by Campbell Geeslin
The third volume of Jane Smiley’s trilogy, The Last Hundred Years, will be out in October. She reviewed William T. Vollman’s The Dying Grass in the August 2 New York Times Book Review: “One alluring aspect of the novel form is that every one is simultaneously too large and too small. When we are writing and reading a novel, it can overwhelm us with feelings and ideas—but no novel, and no author can ever encompass a real experience; every author must eventually give up and close the book (the manuscript, the field, the trilogy, the series).”
Smiley concluded that Grass, “like his other works, daringly pushes at the edges of the novel as a form while at the same time demanding that the reader sit up and pay attention.”
NO GHOST THIS TIME: Hilary Liftin, 45, is the author of a first novel, Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper. The New York Times said the book is about a “young television actress [who] gets seduced by a Hollywood megastar and sucked into his religious cult, and a couple of years into their heavily chronicled marriage, runs for her life, right onto Broadway.“ Sound familiar?
Liftin knows that world. She has ghostwritten bestselling books with Miley Cyrus, Tatum O’Neal, Tori Spelling and many others.
TREAT: A fictional bookseller asked his customers, “How should the book taste? Of ice cream? Spicy, meaty? Or like a chilled rose? Food and books were closely related.” Goodreads was quoting from Nina George’s international bestseller, The Little Paris Bookshop.
The reviewer of that novel for The HamiltonSpectator.com, James Cullingham, promised: “If you love bookstores, fine food, good wines, dare to think about death and the redemptive power of human love, you are quite likely in for a treat.”
NOW A NOVEL: Actor Andrew McCarthy has written a novel, Just Fly Away, which will be published in 2017. He was in the movies Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire. In 2012, he published a memoir, The Longest Way Home.
The New York Times said his novel centers on a 15-year-old girl who discovers that she has an eight-year-old half brother living in her New Jersey hometown.
AN INVENTION: Juan Gabriel Vasquez is the author of Lovers on All Saints’ Day. In an interview in the August 2 New York Times Book Review, he was asked, “Who is your favorite novelist of all time?”
Vasquez said, “Right now it’s probably a creature of my invention called Tolstoyevsky: a great Russian who is able to write battle scenes as well as conflicts of the soul, whose astonishing eye for detail is matched by his great gift for making people talk, and who is second to none in describing the crossroads between the public life (history, politics) and the private existence of individuals."
DETECTIVES ONLY: Martin Edwards is the author of The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story. Melissa Davis is assistant feature editor of The Seattle Times. Her review of Edwards’ book appeared on seattletimes.com. She asked, “Who wouldn’t want to sit in while Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, G. K. Chesterton and their peers were declaring, drinking and collaborating?”
The Detection Club was founded in 1928. Among its 23 rules, members had to have published “at least two detective novels of admitted merit . . . it being understood that the term ‘detective novel’ does not include adventure stories or ‘thrillers’ or stories in which detection is not the main interest.”
PRIZE: “High literary merit” is the primary yardstick for a new award, the first Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prizes. Works of adult fiction and nonfiction, published between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, “should reflect Brooklyn’s spirit,” The New York Times said.
The prize of $2,500 each for one book of fiction and one of nonfiction will be handed out in October.
AFTER BALLET: What can a ballet dancer do when her career ends? Miranda Esmonde-White is the author of the bestselling Aging Backwards: Reverse the Aging Process and Look 10 Years Younger in 30 Minutes a Day (2014).
Amazon.com said that after her years as a performer, she developed Essentrics and became a trainer of many professional athletes and celebrities. She has filmed more than 300 episodes of workouts for PBS. She lives in Montreal and travels extensively to give lectures and training sessions.
There is a discussion on Videofitness.com about Esmonde-White’s age. One fan said that former dancer was 50 years old in 2000, but “she really looks outstanding.”
NOMINATIONS: Five Americans are among 13 authors nominated for this year’s Man Booker Prize. They are Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler, Bill Clegg, Laila Lalai and Hanya Yanagihara. The winner will be announced on October 13. The New York Times said that the Man Booker “is one of the most coveted literary honors and often provides a huge sales boost for the winner.” It also pays $78,000—almost eight times the value of Pulitzer or the National Book Award.
ROMANCE: Christine Feehan is the author of more than 40 romance novels. Her latest is Earth Bound. Her books include five series and all have had No. 1 bestsellers.
Goodreads provides hundreds of favorite quotes selected by Feehan’s fans. Here are samples:
“You’re the kind of man my mother warned me about.”
“Trust. Such an easy word. Such an impossible quality.”
“Are you ever going to kiss me without swearing first?”
BACK TO A BOOK: Ron Chernow is the author of Alexander Hamilton. The 818-page biography became Hamilton, a Broadway musical. Now that hit show will become a book with photographs, interviews, essays and sidebars that describe how Lin-Manuel Miranda turned Chernow’s history into the musical. Publication is set for April 2016.
PARROTS TOO: Karen Abbott is the author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy (2014), a nonfiction account of four women during the Civil War.
Abbott worked as a journalist in Philadelphia where she grew up. Amazon.com said she now “lives in New York City with her husband and two African grey parrots, Poe and Dexter.”
Goodreads.com offers a collection of quotes from Abbot’s books. A sample:
“A Republican is a man who wants you to go to church every Sunday. A Democrat says if a man wants to have a glass of beer, he can have it.”
RIPPING UP: In an essay in the August 2 New York Times Book Review, James Parker tells what he would do if he were “head gardener in the grove of literature.”
He wrote: “There I go, prancing and pruning, lopping off limbs, torching the undergrowth. I plant, I sprinkle, I rip up: My choices are whimsical and despotic. Philip Roth is demoted; Stanley Elkin is elevated. Revenge, revenge! Barbara Gowdy’s The White Bone (talking visionary elephants) becomes more famous than Watership Down (talking middle-class rabbits). Flann O’Brien is posthumously awarded the Nobel Prize. In Physics. And just like that, everyone stops reading Thomas Pynchon.”