The literary blogosphere is buzzing this morning with the news that Time is featuring an author on their cover for the first time in 10 years (Stephen King made the grade in 2000).
Lev Grossman, a novelist himself, interviewed Franzen in person for the story. He calls him a member of that "perennially threatened species, the American literary novelist." Perhaps that's why Time puts authors on the cover so rarely? Galleycat has a complete list of the 11 so honored in the past, which includes the likes of Virginia Woolf and John Updike. You can read an abridged version of the article online, or you can purchase Time when it hits newstands later this week (it's the August 23 issue).
We did our own interview with Franzen for our September issue of BookPage, and the piece will be featured on BookPage.com on the pub date of August 31. Alden Mudge says "Freedom rings with meaning and pulses with recognizable contemporary life."
Until then, you can read our interview with Franzen (also by Mudge!) about his breakthrough 2001 hit, The Corrections.
Is there an author you'd like to see on the cover of a magazine like Time?
For example: Patricia Cornwell will publish two more Kay Scarpetta novels with Putnam. The 18th book in the series, Port Mortuary, hits stores on November 30.
Any predictions on what'll happen to Scarpetta in future novels? Here's a (vague) hint: The Boston Herald reported on August 6 that Cornwell visited the New England Aquarium to do research for a novel. She "toured the marine animal rescue facilities and attended a seal-training session."
What with Lifetime's adaptations of At Risk and The Front and news that Angelina Jolie will play Scarpetta on the big screen, it's been a busy year for Patricia Cornwell.
Are you still into the series after all these books? Will you read Port Mortuary?
The first music video that appeared on the brand new cable channel MTV in 1981 was "Video Killed the Radio Star," the story of a singer whose career tanked with the arrival of television. "Pictures came and broke your heart," sang the Buggles, "Oh-a-a-a oh."
Some contemporary authors might be feeling the pain now that videos are being incorporated into books, or least into ebooks. Where will this new technology leave the reclusive author? The camera-shy? The non-photogenic? Authors are, after all, people who write, and some of them are presumably introspective types who won't shine on camera. Though this visual trend in publishing has been in the works for a while -- book tours and book trailers give the edge to attractive authors with a flair for public speaking -- things have reached a whole new level now that author videos are beginning to appear inside books.
Case in point: Crown's announcement yesterday of an "enhanced" ebook edition of Chris Bohjalian's novel Secrets of Eden. I decided to check it out by downloading the enhanced version on my iPad. The video "enhancement," it turns out, is a nicely done nine-minute film of Bohjalian discussing the book, offering readers a brief look at the Vermont house where he lives and works, and a view of a pond that inspired a setting in the novel. Bohjalian is an articulate and appealing narrator and his comments provide an interesting perspective on the novel (particularly for book clubs).
Watching Bohjalian on camera, I tried to picture an author like William Faulkner making a video for an enhanced ebook. Or Harper Lee. Or J. D. Salinger. But time spent on such old-fashioned fretting is time wasted, because this train has left the station. Ebooks and all the bells and whistles that come with them are sweeping into the market at warp speed.
Bohjalian's video is enjoyable but modest in scale. Can you IMAGINE what kind of audio and video enhancements publishers will begin to produce for mega-commercial novels, the Da Vinci Code-type releases? Will we have soundtracks? Mini-movies? With noted actors? And famous directors? The mind bogles.
Now to the question and answer part of our report:
Where can I can view ebooks with video enhancements?
Only on an iPad, iPod Touch and some smartphones.
But what about my spiffy new Kindle?
Sorry, no video capability.
Ok, I'll use an iPad. Can I purchase the ebook version of Secrets of Eden through Apple's iBooks store?
Certainly not. That would be too easy. The Random House Publishing Group has not reached a pricing agreement with Apple and will not sell any of its books through the Apple store.
So what do I now?
Download the Kindle app for your iPad and purchase the ebook from Amazon. It will automatically download onto your iPad, where you can view the video AND read the book. (You are still interested in reading, aren't you?)
But wait, Amazon's Kindle bookstore shows only a regular, unenhanced ebook version of Secrets of Eden. Why is that?
You forgot to use the secret passageway! To purchase an "enhanced" ebook edition, you must bypass the main page of the Kindle store and search for a hard-to-spot link for "Kindle Editions with Audio/Video." There you'll find a list of all ebooks with enhanced features. There are currently 116 books listed, but you can expect that number to increase exponentially in short order.
"Unrestrained yet elegant."
"A powerful meditation on the all-consuming nature of grief."
"An intimate look into the evanescence of memory."
Intrigued yet? The quotes above all come from BookPage's coverage of Rosecrans Baldwin's debut novel You Lost Me There (on sale today), about a man whose wife dies and leaves behind recorded memories of their relationship—which are drastically different from his own recollections.
BookPage contributor Stephenie Harrison interviewed Baldwin about his book and asked about any upcoming projects. He answered:
I’m currently working on two new books, a nonfiction book about Paris and a novel about Tijuana. Hopefully, they won’t take decades, but you never know. [You Lost Me There took five years to complete.]
Don't miss our review of You Lost Me There—along with six other standout debut novels—in the August 2010 issue of BookPage. And if you're interested in the personal life of Baldwin, including his pre-publication anxiety and appreciation for tequila, check out this funny essay in online magazine The Millions: "Writing Is My Peppermint-Flavored Heroin."
Just for fun, watch the book trailer for You Lost Me There:
Eating well is taken seriously by Commissario Brunetti, hero of Donna Leon's popular mystery series set in Venice. His wife, Paola, concocts meals for Brunetti in every book, and "these succulent lunches and dinners have become so central to the series that fans have been clamoring for the recipes," says cooking columnist Sybil Pratt. With the publication of Brunetti's Cookbook, they now have them, and today we're sharing one with you. Read on for a delicious and easy pasta dish full of Italian flavor.
Penne Rigate with Tomatoes, Bacon, Onions and Chilli
Penne rigate con pomodoro, pancetta, cipolla, peperoncino
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 fresh chillies, cut into small pieces
4 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
3½ fl oz dry white wine
12oz penne rigate
5 slices mild bacon, diced
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan or casserole and add the onion, 1sprig of rosemary, a pinch of salt, the chillies, and a little water. Cook gently until the onion becomes transparent, gradually adding the tomatoes and wine to make a thick, smooth sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water and drain.
Meanwhile put the diced bacon, the second sprig of rosemary and the bay leaf into a small pan and cook over a low heat until the bacon is crisp. Drain the pasta and toss gently with the sauce and bacon, then sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.
Recipe from Brunetti's Cookbook by Roberta Pianaro and Donna Leon, copyright 2010; used with permission of Grove/Atlantic Publishers. All rights reserved.
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.