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these just in … 14 July, 2008

Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

by Chris Anderson

Paperback $15.95     Hyperion     Non Fiction

In the most important business book since The Tipping Point, Chris Anderson shows how the future of commerce and culture isn’t in hits, the high-volume head of a traditional demand curve, but in what used to be regarded as misses-the endlessly long tail of that same curve.

“It belongs on the shelf between The Tipping Point and Freakonomics.”
-Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix

“Anderson’s insights . . . continue to influence Google’s strategic thinking in a profound way.”
-Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google

“Anyone who cares about media . . . must read this book.”
-Rob Glaser, CEO, RealNetworks

Nat Turner

by Kyle Baker

Paperback $12.95     Abrams     Graphic Novel

The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster—a murderer whose name is never uttered.

In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker depicts the evils of slavery in this moving and historically accurate story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. Told nearly wordlessly, every image resonates with the reader as the brutal story unfolds.

This graphic novel collects all four issues of Kyle Baker’s critically acclaimed miniseries together for the first time in hardcover and paperback. The book also includes a new afterword by Baker.

“A hauntingly beautiful historical spotlight. A-” —Entertainment Weekly

“Baker’s storytelling is magnificent.” —Variety

“Intricately expressive faces and trenchant dramatic pacing evoke the diabolic slave trade’s real horrors.” —The Washington Post

“Baker’s drawings are worthy of a critic’s attention.”—Los Angeles Times

“Baker’s suspenseful and violent work documents the slave trade’s atrocities as no textbook can, with an emotional power approaching that of Maus.”—Library Journal, starred review

The Collected Stories

by Leonard Michaels

Paperback $15.00     Farrar, Straus and Giroux     Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Though Michaels, who died in 2003 at the age of 70, is probably best known for his novel The Men’s Club (1981), these 38 stories attest to his skill as a short story writer. Readers coming to Michaels’s work for the first time will find the early, pointed stories from his noteworthy collections, Going Places and I Would Have Saved Them If I Could as well as some of his later works that have never been collected. Michaels’s early stories are written with a frantic sexuality that displays his distinctive dark humor. In “Fingers and Toes,” recurring characters Henry and Phillip weigh the value of their friendship against their encounters with the same woman through a set of urban hallucinations characteristic of the early stories. Raphael Nachman, the icon of Michaels’s later fiction, is an aging mathematician at UCLA and a surprising foil to Michaels’s usual kinetic energy. In the first Nachman story, the professor takes a guest lectureship in his ancestral Poland and tries to reconcile his analytical yet peaceful view of the world with his family’s history. Fans of the author should be thrilled at having such a wide body of work between two covers.

The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

by Joyce Carol Oates

Paperback $14.00     Harvest Books     Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
The words gothic and macabre rather than mystery and suspense might better describe the 10 beautifully told stories in this superb collection from the prolific Oates (The Female of the Species). In the startling opening tale, Hi! Howya Doin!, an overly friendly jogger encounters someone with a less rosy outlook on life. In the horrifying Valentine, July Heat Wave, an estranged wife finds a very unpleasant surprise in the home she once shared with her academic husband. In the haunting Feral, a near-death experience transforms a much-loved only child into something wild and unknowable. The title story concerns a horrific exhibit in the home of an aging coroner in upstate New York (whose behavior is even more troubling). The book’s best story, The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza, about an aging boxer in a bout that will make or end his career, happens to be the least gruesome. Powerful narratives, a singular imagination and exquisite prose make this a collection to relish.

Brida: A Novel

by Paulo Coelho

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%     Harper Collins     Fiction

This is the story of Brida, a young Irish girl, and her quest for knowledge. She has long been interested in various aspects of magic but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom, who begin to teach Brida about the spiritual world. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her about overcoming her fears and trusting in the goodness of the world; and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world, and how to pray to the moon. As Brida seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch. This enthralling novel incorporates themes that fans of Paulo Coelho will recognize and treasure—it is a tale of love, passion, mystery, and spirituality from the master storyteller.

Cost: A Novel

by Roxana Robinson

Hardcover $25.00 - 10%     Farrar, Straus and Giroux     Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Julia Lambert is a New York art professor spending the summer in Maine with her elderly father, a domineering neurosurgeon, and mother, a gentle soul succumbing to Alzheimer’s. Julia’s oldest son, Steven, joins the clan as tragic news surfaces: her second son, Jack, is addicted to heroin. Ex-husband Wendell, Julia’s distant sister Harriet and Jack himself soon arrive, and intervention is on the agenda. Jack refuses to go quietly, and Robinson, who has worked in multiple genres (including penning a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe), engulfs the clan in a sea of resentment and repressed hostility, spiked with the intermittent need to feel close. Her unrelenting look at the deep physical and mental distress involved in heroin abuse is not for the faint of heart, with key portions of the drama unfolding through descriptions of Jack’s perpetually itching skin, twitching muscles, heaving stomach, needle-tracked arms and addled brain. While the omniscient narration sometimes loses focus, Robinson offers adept closeups of family trauma.

Requiem, Mass.: A Novel

by John Dufresne

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%     W. W. Norton     Fiction

John Dufresne takes us to Requiem, Mass., heart of the Commonwealth, where Johnny’s mom, Frances, is driving in the breakdown lane once again. She thinks Johnny and his little sister Audrey have been replaced by aliens; she’s sure of it, and she’s pretty certain that she herself is already dead, or she wouldn’t need to cover the stink of her rotting flesh with Jean Naté Après Bain. Dad, truck driver and pathological liar, is down South somewhere living his secret life. And Audrey, when she’s not walking her cat Deluxe in a baby stroller, spends her time locked in a closet telling herself stories. Johnny, meanwhile, is hell-bent on saving the family from itself.

In his “truly original voice” (Miami Herald) and with the “miraculous beauty of his tale-telling” (New York Times Book Review), Dufresne brings his unparalleled eye for the tragic and the absurd to the dysfunctions and joys of family in this powerful new novel.

Real World

by Natsuo Kirino, translated by Philip Gabriel

Hardcover $23.95 - 10%     Knopf     Fiction

A stunning new work of the feminist noir that Natsuo Kirino defined and made her own in her novels Out and Grotesque.

In a crowded residential suburb on the outskirts of Tokyo, four teenage girls indifferently wade their way through a hot, smoggy summer and endless “cram school” sessions meant to ensure entry into good colleges. There’s Toshi, the dependable one; Terauchi, the great student; Yuzan, the sad one, grieving over the death of her mother—and trying to hide her sexual orientation from her friends; and Kirarin, the sweet one, whose late nights and reckless behavior remain a secret from those around her. When Toshi’s next-door neighbor is found brutally murdered, the girls suspect the killer is the neighbor’s son, a high school boy they nickname Worm. But when he flees, taking Toshi’s bike and cell phone with him, the four girls get caught up in a tempest of dangers—dangers they never could have even imagined—that rises from within them as well as from the world around them.

Psychologically intricate and astute, dark and unflinching, Real World is a searing, eye-opening portrait of teenage life in Japan unlike any we have seen before.

Missy: A Novel

by Chris Hannan

Hardcover $24.00     Farrar, Straus and Giroux     Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
This wildly entertaining first novel from Scottish playwright Hannan takes place in the down and dirty Wild West and features one of the most bombastic, fantastic heroines in recent memory. Nineteen-year-old Dol McQueen is an intelligent, strong-willed hooker with a weakness for liquid opium, or “missy.” “Sometimes when I’m gonged,” says Dol, “I have an immense feeling inside me that I can govern Chaos.” And chaos is just what she gets when a crate of choice opium lands under her bed, stashed there by a grisly pimp called Pontius who warns her to keep quiet. Dol carries on with her business and gets increasingly attached to that fortune beneath her bed. The real pandemonium is unleashed when a spooky, brutal gang enlisted by the rightful owners of the opium arrives in town bringing mayhem. Dol-along with her mother, Pontius and the opium-flees into the desert, the escape slowed by lack of water, mule-pinching Indians and Dol’s withdrawal from her missy, an experience that leaves her clearheaded but vulnerable to the truth about what she has become. Hannan nails the setting, crafts a sizzling plot and, with Dol, gives readers a lovable, larger-than-life star.

Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life

by Neil Steinberg

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%     Dutton     Memoir

Neil Steinberg loves his wife. He loves his two young sons. He loves his job and his ramshackle old farmhouse in the suburbs. But he also loves to drink, a passion that rolls merrily along for twenty-five years until one terrible night when his two worlds collide and shatter.

Drunkard is the story of one man’s fall down the rabbit hole of alcoholism, and his slow crawl back out. Sentenced to an outpatient rehab program, Steinberg discovers that twenty-eight days of therapy cannot reverse the toll decades of vigorous drinking take on one’s soul. In clear, distinctive, honest, and funny prose, Steinberg comes to grips with his actions, rebuilds his marriage, and reclaims his life.

Unlike outlandish tales of addiction’s extremes, Steinberg’s story is a regular person’s account of the stark-yet-common realities of a problem faced by millions around the world. Drunkard is an important addition to the pantheon of critically acclaimed, bestselling memoirs such as The Tender Bar, Drinking: A Love Story, and Smashed.

Tuna: A Love Story

by Richard Ellis

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%     Knopf     Nature

Know Your Tuna

  • Tuna is the most popular food fish in the world. It is eaten raw, cooked, in sandwiches, in salads, and in catfood.
  • The total worldwide tuna harvest is four million tons.
  • In the past, tuna fishermen in the eastern tropical Pacific set their nets around dolphins, which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of dolphins.
  • There are many kinds of tuna, but the most popular for the Japanese sashimi market is the bluefin, one of the largest of all fishes.
  • The largest bluefin tuna ever caught weighed 1,496 pounds.
  • The most expensive bluefin tuna was a 440-pounder that sold at the Tsukiji fishmarket in Tokyo for $173,600.
  • Almost all of the bluefin tuna caught by commercial fishermen goes to Japan.
  • The Japanese import 800,000 tons of tuna every year. (That’s right: eight hundred thousand tons.)
  • At the Tsukiji fishmarket in Tokyo, an estimated 1,000 bluefin tunas are auctioned off every day.
  • Is there mercury in tuna? Yes. Is it at levels dangerous to humans? Not unless you eat tuna three meals a day.
  • Many scientists consider the tuna the most highly-evolved fish in the world.
  • Bluefin tunas, along with mako and great white sharks, are the only “warm-blooded” fishes; they can elevate their body temperature as much as 25 degrees above the water they swim in. This makes them particularly effective as predators.
  • Bluefin tuna can swim 55 miles an hour. They can migrate across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, then turn around and do it again.
  • MIT scientists built a robot tuna in an attempt to replicate the incredibly efficient swimming performance of the living fish. They failed.
  • The bluefin tuna, and to a lesser extent, the yellowfin, are among the most sought-after of big-game fishes. Celebrated anglers like Zane Grey, Ernest Hemingway, and Phillip Wylie wrote ecstatically about their pursuit of giant tuna.
  • Aquaculture (”fish farming”) now accounts for 40% of the world’s fish consumption.
  • Tuna ranching now takes place in every country on and in the Mediterranean, and in Australia and Mexico as well. It is scheduled to begin in Hawaii and Alaska.
  • Because of commercial overfishing, almost exclusively to feed the insatiable Japanese sashimi market, all populations of bluefin tuna are endangered.
  • Overfishing in the Mediterranean has caused such a drop in the bluefin tuna population that the World Wildlife Fund has called for a complete halt to all tuna-fishing there.
  • If we cannot learn to breed bluefin tuna in captivity, the great fish will become extinct, writing finis to commercial and recreational tuna fishing-and to the consumption of maguro sashimi in Japan.
  • In March, 2008, an Australian company called “Clean Seas” succeeded in getting captive bluefin tuna to spawn. If they can raise them to market size (200-300 pounds), it may relieve the pressure on wild-caught fish.

From Publishers Weekly:
Ellis (The Book of Sharks) covers everything one could want to know about the biggest, fastest, warmest-blooded, warmest-bodied fish in the world, describing the various species of tuna and giving a thorough account of the history of recreational and commercial tuna fishing. The bluefin tuna—on the brink of extinction—receives the most attention, and Ellis contends that the Japanese fondness for tuna sashimi—and Japanese willingness to violate fishing restrictions—is largely to blame. Tuna farms, where bluefin are fattened, were once thought to be the answer, but Ellis argues that they are contributing to the problem as young tuna do not have time to breed and replenish the stock in the ocean; the fish fed to the bluefin are themselves being overfished; and waste from the pens causes pollution. Ellis presents an overload of information—too many facts and figures on weights, measurements and numbers of fish caught and sold—however, his impassioned message comes through clearly: someone must figure out how to breed the bluefin in captivity, because as things stand now, it will not survive in the ocean.

The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company

by David A. Price

Hardcover $27.95 - 10%     Knopf     Business

From The Washington Post’s Book World:
(Reviewed by Rob Pegoraro)

A generation of American kids has grown up watching Pixar’s movies in theaters, on TVs and now on portable gadgets like DVD players and iPods. But in The Pixar Touch, David A. Price starts this pop-culture giant’s story in neither Hollywood nor Silicon Valley, but the University of Utah’s computer-science department.

There in the early 1970s a programmer named Ed Catmull decided to branch out into computerized animation, despite the almost total uselessness of the day’s slow, expensive computers for that task and the almost total lack of job options for somebody with that skill. Price, a former reporter for Investor’s Business Daily, describes how Catmull and a crew of other would-be electronic movie-makers wound up migrating to the New York Institute of Technology’s Computer Graphics Lab, a locale that offered the advantages of generous funding for new computers and lax oversight. And then they waited for somebody in the movie business to underwrite their vision of using computers, not pens and ink, to draw each frame of a motion picture. Eventually, “Star Wars” director George Lucas offered Catmull a job, after which he gradually hired away his NYIT colleagues.

At this point, this band of frustrated innovators comes off a bit like a Pixar hero: tugged along by big dreams but held back by an endearing level of cluelessness. Price notes that “the Lucasfilm Computer Division did not yet have a computer, or even a word processing machine. The only typewriter was on the desk of Catmull’s secretary,” which its staffers used to hammer out “white papers and design documents.”

Paper turned into pixels in 1981, when Paramount hired Lucasfilm to whip up a brief animation of a dead planet being brought to life for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” (On a micro level, computers just make animation more efficient; on a macro level, they have made animation much more of a 3-D medium, in much the same way that ever-more processing power has turned the video game into an increasingly movie-like experience.) Price captures the extraordinary attention the programmers paid to detail in hopes that this clip would serve as a “sixty-second commercial” for their talents: One programmer ensured that the stars visible in the background matched those visible from a real star 11.3 light-years away from Earth.

Additional gigs in movies and commercials, along with animated shorts made to impress others in the business, led to Pixar’s birth as an independent company in 1986 — purchased and bankrolled by Steve Jobs, who had just been forced out of Apple. From this point on, The Pixar Touch can be read in two ways. For fans of Pixar’s work, it can resemble the “making of” and director’s-commentary bonus features on most DVDs. You could throw a copy of each Pixar release into your DVD player as you read the chapter about its production, and you could recite enough trivia to wow any Pixar completist. (Did you know that Sulley, the blue behemoth in “Monsters, Inc.” had 2,320,413 hairs? Me neither.) But the book also must serve as a history of Pixar the company, and there it loses its focus on some critical developments.

Jobs, who apparently did not cooperate with the book, first appears as a sort of distant, cranky godfather to the company and then largely vanishes offstage. This treatment leaves some plot lines hanging: Did his well-documented perfectionism lead to better movies, or did he just annoy the artists?

Some anecdotes fade in and out randomly. A chapter about the making of “Monsters, Inc.” opens with seven pages of reporting about an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging that Pixar stole the basic story from an outside author, then switches gears for the next seven pages to chronicle the making of the movie, then launches into a recounting of a different intellectual-property lawsuit. Insights into how much creators can, do or should learn, borrow or steal from the work of others get lost amid the courtroom stenography.

Price also occasionally shows questionable judgment in his sourcing, for example wrapping up a discussion of the success of “The Incredibles” with a page of quotes from the breathlessly enthusiastic reviews at And too many of the book’s illustrations consist of verbatim reproductions of press releases, hardly the most riveting historical documents.

The book concludes with a chastened Disney — which had long ago fired future Pixar director John Lasseter from an animator’s job — buying Pixar for $6.3 billion. In one way, it ends too soon, barely addressing Pixar’s relatively aggressive moves to distribute its releases online as digital downloads. Will those efforts pan out, or will Pixar’s management blow this chance after getting so many earlier technological advances right? We may have to wait for a sequel to find out.
“The first comprehensive look at the phenomenon of Pixar…[that] successfully brings to life the band of animation enthusiasts behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. The book deserves a thumbs-up for its artful recounting of the studio’s formative years ….full of fascinating characters, all struggling–in classic Pixar film style–to overcome seemingly impossible odds.”
Business Week

“Unprecedented detail about the notoriously press-shy company’s workings, a story that abounds with lessons for business people and creative artists alike.”

Wall Street Journal

“David A. Price, a tough, unsentimental reporter, ferrets out lots of backstage drama from fresh sources, weaving a commendably unvarnished history.”

Entertainment Weekly

“It’s quite a story, and David Price has finally got it right, it’s details and the players. This is the definitive history of Pixar.”

–Alvy Ray Smith, co-founder of Pixar

“[A] brisk history of an entertainment juggernaut that is also the history of computer animation…a heck of a yarn, full of vivid characters, reversals of fortune and stubborn determination: Pixar should make a movie out of it.”

–Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“A tale of our times, and David Price tells it with page-turning drama, total veracity, and wonderful wit.”

–Mark Cotta Vaz, author, of The Art of Finding Nemo, The Art of The Incredibles and Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong

The Book of Chameleons: A Novel

by Jose Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn

Paperback $12.00     Simon & Schuster     Fiction

From Publishers Weekly:
Lovers of stylish literary fiction will rejoice at this charming tale by Angolan writer Agualusa. The elegantly translated story is narrated by a house gecko named Eulálio, who in brief, vignette-like chapters, reminisces on his life (and past life) and observes the home of Félix Ventura, an albino Angolan who makes his living selling fabricated aristocratic pasts to newly successful citizens of the war-torn former Portuguese colony. Photojournalist José Buchmann pushes Félix’s occupation into harsh reality when José looks into the past Félix has created for him, and the story shudders to a climax when Félix’s allegedly fictitious history collides with reality. Eulálio is a lovable narrator, alternately sardonic and wistful; his dreams are filled with regret and powerlessness. Félix is an equally sympathetic subject, complicated by his loneliness, his fondness for prostitutes, his insistence on the honor of his trade despite its scalawag nature, and a late-blooming sweet love story. The novel’s themes of identity, truth and happiness are nicely handled and span both the political and the personal. It’s very touching, in a refined way.

“A subtle beguiling story of shifting identities.”- Kirkus

“A work of fierce originality.”- The Independent

“Without doubt one of the most important Portuguese-language writers of his generation.”- Antonio Lobo Antunes

“A book as brisk as a thriller and as hot and alarming as the most powerful kind of dream.” — Michael Pye, author of The Pieces from Berlin

“Cross J. M. Coetzee with Gabriel García Márquez and you’ve got José Eduardo Agualusa, Portugal’s next candidate for the Nobel Prize.”- Alan Kaufman, author of Matches

This Night’s Foul Work

by Fred Vargas, translated by Sian ReynoldsPaperback $14.00     Penguin     Mystery

Twice awarded the International Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association, Fred Vargas has earned a reputation in Europe as a mystery author of the first order. In This Night’s Foul Work, the intuitive Commissaire Adamsberg teams up with Dr. Ariane, a pathologist with whom he crossed paths twenty years ago, to unravel a beguiling mystery that begins with the discovery of two bodies in Paris’s Porte de la Chapelle. Adamsberg believes it may be the work of a killer with split personalities, who is choosing his or her victims very carefully. As other murders begin to surface, Adamsberg must move quickly in order to stop the “Angel of Death” from killing again. Intricately plotted and featuring Vargas’s wry humor, This Night’s Foul Work will keep readers guessing up to the final page.

Dynasty: The Rise of the Boston Celtics

by Lew Freedman

Hardcover $24.95 - 10%     The Lyons Press     Sports

In the spring of 1957 the Boston Celtics, led by coach Red Auerbach, won a National Basketball Association championship for the first time. Auerbach had been building the team throughout the 1950s but was still missing what he considered an essential piece—a single player in the middle who could hoist the team on his shoulders by doing the dirty work of rebounding and playing defense. That player was Bill Russell.
By blending unselfish yet talented players into a roster led by Russell’s unconquerable will, Auerbach and the Celtics put together an unprecedented run of championships rarely challenged before or since in team sports. Between 1957 and 1969, Boston won eleven titles in thirteen seasons. Only when Russell retired did the era of dominance end.
Written by Lew Freedman, an award-winning veteran sportswriter who personally witnessed many of the Celtics’ antics and special moments over the years, Dynasty is a celebration of the basketball team Auerbach melded into one of the greatest franchises in NBA history.
Freedman grew up attending Celtics games, from his first game as a boy in 1960 he befriended the players and the team management as an adult. In Dynasty, he draws on dozens of interviews as well as courtside observation to reveal dramatic moments both on and off the floor.
Half a century after the Celtics’ legendary first championship, here is a riveting
behind-the-scenes account of one of sports’ greatest franchises—a terrific book about a vibrant sports town, the greatest players in basketball, and one of professional basketball’s best and most beloved teams.

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