Monday, July 26, 2010

Kate's Harper Updates: What's New In Paperback

Sick City
O’Neill, who was first known for his work with the punk band the Brian Jonestown Massacre, is developing a nice writing career—both as a novelist and screenwriter (he was involved in The Runaways.) With this novel it feels like he might turn into our junkie Elmore Leonard. The plot could easily have come from Leonard—a heroin addicted gay prostitute steals his dead trick’s copy of a Sharon Tate sex tape and decides to cash in. Needless to say, mayhem ensures.

The reviews are great; there are so many good ones I’ll just do clips. PW gave it a starred review, saying, “O’Neill delivers a Hollywood thriller that’s equal parts acerbic social commentary à la Burroughs’s Naked Lunch and extraordinary crime fiction misadventure....Fans of Chuck Palahniuk and Warren Ellis will cherish this twisted tale.”

Kirkus: “[An] inspired comedy of errors…a post-punk crack at Hollywood’s legacy that’s funnier than its predecessor, and just as cringe-inducing…infused with enough black humor to make Bill Burroughs choke on his apple”

Booklist: “Like a Robert Altman film scripted by Charles Bukowski and William S. Burroughs...Sick City is appealing in its unsentimentalism, disgusting in its details--and, almost unbelievably, funny.”

Everything Is Going To Be Great
I just got a tip from a fellow rep on this one. She said one of her hip, younger booksellers was reading about it on a blog and it looked like a crack-up. My colleague went back to it and wrote, "Don’t read this on public transportation because it is laugh out loud funny….a very irreverent, not quite the same old coming of age memoir."

Entertainment Weekly: “Scrap your preconceived notions of travel writing. We're not talking The Innocents Abroad here; Everything Is Going to Be Great, this irreverent, profane journal of Rachel Shukert's college trip comes off like a cross between David Sedaris and Chuck Palahniuk. Nothing escapes her eye — not the cute boys or creepy older guys, not the booze, not even European culture. ''There's a reason Dutch cuisine has never really caught on,'' she writes glumly from Amsterdam. ''It's basically a combination of the worst elements of British and German food, mixed up with kale and gravy and then pureed.'' (It's edible ''if you smoke enough weed.'') But lurking beneath the jabs and one-liners is an affecting — and pretty unforgettable — coming-of-age tale.”

The Elephant Keeper
Based on an actual 19th century incident, this story of a boy and an elephant got great reviews and sold about 10,000 copies in hardcover. (PW: “canters along at a delightful pace…Nicholson’s elegiac alternate endings leave only the memory of their lasting bond—the elephant’s legendary ability to “never forget” is finally ours.” Booklist: “An endearing account of a virtually telepathic relationship between man and animal.”)

An Inconvenient Elephant
(I know, what’s with me and the elephant novels, these days?....)

Singer’s first novel, Still Life with Elephant, was a nice success story for us. Her newest should appeal to the same fan base. From PW: “In this big-hearted sequel, Singer channels her compassion for animals through strong-willed Neelie Sterling, who's attempting to return to New York City after a year among baby elephants in the Kenyan jungle, cut short by war. When booking a seat on a plane back to New York seems impossible, she meets safari leader Diamond-Rose Tremaine, who finagles them a flight to America by way of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the stopover leaves the pair stranded in Zimbabwe, where they make their way to a jungle encampment run by Diamond's friends. Once there, Neelie befriends the campsite's condemned food-stealing elephant, Tusker, making it her mission to save him from execution and bring him back to the New York animal sanctuary run by her ex-boyfriend, Tom. While the possibility of rekindled romance tugs at both Neelie and Tom, matters of the human heart take a back seat to Neelie's attempt to save Tusker, which proves a reeling, contagious story of hope and inter-species empathy.”

This quirky, warm-hearted story will appeal to fan of Ann Tyler. It involved the whirlwind courtship of two elderly people and the subsequent repercussions that trickle through their families. Kirkus called it “a lovely and literate family drama that wins bonus points for its sincerity and open-hearted delivery” and PW said, “[Tedrowe] shows great promise in her compassionate, nuanced depiction of love-among the old and young alike-and her confident handling of alternating, multigenerational narrators.”

Mad Men Unbuttoned
This is a re-examination of 60’s culture through the lens of AMC’s Mad Men. PW loved it: “Inspired by the TV series, L.A. freelance writer Vargas-Cooper launched a nicely designed and engaging blog, the Footnotes of Mad Men, to survey not only the show but also the real-world historical and cultural artifacts of that period. Now her attractive blog has been adapted into an equally attractive book. As Vargas-Cooper sees it, the series is ‘about the culture clash and contradictions that occurred during the twilight of the Eisenhower era, the great societal shake-up of the 1960s’ and its impact on modern America. She focuses on advertising, design, films, literature, politics, sex, style, and the workplace in order to probe ‘the most dramatic cultural shift in the 20th century.’ She begins by detailing all the series' regular characters and then moves on to profile real-life ad man Leo Burnett (Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Marlboro Man), followed by everything from skinny ties, condoms, John Cheever and Frank O'Hara to Jackie Kennedy's White House tour on CBS and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. All are neatly linked with specific TV episodes, making this both an entertaining read and the definitive companion book for the series.”

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