We only present business best-selling books at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but since we base our blog posts on books, I thought it appropriate to spread the news about two books cited by Barnes and Noble Booksellers as “Great New Writers” and best in their category.
If you are not aware, it is very difficult for new writers to break in to a major bookseller. An agent is a must. Editors are expensive, but essential. Patience through multiple drafts over a long period of time is important. That is why you find some writers self-publish, because they can skirt these three factors. But, their books will never get into a major bookstore.
Jake Whyte has retreated to a remote farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds, with only her collie and a flock of sheep as companions. But something—or someone—has begun picking off her sheep one by one. There are foxes in the woods, a strange man wandering the island, and rumors of a mysterious beast prowling at night. And there is Jake’s relentless past—one she tried to escape thousands of miles away and years ago, concealed in stubborn silence and isolation and the scars that stripe her back. With exceptional artistry, All the Birds, Singing plumbs a life of fierce struggle and survival, sounding depths of unexpected beauty and hard-won redemption.
This is Wyld’s second book, and her first since 2010. She was born in London and grew up in Australia and South London. She studied creative writing at Bath Spa and Goldsmiths University
In non-fiction, the award went to Bryce Andrews. His book is entitled Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West (Atria, 2014). I found this summary on Amazon.com:
In this gripping memoir of a young man, a wolf, their parallel lives and ultimate collision, Bryce Andrews describes life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana. The Sun’s twenty thousand acres of rangeland occupy a still-wild corner of southwest Montana—a high valley surrounded by mountain ranges and steep creeks with portentous names like Grizzly and Bad Luck. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves. In lyrical, haunting language, Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do. Called “an elegant memoir” by the Great Falls Tribune, Badluck Way is about transformation and complications, about living with dirty hands every day. It is about the hard choices that wake us at night and take a lifetime to reconcile. Above all, Badluck Way celebrates the breathtaking beauty of wilderness and the satisfaction of hard work on some of the harshest, most beautiful land in the world.
Andrews was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He studied at Whitman College and the University of Montana, and has managed several cattle ranches in the West. He lives in Montana.
Sometimes, it is good to get away from the best-seller tables and look at the racks of books from new authors.
I plan to buy and read both of these over the next few months.
Perhaps rightfully so, we will never escape the horrible images created by the Nazi Holocaust. We should not forget.
My favorite book about the subject was a chiller – Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah (Vintage, 1996). You can read my comments about that book on this site from a previous blog.
So, here comes another one for your list. Late last year, Daniel Blatman wrote The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide (Harvard Press, 2010). You can read an objective editorial review of this book entitled “Death Along the Way” by Timothy Snyder in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, January 8-9, 2011 (p. C6).
Somehow, I think we get comfortable with the idea that the Holocaust is simply history. We believe it will never happen again. We hope it, or anything like it, will never happen again. That is true of other historical maladies, such as the Great Depression and the polio epedemic.
Snyder’s review posits a more important question that he gains from reading this book. Toward the end of the war, the concentration camps were not killing facilities. They were overwhelmed with prisoners evacuated from many sites, and those evacuations are classified as “death marches,” in which 250,000 people died during their marches, or upon reaching their destination. Snyder says this: “because the death marches do not fit our presumptions about genocide, his [Blatman’s] important book opens again the crucial question of the 20th century: why we kill.”
That remains a question many people have asked many times, and fewer people have tried to answer fewer times. It is easier to ask than to seek an answer. But until we answer, books like this make sure we never forget to ask: why?
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.