The fuss and bother about the Super Bowl is impossible to ignore, even for non-NFL fans and dedicated readers like myself. If you're looking for reading that is in the spirit of the event, or simply something you can read beween commercial breaks without too much shame (hey, it's about football!), might I recommend Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk? This hilarious first novel is set in 2004, at the height of the Iraq War, and finds a troop of war heroes teaming up with the Dallas Cowboys for one surreal 24-hour period.
As we say in our review:
Ben Fountain’s sly, raucous, occasionally bawdy first novel . . . recounts the wildly improbable Thanksgiving Day that eight members of Bravo squad, including Texas native Specialist Billy Lynn, spend as guests of the Dallas Cowboys. Fountain employs his ample satiric gifts to depict how flag-waving patriotism merges with our worship of professional football in a single manic event.
"I thought it was the nuttiest thing I’d ever seen, but maybe that was because I’d had a couple of martinis. Or maybe the martinis had peeled the scales from my eyes and I was seeing the show for what it was, this surreal blowup of pop music, softcore porn choreography, five or six marching bands, a hundred or so flag girls, a company’s worth of ROTCs, a U.S. Army drill team doing close-order drill—and flags, lots and lots and lots of American flags."
Want to read more? Check out the full interview with Ben Fountain here.
Are you already formulating your plan of attack for hitting the sales this Black Friday? Just be sure to save some shopping energy for Small Business Saturday, too, because you'll be in for a treat when you shop at your local independent bookstore.
Chances are high that if you walk into an indie bookstore this Saturday (November 30), you'll find an author or two hanging out. Organized by Indies First, more than 1,000 authors will be working as guest booksellers at locally owned shops across the country. Here are just a few:
• Martin Cruz Smith & Ayelet Waldman—Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)
• Lynn Cullen & Joshilyn Jackson—Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA)
• Jill Lepore & Aaron Becker—Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)
• Ridley Pearson & Curtis Sittenfeld—Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO)
• Emma Straub & Susannah Cahalan—WORD (Brooklyn, NY)
• Ann Patchett & Victoria Schwab—Parnassus in (Nashville, TN)
Do you plan on stopping by your local indie bookstore on Saturday?
The wait is almost over, book lovers! Tomorrow is the 2013 National Book Awards gala, during which one winning book will be named in each of four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.
This evening, the finalists—instead of merely twiddling their thumbs in nervous anticipation of tomorrow—will be reading from their nominated books at an event to be held at the New School in New York City. If the idea of all of those stellar authors in one room sends you into a swoon, fret not. You can watch the whole thing as it's streamed live online! The readings begin at 7:00 pm (EST) right here.
To catch up on everything NBA—including interviews with the finalists—click on the image below. Which books are you rooting for?
Longtime readers of this blog know that I'm a serious fan of Robert K. Massie. Especially his Romanov books. So when he came to Nashville recently to accept the Nashville Public Library Literary Award, I made sure to attend his talk at the University School of Nashville.
Massie said he was pleased with the choices made for the adaptation so far, especially the selection of a mature female producer (Debra Martin Chase, known for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). "I care a great deal about how my books appear," he said, especially because of the importance of historical accuracy. "As Voltaire would say, by that I mean they agree with me," he quipped.
Much of Massie's talk focused on his admiration for Catherine and her intelligence, curiosity and ambition—qualities that are not always appreciated in women, even today. He told the story of meeting a German official at a party in New York who thanked him for reminding the world that Catherine the Great was, in fact, German—and revealed that Angela Merkel, the world's most powerful female leader, keeps a portrait of Catherine on her desk. In his interview with me, he mentioned that one of his reasons for wanting to write about Catherine was to share the story of a woman who wasn't afraid to be smart and powerful with today's women, including his four daughters. Portraying this legendary leader will be quite a responsibility—let's hope they choose wisely.
Next year will be here sooner than you think, readers! And we're excited to share the official list of books that will be given away on World Book Night 2014.
World Book Night began in the U.K. and Ireland in 2011, with the U.S. joining in on the bibliophile fun the following year. On April 23, 2014, thousands of volunteers across the country will share their love of reading with their communities by distributing 500,000 free copies of books to under-served populations and new or light readers.
Some great books have been chosen for 2014 , including these highlights:
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee
Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said” . . . he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10:
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
• Elmore Leonard •
Which Elmore Leonard book is your favorite?
One of my greatest pleasures is falling into a story someone else has written.
• Nora Roberts •
Which Nora Roberts book is your favorite?
Meaning is everything, and humans will never cease pursuing the question of meaning. Nor should they. Indeed, nor can they. We’re almost hard-wired to pursue the questions of meaning and significance.
• Thomas Keneally •
Which Thomas Keneally book is your favorite?
Obsession led me to write. It's been that way with every book I've ever written. I become completely consumed by a theme, by characters, by a desire to meet a challenge.
• Anne Rice •
Which Anne Rice book is your favorite?
The one reader I'm trying to please as I write is me, and I'm pretty difficult to please.
• Sara Zarr •
Which Sara Zarr book is your favorite?