in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Beth Kephart Books, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 2,562
Literature, life, reflections on books read and books written. Photography and videologs are integral to the postings.
Statistics for Beth Kephart Books
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 3
Yesterday, 3:30 AM. Left the sofa, where I had gone briefly to rest, to begin (again) client work, which became student work, which became the business of writing work, until I looked up at 10:15 or so and screamed. A brown cloud of termites had rushed through my office door and window—escapees from the new construction hole down the street. It happened in an instant, an actual instant. A storm of wings. Beth's cries for help. Clients calling in the midst. Beth pretending to be calm while the critters crawled along her computer screen.
2:30 PM. Settled in with Mr. Heater Man, who, like a physician, was delivering the final news about the new system now required for my old house. Ralph, Mr. Heater Man, is a very nice guy. Still, might as well be sending my son off to another semester of school. I, by now termite proof, smiled (more like grimaced). Wrote the check for the first third payment. Went back to work.
3:00 PM. Received news of an incredible pre-pub review that I will soon be able to share. See how nicely I am behaving? How properly? Not sharing? Yes. I am capable of the incomplete non-share. Even in my current state of sleep-deprived delirium.
5:25 PM. My friend Judy of the cabernet hair meets me for a walk around a Holiday Inn parking lot, just off the Lansdale exit. This is Judy's neighborhood. It is also partway between my home and Harleysville, where Shelly Plumb, the generous owner of Harleysville Books,
has invited me to an evening of dinner and conversation regarding Small Damages
. So Judy and I walk and talk and walk and talk, six laps or so around the ol' Inn. I love friends who do not mind the craziness of me, or the sweatiness of a walk on asphalt during a 90-degree day.
7:00 PM. In Harleysville with the aforementioned Shelly—I met her, felt like I'd always known her, perhaps I have always known her?—and some twenty others, who had kindly read Small Damages
. Outside, there was lightning and downpour. Inside, wine, pasta, dessert, books. Any writer who is ever invited to Harleysville must go. It's a bastion of independent goodness. Also? For the record? Small Damages
appears (see photo above) to be a crossover book.
10:00 PM. Home (through rain and a little hail) to more work.
2:30 AM. The aforementioned existing heater (which needs to hold on for just two more weeks) goes off on an all-cymbals clash-o-rama that probably woke President Obama. Did it wake you? It certainly woke me. Well, who goes to sleep after that?
7:00 AM. Hair like tumbleweed.
I had all sorts of prospects for my class at Penn yesterday. Just two classes to go, and I had a plan in place, some thoughts about teaching the art of putting another's gestures, postures, cheekbones, eyes on the page. I had things to read, photographs to study, Annie Dillard, Anton Chekhov, Francine Prose, and Cynthia Kaplan in my back pocket. But before we would get to that, we would hear from the students themselves, who had been interviewing each other and writing "practice" profiles.
Except. These were no practice profiles. These were fully developed, deeply moving, vastly important gifts
crafted scrupulously for one another. It became important to simply dwell with these pieces, to slow things down, to take note of all the progress my students have made this semester, to honor the insights and the care embedded in their most recent work. There were students who had entered my classroom in winter proclaiming that they couldn't write; how wrong they were. There have been those who have worried about getting things wrong; time and again they got so much right. There were those who cautioned that they might not come to every class, and would probably be late with the assignments. Okay, so. There was only one of those, and he lied. He came. He wrote. Not just extremely well, but also (he amazed us) on time (give or take three minutes).
Soon I'll be able to share one of my student's works, for it will be published in an esteemed magazine. Someday I'll be able to tell you about the others—their gains, their triumphs, their stories.
But for now, in the midst of what has become the busiest season in my life, I want to take a minute and thank my institution, the University of Pennsylvania, for giving me the chance, again, to fall in love (thank you, Greg Djanikian, and thank you, Al Filreis). This is a great privilege, spending time with these students, watching them grow. And it is a great privilege to work at my alma mater. The final project my students will produce is a profile of an individual who inspires. Many of my students have chosen a university professor, and in reading through the profile proposals this morning, I am awed by the many professors I've never met who are radically changing student lives.
If you walk through life looking for the good, you find students like my students. You find an institution like my own.
I can never use the term "in the gloaming" without thinking of my friend Alice Elliott Dark's perfect and classic short story by that same name. And so, last night, leaving the city at the gloaming hour, I thought of Alice. I thought of Joan Didion, too, and Rebecca Solnit, and all those writers who have captured this shade of sun-glinted blue with words.
The city was eager for spring, and full of its promise. Rittenhouse Square and its horn player, a little spontaneous drumming on the side. Restaurants and their outdoor seats. People reading on benches with their coat collars high.
My husband and I were there at the end of a long moving week—cleaning our son's now vacated city apartment at Spruce and 16th, and imagining him at the park in his new near-Manhattan 'hood. Sharing a meal at Serafina. Going home in the old Wrangler, two for-sure empty nesters now.
Meanwhile our son texts me this morning, his first day of his first full-time job. Up at 5:30, he confides. At Starbucks. Excited.
There's dusk. And then there's dawn.
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, The Trip to Bountiful
, People's Light and Theatre
, River North Dance Chicago
, Eva Cassidy
, Ahmad Simmons
, Chanticleer Garden
, Jessica Wolfrum
, Annenberg Center
, Horton Foote
, Add a tag
If you came here just for the pictures, here they are—Chanticleer Garden, April 7, 2013, a brand new season of color and verve. The secret garden elves have spent the winter widening paths, planting pots, putting the start of lettuce into rows. They have had a ball with succulents. And the big bright fish are alive.
If you wondered how I'd felt about seeing "The Trip to Bountiful" at People's Light and Theatre Company on Friday evening with my father, wonder no more. It was a full-throttle production, emotionally speaking, and elegant in all other ways. I believed in these characters and their stories, the two side-by-side chairs that constituted a bus, the painted mural that was the landscape of memory. I believed in the anger and in the momentary resolve.
And finally, River North Dance Chicago, presented last evening at Annenberg Center. There are, apparently, young men and women whose bodies are only muscle and air, not bone. There are choreographers who can bring Eva Cassidy back to life. There is a dancer named Jessica Wolfrum who can make a dress breathe and a dancer named Ahmad Simmons whose muscular nomenclature is like nothing I've ever seen, and who danced within the quick strobe of light, his arms like wings. Then there were those who danced in and out of elastic shirts without ever losing track of time.
Or perhaps they lost all track of time, and that is why I was so mesmerized.
My husband, who has found extraordinary happiness working with clay, recently began to clear out our basement to give himself more room to work. Boxes of unnecessary things have been disappearing, leaving more mounds of molting cardboard to be considered or reviewed.
Today, while Bill was showing me his latest sculptural pieces, he pointed to a row of boxes and asked if they were for keeping. I slipped the lid off of one and found, in an instant, a file marked, in my mother's inimitable handwriting: To Betsy on her Birthday 4/1/01.
The file contained a story she'd written while planning her fiftieth high school reunion. Lore Kephart was a proud alum of John Bartram High School in Southwest Philadelphia. She made friendships there that lasted a lifetime. Indeed, my mother's friendships, as I wrote in Into the Tangle of Friendship,
were legendary—for their diversity, their longevity, their inherent trustworthiness. My mother was loved.
Now, here today she is, in her own words, talking to me at the end of a long birthday week. Telling me about her born-and-bred Philadelphia self. I hear the cadence of her speech in these inkjet pages. I see her crossing one word out and substituting another in blue ink. She loved to write, my mother. And she loved our birthdays—made them entirely special.
Made this one special, too:
Bartram was notable because of its reputation as a premier school with the highest academic standards. Students allowed to come there from certain other designated neighborhoods always took advantage of it, even though many had to ride a bus or the old #36 trolley, as it was called, to reach the campus. Some even fudged their way in. I was lucky; I walked.
Bartram's teaching staff was an extraordinary source of pride to all of us. To a man and woman, they could have taught anywhere, but chose to travel to Bartram. I often marvel at the completeness of the education I received there. The ghost of Mr. Abner Miller, one of my English teachers, haunts me, lest I should ever end a sentence with a preposition! Teachers were not only entrenched in getting across their individual disciplines—Mr. Wapen's was English, better yet Shakespeare—but they were encouraging as well. One old friend with whom I just caught up told me that, despite the fact that he had gone into the service having attended college for only three semesters, he spent his career interviewing celebrities like Robert Mitchum and Barbra Streisand for the column he wrote for our town's largest newspaper. "It was Mr. Sonnenfeld," he told me. "He just kept on telling me I had this talent."
I'm a year older, my students threw me a surprise party, my son has left Philadelphia, another student got good publishing news and another won a Fulbright, my son has moved across the river from New York City (those bruises you see? that's me, after lugging many boxes many many blocks in a lovely town that has no parking and very narrow streets; that smile? my son is so happy), three client projects are done, one book proposal has been submitted, one 800-word piece for the Inquirer took fourteen hours (yep, I'm slowing down, folks), Tamra sent me a card that I love, love, love, and Kelly and I took a beautiful walk.
Now off to see "The Trip to Bountiful" with my father.
We do what we do.
Granted the gift of a beautiful day, we are Hoboken, New Jersey, bound in an oversized white van that I'm sure as heck happy not to be driving. (Here's where my husband's Salvadoran born-and-bred unflappability comes in especially handy. I bore witness to it on the tight streets of Philadelphia yesterday. I closed my eyes when necessary.)
Our son, like us, lives a minimal life, and it's times like these that I'm especially glad for that. I'm also especially glad that he has found a room that he loves in a town he's been talking about for years. I'm even more glad that he has landed a job that thrills him, in his media analysis field.
(Just wait until they find out how great a writer this analytical guy also is.)
Client work done, student letters written, taxes in the envelopes, six pairs of trousers cleaned and ironed (also that suit), and additional laundry spinning, we soon go. Melissa Sarno says that I need to get myself a Frank Sinatra fedora.
Sarno, I'm on the case.
Jennifer Hubbard says I do not write as badly as I think I do.
I'm going with that as well.
Susannah Cahalan tells a terrifying true story in Brain on Fire
about losing control, slipping away from a "true" (happy, ambitious, newly in love, well-employed) self, and coming far too close to forfeiting everything she was to a mysterious affliction. It all happened quickly. It all seemed, at first, to be viral or perhaps anxiety induced. Crowds overwhelmed her. Work (her life as a journalist) made no sense. She grew paranoid and raging, impossible to calm, numb or tingling, migraine prone, on the verge, always of running away, dangerous to herself, "barbaric." Soon she would find herself labeled a flight risk in the epilepsy ward of a New York City hospital—her father and mother vigilant at her side, her new boyfriend determined to find the Susannah he sensed was still inside. One doctor after another misread the scant clues. The electrodes glued to Susannah's head would not reveal the secret.
It took a neurologist named Souhel Najjar, a simple test (draw a clock, he said), and the quick cooperation of a University of Pennsylvania physician, Dr. Josep Dalmau, to finally discover what had happened to Susannah's brain—and to treat the rare autoimmune disorder that had attacked her so virulently. Many months would go by before Susannah would recover. This book, her first, maps that journey.
It is a memoir of sorts—an investigation into the author's own life assisted by medical records and the observations of those who were near through the ordeal. It's a generous book—and story—that has already helped others, and it is important for that reason. As literature, as memoir, I worried about the liberal use of dialogue that had been clearly recreated by those whom Susannah interviewed. I wished, as well, for something less strictly documentary and more (in places) transcendent.
But I honor the achievement of this narrative, the intelligence of the doctors, the kindness of Susannah's family and boyfriend, and the marvel of the brain itself. I am proud, as well, to be a University of Pennsylvania alum and adjunct. It's a school where important work gets done.
For more on the memoirs I read (and sometimes teach), please visit the Handling the Truth page.
They have huge hearts and great talent. They make me laugh and they work hard. They pay attention to one another. They let the learning in.
Today they surprised me with a birthday celebration and magnificent card (you guys!) and made me cry (again). Forever and ever, 135.302. Forever and ever and ever.
Thank you, my students, and thank you dear provocateur, remembering friends Karen Rile and Jamie-Lee Josselyn. And thank you Trey Popp and Maggie Ercolani and Nabil Mehta, who joined us in our final hour and made the party finer.
I will sleep well tonight.
To my dear friends who have written today, sent notes, shared love—thank you. It was a quiet, working day, and you lifted my spirits immensely.
And to my brother-in-law, Mario, who sent white flowers—what a gift to have this gift today. Thank you.
Nine or so months ago, Dr. Nicole Duran quietly slipped into her role as a transitional minister for my own St. John's Presbyterian Church and—without overt fanfare—changed the lives of many. She never gave the expected sermon. She brought intelligence to history and now to the stories of then. She found an old stone baptismal font long wasting away on the church property and installed it to its proper glory—simply, almost matter of fact. Nicole engaged the young with words and seeds, felt boards and icons. She visited those who had fallen ill, spoke eloquently and with genuine emotion at funerals, inquired after others, attended to small fractures and bigger ones, and listened. Nicole Duran is not an overt entertainer; she doesn't need to be. She is, instead, a quiet, never self-congratulatory innovator, someone who has something to say, and how I have loved paying attention to the connections her fine mind makes, how I have loved the resonant power of her messages—relevant, real, and searching.
Today Nicole gave an extraordinary, alive, personal Easter Sunday sermon—looked at us through the thick black frames of her glasses and said precisely what she thought about religion today, the role of a holy place in our lives, the difference between seeking out the familiar for familiarity's sake and finding faith in the changing and new. And then, during communion, she invited every person in that quiet church to take a single flower from so many flower-filled vases and lace it into the netting of a large wooden cross she'd had built for us. Tulips, roses, carnations, twizzlers of blue and red, striped petals—one by one we laced our flowers in, and when we were done, that cross was alive, the dark day was bright, and we had lived Easter.
People touch our lives. Sometimes they don't know just how much they do, or why. I will never forget Nicole Duran—transitional but not temporary—nor this particular Easter day. She is a woman walking a stone wall in a simple dress, lifting her hopes—for us—to the sky.
A list of the things that I did wrong in writing the first 200 pages of my Florence novel:
* Having the audacity to think that I could fit it in during this season of Extreme Busyness (though I had to fit it in, on behalf of a fellowship project I was teaching).
* Choosing to escape the frightening avalanche of emails by taking the book off the computer altogether and writing it in small spurts on the iPad. Good for scenes. Horrific for continuity.
* Giving myself a tremendously complex set of plot points and intersections to manage with a brain now too crowded to manage anything but the bare rudiments of daily life.
* Pushing ahead through the panic, as opposed to calling the panic off completely, and reconsidering. (But I had to push ahead; I was teaching this novel to a student.)
Finally, a few weeks ago, I did stop. Threw almost all of what I had away and started over. New technology. Simplified plot. More sleep. Less work at midnight hours. Less anxiety about the mountains of books and emails flooding in. Yesterday, Friday, was the first day since I began the book last October that I could work on it for an entire continuity-seeding stretch. Last night was the first night that I slept, unpanicked. There's a ton of work to do. But there's a working foundation.
Since I was giving myself some breathing room I decided to go one step farther down the easing road and read through some of the New Yorkers
that have gathered here in this season of Extreme Busyness. First up: Giles Harvey's contemplations, "Cry Me a River: The Rise of the Failure Memoir."(March 25 issue) A look at the crop of memoirs that have emerged from failed novelists. Memoirs about failures—hmmm, I thought, I could have written one of those, if I didn't already understand that we all have our failures, our shames to work through.
Most interesting to me was this paragraph about the failure of the novel in our era—something we've all heard much about. Harvey is reflecting on David Shields (that inveterate provocateur) in this passage.
Shields tells a story about how he reached this conclusion ["that the novel is no longer up to the task of representing contemporary life"]. In the eighties and nineties, he spent "many, many years" trying to write a novel about this country's obsession with celebrity culture through the lens of a married couple's domestic life, a kind of American version of Kundera's "Unbearable Lightness of Being." The project stalled when Shields came to find the conventional novelistic apparatus (plot, dialogue, character) cumbersome and irrelevant to his deepest concerns. He discovered that the essayistic digressions he had written and was planning to insert into his novel were themselves the book he wanted to write.... "Forms are there to serve the culture, and when they die, they die for a good reason—or so I have come to believe, the novel having long since gone dark for me."
I'm not going to stand in full Shields agreement here, or in agreement with every one else who says the novel is dead. Because I'm still reading and loving novels, and I'm still learning, from the best of them, what language can do, what stories can be, what humanity is capable of. The novel has not gone dark for me—not as a reader and not, if I can just stay focused, as a writer. Light is hard to come by, true. But I'm obsessed with the light.
My mother held the afternoon hours of Good Friday as sacred.
A lesson she passed on to me.
You can go to school and hope to learn to write. Or you can read Elizabeth Graver's fourth novel, The End of the Point
. How are words turned into people—true people, real people, you know you've met them people? How does land and sea—silent, mutable, endangered, persistent—become not just character but plot? How are generations whooshed across pages, their presence felt? What is the alchemy of omniscience? What is alive inside the novelistic I? How is time stippled and stopped? What do you do with all that you have come to know (with what you have researched) so that no one ever guesses that you weren't born with all that knowing in your head?
(The names of birds, the dimensions of a porpoise skull, the chemical cousins of Agent Orange, the terminology of madness, the songs of WW II, the rules of 1940s dance halls, the economics of development, the name of a condition signaled by coke-colored urine.)
Ask a question; find its answer here. Study every sentence of this magisterial, evocative novel. Read it very slow. Tell those who wish to interfere that you are doing something important. You are reading Elizabeth Graver. You are learning how to write.
Graver's novel—about a jut of land called Ashaunt Point and the generations of one family who take their peace and healing there—is a stunning achievement. "With grace and subtlety, Elizabeth Graver illuminates the powerful legacy of family and place, exploring what we are born into, what we pass down, and what we preserve, cast off, or willingly set free." That's what the jacket copy promises, and that indeed is what Graver delivers—in sentence after sentence of most immaculate prose.
I could flip through, quote from any page. Here: I present Elizabeth Graver's gardens, though I could just as easily have given you her birds (you know my obsession with birds), or the notes between a child and her nanny, or the disappointments that rise up between a mother and her son, or an old marriage healed. But here are Graver's gardens:
Her focus has narrowed, she knows what she wants; in this case; it's the flowers—to look and look. At night, and in the afternoons when the pain clamps her hard inside its jaws, the garden follows her, a dreamscape unspooling, brighter than the wildflowers and the white-pink roses grown spindly on her own trellises; brighter too than her own walled garden, bee balm blooming now, asters on the verge, the lupine (over) with its fuzzy, blackened rattle pods that could be cracked for seeds to nick, soak, plant.
Such a book. And for those who wonder, who keep track of such things—I have known Elizabeth through the ether for years, but I insisted on buying this book. On reading it for this blog. On giving myself that pleasure.
On the train home from Penn, yesterday. The skies starting to lose their sun.
I'd walked West Philadelphia for an hour before class. I'd brought the students Insomnia cookies (hot from the oven, chocolate chip melt.) Once we were gathered, we began—critiquing the final five student memoirs.
We know each other well by now.
I will tell you a story, I said, when we were done—emotionally exhausted, grateful, glad. I will tell you about my son, who is off to the Big Apple in a week or so to start his first full-time job. The boy was home on Monday, I said. We were talking work. I was trilling the difference between good and great, between doing enough and doing more, and he stopped me in my effusive tracks.
Do you talk to your students like this? he said.
Of course I do.
And they still like you?
I hope so. Sometimes.
Wow, he said. And shook his head.
Never do anything less than your best. I say it to them. I caution myself.
It is this easy. No one sees me run—past the face of the cathedral, past the cloister gate, the library, the gelato shop, toward the river—where it’s all plaid jackets and brown overcoats, shiny scarves, the big head of a long dog, a wheelbarrow sending up clouds of plaster smoke. When I reach the river wall, the boy is nowhere and the crowd is against me, the whacking tail of that dog, and beneath the trample of them all, the crumpled face of a sunflower.
Yesterday, in New York City, I joined the great cast of writers that the truly great David Levithan had gathered at Books of Wonder, a store famous and hallowed and grand. I met a student with a future, a librarian with a heart, a blogger with whom I'd corresponded, an AP English teacher, a science fiction writer, a screenplay writer, super cool Wonder staff, others. K. M. Walton and I compared war stories (we always do; this time I won). A.S. King swore she'd been practicing her salsa (but I don't know; the girl does write fiction). David revealed some of the new work on his Scholastic list, and I sort of begged, I hope that's okay, for one of the ARCs.
(David Levithan did not reveal, however, how he maintains his fresh-faced good looks after his long and uber successful week of moderating and hosting countless (all right, so someone counted them, probably even David himself) YA panels and conversations.)
And then something else amazing happened: Ed Goldberg, who wrote to me following the launch of HOUSE OF DANCE and who has remained in touch ever since—a stalwart cheerleader in times both green and fallow, a teacher, a librarian, a garden lover, a dad, a man in love with his Susan—took the train into the city and surprised me. Yes, indeed, the surprise was gonzo. And Beth Kephart, born on April Fools' Day, does not easily surprise.
After the signing, I wove through New York City. I share my quick snapshots here.
On the train there and back, I was reading Elizabeth Graver's new novel, The End of the Point.
Help me, Rhonda: I can't wait to tell you about her book. (That is, if you haven't already read about it everywhere, my friend Elizabeth now on bestseller lists everywhere.)
Yesterday at Kelly Writers House I spoke briefly with Janet Malcolm, who had spent two days with the students and faculty of Penn. She was being hosted by Al Filreis, that brilliant teacher and interviewer who knows a frightening amount about a chosen writer's work—and closes in on a surprising number of mysteries. My conversation with Janet quickly turned to passions, and where we find them—how we stay urgent with our work. Janet began to talk about her collage work, her forays into the visual arts, the way the mind works when hands are busy making. It was a lovely, unforgettable moment in time.
I came home with Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice
in my bag and a great curiosity about Janet's art, which I showcase above. Perhaps you are interested, too, and if so, here's Casey Schwartz on Malcolm's art
and Katie Rophie on Janet herself, a marvelous, Al Filreis-worthy Paris Review interview
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Books of Wonder
, Drexel University
, Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent
, Harleysville Books
, Free Library of Philadelphia
, Corte Madera
, Handling the Truth
, Hooray for Books
, Add a tag
Friends of this blog know how much I love California—the sun, the ocean cliffs, the people. I was so happy, therefore, to be invited to conduct a memoir workshop at the great BookPassage in Corte Madera. I'll be out there in early September, and I'd love to see you there. The details are here, below, along with a few other events that have cropped up in the meantime—events that will touch on everything from Small Damages
, Dangerous Neighbors
, and Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent
to memoir writing, Philadelphia, and the boutique marketing communications firm I run.
Please join us if you can.
March 22, 2013, 5 - 7 PMPost-Penn Perspectives Panel
Sweeten Alumni House
University of Pennsylvania
March 24, 2013, 1 - 4
No-Foolin' Mega-Signing At Books of Wonder
New York, New York
For Details click here.
April 10, 2013, 7 PM
Feature Author Book Club Dinner
May 22, 2013, 2 PM Strange and Familiar Places in YA Fiction (a panel)
Drexel University Week of WritingPhiladelphia, PA
July 27, 2013, 3:30 - 5:00 PM Launching Small Damages paperback/Memoir Workshop
with Debbie Levy
Hooray for Books
Old Town Alexandria, VA
August 6, 2013
Launching Handling the Truth
with a memoir workshop
Free Library of Philadelphia
(details to come)Philadelphia, PASeptember 7, 2013, 10 AM - noon
BookPassage Memoir Workshop
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925October 20, 2013
Talking Memoir with Linda Joy Myers @
(details to come)
I found this little girl in Berlin. She was mesmerized by the magic of bubbles. I left her city mesmerized as well, and then one day began to write a novel for it. I called that book We Could Be Heroes
. I dedicated it to my editor, Tamra Tuller. It will be launched by Chronicle Books sometime next year, and I've held my breath, as I always do, hoping that it might find its right readers.
I cannot imagine being any more blessed than I am right now, today, by the kindness of two extraordinary readers—two young adult writers who have done so much on the page, done so much for others, done so much to elevate this genre, to prove its power. Thank you, Patricia McCormick and Ruta Sepetys for your words about We Could Be Heroes
“Beth Kephart is one of my heroes. She’s spun gold out of the language of longing and has shown us how to make room for miracles. We Could Be Heroes –about a boy and girl separated by the cruelest of fates–will inspire any reader to make the leap for love.”
–Patricia McCormick, author of National Book Award Finalists Sold and Never Fall Down
“An unforgettable portrayal of life and love divided. Kephart captures the beauty and desperation of 1980's Berlin with prose both gripping and graceful.”
--Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy
I have always had the utmost respect for the true book blogger—for all of you exceedingly generous souls who make so much time for books and the book community. I imagine that your houses are built out of bindings and glue. That your lamps stay on well into the dark. That you might wish to fly a kite or dig a hydrangea into the ground, but kindly turn pages instead.
When I started this blog six years ago, I imagined it to be a place where I would muse out loud about the world, its words, its images. I'd write about my friends and my communities. I'd provide updates on my journeys. I'd share news about books I'd somehow stumbled upon. I'd have fun.
I didn't imagine that a blog could become so pressing. That it could become more overwhelming than any job.
But indeed it has. For longer than I can remember now I've been crushed beneath the weight of requests, queries, books sent my way for blog review or blurbs. Yesterday in the space of a single half hour, five requests came in. In the morning there were two. A typical day in blog land.
The thing is: I want to make everybody happy. I want to make each day a gift. I want to read these books and write about them, but I have run out of time. Even sleeping three hours at night I'm behind. Even setting my own work to the side most days, which I have been doing forever now in an attempt to get square with the requests.
It occurs to me that I can't catch up. That as beautiful as so many of these books undoubtedly are, as deserving, I'll never be able to cover them all. Even if I never again stepped foot outside. Or did my day job. Or taught my students. Or washed my hair. Or paid my taxes.
And so, going forward, I'll have to say no to many things I wish I didn't have to say no to. And I will hope all of you understand. And I hope, too, that you will know how grateful I've been for the care you've given my own work. Certainly I'll still be covering books here—books I've bought, books I've requested, books by true dear friends. But I'll have to rearrange the piles in order to finally get clear.
In the meantime, I will always be grateful to people like Keertana, the creator of Ivy Book Bindings. She, like so many book bloggers, does this work far better than I can. Recently, for example, she found her way to Small Damages
and kindly asked me to share something of its history as well as my own recommendations for recent historical/literary reads. She has woven all that together beautifully here
. Her blog is well worth linking to.
You want to hold onto those words. They took so much of your time—time you didn't have, time you stole—and besides, you liked them once. You were proud of them. You thought they did the trick.
Newsflash: They don't. And also: The story doesn't work. And also: Where were your ears? Were they not hearing your poor patterns, your stiff prose? Sure you have excuses (didn't you just say you had no time?), but nobody who reads your bad book will care. Nobody saw you sweating for time.
Do not think a little fix here or there will suffice. Do not count the hours you've already spent. The only thing that matters is the book you finally share.
Make it one you love because that's the only shot you have of somebody else loving it, too.
Do not compromise.
This week, Beth Kephart started again.
Our No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing
18 West 18th Street
New York, New York
You want books?
You want fine?
You want signatures?
You want to meet me and some of my friends?
Jessica Brody (Unremembered, Macmillan)
Marisa Calin (Between You and Me, Bloomsbury)
Jen Calonita (The Grass is Always Greener, LB)
Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding, Scholastic)
Caela Carter (Me, Him, Them, and It, Bloomsbury)
Crissa Chappell (Narc, Flux)
Susane Colasanti (Keep Holding On, Penguin)
Zoraida Cordova (The Vicious Deep, Sourcebooks)
Gina Damico (Scorch, HMH)
Jocelyn Davies (A Fractured Light, HC)
Sarah Beth Durst (Vessel, S&S)
Gayle Forman (Just One Day, Penguin)
Elizabeth Scott (Miracle, S&S)
T. M. Goeglein (Cold Fury, Penguin)
Hilary Weisman Graham (Reunited, S&S)
Alissa Grosso (Ferocity Summer, Flux)
Aaron Hartzler (Rapture Practice, LB)
Deborah Heiligman (Intentions, RH)
Leanna Renee Hieber (The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, Sourcebooks)
Jeff Hirsch (Magisterium, Scholastic)
J. J. Howard (That Time I Joined the Circus, Scholastic)
Alaya Johnson (The Summer Prince, Scholastic)
Beth Kephart (Small Damages, Penguin)
Kody Keplinger (A Midsummer’s Nightmare, LB)
A.S. King (Ask the Passengers, LB)
Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14, Macmillan)
David Levithan (Every Day, RH)
Barry Lyga (Yesterday Again, Scholastic)
Brian Meehl (Suck it Up and Die, RH)
Alexandra Monir (Timekeeper, RH)
Michael Northrop (Rotten, Scholastic)
Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars, HC)
Lindsay Ribar (The Art of Wishing, Penguin)
Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, St. Martin’s)
Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface, S&S)
Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me a Sign, Bloomsbury)
Victoria Schwab (The Archived, Hyperion)
Jeri Smith-Ready (Shine, S&S)
Amy Spalding (The Reece Malcolm List, Entangled)
Stephanie Strohm (Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, HMH)
Nova Ren Suma (17 & Gone, Penguin)
Greg Takoudes (When We Wuz Famous, Macmillan)
Mary Thompson (Wuftoom, HMH)
Jess Verdi (My Life After Now, Sourcebooks)
K.M. Walton (Empty, S&S)
Suzanne Weyn (Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters, Scholastic)
Kathryn Williams (Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, Macmillan)
View Next 25 Posts
Even if the glazing on your bisqued pottery looks like the faded Victorian pillow you would hide if friends were coming, even if you ruin the final grapevine sequence of a tango in front of 300 very wealthy people who weren't really watching anyway, even if you finally think you're harnessing your novel until you read page 61 at 3:37 in the morning and page 61 is not so very excellent, even if you need a haircut and are going to NYC without one,
Hold your head up high.