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Shelf Life

Amazing 'Lace'

Email|Print| Text size + By Jan Gardner
November 11, 2007

Self-published books frequently attract nothing more than scorn from major publishers. Yet Brunonia Barry, who self-published "The Lace Reader," her debut supernatural thriller, has scored a deal worth about $2.5 million. William Morrow will publish "The Lace Reader" next August, followed by Barry's second novel, under the terms of the contract.

Barry spent nearly a decade as a screenwriter in Hollywood before returning to her native Massachusetts. A resident of Salem, she has written novels in the "Beacon Street Girls" series and is a founding member of the Portland Stage Company. At the center of "The Lace Reader" is a woman who can tell the future by reading patterns in lace. She returns to her hometown of Salem when her great-aunt goes missing.

An intimate lens

In 1960, Walker Evans married Isabelle Storey, a Swiss-born woman 30 years his junior. Two years earlier the 25-year-old had arrived in New York with her first husband, Alec von Steiger. Through Evans, already a prominent photographer, Storey met Robert Penn Warren, Lee Friedlander, Alfred Kazin, and other luminaries in the art and literary worlds.

Over the next decade, the marriage deteriorated, and the couple eventually divorced, as Storey recounts in "Walker's Way: My Years With Walker Evans." The memoir is enlivened with more than 50 photographs, ranging from Evans's striking views of New York bridges and subway passengers to informal shots from dinner parties and family gatherings. Storey now divides her time between Boston and Sedgwick, on the Maine coast.

Pages of the past

About 120 dealers from the United States and Europe will exhibit and sell rare books, maps, and literary ephemera at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair Friday through Sunday at the Hynes Convention Center. That is a 10 percent increase in the number of vendors over last year's fair. Details at bostonbookfair.com.

Deconstructing illness

In the introduction to the new anthology "An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family," editor Nell Casey praises the contributors' grasp of "the complexities, the unexpected compensations, and the private sadness of being relegated to this no-man's-land of illness." Providence writer Ann Harleman describes the difficult decision to place her ill husband in an institution. Ann Hood, also from Providence, relives the death of Grace, her 5-year-old daughter. Jerome Groopman describes the uncertain journey of a friend who became a patient at a perilous time. And Julia Glass, of Marblehead, writes about her resistance to accepting help as she cared for her two young sons and recovered from breast cancer.

Coming out

"Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work: Stories," by Jason Brown (Open City)

"The Bible: A Biography," by Karen Armstrong (Atlantic Monthly)

"The Chronicles of Spiderwick: A Grand Tour of the Enchanted World, Navigated by Thimbletack," by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (Simon & Schuster)

Pick of the week

Elli Meeropol of Odyssey Bookshop, in South Hadley, recommends "The Pirate's Daughter," by Margaret Cezair-Thompson (Unbridled): "The Jamaican saying 'Mouth open, story fly out' beautifully describes this tale of Ida, her daughter May, and shipwrecked movie star Errol Flynn, on a tiny bougainvillea-overgrown island during Jamaica's struggle."

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.

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