I will read anything by Ann Patchett. I’ll also read anything by Emily St. John Mandel.
Well friends, the stars have aligned. Ann Patchett read Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel (thanks to a recommendation by Donna Tartt!), and she loved it so much that it’s going to be the September selection for her bookstore’s book club.
I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a book that scared me half to death. Sitting on my front porch reading the last 75 pages, all I could think about was how much I wanted a cigarette, only to remember that I stopped smoking 20 years ago. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel, and as long as we’re talking about things I don’t read, we should add post-apocalyptic to the list. But Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn’t have put it down for anything.
I thought this would be my favorite Amy Bloom quote from her New York Times By the Book interview:
Death, suffering, resolution and a nice, sharp sentence seem to go so well with sand and sun.
But then this happened:
What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?
I wish someone else would write a book that clearly and persuasively articulated why women’s reproductive rights are so important to this country, on both moral and legal grounds. When I say “clearly and persuasively,” I mean that, after reading this wonderful book, all opposition to women’s reproductive rights would evaporate, like morning mist.
Amy Bloom illustration by Jillian Tamaki.
Emma Straub and I had a fantastic reading at McNally Jackson. It’s such a beautiful store and the crowd was warm and enthusiastic. Also, fashionable.
Also, someone needs to give me and Emma a talk show, stat!
OMG I’m in the picture on the left, looking so delighted and eager about everything Edan and Emma are saying. I could hardly contain myself. Last night was prime author stalking.
I follow John Sandford on Facebook because I’m an author stalker and also because he frequently writes insightful posts about what it’s like to be a massively successful commercial writer.
Sandford is famous for his awesome Prey series, but he just came out with his first YA book, Uncaged, and he decided to check out the book’s online reviews.
Did you know that some people will give a book a low rating because they thought it cost too much? Did you know that some people are terrible?
Here’s what Sandford had to say:
I was looking at Amazon reviews of Uncaged, which is not recommended for authors, because sometimes it stops your heart. Here’s the thing: I get all kinds of reviews, mostly good, some bad. I love the good reviews, of course, but don’t pay a huge amount of attention to them, because they already agree with what I did. I do pay some attention to the two- and one-star reviews, because if they sincerely tell me something I might have done wrong, then maybe I can learn something, and fix it next time. That has actually happened, and that’s not what stops your heart. What does that is the reviews that say stuff like, “This book cost too much. I like it a lot, but because of the price, I’m only giving it one star.” Or, “I don’t want to wait a year for the next book, so I’m giving this one one-star.”
I mean, c’mon. If somebody says, “Sandford’s character development is too shallow in this book” or “Sandford is too vulgar here, too much swearing, cops don’t talk like that,” I’ll take it seriously — because maybe the reader is right. But I don’t set the prices for the books; and the book said on the cover, The Singular Menace: Book 1. Doesn’t that at least hint there may be more books?
Those Amazon ratings are important, because lots of readers who are tempted by the book look at the overall rating, and if it’s not five or four stars, pass on it.
Yikes. If you review books, be thoughtful, not terrible.
Right now I’m reading Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia and it is splendid. Yesterday, the author published a piece on The Toast celebrating her writing role model, the one and only Jessica Fletcher.
In my mid-twenties I started to joke about it. I told people I wanted to grow up to be Jessica Fletcher. It seemed a funny shorthand description of my essential personality: I’m highly observant. I like to read. I like to write. I’m an indoor girl, and I have a cat. I know how to kill you with poison (but I won’t). I’d probably do better in a small town where I loved a lot of people, where said people loved me too but knew when to leave me alone.
And then I realized it wasn’t a joke at all. I do want to grow up to be Jessica Fletcher. All those hours watching Jess tromp around Cabot Cove had drawn up a blueprint for a life, and had presented an ideal woman to become: A woman who writes books. Who supports herself by writing those books, who has artistic integrity but isn’t paralyzed by her own insecurities as an artist and remains humble in the face of success. Who gets intense satisfaction from finding the right word, finishing her novel and closing that sweet leather portfolio.
My husband really outdid himself today.