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Q&A with Pete Fromm for A Job You Mostly Won't Know How to Do

We are very excited to welcome Pete Fromm back to the Country Bookshelf on June 11th for his new novel - A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do. Bookseller Wendy Blake loved it:

Marnie and Taz have it all-they love, laugh and work together, sneak off to swim at their secret spot, and now they are starting a family. But Marnie dies in childbirth, leaving Taz to cope with his incredible loss...and his new baby daughter. Following Taz's sometimes bumbling first two years as a father, I found myself laughing and crying on the same page. Pete Fromm writes so beautifully about the confusing mix of grief and love, and what being a family really means.

Wendy had a couple questions for Pete:

Wendy Blake: The river scenes first with Marnie and later with Midge are so wonderful! Can you tell us about your favorite rivers and how they wove their way into the book?

Pete Fromm: Some of my favorite rivers? Oh boy. I was a river ranger on the Snake in Grand Teton National Park for six years, floating it nearly every day, so that one's right up there, and even figured in my last novel, If Not for This. Another season on the Rio Grande, in Big Bend NP. A winter on the Selway. Countless trips on the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Missouri, Smith, some on the Flatheads, Madison, Yellowstone, Salmon, Wind, Green. Really it gets ridiculous, but rivers have been a huge part of my life, so much so, that when Taz and Marnie found their perfect swimming hole it really became parts of several favorites of mine from Montana, Idaho and even Texas.

WB: Parenting is, of course, the “job” of the title. You are a parent…is Taz you or is his parenting style different than yours? Also, are Elmo and Rudy also Midge’s “parents” in a way?

PF: No, Taz is not me. You find out pretty quickly that you're not interesting enough to become your characters. But, I did spend many, many nights without much sleep when our sons were young, so it wasn't hard to go into those details, or to find ways for Taz to spend time with Midge, wonder on what he should be doing, what he might be doing wrong. Maybe Taz and I both leaned toward the edge of raising feral children.

And of course Elmo becomes very much a parent to Midge, and Rudy too, speaking of feral parenting.

WB: How did Marnie’s dying in childbirth, leaving Taz as the sole parent become a part of the plot? Did someone you know have that experience? Also, tell us about having Marnie’s voice continue in the book, helping Taz even after her death.

PF: This whole story actually began with a student slapping me in the chest with a copy of Glimmer Train magazine, telling me to read "The Hospital," by Silas Dent Zobel, and then tell him if was a sap for crying. He wasn't. A very moving story of a man whose wife dies in childbirth, it ends with the father taking his first step out of the hospital with this new baby. It was the right end for the story, but I thought, Wow, that's really just the beginning for a much bigger story. So, the next day I started Taz's story; a semi-employed carpenter walking into the half-demolished fixer upper he and his wife had been renovating, alone with this newborn, no idea how to make one move forward. I thought it would be a story of Taz raising this child alone, but almost immediately his best friend showed up to help, making me realize that he was not alone, that none of us really are. More people showed up, family, friends, and, yes, even his wife, not in any ghostly way, but just Taz still so close to her that he could imagine (hear?) what she would say to him from time to time. It acts as another way to show how he is not really as alone as he thought at the outset.

Join us for more from Pete Fromm on Tuesday, June 11th at 6pm. Don’t forget to get your exclusive signed edition, available only at Country Bookshelf.

 
Books: 

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

Teen Advisory Corps member Claire has this to say about Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

Abbi Hope, nicknamed Baby Hope, has been well-known her whole life since she was captured in a famous photo taken on 9/11. Recognized wherever she goes, she has heard many peoples’ stories and remains a symbol of hope for them. But wanting to escape from her life-long legacy for a little while, she takes a job at a local day-camp and spends the day with four-year-olds, her senior counselor, and Josh, the other junior counselor. Meeting for the first time, Josh instantly recognizes Abbi and wants her help on a mission to track down the other members of the Baby Hope picture. Not having much of a choice, Abbi agrees, and together they set out to hear from the other survivors.


Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum is a hopeful story about two teens whose lives are significantly tied to 9/11. As someone who was born after 9/11, I know the devastation of the day, but I will never be able to understand it the same way. Buxbaum’s story allowed me to learn about the true impact of this day and how it still resonates years later. Abbi and Josh’s stories work cohesively to provide different perspectives on 9/11 and are accessible to readers who may not remember 9/11 or who were not alive yet. Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum is certainly not an easy book to read, but definitely an important one.

 

Books: 
Hope and Other Punch Lines Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781524766771
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 7th, 2019

Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins

Teen Advisory Corps member Zoe had this to say about Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins. 

Stolen Time isn’t so much about time travel as it is about why you really do not want to be living in Seattle in the future. Seriously, Danielle Rollins’ depiction of the year 2077 showcases a city devastated by an earthquake and tsunami that permanently flooded the area. And then, of course, there’s the rumored cannibal who leads a gang to terrorize Seattle at night. This apocalyptic state awaits our heroine Dorothy, who stows away on board what turns out to be a time machine in 1913. In the future, the pilot must accept Dorothy into his gang of teenage time travelers as they search for their missing leader.

The novel’s concept is tantalizing, but don’t expect a major focus on travel to different time periods. Instead, the dystopian themes take prominence, and a major portion of the book is actually more of a heist story involving breaking into a 1980s military base. Of course, that has an appeal of its own, but the reading experience would have been more enjoyable had I not gone into it expecting a wide variety of time travel. Readers do get introduced to historical elements as the teens discuss when and where they lived before being picked for the team, though these characters do not play major roles.

Ironically, my main complaint about Stolen Time is the pacing. The story takes place in what felt like about one day, which is not nearly enough time to develop the relationships central to the story. Plus, Dorothy seemed to adjust to 2077 life just a bit too fast for someone abruptly ripped from Victorian life. However, the more scientific aspects of Rollins’ work were very interesting, and the last section of the book made for a very exciting read. Overall, the future (sequels) is ripe with possibility.

Books: 
Stolen Time (Dark Stars #1) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062679949
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - February 5th, 2019

The Lovely War by Julie Berry

Teen Advisory Corps member Zoe had this to say about The Lovely War by Julie Berry. 

Sometimes young adult books seem to fall prey to repetitive formats and cliches. And sometimes a book like Lovely War by Julie Berry comes along and suddenly Greek gods are sitting around a World War II-era hotel room and narrating a story that takes place during the previous world war. Despite all the fantasy, somehow, Berry also manages to construct an honest tale and weave together readers’ emotions like the Fates themselves. Through four main characters, Hazel, James, Colette, and Aubrey, we gain insight into a wide variety of perspectives of war and see the struggles facing those two sets of lovers in a way that represents those of so many more.

Lovely War is a study of the relationship between the titular ideas: love and war. And that’s the amazing part of the story, how it’s not just entertaining but meaningful as well. Through James’s perspective, we see the psychological destruction of war, and how that damage affects those like Hazel who love suffering soldiers. Colette represents the true tragedy of war as she has lost so much, and Aubrey helps bring the oft-overshadowed story of black WWI soldiers to life. Their lives intersect like music, fitting as Hazel and Aubrey play piano and Colette sings.

Love, readers learn, is the vital ingredient for surviving war. This Aphrodite explains between glimpses into the lives of humans. And here the book is optimistic, offering hope even for those thrust into the atrocities of war. Plus, Lovely War makes for a very educational historical fiction, as we’re introduced not only to real-life battles but to changing musical trends and civil rights progress as well. Thus, Berry’s writing produces a unique rhythm as it follows a complex melody, suggesting haunting beauty along the way.

Books: 
Lovely War Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780451469939
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - March 5th, 2019

Love from A to Z by SK Ali

Zayneb has always spoken up against her Islamophobic teacher, but one day he has finally had it and gets her suspended the week before spring break. Already having plans to travel to Qatar, she leaves a week early and stays with her Auntie Nandy. Adam is returning to Qatar to visit his dad and sister and to finally tell them about his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. On the airplane from London to Doha, Qatar, Zayneb and Adam meet. Both being Muslim and keeping a journal recording life’s marvels and oddities, they feel a connection and intrigue towards each other. Adam and Zayneb continue to run into each other in Doha, and find that they are attracted to the other. Told through alternating journal entries of marvels and oddities, Adam and Zayneb realize things about themselves, and discover ways to overcome their obstacles.

 

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali is a powerful and impactful story about two Muslim teens struggling with challenges in their life. What I find most important about this story is its realness and truthfulness. The glimpses of Doha accompanied with Islamic culture helps to set the tone for the story and allows the reader to feel as if they are connected with the characters. In addition, Ali wrote with such passion that the reader is able to step into the character’s shoes and experience their feelings. Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali is an unforgettable book that expanded my global perspective.

Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

When the power goes out all across New York City, Lucy and Owen meet for the first time in an elevator. Not having any other plans once they are out of the shaft, they decide to spend the rest of the day together, and end up talking about postcards. However, once the power comes back on, the blackout’s spell is broken and Lucy and Owen return to their routines. A few days later, they both find out that their families are moving in complete opposite directions, and they realize this might be the last time they see each other. But as they continue their new adventures, it becomes clear that they still think about what could have been. Through a series of postcards, emails, and meet-ups, Lucy and Owen find their way back to each other in  The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith.

 

I was drawn to this story because I thought the premise of being stuck in an elevator was creative, and I was interested to see how the story would go from there. The story was well-developed and I felt transported to where the characters were in that point in time. I also really enjoyed the connection the characters shared with getting caught in the elevator during the blackout, and their postcard connection. It was really enjoyable to watch the characters grow and discover themselves, too. For lovers of geography and unexpected meet-cutes, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith combines both in an unforgettable way.

Books: 
The Geography of You and Me Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780316254762
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Poppy - March 3rd, 2015

A Prescription for Cabin Fever

Spring hasn’t sprung yet, but the switch to daylight-savings has us itching for green, growing things, and sunshine. Here are some transporting reads to help combat cabin fever.

Wendy recommends Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Girodano. “A super fun mystery set in Sicily! Auntie Poldi and her wig set out to solve the murder of her handyman, a great start to the series, I can’t wait to read the next one!”

Anna recommends the classic A Room with a View by EM Forster as another great book, also set in Italy, that is “just so NOT my life.”

Kasey was bowled over by Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. “A fun, and strange, multigenerational journey” about a highly idiosyncratic family managing a candlepin bowling alley.

Jessica encourages you to truly sail away with Lily King’s Euphoria - a fictionalized account of the life of Margaret Mead - which has the reader, much like the famed anthropologist, examining the mundanity of everyday life, but through the dramatic jungle lens of the south pacific.

For those who have truly had enough, Kris recommends The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. This bright orange book will “get you out of your head long enough to appreciate being in the moment. He also has a new book coming out that I'm really excited for!"

Stop in and ask a bookseller what your next great read should be!

 
Books: 
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure #1) Cover Image
By Mario Giordano, John Brownjohn (Translated by)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328588784
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Mariner Books - February 5th, 2019

A Room with a View (Vintage Classics) Cover Image
$11.00
ISBN: 9780679724766
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Vintage - October 23rd, 1989

Staff Pick Badge
Bowlaway: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062862853
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - February 5th, 2019

Euphoria Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802123701
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Grove Press - April 14th, 2015

Staff Pick Badge
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062457714
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Harper - September 13th, 2016

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How Big WAS the Fish?

  “A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick. Without stories we would go mad. Life would lose its moorings or orientation … Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger."

 

Story Slams, or live storytelling, a la The Moth Podcast, is a new iteration of a very old artform. Our human ancestors, and perhaps those not so human, once congregated to communicate about their experiences as a way to find and give meaning.

Storytelling competitions allot 5 minutes each to the teller to share their story around a theme, with no notes, but also not memorized. There are many forms that tellers can use to frame their story; plain first person narrative, a diary entry, a frame tale, a modernization or setting change, a dialogue, interview or script, or a ballad.

Telling is both of the mind, and of the body, giving dual emphasis to content and performance. The story’s transmission is a collaboration of energy and imagination within both the teller and listeners. The urgency and vulnerability in exposing so much of the self creates a palpable connection that roots our community and sparks empathy.  

I’ve been telling stories for about as long as I can remember. There’s nothing quite like a well told story. We’ve all of us experienced things in our lives that seem unbelievable, astounding, shocking, and heart-wrenching but it’s in the way the story is told that holds the power. There are stories I’ve told everybody to the point that people who know and love me could probably tell them for me. There are stories so dark and secret and precious, only a few people have ever heard me tell them. There are stories so embarrassing that I probably should have kept them to myself and have ended up telling entire audiences. I have stories that have changed and morphed over time and ones I no longer remember. We all of us have a story burning inside us. How will you tell yours? - Harry Jahnke

We can’t wait for Bozeman Untold’s StorySlam honoring One Book One Bozeman on Thursday, February 21st, on the theme of “Love, and Other Consolation Prizes.” This singular way of honoring the spirit of a community reading project invites participants to tell a story, not read one (indeed no notes are allowed), in 5 minutes - much like poetry slams you may be familiar with. The act of storytelling honors the individual experience, challenges dominant narratives, and deepens community connection. Whether a first person narrative, a dear diary entry, or a modernization, you’re invited to hook the audience and build a bridge with your community.

 

Tips:

Make an outline, memorize the bullet points, and play with the details.
Have some stakes.
Have a great first line.
Have an ending - don’t meander.
This is not a space for stand-up, essays or rants.
No fake accents

See you at the mic!

Blog Tags: 

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Pre-order Today! Due out July 2019!

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is an enchanting story described as Mulan meets Project Runway, that later develops into an adventure of epic proportions. Filled with trials, romance, and a pair of magic scissors. Maia will take you on her quest to become the greatest tailor in the land.Where you mill travel with her through a beautifully crafted world of war, riches, and natural power; where you will experience every possible emotion. 


If there's not a sequel I will die inside.
 

- Maggie S

Books: 
Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525646990
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - July 9th, 2019

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Hugo and his girlfriend Margaret were going to spend the last part of summer going on a train ride across the United States before starting college. At the last minute, Margaret breaks up with Hugo but encourages him to still go on the tour. The only problem being that everything was booked under the name Margaret Campbell. Hugo’s solution is to find another Margaret Campbell who is willing to be his travel companion (solely for the purpose of being the name of the reservation). He gets plenty of responses and in the end he chooses Mae—an aspiring filmmaker who’s looking for an adventure, and a new film idea. At first, their companionship is strictly business, but as the ride continues they realize it may be something more.

 

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is a contemporary approach to the intrigue of the strangers on a train premise. I immediately fell in love with Hugo and Mae, but as the story continued I loved them even more. Both characters are dealing with a sort of pressure that they try to work out on the train—Hugo is expected to go to college on scholarship with his siblings, and Mae was rejected to her dream film program for college. It’s this in common that really brings them together and helps encourage them. You couldn’t help but cheer on Hugo and Mae. In addition, the story was light-hearted making it even more enjoyable to read. You also get glimpses of the two families and what it’s like traveling by train. One of my new favorite romances, Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is a wonderful story of self-discovery on one train ride.

Books: 
Field Notes on Love Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399559419
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - March 5th, 2019

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