To continue with our trend of highlighting the slightly off-color (hey, it's Friday), allow me to introduce Better Book Titles. This blog takes some of today's popular books and some of the most popular classics and doctors the covers to give you a short but sweet assessment of what really lies between them. Here are three of my favorites.
Click here to check out the site, but make sure you don't take yourself (or your favorite books!) too seriously (yes, Mrs. Dalloway is more than a panic attack -- but it's still funny). Happy Friday!
What book blog posts are you buzzing about this week? We're excited about...
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face*
Posted by Erin Hosier on Betsy Lerner's blog
Are you all sick of hearing about Jonathan Franzen yet? Before you roll your eyes, here's a funny post from guest blogger Erin Hosier (on author/editor/agent Betsy Lerner's blog) about why the Great American Novelist's author photo just doesn't do anything for her. I'd highly recommend you read the post, although if you think you'll be offended by insults to Franzen's masculinity (or perhaps an image of him on the toilet). . . well, don't say we didn't warn you!
Interview with Jennifer Egan
Posted on The Morning News
BookPage gave a rave review to Jennifer Egan's latest novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, so I was interested to read this conversation with the author in The Morning News. Egan, who is also a journalist, discusses being a both sides of interviewing, why she included PowerPoint slides in her novel and more. Definitely worth a read.
On the Shelf
Posted by Bookish NYC
As someone who is somewhat obsessed with interiors and decorating, I was excited to find a book blog that devotes a portion of its coverage to spaces for reading. This picture of "le petit salon" will make you want to swoon right onto that chaise lounge. Scroll down on the blog for other "On the Shelf" posts.
"Rick Bayless is the undisputed Big Enchilada of Mexican cooking north of the border," says Sybil Pratt in her review of Fiesta at Rick's (our August Cookbook of the month). Now you can be the judge: prepare this cool, delicious end-of-summer appetizer.
One of my summer favorites: two tropical flavors—creamy avocados and juicy, fragrant mangos—with the sweet crunch of red onion and just enough sparkly lime and cilantro. Other than procuring ripe avocados and mango, there’s almost nothing to this preparation.
Cut around each avocado from stem to blossom end and back up again, then twist the halves apart. Dislodge the pit. Scoop the avocado flesh into a large bowl. Coarsely mash the avocado with a large fork or potato masher. Scoop the onion into a small strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake off the excess water and mix into the avocado along with serrano, cilantro, lime juice and 2/3 of the diced mango. Taste and season with salt, usually about 3?4 teaspoon. If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate—best if served within a couple of hours.
When you’re ready to serve, scoop the guacamole into a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining diced mango and a few cilantro leaves if you’re so inclined. Serve with tortilla chips or slices of cucumber or jícama.
Reprinted from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless (c) 2010. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin announced on his Facebook and Twitter pages yesterday that he is publishing a memoir titled Me. The memoir is being published by Penguin imprint Celebra and will be simultaneously released in English and Spanish on November 2.
Writing this book allowed me to explore the different paths and experiences that have led me to be who I am today. I've had to tie up loose ends that I'd never attempted to tie up before, to work deeply into memories that were already erased from my mind. Allowing myself to do this was not easy, but once I started an incredible spiritual healing began... and I wanted to share my sense of discovery.
Are you eager for Martin to spill all?
BookPage contributor Alden Mudge talked to Jonathan Franzen about his new novel, Freedom, in an interview scheduled for our September issue. As we count down the days until the novel's August 31 release, take a sneak peek at their conversation—and find a compelling argument for seeing the author on the road—below.
During my 2001 interview with Jonathan Franzen about his novel The Corrections, he spoke at length about how much he enjoyed doing public readings and the careful preparations he made to ensure that his readings were good events. This was just before the overblown contretemps with Oprah, after which at least some people judged Franzen to be an arrogant literary elitist (and therefore not interested in his readers) or a fool who was turning down a chance to broadcast his views to a wider audience (and who was, therefore, surely not interested in his readers).
When I interviewed Franzen about his new novel Freedom, despite a small dark urge, I did not bring the Oprah thing up. True, the controversy still lives vividly in the eternal archives of the internet. But it is really old, old, old news. And it is news (or should we call it ‘olds’ now?) that is simply dwarfed by Franzen’s achievements in Freedom.
To promote the new book Franzen will be doing an extensive book tour, and he spoke again about how much he enjoys that:
“I never seem to tire of doing readings,” he said. “I like the signing line. Those are very energizing things, because you actually get to have brief contact with people who actually care about books. I’m sure lots of mean, nasty people go to readings. But they sure don’t show up in the signing line. It’s basically just a stream of nice people who care about books. It’s just really energizing to shake hands with them.”
Somewhat later in our conversation, he returned to thoughts about his upcoming book tour:
“I feel lucky to be doing an old fashioned book tour, partly because I know what’s happening in the industry. But also, my dad traveled a lot for his various jobs, was out on the road for a week or two or sometimes even three at a time. Staying in hotels, getting up in the morning and moving on to the next city is a way of connecting with something I was never able to experience directly with him. The real work of writing is sitting, is pretty solitary. You get in a pretty weird state and you feel like some freakish sick child. [A book tour] makes me feel like I have a job and there’s a place for me in the world.”
Jonathan Franzen is a writer with towering literary ambition, and his masterful new novel Freedom largely lives up to that ambition. My experience is that a conversation with him is filled with surprises. So I highly recommend going to one of his readings. And joining the signing line.
Does the name you give your child affect his or her success in life? Can you tell whether a Sumo wrestler cheated without ever seeing a match?
If you've asked these questions, chances are, you've read Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
Subtitled "A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything," this nonfiction book has sold millions of copies and inspired a documentary, which you can preview now:
The documentary seems to be destined for success. It was made by the directors of Super Size Me and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to favorable press. It opens in theaters on October 1. But here's the catch: On September 3, the documentary will be released on iTunes . . . a month prior to its big screen release.
Do the producers hope to appeal to viewers who wouldn't watch the movie anywhere but on their laptop?
Will you watch Freakonomics: The Movie? Where will you watch it? On your computer or in the theater?
Also in BookPage: Read an interview with Stephen J. Dubner about SuperFreakonomics.
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore
Crown • $23 • ISBN 9780307395030
August 17, 2010
Susan Gregg Gilmore's second novel (after Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen) is brimming with charm. From the first page, you'll be captivated by the voice of the novel's fascinating heroine, Bezellia, named after an ancestor who was one of the first Nashville settlers. The original Bezellia Grove, it is said, killed the Native American who killed her husband during a raid on Fort Nashborough. This particular story is all Gilmore, but pretty much all of the other Nashville details will ring true to residents like me (for one, Bezellia eats at Rotiers!).
Stories of coming of age in the South during the Civil Rights movement are myriad, but Gilmore's addition to this literary tradition feels fresh and is a real page-turner. Bezellia's voice is as unusual as her name, and her life story will capture your imagination.
Here's a taste of that voice:
Long before I had memorized the details of my family's story, I understood that I was a girl unlike most others. I had a pony to ride and a closet brimming with neatly pressed dresses. My bedroom was decorated with teddy bears that were handmade in Germany and dolls with porcelain heads that I was only to admire and never to touch. And, most important, I was always cooked for and attended to by people other than my mother, by people with dark skin and families of their own.
Are you intrigued? What are you reading today?
The 2010 National Book Festival, which takes place on September 25 and is sponsored by the Library of Congress, is currently running a "vote for your favorite Book Festival author" feature.
Authors appearing at the festival include biggies such as Ken Follett, Scott Turow, Suzanne Collins and Time cover boy Jonathan Franzen. Tough competition, huh?
Well, the public has spoken (or, is speaking, as the survey is still open), and the most popular author is. . .
Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander Series!
There's not even a real contest here:
Who is your favorite author on the list? Does anyone have plans to attend the National Book Festival?
Also in BookPage: Read an interview with Gabaldon about An Echo in the Bone.
When Trisha talked to Anne Fortier at BEA, she asked for a one-sentence description of her debut novel, Juliet. The answer? "It's a sequel to Romeo & Juliet!" [Click here to view the complete conversation, and watch other author interviews on the BookPage YouTube channel.]
More specifically, Juliet is about a woman who journeys to Siena in search of her inheritance; discovers she might be a descendant of the woman who inspired Shakespeare's Juliet; and embarks on a thrilling quest. Find out more in the book trailer:
In the September issue of BookPage, reviewer Lizza Connor Bowen praises Fortier’s "razor-sharp framing of time and insight into her characters." She also says the novel is a "fast-paced, sumptuous read."
Is Juliet a candidate for your TBR stack?
If so, you won't be alone. This book has already received a lot of attention—and it doesn't come out in the United States until August 24. Foreign rights have sold in 32 territories. It's a bestseller in Denmark, the author's home country, and Germany. And Universal bought the film rights, with James Mangold and Kathy Contrad (Walk the Line) attached to produce and direct. Not bad for a first-time author!
Lisbeth Salander (aka the girl of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is a "tattooed, waif-thin, 20-something hacker known for her extreme antisocial behavior and capacity for violence."
And she has captured the reading public's imagination as the star of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.
By now, we all know that Sony is releasing an American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, in December of 2011. On The Book Case, we've been speculating about the movie's casting for months.
Today Sony announced that Rooney Mara will star as Lisbeth. Daniel Craig is already confirmed in the role of Mikael Blomkvist.
Mara starred in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street and will also appear in The Social Network, Fincher's movie about the founding of Facebook (and based on Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires).
Mara is quite obscure compared to other actors rumored to have been in the running to play Lisbeth: Carey Mulligan, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson...
Do you think Fincher made the right choice?