Are you already formulating your plan of attack for hitting the sales this Black Friday? Just be sure to save some shopping energy for Small Business Saturday, too, because you'll be in for a treat when you shop at your local independent bookstore.
Chances are high that if you walk into an indie bookstore this Saturday (November 30), you'll find an author or two hanging out. Organized by Indies First, more than 1,000 authors will be working as guest booksellers at locally owned shops across the country. Here are just a few:
• Martin Cruz Smith & Ayelet Waldman—Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)
• Lynn Cullen & Joshilyn Jackson—Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA)
• Jill Lepore & Aaron Becker—Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)
• Ridley Pearson & Curtis Sittenfeld—Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO)
• Emma Straub & Susannah Cahalan—WORD (Brooklyn, NY)
• Ann Patchett & Victoria Schwab—Parnassus in (Nashville, TN)
Do you plan on stopping by your local indie bookstore on Saturday?
When books and fashion collide, I get giddy. And the September issue of Vogue runneth over with a 16-page Edith Wharton-inspired spread styled by Grace Coddington, photographed by Annie Leibovitz (who, according to Anna Wintour, prepped for the shoot by reading almost everything Wharton ever wrote) and starring some of our favorite authors as Wharton's intellectual circle—plus an essay on Wharton titled "The Custom of the Country" by Colm Tóibín.
We also noticed Eugenides looked particularly at home in the Edwardian scene:
And that's not all. The issue also includes an essay by Ann Patchett on the loss of her beloved dog that would break even the coldest heart:
"Two days before my dog Rose died, I put her in the stroller and pushed her down the sidewalk. It was late in November, but the day was mild and bright. For a minute she sat up on the fake sheepskin pad and sniffed the air, but then she lay down again.
. . . I was a childless woman in my late 40s who, despite my enormous love for Rose, had never mistaken her for a baby and did not do so now, when I was pushing her in a stroller. If my neighbors found my behavior to be worthy of discussion, so be it. My dog was happy."
Oh, and with the September issue running over 900 pages long (Happy 120th, Vogue!), I thought it would be nice if I gave you the page numbers, so you don't have to spend 20 minutes searching like me: Patchett is on page 440; Wharton is on 810.
It's not often that a guest leaves comedian Stephen Colbert at a loss for words, but author Ann Patchett managed it more than once during her guest appearance last night on "The Colbert Report." The two talked about Parnassus Books and why buying at a brick-and-mortar store was better than shopping online.
Colbert: "One of the rare times that I read books is to escape, so I don’t have to talk to people.”
Patchett: “Right. But, if you never, ever talk to people, and you meet all of your needs on the Internet, you wake up one day and you are the Unabomber.”
Watch the whole clip below.
Both titles will be available on Amazon and at Parnassus Books. :)
It's easy to keep up with the current issue of BookPage—whether in your bookstore or library, on our website or on your NOOK—but what about all the fascinating interviews and reviews in our 10,000 review archive?
If you want to make sure you've seen the best of the best of our interviews, you won't want to miss our new series of ebooks. BookPage: The Interviews, Volume One is now available in the NOOK and Kindle stores for just $2.99, and includes interviews with Lionel Shriver, Ann Patchett, Audrey Niffenegger, John Updike and Dennis Lehane, among others.
But what really sets the series apart are the introductions written by the interviewers themselves. Ever wondered what it feels like to talk to John Updike? Is it possible to come up with a question for Charlaine Harris that she hasn't already been asked? Which best-selling author becomes a puddle of mush once she starts talking about her dog? You'll have to read the book to find out.
There was an illicit behind-the-scenes thrill to Ann Patchett's panel at the Southern Festival of Books. Billed as "A Conversation" between Patchett and her friend and fellow writer Edith Pearlman (whose short story collection is a finalist in this year's National Book Awards), watching two authors chat before a considerable crowd in the War Memorial Auditorium was a glimpse into the writer's world that stood out from the crowd of readings and panel discussions.
The talk focused on the differences between writing short stories and writing novels, although there were plenty of detours along the way. Both authors were comfortable on stage, and they managed to make their discussion (which they had planned out over dinner the night before) feel polished, but also lively and spontaneous. Patchett couldn't say enough good things about Pearlman's work, which she learned about while editing Best American Short Stories 2006. Pearlman was equally complimentary of Patchett's prowess, saying to the audience, when Patchett expressed doubt that she could make a love story seem fresh, "Oh, I think she could—don't you?"
Highlights included Pearlman's explanation of her desire to write short stories and only short stories, despite people asking her if she was "smart enough" or "man enough" to write a novel. "Writing short stories is the way I live; it is my main pleasure," she said. She writes about six stories a year and publishes about six stories a year "though they're not the same six stories!" She expressed appreciation for novels, saying that "so much can happen in a novel" and that she admires the form but can't work with it.
Patchett, on the other hand, said she wasn't "generous enough to be a short story writer," explaining that novelists only really needed one idea, whereas for a short story collection, you need as many ideas as you have stories. (A arguable but interesting claim.) Though Patchett, like other MFA grads, started out as a short story writer, once she started writing novels "it was as if I had stretched out," she said, explaining that going back to the format would be similar to moving from a small apartment into a house and then saying you had to move back to the apartment. Interestingly, Patchett doesn't feel the same way about essays. (She's currently working on a collection of them and writing them "feels like a vacation" because she doesn't have to make anything up.)
Like any good small business owner, Patchett couldn't pass up the chance to deliver an impassioned plea for supporting local stores (especially her soon-to-open bookstore, Parnassus Books). "Although I've never been on Facebook in my life, find us on Facebook, 'like' us on Facebook!" she laughed.
On the Diane Rehm show earlier this week, Nashville's Ann Patchett mentioned her intention to open a bookstore here in town with Random House sales rep Karen Hayes.
"I don't know if I'm opening an ice shop in the age of Frigidaire," Patchett said in the interview. "But I can't live in a city that doesn't have a bookstore."
What the interview doesn't mention is that Patchett and Hayes were connected by BookPage publisher Michael Zibart. When Ann came to our offices for a video interview, she talked about the need for a bookstore in Nashville. Michael had just had a similar conversation with Hayes, who was already making plans to open an indie in town, and he got them in touch with one another. The rest is history (and hopefully a big boon for all of us readers in Nashville!).
Other scuttlebutt: based on what Patchett told the Boston Phoenix (as quoted by local alt weekly the Nashville Scene), the former Belle Meade Cafeteria is a top contender for location. Tentative name? "Parnassus."
Sorry for the bad Photo Booth snap—but it captures our level of excitement at receiving the ARE of the new Ann Patchett novel, State of Wonder. Patchett is something of a favorite here at BookPage, and this galley is certainly going to make the rounds in the office between now and June 7.
Because we can't leave you with just a cover image, here are the opening lines:
The news of Anders Eckman's death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the stationary and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope. Who even knew they still made such things? This single sheet had traveled from Brazil to Minnesota to mark the passing of a man, a breath of tissue so insubstantial that only the stamp seemed to anchor it to this world.
A few months ago we posted about Ann Patchett's “Conradian” novel set in the Amazon jungle, and now we have a little more info on this June 2011 release.
The book is called State of Wonder, and in a recent interview with the Aspen Times, Patchett said its central relationship is between a teacher ("the 70-something Annick Swenson") and a student ("the 40-ish Marina Singh"). Here's a bit more from the article, which was published leading up to Patchett's first public reading from State of Wonder at the Basalt Regional Library:
Annick has discovered a tribe of women in the Brazilian Amazon who are eternally fertile, and immune to malaria. Settling in the Amazon to create a vaccine for malaria, Annick gets into the politics of drug development; Patchett says it is a “sort of ‘Heart of Darkness' ” journey.
Another author with a Nashville connection made news today: Ann Patchett has completed and sold a new novel to Harper for publication in 2011.
The new book is described as "Conradian" and is set in the Amazon jungle, where two female physicians make "hitherto unimaginable discoveries on both a personal and global scale."
South America was also the setting of Patchett's biggest hit (and one of my favorite novels ever), Bel Canto. [Read Patchett's behind-the-book story on that novel here.] Will the new novel and its similar blend of the personal and the global strike the same chord with readers? As Patchett fans, we can't wait to find out.
By now, most of you already know that Nashville was hit by massive amounts of rain over the weekend. At least 24 people have died in Tennessee, countless houses have been ruined and the mayor's office has announced that flood damage will probably cost the city at least $1 billion. Nashville institutions such as the Grand Ole Opry and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center suffered serious damages:
At BookPage, we were fortunate. Other than minor roof leaking, our office was not affected. A few staff members have seen minor home damage—and one editor went without electricity for four days—but by and large we are all lucky compared to others in our community.
There are many publishing companies, authors and people associated with the book business here in Nashville, and over the past few days they have provided updates about their staff and support for dealing with flood damage:
Spokesman Keel Hunt of the Ingram Book Company, located about 18 miles from Nashville in LaVergne, TN, reported, "There has been no flood damage at Ingram facilities, and no interruption in shipping or other services to Ingram customers"—although many employees have suffered losses from the flood waters affecting their homes.
Tommy Nelson, a blog from the kids division of book publisher Thomas Nelson, posted about helping children deal emotionally with natural disaster.
Local authors Amanda Morgan, Victoria Schwab and Myra McEntire have started a blog called "Do the Write Thing for Nashville." A description of their project: "Hey writers! We're raising money for flood relief in Nashville by auctioning off critiques and more from your favorite authors, agents, and editors."
Best-selling novelist Ann Patchett described the torrents in an op-ed piece for the New York Times, "Our Deluge, Drop by Drop." She writes: "The rain is over; what we’re left with is the life that follows weather. We’re waiting to hear if the water treatment plant is going to close, and when the public schools are going to reopen. There is a charming expression in the South—when someone says he’ll see you soon, you respond, 'God willing and the creeks don’t rise.' I finally get it."
Many of our staff members—not to mention fans and authors around the country—were looking forward to the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference at Gaylord Opryland this summer. Now, the venue looks like this:
RWA issued this statement on their website: "We at RWA are deeply saddened by the events in Nashville and the mid-Tennessee region, and we wish a speedy recovery to friends and businesses in the area. . . RWA has made arrangements to contribute a portion of our charitable donations from the 2010 Literacy Autographing event to Nashville Adult Literacy Council." The conference will be at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The Nashville Public Library has a page on their site devoted to flood resources. We have inquired about damage at the libraries. I believe all branches are now open, although some are without phone service. The Second Saturday Booksale this weekend has been cancelled.
While reading the tragic stories of flood victims, I couldn't help but think about Jeffrey Jackson's book Paris Under Water, which I blogged about after hearing the author speak at Davis-Kidd Booksellers. Here's an excerpt from my post:
In Paris Under Water, Jackson explores how communities came together and, against all odds, saved Paris in the midst of collapsing infrastructure, looters and failed electricity and public transportation. Although media images from natural disasters typically represent chaos, Jackson explained that in uncontrollable, dangerous situations “people generally pull together. . . collaborate to save themselves.”
If you live in Nashville, how have you been affected by the flood? I think many of us turn to books when confronted with tragedy. If you have lived through natural disaster, can you recommend any books?