Arnold has an ear for Southern talk, a feeling for how men and
when they're in love and when they're desperate, an eye for the
from Arkansas to the Mexican border and beyond, and a sure instinct
for storytelling. All these gifts are displayed in her new novel, Innocent
Lanier, which is funny, touching, and mysterious."
Emeritus, The Atlantic Monthly
loved Innocent Lanier, and I'd love to sell it."
like Mary Gay Shipley don't predict sleeper hits; they
owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville (Arkansas), is credited
in the New Yorker article for making Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
by Rebecca Wells a best-seller.
Gay is a legend," Wells said. "She just kept putting my books in people's hands."
not the only book Shipley has launched to best-sellerdom. "Shipley
was plugging Terry Kay's To Dance with the White Dog long before
it became a best-seller. She had Melinda Haynes lined up to do a reading at
her store before Oprah tapped Mother of Pearl as one of her recommended
books and it shot onto the best-seller lists.
She read David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars in manuscript
and went crazy
for it. 'I called the publisher, and they said, 'We think it's
a regional book.'
And I said, 'Write it down. M.G.S. says this is an important book.'"
Shipley and her bookstore are one of the five independents that
helped John Grisham in the beginning of his writing career.
"They not only opened their doors to me, but enthusiastically
supported me and
A Time to Kill."** She and they
continued their advocacy to make him a best-selling
novelist. "The Firm as
hand-sold and pushed by independent booksellers,"
which he said was "traditionally
how young authors get started."
It was at That Bookstore on March
17, 1991, where Grisham first heard that The
Firm made the bestsellers list.
"And we celebrated by drinking green beer."
Arnold's Innocent Lanier is so wonderful. Reminds me of
a Southern John Irving.
The way the main character got
his name alone would make the book very
worthy of being read plus a zillion
other things. In fact, the entire work is one
of the best things I have read
in a long time. Do you think a book or movie
would be better? I think both."
of Billy Bob, Ironic Observer of
and Fine Storyteller
Her Own Right
*"The Science of the Sleeper" by Malcolm Gladwell, The
New Yorker; October 4, 1999. **BookWeb.org; The American Booksellers
Association; February 19, 1999.)