Publishing can be a little confusing. Take this little book, by American author Joshua Ferris. It was the first title in a new imprint: Reagan Arthur Books. Reagan Arthur is a person, so I guess this is a little like slapping a name like Martha Stewart on stationary, or Michael Koors on the back pocket of a pair of jeans. Except intuition tells me book buyers tend to care less about these things than a) the name of the author on the cover, and b) what the blurb on the back cover tells them about the book. But maybe that’s just the author in me. Anyhow, like the tiny Russian doll at the centre of the stack, Reagan Arthur is just the beginning of the complexity. Her imprint is part of Little, Brown and Company, which is itself a part of the Hachette Group. So why does the spine of my trade paperback copy of The Unnamed read ‘Back Bay Books’? Because Back Bay is the trade paperback imprint of Little, Brown and Co. See, I told you publishing can be confusing.
I picked this book up because a) Ferris’s agent is Julie Barer, and I wanted to read some of her authors and b) because I figure, when you’re launching a new publishing venture of any kind you’d want to open with a bang, so I thought this would probably be a special book. The plot is disarmingly simple: lawyer is beset with a baffling compulsion to walk. He walks across America. Which poses a few challenges to his family. There are bees and there are birds. It’s dark, but not in that “seeps inside your soul and makes you despair” way that a lot of novelists take pleasure in. Real would be the word. The New Yorker named Ferris one of America’s tip 20 writers under 40.
Bought at: Nicholas Hoare (ordered by my nice little old lady bookseller – I must get her name next time I go in the store. I hope she’s called something cute and old-school like Enid).
A note on Book of The Month. New Year resolution: Buy one book a month at full price, from a local independent bookstore (for me, local means I can walk there). Let it be fiction, and by an author whose work I’ve never read before. Thanks to Red Sofa Literary for the idea.