At the same time, it will be hard to leave the selling floor, after 8.5 years of guessing what that book it is that you heard on the radio, or recommending a new mystery series for your mom that isn't too gruesome, or introducing yet another guest author to audiences large and small. It's especially hard to leave all those customers whose names I know, whose smiles light up my workday, whose children I've watched grow up. And compared to some booksellers at Boswell, and at Schwartz, I've not been here that long. Passionate, well-read co-workers are a big part of what makes a bookseller good at what he or she does. I've had the pleasure of working with so many, and you all have the pleasure of having several of them, still. Plus, there is the wonderful Daniel Goldin, who is brilliant and wild and funny and has an enormous heart and has taught me so much. Milwaukee has a treasure with Boswell (just as it had with Harry W. Schwartz for 82 years), and I hope that everyone continues to see and nurture the readership and literary community that exists here.
Since I won't be able to accost you personally in the store as these titles come out, or have a shelf stocked with them at the front, I'm using the quasi-permanence of the internet as a way to tout some the books that are coming out soon which I would be foisting upon readers in the new year.
Denfeld's debut novel (though not her debut book) proves that it's possible to create a mosaic of horror and wonder that fractures the light of our preconceived notions into tiny, bloody pieces. Set mostly on death row, moving outside the prison walls only to give more brushstrokes to the portraits of those living and working in that dank place, The Enchanted features characters both named and nameless who embody the worst and best mankind has to offer. A mute killer with books as his only connection to life outside his cell's shadows, observes (and imagines) the lives of those around him: an excommunicated priest whose past is murky, the female death penalty investigator assigned to a man approaching his final breath who doesn't want the appeal opportunity being offered, a young man freshly jailed who accidentally facilitates backroom dealings... How a novel can be this devastatingly sad and so damn beautiful, I simply cannot say. (Mar. 4)
What is empathy? How can we experience the world as it is seen and lived in by another, without bringing our own judgments into it? If science disproves the existence of a disease, but the raw scars on the skin of the person suffering prove it is real, who are we to believe? In this collection of riveting essays by Graywolf Nonfiction Prizewinner Leslie Jamison, we are challenged to explore wide-ranging personal experiences in scrutinizing, yet intensely personal, ways. There are no answers given to readers on these pages, only emotional reminders that the only way we can begin to understand one another is to ask questions and when asked, give honest answers. A powerful, mind-opening work worth returning to again and again. (Apr. 10)
Thank you all--the spirits of Harry and David Schwartz, Team Awesome, Boswellians, sales reps, authors, customers--for being a huge part of the best years of my life. May our paths cross again and may the words, "You have to read this!", be always something that precedes wonder, laughter, knowledge, or even something that may save your life.