Friday, October 14, 2011

It's Rep Night #2--Lots of Wisconsin Fiction, Celebrity Bios, Monkeys with Tool Belts, All Kinds of Surprises

Rep night season is on full blast.  Last week we had rep night #2, but now I'm getting all the recommendations confused with the bookseller buzz panels at GLIBA.  And if I wait on writing this up past tonight, I'll start getting the recs mixed up with the rep-o-rama lunch tomorrow.  So better get this started now.

Picture Next Chapter in Mequon.  The lighting is moody.  The sandwiches are Jimmy John's.  The "Italian" sub has no mayo.  The dessert is the traditional Amy's Gourmet Apples from Cedarburg.

First up is John M.  He's wearing two hats tonight, and they've decided to have him go on twice.  He's presenting Norton books first.  He mentions The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, by Ali Soufan. Soufan was an FBI special agent who might have been able to prevent 9/11 had the file he requested gotten to him before 9/12. Here's an NPR piece on the book.

Then John moved on to two books that are already in-store favorites.  Jason was able to chime in for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, while I could make a nice pitch for Diana Abu-Jaber's Birds of Paradise. And though I bought a copy of The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, I had to confess that I still hadn't read it...though I am still a regular listener.  Two weeks ago I listened to one segment three times, twice in the car and once again on the internet.  It was about the history of computer hacking.

One book that had passed me by until this talk was Busy Monsters, by William Giraldi,. It's a comic novel about a memoirist who, having lost his fiancee to the hunting of the giant squid, attempts to win her back by proving his manhood in all sorts of extreme ways.  From UFOs to Sasquatch to steroid-raging body builders, this is what Sven Berkets calls "a sly sometimes Nabokovian celebration of psychological obsession."  So there!

Randy was up next from Hachette Book Group, the American division of the French company that encompasses the Little, Brown and Grand Central divisions (plus kids, plus the Center Street). Grand Central (once Warner, once sort of the place that I worked many years ago) has a particularly strong line-up of commercial memoirs.  This fall their self-explanatory selections include:
--Here Comes Trouble, by Michael Moore
--Seriously I'm Kidding, by Ellen DeGeneres
--Shaq Uncut, by Shaquille O'Neal
--Lady Gaga, by Gaga and Terry Richardson.

As was discussed at the presentation, Gaga's photo album could go Madonna (hit) or Prince (not so much).

From Little, Brown, there was a lot of commercial offerings, bookended by a pair of great Wisconsin novels--Chad Harbach's Art of Fielding, already out, and Ayad Akhtar's American Dervish in January.

Among the kids books, who couldn't love Jerry Pinkney's Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  Pinkney could be speaking at the Sheboygan Children's Book Festival while you read this!

Back to John for a report on the other publishers at Abraham Associates.  From Candlewick, an interesting collection of kids specualative stories in Steampunk!, collected by Kelly Link and Calvin Grant.

I got a little excited by the third installment of Chico Bon-Bon's adventures, Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Seaside Shenanigans.

As a watcher of Top Chef, I couldn't help but by attention to Chicago winner Stepanie Izard's cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen.

And talking up yet another author, we're all excited by Pat Schmatz's Bluefish. Amie assured me it's great.  And yes, in addition to all the children's book authors at the Sheboygan Children's Book Festival and GLIBA (I ran into several Boswell favorites here at Dearborn), there is also SCBWI-Wisconsin, going on this weekend.  Schmatz is attending, and also read at Boswell for one of our Wisconsin Writer round-ups.

The new book is about a boy with a secret--he can't read.  But a teacher and fellow student come up with a plan. Oh, and the girl's name is Velveeta.

Our evening was capped by recommendations by Jason G. at Random House.  I have to say the one with a G. or you might mistake him for Jason K., our buyer.  Jason's got a good list this fall (shocking), including Joan Didion's Blue Nights, Craig Thompson's Habibi, and Colson Whitehead's Zone One, all of which should have been mentioned on this blog.  They weren't already? But they should have been.

But there's also David Guterson's Ed King, a 180 from the writer of Snow Falling on Cedars, a sexy, compulsive readable novel (paraphrasing).  It starts at the Seattle World's Fair.  It's a modern retelling of Oedipus. The story is set to be propelled by irony.  Sounds like I would like it.

Into the Silence, by Wade Davis is the definitive story of the early British ascents on Everest.  Davis is a climber and this book puts him in Krakauer territory. I'm told. Davis wrote that book about voodoo. What's that called again? (Consult Google.) Oh yes, The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Any other advice?  Yes.  If you are a wine store, you should carry Drops of God, the graphic novel from Japan by Tadashi Agi. It's the legendary wine comic that actually influences wine prices worldwide.

More after October 23!

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