April 13, 2013
My daughter is two. Already sounding out letters, she’s learning the concept of reading, taking pleasure in memorizing shapes and sounds, proudly scrawling the first few letters of her name. On the night before “take-a-book-to-school” day a few weeks ago at her daycare, she had difficulty choosing from her favorites. Three feet tall, chubby-faced, she towered over the picture books she’d spread on the living room floor like a colorful hopscotch grid, her dirty blonde hair frizzing around her head in wild curls, her glasses cockeyed. “This one,” she kept saying. “No, this one!”
When do we begin to decide what books we love? At what point do we start choosing to read books about one subject, but not another?
March 12, 2013
Know any writers? Facebook and Twitter much? If so, you know that last week VIDA announced its 2012 Count. For three years, VIDA’s pie charts have shown in stark relief the gender bias at several top-tier literary publications. Yet for many of the writers and publishers engaged in heated discussions about The Count at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Boston, the “real story” was in VIDA’s three-year comparisons, which looked at publications’ numbers since the first Count in 2010.
For the launch of my third novel, I thought it would be fun to have the story editor, Patrick J. LoBrutto, ask some questions. He’s not only conversant with the novel; he made it better.
Pat, who worked in-house at Bantam and at half a dozen other major imprints, has edited more books than most people read in a lifetime. Over a career spanning three decades, he’s worked with Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Eric Van Lustbader, Walter Tevis, the Louis L’Amour Estate, Don Coldsmith, Jack Dann, F. Paul Wilson, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Herbert, and hundreds of others.
Obviously, if any of my answers come across as incoherent, it’s all Pat’s fault.
Matthew Salesses is the guest. He is the author of two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics and We Will Take What We Can Get, a novella called The Last Repatriate, and his new novel is called I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying (Civil Coping Mechanisms).
Also in this episode: a conversation with Reality Hunger author David Shields. His new book, How Literature Saved My Life, is now availalble from Knopf. And later this year, in September, he will publish The Private War of J.D. Salinger, co-authored by Shane Salerno.
Or just listen here:
Earlier this week, the NW Book Lovers website published an essay by bestselling novelist Jonathan Evison arguing in favor of old-fashioned, paper-and-ink books. It’s the first in a series of six essays by this year’s PNBA Award winners, and it’s as charming as you’d expect from a writer of Evison’s calibre. It makes a case clearly and succinctly for “actual books”, praising their feel, their smell, and even their use as an aphrodisiac. It has been greeted with a chorus of approval from book lovers.
Unfortunately, it is also misguided and wrong.
Another year has come and gone, and it’s time once again to present The Nobbies, the official book awards of The Nervous Breakdown.
Below you’ll find this year’s winners, our picks for the best books of 2012.
Congrats to the victors, and their publishers.
And thanks, as always, for reading.
A lot has been written on Junot Díaz lately. For several weeks starting in September, he appeared in at least twelve publications that showed up at my house. He was in everything from the unsolicited Time Magazine, apparently intended for my fifteen-year-old son, to Vogue, where Díaz appeared in costume, dressed as a member of Edith Wharton’s circle. Díaz’s face smiled out from Entertainment Weekly, and he appealed for understanding from the pages of the New York Times Magazine. Online, the Guardian Blog stated that the term “genius” was inadequate praise. Seemingly everywhere, his big glasses, smooth head, trim beard, and tentative smile greeted me. If Andy Warhol still lived, he would use Junot Diaz as a subject.
November 17, 2012
Like a David Cronenberg movie, this offbeat anthology zeros in on beauty’s dark and complicated side. Another bonus: it mostly features good writers you’ve never heard of.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Collins, who did a wonderful job editing the book. And to Charlotte Howard, who did a spectacular job on the design. And three cheers to all of the book’s tremendously gifted contributors.
A proud day for TNB Books, our independent press.
Please get your copy of The Beautiful Anthology today. It is available wherever books are sold online in print and e-book editions.
November 16, 2012
I bought a Kindle, which means I’m the devil.
I’m the devil because Kindle is part of the vast network of Amazon, whose goal is pretty much to destroy everything I hold dear in my brick-and-mortar culture. And they employ a morally reprehensible scheme to do so. They charge less than what a book actually costs them, taking a small loss on each sale, with the hope of driving every other book retailer out of business. Kind of like gas wars from fifty years ago, when two competing gas stations lowered their prices beyond profitability to beat the guy next door, but in this situation Amazon’s the only company that can afford to lose money. Their job, as they seem to see it, is to keep dumping cash into themselves until they become the go-to place for not just books, but everything. “Don’t waste your time going to your local store. Buy it from Amazon for less and you’ll never have to leave home.” This drives many independent bookstores—which rely on profits to stay afloat—out of business, taking with them the entire culture of book buying I value (selling back used books, seeing my money go into the local economy, dealing with a bookseller, author readings, creaky floors, participating in a community as opposed to mouse-clicking, etc.)
If you’ve never read Alix Ohlin, you should. She’s one of the good ones out there, and she’s no slouch when it comes to publishing. Two story collections and two novels in seven years – perhaps not an impressive haul for bionic typewriters like Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates, but plenty impressive to me. She may not have won a Pulitzer or a National Book Award yet, but Ohlin is someone I look up to, because she’s just a very solid writer.
In conjunction with the U.S. Marrow, Tallow, and Alternative Proteins Council, and in honor of today’s National Zombie Appreciation Day (and Celebrity BBQ), we are happy to present the animated book trailer for The Infects, by Sean Beaudoin.
Attorney’s Note: vegetarians, emo bass players, and those with heart conditions are encouraged to watch while holding mommy’s hand.