Liz and Gianna are two of a dying breed--traveling sales reps for book publishers--who sell books in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and the Deep South. Since we're constantly on the road hawking books, we must find ways to amuse ourselves. So here we've decided to share our anecdotes, adventures, favorite books, and efforts in making the world (or at least these few states) a more literate place to inhabit.
I don't know how Gianna feels about the remaining books on her list as we count down to #1, but from here on out, I feel like any of my books were, at some point during the year, my favorite. It's been a great year for books.
Lime Creek is a slight book--it comes in at under one hundred
and fifty pages--but oh what a hundred and fifty pages they are.
Set on a horse ranch in Wyoming, these eight connected
stories touch on familiar themes such as the complicated relationships between
fathers and sons, their relationship to the land, to their mother/wife, and of
course their relationship to the horses which are their lifeblood. It's certainly
for fans of Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories but also for Larry
McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy fans. These stories are lyrical, mature, complicated, and stay with you.
Although Joe Henry is a well-known songwriter (Sinatra, John
Denver, and Emmylou Harris just to name a few), it would seem that this may be
his true love. Graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (one teacher was
Vonnegut and one classmate was John Irving), Henry writes by hand, in pencil.
He then types revisions on an old typewriter. No computer (no cell phone either
by the way). [Tell me he's single!] Because he is more of a recluse than not, rumors surrounding
Lime Creek have been circulating for years. Some say he has been working the
stories for decades, other rumors say this is a small taste of what Henry has
finished; it's just he never had an interest in publishing. Funny how things
turn out, Lime Creek sparked a bidding war between ten publishing houses with
Random House the winner.
Often when we're learning about the books we'll eventually sell, we look for comparisons. This book is like The Da Vinci Code, this book is like Eat, Pray, Love, this book is like The Devil in the White City. The comps are ubiquitous and come fast and furious; often they are useful, if sometimes annoying. It makes sense that if I like The Handmaid's Tale, you'll like Never Let Me Go, and the web of interconnected books can be an exciting way to read. But then there's the book that doesn't easily fit into a category. That's Moondogs.
As a colleague of mine succinctly stated, Moondogs is about amorality in the Philippines. True. Why I love it, though, is that it's a tale about amorality in the Philippines that involves a blind, cockfighting rooster named Kelog (after the rooster on the Corn Flakes box), two idiot kidnappers, fathers and sons, infidelities, and what's basically a superhero G squad. In a word, it's awesome.
Alexander Yates, are you single?
Let's set it up: a US businessman working in the Philippines and estranged from his adult son is kidnapped by two taxi drivers, one of whom owns the incredible Kelog. The kidnapping occurs the day before his son is coming to visit, reconcile with his father, and go scuba diving. The cab driving, cockfighting doofuses scramble to find a mosque that would be interested in buying a US businessman for ransom/hostage. In the meantime, there is a police squad of warriors with supernatural powers racing to find the captured American. One of the members of the superforce is a young man who grew up orphaned, a lost boy, who has the ability to visualize a target--no matter how far away--and nail it. He's the world's greatest assassin. Ironically, this guy, he's perhaps the most moral character in the book.
I loved the challenge of selling Moondogs to my stores, and some of my booksellers really took to it. It's well-written, complex, philosophically challenging, and as I said earlier, awesome. It's not for everyone, but the people who get this book really love it.