February 2020 First Editions Club

Gabriel Bump's debut novel Everywhere You Don't Belong is February's stunning First Editions Club selection. I read this book in one day, which both permitted me and required me to reread it just a few months later. Bump's wit burned so brightly through his prose, his characters, and his story arc that my greed for each successive page didn't allow for enough time to pause and appreciate the building blocks of his work. I can assure you that if you find yourself in similar circumstances, the second time through protagonist Claude McKay Love's formative years will be even more rewarding. Our FEC author event is on February 26, so once again your books will ship late in the month and most likely early March.
Last month's FEC selection offers an opportunity to remind our membership that if you do not want the month's selection just let me know over email or by phone. While we count on your steady subscriptions we do not want anyone to end up with books they do not want to purchase.
We finally have our March and April selections finalized! While we had so many books we wanted to support, we were unable to book authors that are not coming east on their book tours. However, we were overjoyed to learn that C Pam Zhang is willing to travel east for her excellent debut novel How Much of These Hills Is Gold , now our April selection. I have moved a few things around and Katy Simpson Smith's latest time-bending masterpiece will now be our March selection. More details can be can be found on Odyssey's website and Squarespace pages.

Many thanks, Rachel

First Editions Club Selection

In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home.

Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America.

Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape,  Everywhere You Don’t Belong  marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.

“This book is astonishing. You'll be smiling even as your heart is breaking, and you'll tip willingly into this world Bump offers you because what appears again and again are spectacular beams of light, also called love, also called hope, also called family. Gabriel Bump has established himself as a stunning talent to be reckoned with.”
Maaza Mengiste, author of  The Shadow King
Author Gabriel Bump
Gabriel Bump  grew up in South Shore, Chicago. His nonfiction and fiction have appeared in  Slam  magazine, the  Huffington Post Springhouse Journal , and other publications. He was awarded the 2016 Deborah Slosberg Memorial Award for Fiction. He received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

February 2020 Special Offers

Medallion Status by John Hodgman
A hilarious and honest new book in which John Hodgman,  New York Times  bestselling author of  Vacationland,  leaves vacation behind and gets back to work as a still somewhat famous person…and then loses his job

In these pages, Hodgman explores the strangeness of his career, speaking plainly of fame, especially at the weird, marginal level he enjoyed it. Through these stories you will learn many things that only John Hodgman knows, such as how to prepare for a nude scene with an oboe, or what it feels like to go to a Hollywood party and realize that you are not nearly as famous as the Property Brothers, or, for that matter, those two famous corgis from Instagram. And there are stories about how, when your television gig is canceled, you can console yourself with the fact that all of that travel that made your young son so sad at least left you with a prize: platinum medallion status with your airline.

Both unflinchingly funny and deeply heartfelt,  Medallion Status  is a thoughtful examination of status, fame, and identity—and about the way we all deal with those moments when we realize we aren’t platinum status anymore and will have to get comfortable in that middle seat again.

John Hodgman is a writer, comedian, and actor. He is the author of  The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, That Is All,  and  Vacationland.  He is the host of the popular  Judge John Hodgman  podcast and also contributes a weekly column under the same name for  The New York Times Magazine .

 Hardcover, signed on the title page. $25.00
12 copies available. Click here to order.
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
As a young child in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia wasn’t the wrong gender, they just had too much of the stuff. Barbies? Yes. Playing with bugs? Absolutely. Getting muddy? Please. Princess dresses? You betcha. Jacob wanted it all, but because they were “a boy,” they were told they could only have the masculine half. Acting feminine labelled them “a sissy” and brought social isolation.

It took Jacob years to discover that being “a sissy” isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s a source of pride. Following Jacob through bullying and beauty contests, from Duke University to the United Nations to the podiums of the Methodist church—not to mention the parlors of the White House—this unforgettable memoir contains multitudes. A deeply personal story of trauma and healing, a powerful reflection on gender and self-acceptance, and a hilarious guidebook for wearing tacky clip-on earrings in today’s world,  Sissy  guarantees you’ll never think about gender—both other people’s and your own—the same way again.

JACOB TOBIA  (pronouns: they/them) is a gender nonconforming writer, producer, and performer based in Los Angeles. A member of the  Forbes  30 Under 30 and the OUT 100, Jacob made television history voicing the nonbinary character of Double Trouble in Netflix’s  She-Ra and The Princess of Power . Their writing and advocacy have been featured by  The New York Times, Time, The Guardian, Good Morning America,  and  The Daily Show with Trevor Noah , among others. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Jacob has worn high heels in the White House twice.  Sissy  is their debut memoir.

Hardcover, signed on the title page. $26.99
The Escape Artist by Helen Fremont
A luminous family memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed  Boston Globe  bestseller,  After Long Silence , lauded as “mesmerizing” ( The   Washington Post Book World ), “extraordinary” ( The   Philadelphia Inquirer ), and “a triumphant work of art” ( Publishers Weekly , starred review).

In the tradition of Alison Bechdel’s  Fun Home  or George Hodgman’s  Bettyville , Fremont writes with wit and candor about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on, to both Helen and her older sister, a penchant for keeping their lives neatly, even obsessively compartmentalized, and a zealous determination to protect themselves from what they see as danger from the outside world.

She delves deeply into the family dynamic that produced such a startling devotion to secret keeping, beginning with the painful and unexpected discovery that she has been disinherited in her mother’s will. In scenes that are frank, moving, and often surprisingly funny, Fremont writes about growing up in such an intemperate household, with parents who pretended to be Catholics but were really Jews—survivors of Nazi-occupied Poland. She shares tales of family therapy sessions, disordered eating, her sister’s frequently unhinged meltdowns, and her own romantic misadventures as she tries to sort out her sexual identity.

In a family devoted to hiding the truth, Fremont learns the truth is the one thing that can set you free. Scorching, witty, and ultimately redemptive,  The Escape Artist  is a powerful contribution to the memoir shelf.

In addition to  The Escape Artist , HELEN FREMONT is the author of the national bestseller  After Long Silence . Her works of fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including  Prize Stories:   The O. Henry Awards Ploughshares , and  The Harvard Review . A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she has been a teaching fellow at both Bread Loaf and the Radcliffe Institute. She worked as a public defender in Boston, where she now lives with her wife. You can find Helen online at HelenFremont.com.

Hardcover, signed on the title page. $28.00
The Misfortunes of Family by Meg Little Reilly
The Bright family is the picture of perfection—attractive, competitive and a bit badly behaved. As the four adult sons of retired senator John Bright head with their partners to the annual family reunion, they have everything they need, except self-awareness. This year the senator has agreed to let a producer document the reunion at the lake house. Of course, they let their guard down.

As petty jealousies surface, Philip, the youngest, reveals a surprising personal decision that earns the ribbing—or is it scorn?—of his brothers, JJ, Spencer and Charlie. Then the senator unexpectedly announces his desire for another political run. Not everyone is on board, especially matriarch Patty, who is keenly aware of the toll it will take on their private lives. Suddenly closely held family secrets start tumbling out and keep coming, including the biggest one that will rock this family to the core.

MEG LITTLE REILLY is the author of the novels Everything That Follows and We Are Unprepared . She is a writer at Bennington College, an essayist, public radio commentator, and hiker. Prior to writing novels, Meg worked in national politics and the White House. She holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont and an M.A. from the George Washington University. These days, she lives in rural Vermont with her family.

Trade paperback original, signed on the title page. $16.99
These Fevered Days by Martha Ackmann
An engaging, intimate portrait of Emily Dickinson, one of America's greatest and most-mythologized poets, that sheds new light on her groundbreaking poetry.

On August 3, 1845, young Emily Dickinson declared, "All things are ready" and with this resolute statement, her life as a poet began. Despite spending her days almost entirely "at home" (the occupation listed on her death certificate), Dickinson's interior world was extraordinary. She loved passionately, was hesitant about publication, embraced seclusion, and created 1,789 poems that she tucked into a dresser drawer.

In  These Fevered Days , Martha Ackmann unravels the mysteries of Dickinson's life through ten decisive episodes that distill her evolution as a poet. Ackmann follows Dickinson through her religious crisis while a student at Mount Holyoke, which prefigured her lifelong ambivalence toward organized religion and her deep, private spirituality. We see the poet through her exhilarating frenzy of composition, through which we come to understand her fiercely self-critical eye and her relationship with sister-in-law and first reader Susan Dickinson. Contrary to her reputation as a recluse, Dickinson makes the startling decision to ask a famous editor for advice, writes anguished letters to an unidentified "Master," and keeps up a lifelong friendship with writer Helen Hunt Jackson. Toward the end of her life, she is seized with despair in confronting possible blindness.

Utilizing thousands of archival letters and poems as well as never-before-seen photos, These Fevered Days constructs a remarkable map of Emily Dickinson's inner life. Together, these ten days provide new insights into her wildly original poetry and render a concise and vivid portrait of American literature's most enigmatic figure.

MARTHA ACKMANN author of Curveball and The Mercury 13 , writes about women who have changed America. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, Ackmann taught a popular seminar on Dickinson at Mount Holyoke College and lives in western Massachusetts.

Hardcover, signed on the title page. $26.95
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
From the  New York Times  bestselling author of  The House of the Spirits  comes an epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents, following two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a new place to call home.

In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them wants, and together are sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda to embark on the SS Winnipeg along with 2,200 other refugees in search of a new life. As unlikely partners, they embrace exile and emigrate to Chile as the rest of Europe erupts in World War.

Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning. Over the course of their lives, they will face test after test. But they will also find joy as they wait patiently for a day when they are exiles no more, and will find friends in the most unlikely of places. Through it all, it is that hope of being reunited with their home that keeps them going. And in the end, they will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

“Majestic…both timeless and perfectly timed for today…Allende’s assured prose vividly evokes her fictional characters [and] historical figures…seamlessly juxtaposing exile with homecoming, otherness with belonging, and tyranny with freedom.” Publishers Weekly  (starred review)

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, ISABEL ALLENDE is the author of a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including  The House of the Spirits Of Love and Shadows Eva Luna Paula , and  In the Midst of Winter . Her books have been translated into more than forty-two languages and have sold more than seventy-four million copies worldwide. She lives in California.

Hardcover, signed on a tipped-in page. $28.00
12 copies available . Click here to order.
Agency by William Gibson
“One of the most visionary, original, and quietly influential writers currently working” ( The Boston Globe ) returns with a sequel to the  New York Times  bestselling  The Peripheral .

Verity Jane, gifted app-whisperer, has been out of work since her exit from a brief but problematic relationship with a Silicon Valley billionaire. Then she signs the wordy NDA of a dodgy San Francisco start-up, becoming the beta tester for their latest product: a digital assistant, accessed through a pair of ordinary-looking glasses. “Eunice,” the disarmingly human AI in the glasses, soon manifests a face, a fragmentary past, and an unnervingly canny grasp of combat strategy. Verity, realizing that her cryptic new employers don’t yet know this, instinctively decides that it’s best they don’t.

Meanwhile, a century ahead, in London, in a different timeline entirely, Wilf Netherton works amid plutocrats and plunderers, survivors of the slow and steady apocalypse known as the jackpot. His employer, the enigmatic Ainsley Lowbeer, can look into alternate pasts and nudge their ultimate directions. Verity and Eunice have become her current project.

Wilf can see what Verity and Eunice can’t: their own version of the jackpot, just around the corner. And something else too: the roles they both may play in it.

WILLIAM GIBSON’s first novel,  Neuromancer , won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award. He is also the  New York Times  bestselling author of  Count Zero Burning Chrome Mona Lisa Overdrive Virtual Light Idoru All Tomorrow’s Parties Pattern Recognition Spook Country Zero History Distrust That Particular Flavor , and  The Peripheral . He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife.

Hardcover, signed on a tipped-in page. $28.00
8 copies available. Click here to order.
Apeirogon by Colum McCann
The National Book Award-winning and  New York Times  bestselling author of  Let the Great World Spin  tells an epic story rooted in the real-life friendship between two men united by loss in this daring, symphonic novel.

Colum McCann’s most ambitious work to date,  Apeirogon —named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides—is a tour de force concerning friendship, love, loss, and belonging.

Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend, to the checkpoints both physical and emotional that they must negotiate.

Their worlds shift irreparably after ten-year-old old Abir is killed by a rubber bullet and thirteen-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of one another’s stories, they recognize the loss that connects them and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

McCann crafts  Apeirogon  out of a universe of fictional and non-fictional material. He crosses centuries and continents, stitching time, art, history, nature, and politics together in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. Musical, cinematic, muscular, delicate, and soaring,  Apeirogon  is a novel for our times.

COLUM MCCANN  is the internationally bestselling author of the novels  TransAtlantic, Let the Great World Spin, Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness,  and  Songdogs,  as well as three critically acclaimed story collections and the nonfiction book  Letters to a Young Writer . His fiction has been published in over forty languages. He has received many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres award from the French government, and an Oscar nomination. A contributor to  The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic,  and  The Paris Review,  he teaches in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing program. He lives with his family in New York City and he is the cofounder of the global nonprofit story exchange organization Narrative 4.

Hardcover, signed on a tipped-in page. $28.00
10 copies available. Click here to order.
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
The #1  New York Times  bestselling author of  The Devil in the White City  and  Dead Wake  delivers a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end

In  The Splendid and the Vile , Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

The Splendid and the Vile  takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.
ERIK LARSON is the author of five national bestsellers:  Dead Wake In the Garden of Beasts Thunderstruck The Devil in the White City , and  Isaac’s Storm , which have collectively sold more than 9 million copies. His books have been published in nearly 20 countries.

Hardcover, signed on a tipped-in page. $32.00
10 copies available. Click here to order.
Enjoying the First Editions Club? Tell your friends! Each time someone joins the club on your recommendation, you will get 20% off your next purchase as our way of thanking you. 
As always, please  contact us  with any questions or comments about the club, your membership, or the upcoming books. 
Check our website  www.odysseybks.com  for information on author events and book signings. 

I am always happy to send along additional books with your monthly selections.

Odyssey Bookshop | www.odysseybks.com