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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Late-Breaking News From the Larger Book World

If we hadn't heard a weather forecast, I might have seen this patch of snow in a shady spot this morning as the last of the season. Look how tranquil the Bight looked, too.

But it was the calm before the storm, we had snow in the air by late afternoon as the storm rolled in, and somehow this seems like a good time to look beyond the weather to see what's happening in the larger world of book publishing.

One recent innovation in that world is the book “trailer.” You know movie trailers? (I am old-fashioned and still call them "previews.") Does the idea of doing not only visual but film-style publicity for a print book seem strange to you? Well, the trailers I've seen are quite innovative and interesting. Here, for instance, is one for the new Geraldine Brooks novel, Caleb’s Crossing. Take a look. I can’t remember if I posted a link to the trailer for Valerie Trueblood’s book of short stories, Marry or Burn, but whether or not I did it before, here it is now. I think you’ll be intrigued and impressed by both trailers, which is, of course, the point. Whets your appetite for the books, yes? Tell me a story!

Next, this year’s Pulitzer prize winners have been announced, and the winning novel is A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. I have it in stock but haven’t read it yet. Have you?

More discouraging news was a can of worms first opened by “Sixty Minutes” (though we're not blaming the messenger, mind you), a question about the authenticity of Greg Mortenson’s charitable venture detailed in the nonfiction bestseller Three Cups of Tea. Did the cause originate in the way he claims? More importantly, how well is the charity being managed today? As follow-up to this story, here’s a link with advice for how to choose what charities to support. There is a lot of need in the world, and when you give you want to know that your gift is doing what you intended it to do.

Finally, back to the positive side of the book news ledger, I was happy to hear from writer friend Ellen Airgood that her novel, South of Superior, scheduled for June release, has been chosen for special attention as an Ingram Premier Pick and Indie First Next Pick. Recently I gave myself permission, after a lot of heavy reading and blogging and thinking and discussion, to spend three nights re-reading South of Superior before falling asleep. It was a great comfort—not because it is fantasy “escape” reading (it isn't) but because the characters are so real that they renew my confidence in myself: I figure if Paul and Madeline can do it, I can, too--face uncertainty, dive into my day's work and come up smiling. Not to give any of the plot away, here are a couple of passages to hint at what I'm talking about:
It was a lousy way to act, but necessary. He was a turtle drawing into his shell. He knew it, and he knew it wasn't fair, but he had to do it. Turtles had shells for a reason.

McAllaster was a kind of tribe. This wasn't cozy, or nice. She sensed that it was an equation, that membership would exact a price: the loss of privacy, anonymity, certain freedoms she'd taken for granted in Chicago, maybe the loss of the right to selfishness.

I love living vicariously in the skins and days of these characters.


Gerry said...

I can hardly wait to read it. I know all about that equation, and I'm still learning to balance. It was all worth it. We are having thundersnow at this very moment. Either that or someone is driving a big empty truck up and down US-31.

P. J. Grath said...

The best small town communities have a lot in common, Gerry. I'm sure that's true for big city neighborhoods, too. We also had thunder last night. It was eerie. Now, this morning, lots and lots of very heavy white stuff covering everything.

P. J. Grath said...

Latest Mortensen interview:

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that the guy who wrote the forward in Stones Into Schools (can't remember who that was) went on so much about Greg Mortenson's lack of organizational/time management skills (at least from a western perspective). I hope everything works out ok for him. I think he's a good guy doing his best to help others with the skills that he does have.

P. J. Grath said...

The interview sounded very believable to me. I hope things work out for those girls in Afghanistan, too.