Friday, November 23, 2007

Notable Books?!

The New York Times has come out with its annual list of 100 Notable Books for the year.

Among the missing: AWAY by Amy Bloom (What are they, crazy? Leaving this one off was a mistake.)

and LOVING FRANK by Nancy Horan. Hard to believe this novel about Frank Lloyd Wright's lover, Mama Borthwick Cheny, wasn't included. It was a commercial and critical absorbing, thoughtful read. Too much femine self-acutalization on a man-heavy list, perhaps?
As Liesl Schillingein wrote her review for the NYT in September:
"Loving Frank, an enthralling first novel by Nancy Horan, is set at the same time as Doctorow's modern classic — the decade before World War I — and recreates its weld of fact and fiction, wrapped around the core theme of female self-actualization.... Mamah Borthwick Cheney wasn't just any woman, but Horan makes her into an enigmatic Everywoman — a symbol of both the freedoms women yearn to have and of the consequences that may await when they try to take them."

On the other hand, I was glad to see several books I love on the list:

A novel set in Buenos Aires in the 1970's.

a novel "narrated by a Pakistani who tells his life story to an unnamed American after the attacks of 9/11."

a "funny first novel, set in a white-collar office."

and WHAT IS THE WHAT. The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel. By Dave Eggers. A novel about one of the Lost boys of Sudan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next is a website that predicts--or recommends-- books you might like based on books you've read. Of course, your neighborhood indy bookseller can make such predictions in person, but it's cool to see what lists you come up with. (Similar to Amazon and other online sellers, but I assume with What I should Read Next there's no co-op or money exchanged...)

I'm pretty good at this...figuring out what authors or books people would love, based on their reading tastes. It's great fun at cocktail least until I get my Tarot card reading up to snuff.

So here's a recommendation from me to you: If you're a Picoult fan and liked this book, try THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES by Laura Kasischke (soon to be a movie called "Bloom"). Both novels explore a similar "Columbine massacre" event. Kasischke is a poet as well as prose writer, and her writing is lyrical and emotionally powerful.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Writing Space

Ode to the Laptop

Some writers I know like to write in public spaces.

The din of conversation, the aroma of roasted coffee beans and baked three-berry muffins, the hiss of the capacino machine, the pragmatic ding of the cash register. . . because, you has a way of inserting itself... everywhere.

But when the croissants and the eavesdropping prove too tempting to resist (those delicious snippets of people's lives! Those calorie-laden feathery layers of pastry!), when the incessant --and insistant--ding ding ding of capitalism punctures your aesthetic haze, isn't it nice to boot up in your own kitchen?

Case in point: My Kitchen Table Writing Space.

Cherished Apple laptop, a pile of New York Times and Greenville News, Buddha, my late grandmother's vintage tablecloth, collected cobalt blue bottles from flea market, lucky bamboo and propagated cardinal flower, the last of the summer flowers--zinnia, veronica, black-eyed Susan--cup o'coffee (shade grown, a souvenier cup from the Eudora Welty Mississippi Writing Conference), stuff I'm researching (Interlibrary loan books about the 1929 communist-strike in Gastonia), Ragtime, a novel by E.L Doctorow that I just read that is *&!#%! genius (but everybody already knows that), a hawk's feather, fortune cookies, a hanging handmade cool thing my neighbor Raina gave me. Sound effects: bird songs from bird feeder outside of window.

A room with a view, anyway.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Secret Keepers

Today I'm the guest blogger over on A GOOD BLOG IS HARD TO FIND...talking about secret keeping:

Ever since I found the letter from J. Edgar Hoover in my grandmother's trunk, I've been thinking a lot about secrets...
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