Sunday, September 15, 2013

Boswell's Sunday Bestseller Roundup--Including Two Hospital Stories, One in New Orleans, the Other in New York. No, I Stand Corrected--Three Hospital Stories.

Here we go!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Let Him Go, by Larry Watson
2. The Ludwig Conspiracy, by Oliver Pötzsch
3. W is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton
4. Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
5. Dissident Gardens, by Jonathan Lethem
6. Enon, by Paul Harding (event is Wed. Sept. 25, 7 pm)
7. Someone, by Alice McDermott (event is Sat. Sept 28, 11 am)
8. Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
9. The Book of Killowen, by Erin Hart
10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I have really enjoyed putting the umlaut in Oliver Pötzsch's name for The Ludwig Conspiracy (signed copies available) and feel like my hands have memorized the code "alt 246." OK, I might have enjoyed hosting Mr. Pötzsch even more. If you would like to get a handle on what you missed, Dan Harmon from Lake Effect reports that the interview will be posting in a few weeks and we'll try to give you a heads up.

Last week's front page New York Times Book Review subject Jonathan Lethem is this week's New York Times Book Review critic. His take on Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge is out today. His interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross for Dissident Gardens was also quite interesting, and not just because I grew up in Queens.

In The Wall Street Journal, the strangely unnamed mystery critic calls Sue Grafton's W is for Wasted "involving, amusing and fast paced", as always. He or she calls this entry, in which Kinsey investigates to corpses, one an acquaintance and the other a homeless stranger, "surprising and moving."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Wilson, by A. Scott Berg (that's Woodrow, if you haven't been paying attention)
2. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink
3. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, by Bill Dedman
4. Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, by Katy Butler
5. Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, by Paul Schneider

Each entry on the hardcover nonfiction list was surprisingly interesting and I'm trying to look for what might have led to the sales pop. We know that Sheri Fink got a nice write up in last week's Journal Sentinel for Five Days at Memorial. Here's her NPR Morning Edition interview with Steve Inskeep.

A. Scott Berg's (Woodrow) Wilson biography was featured on  Fresh Air, with interview by Terry Gross herself. 

For Katy Butler, we have a very nice rec from Jane Glaser, but there is also a New York Times review from Abraham Verghese. There's also an essay by Butler in The Wall Street Journal, plus  this review from Laurie Hertzel in the Star Tribune

The story of Huguette Clark in Empty Mansions might already be known to some of you. A very wealthy heiress who died at Beth Israel after a long stay, paying out of pocket as if it were a hotel, had her original will, which bequeathed lots of money to extended family, changed to one that focused on foundations and her end-of-life caregivers, particularly her nurse. Anemona Hartocollis reports on this in The New York Times.

She lived in Doctor's Hospital, later part of Beth Israel Medical Center, first admitted to treat skin cancer, but later refused to leave. When they tore the hospital down to put up a high-rise, they moved her to the main campus downtown. I just want to note that I was born at this hospital. Who knew it would someday be a part of "an evocative and rollicking read, part social history, part hothouse mystery, part grand guignol," as reported by Michael Gross in The Daily Beast?

Paperback Fiction:
1. Masquerades and Misdemeanors, by the Hartford Avenue Poets
2. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain (event is Tues. Sept. 24)
3. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
4. The Hangman's Daughter V1, by Oliver Pötzsch
5. The Dark Monk V2, by Oliver Pötzsch

We've certainly had enough coverage of The President's Hat to last the week, or have we? When I checked the news feed on our search engine, I found this very positive review of Laurain's novel in the Deseret News, where Emily Cottam writes, in advance of his visit to our friends at King's English next Saturday, "Laurain captures each character quickly and in clever, colorful storytelling style with many subtle meanings. This short novel is a reminder that many of life's most important events can be the result of many tiny details that shape our future in unexpected ways." As it's in an LDS-owned paper, they do have a sexual content warning, which is something you don't get in most newspapers.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Road from Castlebarnagh: Growing Up in Irish Music, by Paddy O'Brien
2. A Brief History of Neoliberalism, by David Harvey
3. The Locavore Way, by Amy Cotler
4. Food Rules, by Michael Pollan
5. Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel

Whereas in the past I might have excluded textbook sales, I'm kind of honored that at least some of the students decide to buy their books through us, and the courses we are working with are featuring trade titles that would be of interest to our other patrons, so I include some of them here. Paddy O'Brien and Erin Hart's evening of Irish words and music had a nice turnout and they had the audience eating out of their hands.

Books for Kids:
1. Locomotive, by Brian Floca
2. Song of the Quarkbeast, by Jasper Fforde
3. The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde
4. I am a Bunny, by Ole Rissom, with illustrations by Richard Scarry
5. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

Speaking of authors and "eating out of their hands", both Brian Floca and Jasper Fforde had very enthusiastic crowds, and I should note that since our sales were quite strong, we have some, but not a lot of signed Locomotive to offer to customers. And speaking of enthusiastic crowds, Entertainment Weekly notes that Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl is the first pick of Tumblr's Reblog Book Club.

In the Journal Sentinel this week, Chris Foran looks at McGruff and Smokey the Bear in How McGruff and the Crying Indian Changed America: A History of Iconic Ad Council Campaigns. Foran notes how the "Ad Council's campaigns often were designed to reinforce the status quo. For example, the council's hugely successful ads for the United Negro College Fund, while reviving the nation's historically black colleges, also bolstered the separate-but-equal approach to higher education predominant in the South in the 1960s."

Mike Fischer also tackles Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge, which goes on sale Tuesday. Our apologies to our friend Dave, who wanted us to have a midnight launch party. Sorry Dave, too much going on at the store to do this. But let's return to the Journal Sentinel review: "Bleeding Edge is stuffed with gorgeous passages that sing their longing for all we've lost, in trashing the land and ourselves. But such writing is also a stirring call to arms, making clear that the history we'll make depends on what and how we remember. As Pynchon has been reminding us for 50 years, there's always more than one way to tell that story."

Jim Higgins looks at Kathie Giorgio's Learning to Tell (a Life) Time, whose newest novel will be launched at the Southeastearn Wisconsin Festival of Books this Friday, September 20, at 6:15 pm. He writes that "Giorgio claimed John Irving as one of her favorite writers. Like Irving, Giorgio mixes comedy and trauma in her storytelling, and also like the World According to Garp author, a strong sense of optimism and determination undergirds her work. Life, despite its difficulties and sorrows, is seen as fundamentally good."

And Carole E. Barrowman covers new mysteries this week, including:
Leonard Rosen's The Tenth Witness, which is likely to make her best-of-year list;
Ovidia Yu's Aunty Lee's Delights, a new savory series featuring a Singaporian sleuth;
Melodie Johnson Howe's, City of Mirrors, following up a 1989 Edgar winner;
and Hank Phillipi Ryan's The Wrong Girl, featuring a Boston newspaper reporter.

My apologies that not every reviewed book can be linked for purchase at Boswell. In today's climate, many publishers and distributors cannot come to terms to get the books widely distributed at trade discount and returnable status. When our "partners" won't work together, it becomes much harder to source the books and for the most part, it's only when we have events that it makes sense to jump through the hoops.

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