Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Bestsellers, Plus Lots of Links on Hamid, LeDuff, Balliett and More.

Hardcover fiction:
1. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid
2. Vampires in the Lemon Grove, by Karen Russell
3. Benediction, by Kent Haruf
4. The Dinner, by Herman Koch
5. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Another round of reviews this week posted for How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Riverhead).  Alex Gilvarry in The Boston Globe, says "Hamid’s novel embodies this concept in a tremendously profound and entertaining way, bringing to the page, front and center, why we read fiction at all" Krys Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle praises this "tremendous, wise and surprisingly moral book." And while Hamid hoped that Bloomberg (maybe from Business Week, maybe not) would review his novel as a business book, Hephzibah Anderson saw through the ruse, though did focus on some of his social analysis, noting "it does nimbly delineate a region’s religious and political tensions, its gender and class inequalities, giving a deeply human face to Asia’s rise."

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Detroit: An American Autopsy, by Charlie LeDuff
2. The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Kiernan
3. Salt Sugar, Fat, by Michael Moss
4. Lessons from the Heartland, by Barbara Miner
5. My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

More on Charlie LeDuff's hit book, Detroit: An American Autopsy (Penguin Press). MLive (where I think the M stands for Michigan follows LeDuff's every move, it seems. Here's their commentary on his recent Bill Maher appearance while this article looks at the LeDuff's perspective on the Kwame Kirkpatrick conviction. Paul Clemens in the New York Times review noted that while folks will bemoan that the book is written by a suburban white guy, "LeDuff himself is black, in an Elizabeth Warren sort of way. A grandfather, he learns, was 'mulatto,' making the white guy pictured on the book’s cover — and referred to therein as 'a white boy,' 'Whitey,' 'Mister Charlie' and 'just a redneck'— 'the palest black man in Michigan.'"

Paperback fiction:
1. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
2. A Partial History of Lost Causes, by Jennifer Dubois
3. The Marriage Plot, by Jefferey Eugenides
4. Canada, by Richard Ford
5. Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James

Our pop for Jennifer Dubois comes from its announcement as next month's in-store lit group selection. You might note that I haven't yet written up this month's discussion with Leon and Louise. I've had trouble writing it, but I hope it appears next week. A Partial History of Lost Causes (Dial) flew a bit below the radar despite having some nice momentum from other writers (the Arthur Phillips and the Kate Christiansens and the Gary Shteyngarts) and I also had several folks I know who recommended the book highly, such as Jason. I think Nancy Pearl recommended on Kathleen Dunn at one point--she says "I can’t remember reading another novel—at least not recently—that’s both incredibly intelligent and also emotionally engaging." Oprah magazine and Salon had it on their best of the year list. We're talking about it on April 1, 7 pm.

Paperback nonfiction, and yes, plays:
1. Antigone, by Sophocles, translated by David Mulroy
2. Historic Milwaukee Public Schoolhouses, by Bobby Tanzilo
3. Let's Pretend this Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson
4. Milwaukee Garage Bands, by Peter Roller
5. Mo, by Kate Jurgens

Jim Higgins wrote up Milwaukee Garage Bands in last Thursday's Journal Sentinel. He sets the record straight on what this book is and is not. "Roller makes his purpose clear in his introduction: His book 'offers an in-depth portrayal of what individuals have found of value through beginning in a rock group . . . ' Fittingly, when discussing some of the more famous and accomplished players, such as Wiegratz and Ritchie, his focus isn't with their best-known bands, but their entry-level ones."

Coincidentally we received a large shipment of the book the same day, but it was just coincidence. The book was out of stock everywhere, including our normal wholesalers, and the publisher was running a reorder special. It struck me that Milwaukee Garage Bands (History Press) will be on our bestseller list for several months. Don't you agree? So the point is, we're now well stocked!

Books for kids:
1. Hold Fast, by Blue Balliett
2. I am a Bunny, by Ole Rissom and Richard Scarry
3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
4. Napping House, by Audrey and John Wood
5. Rite of Passage, by Richard Wright

Hey, did I mention that Blue Balliett will be at the Milwaukee Public Library's Loos Room at Centennial Hall this Tuesday, March 12, 6:30 pm. Did I mention that the Loos room is located at 733 N. Eighth St. (though at least once we wrote Ave. by mistake)? Did we mention we have a little ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today?  I probably should use bigger print but then I wouldn't be able to fit all the words in.

Did I also mention that Hold Fast (Scholastic Press)is reviewed in today's New York Times Book Review? Abby McGanney Nolan doesn't think the criminals quite work (it is a mystery, after all) but heroine Early Pearl "ever observant and always pondering, shines as bright as any ­diamond." How many critics praise Balliett's work by calling it "True Blue." I just wonder, that's all. Hope to see you there.

Speaking of reviews and upcoming events, Mike Fischer didn't take much to Frank Bill's Donnybrook (FSG), but his review did help target the audience. Read this from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today.

"In the meth-fueled and underemployed world that also featured prominently in Crimes in Southern Indiana (2011), Bill's collection of short stories, there are plenty of men willing to risk their bodies and lives in search of that winning ticket out of working-class hell."

Think Donald Ray Pollock or inspiration. Fischer compares him to Bonnie Jo Campbell, but I'm not sure that's fair--I am rather feint of heart, and I could read Campbell just fine. Bill has got a Fight Club vibe going, but lighter on the wry humor. I'm not dancing around it--this is violent stuff.

Bill is at Boswell on March 18, 7 pm. We've had several great reads on him, particularly for his short story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana, referenced above. Should be a fine evening.

Less violent but no less controversial is Jason Stein and Patrick Marley's More than They Bargained For: Scott Walker, Unions, and the Fight for Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin) and I say controversial because the book strives to be fair and balanced, and it's hard to find someone who doesn't have a strong opinion on this who can stand back and see both sides.

As Jim Higgins notes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In this thoroughly sourced account, the authors do what so many of us still can't, close to a year later: They write impartially rather than rushing to judgment, giving the rest of us a chance to step back and reflect rather then blaming and flaming."

The authors are appearing at Boswell on Tuesday, March 26, 7 pm. 

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