This winter I felt like we were slowing down on reading advance copies and recommending them. I made a plea, and several booksellers got down to business and started, if not reading more, then reporting on what they read when they liked it. I am suggesting to the Boswellians to post collections of their new recs as a post on The Boswellians. I got permission from Conrad, who has found a number of gems this spring, to get the ball rolling here on Boswell and Books.
Lesser Apocalypses, by Bayard Godsave, Queen’s Ferry Press.
Strung together like pearls on a golden chain, these vignettes into lives both horrid and comical will keep you cruising along with the speed of an intercontinental missle. Bayard Godsave's stories are bleak narratives of lives blasted and charred, sometimes redeemed, sometimes not so much. Bayard's writing is both Spartan and florid (is this possible? well, yes) and he spins out his yarns with an accomplished style that you would expect from a more grizzled writer. We may expect more to come. And, yeah, I'm biased. Bayard is a former Boswell bookseller (Schwartz too) and earned his doctorate from our own UWM. But, whoever said that great things can't come out of Milwaukee?! I mean, other than Harvard Lampoon.
I think we already noted that Conrad is a big fan of our ex-Boswellian's first collection of stories on our bestseller recap. But I don't think I listed the rec, so now that is rectified.
Kino, by Jürgen Fauth, Atticus Books.
Nosferatu, think Metropolis, think The Blue Angel. Kino's films have an uncanny ability to manifest themselves into and influence reality, a fact not lost on Joseph Goebels and the Nazi propagandists. When the Nazis take power, they end up destroying all of Kino's films because they are not able to use them to their purposes. Disillusioned and discredited as a Nazi-collaborator, Kino goes into exile to America and Hollywood, where he is able to make one last film. But this film is not as he intended it, having been thoroughly butchered by Hollywood producers, and lacks the power of his earlier films. Then two canisters containing Kino's first film mysteriously appear on his granddaughter's doorstep...
Atticus is a Maryland-based indie press that has been stepping up their communication with indie bookstores. I'm glad to see that their efforts have borne fruit here.
The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, by Shehan Karunatiklaka, Graywolf.
The debut novel by the Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka, The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, is to the sport of cricket as The Art of Fielding is to that of baseball. Cricket suffuses every page, but it's about much more than that. This is a book about friendships, rivalries, old age, marital relations, nationhood, genius... Narrated by a grumpy, alcoholic, retired sports writer named W. G. Karunasena (Wijie to his friends) who is slowly drinking himself to death and is obsessed with getting on to paper the history of the otherwise overlooked Sri Lankan bowler Pradeep Mathew because "unlike life, sport matters". It was originally published in Great Britain last year under the dubious title "Chinaman" (a cricket term for a left-handed bowler with an unorthodox delivery), a title wisely dropped in favor of its subtitle by the American publisher. You will find yourself racing to Wikipedia to find out just what "bowled by an angling googly" or "yorked by a darter" just might actually mean.*
* a googly is a type of pitch with an odd spin to it, and while I couldn't find what "yorked" might mean, one assumes that a "darter" is another type of pitch.
We were all very excited to see "Conrad Silverberg" on a book mailing for The Legend of Pradeep Mathew that recently went out to the field. Following Stacie's appearance on the galley mailing for Boleto, it feels like we won the Daily Double, staff rec division.
Yes, it's fun to get your name out, but mostly it's just nice to call attention to new books and writers, and when the books are all from small presses , it's like winning on a dark horse.