The last day of BookExpo, Sunday, I inexplicably made it out of bed in time to see Rosie O’Donnell, Alice Sebold and Ian McEwan at the Sunday authors’ breakfast. Rosie O’Donnell was pimping Celebrity Detox, which she was originally going to publish in 2002 before deeming it “uncooked.” But now the former co-host of The View says “we had to change the epilogue… and I will be available for book store signings.” Celebrity Detox will follow O’Donnell’s experiences in and out of the public eye, getting a sense for whether or not she, knowing that fame was like a drug, could relearn how to manage it into her life, as an alcoholic would relearn how to drink, “sip and not chug.” (Short answer: no.)Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones, proceeded to thank booksellers on behalf of her and her husband for “paying off our student loans and buying us a house.” (Nice way to say it, considering the book has already sold a reported 10 million copies, and Peter Jackson is currently shopping around his screenplay based on the book.) Ian McEwan, author of the recently-released On Chesil Beach, opened by quoting some public speaking advice by Herodotus: “‘A man should never speak for longer than he can make love.’ And so, I thank you.” Yes, he killed.
Sunday is the stereotypically ‘dead’ conference day, in which it wouldn’t be completely out of place for a Random House executive to show up drunk and in jeans. And so, it was a good day to wander around and get a sense for a brief selection of what Seattleites will be reading in the coming months.
August:The Chicago Way, by Michael Harvey. About: Some sort of murder in Chicago involving a “tough-talking Irish cop”; Harvey is the co-creator and executive producer of Cold Case Files. First sentence: “I was on the second floor of a three-story walk-up on Chicago’s North Side.” Sales prediction: Outlook pretty good.
September:The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. About: The local’s first YA novel is a “coming-of-age” novel featuring illustrations by Ellen Forney. First sentence: “I was born with water on the brain.” Sales prediction: a huge hit amongst the awkward Native American teen crowd, with some crossover potential.
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else, by Michael Gates Gill. About/first sentence: “This is the true, surprising story of an old white man who was kicked out of the top of the American Establishment, by chance met a young African-American woman from a completely different background, and came to learn what is important in life.” Sales prediction: So, Tom Hanks is starring in the movie adaption, right? What’ll that and a Starbucks cross-promotion get you, like 3 copies?
Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson. About: An American, William “Skip” Sands, a spy-in-training going against the Viet Cong; his uncle’s a CIA vet. Lots of men, war, desert scenes (the uncle’s from Houston), and the kind of gritty/emotivescenes Johnson’s known for. First sentence: “Last night at 3 a.m. President Kennedy had been killed.” Sales prediction: Sales? Not bad, but the advance edition of this sucker practically came with a “nominated for a crapload of prizes” logo on the cover.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. About: see above. The first full-length novel from the author of the much-ballyhooed short story collection, Drown. First sentence: “They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.” Sales prediction: king amongst Dominicans, but my lord there’s a bit of competition this September.
October:The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold.About: Twenty-four hours following Helen Knightly, 49, who murders her mother. First sentence: “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.” (i.e., I didn’t spoil anything.) Sales prediction: Amazon.com probably already pre-ordered it for you and a few million of your closest friends. And let me say, though it’s nostalgic and Sebold is no Beckett, woman can plot. It’s right up the Bones book club alley, and I was on page 30 by the time I reached my subway stop after coming back from the conference.