There’ll Always Be An England
The King’s Deception, Steve Berry’s eighth Cotton Malone novel, debuts at #6 on the Hardcover Fiction list this week. Berry’s thriller, centered on Tudor England and Elizabeth I, involves a centuries-old mystery and modern political intrigue that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s a passion he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, and one that led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009, the couple has traveled across the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers workshops. To date, nearly 2,000 students have attended those workshops. In 2012, their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Berry the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students, and the public at large.
In 2013, Berry has been or will be honored with the Spirit of Anne Frank Human Writes Award for exemplifying Anne’s spirit in his work; the International Thriller Writers Silver Bullet Award for philanthropy; and the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award for his contributions to fellow writers.—Peter Cannon
“On the hottest day of July, trolling in dead-calm waters near Key West, a tourist named James Mayberry reeled up a human arm. His wife flew to the bow of the boat and tossed her breakfast burritos.” Those not familiar with Carl Hiaasen’s off-the-wall sense of humor (“zany” and “macabre” come to mind) are in for a treat with his latest tome, Bad Monkey, which lands at #3 on this week’s Fiction List—and which opens with the above-quoted sinister sampling. A native Floridian, Hiaasen joined the Miami Herald at age 23, and since 1985 has written a regular column, which at one time or another, he admits, has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. His first novel, Tourist Season, was published in 1986; GQ called it “one of the 10 best destination reads of all time,” although Hiaasen confesses it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida. He made his children’s book debut in 2002 with Hoot, which was awarded a Newbery Honor and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. For young readers he went on to write Flush, Scat, and Chomp.
Bad Monkey, Hiaasen’s 24th book, went on sale June 11 with 140,000 copies in print and a 15-city tour in place. Following the author’s first week media hits—Today, NPR’s Fresh Air, the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Confidential column, ESPN’s Mike Lupica Show, et al.—Knopf went back to press twice, bringing the in-print total up to 180,000. Across-the-board rave notices included Janet Maslin’s “a comedic marvel… beautifully constructed,” and, from Marilyn Stasio in the NYTBR, “any fears that Carl Hiaasen might be mellowing are put to rest by Bad Monkey, another rollicking misadventure in the colorful annals of greed and corruption in South Florida.”—Dick Donahue
The Devil Returns
Revenge Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger’s sequel to her megahit The Devil Wears Prada, showed up on our list last week and while Revenge didn’t hold the same spot for this week, sales have held steady, racking up 28,747 copies to date. It’s been 10 years since Weisberger’s debut novel exposed life at the bottom of a woman’s fashion magazine (rumored to be Vogue) with characters that have joined the lexicon, especially after the movie version with Meryl Streep as icy editor Amanda Priestly (rumored to be modeled on Anna Wintour, for whom Weisberger worked) and Anne Hathaway as the guileless Andy Sachs. Andy’s gotten everything a girl could wish for in this sequel: her own glossy magazine, a beautiful apartment, a WASP husband, and an adorable little daughter. Of course, as before, there are complications, and Andy finds her way to her true self. Weisberger kicked off the extensive promotion campaign that will take her on a 10-city tour with an appearance on the Today show. According to Simon & Schuster publicity manager Jennifer Garza, after only a week there were close to 200,000 copies in print, and fashion Web site Gilt City featured its first-ever collection from fictional characters. At the top of Miranda Priestley’s favorite thing in New York: Botox.—Louisa Ermelino
Jeff Kinney, Bookseller?
While Wimpy Kid fans eagerly await book #8 in Jeff Kinney’s hugely successful series, the author has been busy with another new project: a possible bookstore and cafe in Plainville, Mass. The story started 17 years ago when Falk’s Market, once the town’s central building, closed and fell into disrepair. Kinney and his wife ended up buying the market and the building next to it. “I’ve had a lot of success. It seemed like the right thing to do,” said Kinney, who wanted to help his community by restoring the downtown to its former glory. He is currently working with architects to build a three-story colonial on the site. He envisions retail on the ground floor—a 3,000-sq.-ft. bookstore and cafe is the hope—along with a community center and offices. Kinney’s been meeting with New England booksellers as he explores whether a bookstore makes sense. “We understand the financial decisions,” he said. “My hope is that it will be a bookstore. It’s got to be useful to the town.” One thing’s for sure: if the bookstore does open, it is likely to have a strong Wimpy Kid section.—Judith Rosen
Meanwhile, Back at the Launching Pad…
Thanks to AMC’s hit drama, everyone knows about “Mad Men”—those (mostly) male Madison Avenue ad execs guzzling scotch and swearing at creative about landing a car account. If you watch too much of the show, it’s easy to forget about all the other history that was being made at that time, outside the purview of Don Draper and Co.’s dramatic careers and love affairs. Yes, the 1960s were the golden years of advertising, but it was also the dawn of the Space Age. So what about the spacemen? And—for that matter—spacewomen? Well, as in the world of advertising in the ’50s and ’60s, back then NASA wasn’t exactly known as a hotbed of gender equality in the workplace—but that’s not to say it didn’t try. In 1959, when the young organization began vetting candidates for its first crew of astronauts, President Eisenhower demanded that only military test pilots be considered. Women, alas, could not be test pilots. And so the Original Seven were all men.
They were also all husbands, each bound to wives who became stars in their own right, albeit earthbound ones. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, put on brave faces for the press, and even formed their own quasi-support group to deal with the unique stresses of being married to spacemen. Lily Koppel profiles that rarified clique in The Astronaut Wives Club, one of PW’s top 10 picks in the history/military history category of our 2013 Spring Announcements. The titular wives were expected to maintain a facade of strength and support for their death-defying husbands and their groundbreaking work, but as we all know, it’s what’s behind the veneer—marital discord, tragedy, infighting among the wives—that makes for a good story. Grand Central aimed for the moon with this one, printing 200,000 copies in the first run. And though Koppel’s only sold a little over 4,000 copies—putting the book at #20 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list—we expect that number to keep going up, up, and away.
NASA just announced its newest class of eight astronaut candidates (chosen from a pool of over 6,000 applicants), and it’s the first group with gender parity in the agency’s history. Maybe in a few years Koppel will be back on our bestseller list with The Astronaut Husbands Club…—Samuel R. Slaton