3 new arrivals at the my3books loading dock: Chicken Thieves, Blame Accountants & McSweeney's 34

I was opening up some packages this weekend, clearing out some of the mess from a week that included some travel.  I happened to be in the Twin Cities for work meetings, and got to be at Consortium's offices to share some champagne in celebration of their publishers' two Pulitzer Prize winners!

Among the boxes and mailers that were awaiting my return, I found these three books.  Two of them I've been anticipating all season long, and one was a pleasant surprise. 


The Chicken Thief
by Beatrice Rodriguez
Enchanted Lion Books (Consortium) | 9781592700929 | $14.95 | Apr 2010

I wrote about The Chicken Thief earlier this season, and my joy in it.  Now that the finished edition is here from Enchanted Lion Press, I couldn't be more delighted.  It's a delirious chase story with a chicken's life seemingly hanging in the balance, with the entire adventure told wordlessly. 


Office of Blame Accountability
by Geoffrey Cunningham, Carla Repice & The American Public
edited by Gregory Ayres
Loudmouth Press (Consortium) | 9780615289090 | $19.95 | May 2010

A sample OBA blame document1) A document collecting the whiny wisdom of the American people, a chance to individually and collectively point the finger of blame at Someone Else, a protest, an art project.  
2) A hilarious book that brings all of the above together in one place.

Loudmouth Press' web site explains it all for you:

The Office of Blame Accountability (OBA) is an art project taking place on public sidewalks and main streets across the United States. The OBA has travelled to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Ground Zero on the anniversary of 9-11, and Wall Street during the stock market crash.  The ideas that inform OBA stem from isolationism, the growing lack of corporate responsibility, and the increasing economic and social divide between people living in the U.S. ... Since October 2007 the OBA has collected and filed hundreds of blame forms and recorded phone conversations.

You can check out their Facebook fan page to stay apprised of future openings of Office of Blame Accountability locations, and find out about recent developments.


McSweeney's Issue 34
by the Editors of McSweeney's
McSweeney's (PGW) | 9781934781678 | $20 | Apr 2010

Less elaborate than the blockbuster Issue 33 (otherwise known as the one-time-only Sunday paper, the San Francisco Panorama), this vinyl-slipcased edition features two separate volumes.  In one, an epic tale of war reporting by writer Nick McDonell from Iraq, where he traveled with the 1st Cavalry Division.  In the other book, features by the usual suspects: John Hodgman, Sarah Vowell, Julie Klausner, T.C. Boyle, Daniel Handler, and a portfolio of self-portraits by writers, actors, artists and directors.

This volume looks to me like it's well worth your time and attention.  You may admire it in slightly more detail on the McSweeney's site.

As Hodgman frequently says, that is all.

Spring 2010: Chronicle Books' illustrated books

Here's the introduction to the Spring 2010 First Impressions series.

The Art of McSweeney's
By McSweeney's
Chronicle Books | 9780811866231 | $45 | March 2010

Longtime fans of McSweeney's fine products know that there is a crew of passionate, book-loving, word-loving insane people working side-by-side with Dave Eggers behind the scenes to make every issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Believer, Wholphin, and their stand-alone book projects, come out as magically as they do.  I know some of them in a distant-cousin-who-used-to-live-closer-than-they-do-now sort of way, from back when I was a sales rep for PGW, their distributor to bookstores.

When I was sitting in those sales conference meetings and the folks from McSweeney's would come in and pitch their upcoming products to us, describing in maddeningly vague yet tantalizing detail, you couldn't help but be caught up in it.  Possibly my favorite memory of a McSweeney's sales conference was when they described the then-upcoming Issue #22, it of the three separate volumes of poetry-chains, unused F. Scott Fitzgerald story ideas, and current Oulipo experiments.  It went something like this.  They described how there would be three parts, and "well, we're trying to figure out a way to bind each volume into hardcovers with magnets."  Silence.  Then gasps.  Magnets!

And they did it.  They made a book with magnets.

You can learn about that issue of the Concern and more – pick up this inspirational look back at all the amazing creativity that has come out of McSweeney's, an oral history of sorts, with all the players remembering how their favorite projects came to be.

Naturally it's a beautiful object of a book, with dozens of tiny short stories printed on the book jacket.  No magnets that I'm aware of.


Ramayana: Divine Loophole
By Sanjay Patel
Chronicle Books | 9780811871075 | $29.95 | Jan 2010


I first met Sanjay Patel on the Internet.  At the time, I was the above-mentioned PGW sales rep and regular Boing Boing reader.  A Pixar animator, Patel had just put together his own self-published edition of Little India (which eventually became The Little Book of Hindu Deities) and it got a mention on Boing Boing.  I was really interested in how it looked and I ordered a copy from him.  We corresponded briefly about ways to help bring his book to a wider audience, but what happened in the end was that Plume brought out a really charming and beautiful edition of Hindu Deities.

Since then, at least on the book front, there's been silence.  But now, after years of work, Sanjay Patel is back with a wonderfully illustrated retelling of the Ramayana in his own style: Ramayana: Divine Loophole.

Fans of Sita Sings The Blues will definitely find something to love here.


Tiny Art Director: A Toddler and Her Vision
By Bill Zeman
Chronicle Books | 9780811872294 | $14.95 | March 2010

Based on the well-loved blog, this book showcases the parallel development of Bill Zeman's talent as on-demand-illustrator (primarily for his in-house client, his daughter) and her growing skill and imperiousness as a demanding art director. 

The Brief: I want you to draw me a dinosaur! Not a scary one! He's taking a bath. The Critique: I don't like him. Job Status: RejectedBeginning when she was two, Zeman's daughter would give him a brief for a new art assignment, typically involving dinosaurs or crocodiles.  After his piece was complete, she would evaluate his work, frequently with withering disdain, and either accept or reject the work.

Capturing all that is enchanting and frustrating about both parenting and working as an illustrator-for-hire, Tiny Art Director is a fun little book (and still ongoing blog!) with a lot to laugh about.

Hans Weyandt from Micawber's Books picks three books about whales. (And, yes, one of them is quite obvious.)

Welcome back to my3books, everyone!  After the Year-End / Decade-End Opinion Avalanche from every other blogger on the planet, I took some time off from sharing too much online to go out and do my day job, which generally involves a lot of coffee drinking and talking with independent booksellers and other book lovers about new books.  I've been building my strength back up, twittering a few times a day and sharing a link or two on Facebook.  But I'm ready to dive back in and get some great posts up here on my3books.

And as if the fates themselves wanted to confirm that it was time for me to get things flowing again here, I got a fresh submission today from indie bookstore owner Hans Weyandt.  Hans is one of the co-owners of Micawber's Books in St. Paul, MN – a great indie bookstore in a city with a lot of great literary things going on.  One of my favorite things they do?  They shelve all the books from cool publishers' series together – like NYRB Classics or Persephone Books.

The three books that Hans has picked for today's my3books post are all about whales.  Read it here and then go check out their own store blog for more Hans.

by Herman Melville
foreword by Nathaniel Philbrick; cover by Tony Millionaire
Penguin Classics | 9780143105954 | $17 | Oct 2009

As a great scoffer, I generally have a hard time believing in things like kismet or fate. But the reading gods? The reading gods will teach you things. An old friend had to read Moby-Dick for school earlier this winter and asked if I'd join him on the journey. The word epic is overused, well, epically. But this is one. Melville's humor was a shocker to me. And the language pushing you onward and onward. Captain Ahab. The sea. The monster of the deep. I will treasure the experience of finally reading Melville's great novel forever.


The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea
by Philip Hoare
Ecco | 9780061976216 | $27.99 | Jan 2010

A week after finishing I was telling a friend about it and he said, "You know, I have a friend who is an editor at HarperCollins and he says they have a whale book that's just out that is incredible." So I read Philip Hoare's The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea immediately. It would be easy to simply call this natural history or cultural history. But it's much more. It combines myth and folklore with science and family history. The whale occupies a space in human understanding that surpasses all other animals and this book explains why. It also contains gorgeous in-laid art work and it got me wondering, "How do whales lend themselves to such cool art?"


by Jens Hoffmann
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts (dist by DAP) | 9780980205527 | $30 | Mar 2010

Then, just a few days later, I was unpacking boxes and found this gem from the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Jens Hoffmann has compiled an extraordinary collection of Moby Dick-related material. A brief statement at the beginning states, "I have carefully collected whatever I have been able to learn of the story of Ishmael and the great white whale, and here present it to you, knowing that you will thank me for it. To their spirits and characters you cannot refuse your admiration and love; to their fate you will not deny your tears."  This is one of those rare books where price does not even matter--I needed it. From its white and gold stitched cover to the watery blue paper inside to the wild array of related art it is all a wonder. So you see? I did not choose this maritime madness. It was all thrust upon me.



Hans Weyandt is co-owner of Micawber's Books in St. Paul, MN. He actually does read books that have nothing to do with oceans or huge sea mammals. He blogs for the store at micawbers.blogspot.com and has a fairly serious addiction to pho.  He is also in the market for a harpoon. A sweet harpoon.

Micawber's Books can be found here:
2238 Carter Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


my3books' First Impressions for Spring 2010: books for kids from Consortium publishers

Recap: Here's the introduction to the First Impressions series of posts.

Consortium Book Sales & Distribution:  As always, I left this two-day long sales meeting completely overwhelmed with options.  Among the hundreds of new titles that will be coming out from the more than 100 indie publishers that are distributed by Consortium are a couple dozen that I'm very very excited about.

On the Children's and Young Adult side of the catalog (literally - it flips over!), a new publisher joined Consortium for Spring 2010, Enchanted Lion Books.  Two of their picture books are featured below, alongside a graphic novel collection of Trickster tales from Fulcrum Publishing.

The Chicken Thief
by Beatrice Rodriguez
Enchanted Lion Books (Consortium) | 9781592700929 | $14.95 | Apr 2010

Perhaps the sweetest & funniest picture book I've seen in a long time, it's the wordless epic of a fox who snatches a hen from the yard where she lives and runs off with her.  Bear, rabbit and rooster make chase, but after a surprising number of twists in the tale, it's a happy ending for all involved.


The Wild Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster
by Astrid Desbordes
illustrated by Pauline Martin
Enchanted Lion Books (Consortium) | 9781592700936 | $17.95 | May 2010

With understated humor and a very clear line indeed, young readers encounter a graphic novel-format picture book about a Hamster whose interactions with the other animals who are his friends gently illuminate the meaning of life, the life of the mind, and the nature of friendship.  Naturally, it's translated from the French.


Trickster: Native American Tales
edited by Matt Dembicki
Fulcrum Publishing (Consortium) | 9781555917241 | $22.95 | June 2010

More than 20 trickster tales, each retold and illustrated by different Native American storytellers working with selected illustrators.  Here's a sample page from one of the tales, Coyote And The Pebbles.


Consortium on Facebook & on Twitter.  Their Spring catalog can be downloaded in two parts here: Adult & Kids.

my3books' First Impressions for Spring 2010: An Introduction

By way of introduction:

I spent a lot of time in November and December in a series of sales conference meetings with the publishers I represent and with the other sales reps who also represent them around the country.  These sales conferences took place via web conference, by phone conference call, and in person on both coasts and in the middle. The sales rep group I'm a member of added some new publishers to our list for this coming season, and it all added up to the longest, and most intensive, series of sales conferences I can remember.

I've been making notes all along about my favorite new books coming out in Spring 2010.  Some of them I've read all the way through, some I've seen just an excerpt of or sample chapters, and for some I'm going entirely on catalog copy and maybe a few page spreads.  Nevertheless, the books that you'll see featured in this coming series of short posts are the books that I was most excited about at the end of the sales conference process.

As the season progresses, I'll also be putting up more typical long-form posts about some Spring 2010 releases that I'm really excited about.  But it was this process of reading sales kits and reviewing my notes about the Fall 2009 season that caused me to start blogging at my3books in the first place, so I wanted to begin to put up these posts for this coming season.