Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book club discussion for The Anatomy of Dreams and are we going to get more signed copies of The Immortalists? Yes.

There's nothing like a breakout novel to set hearts aflutter in the publishing community, and nowadays, it's even more exciting when it is not the category of psychological suspense, which seems to be particularly friendly to new writers. And while we were not able to host A.J. Finn, we did have a great event with Chloe Benjamin, one that was kind of ten months in the making. I've written at length about how we were just one of many, many cogs (some of them very big cogs indeed) that helped break the book out, but one thing that we did not discuss was Benjamin's first book, The Anatomy of Dreams.

If you ask most readers about The Immortalists, they will probably say it was Benjamin's first novel. The Anatomy of Dreams was a paperback original from Aria, and aside from its Edna Ferber Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, its publication was pretty quiet. But we saw The Anatomy of Dreams as a great opportunity to help promote the then-upcoming second novel, The Immortalists, and one of the ways we got the word out was by reading the book for our In-Store Lit Group meeting. We wound up having the second best sales of The Immortalists on Treeline, but we'll see if that changes as other stores discover Benjamin's first novel.

Like The Immortalists, The Anatomy of Dreams spring from an intriguing premise. Sylvie, a young student at a California boarding school, falls for Gabe, who himself is an acolyte of Dr. Keller, who runs a sleep lab on campus. His goal is to help folks who sleepwalk and more learn to control themselves by lucid dreaming. She winds up becoming Gabe's partner both in life and in work, following Dr. Keller to Madison, where she is now testing patients for suitability in the experiments. But when she and Gabe befriend their neighbors, Thomas and Janna, she begins to question what she's actually doing, especially when she starts having erotic dreams about Thomas.

Regarding the book club discussion, I thought that many of the attendees would have read The Immortalists first, but actually those readers were in the minority. Most of the attendees liked the book, but were not that interested in hearing about how the two stories connected, which would be the case when you've read them both.

So what did the book club think? Most of the attendees liked The Anatomy of Dreams and only one person hated it. The reader most disappointed by the book expected that the book's trajectory would be more speculative than it was. This is not so much the fault of the book than of the book packaging. I've heard that Atria is going to reissue the book this fall and the new jacket might change the book's perception.

I'm late enough on this write up, such that I'll be doing the post for The Women in the Castle later this week (I hope), when I'll list our future In-Store Lit Group selections.

Oh, and I got to visit Benjamin in Madison, where I got more copies of The Immortalists signed for stock. 

No comments: