The art really is in isolating yourself and letting as few things into your head as possible. To only admit those things into your head that come from a direction where no one else ever looks. That is the difficult thing.
Can I just say how much I enjoyed the responses to our Jess Walter/Financial Lives of the Poets contest? I asked what you would go into debt for, and you gave me awesome answers like:
a sun roof
a private bookstore
a personal zipline (into a pool!)
a pet llama named Dillingham
But the winner was . . . Melissa C!!! Melissa C would go into debt for a cat rescue. And I swear to you, olive reader readers, that I picked her response totally randomly and not because I am obsessed with cats. Melissa, send me your address at erica dot barmash at harpercollins dot com, and I’ll pop your copy of The Financial Lives of the Poets in the mail.
Don’t be sad if you didn’t win—you can still win a copy of Totally Killer! And if you crave more Jess Walter, he’ll be reading at Barnes & Noble Tribeca in New York City tomorrow.
TOTALLYKILLER, one of my favorite debut novels this year, is on sale this week (yay!) Greg Olear’s dark, wry novel of 1990’s New York follows 23-year-old Taylor Schmidt, a hot little number fresh to the city in the worst economic climate in history. Desperate for work and hungry for love, she finds the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend through the Quid Pro Quo employment agency. . . but perfection has its price. Narrated by Taylor’s lust-smitten roommate, Todd, TOTALLYKILLER is what it would look like if you put Fight Club, The Firm, and American Psycho in the blender.
And teased hair.
And Duran Duran.
Check out this most excellent trailer, which we shot on location in our offices!
It doesn’t matter. Just read it! To make it easier for you to do that, we’re having a little contest here on the Olive Reader. All you have to do is comment and tell us one thing you’d be willing to go into debt for, the more ridiculous the better. I would personally like a private soda fountain in my house. What about you?
Someone finally got the memo that book nerds will occasionally emerge from their reading nests, throw back a brewski, and toss a ball around. These awesome baseball shirts feature a cleverly paired chest logo with the names of some writers and characters you may remember (I’m a fan of the Bartleby and Moby Dick ones.) As they say, Buy Me Some T-Shirts and Paperbacks…
The Stories of John Cheever. Invisible Man. Collected Stories of William Faulkner. Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor. Gravity’s Rainbow. Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.
These are the books that 140 writers from across the country selected as the best of the national book awards fiction winners. Now it’s your turn to choose the best of the best. I won’t tell you which one I voted for, but I’ll tell you one thing: it wasn’t Invisible Man. I truly believe that the world can be divided into people who prefer Invisible Man and people who prefer Native Son, and I am Native Son all the way (and not just because we publish it.)
While voting, don’t forget to enter to win two tickets to the National Book Awards. And also, don’t forget to notice that of the six books chosen, FOUR of them are books of short stories. If you’re at all familiar with this blog or harper perennial, you know that we absolutely love short stories, so this makes us very very happy.
We are so very proud of Simon Van Booy, author of Love Begins in Winter, who just won the Frank O’Connor short story prize! Previous winners have included Jhumpa Lahiri, Haruki Murakami, and Miranda July, so Simon is in excellent company.
No, it’s not the kitty that’s obsolete, if you believe ObsoleteTheBook, where this photo was tagged “cute animals with obsolete objects.” Other obsolete things featured on the site (and in the book) include pay phones, banana clips, various computers, and, especially sadly to someone with a collection of horror movies on video, videotapes. Sometimes I get a little choked up when my boyfriend buys lots of 40 videos at a time from out-of-business video stores on ebay.
And let this cat also serve as a teaser: harper perennial pets is coming . . .
Think you know everything there is to know about literature? Are you an expert on Homer, Harry Potter, Chaucer, Charlotte’s Web, and everything in between? Prove your knowledge tomorrow night at tomorrow night’s literary quiz show at Housing Works! Ken Davis, author of Don’t Know Much About Literature, will be testing the smarts of literary notables such as Jason Boog, Garth Risk Hallberg, Edward Champion, Catherine Lacey . . . and you!
It’s book blogger appreciation week, and today is interview day! I was paired with Memory, of Stella Matutina, and we had a lovely chat over email. Here are her answers to my questions; you can find my answers to her questions here.
Do you work with publishers a lot? Have you done any blog tours? Do you think that type of outreach is helpful, or would you rather come to books you like more organically?
I don’t do a lot of work with publishers, and I haven’t participated in any blog tours as of yet. I’m always thrilled when publicists and authors contact me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their titles, but I feel awkward initiating the contact. I know they’re looking for people to get the word out about their products, but I don’t want them to think I’m greedy, asking for free books to feature on my teensy blog! Most of the books I review are things I’ve purchased myself or borrowed from the library.
I do think it’s wonderful that so many publishing professionals have taken an active interest in the blogosphere, though, and I’m grateful for the contacts I’ve made. The few publishers I’ve corresponded with have all been great, and I’ve appreciated the chance to read some books I might not have come across on my own. I’ve received a couple of books that didn’t work for me, but I’ve also discovered some wonderful titles and authors that I’ve since talked up big time. I think publisher-to-blogger outreach is helpful not only in that it helps publishers spread the word about their new releases but also in that it gives bloggers an opportunity to uncover new favourites.
What made you decide to start a book blog? What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of having it on LiveJournal?
I started Stella Matutina because I wanted a place where I could ramble on about books. I used to be pretty involved in the zine scene, (which centers around independently published magazines), and it seemed to me that blogs were a more interactive form of zines. I looked into WordPress and Blogger, but I ended up choosing LiveJournal because I was already familiar with it. I love how customizable it is; I’ve never had a problem finding themes that fit my tastes, whereas most of the good WordPress designs I came across during the research stage were only applicable for self-hosted bloggers.
Most of my LJ complaints tie in with stats-related issues. LiveJournal doesn’t allow Java plugins, so I can’t include widgets and the like in my sidebar or any of my posts. I also wish I had access to some of the info WordPress and Blogger provide to their users. I’d love to see which search terms bring people to my blog. I always get a big kick out of other bloggers’ posts about their zany search terms!
What were the best books you read in 2009?
I know I’m going to have a tough time narrowing it down to a Top 5 for the year, but my Top 3 is easy: THEAMAZINGADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY by Michael Chabon; THESECRETHISTORY by Donna Tartt; and CORAMBIS by Sarah Monette. K&C blew me straight out of the water and landed right on my all-time Top 10 list. I cared so much about the characters and their situation that I couldn’t disengage myself. It had been on my radar for years, and I’m so glad I finally made time for it. THESECRETHISTORY was a recommendation from a blogging friend, and I’m still amazed at how much I enjoyed it. It hit all the right notes; until I’d finished it, I couldn’t do anything but read. CORAMBIS was the final book in my all-time favourite series. I do have a couple of reservations about it, but the overall effect was so competely perfect that I couldn’t think of leaving it off my favourites list. This book got me crying harder than any other in recent memory.
A dear friend at Slate has cracked the one cypher Dan Brown has hoped no one could master: his plot generator. Now YOU can plug in where you want the action to go down and with whom. From the far-flung locales of Ottawa and Atlanta setting the epic stage for frantic races against time and history, you can now dig deep to uncover the darkest secrets of the Boy Scouts of America, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Teamsters. Go forth and uncover with the Dan Brown Sequel Generator!