The new Carl Hiaasen novel, Bad Monkey, hit our shelves today! Check out this funny little book trailer. Then, mark your calendars, because Mr. Hiaasen will be reading at the Seattle Central Public Library on Tuesday, June 25, at 7pm. Free admission.
Archive for the ‘Author Events’ Category
by Dave Wheeler
Sunday morning: kitchens smell like coffee brewing, feet are shod with warm, fuzzy slippers, and the newspaper is on your doorstep or your table or your tablet. Books show up in review columns, and you get to glimpse some new and wonderful literature.
Sometimes I read the New York Times Book Review to get a bead on what books folks are talking about. Other times, I look for the reviews for books I’m interested in but might not get to read in the near future. (Admit it: we’ve all got to prioritize, and some great books just don’t make the cut.) But maybe my favorite reviews to read are for books that I have read already.
I remember back in September, the Times reviewed Michael Chabon’s novel Telegraph Avenue. I was still halfway through the book and refused to look at the review until I was done. It was like waiting that extra day to watch Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones or RuPaul’s Drag Race — whatever your obsession may be — and neurotically avoiding all social media in the meantime for fear of spoilers. I wanted to experience the book on its own before letting anyone else cloud my judgment.
Then, afterwards, I can hold court with the reviewer. Line by line. Agree and disagree.
Telegraph Avenue is a complete delight, and, fortunately, the review it garnered was a good one. So I didn’t have to send hate mail to anyone.
This Sunday, the Times reviewed another book I’m excited about, Does Jesus Really Love Me? by Jeff Chu. In fact, fine Seattle journalist Dan Savage even reviews it. You may feel like reading the review now. If so, I’ll wait, but come back when you’re finished.
I liked Chu’s book for a number or reasons, both personal and professional. Where those reasons intersect, I think, is the author’s approach to the material. Such a hot-button topic for a book: the intersection of Christianity and homosexuality in America. Everybody’s going to walk away from this book with their own take, but I still posit that Chu’s professional journalism background gave him tools to examine his subject — one he is openly emotional and invested with — carefully, even objectively.
Savage gives us his take on the book. Overall a positive review, with a handful of criticisms. And that’s fine.
As debate continues around LGBTQ rights, and as Christianity remains prominently in opposition, I’d imagine Chu’s challenge in writing this book was sifting the wealth of dialog for ground that hasn’t yet been tread, conversations not yet said. And I believe he does a bang-up job. I’ve read plenty on faith and sexuality, trust me, so I approached Does Jesus Really Love Me? with my fair share of trepidation. But Chu’s story read like a fresh perspective. It felt important as I read it.
The conversation doesn’t end there: not by a long shot! But reading Chu’s story, then Savage’s review, and carrying my own opinions makes it feel like the dialog remains open to new takes. The LGBTQ movement is, after all, a marvelous chorus of different voices, and no one gets to speak for all of us.
I’m excited, too, because this particular vein of dialog continues tomorrow night, Monday, April 15! Jeff Chu will be speaking at a free event at Seattle First Baptist Church, at 7pm. Sure to be a thoughtful evening, I hope you’ll consider joining us.
I always make sure I have a tall stack of good reading books prepared for January. While other people shop for Gor-tex and down coats, I wander the aisles of my local bookstores looking for the finds that will get me through the dark months.
My reading tastes vary, but my favorites are books that involve food. For those times when I can’t be inhaling the lush smell of a slow-simmering ragu sauce, I can think of no better alternative than to be curled up in a favorite chair, surrounded by interesting characters who love cooking. Everything just feels warmer.
Here’s a list of my favorites, with the hope that they make your winter feel just a bit shorter, too…
Chocolat – Joanne Harris. If you’ve only seen the movie, you are doing yourself and this book an injustice. The story of Vianne Rocher and her chocolate shop is far more rich and complicated than on the screen. Besides, a book that starts with “We came on the wind of the carnival” is surely setting you up for magic.
Garlic and Sapphires – Ruth Reichl. Anything by Ruth Reichl is worth your time, but this is my favorite, the story of her stint as the NYT’s restaurant critic. Underlying a string of vivid and entertaining restaurant stories is the more personal one of a woman who dresses up in disguises in order to get typical service and dishes, but occasionally loses herself in the process.
The Language of Baklava – Diana Abu-Jaber. Food memoirs abound, but this one does a beautiful job of tying together family, heritage and food as Abu-Jaber traces her own dual American and Jordanian heritage.
The Art of Eating – MFK Fisher. The quintessential food writer. Her essays are like a series of small plates, each one exquisite.
A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman. Not technically a food book, rather a scientific and poetic exploration of touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. With all your senses awake, you’ll see food and our wintery world in a new light.
On January 24th at 7 pm in the cozy lower level of Elliott Bay we’ll be celebrating the publication of my new novel, The Lost Art of Mixing, a sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients. There will be reading, and homemade cookies, and plenty of incredible Seattle7Writers authors mingling about and possibly singing. I hope you’ll come and we can all chase the cold away together.
Erica Bauermeister is the bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients and Joy For Beginners. Her newest novel, The Lost Art of Mixing, is an Indie Next Pick and will be published on January 24th.
Seattle author Maria Semple joins us in the bookstore on August, 14th at 7:00 pm to read from her newest novel (yes, it happens to be an epistolary novel), the Seattle-set, Where’d You Go, Bernadette. This evening is a celebration for the publication of a book already garnering rave reviews. “At times bringing tears-to-your-eyes laughter that skewers my own hometown (and quite possibly my mother). Where’d You Go, Bernadette is also a compassionate look at family dysfunction, the paralysis of genius, and good old-fashioned parental love.” -Garth Stein. Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice—which figures prominently in the book—will also be on hand to provide audience members with delectable treats. Please, join us.
Everyone stop what you’re doing! It’s time to learn.
If you want to learn how to perform other important tasks, just like this one, be sure to join us in the store Tuesday, August 7 (That’s TOMORROW!), at 8pm, when The Stranger‘s contributors Christopher Frizzelle, Lindy West, Bethany Jean Clement, and others enlighten us from their survival guide (which also hits our shelves tomorrow) How to Be a Person: The Stranger’s Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos and Life Itself. It’s new, from Seattle’s own publishing powerhouse Sasquatch Books—who are apparently giving out a free taco and beer with book purchase at the event.
Seattle’s own Laurie Frankel is thrilled to share with you her newest novel, Goodbye for Now, which hits our shelves August 7. Be sure and snag yourself a copy from one of our wonderful booksellers and join us for her reading in the store on Friday, August 10, at 7pm.
In the meantime, check out this rad book trailer from Frankel, with a little help from her friends.
July begins, and the temperature is starting to rise. The sun hasn’t quite decided whether it will stay for any extended period of time or continue to give way to muggy days of periodic sprinklings. Regardless of the capricious ways of weather, you can always count on a full schedule of authors visiting Elliott Bay.
This month in the bookstore we welcome Grant Cogswell, Bharti Kirchner, David Brin, G. Willow Wilson, Carissa Phelps, Alex Stone, Melanie Thorne, Colson Whitehead, Max Baumgarten, Kaya Oakes, Paul Toutonghi, Kay Larson, Medea Benjamin, and many more.
At our off-site events this month we welcome Christopher Hayes, Joy Harjo, Max & Whit Alexander, Chris Cleave, Karen Thompson Walker, and many more.
We look forward to seeing you!
Concluding his musings on working with Jim Lynch is Alfred A. Knopf editor Gary Fisketjon. Remember: Jim Lynch will be joining us the store on Thursday, April 12, at 7pm, to launch his newest novel, Truth Like the Sun, set within the fascinations and wonder of the Century 21 Exposition, 1962. To learn more about the fair itself, be sure and check out Paula Becker and Alan J. Stein’s book, The Future Remembered.
GARY FISKETJON: It’s clear to me that one of Jim’s chief interests is the potency of change. In The Highest Tide, Miles encounters an historic high tide; in Border Songs, Brandon sees his quiet borderland transformed by the specters of drug smuggling and terrorism.
Here, in Truth Like the Sun, Helen’s future is imperiled as her paper is beginning to feel the pinch of the Internet that soon afterward altered reading habits everywhere and made the very profession seem almost provisional.
It isn’t, obviously, but I greatly admire how Jim catches this game-changing phenomenon just as it’s emerging. Hey, this affects all of us, and he makes us realize this as we see Helen maneuver the shifting landscape of her work. Should they play tough in order to rout the competition and boost circulation or be careful to make sure of every last fact before printing a word? Is it a question of a business’ survival or ethics and even truth?
All this becomes palpable when Roger hones into Helen’s sights. One of her first assignments is to summarize the World’s Fair on the occasion of its fortieth anniversary—something that bores the hell out of her until Roger, the mastermind behind it, becomes front-page news with his mayoral campaign. Suddenly this is the sort of story that is her heart’s desire, complete with juicy graft, police corruption and murder as well as the chance to prove how those in power are—as she tends to believe—scoundrels whose malfeasance she was put on earth to uncover.
But to Jim’s great credit, Roger Morgan’s far too grand a character to fit into any of the available categories, whether Doddering Old Fool or Shady Power Broker. He’s a man in full, including warts and hopes and compromises, and in my view he’s a fitting counterpoint to Willie Stark (aka Huey Long) in Robert Penn Warren’s classic All the King’s Men.
A third major character, of course, is Seattle itself, as notable denizens have already recognized. According to Ivan Doig: “With the keen eye of the journalist he was and the nimbleness of the novelist he has become, Jim Lynch provides a thought-provoking fictional portrait of a city on the make and its somewhat tarnished tribe of civic strivers.” (I love that “somewhat.”)
Seattle’s adopted son, Jonathan Raban, says, “Jim Lynch writes of the city where I live with great brio and persuasiveness [and] his only-slightly alternative history is at least as plausible as the official version.”
Anyone who’s read Jim Lynch before can rightly assume he can capture whatever place he’s writing about down to its most minute and telling particulars, but this begs an oft-raised question about regional versus national appeal, which to me is a moot point. All naturalist novels will necessarily be set somewhere or the other, and the more vividly the better. In this case Seattleites will be in for an extra treat while others will learn not only much about it but also about wherever they happen to come from, where those same civic issues are present on a daily basis.
This account skips over a great many of the wonders of Truth Like the Sun, from Helen’s relationship with her son (and where’s the father?) to Roger’s with his longtime aide-de-camp, or from how weather influences suicide rates to what the bar scene’s really like, but those are for each of you to discover.
The delights of reading Jim Lynch are manifold, at once highly enjoyable and deeply pertinent. And with this book he shoots for the moon—and has really hung it.
GARY L. FISKETJON is Vice President and Editor-at-Large at Knopf, having joined the company in 1990 after previously working at Random House and Vintage and at the Atlantic Monthly Press.
Like you, I’m sure, we’re so looking forward to Truth Like the Sun, the newest novel from local author Jim Lynch. The book is on shelves April 10, and on Thursday, April 12, at 7pm, Jim Lynch will be reading and signing books in our store. As always, you can order online or call us if you would like to reserve a copy or can’t make it to the bookstore.
In the meantime, we thought you might be interested to hear from Mr. Lynch’s editor at Knopf for Truth Like the Sun and its predecessor, Border Songs, Gary Fisketjon. Split into two posts—today’s and one coming Tuesday—here’s a sneak-peek behind the scenes of Jim Lynch’s much-anticipated new novel:
One thing publishers and readers alike admire in writers is an ability to capture entirely new experiences from book to book, and Jim Lynch demonstrates that in spades—from thirteen-year-old Miles O’Malley, revealing the secrets of the Puget Sound and his own peculiar circumstances in The Highest Tide; to the astonishingly tall, severely dyslexic Brandon Vanderkool, putting his acute powers of observation, honed by his encyclopedic passion for birds, to work for the Border Patrol in Jim’s second novel. The range of characters in these two books is vast, each cast entirely different from the other, and rendered with such vivid conviction that the reader’s own observational skills are heightened.
This quality was partly apparent when Jim’s agent submitted Border Songs to us and I raced right through its many signs and wonders. Then it was fully apparent when I went back and read a paperback of The Highest Tide, having caught the Lynch bug big time. And while my interest in marine and avian life is amateurish at best (while Lynch’s clearly isn’t), as a fellow son of the Pacific Northwest I could readily attest to and revel in his mastery at depicting this country, in all its moods and idiosyncrasies and beauty.
In other words, I had complete confidence that he knew what he was writing about, right down to the ground. For an editor this amounts to a sort of green-light recognition, along with everything else I admired about those two novels. Happily, he and I were soon working together to bring Border Songs to the public.
Now with Truth Like the Sun, Lynch again gives us something new and distinctive, in character and setting and even timeline, capturing a great American city, both in 1962, when the World’s Fair in effect ushers it into the nearly futuristic “modern” world, and in 2001, after Seattle’s immense gold-rush wealth has been blindsided by the bursting of the dot-com bubble. It’s a testament to Jim’s novelistic assurance that each era, one a decade past and the other fully fifty years, seems bright and fresh, with wholly unique upsides and downfalls.
And the same is true of the people playing the lead roles here. Roger Morgan, who was the driving force behind the World’s Fair—and forty years later, still a force to reckon with—throws his hat in the ring to run for mayor. Helen Gulanos, a much younger reporter who lately arrived in Seattle, has a skepticism about this fabled place as great as her Pulitzer-worthy aspirations. Both have their own dreams of glory, but they soon find themselves pitted against each other in a strangely mutual quest to understand the ramifications of civics in the widest sense possible. That is, how are cities really developed, and what are the obligations of its citizens, and how is power wielded in such an enormous enterprise?
Reading this novel, I thought more than once of Robert Caro’s magnificent The Power Broker, which explains how Robert Moses reimagined (or destroyed) New York City. It also reminded me of Billy Lee Brammer’s The Gay Place, a sadly unknown novel that thrillingly depicts a fictional LBJ exerting his political muscle. Civics involves politics, naturally, and Roger Morgan—kin to these illustrious predecessors—is up to his neck in both.
Another concern of Truth Like the Sun is journalism, its whys and wherefores and nuts and bolts and also the role it plays in our civic (or personal) lives. Jim’s rich experience as an investigative reporter—honors including an H.L. Mencken Award—certainly informs his portrayal of Helen Gulanos. As he puts it:
As a reporter, I wrote about politicians at the federal and local levels. I was fascinated by the nuances of power and the the craft and stress that came with trying to expose what was really going on. So Helen has some of my journalistic ambitions, exasperations and insecurities, as well as those of other agressive reporters I’ve known.
And this is integral to the nexus of civics and politics, because those worlds remain largely invisible to us unless we can read about them in the newspaper.
As an aside relative to journalism, I’d like to note what a treat the editorial process is with Jim. It essentially amounts to two one-sided conversations: first I scrawl my notes on his pages, then Jim figures out what’s useful. More often than not he has better answers to whatever questions I raise. And that’s it.
The editor can have his or her say, then must leave everything for the author to resolve. Any other policy amounts to a confusion of realms, though many reporters have told me that on newspapers it’s a whole other ballgame and it’s the editor who calls the shots. But with fiction, at least the way I go about editing it, I’m not interested in talking anyone into anything. As I see it, I’m lucky as hell to have a ringside seat.
GARY L. FISKETJON is Vice President and Editor-at-Large at Knopf, having joined the company in 1990 after previously working at Random House and Vintage and at the Atlantic Monthly Press.
Begun in 1996, National Poetry Month has swelled into quite the spring attraction. It occurs every April now, thanks to the original push by the American Academy of Poets, who remains the driving force behind its national recognition, to raise interest and appreciation for all kinds of poetry: old, new, major names, emerging poets, form, free verse, spoken word, slam poetry, etc.
Of course, the list goes on. Poetry is a form that is always changing and adapting to its culture and era.
We’re happy to kick off this month with last night’s reading with poet Alexandra Teague, and her collection Mortal Geography, the recent recipient of a California Book Award. Tonight at 7pm, we have readings in the store from two poets, Martha Collins (White Papers) and Kathleen Flenniken (Plume), just named Washington State Poet Laureate. But we don’t leave poetry to April exclusively. Come May, we’ll also see the widely acclaimed Meghan O’Rourke (Once).
There are also plenty of poetry events across the way at Richard Hugo House this month, with readings from the contributors to A Face to Meet the Faces anthology, Tara Hardy, Kathleen Flenniken, Elizabeth Colen, Peggy Shumaker, Amber Flora Thomas, slam poet Kit Yan, and more! Be sure and check out their calendar of events for further details.
And I’d just like to say a special welcome to the new Richard Hugo House Executive Director, Tree Swenson, former Executive Director of the American Academy of Poets!
This year, we also pay respects to a fair few powerful poets whose legacies have come to outlive them. The passing in recent weeks and months of the beloved and decorated poets Adrienne Rich, Ruth Stone, and Wisława Szymborska add a special sense of reverence to this month for many of us who carry its tradition.
As part of this year’s celebration, the American Academy of Poets has named Thursday, April 26th, Poem In Your Pocket Day. Simply select a poem dear to you, carry it with you all day, and share it with family, friends, and co-workers. Personally, my favorite poem is “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin (The Rain in the Trees), so I’ll probably be smuggling that around. But I wonder: what’ll you be packing?
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