Monday, April 30, 2012

Dispatch from the Field: Joe Leaves the Field for a Chat With Author Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel is the author of three books: Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun and most recently The Lola Quartet.  She is a staff writer for The Millions as well as a contributor to The Great American Novel: Writer's on the Future of the Book and the upcoming Venice Noir

The Interview:

Joe: First off: How does it feel to have a second #1 Indie Next pick?

Emily: I feel extraordinarily lucky. It's a tremendous honor.

Joe: When you think of a bookstore, what do you think of?

Emily: I think of that feeling you get when you discover something new. I feel it when I come across great music by an artist I've never heard of, or a beautiful painting, or in the case of bookstores, a book I hadn't considered buying and hadn't known existed until I saw it in the store and decided I couldn't possibly leave without it. One can of course discover and buy a great new book online, but I'm awfully distracted when I'm online, and I find buying books online to be less satisfying than discovering them in person.

Joe: What's a typical day of writing look like for you?

Emily: There isn't really a typical day. I have a day job, like most writers I know, but fortunately it's part-time and very flexible. I have to go in five days a week for three and a half hours or so. So sometimes I write in the morning and go into work in the afternoon, or sometimes I go to work early and then come home and write in the afternoon. There are unfortunate days where the entire day gets eaten up by the day job and whatever tedious errands happen to come up, and I end up writing at night. On weekends I write and do career-related housekeeping things (updating my website, answering email, etc.) all day.

Joe: Artistically, who are your influences?

Emily: Among contemporary writers, I think I've been influenced heavily by Dan Chaon and Jennifer Egan. I've been influenced by Norman Mailer (I've only read a few of his books, but The Executioner's Song changed the way I write), Michael Ondaatje, J.D. Salinger, and Roberto Bolano, whose 2666 is one of my favorite books. I also think I've been influenced by a few musicians, especially Leonard Cohen and Michael Stipe, and by Quentin Tarantino.

Joe: Your last two novels have featured music in a predominate role... what is it about music that so compels your storytelling?

Emily: I'm careful never to write about anyone I know and my work is rarely autobiographical, but in some less obvious ways I find that my life seeps into my fiction. Things that interest me in real life tend to find their way into the work; I think there's so much music in my books simply because music has always been extremely important to me. I've found that when I'm interested in a given topic -- dead languages, say, or the music of Django Reinhardt, or Florida's exotic wildlife problem, or human trafficking -- it seems to end up in whatever book I'm writing at the time. It sometimes goes further than that: in The Singer's Gun, I somehow ended up including my cat.

Joe: When I think of your novels, I think of them as having intricate, webbed storylines that let the reader think they know where you're taking them, but you always manage to surprise. When you start writing, do you have the whole story available to you, or are you surprised by the twists it may take?

Emily: It's always a surprise. I never know how my books are going to end. I just start writing and see what happens. Eventually I'll figure out what the plot is, and then I go back and revise to make it all work. The revisions are endless; my experience has been that when I finish a first draft, I'm only about halfway through the process of writing the book. It's probably not the most efficient way to write a novel, but I don't know how to do it differently, and I've always thought I'd get bored if I were writing from an outline.

Joe: What are you waiting to happen in the world of literature/writing?

Emily: I'm waiting for the barriers between literary and genre fiction to fall. I think those walls are already crumbling; in the recent past we've had Colson Whitehead's literary zombie novel Zone One, and Dan Chaon's literary/horror short story collection Stay Awake, and Patrick DeWitt's literary shoot-'em-up The Sisters Brothers. I loved all those books. Those recent examples aside, I can't help but notice that some of the works we categorize as genre (John Le Carre's The Russia House, for instance) are as beautifully written and have as much to say about the human condition as any of the books that we categorize as literary fiction. I think the distinction between "literary" and "genre" works is increasingly meaningless.

Joe: What do you think of ebooks? Do you read real books or ebooks?

Emily: I only read print. I'm not opposed to ebooks, but I spend so much of my life staring at screens that it's a pleasure to take a break from the digital world and read words printed on paper. I also love books as objects, and like having them around me. There's something soothing about being in a room full of books.

Joe: All of your novels have a definite sense of place, and often of more than one place. And you've lived in multiple cities. How do you translate the world you see into a world we can see as well?

Emily: I'm flattered to think I've succeeded in translating some of those places into a world you can see. Thank you. As a reader, I find that if descriptions of place go on too long, I'll start skimming. It's a weird paradox, but I feel like the key to creating a believable place is to just give a few relevant details, and otherwise not tell the reader too much about it; you don't want anyone either skimming over the prose in search of action or straining to visualize an endless list of details. So I try to keep descriptions of place to a minimum, on the theory that keeping it minimal forces readers to engage their imaginations and thus hopefully draws them in further. Hopefully.

Joe: What is the first book you recall reading?

Emily: I have some vague recollections of the primary readers ("See Spot run!") but the first real book I remember clearly is Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Joe: Your novels are often described as thrillers? Do you consider them thrillers or something else?

Emily: I don't really think of them as thrillers, although I'm very conscious when I'm writing of trying to maintain the tension of the plot. I'm never sure what to call my books (are they literary fiction? Crime fiction? Both?) but lately I've been telling people I write contemporary noir.

Joe: Do you think books will continue to have an influential role in our culture, and if so, how?

Emily: I think books will always have an influential role in our culture. As a species, we've always been fascinated by stories, and books have a relatively low barrier for entry as a story-telling medium, by which I mean that they don't require special equipment in the way that movies or audio recordings do. I spend a lot of time on the New York City subway going to and from my day job, and everyone on my subway line reads. You'll see a line of people sitting or standing there on the train, reading books either in print or on ereaders, or reading newspapers or The New Yorker. It's a heartening sight.

Joe:Your novels are a joy to handsell to customers. If you were working in a bookstore today, what books would you want to handsell to customers?

Emily: Thank you! I'm reading a book right now called The Mirage, by Matt Ruff. I think it would be fun to handsell; it's wildly original, the plot and structure are well-executed, and the writing is very good. A few of my favorite books of the last year or two have been Christopher Boucher's How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, Kira Henehan's Orion You Came And You Took All My Marbles, Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, and Irmgard Keun's After Midnight (which was originally published in the late '30s, but was just reissued by Melville House.)

Joe: Thank you, Emily, for answering my questions, and for writing such amazing novels!

Emily: Thanks for interviewing me.

BTC will be running Joe's review of Emily St. John Mandel's latest book, The Lola Quartet this coming Wednesday, May 2.

“One of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I’ve read in many years.” —Alice Walker

Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea's forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as "all woman and spring- time." But Il-sun's pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United states.

This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, depicts—with chilling accuracy—life behind North Korea's iron curtain. But for Gi and Il-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their "Dear Leader."

Tenderhearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and Il-sun endure, how they find a path to healing, is what drives this absorbing and exquisite novel--from an exciting young Algonquin discovery—to its perfectly imagined conclusion.

Read an excerpt HERE. 

Meet Author Brandon Jones on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 7:30pm at our Coflax Avenue Store.

TC Tidbit: Books Are Magic

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"An unfailingly elegant and thoughtful collection of essays from the formidable mind of Franzen, written with passion and haunted by loss." --Kirkus Reviews

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was the runaway most-discussed novel of 2010, an ambitious and searching engagement with life in America in the twenty-first century. In The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus proclaimed it “a masterpiece of American fiction” and lauded its illumination, “through the steady radiance of its author’s profound moral intelligence, [of] the world we thought we knew.”

In Farther Away, which gathers together essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, Franzen returns with renewed vigor to the themes, both human and literary, that have long preoccupied him. Whether recounting his violent encounter with bird poachers in Cyprus, examining his mixed feelings about the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace, or offering a moving and witty take on the ways that technology has changed how people express their love, these pieces deliver on Franzen’s implicit promise to conceal nothing. On a trip to China to see first-hand the environmental devastation there, he doesn’t omit mention of his excitement and awe at the pace of China’s economic development; the trip becomes a journey out of his own prejudice and moral condemnation. Taken together, these essays trace the progress of unique and mature mind wrestling with itself, with literature, and with some of the most important issues of our day. Farther Away is remarkable, provocative, and necessary.

"Meticulous multilayered details breathe life into remarkable recreations of family gatherings throughout this superb "fly on the wall" survey of the Camelot clan." --Publishers Weekly

For more than half a century, Americans have been captivated by the Kennedys - their joy and heartbreak, tragedy and triumph, the dark side and the remarkable achievements. In this ambitious and sweeping account, Taraborelli continues the family chronicle begun with his bestselling Jackie, Ethel, Joan and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the years "after Camelot." He describes the challenges Bobby's children faced as they grew into adulthood; Eunice and Sargent Shriver's remarkable philanthropic work; the emotional turmoil Jackie faced after JFK's murder and the complexities of her eventual marriage to Aristotle Onassis; the the sudden death of JFK JR; and the stoicism and grace of his sister Caroline. He also brings into clear focus the complex and intriguing story of Edward "Teddy" and shows how he influenced the sensibilities of the next generation and challenged them to uphold the Kennedy name. Based on extensive research, including hundreds of exclusive interviews, After Camelot captures the wealth, glamour, and fortitude for which the Kennedys are so well known. With this book, J. Randy Taraborrelli takes readers on an epic journey as he unfolds the ongoing saga of the nation's most famous-and controversial-family.

Read an excerpt HERE.

TC Tidbit: Children's Books Written In Response To Other Books

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Latest Dark Tower Novel From Stephen King

In The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King returns to the rich landscape of Mid-World, the spectacular territory of the Dark Tower fantasy saga that stands as his most beguiling achievement.

Roland Deschain and his ka-tetJake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy, the billy-bumbler—encounter a ferocious storm just after crossing the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies. As they shelter from the howling gale, Roland tells his friends not just one strange story but two . . . and in so doing, casts new light on his own troubled past.

In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death, Roland is sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man” preying upon the population around Debaria. Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, the brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Only a teenager himself, Roland calms the boy and prepares him for the following day’s trials by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother often read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” Roland says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, never too old. We live for them.” And indeed, the tale that Roland unfolds, the legend of Tim Stoutheart, is a timeless treasure for all ages, a story that lives for us.

King began the Dark Tower series in 1974; it gained momentum in the 1980s; and he brought it to a thrilling conclusion when the last three novels were published in 2003 and 2004. The Wind Through the Keyhole is sure to fascinate avid fans of the Dark Tower epic. But this novel also stands on its own for all readers, an enchanting and haunting journey to Roland’s world and testimony to the power of Stephen King’s storytelling magic.

This "is a breathtaking combination of the historical and the personal. Albright confronts the brutal realities of the Holocaust and the conflicted moral choices it led to. An unforgettable tale of fascism and communism, courage and realism, families and heartache and love." — Walter Isaacson

Before Madeleine Albright turned twelve, her life was shaken by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia—the country where she was born—the Battle of Britain, the near total destruction of European Jewry, the Allied victory in World War II, the rise of communism, and the onset of the Cold War.

Albright's experiences, and those of her family, provide a lens through which to view the most tumultuous dozen years in modern history. Drawing on her memory, her parents' written reflections, interviews with contemporaries, and newly available documents, Albright recounts a tale that is by turns harrowing and inspiring. Prague Winter is an exploration of the past with timeless dilemmas in mind and, simultaneously, a journey with universal lessons that is intensely personal.

The book takes readers from the Bohemian capital's thousand-year-old castle to the bomb shelters of London, from the desolate prison ghetto of Terezín to the highest councils of European and American government. Albright reflects on her discovery of her family's Jewish heritage many decades after the war, on her Czech homeland's tangled history, and on the stark moral choices faced by her parents and their generation. Often relying on eyewitness descriptions, she tells the story of how millions of ordinary citizens were ripped from familiar surroundings and forced into new roles as exiled leaders and freedom fighters, resistance organizers and collaborators, victims and killers. These events of enormous complexity are nevertheless shaped by concepts familiar to any growing child: fear, trust, adaptation, the search for identity, the pressure to conform, the quest for independence, and the difference between right and wrong.

"No one who lived through the years of 1937 to 1948," Albright writes, "was a stranger to profound sadness. Millions of innocents did not survive, and their deaths must never be forgotten. Today we lack the power to reclaim lost lives, but we have a duty to learn all that we can about what happened and why." At once a deeply personal memoir and an incisive work of history, Prague Winter serves as a guide to the future through the lessons of the past—as seen through the eyes of one of the international community's most respected and fascinating figures.

TC Tidbit: Books People Were Reading on the Titanic

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bonus TC Tidbit: Check Out This Year's Edgar Award Winners

Jackie Weighs In on "Grace"

"Tammy Greenwood is a master at writing riveting family drama, and this book might just be her best yet.  Kurt and Elsbeth have been together forever it seems, and they've fallen into a number of common traps--accidental pregnancy that canceled college plans, taking over Kurt's family business after his brother was driven out of town, his mother died and his father became ill.  The recession and a refinanced mortgage that now involved a huge balloon payment made things that much worse.  Then there was Trevor--always a difficult child, and now that he's a teenager, and 6'2", the problems seem to be worse.  What his parents don't understand is that he was only defending himself from some major bullies at school who were making his life a living hell.  Little 6 year old Grace is the light of everyone's life.  But the problems mount, and everyone tries to cope.  Kurt picks up a second job, Elsbeth shoplifts compulsively as a way to deal with an ever present feeling of wanting, and Trevor picks up a camera to find a new way to see the world.

In a parallel story, there is the story of Crystal, a high school senior in the same town who has just given birth to a baby that she was forced to give up for adoption.  She's struggling with what everyone else wants her to do and what she wants for herself.

Lack of communication and too many assumptions by too many people brings both stories to a literally explosive conclusion in this tightly woven, complex and completely absorbing drama.  If you are like me, after reading the first two pages, you will not be able to put this amazing book down." 


Myers "expertly turns a series of Socratic dialogues on the nature of the social contract into an engrossing and fast-paced novel that never feels preachy." --Publishers Weekly

A provocative new novel from the national ambassador for young people's literature and the New York Times bestselling author of Monster

Who's on top of the social food chain? How do you get ahead? Who makes the rules? Who needs to follow them?

Paul DuPree is working at a soup kitchen in Harlem the summer his father dies, just trying to get by. But Elijah, the soup man, won't stop talking about the social contract and asking Paul questions about heavy-duty things. Paul has never thought about this stuff. He'd rather hang out with Keisha, an unwed teen mom whose basketball skills rival his own.

Then Sly, a notorious Harlem big shot, shows up. Paul is both intrigued and intimidated by Sly and his conspiracy theories, and for once he starts contemplating how you really get ahead in life. As the talk of what-ifs turns into reality, Paul realizes his summer is about more than getting by—it's about taking charge of your life.

Browse Inside this book HERE.

TC Tidbit: Literary Feuds

Take a look at author Michael Crummey's
 "Top 10 Literary Feuds" list HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Linda Says This "is a lovely book, with the twists and turns, the clarity and murkiness of a river winding its way to the sea."

Missing:  seventeen-year-old Kai Dionne and his dog Talia.

The search for these two spans a single day, morning twilight to late evening, from the time Kai leaps in a half-frozen river to save the dog to the hour he and Talia are recovered.  Each person who comes to the river brings his or her secret needs and desires; each has known loss, and all are survivors: a homeless boy tries to find himself, his lost twin, his double; a childless mother grieves for her son and daughter; a man who shot his father recalls a tender, intimate night  “when the father was kind, and not afraid, and not angry.”  Kai and Talia belong to, and are loved by, a whole community.  As strangers work together toward a single cause, they become family—bound by love not only to the ones lost, but to all who gather.

The perceiving consciousness is oceanic and atmospheric, embracing all living beings, swirling around a person, a bird, a bear, trillium blooming in dark woods, snow, stones, pines singing—moving closer and closer, loving, finally merging, sensing and knowing as one, before lightly whirling out again to embrace and love another. This powerful current of shared memory and experience, this ceaseless prayer, is a celebration of life,  all  life, mystery and miracle within an immense animate landscape, a song of praise, the voice of the river.

Melanie Rae Thon opens a new genre: call it Eco Avant-Garde, a confession of faith, and a love song to the world.

Thon writes about her inspiration for the book HERE.

Linda says:
"The Voice of the River is a lovely book, with the twists and turns, the clarity and murkiness of a river winding its way to the sea. It sings its song with a haunting musicality and the characters who walk it in search of the lost boy and his dog feel like cousins to the characters in Winesburg Ohio - each carrying within them the secrets and burdens and the hopes of their own lives, each with their own deep and murky stories to tell, drawn together in this small town, along this river.

Each chapter adds another verse and another person's voice to the song. And, while it is the song of the search for the boy, it is the song of the bigger search that each one of us undergoes as we follow the paths our lives take.

This is a book that takes some unraveling or, rather, one must be willing to allow its unraveling and to let it take you along with it and discover its mysteries as it slowly winds along its way."

“'HHhH' blew me away. Binet’s style fuses it all together: a neutral, journalistic honesty sustained with a fiction writer’s zeal and story-telling instincts. It’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever come across.” —Bret Easton Ellis, author of "American Psycho" and "Less Than Zero"

Everyone has heard of Reinhard Heydrich, “the Butcher of Prague.” And most have heard stories of his spectacular assassination at the hands of two Czechoslovakian partisans. But who exactly were the forgotten heroes who killed one of history’s most notorious men? In Laurent Binet’s captivating debut novel, HHhH (Himmlers Hirn heiBt Heydrich, or Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich), we follow the lives of Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubiš, the Slovak and the Czech responsible for Heydrich’s death. From their heroic escape from Nazi-occupied Prague to their recruitment by the British secret services; from their meticulous preparation and training to their harrowing parachute drop into a war zone; from their stealth attack on Heydrich’s car to their own brutal deaths in the basement of a Prague church, Binet narrates the compelling story of these two incredible men, rescuing their heroic acts from obscurity. The winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, Binet’s HHhH is a novel unlike anything else. A seemingly effortless blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH is a work at once thrilling and deeply engrossing—a historical novel and a profound meditation on the nature of writing and the debt we owe to history.

The Missing Pages of Laurent Binet’s HHhH via The Millions HERE

TC Tidbit: the 2012 "What Kids Are Reading" Report

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Little Bit of Doyle and a Little Bit of Austen Makes For One Great Start To A New Series

Miss Charlotte House will not admit impediments to marriage, not even when those impediments include scandal, blackmail and even a duel to the death. With the help of her particular friend Miss Jane Woodsen, she deduces all that happens in Bath—both good and ill—and together they ensure that true love’s course runs smooth, even though both friends have suffered tragedies that prevent their own happiness. These six affairs, set in Bath, England, during the Napoleonic War, are inspired by the creations of both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen.

Jackie says: 
"I really don't do the whole Jane Austen thing, or the Sherlock Holmes thing either, so I very reluctantly agreed to be an early reader for this book.  It didn't take long for me to figure out that I would have been a fool to miss out on this book.  It is absolutely delightful, with plenty of humor and mystery.  It concerns the inestimable Miss Charlotte House, a brilliant woman known for her ability to help in matchmaking situations.  She can quiet scandals or start them, whichever serves her purpose.  Miss Jane Woodsen, a young lady in dire states after her father's death and her family's crash in wealth and status, ends up a guest of, and then an assistant to, Miss House and her investigations and machinations.  It might sound like light fare, but it actually very quick witted and absorbing.  This first book in a planned series involves six different 'cases', leaving the investigative team, at the end of the book, planning to move back to London and take on the big city in the second novel.  All in all, a very entertaining book for mystery lovers and fans of the England of the early 1800s."

“The book is wonderfully twisted, but a sinister humor keeps things from getting too bleak. What begins as a literary family drama turns slowly into a heady horror story, part Stephen King and part Immanuel Kant.” --The Daily Beast

The year is 1985 and 22-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house with a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento. He doesn't know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on old family money—an inheritance that his Aunt Helen and 17-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on.

A bulimic vegetarian who considers himself an old soul, Galen is a New Age believer on a warpath towards transcendence, practicing meditation, firewalking, etheric surgery and authentic movement. He yearns for transformation: to free himself from the corporeal, to be as weightless as air, to walk on water. But he's powerless to stop the manic binges that overtake him, leading him to gorge on meat and other forbidden desires, including sex. A prisoner of his body, he is obsessed with thoughts of the boldly flirtatious Jennifer, and dreams of shedding himself of the clinging mother whose fears and needs also weigh him down.

When the family takes a trip to an old cabin in the Sierras, near South Lake Tahoe, tensions come to a climax. Caught in a compromising position, Galen will discover the shocking truth of just how far he will go to attain the transcendence he craves.

An exhilarating portrayal of a legacy of violence and madness, Dirt is an entirely feverish read.

TC Tidbit: Doctor Seus's Medical School

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dispatch from the Field: Joe Says This Book Is "explosively powerful...the first novel of a writer many will be talking about in the years to come."

A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to--an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil--but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.

Told by three resonant and evocative characters--Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past--A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.

Joe says:
"I was hooked in the first few sentences. Adelaide Lyle, sitting in her car, contemplating the history of a church, of a building that houses that church, and of her feelings toward both. Simple, evocative, powerful. There are times when a writer describes too much, leaves too little for the reader. Wiley Cash uses his words sparingly, chooses the perfect amount of description to create a singular place, but leaves enough for the reader to fully inhabit his world. And the world of this novel is the mountains of North Carolina. Small mountain towns inhabited by people respectful of the past and wary of change.

A Land More Kind Than Home is told from the perspective of three characters. Adelaide Lyle, an old woman who brought most of the town into the world. She became the town's midwife, and often acted as the town's doctor, especially when the town's real doctor was too drunk to do his job. Jess Hall is a young boy who saw some things he shouldn't have. He's learning at a very young age that secrets have the power to destroy. And Sheriff Clem Barefield is considered by many to be a newcomer, although he's been the sheriff for over twenty years. From the perspective of these three characters, we see tragedies unfold, all stemming from the pulpit of a pastor, Carson Chambliss.

All of Cash's characters seem true-to-life, and fully realized. They are flawed, they think they're in the right, and they are at times humorous. Cash manages to write from these three different voices with distinct styles that sound true, and that propels the story along. And while the three narrators are fascinating characters, it is the rest of the cast that really keep the story alive. Jess's parents, brother, and grandfather. The Pastor Chambliss. The sheriff's dead son.

Chambliss is a mesmerizing preacher, snake handler, and charismatic leader. His religion is a 'you're with us or you aren't' kind of religion that Adelaide Lyle has a hard time swallowing. There are interwoven plot lines that Cash pulls ever tighter as the story goes on.

It's an explosively powerful book, A Land More Kind Than Home. One I couldn't put down, and that still lingers in my thoughts, weeks after reading it. Even before I was through the first chapter, I was certain I was reading the first novel of a writer many will be talking about in the years to come. If A Land More Kind Than Home is proof, Wiley Cash is a major  new force in American literature."

She Ran Into A Fire To Save Her Children, But She Didn't Stop There

The school is on fire. Her children are inside.

Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.
In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm.  This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives.  While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her -- and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.
Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.

Read an excerpt HERE.

TC Tidbit: A Letter to Einstein

Einstein answers the letter of a little girl who wants to be a scientist.  Read it HERE.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's a Big Day For Books, Love, and the Love of Books

Every year on April 23rd, Barcelona erupts in a celebration of chivalry and romance. It all began in the Middle Ages with an annual Festival of Roses on St. George's Day to honor the Patron Saint of Catalonia. A brave Roman soldier, he allegedly slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful young princess. According to legend, a rosebush then sprouted from the blood of the slain dragon and the soldier plucked its most perfect blossoms to give to the princess as a remembrance. In 1923, the traditional Rose Festival merged with UNESCO’s World Book Day, established to celebrate the lives of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, both of whom died on April 23rd in 1616. Now, bookstalls and flower stands sprout up along the Rambla, a two-mile stretch connecting the city with the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands of Barcelonans crowd the streets to enjoy a festive atmosphere of readings, music, literature, and dance.

The Tattered Cover is delighted to honor this springtime celebration of culture, beauty, intelligence, and love. We call it Book & Lover's Day. Complimentary roses and bookmarks will be available on April 23 with the purchase of a book; while supplies last. As always, we’ll be happy to turn your purchases into lovely wrapped gifts at no extra charge.

 Also, tonight is World Book Night, when you will find people giving away books in 5600 cities in America, as well as in the UK , Ireland and Germany.  The goal is to give away one million books to one million people in each country that night.  You can read more about it HERE or HERE.  Tattered Cover staff and patrons who signed up will be on the streets in the Denver.  We do have a few extra boxes of books, so if you want to help, call the Tattered Cover of your choice and find out how to get involved.

"This book pulls off something close to impossible. It's both a thriller and a moving, literary novel. " --Stephen Elliott, author of "The Adderall Diaries"

An intense, psychological novel about one doctor's suspense-filled quest to unlock the mind of a suspected political assassin: his twenty-year old son.

As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons—hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin. 
Daniel Allen has always been a good kid—a decent student, popular—but, as a child of divorce, used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter. Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.
Told alternately from the point of view of the guilt-ridden, determined father and his meandering, ruminative son, The Good Father is a powerfully emotional page-turner that keeps one guessing until the very end. This is an absorbing and honest novel about the responsibilities—and limitations—of being a parent and our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.

TC Tidbit: Beautiful Libraries

Sunday, April 22, 2012

One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

From the bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All comes the true and truly hilarious story of one person’s quest to become the healthiest man in the world.

Hospitalized with a freak case of tropical pneumonia, goaded by his wife telling him, “I don’t want to be a widow at forty-five,” and ashamed of a middle-aged body best described as “a python that swallowed a goat,” A.J. Jacobs felt compelled to change his ways and get healthy. And he didn’t want only to lose weight, or finish a triathlon, or lower his cholesterol. His ambitions were far greater: maximal health from head to toe.

The task was epic. He consulted an army of experts— sleep consultants and sex clinicians, nutritionists and dermatologists. He subjected himself to dozens of different workouts—from Strollercize classes to Finger Fitness sessions, from bouldering with cavemen to a treadmill desk. And he took in a cartload of diets: raw foods, veganism, high protein, calorie restriction, extreme chewing, and dozens more. He bought gadgets and helmets, earphones and juicers. He poked and he pinched. He counted and he measured.

The story of his transformation is not only brilliantly entertaining, but it just may be the healthiest book ever written. It will make you laugh until your sides split and endorphins flood your bloodstream. It will alter the contours of your brain, imprinting you with better habits of hygiene and diet. It will move you emotionally and get you moving physically in surprising ways. And it will give you occasion to reflect on the body’s many mysteries and the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life.

Meet A.J. Jacobs and hear about his health quest TOMORROW night (Monday, April 23, 2012) at 7:30 pm at our Historic Lodo Store.

Details of the event HERE.
Parking information for Lodo HERE.

“The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn’t be laughing and probably you’ll go to hell for laughing, so maybe you shouldn’t read it. That would be safer and wiser.” -- Neil Gaiman

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

Happy Earth Day Everyone!!!

TC Tidbit: A Very Intersting Booksharing Experiment

Saturday, April 21, 2012

You Gotta Know The Rules To Win The Games

From an award-winning humorist, a touching memoir and manifesto that reveals the deep secrets of fan jinxes, hexes, and charms

Did you know there is a secret to winning ballgames? It’s not the players, managers, money, or luck. It’s juju, and no one knows it better than Hart Seely. Seely has spent a lifetime practicing the art of juju from his living room. And winning ballgames for the New York Yankees. He paces floors. He yells at defenseless TVs. He rallies the team like Churchill addressing the collective British soul. But what he is really doing is harnessing juju energy to influence the outcome of games. And it works.

In this uproarious, unforgettable fan confessional, Seely shares the basics of juju for the beginner—“Setting the Table,” asking for a called strike instead of a walk-off homer—to advanced juju—“Bringing the Neg,” predicting bad events to keep them from actually happening—to the deepest, darkest formulas of this age-old art. Along the way readers come to know Hart and his hilarious band of fellow juju practitioners, a secret club of friends whose fandom bonds them across decades, not to mention won/loss columns.

Nostalgic, heartwarming, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Juju Rules is a memoir of a life well-lived in service to one’s team that shows how love can be a powerful passion in the best way.

A TC Event For Preschool One Book, One Denver Tomorrow Morning!!!

"It's gone! It's nowhere!

I can't find it anywhere!

Where is MY BOOK? I need MY BOOK!"

What happens when your favorite book goes missing? Bestselling duo Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley climb into the mind of a young child and create a hilarious picture book romp. As the frantic search for the beloved book takes off all sorts of horrifying thoughts come to mind and the imagination goes wild.

Tomorrow (Sunday April 22, 2012), at 10:30 am at our Colfax Avenue Store:

The Denver Preschool Program—in collaboration with Reach Out and Read Colorado, the Denver Public Library, and Arts & Venues Denver—is hosting the fourth-annual Preschool One Book, One Denver, a city-wide book club for young children, which celebrates and highlights the importance of early literacy. As part of the festivities, children’s author Robie Harris will read from her book Maybe A Bear Ate It!, this year’s POBOD selected book.

TC Tidbit: Book Art In The Wild

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Rare Review From Yolanda and A Chance To Meet the Author

When his father died, Harrison Candelaria Fletcher wasn’t quite two. His mother packed up his father’s belongings, put the boxes in a hall closet, and closed the door. The “man in a box” remained a mystery, hardly mentioned, and making only rare appearances in stories when Fletcher or his siblings inquired. Meanwhile, his young Hispanic mother transformed herself into an artist, scouting the back roads and secondhand shops of New Mexico for relics and unlikely treasures to add to her “little shrines,” or descansos. “Look closely,” she’d say to her son. “Everything tells a story.”

This book is Fletcher’s literary descanso, a piecing together—from moments and objects and words—of a father’s life, of the life lived without that father, and of his own mixed-race identity. Fletcher’s reflections unfold like a collage, offering a rich array of images and stories of life with his single mother, organizing weekend family car trips to explore graveyards and adobe ruins; of growing up on the fault lines of class and culture; of being a father who never had one of his own to learn from. From incidents and observations, Fletcher assembles a beautifully crafted portrait of his family’s unspoken affliction with loss over the decades, a portrait that finally evokes the father at its heart.

Yolanda says::
"In every family, it seems, there is a tender spot associated with loss—one that is not thoroughly acknowledged but is alluded to in bits and pieces; a photograph with no name, but a date penciled on the back; a story told in answer to a child's questions in careful snippets, with the unaddressed questions left mutely in midair at the end.  For author Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, that tender space is occupied by the father he lost when he was not quite two.

In the literary memoir Descanso for My Father, Fletcher crafts  a mosaic of poetic, lyrical remembrances of his New Mexican  childhood—of dragging an aluminum cot each night into the living room to sleep in, of the five fatherless brothers and sisters trying to make sense of things with the stray animals they befriend, of their artist mother scouring the back roads and 'segundas' of New  Mexico, making meaning with the 'little shrines/descansos' she creates.  From the bits of stories, his mother's dreams (where his  father always knocks to be allowed in) and a road trip to his father's birthplace and childhood home, Fletcher reconstructs his father, and explores how his growing up fatherless might influence  his own children's lives.  Also explored is the author's mixed race identity- being slammed against a locker by a friend and slapped  until his face 'got a little color,' using a straight pin heated  orange as a child to tattoo the space between thumb and forefinger with a 'cruzita,' being ignored after college at a job fair for Hispanics until he flips his name tag, and writes his mother's maiden name on it.

Fletcher's memoir evokes a strong and satisfying sense of place and time, the language is richly textured, and the honesty of the writing makes this little gem a fitting tribute to the author's father. It is also a sensitive exploration of the issues of mixed race identity and a family as it grapples with the mystery of loss.

Click here for parking information for Lodo.

Elizabeth Gilbert's Latest Project

Recently, while moving into a new house, Elizabeth Gilbert unpacked some boxes of family books that had been sitting in her mother’s attic for decades. Among the old, dusty hardcovers was a book called At Home on the Range by Gilbert’s great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. Having only been peripherally aware of the volume, Gilbert dug in with some curiosity, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time.

In her workaday cookbook, Potter espoused the importance of farmer’s markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated a devotion to seeking out new epicurean adventures. Potter takes car trips out to Pennsylvania Dutch country to eat pickles, and during World War II she cajoles local poultry farmers into saving buckets of coxcombs for her so she can try to cook them in the French manner. She takes trips to the eastern shore of Maryland, where she learns to catch and prepare eels so delicious, she says, they must be “devoured in a silence almost devout.” Part scholar—she includes a great recipe from 1848 for boiled sheep head—and part crusader for a more open food conversation than currently existed, it’s not hard to see from where Elizabeth Gilbert inherited both her love of food, and her warm, infectious prose.

Featuring a comprehensive and moving introduction from Potter’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Gilbert, At Home on the Range is an eminently usable and humorous cookbook. But it’s also more than that: it’s an heirloom, an into-the-wee-hours dinner with relatives and ancestors, a perfect gift for anybody with a stove or a mother.

This new edition is being published by McSweeney's, with the proceeds going to ScholarMatch

Read a Q&A with Gilbert HERE.

Read an article by Gilbert about this book HERE.

TC Tidbit: Imagining The Better Bookshelf

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What if the World's Worst Serial Killer...Was Your Dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Jackie says:
"Jazz's father is the world's most infamous serial killer--124 victims (including his wife, Jazz's mother). And for the first 13 years of his life, Billy nurtured and trained his son in the, well, family business. Four years ago, Billy started working too close to home, and the local sheriff arrested him; Billy was sentenced to multiple life sentences. Jazz, now in the in the custody of his dementia addled grandmother, is just trying to be a normal teenager, though one obsessed with crime and forensics. He figures he knows all about being a serial killer, so he is uniquely suited to catching one. Especially the one who is mimicking his father's kills one by one, right in his home town. The sheriff, now Jazz's mentor of sorts, tries to keep him away, but once the bodies start piling up, Jazz can't help but be involved.

This is a rather graphically violent story with plenty of psychological thriller to it. It's very compelling and the action rarely stops. I understand why this is a YA read, but I'm not entirely comfortable with the 15 and up they have put on it. The squeamish and the nightmare prone of any age should probably stay away. Dexter fans will love it."

Want To Improve Your Success At Risk Taking?

We must make judgments all the time when we can’t be certain of the risks. Should we have that elective surgery? Trust the advice of our financial adviser? Take that new job we’ve been offered? How worried should we be about terrorist attacks? In this lively and groundbreaking book, pioneering researcher Dylan Evans introduces a newly discovered kind of intelligence for assessing risks, demonstrating how vital this risk intelligence is in our lives and how we can all raise our RQs in order to make better decisions every day.

Evans has spearheaded the study of risk intelligence, devising a simple test to measure a person’s RQ which when posted online sparked a storm of interest and was taken by tens of thousands of people. His research has revealed that risk intelligence is quite different from IQ, and that the vast majority of us have quite poor risk intelligence. However, he did find some people who have very high RQs. So what makes the difference? Introducing a wealth of fascinating research findings, Evans identifies a key set of common errors in our thinking that most of us fall victim to and that undermine our risk intelligence, such as “ambiguity aversion,” overconfidence in our knowledge, the fallacy of mind reading, and our attraction to worst-case scenarios.

We are also regularly led astray by the ways in which information is provided to us. Citing a wide range of real-life examples— from the brilliant risk assessment skills of horse race handicappers to the tragically flawed evaluations of risk that caused the financial crisis—Evans illustrates that sometimes our most trusted advisers, including the experts and analysts at the top of their disciplines, don’t always give us the best advice when it comes to risk evaluation.

Presenting his revolutionary test that allows readers to evaluate their own RQs, Evans introduces a number of simple techniques we can use to build our risk assessment powers and reports on the striking results he’s seen in training people to develop their RQs. Both highly engaging and truly mind-changing, Risk Intelligence will fascinate all of those who are interested in how we can improve our thinking in order to enhance our lives.

Take the free test  he talks about in the above video HERE.

TC Tidbit: Author Mark Changizi Talks About One of the Troubles with E-books

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cathy's Talking About World Book Night

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books, to be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.This is the first time the U.S will be joining in the celebration.

U.S. World Book Night facts:
500,000 specially printed free books
25,000 Givers
5,800 Towns and cities participating

The list is very contemporary because  the books are all by living authors who generously agreed to forgo their royalties.  The publishers gave the rights to special editions of each book.  The 30 titles represent a diverse selection that will appeal to a broad range of  interests and experiences.  (See the whole list HERE.)

April 23 is the UNESCO International Day of the Book, chosen in honor of Shakespeare and Cervantes, who both died on April 23 1616. (It is also the anniversary of Shakespeare's birthday.) In the Catalan region of Spain, the day is celebrated by giving a book and a flower to a loved one. We also hope that it's a lovely spring day perfect for spreading the love of reading in your community. (Click here to learn about Tattered Cover's celebration of Book and Lovers Day)

Cathy's Pick for her WBN Giveaway Book:
"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because
of Owen Meany."

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys--best friends--are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary.