Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Songs Without Words will release a new book on April 12, 2011. Knopf is calling Swim Back to Me "her strongest work yet—a collection of burnished, impossible-to-put down narratives framed by two stunning, linked novellas."
Here's more from the publisher:
A wife struggles to make sense of her husband’s sudden disappearance. A mother mourns her teenage son through the music collection he left behind. A woman shepherds her estranged parents through her brother’s wedding and reflects on the year her family collapsed. A young man comes to grips with the joy—and vulnerability—of impending fatherhood. And, in the masterly opening novella, two teenagers from very different families—one a tightly knit foursome, the other a father and son who share little more than having been abandoned by the same woman—forge a sustaining friendship, only to discover the disruptive and unsettling power of sex.
Are you a fan of Packer? Will you look forward to her new release?
This photo has been circulating online, and "three anonymous booksellers" (according to Publisher's Marketplace) have confirmed the sticker is authentic:
The official announcement isn't until tomorrow, but I'd love to know readers' thoughts on this choice.
Do you agree with Jennifer Weiner, who tweeted:
At this point I'd be pretty excited if Oprah picked FREEDOM. Watching the Franz go through the interview, hometown video...must-see TV.
Obvs it would be great if Oprah introduced a great debut lady writer who's gotten no press. But if that won't happen...
I don't think any of us need a refresher, but just in case—here's a link about Franzen's infamous Oprah scandal of 2001.
This week's recipe is another delectable dessert option from The Perfect Finish, by Bill Yosses, a cook "so skilled at making divine desserts that he crosses party lines with impunity," [Read our full review here]. If you are looking to run for office, you could definitely get a few votes with this sinfully rich pudding.
Special Equipment: Sifter, food processor, 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or teacups, ?or a large decorative bowl
Softly whipped cream, for serving
About ½ pound bittersweet chocolate for curls
1. Sift the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Place the egg and yolks in a bowl, sprinkle the sugar mixture over them, and whisk to combine. Add a few tablespoons of milk to soften the mixture.
2. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the chocolate until it is finely chopped.
3. Over medium heat, bring the milk and vanilla bean seeds or vanilla extract to a boil. Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk over the egg mixture. Return this liquid to the saucepan, continuing to whisk constantly, and cook over low heat, stirring, until the mixture has thickened and just begun to bubble, about 5 minutes (one visible bubble is sufficient!).
4. Immediately pour this custard into the food processor with the chocolate, add the butter, and run until smooth, about 1 minute.
5. Pour the pudding into eight 6-ounce ramekins or teacups, or one large decorative bowl. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days, and serve with whipped cream or chocolate curls.
Reprinted from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yossas (c) 2010. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Working at BookPage has a lot of perks, but one of the best, in my opinion, is getting to look at and read great new books before they're even in the stores. This fall will see the publication of plenty of nonfiction sure-to-be-bestsellers. Here are some of the season's highlights:
Laura Hillenbrand, author of the blockbuster hit Seabiscuit, returns on November 16 with a story of adventure and survival during World War II. Unbroken follows young bombardier Louis Zamperini through his incredible ordeal after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Hillenbrand's long-awaited follow-up to Seabiscuit will not disappoint her legions of fans.
Several excellent new biographies will hit shelves this fall, including Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life (Oct. 5); Jane Leavy's The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood (Oct. 12); Michael Korda's Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (Nov. 16); and the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, which goes on sale Nov. 15. Twain left instructions that his memoirs should remain unpublished for 100 years after his death, so that he could feel free to speak his mind frankly. Who knows what revelations those pages might contain?
In other nonfiction news, Bill Bryson is back this season with At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Oct. 5), in which Bryson narrows his focus from A Short History of Nearly Everything to the confines of his own house, while Simon Winchester's Atlantic (Nov. 2) calls itself a "biography" of the Atlantic Ocean, weaving in both historical facts and personal details from Winchester's own experiences at sea. And on Oct. 26, Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia) treads new ground with The Mind's Eye, a collection of essays on the interplay between vision and recognition, reading and communication, and other brainteasers, including Sacks' reflections on his own experience with eye cancer.
And finally, for those looking for a lighter read, Nora Ephron once more taps into the thoughts and concerns of "women of a certain age" with I Remember Nothing (Nov. 9), a follow-up to the major bestseller I Feel Bad About My Neck, while Vicki Myron returns to the subject of her beloved "small-town library cat" with Dewey's Nine Lives (Oct. 12), a collection of stories about and inspired by Dewey.
With so many excellent books to choose from, which one will you read first?
Admit it: there's at least one fail-proof cue out there that is guaranteed to get you to pick up a book. A time period, a cover image, a setting, a theme—everyone has a trigger. Sometimes the book delivers, sometimes it doesn't, but either way you're going to at least give it a try.
Paging through the Crown catalog turned up one for me—A Man in Uniform, which goes on sale December 28. It set off the following alarms:
Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl
by Donald Sturrock
Simon & Schuster • $30.00 • September 14, 2010
I admit that after Trisha blogged about Storyteller, the authorized biography of Roald Dahl, I expected the book to be rather ho-hum. How dishy can an authorized biography really be?
But then a line in an Independent article about the dark private lives of children's authors caught my eye: "The creator of Willy Wonka, the Twits and Fantastic Mr Fox was often less than fantastic as a human being. He was an anti-Semite, a chronically unfaithful husband and a raging bully to business associates, teachers and friends." This can apparently be gleaned from Sturrock's book. So, I've picked it up and am enjoying the biography. (I'll confess that I haven't gotten to the parts that reveal the unappealing parts of his personality, although I have flipped to the center photo spreads to look at pictures of Dahl with his first wife, the movie star Patricia Neal. )
If Dahl's memoirs Boy and Going Solo left you eager for information, or you want to know about the man behind Matilda and The BFG--Storyteller is definitely worth a read. A teaser:
The Edwardian children's writer Edith Nesbit thought that the most important quality in a good children's writer was an ability to vividly recall their own childhood. Being able to relate to children as an adult, she believed, was largely unimportant. Roald Dahl could do both. His seductive voice, the subversive twinkle in his eye, and his sense of the comic and curious gave him an ability to mesmerize almost every child who crossed his path--yet he could also remember and reimagine his own childhood with astonishing sharpness. The detail might sometimes be unreliable, but what never failed him was an ability instinctively to recreate and understand the child's point of view. It was something of which he was very proud. He knew he could do it and that a great many others could not. Sitting in his high-backed faded green armchair by the fire at Gipsy House, a glass of whiskey in one hand, he once talked to me about it with considerable pride. "It's really quite easy," he would say. "I go down to my little hut, where it's tight and dark and warm, and within minutes I can go back to being six or seven or eight again." Or, as his alter ego, Willy Wonka, put it in an early draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "In my factory I make things to please children. I don't care about adults."
The next few months will bring two books inspired by the life and work of a long-dead French essayist. The first is a straight biography: in How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Other Press), Sarah Blackwell takes on the literary giant's major question—How to live?—and answers it in 20 different ways based on his work.
Well educated and wealthy, Montaigne retired from society for a long period following the deaths of a daughter (one of six), his brother, his father and a close friend. It was then that he composed his essays in an attempt to understand himself and the world. The witty, intelligent writings had instant appeal and are full of quotable quotes that are still familiar today, such as the title of the second Montaigne biography, When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know that She Is Not Playing With Me? (Pantheon), coming in March.
Have you read Montaigne? Are you interested?
Tom Tykwer finally has a cast for his epic of all epic films, Cloud Atlas. Based on David Mitchell’s book of the same title, the movie will star Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman, Halle Berry and James McAvoy in a story that should make The Fountain look like a kid’s movie. In addition to Tykwer’s direction, Cloud Atlas will be produced by the Wachowskis [the Wachowski brothers are best knows for The Matrix series].
The longer you read, the more perfectly the pieces fit into a whole; the further you're drawn into the novel, the more removed your perspective becomes. The reaction this creates is a unique one: large-scale understanding that holds within it the small-scale but vital dramas of the human heart. It sounds incredible, and it is.
Also in BookPage: Read an interview with Mitchell about Black Swan Green; read a review of his newest novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
President Barack Obama has written a children's book titled Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. It will be published on November 16 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers and have a first printing of 500,000 copies.
According to a press release from Random House, the President completed the manuscript prior to taking office in January of 2009. The book's proceeds will be donated to "a scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled soldiers serving our nation."
The story is "a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation—from the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington."
Loren Long will illustrate. For a sample of his work, see this Meet the Illustrator Q&A he did with BookPage in 2008 about Drummer Boy.
ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper reports that this book is part of the three-book, $1.9 million deal that then-Sen. Obama reached with Random House in 2004. Of course, the first two books were the international bestsellers Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope.
As far as I know (I'll post an update if I learn otherwise), this is the first time a sitting president has published a book. It may also be the first time a president has published a children's book. That territory is usually covered by First Ladies (Hillary Clinton's Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets; Laura and Jenna Bush's Read All About It!).
Will you check out Of Thee I Sing? What other people do you hope will be profiled?
I will admit that I haven't read anything by National Book Award finalist Cristina García (for Dreaming in Cuban, 1992)—although there are a couple of things that have drawn me to The Lady Matador's Hotel, her newest novel.
For one, BookPage reviewer Rebecca Shapiro compares it to Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, one of my favorite books; both novels are about a group of seemingly random international characters thrown together in the wake of political turmoil. In Bel Canto, the characters are thrown together in an embassy, all hostages. In The Lady Matador's Hotel, they are guests at a hotel. Instead of an opera singer, the center figure is—you guessed it—a female matador.
Which brings me to my second reason for wanting to pick up this book. I lived in Andalucía for a year in college and became somewhat fascinated by the sport of bullfighting, eventually going to watch a corrida de toro in Seville. As you might imagine, female matadors are few and far between, so it's interesting that García chose to write about such an unusual character.
In this book trailer, García explains why she chose the characters she did:
Does this trailer make you curious to read The Lady Matador's Hotel?