Special thanks to yesterday’s edition of Shelf Awareness for pointing us in the direction of “Novel-Ts”–a collection of t-shirts dedicated to those of us who find “heroes in the bookstore instead of in the ballpark.”
Check out http://novel-t.com/about.htm for “an opportunity to express your support for the all-stars of literature.” Heavy hitting readers can show their support for Hester Prynne (Abby’s favorite), Huck Finn, Walt Whitman and other literary greats with these clever t-shirts. The current "team" features nine "players" and new teams, featuring an increasing roster of domestic and foreign players, will join the Novel-T Word Series league in the future. Shirts are available online and from a few select retailers. Batter up!
By Gail Caldwell
August 2010, Random House
An unbelievably honest, moving and heartbreaking account of Caldwell’s midlife friendship with fellow writer Caroline Knapp, who died suddenly of lung cancer in 2002. Caldwell and Knapp shared everything—profound love for their dogs, Clementine and Lucille, a history of alcohol addiction and a passion for writing. Read it—and try not to weep.
"I have a photograph from one of those summers at Chocorua, framing the backs of my dog and Caroline's, Clementine and Lucille, who are silhouetted in the window seat and looking outside. It is the classic dog photo, capturing vigilance and loyalty: two tails resting side by side, two animals glued to their post. What I didn't realize for years is that in the middle distance of the picture, through the window and out to the fields beyond, you can make out the smallest of figures—an outline of Caroline and me walking down the hill. We must have been on our way to the lake, and the dogs, now familiar with our routine, had assumed their positions. Caroline's boyfriend, Morelli, a photographer, had seen the beauty of the shot and grabbed his camera.
I discovered this image the year after she died, and it has always seemed like a clue in a painting—a secret garden revealed only after it is gone . . . . Like most memories tinged with the final chapter, mine carry the weight of sadness. What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part."
Yes, it’s true—at BookPage, sometimes we get really, really excited about what has arrived in the day’s mail (see our fervor over the new Penguin Classics here).
Today the mail gods brought us a set of the latest Olive Editions from HarperPerennial—Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.
Packaged in bright orange, purple and green (respectively), these paperbacks are billed as “small enough to fit in your pocket” and retail for only $10 a pop. I might argue that you’d need a pretty big pocket for the thick Fast Food Nation, but hey, fast food is inherently heavy.
HarperPerrennial launched their Olive Editions last year with the release of special edition novels by Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer and Milan Kundera. Both sets of books are billed as “limited editions” and while the Olive Editions website is very hip, it is not terrible informative.
I’d love to know when the next Olive Editions will be published—and what titles will be included. If you’d like to win our set of the 2009 Olives (which, I should mention, go on sale today), leave a comment by Friday, Nov. 6 at noon. Tell us what you think of the Olive idea or what books you would like to see Olive-ized. Good luck!
2010 is looking like a great year—for fiction, at least. I’ve been busy sorting through the January stacks, trying to decide between big names (Elizabeth Kostova, J.M. Coetzee, Tracy Chevalier and Amy Bloom among them) and outstanding debuts (remember the names Leila Meacham, Ali Shaw, and Matthew Flaming). But it turns out January is just the tip of the great fiction iceberg.
Reader favorites Chris Bohjalian (Midwives), Lori Lansens (The Girls) and Louise Erdrich (The Painted Drum) all have new novels set to publish in February 2010. Bohjalian’s Secrets of Eden is set in contemporary New England and examines a family plagued by domestic violence; Lansens’ The Wife’s Tale follows a middle aged woman around the country as she searches for her missing husband;
Erdrich’s Shadow Tag is being pitched as entirely different from her other novels, “a heart stopping story with the tension and suspense of a psychological thriller, an anatomy of a marriage that leads its characters, as well as the reader, to a stunning and utterly unexpected ending.” I can’t wait to dig into all three—just as soon as I wrap up January.
What 2010 fiction are you most excited about?
It’s no secret that I’m a Lauren Conrad fan. Earlier this year, I forced Trisha to come with me to a Nashville signing of her first Y.A. novel, L.A. Candy (check out our adventures here). And I read—and enjoyed—the book. But when news broke yesterday that Temple Hill Entertainment had acquired screen rights to L.A. Candy, even I had mixed feelings.
Let’s think about this: once Lauren Conrad was just an average California high school student. Then she agreed to have her life taped as part of MTV’s reality show, “Laguna Beach.” Then came “The Hills,” chronicling Lauren’s move to L.A. Then Lauren wrote L.A. Candy about her experiences on “The Hills.” And now we have a movie about the book about the TV show about the girl. But it's fiction. Based on reality. The mind reels.
It’s great news for Lauren, though. Not only will she “be involved in shaping the direction of the script” and given the title of Executive Producer on the film, but Temple Hill is executive producing the movie. Maybe you've heard of their current film projects, the "Twilight" sequels "New Moon" and "Eclipse"?
I guess the only remaining question is: who will play Lauren Conrad in a movie version of her literary life?
We'll believe it when we see it, but The Washington Post is reporting that Uwem Akpan's 2008 short story collection, Say You're One of Them, will be Queen O's next book club pick. The Post says that Ingram International, a book distribution company, unintentionally leaked the information this morning. Oprah will officially announce this, her 63rd book club selection, to a live audience in New York City's Central Park tomorrow (September 18th).
Published by Little, Brown, Say You're One of Them is Nigerian-born Akpan's first book. The collection features five short stories, one of which was originally published in The New Yorker. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, saying:
"Akpan's prose is beautiful and his stories are insightful and revealing, made even more harrowing because all the horror—and there is much—is seen through the eyes of children."
If the Post is right, Akpan's stories are about to gain a much wider audience. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: It's official! Oprah just announced that Say You're One of Them is indeed her latest book club selection. Congratulations to Uwem Akpan and his publishers!
Last night Trisha and I were lucky enough to attend a dinner honoring debut novelist, Amy Greene. Amy’s novel, Bloodroot, goes on sale in January and since the author is a true Tennessee girl, her very wise Ingram account manager, Jason Gobble, set up a dinner with local booksellers and media.
Our group of twenty met at Cock of the Walk (yup, you read that right), a down home restaurant known for their catfish and well, fried . . . everything.
Author Amy was as sweet as could be, and our group enjoyed a fun-filled night of greasy food and book-dominated conversation.
Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a story about the legacies—of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss—that haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today.
Amy told me she met author Jill McCorkle at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Jill loved Amy’s novel and put her in touch with New York literary agent, Leigh Feldman. Amy says she met with Leigh and had a book deal with Knopf within the month. Not bad for a first time writer from East Tennessee! We love Bloodroot at BookPage and we’re hoping others will agree.
The book goes on sale January 12, so make sure you put this one on your 2010 reading list!
At BookPage we’ve been gearing up for the holidays. It may seem early, but since we work 2-3 months ahead of publication dates, we’ve been happily sorting through piles of the best books to give (and receive) this season.
While doing my fiction research, I was surprised to see that Today Show personality Al Roker has a novel coming out this fall. Not so much of a stretch, I thought, since Roker has previously released cookbooks (Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue and Al Roker's Hassle-Free Holiday Cookbook) and a memoir (Don't Make Me Stop this Car: Adventures in Fatherhood). But then I saw the title of his novel: The Morning Show Murders. Hmm.
From the publisher: Being cheerful at six in the morning can drive anyone to murder—just ask Al Roker! In his behind-the-cameras debut mystery, a celebrity TV chef has dishes to prepare, millions to entertain and a murder to solve before his show—and life—get permanently cancelled. As fact and fiction collide and the backbiting ignites, The Morning Show Murders will make you wonder: How much of this stuff is real?
Maybe it’s just me, but a thriller from sunny Al Roker is the last thing I expected to see in the mail. But now I’m intrigued . . . maybe just enough to read the first few chapters.
Will you check out The Morning Show Murders when it goes on sale November 24?
Ok, I admit it—I’ve been a bad BookPage blogger as of late. Trisha thinks our blog readers must miss my voice—I think she’s just trying to flatter me into blogging more. But whatever the case, I’m back on this fine Tuesday because of the Facebook. I am, like most people I know, Facebook friends with a number of people I went to high school with—even if I haven’t seen them since graduation. And today, several high school friends updated their statuses about going out to get a copy of Fading Echoes. What’s this? A book I haven’t heard about?
A quick trip to Amazon.com reveals that Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood from the Football Field to the Fields of Honor by Mike Sielski goes on sale today.
It’s set in my tiny hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania and centers on the long-standing Central Bucks East/Central Bucks West football rivalry. Anyone who went to East (like me) will tell you what we lacked in football skills we made up for in academic achievement. Anyone who went to West will tell you it must have been terrible to go to East. But this book isn’t just about football.
From the publisher:
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was home to the greatest high school football rivalry in the state. There was Central Bucks West, captained by senior fullback/ linebacker Bryan Buckley. And there was Central Bucks East, led by senior lineman Colby Umbrell. Bryan and Colby would meet each other as opponents in a game played on a grass field, but their dreams and devotion to their country after the horrific events of September 11, 2001 would lead each of them to the conflict in the Middle East. Only one would return. This slice of small-town American life is the compelling chronicle of two outstanding athletes: their lives, the game they loved, and the separate journeys they would undergo from the football field to the battlefield. But it is also a chronicle of those who helped shape them into the men they became, and the community that watched and cheered as they grew from game-playing boys into fighting men-and witnessed a sacrifice it would never forget.
Library Journal deems it: "A very moving, striking story exceptionally well told; for all readers." I'll have to join the Doylestown Facebook crowd and go out and get myself a copy.
When we blogged about South of Broad, Pat Conroy's new novel, back in April, we were thrilled with the huge reader response we got.
Our readers commented to tell us how much they love Conroy and how excited they are for his new book. (To check out my original blog post, click here).
Today South of Broad goes on sale—and to celebrate, we are offering free copies to two lucky Book Case readers. All you have to do is comment on this posting by Friday, August 14. Tell us what your favorite Conroy novel is, or why you're looking forward to reading South of Broad. We'll select the winners at random. And don't forget to check out our August cover story on Conroy and South of Broad here.
Good luck! And happy reading!