Thursday, March 17, 2022

A special non-Boswell event with William Boyd - more on TRIO, and Rakestraw Books

I enjoy reading other bookstore newsletters. It's a great way to find out what other booksellers are enjoying, how they are running their store, and what kind of event programming they are doing. You would think that I would have enough author visits on my plate, both virtual and in-person, that I would not be interested in seeing more. But this week I received notice from Rakestraw Books in Danville, California (a store that's high on my list for an eventual visit) that they were hosting an event with William Boyd, the acclaimed Scottish novelist, short story writer and screenwriter. Boyd has received numerous honors, including the Whitbread Prize, the Costa Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His popular titles include Any Human Heart, Restless, and Brazzaville Beach. He even wrote a James Bond novel, Solo. (Yes, he wrote it himself, but that's also the title)

William Boyd's latest novel is Trio, which was published by Knopf in hardcover and is now available in a Vintage edition. James Lasdun offered this take in The New York Times: "It would be hard to think of a living novelist whose books encompass more history, more settings, more professions, more varieties of individual fate, than William Boyd - at least with anything like his assurance. Spies, photographers, climatologists, psychiatrists - in colonial Africa, prewar Vienna, the American South: You name it, and there is almost certainly something in Boyd’s prolific oeuvre that has it covered. For readers who go to fiction for the pleasures of panoramic sweep, elaborate plotting and the company of a humane, genial intelligence, he has become one of the preferred masters."

I should note that this is one of 16 raves Boyd has collected for his latest, per BookMarks. He's also got one positive review and one pan, in The Evening Standard, which is almost a badge of honor.

I wound up chatting with Michael Barnard, the owner of Rakestraw, a bit about the program. Barnard is a huge Boyd fan, which you can see from his email newsletter and the pile of Boyd hardcovers pictured. We had a delightful conversation about Tessa Hadley, as he is currently reading Free Love, which I also really enjoyed. "Should I read more of her?," I asked. Yes, Michael replied. He also cued me in that this Saturday morning slot has worked well for Rakestraw regarding authors from across the Atlantic. We've had success with that weekday afternoon slot but we might just try one on Saturday AM, at his suggestion.

The book that's gone to the top of my list on talking to Michael is Still Life, by Sarah Winman. I don't know why I've put this off. I started the book before it came out, as I was a fan of her previous novel, Tin Man, but I didn't get into it. I even wound up recommending it to my sister Merrill, who enjoyed it. We sold a respectable amount of books, but the number that Michael has hand-sold is staggering - Leonard and Hungry Paul numbers. I'm going to try again - I'm always looking for a book where I'll be thanked for the suggestion!

If you like these virtual programs, you should sign up for the Rakestraw event with William Boyd this Saturday morning, March 19, 11:30 Central (which is 9:30 Eastern). We have books available, but it's also available from Rakestraw, for a very nice price of $21 including USPS Media Mail shipping. Here's a link for more about the event, with links to register and to purchase the book

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