Tomorrow morning we're sending out a Fantastic Fall Fiction-themed edition of BookPageXTRA. The e-newsletter is filled with book recommendations that are not in our print edition.
Remember that blog post from a couple weeks ago on Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter? Many of you expressed interest in this literary thriller set in Mississippi... and if you're signed up for XTRA, tomorrow just might be your lucky day!
We're giving away autographed copies of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and The Best American Noir of the Century edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler, which includes stories by Harlan Ellison, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard . . . and Tom Franklin, who signed the book. (In all there are 39 stories published between 1923 and 2007.)
You can't really tell from the photo, but besides being packed with dark tales, this is one beautiful-looking book. It's got a translucent dust jacket that just barely shows the vintage illustration underneath. (In fact, I'm tempted to rig the contest so I win it myself. Just kidding!)
Kelly—I'll be sending an e-mail your way in the next few minutes.
And keep your eyes on The Book Case for more great contests! (Like the one going on right now.)
What blog posts about books have you found interesting this week? A few of my favorites include . . .
Lost, Unpublished Dr. Seuss Manuscript Surfaces
Posted on Booktryst by Stephen J. Gertz
This post gives a fascinating look at a newly discovered, unpublished manuscript by Dr. Seuss. From the blog: "This is an eye-popping find, a Seuss book in its earliest stage, a rough Seuss draft, an abandoned project not only never before seen on the market but never before seen or heard of, period."
If you love Dr. Seuss (who doesn't?), you must look at the handwritten and drawn pages!
Two Translators on Nobel Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa
Posted by Ryan Chapman on FSG's Work in Progress
For an excellent introduction to Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, read this Q&A with translators Edith Grossman and Natasha Wimmer. Here's an excerpt, on Grossman's book recommendations:
I can make some recommendations, but you have to remember that [Vargas Llosa] is not only is prolific but also is something of a chameleon: I mean that his themes and subject matter can vary from book to book. Having said that, I think Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter might be a good place to begin—it’s charming, funny, and very smart. Conversation in the Cathedral, also an earlier book, is darker and much more overtly political than Aunt Julia. A more recent book is The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, which I find deeply amusing and absolutely serious at the same time. Finally, for a stunning view of dictators and dictatorships, there is Feast of the Goat. I think this may be one of his best.
I became familiar with Emily St. John Mandel when BookPage interviewed her about her latest novel, The Singer's Gun. In this post, St. John Mandel is writing about books by other authors—specifically, books with "unlikable" characters.
Now I have to get my hands on Marcy Dermansky’s Bad Marie!
But BookPage readers already know all about Nicole Krauss' National Book Award-nominated third novel after reading the interview in our October issue—right?
If not, here's a second chance to read BookPage contributor Stephenie Harrison's chat with the author, who turned out to be friendly, candid and down-to-earth as well as talented. "If there’s such a thing as a pragmatic poet, Krauss is it," says Harrison. Read the rest of the Nicole Krauss interview about Great House—or check out our 2005 interview with her about The History of Love.
Michael Lewis, author of many popular nonfiction books including The Blind Side, Liar's Poker and Next: The Future Just Happened, has signed a deal with Norton to write a new book titled Boomerang. This one will be about "the effects of the U.S. financial crisis on large and small European countries and how their difficulties impact the US." According to the Norton online catalog, the book will be available in June 2011.
If you'd like some background information on how we got into this financial mess, you might check out the anthology edited by Lewis, Panic!: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity. BookPage reviewer Anne Bartlett described that book as "readable," and I can attest from reading Liar's Poker that Lewis makes finance incredibly interesting—even for those of us who snoozed through econ class in college.
In other Michael Lewis-related news, Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B Entertainment, has bought the film rights to The Big Short.
Do you read Michael Lewis? What other mainstream financial writers would you recommend?
Jerry Lee Lewis had back-to-back hits with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire," was friends with Elvis, inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, had six wives (including to his 13-year-old first cousin once removed) . . . are you curious about the man behind the scandal and rockin' tunes?
If the answer is "yes," then you're in luck—because Lewis has signed a deal with HarperCollins imprint It Books, which will publish his memoir in 2012.
Press release author quotes are usually quite bland, but I had to smile at Lewis's statement about why he's writing a memoir:
I am ready to say a whole lot about why I lived my life the way I did. People can read it, burn it, or never give it another thought. Either way the truth is about to be told, and I'm the only man still standing who can touch it.
The festival may be over now, but I thought you'd enjoy reading about a few of my favorite moments from the weekend. Also, be sure to share your own experiences in the comments: Why do you like to go to book festivals? What's the most memorable author reading you've ever attended?
On Saturday, I was happy to meet Holly LeCraw, author of The Swimming Pool. I reviewed The Swimming Pool for BookPage's August debut roundup, and I suppose you would describe the story as a sexy literary thriller filled with lots of family drama—perfect for a winter weekend when you want to disappear for a few hours with a good read. I met LeCraw at the signing table and she couldn't have been nicer—and complimentary of BookPage!
A lucky break from my quest to talk with LeCraw was that I also got to meet Susanna Daniel, the author of Stiltsville, which was reviewed in BookPage's debut roundup, as well (and is now on my TBR list). The two authors spoke on a Saturday afternoon panel about "Plumbing the Depths (and Shallows) of Love" and had spots next to one another at the signing table.
Do you know you have a problem when you seek out an author twice in the span of a few months? Problem or not, I was glad I went to see Adam Ross read from Mr. Peanut (again), in part because Jim Ridley of the Nashville Scene gave a hilarious introduction in which he alleged that Ross does indeed hate women. (This is funny because the most common one-sentence description of Mr. Peanut seems to be "A novel about men who fantasize about killing their wives," although I suggest you read BookPage's review to get the bigger picture.) Ross read from the Sheppard section of the book, and though he said this was a section he hadn't yet read on the road—and that he read it at his wife's request—I was a bit disappointed that he didn't read from the point of view of another narrator. When I heard Ross at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville, he read from a similar passage.
The best part of this session was getting Ross's take on the Sam Sheppard case, which inspired a portion of his novel. I was interested to hear that he has never contacted any of his characters who are based on living people, like Susan Hayes. And no—he won't say whether he thinks Sheppard was guilty.
Another highlight was seeing my mom meet Ron Rash, whose most recent book is the short story collection Burning Bright. My mom had recently chosen Rash's Saints at the River for her book club to read and was eager to praise the story's setting and themes, which led to a great conversation in her group.
Although introducing Louis Sachar and hearing him read from The Cardturner was a major thrill, my favorite part about moderating his session was observing his interactions with fans. Teachers, grandmothers, elementary school kids, college students . . . I couldn't believe the range of people who showed up to get books—sometimes boxes of books—signed by their favorite author.
Meeting authors is definitely a perk of book festivals, but my true favorite thing is seeing so many passionate readers in one place—and loaded down with books. My first day at the festival, while waiting to have books signed by Audrey Niffenegger, I met a gentleman who couldn't wait to get his copy of The Time Traveler's Wife autographed. He was carrying a bag of hardbacks that must have weighed 50 pounds. On the top was Island Beneath the Sea, which I reviewed for BookPage in April. (He must have been carrying that one for fun, since Isabel Allende was not at the festival.) So, we had a nice chat about Allende while we stood in line. How much do you love bonding with strangers over books?
Book festivals take place year-round, all around the country. For example, the Texas Book Festival starts on Saturday—will any readers of The Book Case be there?
Today's recipe of the week comes from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table (HMH)—October's Cookbook of the Month. A cook whose "culinary talents are limitless," according to our own Sybil Pratt, Greenspan has amassed a delicious collection of recipes providing her take on French classics, like this week's quiche.
When you see the word maraîchère, you know market-fresh produce is in the mix. Here it’s in a quiche packed to the brim with celery, leeks, carrots, and little squares of red pepper. It’s an unusual quiche in that it’s got lots more vegetables than custard and the cheese is on top of it, not inside.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into small dice
2 slender leeks, white and light green parts only, quartered lengthwise, washed, and thinly sliced
2 slender carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 9- to 9½-inch tart shell made from Tart Dough, partially baked and cooled
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup grated cheese, preferably Gruyère (cheddar is good too)
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss in the vegetables and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender. Season with salt and pepper, then scrape the vegetables into a bowl and let cool.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the crust on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Spoon the vegetables into the tart shell and spread them out — they will just about fill the crust. Whisk the cream, egg, and egg yolk together, season with salt and pepper, and carefully pour over the vegetables. Depending on how your crust baked, you may have too much custard — don’t push it. Pour in as much custard as you can without it overflowing and wait a few minutes until it’s settled into the crannies, then, if you think it will take it, pour in a little more. Very carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven. (If it’s easier for you, put the quiche into the oven without the custard, then pour it in.)
Bake the quiche for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and, most important, the filling is uniformly puffed (wait for the center to puff ), browned, and set. Transfer the quiche to a rack, remove the sides of the pan, and cool until it’s only just warm or until it reaches room temperature before serving.
If you’re serving the quiche for lunch or as a starter to a light dinner, accompany it with a salad. If it’s going to be a nibble with drinks, cut it into wedges that can be eaten as finger food.
Because this quiche is so good at room temperature, you can make it a few hours ahead and leave it out on the counter. Leftover quiche can be wrapped, refrigerated, and eaten the next day — either warm it briefly in the oven or let it come to room temperature.
Recipe reprinted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), with permission from the publishers. Copyright 2010, all rights reserved.
Louis Bayard isn't afraid to take on new territory in his work—since he first turned to writing historical mysteries in 2003, his novels have covered Dickens, Poe and 19th-century French detective Vidocq with equal skill. Now, Bayard has tried his hand at writing a book that takes two present-day scholars on a search for a 16th-century letter that is the key to a mystery. The School of Night (Holt) will hit shelves on March 29.
From the catalog:
In the late sixteenth century, five brilliant scholars gather under the cloak of darkness to discuss God, politics, astronomy, and the black arts. Known as the School of Night, they meet in secret to avoid the wrath of Queen Elizabeth. But one of the men, Thomas Harriot, has secrets of his own, secrets he shares with one person only: the servant woman he loves.
In modern-day Washington, D.C., disgraced Elizabethan scholar Henry Cavendish has been hired by the ruthless antiquities collector Bernard Styles to find a missing letter. The letter dates from the 1600s and was stolen by Henry's close friend, Alonzo Wax. Now Wax is dead and Styles wants the letter back.
. . . Joining Henry in his search for the letter is Clarissa Dale, a mysterious woman who suffers from visions that only Henry can understand. In short order, Henry finds himself stumbling through a secretive world of ancient perils, caught up in a deadly plot, and ensnared in the tragic legacy of a forgotten genius.
Though the world is still glued to the live account of the Chilean mine rescue operation, a book about the 69-day saga has already been sold in the U.K. (it's currently on submission in the U.S., and has been sold in Germany and France.)
Guardian journalist Jonathan Franklin's 33 Men, Buried Alive will be published by Transworld's Bantam Press in early 2011. It's "based his on-the-scene reporting, which has included private conversations with the miners and the rescue team," according to the deal report in Publisher's Lunch.
More on the deal here.