Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Breaking my Rule About Waiting Until the Book Comes Out Before Writing About It--a Note to Booksellers about Rick Reiken's Day for Night

One of my golden rules about blogging is that I don't write about books at length until they come out, or just before. If I post a long piece about what I'm reading in November and the book doesn't come out until March, what's the point? I don't have a great website, so I know most people are going to go to A*%#zon to buy the book.

And though I know that other booksellers and publishing folk read these bookseller blogs, I really believe that my first duty is to my customers. My feeling is that if it isn't interesting to someone who shops my store, it should be somewhere else. And it seems sort of mean to go on and on about a book that most of my customers won't be able to read for months.

But rules are made to be broken. And since this is sort of the first day of Winter Institute, when booksellers from across the country gather to take workshops and learn about new developments, meet authors of potential breakout titles, and share our recommendations, this seems as good a time as any to say this...

Drop what you're doing and read the new Frederick Reiken novel, Day for Night (Editor's note--I am really having trouble with this title. See posting later in the day when it gets confused with another book). I don't care if you're busy--this is more important. And it's not a slow read either, so I don't want to hear any whining about how you don't have the time.

It's about, well it starts out being about anyway, a family, who has engaged a guide to swim among manatees in Florida. The father has cancer (at least for the moment in remission) and he hasn't really told his son yet how serious things are. He's dating Beverly, a pediatrician with two teenage girls back in New Jersey and he's discussed having the pediatrician adopt his son. When Beverly can't sleep, she takes the guide up on his offer to see his band Dee Luxe perform.

Jump. And we're on a plane with the guide, Timmy, travelling with Dee back to Utah to see her comatose brother, who has just been in a bad motorcycle crash. Dee is terribly afraid that the family is going to do something terrible to him. Tim talks to the woman on the aisle, or tries to, but is rebuffed. And then...

The story zigs and zags, and coincidences are anything but and other puzzle pieces that seem to be related are just coincidence. Reiken's got an elegant simplicity about his writing, but the characters and plotlines and themes interconnect, not like a tapestry, but a video game with all this hidden programming.

I'm not new to Reiken. I read both The Odd Sea and The Lost Legends of New Jersey. I told our rep Suzanne that I was interested in reading the book. When we saw her for the spring appointment, she asked me if I'd read it yet. I said no, and she said that I had to really, really, really read it right now. Suzanne compared it to Nicole Krauss's The History of Love, and I think that's actually a very good comparison. And the push to read it was great advice.

I loved it, passed it to my coworker Stacie. She not only wrote a rec, but made this intricate mapping of all the characters. We were worried that we'd give too much away if we showed it all so I have cropped it as a teaser. I mentioned it to Dave at Next Chapter and within a week he had read it too. Who knows how many people he'll tell?

So anyway, this is my chance to pitch it to you. Start reading.


Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to hear about the author's new book. I loved The Odd of my favorites...thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Big fan of your blog, Daniel, and very happy to see you speaking on Reiken. I loved his first two, and this one sounds...ambitious. The phase shifts sound D.Mitchell-like, minus the temporal tricks. Very jealous of Reiken's editor; he, like Dan Chaon, seems to be taking his skills into new territories. --Josh K.

Anonymous said...

I'm Rick's UK editor, and we will publish DAY FOR NIGHT in July and so a little later than the US edition. And of course I'm thrilled that it hit such a massive chord with you - we all love this novel too on this side of the pond, and in our market I'm hoping that in time we can turn Rick into an author with the gravitas and stature of literary heavyweights such as Paul Auster or Richard Ford... Fingers crossed that DAY FOR NIGHT sells well for you, Daniel - you've been the first to call it!
Jenny Parrott, Little, Brown UK

Kerry said...

Based solely on your review (it was the first I'd heard of the book) I have requested a review copy for my blog/shop, and cannot wait to read it. Thanks for the recommendation!

Margie said...


I for one am really glad you broke your rule! When you evangelized about this book at Wi5,I promptly and stupidly forgot the title. (Was it the wine?) Must get this ARC now! -Margie from Just the Bookstore, Glen Ellyn, IL