Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Expo- continued

Among the many intriguing titles from Knopf this fall are V.S. Naipaul's "Masque of Africa' where he mostlikely, (as he did in "Among the Believers" and his volumes on India,)will savage the belief in animism, Christianity, Islam, the cult of leadership and mythology. His "travel" tomes are every bit as, if not more engaging than his brilliant fictional portraits, and leave an indelible imprint in the minds of even the most cynical as well as thoughtful observers of the interplay between local culture and the global mise en scene.
Then there is another novel from Tom McCarthy, following his "Remainder" as well as Thomas Power's "The Killimg of Crazy Horse" We hope to read and review at length the three of these soon.

Notwithstanding the conglomeratization of publishing, it is plain that Random House continues, through its various imprints, including Doubleday, Crown, and Pantheon, to bring out high quality product. The fact that an author as talented as David Mitchell (his The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet comes out next month)continues to publish with RH is itself a shot in the arm for sustained literary success in American trade book publishing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Bookshop, Book Expo and Other Tales of Inspiration

Rumors of the death of independent bookselling are not quite being borne out by developments. Last month, at 66 Avenue A, there opened a brand new used bookshop selling high quality titles. We visited there Saturday night- it has yet to be titled, and were impressed with the clean layout as well as the emphasis on photographic, film and art books, along with a good selection of fiction,poetry, and cult crit. et al. Brian, the owner, previously worked at Mercer St Books, and has assembled a first rate collection of very reasonably priced materials.
This is a terrific addition to a neighborhood already crawling with intelligent upscale people who can easily afford to keep an establishment of this quality in business for a long long time( we hope we hope we hope).

The emphasis on photography, by the way, reminds me again of the brilliant photographic bookstore Dashwood Books, open now a few years , which specializes in imports of wonderful (often signed) photographic works, and occupies a niche in the upper echelons of photographic book collecting, which has become a sport for the rich in the last few years.
A totally different and wonderful store where one views titles from Europe and Japan, and then can go down the street from the store at 33 Bond St to grab lunch at Il Buco,if his or her pocketbook can stand the denting.

Book Expo 2010

Contrary to reports received, BEA was not the disaster that some had expected it to be. Despite the fact that the show only rented the third floor at the Javits Center in New York,and took no space on floor 2, which in past years had housed the children's booksellers, miscellaneous vendors and the traditional autographing, and the fact that the main trade houses have stopped giving out proofs on anything resembling the scale they used to, there was enough pleasure for this reviewer to imbibe, particularly in the areas of small presses and university publishers.

Among the titles we are looking forward to reviewing are ,from Counterpoint, "Are We There Yet:A Zen Journal Through Space and Time by acclaimed naturalist and fiction writer Peter Maryo Matthiessen, who is never mentioned for, but probably deserves the Nobel Prize as much as any other American writer for his multifaried contributions.
Also from the same publisher is "The Etiquette of Freedom and the Practice of the Wild" by Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison.
Inner Traditions has a significant number of provocative titles, including The Pot Book,and"High Society: The Central Role of Mind-Altering Drugs in History,Science and Culture" by Mike Jay.

New Directions is publishing more Bolano- why not- but also bringing out new editions of Pound and Tennessee Williams,Julian Rios' inventive "The House of Ulysses" and a new collection of stories by vastly underappreciated 'Joseph McElroy, whose oeuvre ,from "A Smuggler's Bible" to "Women and Men" is remarkable.Kudos again to Barbara Epler and staff for another great fall list.

And then there is Odyssey House, the Hong-Kong based publisher of armchair and actual scholarly, beautifully illustrated travel books, encompassing wide-ranging discussions of history and culture on some of the most interesting remote areas of the world. Some of their fall new titles include the second edition of Afghanistan, a volume on Oman,Jewel of the Arabian Gulf,one on Iran,and "Asia Overland:Tales of Travel on the Trans-Siberian and Silk Road."This line of books is of the highest quality intellectually and aesthetically and I am looking forward to review allof the volumes.

More forthcoming titles in the next blog later this week.