Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring Rep Night at Next Chapter, Part 1: Random Ramblings from Jason and Tim

It's been years since I've attended a spring rep night.  We did one at Schwartz about 5-6 years ago, but since then, something always gets in the way of making new traditions.  Like when do you host them?  In order to get the most bang for the buck, it seems like March is the best month, so you can talk up Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation, and summer reading.  But honestly, that feels too close to the last round in the fall.

May seemed as good a time as any, and the guys at Random House put something together with our hosts at Next Chapter in Mequon, also inviting folks from Books and Company in Oconomowoc.  I really like these events, particularly as way more books tend to be off my radar than when I was a buyer.  I look through catalogs (either paper or virtual), but it all seems a blur.

I should say now that if the rep didn't put the book on their tip sheet, I can't remember it.  Yes, it's only the next day.  Pathetic, right?

Some Jason suggestions:

The Upright Piano Player, by David Abbott.  Jason's been talking this up for months, comparing it to Ian McEwan and Anne Tyler. A man on the edge of the retirement has a well-ordered life, but under the surface, things are a bit messier.  Rep Jason said, I heard you liked Stoner so I think this book is for you (just like a bookseller)  It is said to be one of those novels where every sentence, no every word, is perfectly thought out.  And apparently the author is, well, seasoned, which is nice to see.  (out June 7)

Moondogs, by Alexander Yates.  This is one of those glorious novels that has a lot of interconnected plotlines that almost seem like stories. Characters include "a missing American businessman in the Philippines, his estranged son, his jilted lover, a slick police commissioner, some ruffled dignitaries, a misguided villain, one badass rooster, and some supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him."   I like novels described as "overstuffed" but when I hear "gritty" and Tarantino-esque", I get nervous.  But I can think of folks to sell this to. (available)

The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock.  This guy wrote the buzzed-about Knockemstiff collection.  Jason says the new book makes Winter's Bone looks like a Disney movie.  I thought, "Well, maybe Miramax in its heyday."  Set in rural Ohio and West Virginia, the bunch populating this novel consists of serial killers, tormented vets, cancer victims, and spider-handling preachers.  Dark and violent is an understatment. (out July 12)

Conquistadora, by Esmeralda Santiago.  Everyone is calling this a Puerto Rican Gone with the Wind.  This upper class Spanish woman escapes to a Caribbean sugar plantation and falls in with twin brothers. There always seems to be a place for a sprawling, romantic historical.  And Booklist says "The issues of social caste, slavery, and sex roles make this a fascinating read."  Oh, and to keep with the theme, I'm sure there are some violent moments too. (out July 12)

We're also very hot on The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan, having already had great reads on the book (also out July 12) from Jason and Greg.  Jake Marlowe learns that he's the last werewolf when his friend from WOCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena) tells him so.  He also knows he is doomed to die. He's also wanted by vampires, who learn that a werewolf bit makes them insensitive to sunlight. 

Here are some kid-friendly picks from Tim Mooney.

The Watcher, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter.  It's a picture book about Jane Goodall.  I guess there's so many kids books on Goodall that the New York Times did a roundup.  (Amie is also a fan of Patick McDonnell's Me,,,Jane). The illustrations are really bright and will pop for young readers and listeners.

A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chirs Raschka. Caldecott winner Raschka has "written" a wordless book about a dog and her ball.  Amie says it has some of her favorite Raschka illustrations and another attendee says it is perfect for crazy dog people too. Awwwwwwww.

Baby Badger's Wonderful Night, by Karen Saunders.  Daddy Badger helps his son overcome his fear of night-time.  Pam really likes this one too.  And you know that if it's about badgers, it will probably sell better in Wisconsin.

The Friendship Doll, by Kirby Larson.  In 1927, 58 friendship dolls were sent to the United States to promote friendship.  This is the story about one of them, Mis Kanagawa, and the four girls whose lives were changed by her. Jocelyn is a big fan, and her swansong recommendation was included in the summer 2011 kids recs from the American Booksellers Association. "What  beautiful, rich, and heartbreaking story," she opines.

And Amie wanted to make sure that I included The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, the third installment in this popular series.  Dad's on honeymoon so the sisters are off to Maine (another book from Jason is called Maine, which apparently represents vacation to East Coast) for rollicking adventure. The first book in this series won the National Book Award.  Even Jason read it.

Many of these books came out May 10, which apparently is the kid equivalent of July 12.

I was going to include John too, but that's too many recs for one blog post!  So look for his suggestions in a future update.

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