Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Big day in the world of books

When I did my usual first-thing-in-the-morning run through my email and Facebook this morning I thought to myself that the world of books was really alive with news.

Let me begin with the event that caused few ripples in that world but was a major celebration for me: Saving Grace is now available in print and digital from Amazon and in digital form from several other platforms. I know some people labor for years over one book—I can’t quite claim that. Almost two years ago I wrote twenty-thousand words about a young woman who was assistant to a TV chef in Chicago. I put it aside, I suspect because the contract for The Second Battle of the Alamo came through.

Last April, frustrated with quarantine and the temporary closing of my western publisher, which meant I had no projects, I picked up Irene’s story again. (Really it’s Henny’s story.) Whichever, it struck me as not too bad, and thereafter I wrote daily until I found myself at the end of a convoluted mystery, all told by Henny.

Here’s what my longtime friend and mentor, Fred Erisman, said about the novel: “It's beignets versus bagels when Julia Child wannabe Chef Irene and her loyal gofer [JA1] Henrietta ("Henny" to her friends) cross ladles over the contents of a planned cookbook. What follows is a nicely convoluted murder mystery and a glorification of America's diverse cuisines, played out against the attractions of a lovingly drawn Chicago.—Fred Erisman, In Their Own Words: Forgotten Women Pilots of Early Aviation.

And here’s the Amazon order link:

Today I announced the book several places but most thoroughly on the blog known as Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. You can read about Henny and Irene as they stir a stew of murder, kidnapping, and French gossip—and you get a free recipe for Hamburger Stroganoff. Irene called it peasant food, but Henny and I like it a lot.

Other books also caught my eye this morning: One, featured in a special Shelf Awareness email was Outlawed by Anne North. How can y ou resist a first line like this: “In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.” Yes, it’s a western but so different—a Feminist take on Etta Place and the Hole in the Wall Gang. Set in an alternate-historical setting—the U.S. government has collapsed and in its place are Independent Towns West of the Mississippi-- with a determined and almost fearless heroine, the novel touches on such themes as the politics of infertility and gender identity. Read more about it here:

 In 2002 (I think) Leisure Books published my historical novel about Etta Place, Sundance, Butch, and Me. It was and is nowhere as inventive as North’s version—the wildest assumption I made was a long-term attraction between Etta and Butch. At the time I thought sticking to the facts of her story was bizarre enough, but now I’m anxious to read what Anne North has done with the material.

When I turned to the daily column of Shelf Awareness, an online newsletter 

for booksellers, I found a lengthy piece on an interview with controversial fighter for equality, Reverend Al Sharpton. I have never been sure what I thought about Sharpton—a troublemaker? A publicity-hound? A sincere fighter for racial equality? A devout man of God? I came away from this article with respect for his sincerity. Sharpton’s had a long career and was set to retire just about when trump was elected. He recalled saying to himself, “Wait a minute … I better rethink that. A lot of what we fought for is at stake.” He praised booksellers, saying they are in a unique position to help our country make major changes.

Sharpton’s new book is Rise Up: A Country at the Crossroads. Read about the interview here:

So many books, so little time!


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