ALA at NOLA

Walking the carpeted aisles of the newly reopened section of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (some 30 percent of the building remains to be repaired), it was difficult for me to picture the horrific scenes of last summer: the fetid squalor, the suffocating heat, and the frightening darkness. Instead librarians shivered in the icy air conditioning as they congregated around the flashy and huge Google exhibit booth to answer a quiz and win a Google t-shirt. Publishers were more generous this year with galleys and free books, although some were still charging librarians $ for last season's hardcovers. Among the hot galleys: On Agate Hill (Algonquin, Sept.), Lee Smith's historical novel about the post-Civil War South; Edgar Award winning Jess Walter's 9/11 novel, The Zero (Regan Books, Sept.), and Robert Wilson's new international crime thriller, The Hidden Assassins (Harcourt, Nov.). At a Friday night dinner sponsored by Grove/Atlantic and Publishers Group West and held at the highly rated  Herbsaint Restaurant, Grove/Atlantic President Morgan Entrekin, who was attending his first ALA, introduced the 35 invited librarians to authors Tim Flannery (The Weather Makers) and Tina Cassidy (Birth: The Surprising History to How We Are Born).After a pleasant and delicious dinner at which the authors changed tables between courses and chatted with librarians, the guests were sent back to their hotels well-fed and well-read, with not only Flannery and Cassidy's books, but also Donna Leon's latest Venetian mystery, Through A Glass Darkly,  (which the author had signed in advance) and Clifford Chase's Winkie, a first novel about a teddy bear accused of being a terrorist.—Wilda Williams 

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