- April 28, 2011
Justin Taylor, author of The Gospel of Anarchy, on Dennis Cooper’s upcoming novel The Marbled Swarm, on sale November 1st!
“The Marbled Swarm is a mindbending masterpiece from one of my all-time favorite writers. It is vivid, slippery, ferocious, and rich with secrets. Nobody else could have written this novel and nothing else like it exists.”
- April 28, 2011
In order to take more advantage of her time in New York City, a friend of a friend is surveying some people about their favorite New York things: museums, movies, and of course, books. I sent her a few of my own (Motherless Brooklyn and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn among them), but I found it surprisingly difficult to think of them. I think this happens to most people who read a lot. Someone suddenly asks you your favorite book in a particular category, and you draw a blank. So I figured I’d put it out to the crowd: what are YOUR favorite New York books? Fiction and non-fiction welcome.
- April 26, 2011
Happy on-sale day to Diana Spechler and SKINNY!
In honor of this happy occasion, we’re introducing a new series here on the Olive Reader. As we head into the summer, some of our writers will share their favorites in other categories besides books—movies, TV shows, music, etc. They have good taste, I promise! So today we’re starting with Diana’s thoughts on 127 Hours, the perfect Valentine’s Day movie.
After watching 127 Hours on Valentine’s Day, because nothing says romance like a movie about a guy who chops off his arm, I couldn’t sleep. Really, I can never sleep, but on this particular night, I squirmed, imagining severing my arm from my body.
When Aron Ralston, the man on whom James Franco’s character is based, appeared in the news in 2003, I thought, idiotically, “What an idiot.” I was living out west then, where people have “gear” and bear spray and belay partners, and talk about out-swimming avalanches. I fancied myself an expert on wilderness safety. But my judgment was akin to, “She was askin’ for it in that short dress of hers.”
If I ever got stuck the way Ralston got stuck, I wouldn’t know how to (spoiler alert) break the two bones that needed breaking, tie a tourniquet, and then perform an amputation on myself with a dull pocket knife. Even if I did know what to do, I’d be too scared to do it. I’d die in a canyon in Utah, hoarding a pointless limb.
When the movie ended, I watched online interviews with Aron Ralston because, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’d fallen in love with him (or at least with James Franco), not to mention with the movie, an amazing feat in storytelling. How incredible to pull off a nail-biter when the audience already knows the ending. How incredible to pull off a narrative with only one significant character, whose flip cam acts as his sidekick, his decomposing arm as his antagonist.
Lying awake, I recalled times when I’d been my own antagonist—when the party would have been fine had I skipped that last tequila shot; when I said, “No problem,” instead of, “Stay far away from me;” when I’d maintained dead relationships out of fear of cutting them off.
In an interview, Aron Ralston said that hacking through his arm wasn’t so bad until he reached the nerve, which he compared to a string of spaghetti. When he saw it, he thought, “This is going to hurt,” and then he sliced through it anyway. Later, he told an interviewer, “Happiest moment of my life.”
- April 25, 2011
Some of you have undoubtedly seen it already, but I wanted to share one of my favorite new blogs: Write Place Write Time, started by the lovely Liberty of River Run Bookstore in New Hampshire, features writers on their writing spaces. For two years I did all of my writing on my living room couch, now I write at my kitchen table or at the Van Leeuwen ice cream/coffee shop, and I’m amazed at how different it feels. That’s why I love this blog—I love imagining how a writer’s space influenced their writing.
Sean Ferrell, author of Numb and my favorite person to run into in Park Slope with his son who is unnecessarily suspicious of me, writes on the subway, and I find that inspiring.
“When I found myself on the train—with such a long commute, and the realization that I had to make-it-work or figure out how I would tell my son that I always wanted to be a writer but there’s just too much good stuff on YouTube—I started getting the words in the right order. I cherish my commute.”
- April 22, 2011
If Twitter hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known today was Earth Day. It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking a lot this week about two of our books, one out now and one on sale in May, that deal with our environment, how we should appreciate it, and how we might be destroying it.
Richard Horan’s Seeds went on sale this week. It’s about his quest to gather tree seeds from the trees at the homes of America’s most famous authors, people like Faulkner, Wharton, and others. It’s been compared to The Orchid Thief and Driving Einstein’s Brain. Horan is a one-of-a-kind guy, and this book is about his one-of-a-kind adventure. He’s on tour now, and he’s on facebook.
Hannah Nordhaus’s The Beekeeper’s Lament doesn’t go on sale until May 24, but it’s a book that has a lot of fans in-house and at bookstores already. Elaine Petrocelli of Book Passage called John Miller, the beekeeper at the heart of the book, “a true hero.” If you’ve ever heard anything about bees disappearing and wanted to know more, this is the book to read. It led to my having an “a-ha!” moment as I drove through California and passed grove after grove of almond trees, all pollinated by bees. They do a lot for us, and I had no idea!
- April 20, 2011
Here at Harper Perennial, we all have our favorites—and that’s okay. I once told a room of people (all of whom worked in publishing in some way) that I didn’t like every book we publish, and got some gasps. But it’s true! I know my tastes, and I also know that just because I don’t like a book, it doesn’t mean it’s not good.
However! Sometimes we publish a book that we all absolutely love from the first time we read the manuscript on submission. That’s what’s happening now with Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. I’ve mentioned this one here on the olive reader and on twitter before, but now I’d like to share some praise from the rest of Harper Perennial—the people you don’t always get to hear from but who also work hard to promote and sell our books (and, in one case, run the whole company.)
“I read Domestic Violets in two sittings. A week later, I am still thinking about the book and how much I enjoyed it. I almost wrote, ‘it’s surprising that this is Matthew Norman’s first novel,’ but realize it makes sense. Like many first novels, every scene and every character seem like they were written without effort. There is something so special, so pure and heartfelt about it. I think we are witnessing the start of a very exciting career.”
—Michael Morrison, president and publisher, HarperCollins
“It is a rare, rare thing when a debut novel delivers with such wit, wisdom, and wonder—that the moment you close the last page you a) call someone to discuss, b) recommend it to everyone you run into, and c) want to start from page one again. I did all three with Domestic Violets. I really think you are going to love it.”
—Carrie Kania, senior vice president and publisher, Harper Perennial (aka @youritlist)
“I just had the pleasure of reading Domestic Violets and it is with sadness that I let go of such a memorable cast of characters. Matthew Norman’s writing reminds me of the intelligence and insight on display in a Don DeLillo novel, while also possessing the tenderness of Frank Conroy’s writing. The read is brilliant, hilarious, and beguiling.”
—Kristin Bowers, vice president, internet retail sales
“I loved this book. I laughed out loud reading it. It’s heartbreaking and nearly hard to read at points, as the reader becomes a voyeur into the mind of a man struggling with family obligations and devotion, self expression, fidelity and infidelity, his understanding of manhood, living up to the expectations of having a famous father, and living up to his own expectations. But it’s redemptive and very well written. And did I mention that it’s really damn funny?”
—Samantha Hagerbaumer, director, international sales
“Domestic Violets is a layered fiction about an American family living with the side effects of the grandfather’s fame. Each family member plays an important role: to learn from the father’s mistakes and avoid similar fates for themselves. The book is easy to read, but many parallels hold it together. Curtis Violet doesn’t appear to know much about maintaining a family, but he’s won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and he may know more important life lessons that help his son, Tom, avoid complete disaster.”
—Robert Alunni, telesales representative
So! Are you intrigued? There are a few ways you can read Domestic Violets and see for yourself if all the hype is deserved:
1. Enter the contest at Beth Fish Reads to win a galley, which ends April 24th.
2. Request an electronic galley through NetGalley (if you’re a blogger, reviewer, bookseller, or librarian.)
3. Come see Matt when he signs books at BEA (time TK, but I’ll update the blog with the info, of course.)
And if you want more Matthew Norman, check out his blog, follow him on twitter, or friend him on facebook. Or do all three! I have.
- April 19, 2011
An old roommate of mine saw so much live music that he kept an excel spreadsheet entitled concerts.xls that listed dates, bands that played, location, price, and notes for every show he ever saw. While I was not quite so organized, I knew without counting that for many years the bands I’d seen the most were Sleater-Kinney and Rainer Maria. I don’t go to all that many shows anymore, but I do go to many, many readings. And last night, sitting at Blake Butler’s reading at McNally Jackson, I realized that he might now be the author I’ve seen read most frequently at four times. I can’t think of another author I’ve seen read so often (maybe Marcy Dermansky? I’ve definitely seen her at least three times, but I can’t remember a fourth.)
Who’s the author you’ve seen read the most?
- April 11, 2011
Go see what all the fuss is about. Please.
Monday, April 11, 2011
1005 West Burnside Portland, OR 97210
(with Justin Taylor)
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
4326 University Way Seattle, WA 98105
(with Justin Taylor)
Thursday, April 14, 2011
CITY LIGHTS BOOKSTORE
261 Columbus AVE San Francisco, CA 94133-4586
(with Justin Taylor)
Friday, April 15, 2011
1818 N. Vermont AVE Los Angeles, CA 90027
(with Justin Taylor)
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Largehearted Lit series – at WORD
126 Franklin ST Brooklyn, NY 11222
(with Justin Taylor—and music!)
Monday, April 18, 2011
MCNALLY JACKSON BOOKS
52 Prince ST New York, NY 10012
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
279 Harvard St Brookline, MA 02446
- April 08, 2011
Even though this is the Harper Perennial blog, I want to start sharing my love for the books I’m reading that are published by other imprints (both within and outside of HarperCollins) more often. After all, though sometimes it may seem that way, I don’t only read Harper Perennial books. And since I was a Harper Perennial fan long before I was a Harper Perennial employee, it stands to reason that other Harper Perennial fans might have similar tastes. Anyway, here are some books I’ve loved recently:
Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding by Jessie Sholl
If you like Hoarders, you’ll probably like this book. But beyond that, it’s also a memoir about growing up with a mentally ill parent and having to parent yourself. There are no hoarders in my family, but I still found myself reading passages aloud to my boyfriend, astonished at how well they described my own feelings.
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
I’m a big, BIG Kate Atkinson fan. Not only have I read all her Jackson Brodie detective novels, of which this is the fourth, but all of her earlier books as well. If you have any interest in literary mysteries, I beg you to read this, or to start with Case Histories, the first Jackson Brodie book.
Anyone else read these?
- April 07, 2011
It’s been dormant for a while, but two things recently have made me think I should resurrect Harper Perennial Pets:
1. Jill Krementz’s photos of writers and their dogs. My favorite is Donna Tartt with her pug:
2. This blog of writers and their cats, sent to me by Harper Voyager editor Diana Gill. My favorite is this photo of Margaret Atwood (there must be someone out there with a cat named Margaret Catwood, right?):
- April 01, 2011
The perfect way to end the week with a bang: praise from Andre Dubus III for Simon Van Booy!
“If F. Scott Fitzgerald and Marguerite Duras had had a son, he would be Simon Van Booy; this is a truly special writer who does things with abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath literally catches in your chest. Yet he is also an earthy realist who can tell a story that pulls us along like a speeding taxi in a far-off country. These admirable qualities and more come to bear beautifully in this debut novel that does not read like a debut novel; Everything Beautiful Began After is a powerful meditation on the undying nature of love and the often cruel beauty of one’s own fate. This is a novel you simply must read!”
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