Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Boswell's Best Fiction, as of May 22.

A customer came up to me last week and asked "What is Boswell's Best and how long does it stay in the magical 20% off case?  And the answer is, it's all in Jason and Amie's brain, keeping track of this stuff as it gets bought. Sometimes we get co-op monies for them, sometimes we don't, but we never make a decision to not feature something because there is no co-op. Mostly our buyers collaborate with our reps, we look at track, we watch advance reviews and buzz, and cross our fingers. It's pretty much all hardcovers, and rarely do you see anything under $20, except for kids' books.

We almost never keep things on the list for less than two weeks. And the stay is open ended, based on rate of sale. And yes, Boswell Benefits members accrue dollars on these titles towards their $5 coupons. When we first opened, one didn't, but it was too confusing to explain the exception.

Jason and I went through some upcoming titles to find some notable fiction due for release on Tuesday. My apologies if anything was delayed. I wrote this before several of our Tuesday on-sale shipments arrived.

Canada, by Richard Ford (Ecco). This is Ford's first novel after many books at Knopf. It's funny how this is a big deal, as most authors switch publishers with regularity. But only unsuccessful writers tend to leave Knopf; the high profile ones tend to stay put. So Jason made sure we had copies of The Sportswriter and what I now know to be called The Bascombe Trilogy.

Backstory is only one reason to put a book on Boswell's Best. How does it hold up? Here is the rec from Tova Beiser of the Brown University Bookstore, which was used to accompany Ford's #1 Indie Next pick status for June.

Canada, Richard Ford’s long-awaited new novel, is not one to be rushed. While the plot sounds sensational — robbery, murders, a flight across the Canadian border — Ford’s laconic, measured prose forces the reader to slow the pace and savor the story. This is a novel about actions, intentions, and consequences as well as about belonging, introspection, and the solitary nature of life. Powerful and atmospheric, Canada will excite and gratify Ford’s fans and introduce newcomers to a masterful American writer.”

Oh, and Ms. Beiser has amazing earrings. Just saying.

The Kissing List, by Stephenie Reents (Hogarth).
The Hogarth list was started with great fanfare by the Crown division of Random House. It is their attempt, mind you, not their first attempt, to traverse the waters of literary fiction. That said, this time it's with Maya Mavjee and Molly Stern steering the boat, which if you know publishing, is a big deal.

The new list is filled with high profile acquisitions like Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya's The Watch, but were I reading at the speed I once did, before I did things like restock bookmarks and try to figure out if there is a book tie in to the new Diane Keaton movie, Darling Companion (and after we figured out there was not, would I know of a place that had spiritual charms for canines?), this is the book I would read. Check out this quote from Anthony Doerr.

"The Kissing List is a relevant, daring, and beautifully-written book. The writing is breathless and tricksy, and at the heart of each story lies a radiant desperation. There are dashes of Amy Hempel in here, and Aimee Bender, too, but ultimately the book comes out of a sensibility all Reents' own.” --Anthony Doerr, author of Memory Wall and About Grace"

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, by Suzanne Joinson (Bloomsbury).
Two stories intersect in this buzzed-about novel, one present, one past. In the first, it's 1923, and two sister's are on their way to be missionaries. One is fired up with the passion of God, while the other has a book contract. In the present, a woman befriends a Yemeni emigr√© who together investigate a recent inheritance, the contents of a elderly woman's apartment.

Elaine Petrocelli at Book Passage is a great reader whose taste I trust. Here's what she's said about this novel, which also has a nice shout-out from Helen Simonson, of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand fame.

"Who wouldn’t be fascinated to meet Evangeline as she rides her bike in 1920’s rural China along side her sister and their charismatic missionary leader. Although her goal is supposed to be bringing Jesus to the people, Evangeline is working on a book which will be called A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar. When the three missionaries stop to help a girl screaming in pain as she gives birth and then dies, they are arrested and finally given the baby girl. What a mesmerizing beginning to a terrific novel. Joinson takes us to present day London where a young woman finds a homeless man sleeping outside her door. She doesn’t know that he is hiding from terrorist hunters, but when she gives him a blanket and a pillow, she saves him. A love unfolds that is full of political and cultural implications. Joinson seamlessly tells the stories of 2 women and 2 time periods and then brilliantly weaves them together."

And finally, a long awaited speculative novel. I say long-awaited because we've been sold it at least twice.

2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, which is Hachette's sf imprint).

Time has changed much about our existence in 2312. We've colonized other planets and moons too. But then in a city on Mercury, a death presages a major change, and a figure who was once the leader in designing worlds will be led into a plot to destroy them.

I'm always a little afraid of my plot summaries for speculative novels, as I have a tendency to get confused by limited capabilities to trenscend possibility. But I will say that Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review, riffing "Robinson's extraordinary completeness of vision results in a magnificently realized, meticulously detailed future in which social and biological changes keep pace with technological developments." So they like it. But I should also note that the Kirkus reviewer got a little bogged down in the philosophical discussions.

So all these book's are 20% off, in store and on our website, though I have to say we no longer update the pricing every week, as that seemed to be a lot of busy work, based on the few orders we received. I promise that if you order the book between now and June 4, you'll get the discounted price.,

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