Daily Archives: May 25, 2010

Book Expo: May 24, 2010

Monday marked the first official “happenings” for the Book Expo and Book Blogger Convention.

Kip and I headed over to the Flat Iron Building in Chelsea for a tour of Bloomsbury Publishing at 10:30. Michelle Blankenship, Associate Director of Publicity, and Peter Miller, Director of Publicity, spent about an hour with us answering questions about publishing, and asking us questions related to blogging as a marketing tool for publishers. It was a small showing of bloggers including Rachel at Home Between Pages, Gaby at Starting Fresh, Angela at Dark Faerie Tales, and Tania at Literary Cravings…but I think in some ways that was a benefit to those of us there. Some high points of the discussion:

  • Bloomsbury has found that creating “buzz” about a book three to four months ahead of the publication date boosts sales. Buzz might including providing ticklers of the book (for example, showcasing the book as part of memes like Mailbox Monday), and chatty posts highlighting the book.
  • Publishers are interested to know the best way to approach bloggers with ARCs or review books. Bloomsbury (and probably most other publishers) can add a blogger to their mailing lists for catalogs of upcoming new releases so that a blogger can request a book they might like to cover vs. getting unsolicited pitches for books.
  • Another interesting question: Do you prefer getting books direct from authors, or would you prefer to deal directly with a publicist. In our small group, the consensus was we preferred receiving books from publicists (for me, this is preferred because I think it is easier to be honest in a review of a book I might not have loved).

We had a tour of the Bloomsbury offices and met all the people who are responsible for making sure readers get the books in their hands! And, indeed, we managed to pick up a few books for our TBR shelves:

Chef, by Jaspreet Singh

Mrs. Tim of the Regiment, by D.E. Stevenson

The Brontes Went to Woolworths, by Rachel Ferguson

A Kid for Two Farthings, by W0lf Mankowitz

Love’s Shadow, by Ada Leverson

After touring at Bloomsbury, we traveled to another part of the Flat Iron Building and met up with James Meader, Director of Publicity, at Picador who popped a couple of bottles of champagne and poured each of us a mimosa before introducing us to the very friendly publicists of Picador. Very laid back and chatty, this meeting was informative and friendly. Some things you might want to know:

  • The folks at Picador are really interested in what bloggers are doing and what they want to do in terms of book marketing…they asked a lot of questions about giveaways, ARC tours, author posts, and wanted to know about new or innovative approaches bloggers might have to market books.
  • Picador doesn’t just reprint trade paperbacks…they are interested in taking a previously published hardcover and giving it a new twist such as a new or more pertinent cover and a new marketing strategy (and their covers are gorgeous!).

We met in the “book room” and it was a reader’s paradise. A floor to ceiling bookcase (their latest releases) stood on one side of the room, and we were told to pick what we’d like. Here is what I snatched up:

The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg

Blame, by Michelle Huneven

Cost, by Roxana Robinson

Many thanks to the wonderful people at these two publishing houses who welcomed us with open arms and took the time to talk to us and fill our bags with some great books.

Stay tuned for my post-BEA wrap up (next week) and ticklers of all the books mentioned here!

Kip and I caught some lunch over near Greenwich Village, and then made our way to The Strand Bookstore. Wow, this is one terrific bookstore and it ate up about 2 hours of our time. Of course, I could not resist picking up a book. I bought Burmese Lessons, by Karen Connelly for half price (this is the same author who wrote The Lizard Cage, which you might remember…I loved!).

From The Strand, we headed back to our hotel for a little nap and “down time” before leaving to go to the Upper East side of Manhattan to have dinner with Kip’s cousin (who he has not seen for 30 years). We enjoyed a delicious meal, and terrific conversation before making it back to the hotel at around midnight.

In the Wake of the Boatman – Book Review

As soon as he finished showering and straightening up, he fled the apartment. Confused and sickened, he went downtown, and at a bar in Fells Point, he drunkenly contemplated suicide for the first time in his life. What he had done seemed worse than kissing Clyde. He had been a kid back then, but now he was an adult – an adult man who had derived pleasure from dressing up as a woman. He turned and searched the bar. If he could pick a fight with some combustible character, maybe he would be stabbed or shot, and no one would ever guess he was so sick. – from In the Wake of the Boatman, page 110 –

Puttnam (“Putt”) Douglas Steward has grown up in the shadow of a father who emotionally abuses his son to accommodate his own identity crisis. Carl Steward wants to fight in a war, but can’t because of a trick knee; he repeatedly builds boats which sink when placed on the water; he loves Puttnam, but also has expectations of him which the boy can never meet. Carl feels disappointment in Putt from his infancy onward.

[…] Carl had questions about the baby. He scrutinized him from the corners of his eyes. A single whimper and he interpreted it as a horrible sign his son lacked something inside. – from In the Wake of the Boatman, page 4 –

So it is not surprising when Puttnam struggles with his own identity as he matures from a young boy into man. In the Wake of the Boatman is about that struggle. Putt attends college at the school from which his father never graduated (a slight which Carl believes is done on purpose to further embarrass him). Once in college (on an ROTC scholarship), Putt has a sexual encounter with another man which terrifies him. He compensates by plunging fully into his military role and volunteering to go to Vietnam. Putt’s search for his identity is often painful, but also tender. Putt begins finding joy in dressing as a woman – a secret fantasy which repulses him as much as it brings him sexual pleasure and leads him to consider suicide (if not by his own hand, then by placing himself in dangerous situations such as the war).

Jonathon Fuqua fully develops Puttnam, a character who fears rejection not only from his demanding father, but from his sister Mary and best friend Milton. The tension and conflict in the novel are Putt’s internal struggles to accept himself and learn to trust those who love him. The novel explores the idea of nature vs. nurture in human sexuality, and opens the door for further discussions about alternative lifestyles. Puttnam is a character who readers will empathize with as he searches for a true understanding of himself.

I found the writing to be a bit uneven at times in this thoughtful novel. Fuqua’s overuse of adverbs was something that at times distracted me from the story, while at other times I was swept up in the gorgeous descriptive paragraphs and pithy dialogue. Where Fuqua excels is in his understanding of the characters’ motivations, fears and dilemmas. Carl is a destructive father, one who consistently hurts his only son, and yet I found myself feeling sorrow for the character and wanting Putt to find forgiveness for him.

In the Wake of the Boatman is literary fiction which may polarize readers due to its subject matter. But, it will also allow readers to gain a better understanding of those who are labeled “different” by society and perhaps foster acceptance of those differences.

Jonathon Scott Fuqua is an award winning author of YA literature, as well as the Alex Award winning novel The Reappearance of Sam Webber.

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by Bancroft Press for review on my blog.