We're celebrating memoirs published in 2010 in today's edition of BookPageXTRA. A few of our favorites (pictured above) are:
Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup
Breath by Martha Mason
Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt
Street Shadows by Jerald Walker
Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
What are your favorite memoirs from 2010?
Book blogs continue to buzz about "Franzenfreude," but this week we're moving on. . .
A few non-Freedom related blog posts I enjoyed:
Hope Larson talks comics
Posted by Chris Arrant on CBR
Did you know that FSG is publishing a graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time? I didn't, so I was interested to read cartoonist Hope Larson's take on adapting the children's classic to a new medium:
I knew when I signed on to Wrinkle, before I even started writing the script, that the book was going to be a monster. It’s 200 pages of prose, and when you’re working with such a beloved story you can’t go in and start cutting and abridging as you please. [Continue reading.]
This post title is self-explanatory . . . you have until midnight tonight to enter to win all THREE books in the Hunger Games trilogy!
The Top 10 Bookstores in the US
Posted by Daniel McGillivray on Flavorwire
I agree with this top-10 list, except I just have one question: Why isn't my all-time favorite bookstore, Square Books in Oxford, MS, on this list?
What book blog posts did you enjoy this week?
We've already shared our excitement about Karen Russell's first novel, Swamplandia! (Feb., Knopf). Galleys recently hit the BookPage office, and I'm tempted to nab it for my Labor Day weekend reading if our fiction editor is feeling generous. Here's a sneak peek at the opening lines, which provide a great example of Russell's unique voice and give a glimpse into the mysterious world of the book's eponymous Everglades theme park.
Chapter One: The Beginning of the End
Our mother performed in starlight. Whose innovation this was I never discovered. Probably it was Chief Bigtree's idea, and it was a good one—to blank the follow spot and let a sharp moon cut across the sky, unchaperoned; to kill the microphone; to leave the stage lights' tin eyelids scrolled and give the tourists in the stands a chance to enjoy the darkness of our island; to encourage the whole stadium to gulp air along with Swamplandia!'s star performer, the world-famous alligator wrestler Hilola Bigtree. Four times a week, our mother climbed the ladder above the Gator Pit in a green two-piece bathing suit and stood on the edge of the diving board, breathing. If it was windy, her long hair flew around her face, but the rest of her stayed motionless. Nights in the swamp were dark and star-lepered—our island was thirty-odd miles off the grid of mainland lights—and although your naked eye could easily find the ball of Venus and the sapphire hairs of the Pleiades, our mother's body was just lines, a smudge against the palm trees.
Three weeks from today, a movie version of Kathryn Lasky's bestselling Guardians of Ga’Hoole series—about a brave young owl's magical journey—will hit theaters. From the looks of the trailer, I think it'll be quite a show (and it's in 3D!).
To get you pumped up for the release, BookPage asked Lasky to answer a few questions about her role in the adaptation and impressions of the movie.
What was your reaction when you saw the movie version of Guardians of Ga'Hoole? Is the adaptation faithful to the spirit of your books?
I have not seen the movie in its entirety yet. In July I saw a rough cut and not in 3D and not fully animated. But the ninety minutes of what I saw was honestly the most spectacular ninety minutes of animation I have ever seen in my life! The scenes of flying—and mind you as I said this was not 3D yet—were absolutely breathtaking.
What came across loud and clear was how faithful this adaptation is to the spirit of the books and the characters. For nearly 10 years I have lived with these characters’ voices in my head and now to hear them and hear them voiced by such great actors like Jim Sturgess, Helen Mirren and Sam Neil was overwhelming to me. I started crying.
All I could think was ‘all this stuff in my head for so long and now it’s out there.’ This is strange to say but I almost felt as if I had been away—lonely and away for a long time and I was now back and being welcomed by long lost friends—even the bad guys!
Were you involved at all in the movie's production?
Oh yes I was involved to a limited extent. I made three trips to Los Angeles to discuss the movie both before the screenwriter and director were hired and then after. The screenwriter, John Orloff, called me throughout the process to consult with me on the screenplay. He was terrific—open to ideas, really probing me on how I viewed certain plot elements, characters, etc. I knew there were changes that would have to be made for a movie is not a book. But I was very comfortable how he and Zack Snyder, the director, handled these changes.
A complete screenplay was sent to me maybe eighteen months ago and I read it and wrote an extensive memo concerning things that I felt needed some adjusting and they really incorporated most of my changes. Zack, John and the producers Lionel Wigram and Donald De Line were very attentive to my suggestions. All of them good listeners.
Why should children read the book before they see the movie?
Of course it’s always wonderful if children read the book before the movie because then they know the story and the characters so well. But on the other hand I am sure there are instances where children might not be aware of a book, or had the interest or opportunity to read it. If they see the film first this might inspire them to go out and read the book and it will open them up to an equally rich and different experience.
In Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture, Soren is inspired by legends about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole. What legends do you personally find inspiring?
Probably and most obviously the Arthurian legends. The Guardians of Ga’Hoole is, I admit, very derivative of this cycle. As a child I read all the Greek myths and loved them but they seemed a bit removed to me compared to the Arthurian tales. I also loved the selkie stories, those tales of the seal folk who were seals in the ocean and became humans on shore. I generally love all shape shifter stories.
You have received many honors over the course of your career, from getting a Newbery Honor for Sugaring Time to seeing your characters transformed by Warner Brothers. Which award, accomplishment or honor are you most proud of?
Oh that’s kind of impossible for me to say. The best reward of all is just knowing that readers are connecting with what I write. An award like that doesn’t need a medal or a gold seal or a movie marquee.
BookPage is giving away two copies of The Capture (Book One in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series) in the next edition of Reading Corner. To receive our e-newsletter about books for children and teens, sign up here.
Author photo by Christopher G. Knight.
I'm not sure why, but I had Annie Proulx set firmly in the anti-memoir crowd. Maybe it's because looking back on one's life is a luxury that her hard-working, taciturn characters would either not have time for, or sneer at. Maybe it's because she is so private that she (politely) insisted that her 2002 interview with us be conducted by email. Whatever the reason for my impression, it was a false one: Proulx is set to publish a memoir, Bird Cloud, with Scribner in January.
"Part autobiography, part natural history, Bird Cloud is the glorious story of Annie Proulx's piece of the Wyoming landscape and her home there."
Read more about Annie Proulx at BookPage.com.
Do you pick out books based on the Oprah sticker? While I'm not crazy about having the logo on a book in my collection, I have loved many of Oprah's past choices: She's Come Undone, The Poisonwood Bible, Daughter of Fortune, Middlesex. . . And that "Summer of Faulkner" box set sure came in handy during my Faulkner seminar in college!
Eat like a president with this delicious dessert recipe from The Perfect Finish (Norton), a new cookbook by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yossas. In her review, Sybil Pratt says that each of these desserts "deserves your full attention" and I think you'll agree once you read the following. Bon appetit!
An adaptation of the tender, very buttery little almond flour cakes called financiers, this is a dessert I learned to make while working at Au Vieux Four, an old wood-fired bakery in Tours, France. The owner, a ninth-generation baker named Jacques Mahou, who mentored me, primarily made bread, but he had a little sideline of super desserts, including this one. It’s very much the type of straightforward, quickly mixed dessert a French bread maker bakes along with the bread. Before serving, it is garnished with fresh fruit, which makes this very transportable dessert colorful and light at any time of year. Replace the raspberries used here with seasonal fruits in the spring, summer, and fall, or with imported tropical fruits in the winter.
Chef’s Note: It’s always a good idea to bring materials for touch-ups, such as extra confectioners’ sugar to sprinkle over a travel-worn cake such as this one.
Special Equipment: Food processor (if using ground almonds), ?9-inch springform pan, cake tester, sifter
It's always a thrill to see one of our contributors publish works of their own. The most recent BookPage writer to add something to the bookshelves of the world is Michael Alec Rose, a Vanderbilt professor and composer whose collection of essays on music, Audible Signs, has just been published by Continuum. Below, Rose explains the inspiration behind his collection.
I wrote Audible Signs for anybody who loves music, for everybody who feels passionately that this love can be investigated but never fully explained, for all who seek (like me) new ways of conversing intelligently about music, new strategies to honor both its exceptional clarity of feeling and its irreducible mystery.
The impetus to compose these “Essays from a Musical Ground” goes back to 1991, when I launched a newsletter called Musings, my way of keeping in musical touch with far-flung friends, some of whom play an active role in Audible Signs (I couldn’t have written the book without them). Musings ran to a single issue: Marriage, commissions for new musical works, parenthood, all intervened. But that essay—Vol. 1, No. 1—haunted me down the years and led to further essays, some for my students at Vanderbilt University, others for concertgoers in Nashville who enjoy grand opera at least as much as the Grand Old Opry. The lone issue of Musings now serves its turn in Audible Signs: it has been revised, expanded and mounted as one piece of artillery in my fourfold assault (Chapter 4) on Alex Ross’ best-selling book on 20th-century music, The Rest Is Noise.
The co-mingling of “Hey Jude,” Beethoven’s Ninth, and Shakespeare’s Sonnet #8 (in Chapters 2 and 3) springs from ongoing conversations over the years with students in my Beethoven and the Beatles course. I started “ Letter to My Daughter” a few years ago, but it was only last winter—as I was finishing the book—that Regina Spektor came into view as an ally of Rembrandt. The other essays in Audible Signs—including one on Springsteen and Brahms as spiritual cohorts—are newly minted, struck with the hot iron of all the great music reverberating between its two covers.
A further word about my argument with Ross, for those readers who (I hope) will have fun reading Chapter 4. First things first: just as there is no need to have listened to the music I write about in Audible Signs before reading it, it’s not required to read Ross’ book before diving into my disputation with him. I could easily have written at length about the things I enjoy in The Rest Is Noise. Why, then, in Audible Signs have I lodged such a litany of grievances against a book I generally admire? What’s at stake here is a principle that drives everything in my book—an idea that motivates all my work, all the more so the music I compose:
We show our love for people and things by paying close attention to them, by putting them at the center of our imaginative regard and celebrating them in all their complexity. My goal in cataloguing the shortcomings of Ross’ The Rest Is Noise is to encourage both his readers and mine to love more richly the difficult musical repertory he and I are both tackling. Perhaps I have taken my notion of “tackling” a bit too far in my pugnacious attitude towards Ross. Therefore, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to say once again that I remain a faithful—i.e., disputatious—fan of Ross’ writings on music.
I hope you will enjoy Audible Signs in the same spirit!
You can find out more about Rose and Audible Signs on his website, where you can also listen to some of his music. Read all of Michael Rose's reviews for BookPage. Curious about The Rest Is Noise? Visit Alex Ross' website.
Rushed through Mockingjay and don't have anyone to talk to? Or: Want to listen to other reactions on the fate of Panem, President Snow and that pesky little Gale vs. Peeta plotline?
Trisha (Web Editor), Kate (Nonfiction Editor) and I (Eliza—Assistant Web Editor) discuss all things Mockingjay in a brand new podcast. We talk about the major points of tension in the book, how Katniss's character has progressed in the series, and where Mockingjay rates in terms of violence and romance. Toward the end of our conversation we chat about the Hunger Games movie and speculate on the "next big thing" in teen fiction.
There are major plot spoilers in this podcast, but they don't start until the 9-minute mark. (There's also some major word fumbling in the first minute or so of the recording, but what can I say? It's hard to keep your thoughts straight when you're talking about something as exciting as a Suzanne Collins book.) The 35-minute mark 'til the end is free of spoilers.
Listen away, and share your reactions in the comments section.
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's Press • $27.99 • September 14, 2010
Wicked Appetite stars Lizzy, a cupcake baker with a certain skill important to two different men: Diesel (imagine an "unkempt ruler of the pride") and Wulf ("scary in a sexy vampire sort of way").
The dialogue is snappy and the action fast-paced. You'll just have to read the novel yourself to figure out why Lizzy is special! (Although there's a hint in the excerpt below.)
"I work for that governing body," Diesel said. "I'm commissioned to pull the plug on Unmentionables who abuse their power."
I saw this as registering high on my bull-crap-o-meter, but I was curious all the same.
"How do you pull the plug?" I asked.
"I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," Diesel said.
I'd heard that line before and always knew it was a line. This time I wasn't sure.
"Why do you need my help?" I asked him.
"You're one of us. You're an Unmentionable, and you have a skill I lack. I can find people. You can find empowered objects."
I was speechless. He actually looked serious. "That's ridiculous," I finally said.
Diesel turned off Lafayette Street. "Yeah, and I'm stuck with it. Nothing personal, but you're not my first choice for a partner."
What are you reading today?