Monday, June 10, 2013

Reporting from Book Central

The calm before the storm--Wendi and I waiting
for the gates to open at the Book Expo 
After three days of rushing and waiting and carrying and sorting at BEA, I am now living amidst piles of books.  The official count is 142 additions to my library--and I left at least half as many behind in the shipping area that I picked up along the way for consideration.  I draw the line at shipping two boxes of books home.  (At a cost of $75 per box, it's well worth it but I try not to go too crazy.)  Now the question comes:  What to do with all these books???

Some of the books were selected with a particular recipient in mind.  Andrea got a signed copy of Larry Kane's When They Were Boys, a book about the Beatles.  (She is a Beatles fan from way back.  Once when we were in London we went on a great Beatles walking tour, but that's a story for another day.)   Jay got a copy of The Billionaire and the Mechanic:  How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed Up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, The Americas Cup.  (How fitting that as I write this he's crewing on an offshore race from Baltimore to Newport.  There's a reason I refer to him now as Popeye the Sailor Man.)  And my family will share the loads of thrillers that I came home with.

Having had a chance to survey my new reading material, I thought I'd share a few titles that I'm looking forward to reading.

 --This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.  Patchett's Bel Canto is one of my favorite books of all time. so I am always excited when I hear that she has a new book out   Her latest work is a collection of personal essays on topics ranging from her marriages to her childhood to opening a bookstore to writing.  I'm not quite sure what to expect, but that's half the fun.

--The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  Simon & Schuster was pushing The Rosie Project hard this year at BEA.  They even had an ice cream social to celebrate the book.  (Yes, in addition to all the books, there are sometimes eating and drinking opportunities.  I quite enjoyed my Haagen Dazs ice cream bar!)   This debut novel tells the story of Don, a genetics professor who, while brilliant, is lacking in social skills.  He comes up with the idea of engaging in a scientific experiment of sorts to find a mate which he calls the Wife Project.   Rosie is on a quest of her own as she looks for her biological father. (You got it--the Father Project.)   Don and Rosie's paths cross and I'm thinking that they are going to end up living happily ever after.  I've been wrong before, though, especially when it comes to the happily ever after part.

--The Center of the World by Thomas van Essen.  This novel alternates between two stories.  The first involves British painter J.M.W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers; the second involves the discovery of a powerful painting by Turner called "The Center of the World" which is a "mesmerizing and unsettling" portrait of Helen of Troy that is wildly erotic.  Again, I have no idea what to expect but I like the art angle and, if well done, I enjoy the alternating story structure.

--Want Not by Jonathan Miles.  I didn't read Miles' Dear American Airlines but it got rave reviews.  Since I am apparently too lazy to get to the library to check it out, I'll start with Miles' second book instead.  It tells the tale of a "freegan couple living off the grid in Manhattan, a once-prominent linguist struggling with midlife and a NJ debt collection magnate with a second chance at getting things right."  (In case you're wondering, "freegans" are basically dumpster divers.  I had to look it up.)  I am highly curious how Miles will bring these disparate characters together into a cohesive story about looking for fulfillment.

--Local Souls by Allan Gurganus.  Again, I didn't read Gurganus' prior book Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (which came out ten years ago--time flies!)  Local Souls is "three linked, darkly funny novellas...charting the old habits--adultery, obsession, incest--still at large in his New South." I am intrigued mostly because Gurganus was signing at BEA and he is an old Southern gentleman, complete with a seersucker suit and a hat.  He apparently has some dark thoughts rattling around in that brain of his, though.  Appearances can be deceiving.

In the meantime, I've finished Laura Lippman's When She Was Good (now out in paperback), and it was a smart quick read about a suburban madam.  And I'm halfway through The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd, which is a beautifully written story of the interwoven lives of a landlady and her tenants in a Brooklyn brownstone.  So many books, so little time!

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