me.... The language was delightfully in keeping with the time period, while not being needlessly cumbersome and opaque. The story and characterization were lovely, and I enjoyed the world-building, too.”
Tuesday, May 14, 7 pm, at Boswell Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon.
Set primarily in the Pacific Northwest, Red Moon considers what would happen if Lycans (werewolves) lived openly among us. Claire Forrester isn’t just another teenage girl. But when government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the da
y he got on a plane and hours later stepped off the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge, and the battle for humanity will begin.
A phenomenal writer at a cellular level, Benjamin Percy continues to develop into a beastly literary force. In his latest, he tears up the epic horror novel, transforming it into a war novel, a political novel, a novel of judgment and of revolution. When werewolves, who have lived side by side with humans through history, feel oppressed to the point of breaking, a faction rises up against the U.S. government using terrorist tactics, forcing everyone—lycan and human—to decide which side they stand on, and which lines they are willing to cross. Red Moon is terrifyingly good, with sharp claws, sexy rumbles, and plenty of blood and guts.
Carol Memmott in USA Today declares "While some writers of paranormal novels wrap their creatures in romance and comic subplots, Percy has chosen a darker, more literary path. Red Moon is a morality tale cloaked in fur, fangs and social injustice. Werewolves are the monsters in the story, but the bête noire is humanity's moral decline." Read the whole review here.
Here's the exciting trailer for Red Moon!
Benjamin Percy is also the author of the novel The Wilding, as well as the story collections, The Language of Elk and Refresh, Refresh. The title story of that collection is also in development as a film
Wednesday, May 15, 7 pm, at Boswell: Michael Bowen, writing as Hillary Bell Locke, athor ofJail Coach.
Meet Jay Davidovich, a 6’ 4” blond-haired Jewish loss prevention specialist who served in the National Guard in the nineties. When one of his company’s insurance policies on an actor are put on the line, he’ll have to take unusual steps to keep the cash in the bank, and it could kill him.
His job at Trans/Oxana is to prevent losses that Trans/Oxana has insured against – especially losses that unpleasant people want to happen. When Hollywood pretty boy Kent Trowbridge plays late-night bumper-car in his Ferrari with two palm trees and a median and has to serve jail time, the studio holding his performance contract (insured with an eight-figure Trans/Oxana policy) may end up having to cash out if he can’t perform. To keep him in shape to perform, Jay will have to find Trowbridge a “jail coach.”
Enter Katrina Thomspon whose past includes jail, the Marines, a daughter, and a hustler named Stan Chaladian. The first will help Jay, the second will impress him, the third will charm him, and the fourth with almost kill him – that’s life in the Loss Prevention business.
Hillary Bell Locke graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, worked for a prominent New York law firm, and now practices law in a city far from New York but not under that name. Fine, you cleverly tricked me into revealing his secret identity--it's Michael Bowen, and the law firm is Foley and Lardner. Being that Jail Coach came out some months ago, we hoped to have a launch earlier, but were delayed, due to his caseload. I think Jay would have respected that decision.
Amy Timberlake won the Golden Kite Award for her picture book The Dirty Cowboy. Her first novel for children, That Girl Lucy Moon, was named a Bank Street Best Children's Book, an Amelia Bloomer Book, and the winner of the Friends of American Writers Literary Award. Timberlake has also worked as a book reviewer, columnist, and children's bookseller.
Straight from Boswellian Hannah:
"13-year-old Georgie is convinced that the unrecognizable body being buried and mourned as her older sister, Agatha, who ran off, is not actually her sister. She sneaks away with Agatha's old beau to learn the truth. What follows is a mystery adventure that feels like the wild, wild West, when Wisconsin was the frontier. Georgie is feisty, stubborn, and never misses her shot. One Came Home is like a middle grade True Grit!
"Timberlake, who grew up in Hudson and lives in Chicago, has set her richly atmospheric story in 1871 in Placid, Wis., her analogue for Wisconsin Dells (before all the touristy hoo-ha). She makes striking use of a great natural event that year: the largest nesting of passenger pigeons ever recorded, which might have taken up as many as 850 square miles in south-central Wisconsin. The wild birds become a nearly overwhelming presence in parts of Georgie's year; readers who know that passenger pigeons have been extinct since 1914 may find this either piquant or poignant."
Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over--but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong in The Repeat Year, the new novel from Wauwatosa writer Andrea Lochen.
After a year of hardships, including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother's remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend's bed on New Year's Day 2011—a day she has already lived—Olive's world is turned upside down. Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself--until she discovers that she is not alone. Upon crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced "repeater," Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?
In Madisonian Dale Kushner's novel, it's 1953 and ten-year-old Eunice lives in the backwaters of Wisconsin with her outrageously narcissistic mother, a "manicureeste" and movie star worshipper. Abandoned by her father as an infant, Eunice worries that she will become a misfit like her mother. When her mother's lover, the devoted Sam, moves in, Eunice imagines her life will finally become normal. But her hope dissolves when Sam gets kicked out, and she is again alone with her mother. A freak storm sends Eunice away from all things familiar, and rescued by the shaman-like Rose, Eunice's odyssey continues with a stay in a hermit's shack and ends with a passionate love affair with an older man. Through her capacity to redefine herself, reject bitterness and keep her heart open, she survives and flourishes.
At once fable and realistic story, The Conditions of Love is a book about emotional and physical survival, tracing the journey of a girl from childhood to adulthood as she reckons with her parents' abandonment, her need to break from society's limitations, and her overwhelming desire for spiritual and erotic love.
Join us for a spirited reading from two Wisconsin first-time novelists. For more about Andrea Lochen and The Repeat Year, listen to her recent interview on WUWM's "Lake Effect." And regarding The Conditions of Love, Kirkus called it "A fine exploration of growing up, weathering heartbreak and picking oneself up over and over."
This Most Amazing wonders what would happen if you could live the life of another person, while you sleep. When Dahlia, a poetry teacher in present day Italy, begins to dream about the life of Vincenzo, an Italian soldier in 1797 who deserts Napoleon’s army, she slowly discovers the ways in which her life could still be connected to his fate.
It's not often that I know someone whose book is published in Cyprus, but that's the case for Jenny Benjamin, whose novel is published by Armida Publications of Nicosia, Cyrprus.freelance writer whose poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous journals and magazines in addition to educational curriculum for classrooms. In 2011 she won the Wisconsin Regional Writers' Association First Chapters Contest and was selected as a semifinalist for the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Big Read Award. You might also know her as a former Schwartz bookseller, whose home base was the Iron Block store on Water and Wisconsin.
Here's a little more about the book from poet Angela Sorby:
"In Jenny Benjamin’s This Most Amazing the dramatic tale of a Napoleonic warrior entwines with the dreamscape of a contemporary American expat, producing a double love story set in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Benjamin’s intensely physical prose style evokes the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries with equal conviction. Readers will be absorbed in the story, but they will also be intrigued by its central question: how does the past endure, not just in history but in our own bodies?"
--Angela Sorby, author of Distance Learning, Bird Skin Coat, and The Sleeve Waves, forthcoming with the University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.
Watch this trailer for This Most Amazing from Benjamin's publisher, Armida Books.
This event is co-sponsored by United Cerebral Palsy of Southeast Wisconsin, Disabilities Rights Wisconsin, and Independence First.
Harilyn Rousso is a disability activist, feminist, psychotherapist, writer, and painter. She is the President of Disabilities Unlimited Consulting Services, founder of the Networking Project for Disabled Women and Girls, and co-editor of Double Jeopardy: Addressing Gender Equity in Special Education and author of Disabled, Female, and Proud.
In her empowering, and at times confrontational memoir, Rousso, who has cerebral palsy, describes overcoming the prejudice against disability—not overcoming disability. She addresses the often absurd and ignorant attitudes of strangers, friends, and family—as well as her own prejudice toward her disabled body—and portrays the healing effects of intimacy and creativity, as well as her involvement with the disability rights community. She intimately reveals herself with honesty and humor and measures her personal growth as she goes from “passing” to embracing and claiming her disability as a source of pride, positive identity, and rebellion.
Happy Mother's Day! Here are the Boswell Books bestsellers for this past week, plus a good deal of asides.
1. The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud
2. A Delicate Truth, by John Le Carré
3. The Humanity Project, by Jean Thompson
4. Maya's Notebook, by Isabel Allende
5. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
6. Red Moon, by Benjamin Percy (event 5/14, at Boswell)
7. NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
8. Best Kept Secret, by Jeffrey Archer
9. The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
10. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid
Oops! We ran out of The Woman Upstairs for the weekend--on Friday afternoon, our two remaining copies were on hold. It wouldn't have raised her ranking, but still. The front page New York Times Book Review slot continues to be very important, but there are plenty of titles that get the coveted space that don't pop at all. And not all popular thriller writers sell well at Boswell, but John Le Carré generally does. Colin Fleming in The Washington PostcallsA Delicate Truth "a popcorn thriller that defies expectation."
1. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris (event 5/26 at Boswell)
2. Mamoulian, by David Luhrssen
3.Wisconsin Supper Clubs, by Ron Faiola
4. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
5. Cooked, by Michael Pollan
The hullaballoo raised by Zach Braff financing his movie (and Amanda Palmer financing her music tour and then originally not paying her guest musicians, and then paying them, and so forth) on Kickstarter is all over the internet. Here's a piece on Salonaddressing the subject. I hadn't really paid attention to how many books are being financed, or hopefully financed on Kickstarter. For example, it turns out that Wisconsin Supper Clubs used this resource.
Paperback fiction: 1. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
2. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. We Live in Water, by Jess Walter
4. Fit for a Frankenstein, by Paul McComas and Greg Starrett
5. Broken Harbor, by Tana French
6. Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
7. Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal (event 5/13)
8. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
9. The Orphan Master's Son, by Adam Johnson (Pulitzer winner)
10. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain (NBCC winner)
1. Mary Nohl: Inside and Out, by Barbara Manger and Janine Smith
2. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen
3. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
4. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
5. How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, by The Oatmeal
Manger and Smith top one list with their adult Mary Nohl title and come in second with their kids bio, also called Mary Nohl, but with a different subtitle. Our event at the North Shore Library proved very popular, only not with the target age range--40 attendees, all of them able to vote, drink, and buy cigarettes. Oh, and happy Mother's Day. I can see all our selections being great choices, with The Oatmeal perfect for that paranoid mom.
Books for kids:
1. Doll Bones, by Holly Black (available copies available)
2. Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art, by Barbara Manger and Janine Smith
3. Reboot, by Amy Tintera (autographed copies available)
4. Dark Shore: Atlanteans #2, by Kevin Emerson
5. Life After Theft, by Aprilynne Pike (autographed copies available)
6. The Elite #2, by Kiera Cass (and again, autographed copies available)
7. The Fellowship for Alien Detection, by Kevin Emerson
8. Unraveling #1, by Elizabeth Norris
9. Lost Code: Atlanteans #1, by Kevin Emerson
10.Unbreakable #2, by Elizabeth Norris (guess what? We've got autographed copies)
Events completely cover our top ten this week. Kevin Emerson was a school visit only, nothing public. For the May 12, New York Times bestseller list, The Elite is the #1 young adult novel, but they do that weird thing where they separate out series and put them together. May I weigh in here that I think this is a sillly practice and makes the comparative sales really hard to determine.
Like several Boswellians, the Journal Sentinel's Carole E. Barrowman is also a fan of Red Moon,which is #6 on our hardcover fiction bestseller list. In her review she notes "I charged into the lycan world of Benjamin Percy's Red Moon with wild abandon, and I was rewarded with a remarkably rendered speculative history of America as well as a gripping grisly horror story."
And did I mention Jim Higgins' review of Mary Robinette Kowal's Without a Summeron Thursday? He explains that "Without a Summer takes its basic situation from Austen's Emma: A smart woman turns out to be so wrongheaded about some important things. In Kowal's case, that's Jane, whose mistaken assumptions cause significant heartache for her sister Melody. Kowal is coming to Boswell tomorrow, Monday, May 13.
And there are also wire service reviews of Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowersand Isabel Allende's Maya's Notebook.The latter has already hit our bestseller list; the latter has made the lower end of our list the last two weeks.
Halley: The first thing I would like to say is that this is a mix of cards specifically for graduation, as well as the more generic congratulations cards, which could be for any number of things.
Daniel: Some card lines group wedding cards under congratulations, only the ones for weddings usually have a big cake on them. Graduation cards seem obliged to feature a cap, gown, diploma, or, or...
Halley: That's it!
Daniel: No, an owl!
Halley:I only picked one card with an owl on it, this newsprint graphic from The Found. I like this line. They're unique, and have those nice brown envelopes.
Daniel: And since they put them in plastic sleeves, they aren't stolen as much. We're having a problem with our Artists to Watch cards. Can you believe that people steal envelopes? Anne told me this has always been a problem. We thought at first that it was someone taking the better envelope for a card that doesn't belong with it, but no, we're coming out short. I am off topic. It is proper etiquette to take the envelope that comes with your card.
Daniel: I have heard you like this smart cookie card from Sanctuary Spring
Halley: That's my favorite. I gave him to my sister last year. You want to eat him up; he's that cute.
Daniel: What's another of your favorites?
Halley: I love the pig card. I am hoping that folks know that this is the appropriate card to give me when I graduate.
Daniel: It's from Hello Lucky. They are moving distribution to Egg Press, a line that I've never bought before, but they are pretty excited about the whole thing. So many of our card lines seem to come out of very small operations, and lots are not consolidated, but you are seing more folks going to places like Artists to Watch and Madison Park. I guess once you start dealing with bigger vendors, who demand credit and then don't pay you on time (we do most of our smaller lines on credit card), you have to consolidate, just like the publishers do.
Halley: I thought you would like the Fresh Frances card as it's done with a grid paper effect. It should appeal to your mathy background.
Daniel: I suspect that a math person nowadays probably doesn't even touch paper. Oh for the days of lots and lots of notebooks. They are wearing those graduation caps. Do they have a special name?
Halley: Graduation caps. They told me to pick up my cap and gown. And last semester I did my calculus problems on paper, not on a computer. I might just be an old fart about it, though.
Daniel: Here's an image you don't expect to see on a congratulations card.
Halley: It's called Little Otsu. I'm not sure. Congratulations, you like cats! It's just so weird. I see it as a subtle rebellion against congratulations of all forms.
Daniel: Congratulations, but really, I don't believe in congratulations?
So we're very excited about Benjamin Percy's appearance for his novel of lycans (werewolves),Red Moon. Hes coming Tuesday, May 14, 7 pm (note the date). We've had several reads on the book and Stacie and Sharon were gracious enough to write something up for me to use.
"Ben Percy’s new novel is about werewolves. Not a single misunderstood monster wandering the countryside, but lots of them. They are living openly and considered part of society. This opens up some fascinating political questions. Do Lycans have the same rights as humans? Can they run for office? Clear your schedule and get ready to become lost in Red Moon."
"A phenomenal writer at a cellular level, Benjamin Percy continues to develop into a beastly literary force. In his latest, he tears up the epic horror novel, transforming it into a war novel, a political novel, a novel of judgment and of revolution. When werewolves, who have lived side by side with humans through history, feel oppressed to the point of breaking, a faction rises up against the U.S. government using terrorist tactics, forcing everyone—lycan and human—to decide which side they stand on, and which lines they are willing to cross. Red Moon is terrifyingly good, with sharp claws, sexy rumbles, and plenty of blood and guts."
Benjamin Percy was just on the new book club segment of Wisconsin Public Radio's show "45 North" with Anne Strainchamps, talking about Red Moon. You can listen to it here. Anne and her producer Rhonda asked if I would mention a few other titles that fall into the category of literary horror, a what to read next, so to speak.
As I often note, I am a bit of a delicate flower regarding violence. I can read a bit of it, but when the body count piles up and it gets very graphic and torture-y, I have to bow out. But the great thing about Benjamin Percy is that you can read one of his other books, which while spooky, aren't quite as graphic. I am a big fan of both The Wildingand Refresh, Refresh. Both have film project possibilities. Percy is working with Guillermo Arriaga on The Wilding, while the title story of Refresh, Refresh is in development with James Ponsoldt.
Our buyer Jason immediately suggested Victor Lavalle'sThe Devil in Silver. He's sometimes listed as La Valle, by the way. Names are a complicated thing, aren't they? His latest novel is set in a psychiatric ward, the setting for many a creepy tale. Jason called it a "spooky and wonderful book that looks at how hiding from our problems doesn't make them go away."
Another author we thought of was Christopher Buehlman. His first novel, Those Across the River, is a cross between horror and Southern gothic. A fellow moves back to his hometown in Georgia and bad things start happening at the cemetery. Jason is my go-to man once again, noting "Buehlman’s vision is beautiful and creepy, and nothing good will come of it." I know that Wisconsin Public Radio is always looking for local roots--Buehlman entertains each summer at Renassance Faire as an insult comic. Strainchamps wondered if that came into play in the story, but that is not the case.
One book that has a similar setup to Red Moon, but has several major differences at its core, is Justin Cronin's The Passage, the book that sort of led the charge for literary writers to take up blockbuster writing. In his world, a virus has turned humans into vampric creatures called "virals." The difference is that these are straight-ahead adrenaline reads; there isn't the underlying social commentary that Red Moon has.
Another werewolf series that has won fans with Boswellians isThe Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Mel's rec said "The prose is exquisite and the content will transport you to a parallel contemporary reality where werewolves live among people." It's a very different take on the werewolf story, with the implication that it might be a bit more carnal.
So many of these books are trilogies. I wondered about this, as at one time I heard that Percy's book was imagined as a trilogy, but the publisher decided to push for an all-encompassing one-volume read. I wonder if that's because some of the adult series books have lagged. The kids' series seem to go on forever.
And that's when Anne asked me where the women writers were, and I started contemplating the same. It strikes me that women writers who are playing off of horror are being pushed to write teen novels. After reading about Amy Tintera's Reboot, it struck me that this could have easily been an adult novel if the protagonist had moved from teen to early twenties. The books are about a virus that kills people, and the government brings them back for a sort of special ops, only the longer you are dead, the more soulless you are. Hannah called the book "action packed" and I've heard Stephen Kingian (Daddy Horror, at least for his first 20 or so novels) thrown about.
One woman writer who seemingly beat out the virus that turns women who want to write for adults and are instead transformed into those for teens (a LOT of teen novels are submitted initially as general trade fiction) is Juliana Baggott, whose novelPureis classic post-apocalypse creepiness, with folks fused to animals, other people, the earth, whatever, after a nuclear blast. I guess our protagonist has a doll hand. Baggott was a noted poet and a novelist, whose first novel, Girl Talk, shows how much of a 180 she tried to do with her new series.
Finally, a female novelist conquering the adult horror world! But wait, Jason noted that the paperback came out at $9.99. That's teen pricing, as the book is not rack size. Similar titles from other horror authors are either trade priced at $15-17 or rack priced from $8-10. I think much the way a type cover turns to a woman cut off at the head, Baggott has been repositioned.
Stacie noted to me that Percy and Baggott have been on panels together and he's quite the fan of her work.
We return to this idea of using the horror genre without the violence, in the wonderful novel Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon. I've mentioned this book before, and most recently saw it on Jean Thompson's recommendation page, which I was browsing in advance of her recent visit for The Humanity Project. What I should also note is that Chaon's book makes a sly wink to The Other, Thomas Tryon's novel which many consider one of the best horror novels ever. Since Chaon visited Boswell (or rather a bar nearby), NYRB Classics has reissued the Tryon.
And finally, another book that Stacie and Greg tout as one of the greatest horror masterpieces ever, The Watcher, by Charles Maclean. A guy wakes up, does something unthinkable, and is on the run, trying to make sense of what's happening to him. The Guardian called it the #1 horror novel of all time. I don't know where Greg and Stacie rank it, but it's apparently high.
Don't forget to creep out with us next Tuesday, May 14, 7 pm, for our event with Benjamin Percy and Red Moon. Hear the voice for real, in person!
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