St. Martin’s ‘Starting Over,’ Harcourt’s ‘Algorithm,’ Plus Hansel and Gretel in Germany
When the Buchmesse opens its doors on October 18, what are Sub. Rights Directors planning to pull out of their book bags as they cozy up to editors from Europe and beyond? Herewith, a sampling from some of the major players:
The S&S group has a slew of big-name books, including the latest from Jimmy Carter, Kissinger, and Bob Woodward; Stephen Ambrose’s latest, Nothing Like It in the World; Tina Sinatra’s bio of Frank, My Father’s Daughter; Mary Higgins Clark’s most recent bestseller, as well as her co-authored (with daughter Carol) Deck the Halls. Scribner has Kathy Reich’s latest and Sarah Ban Breathnach’s A Man’s Journey to Simple Abundance (published under the new Simple Abundance Press imprint). Free Press will be pushing The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (Scott Ventrella) which, given the original’s long run in Germany, should be a big hit at the Fair.
Holt, meanwhile, is excited about three Jack Macrae titles — Eric Lax’s The Mold in Dr. Florey’s Coat (How Penicillin Began the Age of Miracle Cures); J. Robert Lennon’s novel, On The Night Plain; and Max Phillips’s The Artist’s Wife, a novel about the life of Alma Mahler, “the lovely, aristocratic fin de siècle composer who abandoned her own art to become a collector of geniuses.” Metropolitan Book has New Yorker writer Mark Danner’s Haiti, about American foreign policy and its political consequences in Haiti. Times Books has a great-sounding title, Leadership Ensemble (Lessons in Flat, Flexible, and Fast Management from the World’s Only Conductorless Orchestra), by Harvey Seifter and Peter Economy. Apparently the Orpheus Orchestra has had no conductor for three decades, and the “Orpheus Process” is attracting the attention of the business world. Also coming is Peter Ward and Don Brownlee’s The Ends of the World (The Second Half of the Life of the Earth), a scientific narrative chronicling Planet Earth’s long journey into eternity. It is, claims the publisher, “Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die on a cosmic scale.”
St. Martin’s is bringing Robin Pilcher’s Starting Over (Thomas Dunne), confident that the success of An Ocean Apart — which sold 40,000 hardcovers and 400,000 paperbacks, and was sold to 10 countries — will help. James Brady’s Warning of the War, also a Thomas Dunne book, is being shown, as is Stephen Cannell’s latest, The Tin Collector. Gail Tsukiyama’s as-yet untitled next novel will be discussed, though the mss. is not in yet.
An eclectic list is on tap from HarperCollins, with books by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jack Lemmon (Regan), Jane Goodall (with Mark Beckoff) and Eminem (Regan), but Brenda Segel predicts that Peter Duffy’s The Brothers Bielsky will be huge. French, Dutch, and Greek rights have been sold, and there are offers in Italy. Miramax has the movie option. Ecco Press’s The Blue Bear by Lynn Schooler is another big Frankfurt book, and Linus Torvalds’ Just For Fun would be, if rights hadn’t already been sold to seven countries, including China and Korea.
Houghton Mifflin looks at the effects of a volcanic eruption in the Andes in Surviving Galeras (Stan Williams & Fen Montaigne), about a 1993 expedition that killed nine scientists. Stan Williams was the only survivor. In The Seven Sins of Memory, Daniel Schacter, chairman of Harvard University’s Department of Psychology, describes the nature and basis of what he calls the “seven sins of memory”: transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence, and offers ways to counter their effects. And Alice Randall reworks Gone with the Wind from the perspective of Scarlett’s mixed-race half-sister in The Wind Done Gone.
Harcourt has a decidedly scientific bent this Frankfurt, with titles like A Hole in the Universe (K.C. Cole) with quotes from Dava Sobel and Oliver Sacks; The Riddle of the Compass (Amir Aczel of Fermat’s Last Theorem fame); The Monkey in the Mirror (How We Combat Our Irrationality With Science), by Ian Tattersall); The Advent of the Algorithm; and Aristotle’s Children (Richard Rubenstein). Like Holt, they have a (nonfiction) book about a composer’s wife — Frida Strindberg — as well as biographies of Albert Speer and Benedict Spinoza, not to mention fiction by George V. Higgins, and Fred Reiken’s second novel Lost Legends of New Jersey.
And a few notes from elsewhere on the bestseller lists: Metaphysics of the Gut, by the prolific Amélie Nothomb, is the author’s 10th novel in as many years and hits #2 in France this month. Nothomb’s previous novel Fear and Trembling was a breakout at over 500,000 copies, and will be published by St. Martin’s next spring. Incidentally, Nothomb will be Stateside this fall promoting a 1993 title, Amorous Sabotage, to be published by New Directions. Her books are short and precise, following the trajectory of her life, and Metaphysics takes her from birth to age 3, a time “when parents view their kids as no more than a digestive tract with feet.” It’s all told in a child’s first-person voice — and apparently done admirably well, according to French reviews.
Also in France, Frédéric Beigbeder rings up a sale with the “potentially explosive” 99 Francs, a novel that delves deeply into the “tendency of advertising to turn us all into morons.” The narrator toils in an ad agency and, following frequent episodes of cocaine-driven self-loathing, attempts to escape but finds it impossible to leave. While praising the 34-year-old Beigbeder’s ambition (the author works in an ad agency and apparently wrote the novel to pull himself out of the muck), a review of the title by a member of one of France’s largest ad agencies naturally finds the book a “mediocre” product. The public apparently thinks otherwise — the ad-biz bomb has arrived to much éclat in France, shooting to #1.