Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Outlook: PNBA Recap

Last week brought yet another fantastic PNBA show. It's impossible for me to go to these shows and not feel the urge to clear my calendar of all work and social obligations for the next three months so I can lock myself away with these marvelous works of ink on paper. Alas, life won't let me do that, so I must prioritize my book list.

After two and a half days of interviewing sales reps about books' reader appeal, getting swept up in authors' spiels, and sizing up superhuman abilities to sign hundreds of books in mere minutes, I have deemed these books most worthy of the next slots on my reading list:

All About Lulu, by Jonathan Evison
Publishers Weekly says it straight: All About Lulu is "a freakishly charming tale of star-crossed would-be stebsibling love in a family of failed bodybuilders in suburban Los Angeles." I don't admit to being a rubbernecker, but this I just can't miss.

Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain, by Kirsten Menger-Anderson
Kirsten Menger-Anderson has an endearing smile and shy eyes. How could any reader not love this humble manufacturer of our chosen drug? Her story chronicles generations of doctors and each time period's medical breakthroughs--or so they seem at the time. Menger-Anderson's characters call out to be read just as their patients plead for their sanity. I didn't even get a complimentary copy of Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain, which says a lot that I'm willing to buy it when I have so many free books stacked around me.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, by Susan Jane Gilman
With travel expenses the way they are, travel memoirs are my ticket out of my living room. Gilman's adventures lead her and a friend around the world, but not in the simply glamorous way she imagined. Plagued by culture shock (I can relate to that!) and government surveillance (I'd rather not experience that), Gilman's tales are sure to entertain the armchair traveler.

Righting the Mother Tongue
, by David Wolman
I'm sure, no positive, every editor in the conference did a double-take (or is that double take, or doubletake?)--scratch that--gravitated to this title. As people whose jobs are to tame the wild vines of dangling modifiers and evolving spelling rules, how could we not? Wolman, with an innocent look and a comfortably comic nature, promises to entertain us languagelubbers and maybe teach us a thing or two too (er, as well).

Live Through This, by Debra Gwartney
Gwartney has proven her ability to make language sing even as it tells an uncomfortable story. That's what memoir is all about. This memoir recounts her harrowing experience as she searches for her teenage runaway daughters. Dropped into a subculture of violence and drugs, Gwartney is sure to shed light on this dark side of life.

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