In the past few years, we've seen an increase of July hardcover releases of note, but Jason says that 2013 is a little softer. We're wondering if a lot of the August releases moved up last year because of the presidential election and this year we might be back to normal.
That said, there's an awful lot of paperbacks coming out this month, so that seems to be a good focus this week. One of our favorite story collections of last year, The News from Spain, by Joan Wickersham. Interestingly enough, a lot of our focus tends to be on changed book jackets. There's no way we expected Vintage to keep a type cover for the paperback edition, but there's been some disagreement over whether we like this one or not.
From Stacie: "You know how when you fall in love, you treasure every word, glance, and moment? How crisply the laughter comes, how intelligent you sound, how charming the other person is, how you connect with a profound depth and honesty? And, you know how the reverse happens, just as tightly focused, when you fall out of love, and every tiny, agonizing detail is burned into your soul? Yeah, that. That's what it's like reading this exquisite collection; which happens to be about exactly all of that."
And here's The Collective, from Don Lee. Unlike Lee's last, where the jacket went from Brussels sprouts to elephant, The Collective jacket is close to the hardcover. I put a copy in our friend Gloria's hands last week and when I ran into her at the coffee shop this morning, she told me she liked it. I thought it was up her alley on several levels, but the fact that it began with the ending was something I knew she'd particularly enjoy, as she is one of those folks who likes to read the ending first.
My rec: "In this sometimes heartbreaking, other times hilarious new novel, Eric Cho contemplates the life of Joshua Yoon, the Korean novelist with whom he, along with provocative visual artist Jessica Tsai, once formed the 3AC or Asian American Artists Collective, first in college and later in Cambridge. What may have led him to commit suicide (or was it) by running into the path of an oncoming car? Lee tackles identity themes he’s contemplated in the past (the allure of the cultural bond, the bristle of the stereotype), but this time through the lens of the college novel. With the pump already primed by recent successes from Eugenides and Harbach, I’m hoping that folks will be ready for this triumphant literary addition."
Another book we had fun with last summer was Natalie Bakopoulos's The Green Shore. True to form for most paperbacks, it is certainly not a green jacket though one has to say that there's always a strong feeling about focusing on the blue with a Greek themed book, and I think Simon decided to play up the Greek angle in paperback, not a bad thing.
My rec: "As we follow the current economic travails of Greece, it is hard not to recall its turbulent history, particularly The Regime of the Colonels, which ruled from 1967 to 1974. In Natalie Bakopoulos's new novel, she humanizes this period through the eyes of one family--a widowed doctor, her three children, and her brother, a notorious local poet. The personal and political mash up in this passionate story; it is at once of a particular place and time, yet also a timeless mirror of the struggles of life under any repressive government. Yes, the women of this family have trouble navigating the mine fields of family life, but each of them have the strength and grace to anchor this compelling story-together they're a power trio."
I have to update that rec. We no longer seem to be paying attention to Greece.
One paperback that comes in advance of a new hardcover is The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny. We'll be hosting the U.S. launch for her new novel, How the Light Gets In, on August 27. It will be a ticketed event, with a copy of the book and refreshments. We'll have tickets on sale soon and the event is co-sponsored by Mystery One. But here's her previous tale, set in a monastery.
From Sharon: "Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups is a closed monastery deep in the wilds of Quebec. When one of the brothers is murdered, the outside world, namely, Inspector Gamache and his lieutenant, Beauvoir, must intrude on its peaceful existence. Saint-Gilbert is an order under a vow of silence, however, and no one is talking. Once again, Louise Penny has outdone herself by providing readers with an engrossing mystery whose characters are as intriguing as the crime."
Patrick Somerville's This Bright River has actually been on our paperback able for a few weeks, but I feel remiss in not getting this in a new paperback post. The jacket, not surprisingly, is a little closer to The Cradle, which continues to make the book club circuit, with one of our in-store lit group attendees mentioning that her daughter's book club had just finished it. I think the new jacket is very nice, though it might
Stacie's rec: "When Ben's mother says "It's darker and stranger in small towns than almost anywhere," it's as if a thunderclap booms down from the sky, scoring the mild darkness that has come before and foreshadowing what still lies ahead in Somerville's twisted new novel. A puzzle of a story, its opening presents a mystery that even when we finish, we're not entirely sure what exactly happened, and yet, it's immensely satisfying."
And finally, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, by Emma Straub is also on the paperback table. Jason's not sure he likes the jacket but I think I'm a fan, at least enough to look up more about the artist, Christopher Silas Neal. I love this drawing from The New York Times science section article about how men with sisters are happier.
"This story begins in Door County, Wisconsin in 1920. Elsa Emerson is the youngest of three daughters, and her parents run a playhouse. She dreams of becoming a movie actress, and she marries and runs away to Los Angeles while still very young. She is discovered and becomes a star named Laura Lamont. The atmosphere of old Hollywood is certainly intoxicating, but I didn't really appreciate Laura until things started to go south for her. Then, the reader learns what strength Laura possesses, and can appreciate her as a person, and not just a glamorous actress."