Sunday, February 28, 2010

Carpet Bagging

What's going down this week at Warwick's? Well, first of all, we're having new carpeting installed storewide! (Admittedly, the staff is more excited by this than you really should be.) So, just so you're aware,the place is going to be kind of chaotic when you stop by, but don't be afraid - we're still here to help! Look at all the great new titles we have to offer:

  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult (headed for the top of the bestseller lists, of course, this one is about a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome who has a penchant for crime scene analysis - until the focus is turned around to him.)
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (he's the guy who brought us the high art of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so use your imagination here.)
  • The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni (Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review: "an honest, noisy, and raucous look at friendship and how loud music can make almost everything better.")
  • Noir by Robert Coover (the pioneering postmoderist tackles the crime novel - good review buzz thus far.)
  • The Heights by Peter Hedges (first new novel in over 10 years by the author of What's Eating Gilbert Grape)
  • The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs (not a lot of buzz about this cozy mystery, but I like the title.)
  • The Shaking Woman or A History of Nerves by Siri Hustvedt (a memoir of personal neurological conditions by the acclaimed novelist - who also happens to be married to Paul Auster. I've always thought that a dinner party at their house would be very intimidating.)
  • Silk Parachute by John McPhee (McPhee's latest collection of essays covers "lacrosse, long-exposure view-camera photography, the weird foods he has sometimes been served in the course of his reportorial travels, a U.S. Open golf championship, and a season in Europe 'on the chalk' from the downs and sea cliffs of England to the Maas valley in the Netherlands and the champagne country of northern France".)

  • Tuesday the 2nd at 7:30 we have the rescheduled event with Stephanie Tourles, author of Raw Energy: 124 Raw Food Recipes For Energy Bars, Smoothies, and Other Snacks to Supercharge Your Body.
  • And on Thursday March 4th, acclaimed novelist Chitra Divakaruni returns to the store for her new novel, One Amazing Thing.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez turns 82 on Saturday.  John Irving and the late (but still publishing) Ralph Ellison were also born in the first week of March.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ask Yourself This...

...what's the deal this week at Warwick's?
(February 21-27)  New Hardcovers:
  • Split Image by Robert B. Parker (the first publication since Parker's death in January at age 77. His long-time editor Helen Brann said "Bob wrote five pages a day every day but Sunday every day of his adult life. He was very clear about it. No more and no less than five pages.")
  • The Infinities by John Banville (Banville's first novel since he won the 2005 Booker Prize for The Sea. Publisher's Weekly gave it a big-time starred review: "The narrative is rife with asides, but it is to the common trajectory of a life lends its most consoling notes, elevating the temporal and profane to the holy eternal.")
  • You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Annabelle Gurwitch & Jeff Kahn (the authors will be here for a signing on March 24th - stay tuned for details.) 
  • The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer
New Paperbacks:
  • Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis (the next in Tallis's "Max Liebermann" series.)
  • Shannon by Frank Delaney (Kirkus Reviews called it "a rousing tale of forbidden love, civil war, horrible death and other things Irish.")
  • The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig Mullaney (West Point grad, Rhodes Scholar, Airborne Ranger in Afghanistan. Bob Woodward says it's "one of the most thoughtful and honest accounts ever written by a young Army officer confronting all the tests of life.")
  • A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr ("Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy - considered a modern noir classic - has now been turned into a full-blown series by Mr. Kerr. Now in 1950’s Argentina, Bernie Gunther has been given a new life by the Perons, reluctantly joining the hidden ranks of exiled Nazis. When a disturbing case shows links to one he remembers from his more legit, pre-war days, the ever vengeful Bernie realizes that one of the Nazis in his midst is responsible for many of the ill turns his life has taken. The writing is extremely crisp, the dialogue sharp, and Gunther has more life in him than, well, most people I know. I thought Kerr couldn’t top the 4th book in the series, but this may be the finest in the series to date." -Seth)

Warwick's Happenings: a quiet week at the 'wick.
  • Tuesday at 7:30, we have Wendy Craig-Purcell, CEO & minister of the Unity Center & author of Ask Yourself This. (Check for more details, of course.)
Sunday February 21st is the birthday of National Book Award-winning novelist Ha Jin - he has a new collection of short stories that's been getting some great press. Victor Hugo would have been 208 years old on Friday the 26th and Saturday is John Steinbeck's birthday, but you don't have to get either of them anything.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"As a rule, I think dead people should not continue to publish."

There is no industry on earth (apart from perhaps the petroleum business) that makes more money on the backs of the dead than publishing does. Think about it, some of your favorite writers are dead. Homer? Dead. Jane Austen? Dead. Well anyway, this is nothing new. Often the most cherished of our writers is not most cherished until they’ve passed on. What has changed in recent years is the growth of a controversial sub-genre within the dead author trade, and that’s the posthumous publication of unfinished works by prominent writers. This season we’ve seen unfinished works by Nabokov and Ralph Ellison, published in various states of disrepair. (The Nabokov book, The Original of Laura, is nothing more than 138 hand written index cards.  Despite the beautiful design of the book, which is a series of facsimile copies of the notecards, perforated, in case the reader wants to punch them out and rearrange them into their own post-modern, Nabokovian novel fragment, the book is flat out unreadable.) And coming next fall is David Foster Wallace’s final work, which supposedly exists in two distinct drafts, though it is as yet unclear which draft was the revision. The Wall Street Journal ran a great piece here about this recent wave and rather than parrot what they’ve said, we suggest you read it.

The fact that Nabokov left instructions to burn his unfinished manuscript upon his death got the staff around here wondering what is the right thing to do? To print or not to print? Or, what do you do with an author’s last wishes? Here’s a run down of what the booksellers at Warwick’s had to say:

Jim Stewart: If I really didn’t want my manuscripts printed I would have them torched way before I was bedridden and waiting for death. So if an author requests to have his unfinished or not yet published drafts destroyed, and hasn’t done it himself, he is reluctant to part with them. Subconsciously he does indeed want them published. To read an unfinished book the reader would have to be a big enough fan to enjoy the writing without finding out the ending. Hiring another writer to finish the book would require him or her to be named as coauthor. Robert Ludlum had written a series of Bourne books that have been popular, but I have no interest in reading Eric Van Lustbader’s books continuing the Bourne cash cow.

Barbara:  My example would be Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - her manuscripts were found years after she died. This book seems very unfinished to me - I think she would have wanted to polish edit it. But the book has sold well & people seem intrigued by both her novel and the story behind how the book came to be published. So, I'm conflicted!

Adrian: It's called "bottom-drawer publishing". It always smacks to me a little bit do I say it? As a rule, I think dead people should not continue to publish.

Jamie: It's like digging up a grave & putting it in a museum.

Scott: I think the best argument in going against an author's final wishes would be the case of Kafka. If Max Brod had done what his friend asked of him we would be without The Trial and The Castle, two of the great classics of the twentieth century. That we have to trod upon the wishes and reputations of countless dead writers to get that one lost classic, well, in my mind it's worth all the bad karma. On the other hand, there is a difference between a posthumous unfinished novel and an unfinished manuscript. Books like the Nabokov are nothing more than curiosities for literary rubberneckers and though Nabokov once tried to destroy a version of Lolita, he was of sound mind when he said destroy The Original of Laura. If I am found dead before this blog entry is posted, please have my comments removed.

Since we first had the 'Dead Author' discussion at Warwick's, two more egregious examples of dead authors being exploited for the publisher's benefit have caught our attention. First, we discovered that inside the latest book in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series there is a reproduction of Robert Jordan's signature on the title page. Innocent enough, were it not for the fact that Robert Jordan is dead and his wife selected another author to ghost write this book based on Mr. Jordan's notes. In other words, Robert Jordan autographed a book from the grave that he did not write. The only possible rationale from the publisher's point of view is to deceive readers into thinking Mr. Jordan was somehow involved in the writing of the book. Second, we have the most bizarre use of a dead author that we've ever seen. On the back of the latest John Irving novel there is a blurb from the great Canadian writer Robertson Davies. Davies says: "In his novels the still, sad music of humanity rises to the orgasmic uproar of a rock band." Great blurb, right?  Problem is, John Irving's novel the blurb appears on was published in 2009. Robertson Davies died in 1995.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What's Crack-a-lackin'? - This Week @Warwick's

What's new? I'll tell you what's new!
New books due out this week:

New in Paperback:
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave (see event below)
  • The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer (From Seth's hardcover staff rec: "Breathing fresh air into the spy novel without telling too predictable of a tale, Steinhauer creates a world with an unusual degree of what feels like actual reality...")
  • Ballistics: Poems by Billy Collins
  • Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
  • Bamboo and Blood by James Church

Warwick's Happenings:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Public Service Announcement Regarding the Prince of Darkness

The Ozzman Cometh.  Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness himself, will be signing copies of his new memoir, I Am Ozzy, at Warwick's on Friday, February 19th beginning at 6:30pm.  Full event details are available here.  Please enjoy this professionally made video public service announcement concerning Ozzy's visit.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Picking Up The Postmistress

by Heather
I just wanted to call a little attention to a wonderful new book being released on February 9th. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake was one of those books I picked up, looked at, then promptly put aside because there was a) no horrific murder b) no fairies or vampires or c) it just didn’t look exciting enough. So that was pretty much it, I lifted it up, glanced at the cover, and threw it back on the pile…Until our rep came in, picked it up, and told me to read it. Now, usually if someone tells me to read something I look at them, roll my eyes like a rebellious teenager, and give a sarcastic response, but seeing as how I have fortunately grown out of my teen years, instead of dismissing him I asked the question “Why?” His response: "Because it’s a really good story, and I guarantee that you’ll love it." Well, because I trust him, I read it.

What can I say? He was right. The Postmistress is an amazingly well written and captivating novel. The story, which takes place in 1940, is just plain good. It’s at times deceptively simple, yet deals with complex issues such as war, the impending holocaust, guilt, love, and loss, smoothly, in a way that draws the reader in, making it difficult to put down (although, I do have to admit to putting it down briefly, when I was laid up in bed with a busted ankle). The Postmistress is a human story; one where the characters breathe like flesh and blood people and an era of fear and uncertainty is drawn beautifully. This novel, that I threw back on the pile turned out to be an addicting, suburb piece of literature, that fools you with its simplicity and goes on to create a wonderful reading experience.

So, on Tuesday, February 9th head on up to our front window and pick up this wonderful new novel. Enjoy its style, laugh, grieve, and thrill with its characters and have a fantastic time enjoying a truly superb story.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coffee with a Bookseller, February Edition

Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I will be hosting yet another edition of "Coffee with a Bookseller" this coming Tuesday morning at 10am.  This time around, fellow bookie John Hughes will be joining me - unless he backs out at the last minute. (Hopefully, by posting this threat on the internet, John will realize that it is in everyone's best interests if he fulfills his promise to be co-host....) Anyway, John reads primarily nonfiction (I read 99% fiction) so we thought it might be a good idea to mix it up a bit - and this time, it will be more organized, focused, and will feature handouts for attendees to take home to study! We'll each be mentioning about 5 or 6 books that are new and noteworthy - things you may not have noticed before or authors you've never heard of, so come on down. Coffee and scones for everyone in attendance!

(Shameless self promotion: to see what I've been reading lately - as a way of enticing you to attend - you can always check out The Book Catapult!)

Update 2/10/10: here's the list of books that John & I talked about -
The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande
I.O.U. – John Lanchester
An Artist in Treason – Andro Linklater
The Lost Books of the Odyssey – Zachary Mason
Privileges – Jonathan Dee
59 Seconds – Richard Wiseman
What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell
The Lady Queen – Nancy Goldstein
Art Instinct – Denis Dutton
The Whale – Philip Hoare
Drive – Daniel Pink

Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann
The Lost City of Z – David Grann
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – Wells Tower
The Farmer’s Daughter – Jim Harrison
The Routes of Man - Ted Conover
The Godfather of Kathmandu – John Burdett
Briefly mentioned:
The Postmistress – Sarah Blake
The Information Officer – Mark Mills
The Devil & Sherlock Holmes – David Grann (March)
If the Dead Rise Not – Philip Kerr (March)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet – David Mitchell (June)