Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Late to the proverbial dance...

One of the biggest perks of the job for lots of booksellers is the fact that we got advance copies of books. It's a feeling of wonder to be able to read a book before it is actually available to the general public. Yet it is also a double-edged sword. We need to read these books so we can talk about them when they do become available. It does, however, sometimes make the question of: "What are you reading/loving right now" more difficult. It can seem snobby or aloof to discuss a book that we can't actually sell yet.

Right now, I'm dealing with this very scenario. Last week I got an advance copy of Jon Clinch's "Kings of the Earth" in the mail. The book isn't due into stores until July 6, 2010 so it seems a little foolish to talk about it right now. In any case, I'm going to do so with a couple bonus hooks. First, several of us here loved his first novel, "Finn." It's dangerous ground to take on such a mythical and beloved book or character. Clinch used his debut book to look at Huck's father and how historical fiction can both stay true to an original story and re-create it at the same time.

"Kings of the Earth" does something similar--though not in dealing with a treasured novel--but rather using the story of a real family and jumping off from there. The Ward brothers were a fairly well-known, if misunderstood, family in Munnsville, NY. Delbert, Roscoe, Lyman and Bill were life-long farmers and were left to their own, simple, devices, until Bill died. Then the story gets really bizarre. A fine quasi-documentary called "Brother's Keeper" was done in 1992. It is a moving portrait of family and of what kind of lives exist outside the cultural norm. The fictionalized family portrait is something I'm excited to sell. The movie is something I wish I would have seen long ago.

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