I've already posted a couple times about the flood in Nashville (read here and here), but I today I've got an update on how you can contribute to relief efforts—and get some awesome book-related prizes!
Local authors Amanda Morgan, Victoria Schwab and Myra McEntire are hosting an online auction called Do the Write Thing for Nashville.
You can bid on anything from a manuscript critique from professional authors, agents and editors, to signed books, to lunch with authors.
A few of the choice auctions that are active right now:
I am sorry to say that none of our commenters correctly guessed the cast of Rebecca Stockett's The Help in my "Casting Call" blog post from a couple months ago.
Filming starts this summer in Mississippi (mostly in Greenwood, although a few scenes will be shot in Jackson). Emma Stone will play Skeeter and Viola Davis will play Aibileen. Stone was Jules in Superbad, and Davis is best known for her fierce (and Oscar-nominated) role as Donald Miller's mother in Doubt. According to IMDb, Bryce Dallas Howard—Victoria in this summer's Eclipse—is rumored to play Hilly.
Are you happy with these casting choices?
Children's Book Week has been around since 1919, and this year the celebration runs from May 10-16. I love these posters for the week:
The Children's Book Week website is a great resource for parents and young readers themselves. You can. . .
If you've been looking for a fun and easy way to get comprehensive info about books for kids and teens, this is it. Our first issue will come out May 26, but you can sign up now.
As our launch date gets closer, I'll post more about the newsletter, including info on how to enter a stellar kids book giveaway.
What is your family, library, school or bookstore doing to celebrate Children's Book Week? Let us know in the comments section, and share some ideas for other readers. . .
Deanna Larson, public information officer for the Nashville Public Library—and a prolific BookPage contributor—says the library system “was mostly unscathed, for which we are very grateful.” Only one branch sustained damage, in the basement. All branches were back up and running by Tuesday, and even the Bellevue branch, in one of the city’s most heavily flooded areas, had Internet access restored by Wednesday.
A few years ago I interned at a small publishing house in New York City that had a basement warehouse. During my time there the warehouse was flooded after extensive rain, and I can tell you from personal experience that sorting through—and throwing out—soggy books is both hard work and heartbreaking. We're so glad that the NPL (the main branch of which Ann Patchett has called "like a friend") wasn't majorly damaged.
Speaking of the flood, last night Nashville got the national media attention that many people have considered absent. Anderson Cooper reported from the city in “Anderson Cooper 360°”, and yesterday he tweeted several times about his experience reporting ("in nashville. so many people volunteering to help their neighbors who are suffering in the wake of the flooding. Truly inspiring"). Watch clips from the show.
Of course, Cooper is also a best-selling author. His 2006 memoir Dispatches From the Edge was a #1 New York Times bestseller, and coincidentally Deanna Larson interviewed him about the book for BookPage. The piece, which addresses the emotional impact of reporting, is especially timely now.
Add another buzzed-about debut to your September reading list: The Gendarme, by Mark T. Mustian (Amy Einhorn Books).
It has a provocative premise: a 92-year-old man discovers he has a brain tumor that seems to be unlocking memories of his past as an Ottoman Army soldier during the Armenian genocide. Turns out he fell in love with, and spared the life of, an Armenian girl during that time, and despite his age and frailty, he's determined to go back to Turkey to find her.
The atrocities referred to in Mustian's book are still a point of contention today, as the Turkish government still considers it a crime to refer to the murders, arrests or mass deportations that took place between 1915 and 1918 as "genocide." Mustian traveled the route between Turkey and Syria that many Armenians were forced to travel by foot and without much food, and posted about the journey on his site. "Traveling paved highways in an air-conditioned van, I tried to imagine what it would have been like for old men, women, and children to make this journey on foot. . . . They would have had to leave almost all of their possessions behind. The sun would have been searing, the paths dusty and arduous and long. Water would have been scarce. Disease and lack of food and thievery would have taken their toll. . . . It was easy to see how many would have failed to survive it."
Library Journal says, "A first look suggests that the dreamlike, staccato language opens up into a moving but fiercely unsentimental book. Not for your lighter time-traveler readers; recommend to smart book clubbers in search of something intriguing and different."
Rights have already been sold in at least six countries, and the book's striking cover recalls National Geographic's "Afghan Girl."
Does learning more about this period of history interest you? Will you read?
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?
Coming in October from Little, Brown—The Wolves of Andover, the prequel to the 2008 hit The Heretic's Daughter. Dallas novelist Kathleen Kent tells the story of Martha Allen and Thomas Carrier, who in her earlier novel experienced the Salem Witch Trials. Their courtship sounds equally daunting: Thomas, who played a significant role in the English Civil War, finds himself pursued by assassins sent to the New World from London, while Martha navigates the complicated world of a household servant.
Related in BookPage: Our review of The Heretic's Daughter.
The Last Child by John Hart took top honors for best novel. No surprise there. Who wouldn't want to read about the "lineal descendant and spiritual soul mate of Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield"?
Dave Cullen's Columbine—which has "the immediacy and starkness of a documentary"—won an Edgar for Best Fact Crime.
Several BookPage editors were pleased that Mary Downing Hahn won for Closed for the Season ("Best Juvenile"). Hahn wrote Tallassee Higgins, one of my childhood favorites, and many others. In September, watch for Hahn's new book The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall.
Click here to view the complete list of Edgar winners. For an interesting analysis on why Edgar winners don't typically win more than once, read this article in the Wall Street Journal.
What's the best mystery you read in 2009?
This expanded version of the popular feature from the print edition of BookPage shares the release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in May. Which May release are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments.
Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush
The highly anticipated memoir from the notoriously
private former first lady. It will also be available as a signed collector's edition.
Tell-All by Chuck Palaniuk
Knopf Doubleday, $24.95
The always edgy author gives his unique take on old Hollywood in a subversive new novel.
Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker
Parker's posthumous Western brings back Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch for some vigilante justice.
Executive Intent by Dale Brown
Morrow, $26.99, ISBN 9780061560859
It’s president against vice president in Brown’s near-future political thriller.
Miracle on the 17th Green by James Patterson & Peter de Jonge
Little, Brown, $19.99
Patterson and de Jonge pair up for the inspiring story of a man who, at 50, suddenly achieves his life's dream of becoming a professional golfer.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
The final novel in the Millennium Trilogy brings back Lisbeth Salander for more adventure, danger and suspense.
Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Simon & Schuster, $25.99
What happens when normal girls are left behind when their boyfriends hit the big time? They get revenge.
Jen Lancaster has charmed readers with hilarious nonfiction books like Bitter is the New Black and Such a Pretty Fat. (Brief backstory: Lancaster was making a ton of money at a technology company before 9/11, and then she got laid off, chronicled her experiences on a blog, Jennsylvania, and landed several book deals.)
Yesterday, news broke that Lancaster will write her first novel, Apocalypse House, which "follows a couple from the city through the frustrating and hysterical process of buying and renovating their first home in the suburbs" (per Publisher's Marketplace).
According to The Historical Jennsylvania Timeline on her website, Lancaster's family moved from Metro New York to small-town Indiana when she was 10—and she wasn't happy about it. Inspiration?
The novel will be published by NAL, and it's part of a multi-book deal. On her blog, Lancaster elaborated: "Remember that novel I said I was working on? There was an announcement about it on Publishers' Marketplace today. So that's what I'm doing for the next three years (in addition to writing non-fiction)."
Are you a fan of Lancaster's nonfiction? Will you check out Apocalypse House? If you've never read her work before, read Linda Stankard's BookPage review of My Fair Lazy (on sale Tuesday). The review is written in the form of an e-mail to the author. A preview:
Hey Jen! I just wanted you to know that when I was first asked to review your latest book, I hadn’t read your other books and had a slight case of up-in-the-air nose (Shame Rattle!) concerning the subtitle: “One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black, or a Culture-Up Manifesto” (being pretty much a TCM gal myself), but I totally loved My Fair Lazy and I am soooo bringing Bitter is the New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, Such a Pretty Fat and Pretty in Plaid to the beach this summer so I can laugh and tan at the same time and catch up on all the Jen I have heretofore missed! You’re hilarious!