The Long Journey Home (Spiegel & Grau) hits bookstores on March 1, 2011, and early buzz is Robison's story is compelling and well-told. The author, who has been wheelchair-bound since suffering a stroke in 1989, has been largely quiet about her sons' writings, saying only that she doesn't always agree with their portrayals of their early lives, and "I've had to forgive myself for many things."
It's well known that Robison had her own psychological troubles during her sons' childhoods—she attempted suicide and endured at least one abusive relationship.
Will she tell all in the memoir? Will you read it?
Just yesterday, BookPage contributor Stephenie Harrison interviewed Nicole Krauss for our October print edition. Steph enjoyed the conversation—and its subject, the forthcoming Great House—so much that we begged her to give us a preview in a guest blog post. She kindly agreed!
Great House by Nicole Krauss
W.W. Norton • $24.95 • October 12, 2010
This reviewer called "dibs" on a copy literally seconds after BookPage received news that galleys were heading their way (just ask my editor; she'll confirm it!), and I dug in with a vigor and single-mindedness that I’m sure made the rest of my teetering tower of TBR books envious.
Rather than a single story, Great House shares the tales of four individuals who are linked in a variety of ways, some subtle, some less so. Initially, a rather imposing desk which has held a prominent place in all of their lives—an ark for all their sublimated frustrations and desires—forms the point of intersection. Through a lens that shifts across time and space, readers will dip into the lives of writers, parents and lovers, slowly furrowing deep into their very cores, where universal fears and the crux of identity are laid bare, serving as the true foundation that unites this colorful cast of memorable characters. Of course, characters and plot are but one portion of any successful novel; perhaps Krauss' great genius is her ability to populate novels of ideas with such vivid people, all cloaked in the most exquisite language. Here one of the characters, reeling from the removal of the desk from her life, finds herself questioning her skills as a writer:
The next day I did not go out to look for a new desk, or the day after that. When I sat down to work, not only was I unable to muster the necessary concentration, but when I looked over the pages I’d already written I found them to be superfluous words lacking life and authenticity, with no compelling reason behind them. What I hoped had been the sophisticated artifice that the best fiction employs, now I saw was only a garden-variety artifice, artifice used to draw attention away from what is ultimately shallow rather than reveal the shattering depths below the surface of everything. What I thought was simpler, purer prose, more searing for being stripped of all distracting ornament, was actually a dull and lumbering mass, void of tension or energy, standing in opposition to nothing, toppling nothing, shouting nothing.
What are you reading today?
Read about these books (and more); win a collection of children's chapter books handpicked by BookPage editors; and get behind-the-book scoops from a couple of your favorite tween and teen authors in tomorrow's edition of Reading Corner.
Don't know what Reading Corner is? Find out and sign up. It's the perfect back-to-school newsletter!
Big news for booklovers!
BookPage and the very cool Very Short List are pairing up to bring you—wait for it—free books for a year! For a chance to win, all you have to do is enter here (and, if you want, sign up for BookPageXTRA and/or Very Short List—"a collection of distinct, free, daily e-mails that each recommend one must-see gem a day").
The contest runs through 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 31.
Here's more on the prize. The grand prize winner will receive four new books a month for one year, plus a $100 American Express gift card. One second prize winner will receive 10 books and one $50 American Express gift card. Twenty third prize winners will receive one book.
I can go ahead and tell you now that I will be picking and mailing the books to the grand prize winner . . . and I have excellent taste. :)
Enter away, and good luck!
Yesterday we gave you a chance to win a free copy of Gail Caldwell's memoir Let's Take the Long Way Home (and it's not too late to enter, if you haven't already). Today, we're sharing a conversation about our reactions to the book, which goes on sale today.
In the second BookPage podcast, we discuss the friendship portrayed in Let's Take the Long Way Home, Caldwell's writing style and why this memoir will appeal to book clubs. Also, we talk about why a story about friendship and grief is powerful, hopeful—and not at all sappy.
Did our conversation make you eager to pick up the book? If you've already read a review copy of the memoir, do you agree with our assessments? Why or why not?
Also on The Book Case: Listen to BookPage editors discuss Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil.
Grand Central Publishing imprint Twelve publishes only twelve books a year, and Sharon Pomerantz's Rich Boy is the sole novel of 2010. If that distinction doesn't convince you of this story's specialness, how about the following excerpt from David Madden's review in BookPage?
At 528 pages, Rich Boy is a Space Age version of a Victorian family saga, with the great difference being that the family is not upper-class English but Philadelphia Jewish. Perhaps it is more apt to call this novel an inflated Great Gatsby, with Robert Vishniak climbing the socio-capitalist ladder all the way up and into the Bernie Madoff Manhattan era. Readers will enjoy this journey through the labyrinth of episodes of class conflicts, sexual escapades, financial schemes and, of course, romantic love that Pomerantz spent a decade constructing. It is not to be missed.
Will you read Rich Boy?
Keira Knightley, watch your back: Carey Mulligan might just be the new queen of literary adaptations. So far she's starred/will be starring in at least six.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Bleak House (2005)
Northanger Abbey (2007)
An Education (2009)
Never Let Me Go (2010)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)*
Next, it seems she'll play the role of Florence Ponting in the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novella On Chesil Beach. The film is still being cast, but it's expected to hit theaters in 2012. Sam Mendes will direct, and McEwan adapted the screenplay himself. That must have been quite a task, since much of the novel takes place inside the characters' minds.
Newlyweds Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, not long out of university, are both still virgins on their wedding night, and the overlapping anticipation and anxiety of what they will encounter in the marriage bed provide the drama of the story. They live, we are told, in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. So, as they eat their supper in the room of a Georgian inn on the Dorset coast, just a few hours after their marriage, Edward and Florence each think, but never speak, about what they hope will or will not soon transpire in the adjoining bedroom. (Read more)
*see comments for details.
At the Book Case, we've posted before about our love of Roald Dahl's work—most recently in June, when we mentioned The Missing Golden Ticket, a September release from Penguin Young Readers that contains a chapter cut from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and contains plenty of fun facts about his work.
But September (Dahl's birth month) brings a book for adult fans as well: the authorized biography Storyteller, by Donald Sturrock. Sturrock worked with the Dahl estate and his family—including both of Dahl's wives*—to complete the book, which is more than 600 pages and chronicles every inch of the author's amazing life, from his childhood, to his years as a James Bond-like RAF officer (also covered in the outstanding The Irregulars) through his years as a writer.
The book has drawn glowing praise from the likes of Dahl friend and collaborator Quentin Blake, but then again, authorized biographies usually do. Does it tell all? You can judge for yourself when Simon & Schuster publishes the book in the US in September. Until then, The Telegraph is running five excerpts, starting with Dahl's school days.
Do you enjoy reading about the lives of your favorite authors?
*Dahl's first wife, Oscar winner Patricia Neal, died of cancer on Sunday.
Some of the week's best book blog posts are below. Add your favorites in the comments.
How YOU can get a book deal
Posted by Lorelei Vashti on The Vine
The movie version of Eat, Pray, Love comes out a week from today, and excitement is building . . . everywhere you look, there is EPL merchandise: hats, bags, a fragrance. I will admit that I have not actually read EPL and therefore cannot fairly participate in any sort of poo-pooing on Elizabeth Gilbert's massive success. But I can get a laugh out of this post on memoirs of "experiments in living," from Living Celibately to Living Biblically to Living like Oprah.
Lisbeth Salander Is The Cure To Elizabeth Gilbert
Posted by Lizzie Skurnick on Jezebel
Is Salander's hostile, embattled avenger the responsive ying to Gilbert's sunny, drifting yang? Are we avoiding some golden mean of literary womanhood, or is the appeal their clumsy extremes? Should everyone read Olive Kitteridge and rethink the whole thing?
In Praise of Precocious Narrators
Posted by Anne Shulock on The Millions
I enjoyed Shulock's ode to precocious young narrators defined by "idiosyncratic voices, unapologetic intelligence and bold curiosity" (à la Blue van Meer in Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics—which, as a side note, was probably my favorite book of 2006). Shulock's book recommendations and commentary on why these characters are "comfortable and exciting" is worth a read.
Talking with authors is one of the best parts of working at BookPage, and my Wednesday conversation with Julia Glass was especially exciting because I've been on a binge of her work in recent weeks, ripping through my review copy of The Widower's Tale, re-reading Three Junes and picking up The Whole World Over for the first time.
When I blogged about The Widower's Tale a month ago, many of you were eager to get your hands on this book. For that you'll have to wait until September 7, but just for kicks (and since it's Friday!), I thought I'd give you a teaser from our discussion.
Without further ado, here are three fun facts I learned about Glass (the indented sections are direct quotes):
She has to be "dragged kicking and screaming into every technological and communicative advance in the world." [This fact is relevant to Percy, the main character in The Widower's Tale.]
I’m like the only writer on the planet who doesn’t have a website and refuses to join Facebook. And my publisher has been so nice to me—they actually sent me an email a couple weeks ago, asking, would you mind if we started a Facebook page for you? And I started to bristle and write this kind of I don’t do Facebook! e-mail in this curmudgeonly fashion. Then I looked at the email and actually what they wanted to do for me is start—I think they’re called—a public Facebook page. In other words, they run the page and it’s very clear that I’m not running it, but I have the option to participate any time I want to; I don’t have to join Facebook. I was really kind of touched and excited by this. So I’m happy to hear that I have good company here because they also do the same thing for Alexander McCall Smith. [Become a fan of Glass's newly-created Facebook page.]
I’ve discovered the sport of badminton; I’m not a jock, but late in life—once again the late bloomer, now in my ‘50s—I have found my sport. It’s a very challenging sport; it’s not the game you play on somebody’s lawn with the raquet in one hand and a cocktail in the other. It’s an indoor sport that is enormously rigorous, very fast and I’m enjoying being a jock to the extent that I can and getting myself in better shape.
Usually by this point—when a book is about to come out in a month—I already have the inkling of the next book, and for the first time, I’m less certain. I am thinking about revisiting characters from previous books, but I’m not going to say who. I have to know that I really want to be with those characters again, and I’m not entirely positive.