Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's July, so When I Say "New Boswell's Best Nonfiction Roundup," I Mean "Newish." Savage, Solnit, Ellis, Nichols, O'Reilly, and an Actual New Book from Kate Christiansen.

July is certainly not a vibrant month for new releases. Jason sent out his Boswell's Best (meaning everything on this blog is 20% off in store, at least through next Monday, July 15) for the week, and the only new nonfiction book he added was Blue Plate Special (Doubleday), from Kate Christiansen. Nick called it "raw, emotional storytelling combined with foodie flair, best read with your favorite snack." She was recently on Fresh Air, intereviewed by Dave Davies, as she discussed "her struggles to come to terms with her family and with others as she pursued a writing career."

We've had American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics (Dutton) on the Boswell Best for about a month now, meaning it's been selling well enough to keep it going. Dan Savage made several trips to Schwartz in the old days, amused that he was staying at The Pfister Hotel; one interchange even made it into his Savage Love column. Folks periodically ask if he might be attending, but alas, for the last book, he came to UWM, and for this one, not at all. We'll keep requesting, however, and one day perhaps we'll put together the right proposal. The new book is a collection of essays (not Savage Love columns, mind you). Time Out calls Mr. Savage "a gay superhero" and that might not be an exaggeration, having won an Emmy for the groundbreaking It Gets Better campaign. Here's a good profile and interview by David Accomazzo in Tucson Weekly.

Another author who often gets talked up by customers is Rebecca Solnit, whose new book is The Faraway Nearby (Viking), a memoir in essays, in which she uses her own life to show how we build a life out of stories. The memoir in essays appears to be in ascendance, at least for me, what with Aleksandar Hemon's The Book of My Lives in the spring, and local favorite Kipp Friedman's Barracuda in the Attic coming this fall. I just read Friedman's book, so it's on my mind.  Here's a profile of The Faraway Nearby in Slate, which looks at the phenomenon of classifying independent scholars. 

The nice thing about releasing an American history book in early June is that you get the double whammy of Father's Day and the possibility of a few more publicity hits around Independence Day, as did  Joseph Ellis's Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence (Knopf), currently #11 on the NYT nonfiction bestseller list. One of is recommendations is from Ron Chernow, who says Ellis "captures the subtle and often complex interplay between the lofty rhetoric pouring forth from the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and the perilous plight of the Continental Army in New York." Andrew Cayton calls the new book enjoyable in The New York Times Book Review, but notes that the plot should be familiar to anyone who saw the musical or film "1776." I went with my fourth grade class, to Broadway, no less!

I think I've been remiss in talking about John Nichols and Robert McChesney's new book Dollarocracy: How Billionaires Are Buying Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It (Nation Books). Folks have also wondered if Mr. Nichols might be appearing for the book in Milwaukee. We tend to alternate events with People's Books. I had just assumed after the book came out that they were up for the event. I should note that Nation Books, which distributes through Perseus, doesn't have the formal event proposal system that the bigger houses do (or the indies that are distributed by them), where we fill out grids on a program called Edelweiss and submit them to a coordinator who divvies them out to publicists. It's sort of like on-sale date versus pub date. A book distributed by Random House (or should I say Penguin Random House) has a specific date we expect it in the store; a book distributed from Perseus has a date when they expect enough books will be in store for media to commence. It confuses a lot of folks, even booksellers.

Oh, you want to know what Dollarocracy is about? It's a treastise on money buying elections, and interesting enough, most of the hits have been on left-leaning blogs. I couldn't find a review in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, or San Francisco Chronicle. I don't think The Nation counts, because Nichols writes for them and is publishing the book. 

And finally, just to keep things interesting, here's the new Bill O'Reilly release from spring, Keep It Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World. O'Reilly also has trouble getting mainstream reviews, especially for a book like this which is more of an overview. He's also had a feud running with Mark Levin, positioned to the right of O'Reilly, and rather acrimonious. I'm not doing any linking here because I seem dirty even mentioning it--Levin considers most people he disagrees with Marxists, including, oddly enough, Ron Paul and his followers.  But O'Reilly did appear on The Daily Show and I'll link to that.

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