Saturday, June 09, 2012
I've been to BEA for most of the last decade -- I was too junior, and at a company entirely separated from the bookstore market, for the first decade of my career to get a BEA badge then -- but this year was the first time I was officially given booth duties. (In fact, in my prior few Wiley years, I was specifically warned not to spend much time in the booth, for fear of clogging it up and stopping the paying customers from getting what they need.)
If you know anything at all about BEA, you know that it has two essential activities: schmoozing  and grabbing free advance copies of upcoming books. I did a bit of the first, seeing old work pals, former contacts, still-current friends, and even a couple of authors. (I'll refrain from name dropping, because you don't care.) And I did my fair share of the latter, too, after a couple of years where the big houses seemed to be trying to switch over to digital download codes. (Or maybe I was just there at opening on Wednesday, for the first time ever -- BEA has always previously been a half-day visit for me, usually in the afternoon -- since that's when I got a lot of this stuff.)
Since this blog has lately devolved to primarily lists of books sitting in front of me, let me tell you about what I found, organized by increasing physical trim size of those books (since that makes a neater stack):
Drama is the new graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, following up the Eisner-winning (on top of several other major accolades) Smile, which I reviewed here appreciatively some time ago. Drama does not appear to be a memoir, as Smile was -- the main character is named Callie, for one thing -- so I think this is the fictional story of one middle-schooler, her role in a school play, and her nascent love-life. It's coming from Scholastic in September -- by the way, Scholastic had a great giveaway setup, with tables on either side of one end of their bowling-alley booth where different things appeared regularly over the course of the show.
Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us is a joke book, more or less, from Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, and Mary Ann Zoellner. All four of them are high-powered New-York-type writers and moms; just from flipping through it, it seems to be heavily about fancy drinks and mani/pedi/hair issues, which the moms I know -- none of whom I'd call "sh*tty," though I'd think they'd be the audience for a humorous parenting manual -- don't care all that much about. So this is for a particular, urban, terribly hip kind of self-conscious mom, who doesn't live up to her unrealistic expectations of perfection in motherhood (as she probably doesn't live up to her unrealistic expectations of perfection any other ways). But it looks funny, it was free, and it's called Sh*tty Mom, so I had to grab it. (It also is barely 60 pages long, so each of the four authors didn't have to do too much work before getting back to their spa weekends and skinny margaritas.) This one's from Abrams Image, also coming in September.
The Last Dragonslayer; it came out in the UK a couple of years back, and I've been vaguely looking for it since then. Harcourt is finally going to publish it here in September -- as the first of what I think is turning into a series, and now I finally have it. It's pure fantasy in a way his books for adults haven't been, set in one of those worlds where magic was once strong and is now ebbing -- though Big Magic may be around the corner.
I spent about five years working on a book club about hunting and fishing -- despite not being a hunter or fisherman at all, and, in fact, not being more than mildly fond of the Great Outdoors to begin with -- and that still burbles up in odd ways. For example, I got a copy of Eating Aliens: One Man's Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species, a book about hunting and then eating various invasive species in the US by Jackson Landers, whose prior works include the very apropos The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food. It's from Storey Publishing -- which I dealt with, back in my Outdoorsman's Edge days -- and is yet another book coming in September.
Albert of Adelaide is a first novel -- from the middle-aged New Mexico immigration lawyer Howard Anderson -- being published by the epitome of the "do only a few books, but Do Them Big" publishing strategy, Hachette's Twelve imprint. So it's mildly surprising to see that it looks deeply odd: a fabulist, fantastic story about the title character, a talking platypus looking for the fabled "Old Australia." It's out in July.
Almost the only thing I waited on line to have signed -- aside for a couple of books for my younger son, Thing 2 -- was Ian McEwan's upcoming novel Sweet Tooth, a '70s-set espionage novel, and that was mostly because I couldn't see any easy way to just get the book and avoid the signature. (I really don't see the point of cattle-call signatures -- if a writer you know signs a book to you because she knows you, that's one thing, but standing on line with a hundred other people doesn't make the resulting signature anything but another mass-produced object.) Anyway, this is from Nan A. Talese Books, and is coming in mid-November.
Turn of the Century for the last decade-plus -- though I should have read it when it came out in 1999, which sadly is no longer possible -- so, instead, I snatched a galley of his new novel True Believers, which is coming from Random House in July. I'm afraid it's yet another novel about the 1960s from someone who was young then, but I'll try not to hold that against him.
Mark Helprin is back with another one of his far-spaced, gigantic novels -- this one is named In Sunlight and in Shadow, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish it in October. I don't believe I've managed to read a Helprin novel other than his magnificent, luminous, majestic Winter's Tale despite meaning to read several of them (notably A Soldier of the Great War, which I had a hardcover copy of for around a decade), but perhaps this time will be the charm. This novel doesn't appear to have any fantastic elements; it's the story of a young man just returned from WWII and the rich woman who falls in love with him.
Economix: How and Why Our Economy Works (and Doesn't Work), in Words and Pictures is a graphic novel explaining how the economy works, written by Michael Goodwin with art by Dan E. Burr. It looks to be very much in the tradition of Larry Gonick's nonfiction comics -- both in style and in political tone -- which is good for those of us who can't get enough pure Gonick from the source. This is a finished book, so I think it's already available -- and it's published by Abrams ComicArts.
Jonathan Tropper's last novel was the bestseller This Is Where I Leave You (which I actually read and reviewed here), so his name was familiar when I saw the big stack of his new book One Last Thing Before I Go. I believe this is another novel of suburban anomie featuring privileged white men who aren't quite as rich and successful as they'd like to be -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- and their dysfunctional families, including pregnant daughters and far-too-happy ex-wives. Dutton will publish it in August.
America, You Sexy Bitch came with a button -- reading "you sexy bitch," naturally -- which was a pretty bad reason to wait in line to get it signed by authors Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain, but it's too late to go back on that now. MIB is a comedian and actor, and MMCC is a professional Republican (her father ran for President a couple of times, so it's in her blood), so of course their book is about riding an RV across the country to either find America or argue about it. I'm not sure which one the book ended up being; we'll all have to find out. It's from Da Capo, and it's probably already published, since it's a real hardcover and everything.
Prince of the Elves. (See my reviews of the earlier books.) It's another book from Scholastic -- if I'd managed to get a copy of the new "Captain Underpants" book, I would be proclaiming them the greatest publisher in the history of the universe -- and is coming, like so much else, in September.
I also grabbed a few things for the aforementioned Thing 2: a teaser with the first 150-ish pages of the new Artemis Fowl book, a signed copy of Brandon Mull's new Candy Shop War sequel, another YA fantasy from the same publisher because the author was signing right before Mull would, and probably another book or two I'm forgetting.
I did not manage to snag a copy of the new Lemony Snicket book, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, let alone get the super-cool package with a "briefcase" of important documents. This is partially because the line was immensely long, and partly because I actually did have booth duties, and couldn't just hang around all day nabbing stuff. Boo hoo. I can wait until the real book comes out, unless some publicist takes pity on me -- or notes my love for the "Series of Unfortunate Events" series -- and shoots me a copy of it. (I'm not holding my breath.)
Otherwise, BEA was unremarkable: some hours of standing in a booth, chatting with colleagues, helping out various passers-by, and waiting for the minutes to pass; some time wandering the floor, looking at things and making mental notes; and a pleasant hour or so at the Baen party down in the basement on Tuesday evening. It was a trade show, but a decent one.
 Usually disguised as "business discussions."