Sunday, February 09, 2020

American Dirt Tops NYT Bestseller List for First Time

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to open my copy of the New York Times Book Review and find that the controversial novel by Jeanine Cummins, American Dirt, is sitting atop two of the review's fiction best seller lists: the Print Hardcover list and the Combined Print and E-Book list. For the first time in a while, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is not number one. That took some doing.

As can be seen in the attached picture I took last week, my local Barnes & Noble is all-in on the book. The Target stores around here are less enthusiastic about American Dirt, but the two Target stores I've been in recently both had two or three copies prominently displayed. I'm happy that the all-out effort to ruin the author and publisher of American Dirt is having a boomerang effect instead - the absurdly brutal attack on Cummins has ended up making her loudest critics look much worse than what they accuse her of being. 


Also spotted in the February 9 issue are two books I want to take a closer look at:



This is a collection of nine (get it?) interconnected short stories that all take place in Phoenix during baseball spring training (known in Arizona as the Cactus League) just prior to the 2011 season. This one was released last Tuesday - just in time for avid baseball fans who need a baseball-fix prior to this week's opening of spring training in Florida and Arizona. Reviewer Charles McGrath says about it, "Baseball is never more than just a game here. Or, rather, a business disguised as a game - one that will nevertheless break your heart."


This one is billed as "an intimate history of premature birth and what it teaches us about being human." The author has a daughter who was delivered after 28 weeks at just 1 pound 13 ounces. DiGregorio explores the history of what happened to babies like hers prior to at least the second half of the twentieth century (they were largely just left to die on their own, apparently) and how things have so drastically changed for the better in recent years. My nephew and his wife had a son born last May even smaller than DiGregorio's daughter (he's still weighing in at only 14 pounds) so I'm probably more interested in this one than I would have been before.



And from the February 2 issue, these caught my eye:




This is a political thriller in which a plot to assassinate President Monroe, a man who sounds both a lot like President Trump and a whole lot not like President Trump. It's not so much the assassination plot that intrigues me; it's more that the main character, Hayley Chill, is a"Jason Bourne-like" 24-year-old army veteran who finds herself almost singlehandedly fighting the deep state to stop the assassination. Too, there's something the reviewer (Sarah Lyall) calls "one of the more surprising double-reverse plot twists I have seen in some time." Now, that sounds like fun.


This is a true-crime book about three young women who in 1980 decided to hitchhike to a peace festival in West Virginia. Two of the women were shot and killed in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, and although most everyone in the county seems willing to tell what they know about the murders, the pieces they contribute don't add up to what is needed to make murder charges stick. The author learned of the murders after moving to the county fo work at a wilderness camp for local teenage girls. She couldn't stop thinking about the girl who were killed so near her new home - and all that thinking led to The Third Rainbow Girl.

Despite the fact that I'm obviously being distracted by all the shiny new books out there, so far this month I'm sticking pretty close to the reading schedule I put together at the end of January. I've now read three of the ten books on that list (The Gone Dead, The German Heiress, and Sam Houston & the Alamo Avengers) and I'm well on my way into two others. The only change to my plans came in the way of Fred Gipson's Old Yeller, the audiobook version of which I'm listening to now while driving around town on various errands. So far, so good.

14 comments:

  1. My beloved granddaughter was born one day under 29 weeks at 2.2 pounds. I am thankful every single minute that she is thriving and healthy and a happy six year old. There are miracles in this world, and she is one of them. As is our dearest daughter who had pre-eclampsia. More here: https://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2013/12/hazel-nina-our-new-granddaughter.html

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    1. Thanks for the link, Nan. It's truly amazing that babies at these birth-weights can be saved so regularly these days. (t is all tremendously expensive, of course, but what's a human life worth? In their case the final bill came in at something over $2 million but the hospital wrote off a little over a million dollars themselves and insurance covered all but $6000 to the family. I was kind of shocked by the numbers.

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  2. As they say I guess, all publicity is good publicity!

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    1. It really does look like there's a lot of truth to that old saying.

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  3. I checked back to see how much Hazel weighed at the age your nephew's baby's age, and she was 13.8. In fact she was a month older at this weight, so I would say the baby is doing just fine!

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    1. Sounds as if he's right where he would be expected to be then, Nan. Thanks for the comparison. They are a little concerned about his motor skills and his eyesight at this point, but he's actually doing better than originally anticipated, so it's all good.

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  4. 'There's no such thing as bad publicity'. Good luck to Jeanine Cummins is what I say.

    That's a nice lot of books you have your eye on there. LOL I rather fancy the sound of The Third Rainbow Girl. Your B&N pic is reminding me how much fun we had on our various US holidays, tripping in and out of your bookstores. One visit we managed to bring back over 20 books.

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    1. You're right, Cath. No such thing as bad publicity, it seems.

      I used to do the same book-binge shopping when we vacationed in the U.K. On two separate occasions, I had to buy an extra suitcase to pack all of my new books into before heading to the airport.

      The Third Rainbow Girl is kind of intriguing, isn't it.? I don't read a whole lot of True Crime, but the genre does fascinate me more times than not.

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    2. I don't read a lot of true crime either but have just finished Unnatural Causes, a book about forensic patholgy by Richard Shepherd who is a forensic pathologist for the police here in the UK. As you say, it is fascinating but I couldn't read too much at one time as it all got a bit much. These are very special people.

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    3. Forensic pathology is a fascinating thing to me. For a while, I was hung up on all those television shows featuring that aspect of crime solving, not to mention all the novels that feature it.

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  5. I'm glad American Dirt is doing so well despite everything. And that book The Third Rainbow Girl does sound pretty awesome. I also like the sound of the character Haley Chill from Deep State. :)

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    1. I love to see "culture cancelers" fail, and I think this is sort of akin to that whole misguided concept. Erasing history because you find it offensive, offends the hell out of me. :-)

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  6. I'll have to check out that book on preemies. My boys were both born at 29 weeks, weighing 3.3 lbs. and 3.6 lbs. respectively. They've grown into healthy young men, but their early births were pretty terrifying and they were "big" as far as preemies go :)

    I've kept my distance from true crime books lately, but THE THIRD RAINBOW GIRL sounds intriguing to me as well.

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    1. Wow, having to go through that kind of thing twice must have been tough on you and your husband. Happy to see that the boys are going well now, though, and that's encouraging in regards to my nephew's son. He still seems so tiny to me.

      The Third Rainbow girl seems to be getting a bit of a push in the media, so it has the potential, at least, of becoming a "big" book. We'll see, but I do like the sound of it.

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