"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.
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.