Giving Tuesday – Consider The Book Industry Charitable Foundation

Started in 2012 as a response to Black Friday, it’s been wonderful to see how strongly Giving Tuesday has taken hold in just four years.

If you read this blog, you care about books and book culture. One of my favorite charitable organizations helps keep that culture vital by helping booksellers in need.

Here’s The Book Industry Charitable Foundation’s inaugural ambassador Ann Patchett explaining what Binc does to help booksellers stay on the job and in careers they are passionate about.


Full disclosure: I’m on the board of Binc. So I could give you a bunch of stats about how much money has been given away and the number of people Binc has helped over the years–but this thank you note from a bookseller explains it so much better.

Earlier this year I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This isn’t easy to diagnose, I learned, and the process required many expensive tests and expensive visits with specialists, as well as a hospital stay and time off work. I paid what I could, but I don’t know what I would have done without Binc to help with the remainder. They made the process of applying very easy, even in my exhausted and mentally foggy state, and paid my outstanding bills promptly. The person assisting me even sent me a book on living with chronic illness, and this small kindness meant so much to me. This organization is a true blessing for people in the book business and I can’t thank them enough.”

Please consider Binc in your year-end giving plans. This is a great day to do it–and through the end of the year the Binc Board of Directors will match your gift!

20 for 20 sidebar

Shop Local This Weekend–and Year Round!

introTomorrow is Small Business Saturday–I’m sure you’ve seen the American Express ad. It gives you a vague warm fuzzy, right?

Well, the specifics about the good shopping local does for your community should make you feel even better. Check out this fun infographic by one of my favorite writers and cartoonists–Mary Laura Philpott of Parnassus Books. (If you like her illustrations check out her book Penguins with People Problems. )

You’ll come out the other end feeling even better about buying books (and shoes and hammers and lattes) from the local merchants who make your town a place you want to live!

Mary Laura allowed me to be grab a few images here–but get the whole story by going to Musing–a laid back lit journal.



Book of the Week: Whatever Happened to Interracial Love – Kathleen Collins

Publishing often seems to me like the movie business—with “big” and “buzz” being watchwords of future success. And yet when I think of the books and movies that have stayed with me, have changed my life, they tilt towards “little” stories driven less by plot than by characters confronting circumstance. More John Sayles and Rebecca Miller than George Lucas and James Cameron.

I use the film reference here because the author of this collection, dead since 1988, was a playwright, activist, filmmaker, director, and educator as well as a writer. She was the first African-American woman to produce a feature length film. That film, released posthumously for the first time in 2015, was called “a nearly lost masterwork” by The New Yorker

 One might say the same of this story collection, published by Harper’s Ecco imprint as part of their “Art of the Story” series. Zadie Smith mentioned it in the NYT’s “By the Book” column saying she was “moved, agitated and inspired” by the collection.

In the tradition of writers like Loraine Hansberry, Collins wrote of African American experience from the point of view of character. And though this collection is fiction, Vivian Gornick, notes that, “This book is one of the most eloquent statements I have read of what it was like to be black and young and alive in the 1960s.”

The review coverage for this collection points to the impact Collins is making on readers. Alexandra Alter is writing a feature on Collins for the NYT and PBS Newshour’s “Brief But Spectacular” will cover Collins’ films and writing at the time of the book’s publication.

Review coverage so far includes the NYTBR, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine, Essence, Marie Claire, Harper’s, People, New Yorker, Huffington Post, Lit Hub and The Millions.

 Published for the first time nearly 30 years after the author’s death at age 46, this gorgeous and strikingly intimate short story collection focuses on the lives and loves of black Americans in the 1960s….The title story, wrenching and darkly hilarious, follows a circle of young interracial lovers through 1963, ‘the year of race-creed-color blindness.’….Collins has a spectacular sense of dialogue. These are stories where nothing happens and everything happens, stories that are at once sweeping and very, very small. Though most of the pieces span only a few pages, they are frequently overwhelmingly rich—not just in their sharp takes on sex, race, and relationships, but in the power and music of their sentences. Collins’ prose is so precise and hypnotic that no amount of rereading it feels like enough. Astonishing and essential. A gem.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“Race, gender, love, and sexuality are portrayed beautifully and humanely in this previously unpublished collection of stories from groundbreaking African-American filmmaker and civil rights activist Collins… [capturing] the racial tension of the 1960s with both frankness and tenderness….The title story follows a group of interracial couples as each member explores his/her own identity while trying to fit in with the identity of the other. In the gripping ‘Only Once,’ a woman recalls her thrill-seeking lover and his final act of recklessness….Full of candor, humor, and poise, this collection, so long undiscovered, will finally find the readers it deserves.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? Stories (9780062484154) by Kathleen Collins. $15.99 trade paper original. 12/6/16 on sale.

New Biography: Krazy – Michael Tisserand

Does George Herriman’s name not ring a bell? Maybe his creation Krazy Kat does. A surreal, seemingly slapstick comic strip it was also playful, dark and subversive—a piece of 20th century pop culture that influenced everything that came after it. Charles Schultz once noted that “Krazy Kat was always my goal.” Maus creator Art Spiegelman said, “For me and my generation, Herriman loomed really large, because Herriman crossed all kinds of boundaries, between high and low, between vulgar and gentile.”

Michael Chabon contextualizes Herriman this way: “One could argue the claim, confidently, persuasively, and with an all-but-inexhaustible store of ever fresh evidence, that George Herriman was one of the very great artists in any medium of the 20th century.”

In Shelf Awareness, reviewer Bruce Jacobs of Watermark Books discusses Herriman’s work this way:

A multilingual combination of vaudeville pratfalls and violence, minstrel show imitation, the optimism and good-heartedness of Chaplin’s Tramp, and the Beckettian dialogue of Vladimir and Estragon, Krazy Kat was a precursor of the chaos and upheaval of the 20th century. An example from April of 1921 says it all:

“IGNATZ: Now, “Krazy,” do you look upon the future as a pessimist, or an optimist?

“KRAZY KAT: I look upon it as just mist–

“Herriman’s vision, sketches and dialogue influenced the epochal comic strips of Charles M. Schulz and Gary Trudeau. With substantial background fieldwork, Tisserand eloquently demonstrates that this self-effacing, mixed-race high school graduate from the streets of the Tremé, laboring for 40 years over a schedule of daily cartoons, became the inspiration of a century of artists, intellectuals, filmmakers and writers.”


“Essential reading for comics fans and history buffs, Krazy is a roaring success, providing an indispensable new perspective on turn-of-the-century America.”
—  Kirkus (starred review)

 “Tisserand weaves American history, pop culture, and racial politics with biography to elucidate and celebrate the life of cartoonist George Herriman (1880–1944), the creator of the Krazy Kat comic strip. Readers gain a glut of insight into the development of Krazy Kat, and the many ways the character served as an outlet for Herriman to playfully explore the human condition, which Tisserand sets against the backdrop of Herriman’s own little-known racial identity. Though Herriman passed as a white man his whole life, he was actually African-American, born during Reconstruction to a Creole family that hid its racial identity….This is a gripping read at the intersection of pop culture and American history.”
Publishers Weekly

Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White (9780061732997) by Michael Tisserand. $35.00 hardcover. 12/6/16 on sale.

Fiction Short Take: The Fate of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

Fans have been clamoring for the conclusion of this epic fantasy series and by all reports they will not be disappointed. It is both a LibraryReads and Indie Next pick–and reviewers as well as booksellers praise the conclusion and the surprise turn at the ending.

“Johansen has consistently taken huge narrative risks with this series…..With richly developed characters who are never boring black and white, and villains who are as fascinating as the heroes, the finale of this outstanding series will be talked about by readers.”
Library Journal, Pick of the Month

Johansen’s vision—a society tearing itself apart amid the effort to redefine itself—is ambitious, and the conflict is fleshed out through myriad character arcs….wraps up the story quite nicely.”
Publishers Weekly

“…Find out the result of Queen Kelsea’s bejeweled sacrifice in the finale of our favorite fantasy trilogy.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Queen Kelsea returns as one of the most fascinating, complex, and human characters in modern fantasy. We last saw her held captive by the Red Queen, her shredded kingdom held together only by the sheer will of her closest guards. Now Kelsea struggles to find ways to save the Tearling in the present as her powers give her insights to the past that mean everything for the future….In this conclusion to an enthralling series, all the ends are tied and resolutions are found … though not in a way Kelsea – or the readers – could ever expect.”
— Kelly Morton, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

The Fate of the Tearling (9780062290427) by Erika Johansen. $25.99 hardcover. 11/29/16 on sale.

Nonfiction Short Take: The Wars of the Roosevelts – William J. Mann

This is carefully researched—and very dishy–account of the inner workings of the Roosevelt family by a biographer who reads like a novelist. Mann’s last book, Tinseltown, was an NPR Book of the Year and ET said that “Mann’s call sheet of colorful characters is so richly painted, they not only make the Roaring ‘20s come to life, they’re so bizarre they seem like they could only exist in a movie.” The Roosevelts family is just as vivid here.

A compulsively readable account of the decades long rivalries, grudges, and battles between and within the Roosevelt families of Oyster Bay and Hyde Park. . . . . Perhaps best known for his popular film biographies and histories, and thus no stranger to tales of scandal and cover up, feuds and intrigue, Mann writes sympathetically about all the Roosevelts but particularly the black sheep, the nonconformists whose births into this powerful family imposed special burdens.”
Kirkus (starred review)

The Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family (9780062383334) by William J. Mann. $35.00 hardcover. 12/6/16 on sale.


Nonfiction Short Take: Moranifesto – Caitlin Moran

Best known for the hilarious bestseller How to Be a Woman, The NYT calls Moran’s writing “rowdy and fearless… sloppy, big-hearted and alive in all the right ways.” This new book is a collection of her columns from The Times of London. With trademark wit and optimism she covers everything from feminism to race and class…to Benedict Cumberbatch. Bring it with you to the Woman’s March on Washington this January!

“Exuberant….Moran’s wise, bracing observations about politics, pop culture, feminism, and nearly everything else are no-holds-barred, and made easy and fun to digest by her crackling humor.”

Moran touches on a wide array of topics, including Daft Punk’s hit song ‘Get Lucky,’ Hillary Clinton, social media, class differences, and abortion. Moran’s endless sense of humor, enthusiasm for punching upward… Readers don’t have to be interested in or knowledgeable about everything she references (such as U.K. politics) to have fun with Moran, but they do need a silly sense of humor.”
Publishers Weekly

“Whether they make me pump my fist and say ‘Yeah,’ or make me angry or sad, Moran’s essays are always thought-provoking and, at their best, inspirational. A feminist with a great sense of humor, Moran writes equally well about social injustice and popular culture. Recommended!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Moranifesto (9780062433756) by Caitlin Moran. $15.99 trade paper original. 11/29/16 on sale.