August Indie Next shelf talkers for our Indie Bound bookcase, while I do the literary equivalent of bedazzling to the fliers that we hand out (meaning we put stickers on them). We've got four authors coming of the twenty featured books in August, plus one of the paperbacks, plus Nick has a quote for yet another book. Stacie offhandedly noted that I wouldn't be happy until I had a month where we were featuring all twenty authors. Hmmm...
When Barbara Shapiro was speaking at the Charles Allis Art Museum on Wednesday, she mentioned that it's so hard for writers to break out. At one point on her NYT bestseller run for The Art Forger (signed paperbacks available), she noticed that she was the only author on the list who'd never before hit the list. I mentioned how much indie booksellers try to support new writers, and this list is a clear indication of that. Of the twenty, I can only think of two writers, Michael Paterniti and Philip Caputo, who have had previous bestselling titles.
Caveat--authors who are established stars rarely have a July to early August on sale which would warrant an August Indie Next Pick. As a control, I reached back to April, a month that would be considered a traditionally good new release month for a high profile author. In that case, there are bigger names, but fewer than half of them have had previous titles that could be classified as bestsellers.
First here's Nick's pick:
The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese, by Michael Paterniti
(The Dial Press)
"Paterniti encountered what was then considered the finest cheese in the world — Páramo de Guzmán. Too poor at the time to buy a taste, Paterniti instead vowed to one day meet this fascinating, magical cheese again. Years later, with family in tow, he made good on his vow by traveling to the rustic Spanish village where the cheese is produced. Enter Ambrosio, the brilliant, salt-of-the-earth cheesemaker with an infectious zest for life and a love for creating something simply and beautifully. Paterniti spent the next decade embedded in the rural village, playing Sancho Panza to Ambrosio’s Don Quixote while piecing together a meandering mélange of stories about food, flavor, love, loss, betrayal, and revenge. What begins as an investigative journalist’s foodie memoir becomes a culture study, a travelogue, a comedy, and an allegory. I got lost in this book!” —Nick Berg, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
Andrea Thalasinos is coming to Boswell, along with Susanna Daniel, on Tuesday, August 20, 7 pm.
Traveling Light: A Novel, by Andrea Thalasinos (Forge)
“In her glorious new novel, Thalasinos has created a modern middle-aged woman living in two different worlds, neither of which is making her happy. Paula Makaikis has been sleeping on a basement couch for most of her 10-year marriage to a hoarder and has hidden this fact from her family and friends. Her job as Director of Immigrant Studies in New York City is equally frustrating, until she is asked to translate the words of a dying Greek elder with a dog named Fotis who only understands commands in the Greek language. Suddenly, Paula takes a leave of absence from her job, adopts Fotis, and begins a journey that eventually will take her to Grand Marais, Minnesota, and a raptor rehab center. Her discovery that humans and animals can relate to each other and heal even the most wounded of either party is what makes this amazing novel so powerful.” —Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books and More, Washington Island, WI
Toby Barlow is coming to Boswell on Wednesday, August 21, 7 pm.
Babayaga: A Novel, by Toby Barlow(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“Moving from ancient Russia to the dawn of the New World, stretching into an endless future, but mainly rushing madly around postwar Paris, Babayaga covers a lot of ground. Vengeful witches hunt, charm, and wage battle. Evil scientists hatch sinister plans. A dashing spy runs a crew of outcast mercenaries. A good-hearted police inspector stays on his case, even in the form of a flea! And hapless Will, ad man/CIA informant, is caught in the whirlwind, which just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Babayaga crackles with an electric energy driven by its hilariously inventive plot, clever prose, and outrageously eccentric cast of characters.” —Sarah Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, GA
Yes, the airport store group Hudson Booksellers is part of the ABA. One year I went with a bunch of them on a High Line walk at Book Expo in New York. You can't actually visit Sarah and ask for more of her picks, as she works in the offices. Not all their stores are at airports, by the way. They have a store at the train depot at Citicorp Center in Chicago. I've linked to the map.
And on Wednesday, August 28, 7 pm, we have a double bill of Indie Next picks. We had booked Janice Clark for that day, based on a great recommendation from our own Mel, and when Amy Gail Hansen came along, and her rec was positioned right next to Clark's on the flier, and both of the books in a way played off of literary classics (it's not clear on review below, but Hansen's novel has a "madwoman in the attic" theme running through it), it just seemed like a great match.
The Butterfly Sister: A Novel, by Amy Gail Hansen (William Morrow)
“Ruby Rosseau believes that she has gone mad. Her suicide attempt at Tarble, a women’s college, leads to her dropping out and failing to graduate. Ten months later, a suitcase with her name on it arrives at her home via courier, but the suitcase belongs to a former classmate at Tarble who has gone missing. Ruby’s search for her friend leads her back to Tarble to face her past and the ghosts that threaten to destroy her life. It will take a ‘butterfly sister,’ someone who inspires metamorphosis, to save Ruby and her friend. Hansen’s debut tale of madness, mystery, revenge, betrayal, love, and literature will keep you guessing until the surprise ending.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI
The Rathbones: A Novel, by Janice Clark (Doubleday)
“The quest of a young girl and her uncle becomes an odyssey through a century and takes the reader on a literary voyage unlike any in recent memory. The saga of the Rathbone whaling family brings echoes of Melville’s tale of obsession in a novel reminiscent of the great, sprawling moralistic books of the 19th century. This is storytelling at its finest!” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI
Thanks to Kathleen, Sarah, Karen and Bill for those recs. Hope you'll try one of our Indie bookstore approved events in August, and if you like hard copy, we've got plenty of copies of the August flier at Boswell (and if you are reading this outside the Milwaukee area, the fliers are likely at your favorite local indie bookstore too).