Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Bestseller Post--Event Recaps and Announcements, Plus Among the Asides, a Pynchon-Lethem Smackdown. Should Lethem Get More Secretive and Paranoid to Boost Sales?

The cooler weather definitely brought folks into the store this week. I thought with everything going on this past Saturday that we'd be dead, but that was not the case. And I was happy to get several comments from customers receiving the email who learned about Global Union. We also chatted with our friends at Woodland Pattern (as well as author Kathie Giorgio), who said that things were going quite well at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. Speaking of Giorgio, her new novel, Learning to Tell (a Life) Time is now available for purchase on the Boswell website. Here's a link to the review from Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel last week.

Hardcover Fiction
1. Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon
2. Enon, by Paul Harding (event Wed. 9/25, 7 pm)
3. Someone, by Alice McDermott (event Sat. 9/28, 11 am)
4. Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent (event Thurs. 9/26, 7 pm)
5. How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny
6. Claire of the Sea Light, by Edwidge Danticat
7. Duplex, by Kathryn Davis
8. Inferno, by Dan Brown
9. Round House, by Louise Erdrich
10. MadAddam, by Margaret Atwood

Because most of this week's events were for paperbacks or kids books, the hardcover fiction bestseller list is crowded with next week's events. I've marked them clearly so you don't think we're having Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, or Louise Erdrich. Some of Enon are advance purchases for our school event with him at Nicolet in the afternoon. I should also note that the Journal Sentinel featured Carolyn Cooke's San Francisco Chronicle Enon review--you can read it here.

Oh, and I should note that Jason and I had a fascinating conversation about Thomas Pynchon and Jonathan Lethem's sales trajectories. Both authors had identical and very strong sales with us for their last hardcovers (Inherent Vice and Chronic City), but I bet that Pynchon would do better this time, while Jason placed his bet on Lethem. So far, I seem to be winning this one (I assure you, I often do not, as I made Jason buy more Hothouse and have had trouble getting folks to grab onto this, though our customer Dennis agrees with me that its a wonderfully entertaining read) because I think at this point in their respective careers, Pynchon is review proof, while Lethem still has to proove himself with every title and so Bleeding Edge gets the edge over Dissident Gardens. Both authors actually had good reviews on their new work, each with front page Book Review/New York Times (anyone else noted this weird change to the section's title?), with Pynchon's by none other than Lethem.

My advice to Lethem. Stop doing press, stop touring (I've got nothing to lose, as the author has not been to Milwaukee since You Don't Love me Anyway in 2007), and start getting super secretive. He's got everything in place for this, including a love of Philip K. Dick.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. When Spiritual but not Religious is not Enough, by Lillian Daniel
2. Wilson, by A. Scott Berg
3. Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson
4. This Town, by Mark Leibovich
5. Zealot, by Reza Aslan
6. Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward (Hannah’s rec)
7. Knocking on Heaven’s Door, by Katy Butler (Jane’s rec)
8. Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser (Jason’s rec)
9. Jerusalem, by Yottam Ottolenghi
10. Heart of the Plate, by Mollie Katzen

Immanuel Presbyterian Church is running a discussion group on Wednesday evenings for Lillian Daniel's book, which is published by Jericho, the edgier division of Hachette's Christian publishing program, FaithWords. Regarding Mollie Katzen's newest, I heard the author talking with Joy Cardin on Wisconsin Public Radio this week, which may account for some of the pop for Heart of the Plate.

You'll probably see it again, but here's Boswellian Hannah-Johnson-Breimeier's recommendation of Men We Reaped: "Jesmyn Ward, National Book Award winning author of Salvage the Bones, knows too well the awful consequences of the Black male holocaust in our country. Five men beloved to her have died, due in part to the endless repetitive cycle of generational poverty and violence in their communities. Ward writes this moving and tender memoir to honor their memories and to attempt to make sense of her overpowering grief."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Tinkers, by Paul Harding
2. My Summer on Haight Street, by Robb Rice
3. The Tint of Glass Awnings, by Brian Quinn
4. The President’s Hat, by Antoine Laurain (event Tues. 9/24, 7 pm)
5. The Cutting Room Floor, by Sherrie Ball
6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
8. Lio: There’s a Monster in My Socks, by Mark Tatulli (event Sun. 10/13, 2 pm)
9. Lio: Making Friends, by Mark Tatulli
10. Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow

We're hosting Mark Tatulli for some schools on October 14, not for his Lio books but for his first middle grade graphic novel, or whatever they call books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid format. It's Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic, and the event is Sunday, October 13, 2 pm, one of five events we're hosting during what must be called "Crazy Packed Week of Events for Kids" week. If you can come up with a better name, let me know.

Hannah's a big fan of the Lio strip, but alas, it isn't carried by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As one teacher noted, the strip is Calvin and Hobbes-esque. You can actually view the strip on Go Comics.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Larceny Games, by Brian Tuohy
2. Milwaukee at Water’s Edge, by Tom Pilarzyk (event Tues. 10/15, 7 pm)
3. Whiskerslist, by Angie Bailey
4. Honey and Vinegar, by Linetta Davis
5. Quiet, by Susan Cain

I had a little trouble categorizing the books from our Rebirth Ink event. I classified Brian Quinn and Sherrie Ball's books as fiction, but because Linetta Davis's book is a memoir with poetry, I put it in nonfiction. I think all the titles are classified as poetry in the store. It's like humor--I actually have to go through the category and determine where the books should actually fall each week, leading of course, to some inconsistencies.

Regarding Milwaukee at Water's Edge, we haven't had an updated Milwaukee guide book in who knows how long, so it's exciting to see Tom Pilarzyk take the plunge. The book is published by Trails Books.

Books for Kids:
1. The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde
2. Locomotive, by Brian Floca
3. Song of the Quarkbeast, by Jasper Fforde
4. Moonshot, by Brian Floca
5. Smoke, by Ellen Hopkins

As you've probably noticed, school event sales go on for several weeks as the student orders come in, which is why Fforde and Floca trade off spots on the bestseller list this week. Following Smoke are a number of Ellen Hopkins backlist titles, the most popular of which turned out to be Crank, just like demand showed on Ingram. Hopkins was telling me the new edition adjusted the trim size of Smoke, leading to a spirited discussion of the "new adult" genre.

In the Journal Sentinel, Carole E. Barrowman reviews Patrick Ness's More than This, which she says, well this is too good to paraphrase:

"When I finished Patrick Ness' More Than This, my first thought was Ness has written the 21st century's version of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. My second was I need to assign this in a lit class because much like Salinger's book (and John Green's more recent The Fault in Our Stars), Ness' young-adult novel is a game-changer. This genre-bending, pulse-pounding book is provocative and philosophical and sweet and darkly funny and it's destined to be discussed and debated. Plus there's not a vampire or a zombie lurking anywhere in its dystopian landscape."

Also in the Journal Sentinel, Mike Fischer is respectful of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland, but like Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times, has issues. "Such writing works much too hard — and transparently — to force a coherence and unity that simply aren't here. Left to their own devices rather than nervously spooled through Lahiri's clunky plot, there is promising raw material aplenty in this book for several short stories — a form in which Lahiri can dazzle."

Others beg to differ. The Lowland was just announced to be part of the National Book Award longlist, as well as the Man Booker shortlist. Perhaps her inclusion was the impetus to lead to dropping the "no United States" rule, as Lahiri's inclusion pretty much broke it completely, having lived in the United States since childhood. It's a tricky question and I leave others to argue it out!

As noted above, we're super excited to sell Men we Reaped and are thrilled that Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel liked the book just as much as Hannah did. "Jesmyn Ward's memoir Men We Reaped is as beautiful, and sad, and scary, and as bone deep in its sense of suffering as a song by Howlin' Wolf."

And finally, a few reviews that are in the print edition only. Empty Mansions, which has a great rec from Nick, has a review from Philip Boroff in Bloomburg News And the Journal Sentinel also included Dan Cryer's review of Somone, highlighting our event next Saturday, September 28, at 11 am.

He begins: "Today's twentysomethings could learn a thing or two from Alice McDermott. Her novels amount to an astringent antidote to the fun-loving, just-do-it ethos of immediate gratification that makes contemporary youth seem so callow."

You can order a signed copy here.

No comments: