Last Friday night, I went to see David Sedaris at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. I’ve been a fan of Sedaris’ odd sense of humor and way with words since I first read 2000′s Me Talk Pretty One Day, and it was exciting to see and hear him in person!
He started off by reading two stories from his upcoming book of fables, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (which we blogged about several weeks ago). The stories were about animals with decidedly human characteristics, including a young stork who wants to know where babies come from and an Irish setter who loves his wife (they were married by their owner’s former girlfriend) but has resigned himself to her infidelity. Though the stories were different from Sedaris’ usual essays, they were unmistakably stamped with his caustic wit.
He followed the stories with a longer essay about airplane travel, which was my favorite piece of the night, and then he read some selections from his diaries and took questions from the audience — including a couple who had cut short their honeymoon in order to come to the show! Now that’s devotion — but Sedaris is worth it.
British author John le Carré, who does spy suspense like few others, has a new book coming this fall—from a new publisher. His 22nd novel, Our Kind of Traitor, will be published by Viking on October 12.
Though not much is known about the new book yet, Viking describes it as “a fast-moving story that reveals the battles of the British Secret Service in addition to the brutal maneuvering of the international criminal world.”
Le Carré is nearly 80, but like his compatriot P.D. James, his age hasn’t affected the quality of his work, which continues to garner top-notch reviews and hit bestseller lists.
Those of you who read Kate’s interview with Neil Gaiman in honor of National Library Week will be happy to hear that we have some more information from the prolific author: background on his latest project, Instructions, a picture book for all ages.
Before you read Gaiman’s comments, you have to watch this book trailer—one of my favorites in recent memory. In it, Gaiman reads the whole book out loud, and illustrator Charles Vess’s illustrations come alive:
Kate Pritchard:How did Instructions come about? I know the poem was one you had written a while back, but how did it become a picture book?
Neil Gaiman: It became a picture book because Blueberry Girl came out, hit the New York Times bestseller list, much to everyone’s astonishment, and became a beloved book in no time flat. [Laughs]
Normally it takes a very long time for these things to happen, and Charles Vess and I are looking around and faintly reeling. And our editor, the lovely Elise Howard, said, you know, I would love another book from you guys. Now, bear in mind that Blueberry Girl had taken Charles Vess four or five years to draw and paint, he’d been working on it for years and years. So I thought, oh good, we’ve got another book for 2013 then. And Charles and I started talking and he suggested, I think, doing a book of my poetry. And I said, well, you know what, doing the book poetry, I’m not sure, and I’m not sure we’re ready for that yet. I’m sure one day we’ll do a collected poetry of Neil Gaiman, but why don’t we just take a poem that everybody loves, like “Instructions,” and do that? And Charles said OK, and Elise said, what a great idea, and I figured we had a book for 2013.
And, it was magic. Absolutely, absolutely magic. The pages just started flooding in. A few weeks later, there’s all the pencils, and I’m going, who is this man and what has he done with Charles Vess? And then he painted them, and then we had a book! And now it’s out, and it’s out a year after Blueberry Girl, which means it took Charles something ridiculous like four months to do. Which is only mad, when you know that it took Charles, working on Blueberry Girl, years and years and years and years and years. And it’s just . . . I kind of think of it as a strange bonus from the gods, you know, that Instructions shouldn’t be out for years, but it is. And Charles just got inspired, and did it. So that’s why it exists, and I’m so happy with it.
On Sunday, Crown Publishing Group announced the publication date (Nov. 9) and released the cover for Decision Points, George W. Bush‘s memoir.
From a Crown press release:
Since leaving the Oval Office, President Bush has given virtually no interviews or public speeches about his presidency. Instead, he has spent almost every day writing Decision Points, a strikingly personal and candid account revealing how and why he made the defining decisions in his consequential presidency and personal life.
I couldn’t help but think about the Clintons when I heard this news—Decision Points will be released six months after Spoken From the Heart, Laura Bush’s memoir. (Bill Clinton’s My Life was released a year after Hillary’s Living History, and the publishers are the same: Random House for #42 and #43, and Simon & Schuster for the First Ladies.)
Looking forward to Decision Points?
Related on The Book Case: A blog post about political bios.
This morning we learned (via GalleyCat) that Harlan Coben is venturing into YA territory with a three-book deal from Penguin Young Readers Group. The first book in the series will be published in 2011 and follow a teen investigating a family conspiracy.
If Coben’s Myron Bolitar books are any indication, the new series will be funny in addition to a page-turner. (Need an example of Coben’s humor? In an interview with BookPage, he said, “I love writing about the suburbs of America; it’s sort of a last battleground of the American dream. It’s where everyone, you and I and everyone else, fights to find some sort of happiness.” He stops himself before getting too profound. “Wow, that was deep, give me a moment. (short pause) OK, I’m OK.”)
When I recently posted an excerpt from John Grisham’s YA book on Facebook, a reader asked, “Is everyone jumping on the YA bandwagon? First Candice Bushnell, now Grisham…” I suspect many of you will have a similar reaction to Coben’s news.
Are you happy about this new series? Do you wish Coben would stick to his adult thrillers? Maybe this will sweeten the deal: Myron Bolitar and Win Lockwood will appear in the teen books.
This is a big week for book releases, so keep your eye on BookPage.com for a bunch of new content. I am especially excited about the following reviews and features (click the links to keep reading):
Interview with Andrew Gross about Reckless
Thriller writer Andrew Gross honed his writing skills collaborating with James Patterson on books like Jester. Four solo novels later, he’s become a best-selling author in his own right and has started a popular series starring police detective Ty Hauck, a tough guy who always tries to do the right thing. In Reckless, Gross pits Hauck against a group of unlikely terrorists whose target is America’s financial system. Though Hauck is no longer a detective, he can’t let this case go since in solving it he will also avenge the death of a friend. We asked Gross a few questions about the book, the thriller genre and what sparks a writer’s imagination.
Review of Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One
Anna Quindlen’s previous novels have all been centered on families—whether average, non-traditional or dysfunctional; she even calls herself “hyperdomestic.” It comes as no surprise, then, that her sixth novel, Every Last One, begins with a lengthy description of the minutiae of the everyday life of Mary Beth Latham—wife, mother of three teenagers and owner of a successful landscaping business.
Interview with Hampton Sides about Hellhound on His Trail
Memphis historian and subculture explorer Hampton Sides was six years old on April 4, 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel by a prison escapee named James Earl Ray. Sides remembers that his father, who worked at the Memphis law firm that represented King during his marches on behalf of the city’s striking garbage workers, came home that evening, poured himself a stiff drink and braced his family for the worst.
Review of Michelle Boyajian’s Lies of the Heart
Katie Burrelli, the protagonist of Michelle Boyajian’s Lies of the Heart, didn’t have the most satisfying life even before the death of her husband. She’s the kind of woman who has always seen herself as second best; not as pretty as her beautiful sister Dana, not as beloved by their parents, not as popular as her friends. Then she meets Nick while he’s fishing for clams in their native Rhode Island. They marry, and he becomes a speech therapist for developmentally challenged people while she becomes, halfheartedly, a documentary filmmaker.
With so many great choices. . . which book will you read first?!
We’ve been teasing you about Scott Turow‘s sequel to mega-hit Presumed Innocent for a few months now. . . and the wait is almost over.
Innocent hits shelves on May 4, and BookPage reviewer Dennis Lythgoe was wowed: “The court scenes are riveting, subject to legal twists that keep the reader in constant doubt as to the verdict. Forget the no-sequels rule: Turow is better than ever.”
Since we love a good sequel—especially one that lives up to the original book—this week we’re giving away not only Innocent, but a paperback copy of Presumed Innocent, too. To enter to win, read our Q&A with the author and answer this question in the comments section: In addition to being a novelist, Turow has another gig. What is it? Deadline: Friday, April 30.
Writer Joyce Carol Oates is perhaps best known for the sheer volume of her work. Though like any writer she’s always pulled elements of her books from her own life—for example, many of her 50-plus novels are set in her native upstate New York—Oates has never been inspired to publish a memoir, until now.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Oates has completed her first memoir. A Widow’s Memoir chronicles Oates’ life in the wake of her husband’s 2008 death. Oates and Raymond J. Smith had been married for 48 years and together ran a successful literary magazine, The Ontario Review. Surprisingly, Oates went on to find new love at 71 with neuroscientist Charles Gross, whom she married last spring.
A heartbreaking selection from the book—also interesting for its glimpse into how Oates separates her personal and public personas—was just published in the most recent issue of Atlantic Magazine. [Via]
It’s always a treat to have the opportunity to speak with authors after you’ve read their books. So I was thrilled to interview Emily Giffin about her latest novel, Heart of the Matter, for our May issue.
We mostly talked about Heart of the Matter, of course, but I was delighted as our conversation veered off-course a few times. I couldn’t include all of the great content in my print interview, so here’s the dish on Giffin’s writing process, how she balances a full-time writing career with raising three young children and—gasp—some then “off-the-record” (and now public) details on the upcoming movie version of her debut novel, Something Borrowed.
We’ve heard the good news that Something Borrowed (and Something Blue) are being adapted for film. Something Borrowed is slated to begin filming this summer. What can you tell us about that experience?
It’s been totally thrilling and I’ve been very involved with the details and become very close to both producers and the director. It’s been such a positive experience. I’ve heard that it can be a very negative experience for writers and they can be completely not involved and hate the direction. They have listened to my thoughts, and they don’t always agree with what I say—which is fine, because I’ve always viewed it as a separate project—but they listen and they are just great people. So it’s been awesome. Ginnifer Goodwin has been cast as Rachel—she’s perfect. So sweet. And John Krasinski is in for Ethan.
[This is where Abby devolved into total celeb geek mode and Emily and Abby discussed all the casting options and possibilities. Recently, more of the cast has been revealed (and even seen on set the week of April 19), including: Kate Hudson as Darcy, Colin Egglesfield (from the new Melrose Place) as Dexter and Steve Howey (who co-starred with Hudson in Bride Wars) as Marcus. Giffin said the movie is slated for release in early spring 2011, and you can bet I’ll be first in line at the theaters.]
Fans of The Office—and funny women everywhere—rejoice! Writer/producer/blogger/twitterer Mindy Kaling (who plays the hilarious Kelly Kapoor on the workplace sitcom) has just inked a book deal with Random House’s Crown imprint.
The Contents of My Purse, slated for a fall 2011 release, will be “a collection of comic essays detailing moments from a woman’s life, including everything from relationships to fashion.”
Or, as Kaling tweeted: “My book will be essays and personal anecdotes, pictures, fashion, and general opinionated bossiness about how women should live. Twitter has an 140 character limit, but I hear books can have something like 500,000 characters!”
While she is best known for playing the outrageous, unstable Kapoor on The Office, Kaling is also co-executive producer of the showand has written 18 episodes over the course of its six seasons (the most recent of which was last night’s hilarious, ridiculous “Secretary’s Day.”)
If that didn’t keep her busy enough, Kaling has signed a deal to write and star in a new NBC comedy, and is in the process of writing her first feature-length film, The Low Self-Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie. Not too shabby for a woman on the cusp of her 31st birthday.
Are you a fan of Mindy Kaling? Will you buy her book?
I’ve had Lionel Shriver on the brain since Trisha posted about the movie adaptation of We Need To Talk About Kevin. So yesterday, I was happy to see a long and thoughtful post about the book at You’ve GOTTA read this! Shriver’s Orange Prize-winning novel about a mother’s reaction to her son’s high school shooting is “brilliant,” according to Sandy. “It is just something you need to read when you are feeling resilient,” she writes. “I don’t think I can separate myself enough from the pain and anguish of reading this book to give it five stars, though on merit alone it deserves it. It will be a story that knocks around in my head for a long long time.”
Gina Welch went undercover at Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church in order to write In the Land of Believers. In BookPage, reviewer Sarah E. White wrote that the book “provides a candid inside look at faith for people who don’t have a clue where evangelicals are coming from”—and she suggested that it might even alter a person’s thoughts about “people of all faiths.” If our review piqued your interest, you’ll love Rebecca’s blog post at The Book Lady’s Blog. She links to a guest blog post Welch wrote for her about the initial seed of the book, and she links to other discussions and reactions to the book (including from an evangelical Christian). It’s worth a look. Have you read In the Land of Believers? If so, share your thoughts in the comments.
The fall publishing season usually contains at least one blockbuster celeb bio. On the radar for 2010 is Keith Richards’ Life, which will be released in October. Little Brown publisher Michael Pietsch calls it “the most exciting memoir I’ve ever had a hand in.” He goes on to say
All those encounters and adventures we’ve heard of for decades—Redlands, Morocco, exile in France, Altamont—and the people—Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Gram Parsons, Patti Hansen, Johnny Depp and more—are here in Keith’s own vivid memories. The best news of all is how superbly written this book is. [Richards collaborated with writer James Fox.]
I can understand your disappointment if you got excited about Tinkers after hearing the buzz, and then logged into your favorite online retailer to buy the book—only to get messages like this:Well, this morning brought good news: PWreports that Perseus Books Group (a parent company of Bellevue Literary Press’s distributor) expects a shipment of more than 100,000 copies of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to ship early next week. So, order the book now—Tinkers is coming!
Has anyone been able to snag a copy at the library or in a bookstore?
Comedian Sarah Silverman‘s first book came out on Tuesday. Called The Bedwetter, it’s a hilarious (and foul-mouthed!) memoir that you’ll gobble up in one sitting. Friend-of-BookPage Stephenie came up with some questions for Silverman, and I think you’ll find a few of her answers surprising. Here’s a teaser (click on the image to read the whole thing):
Have you read any good memoirs lately? Will you read The Bedwetter?
Last month I posted about John Grisham’s debut children’s novel—Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer—and today we have a little more information. Dutton released an excerpt from the novel as a PDF, which you can view here.
I took a quick look, and from what I’ve read, it’s no wonder 13-year-old Theo wants to be a lawyer (or a judge; he hasn’t decided yet). . . his mom and his dad are lawyers, and he has a dog named Judge! His favorite building in town is the courthouse, “where lawyers battled like gladiators and judges ruled like kings.” In the opening scene, Theo comforts a friend whose parents are going through a divorce, and then he manages to convince a judge to let his class have guaranteed seats in the balcony for the opening day of a big trial. Not bad for a morning before school!
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Our most-anticipated releases
28 May 2013
'The Son' by Philipp Meyer
The Son is an epic story of power and dynasty in Texas over 150 years—and it's a modern classic.
4 June 2013
'Trans-Atlantic' by Colum McCann
This latest novel goes from 1849 to 1918 to 1998 and explores the relationship between America and Ireland, slavery and freedom and war and peace.
'Big Brother' by Lionel Shriver
Inspired in part by Shriver's own relationship with her brother, who died of complications from diabetes and obesity in 2010, this is an unflinching look at the toll of obesity on family relationships.
'Sparta' by Roxana Robinson
Robinson takes on the issue of soldiers returning to the home front. Conrad enlisted after college, served his time without major incident, and comes home to his girlfriend and family. But he is unable to ease back into everyday life—and his bitterness turns into anger that might have serious consequences.
11 June 2013
'The Engagements' by J. Courtney Sullivan
In her third novel, Sullivan looks at the idea of marriage and how it has changed—or not—over the decades, tying her story in to the 1940s De Beers ad campaign that made the diamond engagement ring a touchstone of American culture.
18 June 2013
'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' by Neil Gaiman
This new modern fable—which, at 192 pages, is more of a novella—tells the story of a man who returns to his native English village and suddenly realizes the cost of the horrible evil he fought as a child, with the help of Lettie Hempstock and her extraordinary mother and grandmother.
25 June 2013
'The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells' by Andrew Sean Greer
Greta Wells experiences three alternate lives during a therapy session, all with different secrets and losses, pain and happiness. Which one will she ultimately choose?
'Sisterland' by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sittenfeld returns with the story of twin sisters: Vi, a professed psychic, and Kate, a wife and mother in denial of her talents. When Vi predicts a devastating earthquake is around the corner, Kate must decide whether to support her sister and out herself for the potential good of the community, or continue to ignore her own instincts.