Thursday, August 14, 2008

FW: The Supercollider - news and reviews from Perseus

Time for another of my periodic round-ups of what it looks like when our books get out there in the world. Let me start with some late information about forthcoming titles, particularly fall books for which review and publicity plans are just coming into focus:

USAToday and “Science Snapshot” columnist Dan Vergano recently interviewed Frank Wilczek about The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces (Basic, 9780465003211). Mr. Wilczek will be quoted and the book will be mentioned in America’s newspaper’s upcoming article about the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But Mr. Vergano couldn’t wait that long to share his excitement about the book -- he featured it in his August 4 round-up of science beach reads, writing: “Don’t worry, the chapters are short, fun and larded with historical points that offer readers the payoff of understanding all the excitement in the scientific world over Europe’s Large Hadron Collider, just getting warmed up in its operations.” The full column is online at:

It was of course a bit unusual this fall for the Basic Books Group to be publishing not one but two works of fiction. But the truth is that both fit very well within Basic’s central mission of publishing serious, readable works on history and matters of current interest. Early buzz is building for Walter Mosley’s first Socrates Fortlow book in over 10 years, The Right Mistake: the Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow (Basic Civitas, 9780465005253), keyed by a starred PW review: “In the face of gangs, drugs, poverty and racism, Mosley poses the deceptively simple question—‘What can I do?—and provides a powerful and moving answer.”

And the other work of fiction on the list – Larry Beinhart’s Salvation Boulevard (Nation, 9781568584119), also got a starred review: “…splendid religious legal thriller.” In fact, the range and pitch of advance praise for this has been bewildering: it’s gotten great blurbs from the likes of Donald Westlake (“intelligent, provocative, often outrageous…it will grip you, from first page to last”), Vincent Bugliosi (“a great and memorable read”), and Robert K. Tannenbaum (“a tempestuous philosophical personal drama that will unquestionably motivate intense discussion, debate and critical thinking”). But above all, remember this as maybe the only book you’ll ever find that gets singing praise from both Episcopal Life (“a high-speed, rip-roaring chase for meaning in these strange times…. If you’re a mainline liberal protestant, I think you’ll shout ‘Amen’”) and – wait for it – Penthouse Magazine (“…a very atypical witches’ brew of sex, religion, hypocrisy, and evil in which the war on terror, is cynically manipulated to subvert America’s basic values”). A lot of folks were nervous about this, but I entreat you to give it another thought. I can probably dig up some more galleys if you’re interested – say the word.

I continue to be optimistic that Farnaz Fassihi’s Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq (PublicAffairs, 9781586484750) will be able to break through the much-cited Iraq fatigue. For starters, consider the advance praise we’ve been getting. Geraldine Brooks does not mince words: “Of all the fine, brave books that have been written about the Iraq debacle, this is the indispensable one. The Wall Street Journal’s outspoken Iraq correspondent, Farnaz Fassihi has a reporter's eye, a humanist's heart, and a fierce identification with the people she was assigned to cover. This is not a book about military tactics or political blunders, but of the effects of these things on ordinary Iraqi lives. Heartbreaking and resonant, Fassihi’s work makes her a worthy successor to the great war correspondent Martha Gellhorn in understanding that ‘War happens to people, one by one.’” “Her descriptions expose much of what is glib and inadequate in our analysis and policy,” says Rory Stewart; and Rajiv Chandresekaran calls it “a fascinating account of life in Iraq that helps us understand why stability there has been so elusive. In her richly textured, deftly written narrative, Fassihi chronicles the shattered dreams of the middle-class Iraqis who welcomed the Americans as liberators, using their stories to illustrate the country's unraveling. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about Iraq and its future.” And Kirkus, notoriously hard to impress, brands it a “highly personal, deeply disturbing report…. Fassihi’s reporting on the bloody conflict between Sunnis and Shiites and of the rival Shiite factions is enlightening, as is the account of her experiences as a Muslim woman working as a journalist in an increasingly fundamentalist society…. Fassihi’s passionate reporting is certain to stir controversy.” Unfortunately, Ms. Fassihi won’t be able to make her planned trip to Portland; she is still committed to extensive media appearances, though. To wit: a first serial in the Wall Street Journal on September 6 will be followed closely by WBUR’s “On Point” September 11, and “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross on the day of publication, September 15.

I hope it’s okay that I keep pointing to starred reviews in PW – they sure are a nice affirmation. Another recipient is Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt, by Joyce Tyldesley (Basic, 9780465009404): “This entertaining biography hits the elusive sweet spot between scholarship and readability…. Writing with an easy mastery of her subject, Tyldesley always seems to be able to lay her hands on the perfect lively detail, whether an excerpt from an obscure bureaucratic document or a description of a kind of giant robot that paraded through the streets of Alexandria pouring libations of milk from a gold bottle. Though she makes it clear we’ll never know what Cleopatra was ‘really’ like, Tyldesley provides a memorable journey through the rich and contradictory sources of our knowledge about her.” We were also pleased (and a bit surprised) to see an early review from Feminist Review: “Tyldesley’s work is surprisingly readable for those of us who are not Egyptologists and historians. It makes the reader feel privy to the exciting battles, intimate moments and private life of the queen…. Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt is one of the best introductions out there.” Ms. Tyldesley will write a cover story about Cleopatra for Natural History Magazine’s October issue.

We’ve gotten some very nice advance praise (although no starred PW, alas) for Mona Lisa in Camelot by Margaret Leslie Davis (Da Capo, 9780738211039), including from LA Times art writer Suzanne Muchnic: “No detail goes unexamined, no gesture unexplored in Margaret Leslie Davis's impassioned account of Mona Lisa's historic journey from France to America. Much more than a story about the travels of a world-famous painting, this is a tale of international diplomacy, personal relationships, cultural symbolism and—most of all—the power of two great ladies.” You may recall my saying that I found this to be an unexpected delight. It will get a first serial in Vanity Fair’s December issue, so hopefully that will drive folks in for it.

I sold it in a long time ago, but please don’t lose sight of Ronald Wright’s What is America?: A Short History of the New World Order (Da Capo, 9780786720972), which should be arriving (after long delay) in the next couple weeks. The recent Kirkus review just confirms me in my sense that this is a book we could do well with out here on the coast: “Through a lens seemingly constructed by Howard Zinn and Jared Diamond, Wright’s oblique take on the past 500 years, a parade of European and American horrors, will not come as news to anyone who’s sat in a high school or college history classroom in the past 40 years. Still, few of those students will have likely heard so charming an analysis of American depredations… An entertaining, highly tendentious account of where we’ve been and where we’re headed.”

John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic, 9780465005154) is another late arrival from the spring season, but also worth the wait. Booklist declared, “As old institutions crumble, there is a need for just this sort of enlightening, commonsensical, and positive guide to digital reality.” Nice advance praise came as well from Howard Gardner (“From now on, any attempt to understand what it is like to grow up or to live one's life in a digital world must begin with the outstanding, original synthesis”) and Lawrence Lessig (“Digital technologies are changing our kids in ways we don't yet understand. This beautifully written book will set the framework for a field that will change that. It is required reading for parents, educators, and anyone who cares about the future”). (Wow, that would be a lot of people….) The authors are scheduled appear on Talk of the Nation, and at Bay Area and Seattle events.

I am Potential: Eight Lessons on Living, Loving, and Reaching Your Dreams, by Patrick Henry Hughes (Da Capo, 9780738212982) “is likely to be the feel-good story of the year,” says Carol Besse of Carmichael’s Books in a recent PW piece. “Patrick Henry Hughes is someone who has become a celebrity for all the right reasons. He is an inspiration to everyone who knows him and will become an inspiration to everyone who reads his book.” Patrick Henry and his father and co-author, Patrick John, will be on the Today Show the week of October 27.

And of course, the time draws near when we unleash Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven: A Gutsy Guide to Becoming One Hot and Healthy Mother! (Running Press, 9780762431052). PW gave the latest title in the franchise by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman a stellar (if not a starred) review: “Characteristically feisty and foul-mouthed … these in-your-face, incisive authors have done their research, exposing a host of health issues related to the use of bovine growth hormone and antibiotics in farm animals. Repeating the mantra ‘you and your baby are what you eat,’ they explain the effects of pesticides in foods (with links to learning disabilities, developmental delays and behavioral disorders), how a high protein diet in pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure, stress and diabetes in the child, and the connection between mercury in fish and birth defects. Insisting that a vegan diet is healthy for both baby and mom (a claim substantiated by the AMA), the authors also include sample menus and vegan tips to satisfy food cravings. Passionately questioning the status quo, Freedman and Barnouin make a compelling case for a vegan pregnancy.” The book will be in stores by late September, and, as usual, there will be a huge publicity blitz. And from what I can tell, there is not a lot out there about vegan pregnancy, so there’s yet another market they might be able to corner (now that they’ve conquered the world of professional athletes).

Bridging between the soon-to-land and already-in-your-store, is Toby Young’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (Da Capo). The movie is coming in October, and Toby Young is already on the hustings promoting. The movie trailer premiered on Entertainment Tonight and The Insider; was featured on and; blogged about on gossip sites like Jossip; and can now be seen on all of the movie sites (Movieweb, AOLMovies, etc.). Mr. Young will also be a guest judge for 3 episodes of Top Chef in November (who thought that would be a good idea?). You’ve got two versions to choose from: the original paperback (9780306812279), or the movie tie-in (9780306816130). I’ve attached a sell-sheet for the latter, so you can see what the cover will look like.

In the spirit of the Olympics (did you see that men’s 4x100 Freestyle Relay? crazy!), let me start in on those books already available with a couple books about China. First, John Man’s The Great Wall: The Extraordinary Story of China’s Wonder of the World (Da Capo, 9780306817441), which got great reviews both in PW (“This engrossing and well-researched history of China’s most famous architectural project whets the reader’s appetite to tread in Man’s footsteps”) and Kirkus (“A learned, lively history of the Great Wall’s evolution that cuts it down to size without diminishing its allure…A shifting, kaleidoscopic portrait—cultural, geopolitical, symbolic—that puts the mighty edifice into perspective…Man presents readers with a Wall for every season, even more awe-inspiring in its workaday clothes than in its romantic garb.”)

And China: Empire of Living Symbols by Cecilia Lindqvist (Da Capo, 9780306816093). This really is a gem, and I don’t think there’s another book like it. I don’t have any recent reviews to share with you, nor any great publicity (although PW did have a small feature about how long it took to get this book in paperback). But here’s the link to its page on our website: Take a gander at the book – if you get it in front of people, they’ll buy it.

Deborah Stone’s reasoned but still passionate argument in favor of an affirmatively engaged government, The Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor? (Nation, 9781568583549) has been getting strong praise from unexpected sources. It’s not surprising that this would get noticed by Bill McKibben -- “We need each other. As this very fine book reminds us, the recent American creed of hyper-individualism is making us less happy and more vulnerable--real solace lies in rebuilding the kind of communities that take care of everyone. Everyone.” But I was impressed that it got reviewed in the August issue of O: The Oprah Magazine: “Stone’s calm, logical, and immensely reassuring book dismantles the standard arguments against a more caring society…and persuades us that acts of charity and social responsibility actually make us stronger as individuals and better citizens of a democracy…when the time comes for our next president to assemble a cabinet, Deborah Stone could be appointed our first Secretary of Compassion.” Now there’s an idea.

Even as the first of the show trials at Gitmo was unwinding, Mahvish Khan was speaking out about the absurd world in which they were set. She made appearances on Talk of the Nation and Your Call with Rose Aguilar, as well as at a number of bookstores up and down our coast, to discuss her book, My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me (PublicAffairs, 9781586484989). Reviews are also assigned in the Utne Reader and Bitch Magazine, and hopefully they will echo the assessment of Jeffrey Rosen in the New York Times Book Review: “Once you know the endings to Khan’s stories, they read like the gripping narratives of the wrongly accused…. Khan captures the bizarre culture of Guantanamo, where lawyers struggle to represent their clients…. Her first-person accounts of detainee abuse by American soldiers are gut-wrenching.… My Guantanamo Diary provides a valuable account of what we can now recognize as one of the most shameful episodes in the war on terror. It is hard to read this book without a growing sense of embarrassment and indignation.”

Lucas Conley recently faced the nation on The Colbert Report, pitting the good vibrations of his refreshing Sunkist soda against the 23 flavors of Colbert’s Dr. Pepper. They squared off over Mr. Conley’s delightful OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder (PublicAffairs, 9781586484682), which recently got a nice review in the Boston Globe: “Tartly written…. [Obsessive Branding Disorder] is instructive, even entertaining…. Conley is a keen observer and a trenchant critic…. [A] timely call to arms.”

John Mutter of Shelf Awareness recently wrote a fine feature about Sam Wyly and his memoir of entrepreneurship, 1,000 Dollars and an Idea (Newmarket, 9781557048035): “The memoir/business book is written in elegant, declarative style and chronicles the author's life and career, starting as a record-breaking salesperson at IBM, then founding his first company and becoming a millionaire before age 30.” Mr. Wyly and his wife also recently bought Explore Booksellers in Aspen, to keep it from going out of business. “I come from a long line of people who read and write,’ Mr. Wyly says in the article, “Books have always been in my life." It goes on to quote store manager Lynda Schultz, who finds Mr. Wyly to be “one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, kind and ethical men I've met." The Wylys, she continued, are "fabulous people who truly value independent bookstores. You can't ask for more than that.”

For the second time in this roundup I’ll cite praise for one of our books from Lawrence Lessig: of Michael Heller’s The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives (Basic, 9780465029167), Mr. Lessig recently wrote, “His clear and beautifully crafted analysis is absolutely compelling, and will fundamentally change the debate in core policy areas. There are very few books that reorient a field. Almost none that reorient many fields. This is in that ‘almost none’ category: Paradigms will shift. Many of them.” BusinessWeek seemed to agree, writing that “Although the idea may be unfamiliar, after reading this book you’ll start seeing its spooky tentacles everywhere.” James Surowiecki devoted a recent “Financial Page” in The New Yorker to Mr. Heller’s book, and called it “One of the most perceptive popular books on property since Das Kapital.” Goodness. And don’t forget that no less august a forum than Penthouse Magazine determined “This could be one of this year’s most important books.” Mr. Heller will be holding events in the San Francisco Bay Area, but even if you can’t make one of those, you might want to check out the video interview posted on Time Magazine’s “Curious Capitalist” blog:

(By the way: I don’t know if it’s because Penthouse Magazine’s reviewers have been so attentive to Perseus books recently, but they’ve arranged to carry the first serial of Mac Montandon’s forthcoming Jetpack Dreams: One Man’s Up and Down (But Mostly Down) Search for the Greatest Invention that Never Was (Da Capo, 9780306815287) in November. For a brief introduction to the curious landscape that book traces, check out a recent article in the New York Times about jetpack enthusiasts, nay, obsessives:

Billie Jean King’s Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I’ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes (LifeTime Media, 9780981636801) has just landed, and the publicity rollout will be impressive indeed for the next several weeks. In the current issue of Vanity Fair, Billie Jean (as she prefers to be called) handles a wildly inappropriate interview with great humor, and even offers to do some risqué intelligence gathering. She’ll do live interviews on August 19 with Kyra Phillips (CNN) and Neil Cavuto (Fox News), and will tape an interview for NPR’s Morning Edition, scheduled to air on August 20. George Vecsey will interview her for a column in the New York Times during the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament (which takes place, by the way, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center). And she will also do a bit during the tournament with Regis and Kelly! It’s all Billie Jean, all the time!

Vincent Bugliosi is intense and determined, and he continues to burn up the blogs and the “alternative” media, taking his case to the people, even if the mainstream outlets still generally ignore his admittedly aggressive The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (Vanguard, 9781593154813). He has a couple big events scheduled in Santa Monica (at the Santa Monica Public Library) and with Warren Etheridge in Seattle. And if anyone at either place has a cell phone, expect to see the proceedings on YouTube – if you look him up there, you’ll find people are regularly taping his appearances. You might as well start with his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which was among YouTube’s top 10 videos through the weekend of 7/26: All this attention is keeping him on the bestseller lists – not just the New York Times, but also at some point all 3 west coast regional lists (PNBA, NCIBA, SCIBA) – so thanks for getting and staying behind this. recently reviewed Harpoon, by Andrew Darby (Da Capo, 9780306816291): “Darby’s experience as a reporter is visible in his writing. The text is analytical yet clear, packed with valuable supporting quotes from authorities in every area. From international diplomats to whalers themselves, Darby has sought the right people to speak with…As well as being a wonderful and comprehensive analysis of whaling from its inception to the present, the text can be regarded as a parable of people’s inability to respond to environmental crises as they unfold.” It also got a starred review as the on-line “Pick of the Week” from PW, which called it “a definitive work on the past and present of whaling…. Darcy tracks international efforts to curb whaling, which have been stymied through the years by diplomatic maneuvers and outright fraud, concluding that decades of work by both ecologists and governments have still not guaranteed that any species will survive human predation; one hopes his exceptional history will act as a bulwark.

Let me suggest as a great history hand-sell: The Black Death: a Personal History, by John Hatcher (Da Capo, 9780306815713) received a glowing review by New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester: “This totally absorbing book presents the best account ever written about the worst event to have ever befallen the British Isles. In the hands of John Hatcher…the extraordinary tragedy of the great plague…has been brought to life in a manner rarely attempted, and with a level of success even more rarely achieved…[Hatcher writes] medieval history ‘from the inside’…The technique, offered here with masterly precision and for a lay audience, makes for a history book like very few others, and a triumph at that…Mr. Hatcher has turned his highly specialized attentions to the minutiae of the tale, and in doing so has come up with a book — half fact, half highly informed speculation — that can have few rivals.” Read the full review here:

Another great history hand-sell is the Timothy Snyder’s The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (Basic, 9780465002375), which got a fantastic review by John McFarland in Shelf Awareness: “The tumult of 20th-century Europe, in all its destruction, confusion and change, comes into sharp focus as Timothy Snyder views it through the lens of Habsburg Archduke Wilhelm (1895-1948), dubbed the Red Prince by Germans upset about his pro-liberation stance for the Ukraine…. Snyder draws parallels between the Habsburg dream at the beginning of the 20th century and the organization of the European Union at the beginning of the 21st. His argument that the E.U. bears significant similarities to the Habsburg blueprint for organizing independent nation states under an over-arching authority is one more illuminating flourish in this brilliant work of history that also allows space to note twin ironies: the Habsburg crown now appears on every bottle of beer produced at the Zywiec brewery in Poland (formerly run by Archduke Albrecht, confiscated by the Nazis, taken over by the Polish communist government and now owned by Heineken); in Vasyl Vyshyvanyi Square in Lviv, Ukraine, there is a pedestal dedicated to Wilhelm using his Ukrainian name--Vasyl Vyshyvanyi stands for Vassily the Embroidered--but the pedestal is missing a statue.” The Seattle Times also found it entrancing: “Deeply researched and beautifully written, The Red Prince captures in shimmering colors the death of old Europe and the continent’s descent into barbarism…” This one is perfect for readers of Alan Furst who might want to sink their teeth into some history to go along with the novels. It has been assigned for review in The New Yorker; and, if you’re concerned that we need to reach a wider circulation, I’m told it’s also been assigned for review in the Moscow Times. Seriously.

Hey, speaking of Moscow: I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the response we’ve been getting for Yeltsin: A Life, by Timothy J. Colton (Basic, 9780465012718). calls it “a fine biography of Russia’s first postcommunist president…. Colton’s research is thorough and his chronicle lively and measured. It’s fitting, too, that Yeltsin has sprung his last surprise by finding a biographer to rank him, justifiably, among the politicians with the greatest impact on the 20th century.” And the New York Times agrees: “Mr. Colton is not the first to undertake Yeltsin’s redemption…. But Mr. Colton has used the extra time to excellent effect. He has mined declassified Kremlin transcripts; fact-checked many memoirs; conducted extensive interviews with participants, including Yeltsin, shortly before his death last year; and synthesized a story that anyone curious about contemporary Russia will find illuminating.”

These days there is a lot about contemporary Russia that should raise interest – so let me briefly mention a few titles, in case you’ve got anyone clamoring: The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections, and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union by Mark MacKinnon (Basic, 9780786720835); or, for the seriously hardcore, Russia and the Soviet Union An Historical Introduction from the Kievan State to the Present, Sixth Edition, by John M. Thompson (Westview, 9780813343952). And there will be some very interesting and timely material on Russia’s aggressive foreign policy stance in America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft (Basic, 9780465015016), which should be arriving in stores shortly; both of these esteemed statesmen will be doing a lot of media, including Charlie Rose and The Colbert Report.

And let’s hope Georgia doesn’t turn into another Chechnya. How hard should we hope? For perspective, look at Asne Seierstad’s Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War (Basic, 9780465011223). It’s a tumult of bad news, but it did get a starred PW review: “In this searing journey through a traumatized Chechnya, two children orphaned by the civil war—Timur, a violent street urchin, and his sister Liana, a waif molested by her uncle who becomes a kleptomaniac—symbolize their country's agony, abandonment and lingering dysfunctions. Norwegian journalist Seierstad (The Bookseller of Kabul) includes them in a gallery of portraits drawn from her reporting—sometimes undercover—from the region. These include a kindly childless woman who runs Grozny’s last orphanage; a Russian soldier suffering from brain damage caused by a rebel mine; survivors of Stalin's expulsion of the Chechens to Kazakhstan in WWII; and a family whose daughter joined an Islamist sect and died in the spectacular terrorist takeover of a Moscow theater. Even more disturbing is her chilling, absurdist depiction of the regime of Moscow-backed Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, which combines torture and disappearances with a saccharine cult of personality. (One of Kadyrov’s youth groups distributed roses on his behalf to every woman in Grozny.) There are many victims but few heroes…. Seierstad’s vivid, unsparing reportage makes this distant tragedy very personal.” It’s also been getting great reads from the booksellers who asked for advance copies.

While I’m piling on the depressing news, I want to point as well to Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922 by Giles Milton (Basic, 9780465011193), which Kirkus called a “gripping account of a half-forgotten 20th-century war that ended in gruesome ethnic cleansing… Teaches a lesson that needs repeating: Genocide is never the work of a few perverted individuals but springs from common patriotism accompanied by intense hatred of national enemies.” “Milton draws on eyewitness accounts to render these events in all their horror,” adds PW, “and ends with an almost incredible rescue led by an unlikely hero. Milton powerfully renders this tragic tale of an army that came to ‘liberate’ Smyrna and instead massacred its citizens and burned their prize to the ground in a vengeful frenzy.” Mr. Milton will be touring in California in late September and August, with events at USC and San Francisco State University, as well as at local bookstores.

Okay, let’s try to turn things around a bit. One path to spiritual renewal might be Stuart Kauffman’s Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion (Basic, 9780465003006). Science Magazine says that it “sparkles from every angle as its author gallops through the relevant science, philosophy, economics, history, ethics, poetry and – well, we had better use the word because Kauffman does: religion…. Bringing science and religion together globally in the way that Kauffman wishes is not going to be easy – as other ecumenical movements have repeatedly found – but it is necessary.”

Or you could turn to Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist, by Sharman Apt Russell (Basic, 9780465005178). In a feature last month The Oregonian called it “a brilliant and wise exploration of the philosophy [pantheism] -- from Marcus Aurelius to American transcendentalists -- through the lens of her own life.” I found this quite lovely – peaceful and centering, the way it should be.

Speaking of Oregonians… congratulations to Douglas Wolk, whose Reading Comics (Da Capo, 9780306816161) just won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book. The award was presented at Comic-Con (by Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, no less!) Wolk was featured in the special Comic-Con issue of the San Diego Union Tribune, and he blogged about the show for And he’s a lovely fellow.

Finally, let me give a shout of thanks to Southern California Booksellers, who put two Perseus titles on their shortlist for this year’s SCIBA nonfiction book award: Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden, by Jeanne Kelley (Running Press, 9780762431830), and Cancer on $5 a Day (Chemo not Included): How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life, by Robert Schimmel (Da Capo, 9780738211589). I know the authors, and everyone at world headquarters, appreciate your support.

That’s all for now, my friends. Keep on keepin’ on-