We've posted quite a bit leading up to the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird; see this "Happy Birthday, Harper" post or Lynn's description of re-reading the classic novel with her book club.
And now the big day is finally almost here--July 11, the actual date that To Kill a Mockingbird was published. To celebrate, Monroeville, AL, is hosting a weekend-long celebration, starting today. If you're somwhere in the vicinity this weekend (about 100 miles southwest of Montgomery), it'd be worth it to drop by Harper Lee's hometown. There will be a silent auction for a signed edition of the novel; a screening of upcoming documentary Our Mockingbird; a public reading from the judge’s bench in the old courtroom where Lee’s father practiced law; and more. Visit this website for information.
The July 2010 edition of Southern Living has an interesting essay on the festivities, with perhaps more anecdotes about the ever-elusive Lee than is typical in a magazine piece. There's an excerpt of the article online, although it leaves out my favorite section, in which former Auburn football coach Pat Dye describes a conversation with Lee. She tells him, "I never could finish another book. I started two or three more." He responds that that's probably a good thing; "I don't think you could ever have matched the masterpiece that you wrote," he says. Lee answers, "You're probably right."
Anyone heading to Monroeville this weekend?
We've written about blurbs here on The Book Case before, most recently when our editor Lynn Green admitted that in spite of some skepticism, they led to her discover of A Mountain of Crumbs.
Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you open a book and when you close it again nothing can ever be the same. Walls have been pulled down, barriers broken, a dimension of feeling, of existence itself, has opened in you that was not there before. To the End of the Land is a book of this magnitude. David Grossman may be the most gifted writer I’ve ever read; gifted not just because of his imagination, his energy, his originality, but because he has access to the unutterable, because he can look inside a person and discover the unique essence of her humanity. For twenty-six years he has been writing novels about what it means to defend this essence, this unique light, against a world designed to extinguish it. To the End of the Land is his most powerful, shattering, and unflinching story of this defense. To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.
Whoa. Not only is this a bit . . . intense, one has to wonder if it caused any tension in the Krauss-Foer literary household. The Guardian notes that Grossman's story—"of an Israeli mother, Ora, who sets out for a hike in Galilee with her former lover in order to avoid the 'notifiers' who might tell her of her son's death in the army"—sounds interesting in its own right, and he's received many accolades for his past works for fiction and nonfiction. Still, as someone who's looking forward to Krauss' own October release, Great House, this recommendation, however effusive, does make me more inclined to pick up this 592-pager.
What about you? Does a blurb like this make you more or less likely to read the book?
This week's recipe comes from Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce by Cathy Thomas, a book that makes using that organic produce you find at the farmer's market even easier. Just "select a recipe from the more than 225 offered to showcase what you’ve harvested or chosen at the market," says Sybil Pratt, and you'll be just fine. Certainly this summery sangria will put a smile on your face.
A glass of sangria on a hot day is such a refreshing treat. It’s a classic combination of red wine and sparkling water augmented with plenty of tasty fresh berries and stone fruit. Salted almonds are an appealing accompaniment to this classic Spanish cooler.
6 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup pitted cherries
1 cup diced peaches
1 orange, unpeeled, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
10 medium strawberries, hulled, quartered lengthwise
5 cups dry red wine
1? 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1? 1/2 cups sparkling water
In large pitcher, combine all fruit, wine, juice, liqueur, and cooled sugar syrup. Gently stir. Serve or cover and refrigerate up to 5 hours.
To serve, place several ice cubes in each of 10 glasses. Use slotted spoon to remove most of fruit from pitcher and add about 1/3 cup of fruit mixture to each glass. Add sparkling water to wine mixture in pitcher and gently stir; pour over fruit and ice in glasses. Serve.
Nutritional information (per serving): Calories 220, fat calories 0; total fat 0 grams, sat fat 0 grams, cholesterol 0 milligrams; sodium 0 milligrams; total carbohydrates 29 grams, fiber 3 grams, sugars 21 grams; protein 1 gram; vitamin A IUs 4%; vitamin C 70%; calcium 2%; iron 2%.
From Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce by Cathy Thomas; reprinted with permission from Wiley Publishing.
One of the most promising short-story collections in recent years hit bookstores in September 2006. Karen Russell's St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was as creepy and magical as the title implies, collecting 10 eerie tales set in South Florida swampland. Russell, who is 29, was included in the New Yorker's Top Writers Under 40 list, and her debut novel, Swamplandia!, will be published by Knopf in February 2011.
According to Russell, the novel picks up where the story "Ava Wrestles the Alligator" left off and follows the Bigtree Family Wrestling Dynasty, who have fallen on hard times. There's a new alligator wrestling theme park in town, and Ava's brother has started working there; Ava's big sister is having an affair with a ghost; and no one knows where to find Ava's father.
You can read an excerpt of "Ava Wrestles the Alligator" from St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves here.
Yesterday we asked readers to comment on their favorite female mystery/suspense writers, and I have loved reading the responses. (By the way, you can still weigh in!)
So, I thought you'd be pleased to learn that today Publisher's Marketplace posted a deal with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. The author of both romance and suspense novels will write three new FBI thrillers about Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich. The books will be published with Putnam and come out once a year.
In the past, BookPage has praised the "fast-paced, intricate story threads" in Coulter's FBI thrillers. Are you excited about these new novels?
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
Pantheon • $25.95 • September 7, 2010
One of my favorite early scenes from The Widower's Tale, Glass's newest novel, is one such moment. In it, 70-year-old Percy Darling, who has been widowed for many years, journeys to The Great Outdoorsman to purchase a bathing suit--a preschool is opening in the barn in his backyard, and he can no longer swim in his pond in the nude. A sales clerk is helping him make his decision. Read the scene below, then tell us: What are you reading today? Will you look for The Widower's Tale?
“Hmm,” she said. “The pink pineapples would be a daring choice. You would turn heads in that one. . . . The hula girls are actually more conventional.”
I noticed that the pink pineapples (depicted on an aqua background) were indeed quite gaudy but ornamented a suit with a longer cut. Perhaps it would seem irrational to make the demure choice after having swum buck naked for so long, yet such was my preference. “Daring it shall be,” I concluded.
“You won’t regret it.” My handmaiden held out her hand, and I extended mine to shake it. But she was merely reaching for the hangers.
“Silly me,” I said when our hands collided awkwardly. “I thought I was to receive your congratulations. I will have you know that this is the first swimsuit I have purchased since I was in college.”
“Well then, I’m glad you’re headed back to the water,” she said.
I was about to explain my situation to her when I stopped myself. I laughed and shook my head.
“What’s so amusing?” she said.
“I’m having one of those—what youngsters so blithely call ‘a senior moment.’ I thank you for your cordial assistance.”
“A genuine pleasure,” she said, and she seemed to mean it.
At the cash register, I counted out exact change and told her I didn’t need a bag. I also remarked that I had not noticed her working there before.
“I started last month,” she said, “and I’m just part-time.”
“Well, I hope to solicit your sartorial discretion in the future.”
“What a charming thing to say.”
“Likewise,” I told her. “There is a dearth of compliments in the world these days.”
Scottish novelist Ian Rankin has become one of the best-known English-language crime writers. Fans worldwide wondered what he'd be up to next after publishing his last Rebus novel, Exit Music, in 2008.
Rankin released a stand-alone, Doors Open [read our review], in 2010, but 2011's novel introduces a new hero that could be as compelling as Inspector Rebus himself. Do we smell a series?
From the catalog:
Nobody likes “The Complaints”—they’re the cops who investigate other cops. It’s a department known within the force as “The Dark Side,” and it’s where Malcolm Fox works. He’s a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship—frustrating problems which he cannot seem to do anything about. The reluctant Fox is given the case of Jamie Breck. He’s a dirty cop, but no one can prove it. As Fox takes on the assignment, he learns that there’s more to Breck than anyone thinks—dangerous knowledge, especially when a vicious murder takes place far too close to home. In The Complaints, Rankin tells an unstoppable story about evil, redemption, and who decides right from wrong.
Black Mamba Boy, out August 3 from FSG, is about a young boy's incredible quest. Here's more from the publisher:
Yemen, 1935. Jama is a “market boy,” a half-feral child scavenging with his friends in the dusty streets of a great seaport. For Jama, life is a thrilling carnival, at least when he can fill his belly. When his mother—alternately raging and loving—dies young, she leaves him only an amulet stuffed with one hundred rupees. Jama decides to spend her life’s meager savings on a search for his never-seen father. . .
Does Black Mamba Boy sound interesting to you? (In August, look for a review on BookPage.com.)
What book trailers are you buzzing about today?
Our romance columnist Christie Ridgway is a best-selling author in her own right, so when she says a novel is "A satisfying, sweet and sexy read," it's definitely a winner. This month, A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr is her top pick for romance. Read the full review here.
Bruce gives props to classic authors Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh and acknowledges contemporary authors Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and S.J. Rozan.
And then, he gives a shout-out to three talented women with new novels out this month: Alex Kava, Chevy Stevens and Sophie Hannah. You can read all about their books here.
Who are your favorite female mystery authors? And do you have a response to the question Bruce poses in his column:
Do female-penned novels offer up enough grittiness, or do they favor sweetness, light and romance?