Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One Rec for Something that's Been Around For A While, Another for A Book So New They Barely Sold it To Us Yet, Plus Some Book Club Selections.

Last week I wrote about trying to find new in paperback African American fiction for our book club brochure. This quest actually led to two displays, as not only did I come up with two recommendations, but I decided to play off the Milwaukee Art Museum's 30 Americans (now through September 8) with a table display of 30 American Writers. I tried to keep to the parameters of the exhibit and only feature writers from the last thirty years, and tried to focus a bit on less well known names.

In addition, we found two interesting books for our book club brochure. Stacie suggested Marie NDiaye's Three Strong Women, and while the author was not American, it piqued my interest enough to add it to the book club table and select it as our October in-store lit group selection. We'll be meeting to discuss this Prix Goncourt winner on Monday, October 7, 7 pm.

As an aside, Anne just told me that the mystery group will be reading George Peleacanos as their September selection. The title they chose is Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, one of his Nick Stefanos novels. They meet on Monday, September 23 and they welcome all Pelecanos fans or fan wannabes to their meeting. Our event with George Pelecanos is Thursday, October 17.

Back to the book club. I said I wound up reading Martha Southgate's The Taste of Salt,but I don't think I included my staff rec, beyond the one sentence taste in Friday's list of book club picks.

The Taste of Salt, a novel by Martha Southgate (Algonquin)
"Josie (as in Josephine Baker) Henderson is a marine biologist at the facility on the coast of Massachusetts. She’s left her family behind in Cleveland—a hardworking mom, a long-time alcoholic father in recovery, and a little brother, Tick (as in Edmund Spenser, long story) who’s following in his father’s footsteps. She’s long estranged from her father, but when her brother needs her to pick her up in recovery, her carefully wound life, including a marriage to her white husband Daniel, begins to spiral downward, especially when a fellow Black scientist arrives at the clinic. Southgate tells the story from several perspectives, but there’s never any question that this is Josie’s story, a meaty tale that ponders just how much we can learn from the mistakes of ourselves and our families."

So no sooner was I done with this project than Mel sent me this wonderful rec for a new African American memoir. The book was in the fall PGW catalog so we had to move it to a backlist order, as it's already available.

What the River Washed Away, by Muriel Mharie Macleod (One World) "What the River Washed Away is the coming-of-age story of a poor, Black girl in the Deep South at the turn of the twentieth century. Arletta is determined to find some way out of the shack she grew up in, despite her youth, poverty, and the daily assaults she endures. She doesn't have a friend in the world, but she does have a solid educational foundation, and a few spirits keeping watch and whispering affirmations to her. A cross between The Color Purple and Mama Day, Macleod's debut novel illustrates the strained relationships between mothers and daughters, men and women, Blacks and Whites, rich and poor, heathen and Christian, the learned and the uneducated, in the lynching hotbed of Louisiana. This novel will transport you back in time while bringing to mind the challenges we still face in this country--so many miles covered so far, and so very many more to go." Mel Morrow

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