Tag Archives: fiction

The Grenade is Here

Serge is backTo a degree unlike any other town, New Albany has made Tim Dorsey a favorite son, though his only connections to us are through his amazing Serge Storms novels. Per capita, I’d wager no other city has supported Tim’s career as much as has our riverside burg.

Like last year, neither Ann nor I have had the opportunity to read Pineapple Grenade in advance, so we’ll be enjoying it right alongside you. Wednesday afternoon, we’ll unveil the book to the dozens of you who are Tim’s fans. In the meantime, here’s a quick preview from Tim himself.


Many of you enjoyed the bonus holiday tome from Tim – When Elves Attack – so I’d expect our first shipment will sell out pretty fast. Come by, call, or e-mail.

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Tim Dorsey “Serges” Into Town Next Wednesday

In what is sure to be a repeat of our greatest author event ever, the hilarious Tim Dorsey brings his Serge Storms fugitive tour once again to New Albany on Wednesday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m.

Electric BarracudaIf you know Dorsey, you love him – both as an author and as a man. His visit with us in 2008 was without doubt the most successful and appreciated literary event we’ve ever held. Now, with his 13th book out, Tim chose to come back and present to us Electric Barracuda.

I won’t offer up a review today – I’ll wait until next week for that. Andy has written an outstanding review but I’ll just tell you that this one has more than a few surprises and, as always, I am bereft that I again have to wait a year for another adventure with Serge, Coleman, and the rockin’ cast of characters that weird Florida provides just when you need them.

DETAIL: The book talk and signing begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. At 7, we’re having a post-event reception for Tim at La Rosita Mexican Grill just a few blocks down the street. That will be a ticketed event. Those who pay for and reserve for that event in advance will move to the head of the autographing line in the store and then spend some more quality time with the author afterward. Single tickets include a copy of the book and a voucher for the reception and cost $37.50, taxes included. Couples tickets include a copy of the book and 2 vouchers and cost $47.50, taxes included.

The main event is free and open to the public. We have an ample supply of all of Tim’s books and you are welcome to bring your collection for autographing after the first line of purchasers have had their time with Tim. Call the store to reserve for the after-party or for more details (812) 944-5116 or e-mail newalbanybooks@gmail.com.

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Dashboard: Who will be their Mark Twain?

Each time I log in to NewAlbanyBooks, I’m offered a “dashboard” of options. Respecting my promise to post new content here each and every day (and sometimes that means late in the day), I thought I would “dash” off something we’ve been talking about in the store. That is, 100 years from now, who will our progeny consider to be their Mark Twain?

The way I would define it is thus: A writer whose mere mention evokes memories of a large body of work that was generally excellent; whose work stands the test of time; who had worldwide fame and literary success; and whose work was controversial and widely discussed during his lifetime and over the next century.

My nominee (and you’ll have a hard time budging me off of this one) is Mr. Stephen King. Now, one could argue that Twain was known as a humorist as much as he was a novelist, but it is the impact the writer has/will have 100 years down the road that, in my view, qualifies “Uncle Stevie.”

The Stand is likely to weather the vicissitudes of time. It is arguably King’s finest work and one whose themes (and sometimes its characters) are woven throughout King’s ouvre. If you, as I do, consider that the pinnacle of King’s work, then the other pillar might be 2009’s Under the Dome. In the first, a remnant travel vast distances to join together and take sides in a great battle of good and evil. In the latter, a community is arbitrarily sealed off from the physical and moral constraints of the rest of the world. One is expansive. The other is claustrophobic. Yet both grapple with the choices people will make when faced with crises.

Let’s consider The Stand and Under the Dome to be modern fables that will be studied, dissected, praised, and reviled 100 years from now in much the same way that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are treated today.

Both writers also wrote short stories and King may, in fact, already be the superior of Twain in that field. It certainly can’t be argued that King hasn’t had as much impact on popular culture, especially with their adaptations into film. Who doesn’t remember the movies made from “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” or “The Body?” “The Shawshank Redemption” (Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, directed by Frank Darabont) and “Stand by Me (River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Keifer Sutherland, directed by Rob Reiner) are treasured memories for a generation of moviegoers.

And I’ll make one more observation. Samuel Langhorne Clemons wrote under the pen name Mark Twain. King, when told by his publisher to slow his output, found another publisher to put out more work under the name Richard Bachman. Fortunately, we discovered this during the man’s lifetime and we have been enriched by those works, too. Do you remember when King released 2 giant novels at the same time – one as King and one as Bachman? The Regulators and Desperation released on the same day and, amazingly, put pretty much the same characters into two plots in two distinct settings.

I remember buying both and tossing a coin to determine which one I would read first. I believe I finished them both before the weekend was ended.

My final tribute in this “dash” to Stephen King involves not his fecundity but his meticulousness. I read a lot, and that includes advance copies from which, purportedly, all the errors will be removed pre-publication. In my experience, by the time it is in advance bound copies, I’m looking at the same book you will be reading. Anyway, I may see more errors than you do and as an old editor, I’m orders of magnitude more peevish about anachronisms, word choices, spelling, punctuation, etc.

Let me attest that I have never found an error in a Stephen King book. I have a theory as to why that is so. BECAUSE STEPHEN KING TURNS THE MANUSCRIPT IN WITHOUT ANY FLAWS! If the author nails it, there is no occasion for the editors to miss a mistake. Tom Clancy’s latest book was almost ruined for me (I wrote about that in early January) by errors that clearly were the authors’ and not the editors’.

One last “dash.” While reading Under the Dome, I remarked to Ann that at last I had found an error in a Stephen King book. Rather than disappointment, my reaction was shock. This was a special edition of a final bound copy, too, and the thought that King had finally lost his grammar/spelling mojo was too hard to believe. So I investigated. As it turns out, for Mainers, there is an alternate spelling of the relevant word that is unique to that place and that dialect. King had not made a mistake, after all, and the earth returned to spin on its axis and revolve gracefully around its star.

Please join the conversation and tell us who you think will be studied in schools 100 years from now and whose works will still be known by practically all English speakers.

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Water for Elephants Still a Favorite Book

Whenever a book becomes a movie, it gains new readers. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants didn’t necessarily need the bump, though – it has been one of the most consistently popular books we’ve ever sold.

Water for Elephants

Movie's on the way

Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon will be taking on the primary roles in the movie, and people who loved the book may be somewhat worried that “their” book is going to be ruined. Relax. The author herself has given the film a hearty endorsement.

You may have been expecting a continuation of our “Books That Changed Our Lives” theme and I’ll return to that tomorrow. But because we had an important event at the store last night, I’m going to be just a tad lazy and let you see, via YouTube, Sara Gruen discussing her latest book, Ape House, and her other novels plus the movie. Enjoy, and if you’ve already read Water for Elephants, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

There’s more of this event and other good video on the site, too, if you want to catch up with Sara Gruen.


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Spider Bites: How Do You Make a Sniper a Hero?

Saturdays are for “Spider Bites.” Get it? Spiders make webs, and what’s on the Web is certainly worth sharing, right?

Hot Springs, an Earl Swagger novel

Father and son snipers

Today we feature the Website(s) of author Stephen Hunter. For me, his ongoing series of books about Bob Lee Swagger, and the companion books about his Dad, Earl Swagger, have been a pure pleasure.

The Swaggers are not quite anti-heroes, but the efficiency with which they dispense justice does put them outside the boundaries of your normal thriller hero. Some of you probably saw the movie Shooter, which starred Mark Wahlberg as a contract protective sniper who is framed for an assassination – an “executive action.”

That movie burst forth from Stephen Hunter’s book Point of Impact, and was drastically adapted to reflect a different backstory from the character of Bob Lee Swagger in the 1993 book.

One of my favorite Hunter books is Hot Springs, in which Bob Lee’s father Earl finds himself called on to clean up Hot Springs, Arkansas at a time when the place was totally mobbed up.

Anyway, the purpose of these Saturday Spider Bites is to let you explore on your own. Below are some links to sites by and about Stephen Hunter. Did you know that Hunter’s day job before retirement was as the film critic for the Washington Post? He turns 65 in a couple of months.

On Wikipedia

The author’s unofficial Website is at www.stephenhunter.net

His publisher (Simon & Schuster) author page is here.Stephen Hunter

Finally, here’s his page on the British Website Fantastic Fiction, a site I use extensively to help me annotate books in series – because publishers change and they are all terrible at letting us know the chronological order of series books.

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