Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Ben Merens Play by Play--A Giddy Selection of Fall Reads, Plus Recs from Listeners.

Before I go on Wisconsin Public Radio, I usually come up with a list of titles to discuss. In this case, last week's appearance on "At Issue with Ben Merens," we decided to focus on upcoming fall books. But the trick is that half the fun of the show are the folks who call in with their favorite books. They are looking to share their enthusiasm with the audience, but as a bookseller, I feel obligated to come up with another title they might like. It's called "stump the bookseller" and some days it goes better than others. Listen to the show here.

Books mentioned on "At Issue with Ben Merens":

The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller (Knopf)
Regular customers know that we have a number of great reads on this post-apocalyptic book, The Road with heart. Did you notice how similar the jacket and theme of this book is similar to The Age of Miracles? Yes, start forming your 2012 apocalypse book club now.

The Price of Politics, by Bob Woodward (Simon and Schuster)
Or as I like to call it, Untitled. Thanks to Bret for figuring out the title before our buyer could. It's about Obama's first term in office.

The Woman who Died a Lot, by Jasper Fforde (Viking)
Indeed, this title could be interpreted several different ways, but the most important thing to know is that the author of the Thursday Next series will be at Boswell on Wednesday, October 10.

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling (Little, Brown)
Can Potter's grasp on the imagination transfer to a very different kind of novel. This is about a small town whose frayed edges start to shred when town councilman Barry Fairbrother dies.

The Tie that Binds, by Kent Haruf (Viking)
A listener recs, based on Chapter a Day. Edith Goodnough lies in bed, an IV attached to her hand, a police officer at her door. She's charged with murder.

And yes, Plainsong favorite Kent Haruf does have a new novel coming. It’s called Benediction and it comes out March 2013. (Knopf)

The Black Swan, second edition, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Random House)
And I just want to reinforce that I was not referring to the author when I panicked about the word "prolific." It's just that I'm worrying that many authors are piling on so many opportunities that they struggle with original content. It's such a strange thing to have pulled Jonah Lehrer's Imagine after selling over 40 copies. Will it come back after being fully vetted? Are the publishers now to nervous to even trust they can vet it?

And of course Taleb's book talks about the occurrence of massively improbably events, based on luck, probability, and human error. Just a thematic coincidence.

The Fourth Turning, by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Three Rivers)
From the same listenter, one of several books that has addressed the cycles of history, Strauss and Howe saw us in a period they called The Unraveling." As the book is 15 years old, we're close to whatever the next generation is going to be called.

Mrs. Kennedy and Me, by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin (Gallery)
A listener recommends this book, wehre Mrs. Kennedy's secret service agent tells all.

In One Person, by John Irving (Simon and Schuster)
The listener wonders why Irving does not show up on best books of all time, but I'm not sure what she thinks about the new novel, which she hadn't finished.

Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving (Ballantine)
But she loved this one.

Towing Jehovah, by James Morrow (Mariner)
A listener extols Morrow, a cult classic.

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt (Ecco)
A quirky western about two brothers, for-hire killers, who get caught up in a gold scheme.

True Grit, by Charles Portis (Overlook)
This comic western of a 14-year-old avenger inspired not one but two great films.

Visting Tom, by Michael Perry (Harper)
I feel like I am doing a daily Michael Perry post.

The Malice of Fortune, by Michael Ennis (Doubleday)
The big historical novel about Macchiavelli and a Renaissance plot has several fans at Boswell. He's actually coming Monday, September 17 and I'll have a post devoted to teh story behind the publication soon.

Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse (Berkley)
One of the books that Malice of Fortune reminded me of. It doesnt have a parallel past/present story, but there's the historical detail and the religious cult mixed with politics, plus a strong hero, all leading me to make the association.

The Prince, by Niccolo Macchiavelli (various editions, here's the Penguin we normally stock, plus the Bantam that seems to almost match the new book.)

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz (Knopf)
A wonderfully affectionate biography from the author of The Beatles, Lev Grossman liked it, but that's Lev Grossman the critic, not the fantasy writer (split personality).

This is How You Lose her, by Junot Diaz (Riverhead)
Oops, I mixed up the titles at first. The advance praise is amazing. From Library Journal: “Díaz’s third book is as stunning as its predecessors. These stories are hard and sad, but in Díaz’s hands they also crackle.”

Best American Short Stories, edited by Tom Perotta and Heidi Pitlor (Mariner)
Mentioned as an aside, when we were talking about stories.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, by Emma Straub (Riverhead)
This novel of the internal life of an actress's tumultuous career reminded me a bit of Curtis Sittenford's American Wife.

Other People we Married, by Emma Straub (Riverhead)
Straub's first collection of stories won praise from Lorrie Moore, Dan Chaon, and Karen Russell.

Lovers and Beloveds: An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom, by MeiLin Miranda (Sans Coulotte)
A caller discussed a self-published fantasy that he enjoyed. I suspect that it's a pay-for-in-advance proposition if you'd like to order from us.

Whiplash River, by Lou Berney (Morrow)
A getaway driver tries to escape his life of crime as a restauranteur in Belize. It follows him.

The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Murder at a monastery.

Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon (Harper)
Diesel: A Bookstore, is recreating Brokeland Records in Berkley. How cool is that?

NW, by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)

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