Friday, January 14, 2011

A Rather Random Assessment of the Assortment of New Titles on the Boswell's Best This Week

After the pent up demand of last week's changeover, it's back to a peaceful and orderly transtion. Here are a few throughts on the new titles on Boswell's Best, which as you may know, are always 20% off the list price until at least next Monday, but we rarely put a book on the list for less than two weeks.

I was talking up Robert Crais to Carl last week. I have even read the first book in the Elvis Cole series, and now he's writing a second series featuring Joe Pike, of which The Sentry is the third. Crais's books hit the bestseller lists, with a budget enough to support a full-page ad in the New York Times. What I particularly love about Crais is that he doesn't bang out his titles; when I was a book buyer, it was not unusual to see one of his mysteries delayed. The new book has Joe (former cop) helping out a sandwich shop that is getting a gang shakedown, but it turns out that the proprietors are not the innocents rebuilding their lives after Katrina that they claimed to be.

Susan Vreeland's going to be in the Milwaukee area for Clara and Mister Tiffany, her newest historical novel that touches on a historical piece of art, which in this case is the lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Vreeland imagines the life of Susan Driscoll, his chief designer. Driscoll oversaw his generally poor, unmarried female staffers called The Tiffany Girls. Will she get credit for her dragonfly (a once again trendy motif) lamp at the Paris Exposition? I'm worried. For more information about Susan Vreeland's appearance at Next Chapter on January 30th, visit their website. Tickets are $5 and include a spot of vittles.

One new book getting lots of press is Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. You might be thinking Chua would be writing another international policy book like World on Fire, but this is a parenting book. Chua and her husband chose to raise their kids religiously Jewish and culturally Chinese. That meant rigor and control, in a way that is contrary to current cultural trends, particularly among the intellectual and monied classes of the United States and Europe. The two kids are musical virtuosos. You can't miss the all the buzz about this, but if it's passed you by because you were watching a "Toddlers and Tiaras" marathon (I don't know why I immediately drifted to this), here's Chua being interviewed on NPR. Both audio and transcript are available.

And finally, one that got away. Charles Baxter's Gryphon: New and Selected Stories is scheduled to be on the front page of Sunday's New York Times Book Review. Since I've read every Baxter book in print (except for this one), I've probably read most of these stories before, though some are new. (Note that Boswellian Sharon read this and really enjoyed it). Do you think any of them have been in three books, as some stories from early collections were reworked into Saul and Patsy? Doesn't matter. I was talking to some folks at UWM Creative Writing (unnamed) and they noted that Baxter was one of their idols. Sadly, we came close to hosting Baxter for this book, only it was pushed back a bit and that took the book out of winter break. Since Baxter is teaching at Stanford this spring, it became too far to coordinate. But congrats to the lucky Northern California stores.

Speaking of events, we have Lord of Misrule on Boswell's Best, even though it is an event this Monday (1/17). Why?
a. It's a small press, and we want our sell-through to be extra clean.*
b. The book is coming out rather quickly in paperback (March), so we wanted to get the hardcover price (was $25, now $20) more in line with the paperback (scheduled to be $15).

Jaimy Gordon is appearing Monday with Grace Paley award winner Christine Sneed. Honestly, how many National Book Award winners will you see this year? You should hear at least one read in person, don't you think? More on events here.

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