Ann Packer’s Dark World


By Carmen Comment

Yesterday’s NYT featured Motoko Rich‘s profile of Ann Packer, who shot to fame a few years ago with THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN’S PIER and now returns with SONGS WITHOUT WORDS. Knopf, says Rich, is hoping that the new book, with its moral complexity and dark themes, will repeat the success of Packer’s debut – which was selected as the inaugural title for the (now defunct) reading club of “Good Morning America.” It spent 11 weeks on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list, and according to the publisher sold 225,000 copies in hardcover. Propelled in part by book clubs, it sold about 425,000 in paperback.

Frank Sanchez, the head buyer at Kepler’s Books and Magazines in Menlo Park, Calif., an independent bookseller near where much of the action in SONGS takes place, said he believes the new novel would do well. “‘DIVE’ was obviously a big hit, but I thought basically she had better in her,” Sanchez said. “And I think this book is that.” Packer herself is more sanguine, but then she thought DIVE was a “quiet literary novel” and look how it turned out. And while she’d love to have another commercial success, “not least because that enables me to write another book,” Packer doesn’t expect it.