Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BEA, part III

One of the many things I love about the BEA is that it brings together all members of our far-flung, disparate literary family: the giant publishing houses-cum-media conglomerates, the one-person presses held together by passion and a willingness to disbelieve in gravity, and everything in between.

So, at BEA we had a banner covering the better part of an entire wall-- which at the Javits Center are not small-- announcing Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves: "a novel of historical intrigue with a secret at its heart...a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope." I loved The Historian, so eagerly await Kostova's sophomore effort.

And we had large kiosks at the Little, Brown booth proclaiming "the BIGGEST new series launch EVER" for Witch & Wizard by James Patterson.

I have a note scrawled to the effect that Scholastic had something in their (tastefully understated) booth about the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins...but I cannot find anything about that on their site or elsewhere. Perhaps I am just trying to wish the sequel into quicker appearance, since I devoured the first of this trilogy in one gulp.

HarperCollins imprint Greenwillow Books gives us Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia, the debut by painter Cindy Pon. "Seventeen-year-old Ai Ling becomes aware of a strange power within her as she goes in search of her parent." The circumstances under which so many of our best stories begin--given the vivacity of her paintings, I imagine we are in for a treat with her prose.

Orca issues Salt, the first of a trilogy that has won an award in New Zealand for Maurice Gee. "The Whips, as silent as hunting cats, surrounded Blood Burrow in the hour before sun-up and began their sweep as the morning dogs began to howl." We may have a new member of the predatory tribe that includes the Ringwraiths, the Terminators, and Randall Flagg the Walkin' Dude.

London-based Capuchin Classics is devoted to bringing back lost gems, such as Shirley's Guild by David Pryce-Jones. Originally published in 1979, the novel takes place "in an otherwise quiet village, [where] a little girl with red hair and freckles named Shirley inspires a chain of events that cannot be explained by reason or scientific enquiry...becomes responsible for scenes unimaginable since the Dark Ages."

Finally, I want to read Finding Creatures and Other Stories by C. June Wolf, brought out by Canadian publisher Wattle and Daub Books. I say this because I enjoy her blog--her thoughts are round, warm, and witty--there is a humane and gentle strength that runs just below the surface of her sure words. For their part, Wattle and Daub is apparently a one-woman labor of love, with a goal of putting out three books a year.

This then is our miracle: superb books can emanate from the steely matrices of the corporations or be found nestled in the felt weft of the tiny independent. Who cares the provenance, so long as the tale is a good one!

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