by Campbell Geeslin
Joy Williams is the author of The Visiting Privilege, a collection of 46 stories to be published next week. Williams was the subject of an article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. In addition to three collections of stories, she has written four novels. The Times says that she is “so beloved by generations of fiction masters that she might be the writer’s writer’s writer.”
Her sentences are noted for their “unsettling turns—‘While she was thinking of something perfectly balanced and amusing to say, the baby was born.’”
LETTER: An essay by Stephen King in The New York Times, “Can a Novelist Be Too Prolific?” inspired a letter to the editor from Robert E. Styles Jr. of Franklin Lakes, N. J.
“I have never had a problem with writers writing too much,” Styles wrote. “My quarrel is with those who publish everything they write.”
WAITING: Poet Dan Chiasson wrote about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s prose and how it was superior to his poetry in the September 7 New Yorker.
Chiasson quoted Emerson: “For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument, that makes a poem--a thought so passionate and alive, that, like the spirit of a plant or an animal, it has an architecture of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing….The poet has a new thought: he has a whole new experience to unfold; he will tell us how it was with him, and all men will be richer in his fortune. For, the experience of each new age requires a new confession, and the world seems always waiting for its poet.”
MEDALS: Among the ten people to be presented with National Humanities Medals at the White House this week are four authors: Larry McMurtry, Annie Dillard, Jhumpa Lahiri and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.
WHALE EXHAUST: Susan Casey, editor-in-chief of O, the Oprah Magazine, is the author of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins.
A quote from the book appears on Goodreads: “One little known fact: The water that spouts out of a whale’s blowhole in such a picturesque way reeks like the most toxic fart imaginable.”
MEMOIR: Carrie Brownstein is the author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, due out in October. The New York Times said the memoir is “about growing up in the Pacific Northwest and forming the three-woman punk-rock band Sleater Kinney.”
The following is one of Brownstein’s quotes in BrainyQuote.com: “I’ll admit that I’m not quite certain how to sum up an entire year in music anymore; not when music has become so temporal, so specific and personal, as if we each have our own weather system and what we listen to is our individual forecast.”
Brownstein will travel to 11 cities this fall to promote her book.
READING BONES: Kathy Reichs is the author of 18 novels about the fictional Temperance Brenan. Both women are forensic anthropologists. Reichs is also the producer of the TV series “Bones.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Reichs said, “Like all my novels, [Speaking in Bones] started as a kind of an alphabet soup pouring from my head. I’d read about this hobby called web sleuthing, where people get online and find unidentified bodies and lists of missing persons. They try to match them up, attempting to solve the mystery of the missing people.”
HIDDEN ICEBERG: Sherrilyn Kenyon is the author of Dragonbane, the 19th in her Dark-Hunter series. The book is promoted with the line: “It’s hard to blend in with the modern world when you have a fifty-foot wingspan.”
Kenyon lives with her husband and three sons in Nashville. A quote from her novel, Acheron, on Goodreads: “It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgments about them, their present and their past, but you’d be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often than not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.”
DARK BOOKS: Melissa de la Cruz, 43, is the author of The Isle of the Lost, No. 1 on The New York Times young adult bestseller list. She was born in the Philippines and came with her family to the San Francisco when she was 12. She is a U.S. citizen. The Times says The Isle is about “children of famous villains [who] band together to retrieve the Dragon’s Eye; a Descendants novel.”
A quote from Cruz on BrainyQuote.com: “Dark books do appeal to kids because they have nice, sheltered lives—and they also appeal to children who are going through pretty hard times themselves.”
FUNNY SCIENTIST: Adam Rubin is author of seven books, including a bestselling picture book for children, Dragons Love Tacos (2012). Russell Peter reads Dragons Love Tacos and shows Daniel Salmieri’s illustrations on bing.com/videos. Ido Turgemon reads it on YouTube.
Rubin lives with his wife and their two children in Washington, D.C. His day job is working as a scientist developing a malaria vaccine. Goodreads says he is “interested in improv comedy, camping and magic tricks.”
MAZE MAN: James Dashner is the author of The Maze Runner, the latest bestseller in his series for ages 12 and up. In a small, enclosed community the maze runners are elite teenagers, seeking a way to escape.
Dashner talked about how he works in a video on bing.com/videos: “One night all these ideas just started coming to me. I went downstairs and started brainstorming--for about two hours--and I had mapped out the whole thing.”
A movie version of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials opens September 18.
THE REASON: Louise Penny is the author of a series of almost a dozen Inspector Armand Gamache mystery novels. The first was Still Life (2006). She was quoted in Time magazine: “I created characters whose company I would enjoy, I created a main character who I would marry, I created a village I would love to live in. And as it turns out, other people feel the same as I do, thank God.”
DESCRIPTION: Matt Johnson is the author of Loving Day, a novel that is being turned into a TV comedy series. In an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, he was asked to describe his main character. Johnson said, “I look like a pale Puerto Rican. I look like a really ragged ex-Latvian rugby player. I’ve been told I look Egyptian. I’ve been told a lot of things. But really what I look is ambiguous. You know, I have skin the same color as most—or many—white people. I have an African nose. I have high cheekbones.”
“You’re a big man, too,” Gross said. “You’re—what? Six-foot-four and about 225 pounds?”
“Oh, I’m massive,” Johnson confirmed. “It says 225 in the book, but, you know, this is a novel, so I got to cut off some pounds there.”
ABOUT ACTING: The actor Jesse Eisenberg is the author of a story collection, Bream Gives Me Hiccups. In an interview in the September 6 New York Times Book Review, he was asked what were his favorite books about acting.
“I love David Mamet’s True and False,” he said, “even though it is considered ‘controversial’ amongst actors (try pulling out a copy at Sardi’s), and I really liked the Uta Hagen’s book Respect for Acting, which offered me the best acting advice: If you have to act stoned, imagine a helium balloon inflating inside your skull. In all of my plays, my characters spend much of the show high, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this.”
COLONY: “A Literary Enclave Takes Root Down East” is the title of an article in the September 6 New York Times travel section. “In recent years, writers have again discovered both fellowship and solitude on this spit of Maine seaboard.” Jonathan Lethem has a summer home in East Blue Hill. Other writers there include Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, Ben Marcus, John Hodgman and Ayelet Walding.
Edmund White, a summer renter, said, “The natural rhythm of a writer is to alternate long stretches of solitude with bursts of socializing—with writers—and Blue Hill is well-stocked.”