We're highlighting Karl Marlantes' Matterhorn tomorrow in Book of the Day, and in my research about the novel, I was struck by the author's backstory. Marlantes was in the Marines reserves, and he went to Yale and then Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. He then served in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts and ten air medals.
And he worked on the novel that would become Matterhorn for 35 years. In the interview below, Marlantes describes two events that encouraged him to keep writing during all that time:
After that long journey, the novel—published two weeks ago by Atlantic Monthly—has received nearly unanimously positive reviews; in BookPage, Michael Lee, himself a Marine, called the book "amazing. . . searing and complex." This past Sunday, Matterhorn was on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where Sebastian Junger called it a "raw, brilliant account of war."
Although I love Tim O'Brien and I was riveted by Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered, I am generally not drawn to war literature. Matterhorn might be an exception. Will you check it out?
By now, many of you probably know that on Monday, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, J.K. Rowling did a reading from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The big news from the event is that, when asked if she plans to publish another book any time soon, Rowling responded, "I'm quite sure in the not-too-distant future, I will bring out another book". According to CNN, she did not rule out the possibility of "another 'Potter'-themed novel somewhere down the line."
Potter fans: What is your preference—would you rather Rowling write another Potter book, or is the series wonderful enough as is? Would you like to see something completely different from the beloved author?
I've just come across a debut fiction deal that I think will appeal to BookPage readers (perhaps the same readers who have loved Marilyn Johnson's This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All). In winter 2011, Amy Einhorn Books will publish Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, "about three adult sisters of an eccentric, renowned Shakespeare professor whose family motto is 'there is no problem a library card can't solve'," according to Publisher's Marketplace.
Not surprisingly, the first thing I thought of when I read the title is Harry Potter rock band The Weird Sisters. And their rocking music video "Do the Hippogriff." Of course, the original Weird Sisters were the three witches of Macbeth, which is probably where Brown is coming from. The book's already getting some buzz; novelist Caroline Leavitt recently tweeted that she was up until three reading a galley of the "knockout debut."
What do you think—will you check out The Weird Sisters?
By the way, this morning, Trisha wrote about Little Brown imprint Reagan Arthur Books, and it's not hard to drawn comparisons to Amy Einhorn, who has her own imprint at Putnam. Have you enjoyed any Amy Einhorn books? (Have you read The Help? The Postmistress? The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott?) And book bloggers have also hosted Amy Einhorn challenges.
Day for Night by Frederick Reiken
Reagan Arthur Books, April 26, 2010
It is often said that successful novels need at least two out of three things: good writing, good characters or a good story. That may be true. But in the best novels, like Frederick Reiken's Day for Night, you get all three.
Just a handful of pages later, we leave Beverly to fly to Utah with Tim and the lead singer in his band, Dee. A few pages after that, we're reading a deposition from a federal agent who's been tracking a suspected terrorist for the last 20 years. All of these threads, and more, come together in surprising, compelling ways. Poetic and moving, Day for Night is a novel to remember.
This excerpt is from the second section, told from Tim's perspective.
We have a song, which Dee wrote—she's written all of our songs—called "Close You Are," and unlike "Down in the Sea of Me," it isn't cryptic and it isn't about Dee's history of childhood trauma. What it's about is the idea that we're much closer than we think to the random people we see on any given day, that everyone in this world carves out a little groove and that although you may think your world is large you rarely venture far outside that groove. That there are other people in these grooves with you, that grooving, at least in this song, means to be dancing with the people in your groove. The chorus of the song—Close you are, grooving!—might sound dumb just to say (especially since people hear it as "groovy" and not "grooving"), but it sounds good when you hear Dee sing it. She jumps around a lot when she sings this song and it's fun to watch her. It's like she's two different people singing, one who sings Close you are and another who chimes in grooving! She seems so happy and clear, unlike in "Down in the Sea of Me." When she sings that song, you get scared because it's like she's turned into this big black hole and you're sucked right in. Her face turns mean and you would think a person with a face like that could kill you. A face like that you will keep on seeing in your mind and you'll feel relief when you drive home and know that face is just a memory. The problem is that when you're far enough away you'll want to see it again, this face that is cruel and luscious and arousing. You think you really might be willing to go down into that sea.
Novelist and filmmaker Peter Hedges will adapt his latest novel, The Heights, for the big screen—and serve as producer and director. This is the first time Hedges has adapted his own work for film since What's Eating Gilbert Grape? was released in 1993, though he has written original screenplays and was nominated for an Academy Award for his adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy.
As prescient BookPage contributor Stephenie Harrison says in her review, "Given past precedence, it wouldn’t be surprising if The Heights one day graces a theater near you, but this is definitely one book you’ll want to read before seeing the movie."
No casting decisions have yet been made, of course—any readers care to weigh in?
I wouldn't shy away from it if I felt that I had a compelling story to tell in a location that really worked for me. . . Location is crucial to my books. I've been careful to go to places to make sure that I am going to feel that mystical or visceral connection that allows me to say yes, this is it, this is the place I'm going to write about.
George fans: Will you read The Edge of Nowhere? The book will be published by Viking Children's, and currently there is no set pub date.
If you've spent the past 18 years wondering what Terry McMillan's memorable heroines from the 1992 hit Waiting to Exhale are up to now that they've hit middle age, the answers are coming in September, when Viking will publish Getting to Happy.
We have to admit to some surprise over this announcement, since in our 2005 interview with McMillan about her last novel, The Interruption of Everything, she didn't seem too crazy about Exhale's characters.
"[T]hose women make me sick! They seem like such whiners, except for one," she says. "But the thing was, at that time, there were so many women that I knew, myself included, who looked up and realized, gee whiz, what happened to those husbands we were supposed to be getting? Not only husbands, we didn't even have dates! Back then, it was kind of important because we were in it, but then it kind of came and went. But they don't let you forget!"
We're running a roundup of historical fiction titles in the April edition of BookPage. The plots move from Renaissance Italy to 16th-century England, and feature "struggling artists and merciless monarchs, dysfunctional families and doubt-wracked lovers," writes contributor Julie Hale.
Two of the four books in the roundup come out this week: Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt (out tomorrow) and Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell (out today). And, lucky for us, there are book trailers of each book to compliment our reviews.
Daughters of the Witching Hill takes place in Lancashire, England, in 1612, as two women are targeted in a witch hunt. Hale raves: "Striking just the right balance between the demands of fact and the allure of a good story, [Sharratt] has produced a novel that’s both convincing and compelling. . . literally—a spellbinding book." In the trailer below, Sharratt tells the true story of the witches of Pendle Hill.
Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet tells the story of Monet and his wife and inspiration, Camille Doncieux. In her review, Hale writes that Cowell fleshes out "the artist’s biographical outline with fresh imagery, well-paced dramatic scenes and carefully calculated dialogue." Look at some of Monet's gorgeous paintings in this trailer:
Have you seen any memorable book trailers lately? Do you have a great historical fiction title to recommend?
Our top 50 books of 2009 list has been one of the most popular features on BookPage.com. With that in mind, we decided to compile a "Top 20 Books of 2010—so far" list, based on the most-viewed new reviews on BookPage.com, from January 1 until March 31.
In our recent reader survey, BookPage readers asserted their love for fiction, especially mysteries and thrillers. So I was surprised to see that several non-fiction titles, such as This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson and Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters, have been incredibly popular this year.
View the complete list below and tell us: How many have you read? Come December, will any of these books make the year's "best of" list?
In the summer of 1988, a corporate transfer landed my husband Marty and me in Atlanta. A diehard baseball fan (and all-star shortstop as a youth), Marty was thrilled to finally live in a city with a Major League Baseball team—we were at a Braves game before the moving truck had even arrived with our belongings. He quickly made inquiries about season tickets for the 1989 season and found four to-die-for seats between home plate and the dugout on the first-base side.
If you know your baseball history, you know how awful the Braves were in the late 1980s and the Cinderella story of their "worst to first" season in 1991. We were there, through the painful string of losses to the playoffs and the World Series! And we continued to enjoy our amazing seats through the next several powerhouse seasons (while all the fair-weather fans scrambled for a ticket). My daughter learned the tomahawk chop about the same time she learned to walk, and my son honed his reading and math skills by studying the Braves box scores. Skip Caray, the venerable voice of the Braves, was literally the background soundtrack of those years of our lives.
So, when Robert Kempe of Seven Footer Press told me about their newest title, Cardboard Gods, I knew I had found the perfect book for Marty. This unique memoir tells the 1970s coming-of-age story of author Josh Wilker, "played out" through his baseball card collection. Each short chapter begins with a full-color image of one of his baseball cards, and as the narrative of his life unfolds, it twists and turns and ultimately relates to the pictured card and featured player.
Even though I was only a baseball fan for those six "Braves" years, I was still drawn into Cardboard Gods. Intrigued, I studied the card at the beginning of each chapter, wondering how it would relate to the author's continued story. It's clever and fun, even when your heart aches for young Wilker as he makes his way from boyhood to adolescence and beyond. If you know a lover of baseball (or not!), surprise them with a copy of this book.