Sunday, March 16, 2014

Boswell Sunday Bestsellers, Week Ending 3/15/14!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
2. Murder in Pigalle, by Cara Black
3. Bones of the Lost, by Kathy Reichs
4. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
5. Be Careful What You Wish For, by Jeffrey Archer

When you're in Wisconsin, it's hard not to think about Shotgun Lovesongs as a local book, but as we've noted, Wisconsin novels have a good track record of resonating nationally. Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's has invested a lot in the book's success. Last night I picked up The New Yorker and saw this two-page spread on the book. The book also got a simultaneous release in the UK, which seems a bit unusual for a first-timer with a particularly heartlandy theme. The Bookseller (the UK equivalent of PW) review from Alice Ryan nevertheless was featured in their "We Love This Book" newsletter, with Ryan noting "Butler expertly and often heart-wrenchingly portrays the dynamics of small town America, the longing to leave and the pain of coming back."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Classics with a Twist, by Cat Cora
2. Cooking from the Hip, by Cat Cora
3. Retail Schmetail, by Sanford Stein
4. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
5. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Yes, Cat Cora was in town, the opening speaker at this week's Wisconsin Restaurant Show. Jannis and I went there to sell books (alas, only for her, not for Sanford D'Amato and Gale Gand, who brought their own) and the hosts graciously let us walk the floor afterwards. We both nibbled on some bar-style appetizers and found out there is such a thing as duck bacon. #6's bestseller is Jesus: A Pilgrimage, by Martin James, which brings back memories, only because I often successfully featured some sort of HarperOne (formerly Harper San Francisco, probably the most progressive of the non-church owned religious imprints--the rest are pretty traditional) book for Easter in the old days when I was a buyer at Schwartz.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
2. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra
3. The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner
4. Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
5. Dear Life, by Alice Munro

It's not unusual to have pops on our in-store lit group selections, but it is particularly odd to have the top three be past or future selections. We're reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena on Monday, April 7. We would have sold more copies of Americanah (Anchor), but the NBCC fiction award sent the book temporarily out of stock, so we had to reorder. Interestingly enough, we did also read #6, Adichie's Half of A Yellow Sun, which is scheduled for film release with Chiwetel Ejiofor, the "12 Years a Slave" actor. The rumor is that the Americanah adaptation will likely include Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Civil Rights Activism in Milwaukee, by Paul Geenen
2. Cat Cora's Kitchen, by Cat Cora
3. Philomena, by Martin Sixsmith
4. The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Kiernan
5. The Short nights of the Shadow Catcher, by Timothy Egan

Making a quick pop onto the paperback bestseller lists is Boswell-visitor-in-hardcover Denise Kiernan for The Girls of Atomic City (Touchstone). Jenifer McKim wrote in the Boston Globe that "instead of the words of top scientists and government officials, Kiernan recounts the experiences of factory workers, secretaries, and low-level chemists in a town that housed at its peak 75,000 people trained not to talk about what they knew or what they did. She combines their stories with detailed reporting that provides a clear and compelling picture of this fascinating time."

Books for Kids:
1. Virals (volume 1), by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
2. Exposure (volume 4), by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
3. Seizure (volume 2), by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
4. Code (volume 3), by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
5. Wildwood Imperium (volume 3), by Colin Meloy with illustrations by Carson Ellis

Rounding out our Kathy and Brendan Reichs top 4 (yes, we had a good time!) is Colin Meloy's conclusion to the Wildwood trilogy with Wildwood Imperium (Balzer + Bray), said to be a mesmerizing and epic tale, at once firmly steeped in the classics of children's literature and completely fresh at the same time. Kirkus Reviews writes "Meloy gives his antic imagination full rein to produce work that, if occasionally uneven, is brilliantly sui generis." As you may remember, we had a nice long bestseller run with Meloy and Ellis' previous collaborations and hope for more with this entry.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins enthuses over the latest collaboration between Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Of The Chase (Bantam), Higgins notes that "writing a lean, stylish thriller and caper novel that takes a reader gliding along from start to finish must be hard enough. Writing one that winks at the reader from nearly every page — now that's special."

Carole E. Barrowman's latest crop of thrilling picks includes The Set Up Man (Doubleday), by T.T. Monday. It's about an aging relief pitcher working for a second-rate team in San Jose who moonlights as a private investigator. She calls this "a sexy mystery with a rakish lead and a baseball plot that's ... pitch perfect."

The Player (Minotaur), by Brad Parks, is not about a baseball player at all but a Newark journalist, who teams up with a college intern to investigate a neighborhood where folks are getting ill only to uncover not just an environmental hazard but a corruption scheme with deadly consequences. Barrowman's praise: "Parks ratchets up the suspense while keeping the lighter tone and laughable realism that are the series' distinctive draws."

We've already talked up Chris Pavone's The Accident (Crown), but Barrowman's expert take is that compared to Pavone's first published novel, which won an Edgar for best first mystery, it's "as sophisticated in style and as clever in plotting, scrutinizing in scrupulous cynical detail the world of traditional publishing."

If you like southwestern mysteries, maybe it's time to skooch over a bit to Texas and try Josie Gray, the sheriff of the small town of Artemis who stars in Tricia Fields' series, the newest of which is Wrecked (Minotaur). In this installment, Gray's lover is a accused of murdering his secretary and now he's gone missing. William Kent Kreuger is also a fan, who calls Wrecked " A powerful story driven by the violence of the Mexican drug war, which frequently spills across the border, it’s also about integrity, loyalty, and love. Small town police chief Josie Gray is one hell of a protagonist, and the harsh landscape of west Texas, which she patrols, provides a stunning backdrop to a compelling, often surprising plot."

And finally, Hector Tobar profiles Rabih Alameddine and his new novel, An Unnecessary Woman, originally appearing in the Los Angeles Times. Alameddine will be at UWM on Friday, April 4, for a talk and panel discussion at 3 pm at Curtin Hall. He writes "An Unnecessary Woman is an utterly unique love poem to the book and to the tenacity of the feminine spirit. And it's a triumph for Alameddine, who has created a book worthy of sitting on a shelf next to the great works whose beauty and power his novel celebrates."

Our friend Joan came in to buy a copy of An Unnecessary Woman, having read some of it from the library and decided it was a keeper. Having read The Hakawati, I know what a great writer Alameddine is, and it sounds like he's still at the top of his game.

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