June 13, 2017
When the Librarians came to Melville House: Fall 2017 Edition
by Chad Felix
This past Friday, June 9th, we here at Melville House were lucky enough to spend the afternoon with some of the finest folks around, the Librarians, on the occasion of this publishing house’s biannual Librarian Preview, Fall 2017 edition.
We’ve reported on the many great and necessary deeds of the Librarians here—from assisting their communities’ homeless populations to making books available to children, despite outstanding late fees to just being an inclusive space for all, no matter what—and it was, as it truly always is, a great privilege to speak with many of them together about the books we’re loving and betting they’ll soon be loving, too.
To begin, we dog-eared a few titles that are coming very soon. We had a screening for Jacques Berlinerblau’s Book Trailer of the Day-winning new book Campus Confidential, a professor’s-eye-view of the trials and tribulations of American higher education. That jam, you should know, is in libraries and bookstores today.
We also directed some librarian attention to the truly buzzing The Talented Ribkins, the debut novel from Ladee Hubbard that’s already earned accolades from Toni Morrison (“For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard’s original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself”), Mary Gaitskill (“A welcome original”), Jami Attenberg (“A fresh and original debut”), Mat Johnson (“A rare talent”), and Kirkus, who starred their review:
Crafty and wistful… Hubbard weaves this narrative with prodigious skill and compelling warmth. You anticipate a movie while wondering if any movie could do this fascinating family… well, justice. To describe this novel, as someone inevitably will, as Song of Solomon reimagined as a Marvel Comics franchise is to shortchange its cleverness and audacity.
The librarians, thoughtful as ever, took some notes down. Even better, they laughed at Jacques’s jokes, which, you should know, are very good. (Just to reiterate: the librarians’ appreciation of Dr. Berlinerblau’s jokes are a sign of sharp intelligence and good character.)
Then we moved on to discuss the forthcoming “drop-ins.” While it is has been well documented that this type of publishing is hard on publishing houses and authors, and that we here at Melville House get a real kick out of taking on that challenge again and again, many do not realize that publishing on such an accelerated schedule (sometimes a book goes from idea to library in less than three months) is also difficult for librarians. They are forced to order books with less information, more often than not outside of their traditional ordering schedule. So I’d like to say right now: thank you, librarians, and booksellers too, for helping us get the books that we need out yesterday into the hands of patrons and customers today.
The new two such books were presented: Antifa, Mark Bray’s history of the anti-fascist movement and its tactics, as well as A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, a non-partisan history of the often misunderstood legal proceeding. And the librarians cheered. And we here at Melville House, we blushed.
From there we sped headlong into our main attraction: Fall 2017, a season sizzling with exciting fiction such as Black Rock White City, the Miles Franklin award-winning novel from A.S. Patric, and The Doll Funeral, Kate Hamer’s follow-up to the LibraryReads pick and mega-seller The Girl in the Red Coat, and A Beautiful Young Woman, the English-language debut of Argentine writer Julián López. We introduced the Librarians to Marion Rankine, who videoed in to tell us all (with enviable charm and clarity) about Brolliology, her cultural history of the umbrella. Editor Taylor Sperry made it known that Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes will soon be blowing their minds, and that Jeff VanderMeer agrees with her:
Stunning—a totally original, surreal mystery shot through with hints of the best of César Aira, Vladimir Nabokov, Angela Carter, and Julio Cortázar. Smart, clever, and honest. I doubt you’ve read anything quite like it.
Then, friends, the talent portion: Editor Ryan Harrington, standing to the left of the glowing PowerPoint presentation, brought forth one Gregory Smithsimon, associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center and author of Cause: And How It Doesn’t Always Equal Effect.
Smithsimon introduced a little something called “egocentric causality,” a concept he uses to explode our myriad inaccurate assumptions about the world around us. (Ever wonder why it is you assume that your ex brought their new partner to the very same dinner happen to be eating in? Of course you didn’t. You were too busy being upset by the situation. The fact is, you’re being a bit of an egomaniac; it doesn’t have anything to do with you. Sorry.)
When Dr. Smithsimon was done, we did our best to catch our collective breath (we were left breathless, you see). Upon recovery we looked to our Last Interview series, which, the Librarians learned, will soon welcome into its extremely exclusive ranks the likes of Billie Holiday and Christopher Hitchens (and many others that I cannot share with non-librarian ears here). Nice.
We said some words. We drank some wine. And in a flash, they were gone. They left with totes heavy with galleys. I left with my feet a few inches off the ground.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.