Dave Eggers' A Hologram For The King arrives; causes massive disruption to established order in my To Be Read Pile

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A Hologram For The King
Dave Eggers
McSweeney’s Books / PGW | 9781936365746 | $25 | June 2012

The on-sale date is coming up tomorrow, and the early reviews are starting to roll in. I’d heard a rumor at BEA that a copy was heading my way, so I wasn’t super-surprised when it showed up on my doorstep this afternoon. Nevertheless, I’m pleased at the timing –  I’m heading out for some bookstore appointments tomorrow, and I’ll be bringing it with me! Nothing else compares, I’m afraid.

Some of this week's non-required reading about AHFTK – students of Eggersian Literary Field Dynamics, help me out – is that the preferred acronym for the new book?:

Updated to add: 

  • Publishers Weekly reviews AHFTK, "Eggers strikes fresh and genuine notes, however, in Alan's burgeoning friendship with the young Saudi man, Yousef, assigned to be his driver. Both Eggers's fans and those previously resistant to his work will find a spare but moving elegy for the American century."


New Arrivals: 3 BIG books from McSweeney's, Gahan Wilson & Peter de Sève

There's not much time today for a post – I'm getting things wrapped up here today before we head up to Madison for Saturday's memorial for Mark Gates.  But here's a post featuring books that somehow combine the sense of humor and the love of great writing that Mark lived for.

Three BIG objects arrived here at my3books HQ recently and they've all blown me away in one way or another.

McSweeney's Issue 33: San Francisco Panorama
edited by Dave Eggers
McSweeney's / PGW | 9781934781487 | $16 | Dec 2009

The results of a yearlong effort by the McSweeney's crew to put together the Platonic ideal of what the  Sunday edition of a newspaper could be - it's a wild success for lovers of words and images on paper.  The front sections contain investigative journalism, current affairs, infographics, and an over the top front-of-book data page.  The sports section leaves the daily stats to the web and brings readers the kind of sporting reportage that would fit right in at Sports Illustrated.  But, as you would expect, it's the Comics, Arts, and Book sections that really shine.  Contributions from Michael Chabon, Stephen King, William T. Vollmann, Miranda July, Junot Diaz, Nicholson Baker, to name a few.

Imagine a comics page with Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Alison Bechdel and more.  You don't have to - that's what the Panorama offers us. The Books section offers in-depth reviews and short fiction from George Saunders and Roddy Doyle, among others, and poetry - all showcased in an innovative layout.

McSweeney's has moved on as they always do - the next issue of their journal will undoubtedly appear in some other format - but this experiment shows one possible way that printed newspapers can survive and thrive and inspire.

You can see more here on the microsite that McSweeney's put together for the Panorama.


Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
by Gahan Wilson
Fantagraphics Books / Norton | 9781606992982 | $125 | Jan 2010

A monster production, a slipcased behemoth, nearly 1000 pages in three volumes, with deliciously wicked humor on every page.  The slipcase has a plexiglass cutout on one side with a photo of Gahan Wilson fighting to be freed from his box.  Introductions by Neil Gaiman and Hugh Hefner each open two of the volumes.  The third includes an interview with Wilson.

Open the box, free the three volumes, and dive in anywhere.  You will not be disappointed.

Fantagraphics has posted a photo and video slideshow on Flickr of the box set with sample images from the book for the curious.


A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève
by Peter de Sève
Editions Akileos / SCB Distributors | 9782355740992 | $54.95 | published in France in October 2009, and imported and reviewed here already, but officially coming to the US in March 2010

A massive monograph that provides a comprehensive survey of the American illustrator and character designer Peter de Sève.  The book contains samples of finished work and his sketches from his advertising, book covers, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and his other magazine commissions. 

The book also shines a light on his nearly-anonymous work behind the scenes on animated movies: Robots, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille.  He's probably best-known among animation fans for having designed all the characters for all three Ice Age movies.

A Sketchy Past features sketches from his recently published children's book, The Duchess of Whimsy, written by his wife, Randall de Sève (also the author of Toy Boat).

As a peek behind the curtain of an artist's process, it's worth the effort of picking it up!


guest post: Paul Ingram from Prairie Lights

Shortly after I began my job as a sales rep in the midwest, I came to understand that there were bookstore buyers whose knowledge about the books they handsold, and the customers they sold them to, exceeded by far the same bodies of knowledge at all the publishers that I was representing.

When I walked into Prairie Lights in Iowa City, I soon learned that Paul Ingram was one such buyer. As I started asking booksellers to send me their choice picks for my3books, Paul was at the top of the list.

Mick Herron's books from Soho Press
representative title: Reconstruction
Soho Press (Consortium) | 9781569475652 | $13 | Apr 2009

Little doubt, Soho Press has been publishing the best written, most consistently interesting, and generally thrilling crime novels decorating the Mystery section of Prairie Lights over the last few years. In 2009 they've released a handful of terrific English thrillers set in Oxford by one Mick Herron.

The best I've read so far is one called Reconstruction (I don't know what the title means), which begins with an armed man entering a nursery school containing three adults and two children. As he waves his gun about, the reader knows he/she will not be able to put the book down till this man puts his gun down. Full of surprises (like who's the good guy) which I won't tell you about since I'd rather you read the book.

Some of the others feature Chloe Bloem, private detective. Herron is a 21st Century feminist male whose female characters put up with a great deal of shit from men, and sparkle with intelligence and wit. Herron likes to demonize the James Bonds working for Tony Blair. Great fun.


Olive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout
Random House | 9780812971835 | $14 | Sept 2008

I'm deeply impressed with Elizabeth Strout's 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Olive Kitteridge. I'd read her first novel Amy and Isabelle, and liked it quite a bit. It was one of those oak-and-acorn/mother-daughter stories that I found deeply satisfying. I never thought she'd win a Pulitzer, but she's gotten better.

It's a book of linked stories set in small-town Maine. Olive Kitteridge, retired schoolteacher, has large or small parts in each of the stories and as the title character draws the reader's mind. She can be likable, nasty, pathetic, and brave, depending on her situation. The passage of time has her flummoxed, the way different time periods ask different questions of her, make different demands on her.

I found the book sad, in the way that many excellent novels are sad without being depressing. Strout has a wisdom about her and a clear compassion for each of her many characters. Her writing style has a transparence that many writers work their careers to achieve. Men and women seem to like the book about equally.


by Jim Krusoe
Tin House Books (PGW) | 9780980243673 | $14.95 | May 2009

Erased is, physically, a lovely trade paperback from Tin House Books. It tells a wonderful goofy story about a man, Ted Bellifiore, who sells high end gardening accoutrements, who receives a call from his estranged mother one night. She has had a mysterious encounter with a stranger outside her window who suggests that she might indeed be dead.

Two such odd conversations result in Ted searching for his mother. A search he never thought he'd be making. The mother, incidentally, left the family when Ted was two to pursue her career as a sports fisherman/woman. Ted is finally drawn to Cleveland (Krusoe's home town) in search of a mother gone missing.

Cleveland has seldom had the send-up Krusoe gives. It has a rat-killing day when Clevelanders prowl alleys with croquet mallets, unless they forget. Krusoe is very, very funny, but thoughtful as well in Erased. An unusual book but not a difficult read.


Twitter info for the above-mentioned publishers:
Soho Press (and their distributor, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution)
Random House
Tin House Books

my3books: Skulls!

There's not a lot of explanation necessary, I think, for today's picks. What is interesting is that none of these three books are obvious choices for a spooky Halloween table, despite their covers. Yet they're all due to publish in the 6 weeks or so before Halloween.

The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray’s Anatomy
by Bill Hayes
Bellevue Literary Press (Consortium) | 9781934137215 | $16.95 | Sept 2009

One of my favorite new publishers to come to Consortium over the last couple years, Belleuve Literary Press is housed at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and is a venture of The Bellevue Literary Review and New York University School of Medicine. Their focus is to publish literary works that connect to the human body, health, illness and healing. Perhaps their best-known book for indie booksellers will be the novel that was published this past winter, Paul Harding's stunning little gem, Tinkers.

The Anatomist was first published in hardcover in 2007 by Ballantine Books and this marks the first paperback edition. If you ask me, this new cover is striking and preferable to the hardcover edition. I'm glad this affordable new edition is coming out - it's the fascinating story of the the two men who created the most influential medical reference book ever - Henry Gray (the author) and Henry Vandyke Carter (the illustrator).

The New Yorker said in their review of the hardcover edition:

"Hayes moves nimbly between the dour streets of Victorian London, where Gray and Carter trained at St. George’s Hospital, and the sunnier classrooms of a West Coast university filled with athletic physical therapists in training, where he enrolls in anatomy classes and discovers that "when done well, dissection is very pleasing aesthetically."


Hamlet: A Novel
by John Marsden
Candlewick Press | 9780763644512 | $16.99 | Aug 2009

The prolific YA author (fresh movie news on his best book: Yesterday, When The War Began) turns his eye on Shakespeare's Hamlet, and brings it to life in a new way for younger teen readers who might not be ready to handle the full complexity of the original language.

Set in a nebulous time, somewhere between Shakespeare's time and the modern era, Hamlet and his friends play soccer on Elsinore's grounds yet when the plot calls for a nice long trip to England for Hamlet and the treacherous Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they go by sea.

The POV moves restlessly among the main players - Hamlet, his best friend Horatio, his mother Gertrude, his uncle and the new king Claudius, Ophelia - and their internal voices give new readers helpful insight into the tricky plotting.

Readers who have read Hamlet before or seen it performed will appreciate the way Marsden maneuvers his characters into place for the key set pieces but keeps things fresh with inventive descriptive language, showing us a new side of Elsinore.


Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art:
Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum
by Rudd Priem
Douglas & McIntyre (PGW) | 9781553654711 | $39.95 | Sept 2009

Lastly, dive into an exploration of the Golden Age of Dutch Art - the 17th Century. Full color art throughout the book - over 200 images! - bring this era to life again. This book is the catalog for an exhibition that's currently at the Vancouver Art Gallery through September 13.

Banking and the first truly global trade routes generated staggering levels of new wealth that, coupled with political and religious freedom, created a vibrant atmosphere in which the arts flourished... This sumptuous book features Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other Golden Age greats, along with a selection of fine Delft pottery, glassware, and silver that attests to the luxurious refinement of the era.

The art is on loan from the epic collections of The Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands while the museum continues to undergo a massive modernization.


If you've got any more skull-covered book suggestions for a Fall display, post them in the comments!


>> Belluvue Literary Press is on Facebook and their Web site can be found here.

>> Candlewick Press is here on the web. A glance at their site reminded me that I need to write something about my favorite book from their Spring 2009 list, the "Ocean's 11 for Kids" caper, The Dunderheads. Until then, check it out here. Download the Fall 2009 catalog here.

>> Douglas & McIntyre is a Canadian publisher & distributor of authors as diverse as David Suzuki, Emily Carr, and (in Canada) Ishmael Beah and Douglas Coupland. Their catalog is available to download here and you can find them represented on Twitter by Emi here and Alison here.

DISCLAIMER: This post features books from publisher(s) that I represent BUT the point of this blog is to talk about books that I think you should know about, so just take it as a given that in the back of my mind, it has been my secret plan all along to make you want to buy them.