“Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said it might be “the greatest slow-motion tragedy of our times.” Veterans of World War II are dying at the rate of 740 a day, he noted on a broadcast earlier this year. That was his lead-in to a segment about a book written by residents of a Hanover, N.H., retirement community. His piece led to a sales bump that made “World War II Remembered” the fastest-selling book in the 42-year history of the University Press of New England and its first to make Amazon’s top 10. Sales have now topped 9,000.
How did the book get to Williams? One of the contributors, Mary Mecklin Jenkins, gave it to his mother-in-law, who is a friend of hers, just before he showed up for Thanksgiving. Jenkins writes about being a young bride in 1944 when her husband was assigned to an Air Force base in Kansas. “Those first years of our married life marked us,” she writes, “even as they marked our whole generation.”
The 56 essays are organized by where the writers were based during the war: the European Theater; the Pacific Theater and Far East; Europe and South America; and the US. Among the experiences described are becoming a conscientious objector, being sent to a Japanese internment camp, getting shot down and seized by German soldiers, and liberating a concentration camp.
The writers, all of whom live at Kendal at Hanover, were inspired by “Our Great War,” published by members of the Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne, Vt. Just before the Kendal book was published, residents of RiverWoods in Exeter, N.H. came out with “The War We Knew.”
Trident Booksellers set to expand
Trident Booksellers & Café is growing up. This fall it will expand to the second floor of its Newbury Street location, adding another café and about 800 square feet for books.
With the expansion, more room will be devoted to new releases and children’s books and other sections will grow as well, according to manager Courtney Flynn, daughter of founders Bernie and Gail Flynn. The second café will be used for author events, workshops, and cooking demonstrations with cookbook authors and local chefs.
Fueled by a brisk business in the café, the Trident, open since 1984, appears poised to remain a place where customers can stumble upon a book they didn’t know they were looking for. In an e-mail, Flynn wrote, “Because of our symbiotic relationship between books, food, and community, we see no reason why we can’t continue to survive and grow.”
Write stuff for Brookline Booksmith staff
It’s a natural fit: writers and bookstores. Russell Banks worked for a time at the Brookline Booksmith. So did Elvis Presley biographer Peter Guralnick, memoirist David Gessner, and novelist Lisa Carey. Who will be next to break out of the Booksmith and land a place in the literary world? You might find some clues Friday (July 27) at 7 p.m. when the Booksmith hosts eight employees who will read from their novels, short stories, and poetry.
“Judgment Call” by J.A. Jance (Morrow)
“Broken Harbor” by Tana French (Viking)
“Friends Forever” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)
Pick of the week
Ellen Meeropol of Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley recommends “Picture This” by Jacqueline Sheehan (Morrow): “In a sequel to ‘Lost & Found,’ also set on Maine’s Peaks Island, Rocky Pelligrino is contacted by Natalie, who is just out of foster care and claims she’s the unacknowledged daughter of Rocky’s late husband. This page-turner is a profound exploration of damage done in childhood, the nature of evil, and the difficulty of knowing what is true.”
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.