Just days after the release of her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, former First Lady Laura Bush seems determined to speak from her heart as she was unable—or unwilling—to do during her husband's presidency.
On "Larry King" on Tuesday night, she spoke openly about the differences she has with her husband on gay marriage and abortion, something many had long suspected.
As Sady Doyle says in a comprehensive Atlantic essay, these differences of opinion were "eerily predicted" by Curtis Sittenfeld in the 2008 novel American Wife. (Read our interview with Sittenfeld about the book.)
It's a somewhat shocking statement for a First Lady who, like most First Ladies, stuck to supporting uncontroversial issues like heart disease and literacy while her husband was in office. These opinions are not included in her memoir, which despite a few revelations about her youth, mostly sticks to the conventional persona we saw during the Bush years.
How much of this silence was due to the constraints of being the First Lady, and how much to her personal code of loyalty or manners—one topic she does express strong opinions about in her memoir, as Elaine Showalter points out—is unclear. I doubt we'll ever really know. Sittenfeld couldn't even convincingly imagine the answer to that question, which was my one disappointment with the otherwise excellent American Wife.
Have you read either book? Will you? Does this news change your opinion of Laura Bush?
I've already posted a couple times about the flood in Nashville (read here and here), but I today I've got an update on how you can contribute to relief efforts—and get some awesome book-related prizes!
Local authors Amanda Morgan, Victoria Schwab and Myra McEntire are hosting an online auction called Do the Write Thing for Nashville.
You can bid on anything from a manuscript critique from professional authors, agents and editors, to signed books, to lunch with authors.
A few of the choice auctions that are active right now:
What blog posts have you enjoyed this week? My picks:
Claire In Africa — Part One
Posted by FiveChapters
I just stumbled on this site today and thought readers would enjoy it—FiveChapters publishes a short story in five parts every week. This week, they're serializing Emily St. John Mandel's "Claire in Africa." I haven't had a chance to read the story yet, but I enjoyed our Q&A with St. John Mandel and review of her latest novel, The Singer's Gun ("a nail-biting thriller overflowing with high-stakes issues such as blackmail, theft, fraud and human trafficking"). Plus, the five-part short story is a great idea. I'll definitely be bookmarking FiveChapters, especially because a James Hynes story is up next week.
Review: The Giver, by Lois Lowry (mother and son joint review)
Posted by Read React Review
In this post, blogger Jessica reviews Lois Lowry's classic YA novel The Giver along with her 10-year-old son. Jessica asks her son questions like, "How would you describe this book to someone your age who has not read it?", and their exchange is both funny and a perfect intro to the book. (In fact, I read The Giver as a fourth grader myself, and I would have loved to revisit my first reaction to the novel.) Have you and your son or daughter ever read a book together and held a discussion? Have any tips for a parent-child book club? Leave us tips in the comments section.
Also, although Lowry is best known for The Giver and Number the Stars, she has written many other books. (Anyone remember the Anastasia series?) Most recently, she wrote The Birthday Ball. Click here to view BookPage's Lowry archives.
How to Dress Like Nancy Drew
Posted by A Novel Idea
It's Friday so I thought I'd post something fun—and what's more fun than Nancy Drew? If you think you channel the Girl Detective, you have to check out this guide to getting her outfit from the cover of The Hidden Staircase. I am always looking out for my next literary Halloween costume. . . this might be it! Do you have a favorite character costume?
I am sorry to say that none of our commenters correctly guessed the cast of Rebecca Stockett's The Help in my "Casting Call" blog post from a couple months ago.
Filming starts this summer in Mississippi (mostly in Greenwood, although a few scenes will be shot in Jackson). Emma Stone will play Skeeter and Viola Davis will play Aibileen. Stone was Jules in Superbad, and Davis is best known for her fierce (and Oscar-nominated) role as Donald Miller's mother in Doubt. According to IMDb, Bryce Dallas Howard—Victoria in this summer's Eclipse—is rumored to play Hilly.
Are you happy with these casting choices?
It's always exciting when a debut clicks with critics and readers alike—especially if it's a novel we championed at BookPage. So, I was thrilled to find out today that Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists is hitting the New York Times Bestseller list at #13 this Sunday.
The novel is about the personalities who work for an English-language newspaper based in Rome, and it's told in the form of stories. BookPage reviewer Harvey Freedenberg wrote:
Each of Rachman’s stories focuses on a different staffer, and from one to the next he deftly hits all the notes on the emotional scale. Comic highlights include “Bush Slumps to New Low in Polls,” in which Lloyd Burko, the aging and desperate Paris correspondent, fabricates a story about a shift in France’s policy in Gaza to save his job, and “The Sex Lives of Islamic Extremists,” starring Winston Cheung, a feckless one-time primatologist fighting a losing battle for the position of Cairo stringer.
My agent phoned from New York with the news. I stood there in my small apartment in Paris, shifting from leg to leg as she drew out the story. Finally, there it was: I had sold my novel. I put down the receiver, took a deep breath and began darting from one side of my living room to the other (not a great distance; about three strides each way), punching the air, shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” until remembering that I had neighbors. Next, I ordered champagne to be sent to my agent, and popped a bottle myself, sending the cork flying from the living room, into the kitchen, out the open window. Click here to continue reading the Q&A.
Have you read The Imperfectionists? What'd you think?
Counting down the days until Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse comes out in theaters? Tickets go on sale at midnight tonight through Fandango and other online outlets. After New Moon drew the biggest ticket pre-sales in history, Summit decided to give viewers even longer to pack the theaters on Eclipse's opening night, June 13. Will you be buying your tickets early?
Charlaine Harris fans will be excited to hear that HBO show True Blood—based on the Sookie Stackhouse books—will be made into a comic, according to an article from USA Today:
Creators of the blood-drenched show have teamed with comic veterans for new stories of Sookie Stackhouse, her undead lover, Bill Compton, and the rest of the sex-crazed cast of mythical Bon Temps, La.
The first issue includes four alternate covers and a story line that traps the cast with an unnamed beast in Merlotte's Bar.
A little research shows that True Blood fans are passionate about this "uniquely carbonated, slightly tart, lightly sweet blood orange drink." A contributor at the True Blood Blog gives her positive impressions of the beverage in a post titled "Your True Blood Party Begins with Tru Blood!" I can't say that I blame anyone who wants to drink a beverage inspired by a TV show (/book). I have definitely bought some Bertie Bott's Jelly Beans and Chocolate Frogs in my day.
Sookie-inspired "synthetic blood nourishment beverage". . . weird or awesome?
Also in BookPage: Read an interview with Charlaine Harris.
John Vaillant's book The Golden Spruce—about a logger and a 300-year-old tree—won The Governor General Literary Award for Nonfiction in 2005. His next book doesn't come out until August 24, but it's already building a fair bit of buzz.
From its publisher description, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival sounds like nothing if not gruesome and incredibly suspenseful:
When Yuri Trush was called in to investigate an attack by a Siberian tiger, what he found was unlike anything he'd ever encountered. Nothing remained of the victim but stumps of bone protruding from his boots. Even more chilling was the evidence that this attack had been carefully orchestrated, as if the tiger was seeking revenge. Before long, the beast struck again, and Trush, leader of a tiger conservation unit, found himself forced to hunt this animal through the brutal cold of a Siberian winter, becoming intimately acquainted with the tiger's history, motives, and unique method of attack--until their harrowing final encounter.
Stumps of bone? A man-eating tiger? Brad Pitt? Sounds like a blockbuster to me. Will you read The Tiger?
Also in BookPage: Read a review of The Golden Spruce.
This week, we go back to the beginning of the menu with a delicious appetizer recipe from the Bromberg Brothers, whose Blue Ribbon Restaurant has been a favorite of foodlovers since 1992. Read on for a spicy treat from two sibling chefs with a passion "for making whatever they make the best it can be."
We started making these hard-boiled-egg snacks when we were building and opening Blue Ribbon Bakery. One day, a farmer from upstate showed up at our door. He explained that he had only a handful of birds and produced a modest number of eggs per week, but he was sure if we tried the eggs we’d be hooked.
We put a pot of water on the stove, and in went several of the randomly sized and colored day-old eggs. Once they were boiled and we sliced them in half, the yolks were vibrant and the whites pristine and pale. The eggs tasted fantastic all by themselves, but when Flavio Guaman, our sous-chef, sliced up a jalapeño to put on top, sprinkled on some kosher salt, and gave one to the farmer, it was the farmer’s turn for revelation! We added a little mayo and decided to use pickled peppers instead of raw jalapeños. A whole new egg concept was born.
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons Olive Oil Mayonnaise
2 Pickled Peppers, thinly Sliced
Perfect Saute Seasoning or salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan; fill with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs, then plunge in ice water to cool. Peel and halve lengthwise.
2. Arrange the egg halves yolk side up on a platter. Top each half generously with mayonnaise. Sprinkle the eggs with peppers and seasoning and serve.
VARIATION: Egg Shooters with Smoked Trout and Trout Roe
Substitute crème fraîche for the mayonnaise and omit the peppers and seasoning. Top with 1 ounce flaked smoked trout, 2 tablespoons trout or salmon caviar, and chopped fresh chives.
Reprinted from Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Bruce Bromberg, Eric Bromberg, and Melissa Clark. Copyright (c) 2010. Photos (c) Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
Trisha posted about the Orange Prize longlist a couple months ago, and today we got some good news—Rosie Alison's The Very Thought of You, one of the shortlisted titles, will be published by Atria in the United States.
Here's a plot summary from British publisher Alma Books UK:
England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes - and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with unforeseen consequences.
Alison has stiff competition for the Orange Prize; other finalists include Barbara Kingsolver (The Lacuna); Attica Locke (Black Water Rising); Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall); Lorrie Moore (A Gate at the Stairs); and Monique Roffey (The White Woman on the Green Bicycle). The winner will be announced June 9.
Has anyone snagged a copy of The Very Thought of You from overseas? What'd you think? Any Orange Prize predictions?