The August Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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Here is the full listing of the August 2006 Book Sense Picks, with booksellers' comments, as well as a preview of the month's Notables. Independent booksellers in the Book Sense program will be receiving their August Picks fliers in the July Red Box. (The flier includes jacket images, bibliographic information, and bookseller quotes.)

The August 2006 Book Sense Picks

1. BRIEF ENCOUNTERS WITH CHE GUEVARA: Stories, by Ben Fountain (Ecco, $24.95, 0060885580) "Ben Fountain's stories are absolutely jaw-dropping. The cynical assessment of human nature is so beautifully balanced by the elegance of the writing. The conclusions of his well-orchestrated stories resonate like deep satisfying chords." --Audrey Bullar, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS: A Novel, by Gordon Dahlquist (Bantam, $26, 0385340354) "This Victorian thriller -- with almost 800 pages of action, adventure, and erotic evil -- demands ebullient praise. A professional killer, a disillusioned Germanic officer, and a jilted young lady dash around Victorian England risking their lives, their honor, and their virtue to save the world from the alchemical machinations of an evil cabal. Great fun!" --Lisa Wright, Oblong Books & Music, Millerton, NY

I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, by Nora Ephron (Knopf, $19.95, 0307264556) "This is a laugh-out-loud wonderful book for people of all ages, but especially for women of a certain age. Nora Ephron's reminiscences and current view on life should be read by all. I plan to give it to everyone I know." --Marggie Skinner, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS: A Novel, by Marisha Pessl (Viking, $25.95, 067003777X) "If Dave Eggers and Donna Tart had a literary love child, she would be Marisha Pessl. In this smart first novel, we meet Blue, the lonely daughter of a brilliant and arrogant peripatetic professor. During her senior year of high school, when one of Blue's teachers is murdered, she is forced to examine secrets in her own past." --Stesha Brandon, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

THE ASSASSINS GALLERY: A Novel of Suspense, by David L. Robbins (Bantam, $25, 0553804413) "What if someone had been sent to assassinate President Franklin Roosevelt in 1945? Who would do that, and why? This riveting story is so plausible it shakes my understanding of the history of the times. Readers will be thrilled and fascinated by it." --Diggitt McLaughlin, Good Yarns Bookshop, Hastings on Hudson, NY

THE JUDAS FIELD: A Novel of the Civil War, by Howard Bahr (Holt, $25, 0805067396) "Characters lost on the Civil War battlefield, or lost at home, appear and disappear, shrouded in a fog that holds memories better forgotten, blurring lines between past and present, the living and the dead. Like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Judas Field bares the souls of soldiers and their loved ones in language so beautiful it makes the reader weep, even as it describes the unspeakable carnage of war." --Kathy Ashton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, by Julie Phillips (St. Martin's, $27.95, 0312203853) "Alice Sheldon trekked across Africa with her parents in the 1920s, became an accomplished painter, joined the Women's Army Auxiliary, worked for the CIA, received a Ph.D. in psychology, and married twice. She also had a career as an influential writer of science fiction as James Tiptree. Her complex gender identity and sexual orientation is utterly fascinating, as is her remarkable life, which is made all the more vivid in this rich biography." --Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books, Saint Louis, MO

RESURRECTION: A Novel, by Tucker Malarkey (Riverhead, $24.95, 159448919X) "Two mysterious packets arrive at the London home of nurse, Gemma Bastian. The sender is her archeologist father in Egypt. One week later, Gemma receives word of his death. Arriving in post-World War II Cairo, Gemma questions beget only more questions. At the center is the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gospels and her father's desire to bring the long-lost gospels to light. Fans of Maisie Dobbs will love Gemma Bastian and this richly detailed, well-paced novel." --Peg Patton, Front Street Book Shop, Scituate Harbor, MA

TALK TALK, by T.C. Boyle (Viking, $25.95, 0670037702) "In Talk Talk Boyle explores identity, and how it can be stolen in the cyber-age, through the story of Dana, a deaf schoolteacher, whose identity is stolen by a career criminal. Boyle's writing is as taut as ever, and his latest explores how the deaf perceive the world, and how all of us are caught up in this increasingly overwhelming, and sometimes confusing, swirl that is the 21st-century world." --Mike Dixon, Bayboro Books, St. Petersburg, FL

THE PRISONER OF GUANTÁNAMO: A Novel, by Dan Fesperman (Knopf, $24, 1400044669) "Drawing on his years of experience as a foreign correspondent, Fesperman has always done a tremendous job of making a place and time vividly come to life in his novels. His latest thriller is true to form, as it takes us into the politically charged world of prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A riveting read full of surprises." --Richard Bennett, Shiretown Books, Woodstock, VT

THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING: A Novel, by Alaa Al Aswany (Harper Perennial, $13.95 paper, 0060878134) "Aswany has woven for us a lush, rich tapestry of modern day Egyptians. Their struggles with religion, culture, sexuality, and class explode into inevitable and sometimes surprising endings. This beautiful novel is both alluringly foreign and captivatingly familiar." --Stacie Williams, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Milwaukee, WI

THREE DAYS TO NEVER: a Novel, by Tim Powers (Morrow, $25.95, 0380976536) "Fans of Tim Powers will find some familiar elements here: political intrigue and supernatural shenanigans. But what really make this book stand out are the marvelous characterizations. Your heart races as the web surrounding the father and daughter at the center of the story draws in closer and closer. A taut, lean thriller -- one that kept me riveted from the first page to the last." --Neil Rajala, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

MY HALF OF THE SKY: A Novel, by Jana McBurney-Lin (Komenar, $24.95, 0977208117) "Though the culture in contemporary China is quite different from our own, family issues are universal. This is a powerful and moving coming-of-age story, and readers will cheer Li Hui on in hope that she finds her way as she attempts to 'hold up her half of the sky' while being a respectful and dutiful daughter." --Keri Holmes, The Kaleidescope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

SACCO AND VANZETTI MUST DIE!, by Mark Binelli (Dalkey Archive, $14.95 paper, 1564784452) "This is a genre-bending, pop-culture referencing, intellectually challenging, roller coaster alternate history, with slapstick. The Sacco and Vanzetti of the title are not exactly the Italian anarchists executed after a famously xenophobic trial in the 1920s, but rather an early film comedy team in the style of Abbott and Costello, and the story unfolds in movie scenes, interviews, and historical asides. A first-time novelist to watch!" --Jessica Stockton, McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York, NY

SKINNY DIPPING IN THE LAKE OF THE DEAD: Stories, by Alan DeNiro (Small Beer Press, $16 paper, 1931520178) "This is a great debut collection of loopy, off-the-wall, and still-somehow-packing-emotional-weight stories; DeNiro can weld words into some mighty strange configurations." --Caleb Wilson, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Nashville, TN

HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA, by Marta Acosta (Pocket, $13 paper, 1416520384) "Milagro de los Santos hadn't planned on a stretch in the country with her new, um, friends, but there she is. Hiding out from an ex-boyfriend with an axe to grind she spends her time learning how to be a civilized vampire. Breezy and funny, Milagro and her problems are just the ticket for a slow day and a glass or two of ... wine." --Russ Harvey, Cody's Books, Berkeley, CA

AGAINST A CRIMSON SKY: A Novel, by James Conroyd Martin (Thomas Dunne, $24.95, 03123 26823) "An enticing blend of history and fiction set in 19th-century Poland, with characters you come to care about as you share their joys and disappointments. James Conroyd Martin will please readers who might not usually consider historical fiction." --Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

SECOND BURIAL FOR A BLACK PRINCE: A Mystery, by Andrew Nugent (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 0312327617) "In Dublin's close-knit Little Africa, 23-year-old Jude Ekemauche Okafor, a Nigerian of the Igbo tribe, has recently arrived to join his older brother, Shadrack. When Shadrack is murdered in a particularly brutal way -- he is left in a ditch to die of blood loss after someone has amputated his leg -- the police are left with no leads. Andrew Nugent, who was formerly a missionary in Africa, brings the inhabitants of Little Africa to life in this highly recommended mystery." --Karen Spengler, I Love A Mystery, Mission, KS

MICROTHRILLS: True Stories From a Life of Small Highs, by Wendy Spero (Hudson Street, $21.95, 1594630194) "Spero is a stand-up comic, and a former knife salesman. (There's a picture in her new memoir to prove it.) She is also an absolutely hilarious 30-something woman who cares nothing about her calorie intake, just her collection of stuffed animals." --Melissa Lion, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA

THE TENDER BAR: A Memoir, by J.R. Moehringer (Hyperion, $14.95 paper, 0786888768) "This exquisite memoir is about so much more than a boy's attraction to both the Long Island neighborhood tavern where his uncle tends bar and its regulars. Moehringer writes about how and where we find community and grow into our own true selves." --Carla Jimenez, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

The August 2006 Notables Preview


THE BIG HAPPY, by Scott Mebus (Miramax, $23.95, 1401352561)
THE CLEANSING, by George Rabasa (Permanent, $26, 1579621309)
DUCHESS: A Novel of Sarah Churchill, by Susan Holloway Scott
(NAL, $14 paper, 0451218558)
THE END OF CALIFORNIA, by Steve Yarbrough (Knopf, $23.95, 1400044383)
EVERY VISIBLE THING, by Lisa Carey (Morrow, $24.95, 0066212898)
GRIEF, by Andrew Holleran (Hyperion, $19.95, 1401302505)
THE KEEP, by Jennifer Egan (Knopf, $23.95, 1400043921)
THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, by Scott Lynch (Spectra, $23, 0553804677)
LORD BYRON'S NOVEL: The Evening Land, by John Crowley (Harper Perennial, $15.95 paper, 0060556595)
ONE MISSISSIPPI, by Mark Childress (Little, Brown, $24.99, 0316012114)
A SOUND LIKE THUNDER, by Sonny Brewer (Ballantine, $23.95, 0345476336)
TRIANGLE, by Katharine Weber (FSG, $23, 0374281424)
TULLE LITTLE, TULLE LATE, by Kimberly Llewellyn (Berkley, $14 paper, 0425211320)
WALTZING AT THE PIGGLY WIGGLY, by Robert Dalby (Putnam, $21.95, 0399153675)


FRIENDSHIP: An Expose, by Joseph Epstein (Houghton, $24, 0618341498)
MISS AMERICAN PIE: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing up in the '70s, by Margaret Sartor (Bloomsbury, $19.95, 1596912006)
PIANO: The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand, by James Barron
(Times Books, $24, 0805078789)


MURDER IN JERUSALEM: A Michael Ohayon Mystery, by Batya Gur (HarperCollins, $24.95, 0060852933)
SEQUENCE, by Lori Andrews (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 0312352700)
SNAPSHOT, by Garry Disher (Soho, $23, 1569474265)

To celebrate Mark Binelli's SACCO AND VANZETTI MUST DIE! being an August Book Sense Pick, Dalkey Archive Press is offering a 50% discount on any orders placed with them by July 31st. This debut novel from Mark Binelli -- who is also a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, and is most well-known as an object of Britney Spears's hatred -- is an inventive reimagining of Sacco and Vanzetti as popular slapstick comedians. As Ben Marcus says, this is "a novel unlike anything I've read before. A brilliant, hilarious book ... " To take advantage of this special 50% discount either e-mail Ted McDermott at [email protected], or call him at (309) 438-7555.