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Last weekend we took part in a community garage sale that was massive - 200+ houses with maps handed out and hamburgers and hotdogs sold and people walking from house to house pulling along wagons to load up at each stop. In preparation I went through every last inch of the house. Every.Last.Inch. You would not believe the little weird crap we found around here. (Or maybe you would!)
The biggest pile - the most difficult to pull together - was the books. I was pretty ruthless, not because I had to be but because I wanted to be. My son had aged out of a lot of his books so we had a ton there to sell but I had plenty that I have moved from house to house to house and while they are good books and I did enjoy reading them, I just got tired of trying to make the space.
So I sold them. I sold a freaking ton of books.
What's left are books I use as research or have deep sentimental attachment to (belonged to my father, gifts from my Great Uncle Ben, childhood books like Little Women that I have had forever), and also some great big coffee table books that I never tire of. It was interesting to pick and choose the novels I couldn't part with, some obvious (Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials which my son will love soon enough), some as lessons in how to write well (Glaciers by Alexis Smith, nearly everything by Andrea Barrett) and some that just always make me happy (Tam Lin by Pamela Dean - never gets old).
Plus Ray Bradbury. Of course.
There are still hundreds of books in my office but it's a lot more open, a lot easier to navigate and a lot more.....significant. These are books that matter, not just books I have. They probably only matter to me, but that's okay. For the first time in ages I don't feel overwhelmed when I walk into that space which is a very good thing.
Plus, now I've got all that room on the shelves to fill........... *grin*.
What I'm Reading:
Weeds: A Farm Daughter's Lament for Booklist. It's part of the American Lives Series, from the Univ of Nebraska Press. Interesting stuff.
The Magic Circle by my friend Jenny Davidson. I started it and then got buried under a ton of Booklist titles so had to set it aside. Now I'm back at the beginning as I had forgotten where I left off! More on this later, obviously.
Brewster* by Mark Slouka. I tweeted about this one a few days ago - unreal. It's going to be all over the place come award time, mark my words. It will be reviewed in my September column and it is the most heart-ripping, intense, honest coming-of-age story for young men that I have come across in ages. I have about 25 pages left and I know what's coming (or that something bad is coming) and I so wish it didn't have to be but there's no other way out for these characters. Keep your eyes peeled for Brewster (due in August); it's such an American story and although set during the Vietnam period will still 100% resonate with readers today. (Also - published for adults but an obvious older teen crossover as that is the age of the main characters.)
Give me a moment - still reeling from that one.
What I'm Reviewing:
Mister Orange by Truus Matti. This middle grade title from Enchanted Lion is set during WW2 in NYC and conflates a family drama with the young protagonist's discovery of art. Using the real story of Piet Mondrian as its inspiration, this is one reminded me of Sidney Taylor's All-Of-A-Kind Family books crossed with some Andy Warhol. It's sweet and kind and quietly surprising. Look for the review in my September column as well.
What I'm Writing:
A crazy amount of stuff I need to write starting with the introduction to a long out of print book that is returning, much to my joy. (More on this later.) Also articles about how the bush pilot myth is perpetuated by writers who visit AK, about Don Sheldon & Bradford Washburn flying on Denali, on a new photography book coming out with some pics of AK aircraft wrecks and an interview with AK author Jan Harper-Haines (whose uncle was the first man to summit Denali almost 100 years ago).
All of that, of course, is professional-type writing for other folks.
For me, there are two things - one about flying in mountains and pins on maps and getting lost and found (in more ways than on) and one on the naming of mountains and a man who claimed them. It's all good, promise.
*Be warned - the dog dies. (Yeah, I knew she would from the first time she showed up and I kept reading anyway. Dammit.)
What I'm Reading:
Still reading Pain, Parties, Work: Syliva Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder. I had to set it aside while I'm researching some articles on aviation topics as this is for a fall column (like Sept). But I'm hoping to get back to it this weekend.
A Box of Photographs by Roger Grenier. A short NF title on the author's own family photographs as well as the cultural history of photography. It's rather compulsively readable for me as I continue to go through thousands (!) of family photos. Plus, the pics inside are really quite charming.
Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dweller by Kirsten Miller. I was thinking of this for July but I think it will fit better in August as an adventure-type column. It's Kiki and crew and it's all the goodness of girl detectives with BONUS international intrigue this time. Just fun for MG readers.
The End of Night by Paul Bogard. For Booklist - a cultural history of artificial city lights which sounds dull but is really quite interesting. I'm learning a lot!
What I'm Reviewing:
September Girls by Bennett Madison. More on this in the next month or so, but it is one of my favorite reads thus far this year. A modern and dark/brittle take on the mermaid legend. It's for older teens (lots of cussing) and it's perfectly for older teens - exactly as a 17 year old boy would think as romance looms large and his family seems to be teetering on the brink and nothing - nothing at all - makes sense. The family bits really impressed me; there is a lot more coming-of-age going on here than any paranormal romance. Fantastic.
What I'm writing:
A bunch of stuff going up at Alaska Dispatch in coming days. I'm writing an article over the next few days about some guys recovering a B-25 off a sandbar outside of Fairbanks and a couple of other shortish pieces about some fly-ins this spring and summer. I've got some long pieces in the early planning stages - and I found a killer copy of American Alpine Journal from 1959 (!!!) with a history of the naming of several of Alaska's most famous peaks. It is so perfect to an article I am working on about the first climber to die on Denali which is also for my next book (much expanded). What a score. I do love well organized used bookstores!
What I'm reading
The Reenactments by Nick Flynn. This is pretty amazing. It's a memoir of the period when Flynn's book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City was being made into a movie starting Robert De Niro (called Being Flynn - here is Roger Ebert's review). The chapters are only a few pages long and each page has only a paragraph or two on it. So it's not a cohesive narrative - more a bunch of memories, thoughts, flights of fancy, all grounded in what Flynn was experiencing as the movie was made. (Since it includes Julianne Moore portraying his mother who killed herself with a gun, the experience was pretty intense.) I'm just loving it - very thoughtful reading.
The Pink Sari Revolution by Amana Fontanella-Khan. For Booklist, this is incredibly timely. It's a topic that never gets easy to read about though.
September Girls by Bennett Madison. Just barely began this one but it's a beach read with mysterious beautiful girls (mermaids?) and Bennett...well, he's a writer who never lets me down. I'm looking to include it in my July column.
The Last Full Measure by Jack Campbell. I had to set this alt history set during the 1860s down as I had a pile of Booklist titles to get through. But I'm thinking now I will include it in either my August or September columns. It's really fun.
Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder. Also just barely started this one but I'm thinking my September column. I find Plath endlessly interesting, less for how she died then the struggle of how she lived. It just wasn't easy to be a woman in that time (she's just a few years older than my mother) and to be a creative, passionate one - so tough. I'm looking forward to reading this.
What I'm Reviewing:
Just started my July column with Below by Meg McKinlay. I have an endless fascination with landscapes that are altered by intentional flooding for damns. I don't know why but the choice to bury someplace under water - it really gives me pause. In Below, which is a great young teen mystery/coming-of-age, McKinlay has nicely woven the story of a girl trying to come into her own with a look at how history is remembered and how facts can be manipulated. Plus there's a nifty mystery. It's a nice little read and In enjoyed it.
What I'm writing
My latest piece in my series on aviation on Mt McKinley is up at Alaska Dispatch, this time on the first aircraft landing in 1932. (More on this later as it involves one of my all time favorite bush pilots, Joe Crosson.) Now I'm reading on Bradford Washburn so I can have that piece ready to next week to my editors. But I'm also reading more about Allen Carpe, the expedition leader from 1932 who was lost in a crevasse. He was a very interesting man - completely in the vein of the 19th century scientist/explorer. I'm hoping to find enough about him to write some more because I'm just not ready to let him go yet. I'll keep you posted on how the research goes.
What I'm reading:
Below by Meg McKinlay (for the July column). I am still working with an outdoors/summer theme for July but it's turning into something water-related. Below is a perfect example - it looked like an offbeat title about a ghost town that was submerged in the creation of a manmade lake but with all the swimming going on, I'm thinking July just might end up being about swimsuit related reading. (This is how themes are developed in case you were wondering.)
The Last Full Measure by Jack Campbell (not sure where this will be reviewed). A novella set in alternate mid-nineteenth century history where southern politicians control the military and a politician from Illinois is imprisoned while a crew of West Point grads with names like Winfield Scott and Lewis Armistead and James Longstreet join forces with a professor from Bowdoin College named Joshua Chamberlain to break him out. It's just - smart and cool and fun. I never get tired of playing with history.
Wild Ones by Joe Mooallem (for Booklist). All I can say is that I'm already depressed about starving polar bears. Next chapters are on butterflies. God help me.
What I'm Reviewing:
Rocket Girl by George Morgan (for Booklist). Very timely after the whole NYT rocket scientist obit dramarama. All I can say is that it was really really hard to be a woman into rocketry in the 1950s.
Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak (for September column) (maybe August). Partly a mystery, partly coming-of-age, some slight romance that becomes more significant but mostly a book about grief and confusion and family. Also, Emily Dickinson (always a good thing). The big thing about this title is not so much the story (which is great) but how it is written (which is incredibly subtle and elegant and unique). I am now a big fan of this author.
What I'm writing:
I have several emails out for some aviation articles; It's always hard to be patient and wait to hear from folks. (Why can't the world wait for my phone calls??!!) I'm also reading National Geographic articles by Bradford Washburn in the 1930s and 1950s for two upcoming articles on climbing Mt McKinley. There is nothing that beats going back to the source, plus I love paging through old Geographics - talk about getting a deep peak at the world as it was. Awesome.
And an essay on climbing/flying/mountain-y stuff. Who knows if it will work for where I plan to send it, but it fits the theme and it is what I know. Plus, it's an excuse to read about climbing/flying/mountain-y stuff and that NEVER gets old!
First, the new issue of Bookslut is up and includes my column on biographies (and biographical essays) for teens. Lots of good stuff in there on Yoko Ono, the Carter Family, the Brontes (talk about tragic!), some good scientists trying to save the wild horse population, and more. All highly recommended, of course.
For aviation types, I have a short post up at Alaska Dispatch on new flight time standards in the wake of the Colgan Air Crash in 2009.
Also, King Lear in Gwich'in!!!! This is so made of awesome I don't know where to begin.
And now, what I read recently and can't stop thinking about:
I am a big fan of magazines and long form journalism in general. I highly recommend Garden & Gun, Orion, Smithsonian and National Geographic, all fabulous in different ways. But my heart belongs very much to Yankee, a magazine my father subscribed to forever (really) and always reminds me of my Rhode Island side of the family. (An item on my dream writing list is to be published in Yankee.)
In the current issue, Howard Mansfield has two pieces, "My Roots Are Deeper Than Your Pockets" and "I Will Not Leave: Eminent Domain in Ascuteny, Vermont". Both deal with sense of place, with the attachment to and affection for the land and both are quintessential Mansfield. I've been a fan of his for a very long time - for the exceedingly authentic New England flavor to his writing and for the eloquence in which he captures the lives of people he meets and places he visits. Here's a bit of "I Will Not Leave" about Romaine Tenney and his tragic battle in the 1960s not to have to sell his farm due to progress:
Romaine's story stands as a regret. Romaine stands as the lost and the last; he's the lost authentic life, the unrecoverable past. He's as vanished as the road under our wheels at 65mph. We know that "all is change"--yet we don't know that. It's the truth we don't want to acknowledge. We want Romaine to be there on his farm forever. He is the Vermont we want to believe in. As his niece Gerri wrote, "He not only ... represented what Vermont stood for, but also unwittingly took so many of us to task to do the same." We want the old life, accessible, and we want the new things. Why do we have to give up one for the other? Regret is the literature of progress.
I return to Mansfield's collection Bones of the Earth every couple of years. It is a lesson in the best way to capture sense of place in your writing and quite enjoyable, interesting writing to boot. (It's an obvious win for New Englanders but anyone interested in historical preservation is going to like it.)
I was quite pleased to see these Yankee pieces online - it's a chance for folks new to Mansfield to get a taste of his writing (and also to get fired up about the struggle to keep your land). Mansfield is a writer who is criminally overlooked in my opinion; anything I can do to shine a light on his work is time well spent.
More on all of Mansfield's books at his website; he has a new title, Dwelling in Possibility, due out this fall.
Recent revelations on the writing front:
Last week I discovered that while my book did sell out of its first printing and go into a second, the print run on that first printing was dramatically smaller than I had been led to believe. Dramatically. This has left me reeling a bit as while I still sold out, I didn't sell out on a level that is anything impressive and honestly after all the work I did to sell those copies (travel, speak, send a thousand emails), and after the pretty big notice it received (starred review, NPR summer choice, great Air & Space review), it still sold only a few thousand [low thousands] copies.
So I'm wondering just what all the trying hard is really for.
My editor left after the 2nd printing, my agent has just left the business and while I have some emails & recall lots of conversations telling me that first nice round figure for the initial printing, now no one seems to know how I could have been so misinformed. And there's no one to challenge on it because, well, they're all gone. And really, what's the point anyway? The numbers are what they are and the book is still a wonderful thing and does any of it matter but that?
I should say no right now, shouldn't I?
MAP is now out in paperback (with over 2,000 on that print run) (I think). The paperback is really really lovely (Air & Space quote on cover!) and, well, that's it. But was it worth all of it? Or more importantly, now that I've done it once, now that I know I can write a book and get published and get positive notice, do I need to do this again?
Can I afford to do this again?
I'm not sure at the moment. I know that writing for Alaska Dispatch is a good thing, a paid-for thing (for all those "writing for free" folks who might be wondering), and there are other essay-type paying outlets I'm trying for and maybe that's enough.
I'll let you know what I decide.
Meanwhile: What I'm reviewing right now:
Antarctica: A Biography
by David Day and Full Upright and Locked Position
by Mark Gerchick, both for Booklist (both as you would expect from the titles); Hidden Things
by Doyce Testerman, an urban fantasy/noir mash-up that was published for adults but turns out to be an excellent crossover for teens - all about childhood and rebelling as a teen and how you never really can forget where you come from. This will be in the June column.
Let's see, also Escape Theory by Margaux Froley, a boarding school murder mystery also for the June column. (Fun in every way you expect with a great cast and I happily turned every page and look forward to more Keaton School skullduggery.) And The Lewton Experiment by Rachel Sa which I will discuss here this week and had some serious potential to be a very fun spin on big box stores and blind consumerism but got bogged down by tacking on a truly forgettable romance that seems to be here only because someone somewhere convinced the author she had to have it. Note to all YA authors: you don't have to have it. Trust me.
What I'm reading right now:
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan which everyone and their cousin has already read but I put off as it is for my June column. So far, I'm loving the Nancy Drew girl detective spin, and the Scoobies in their clubhouse/classroom solving crime bits. The jury's still out on the paranormal stuff (I'm cautious - I've been down this road before and burned by YA titles)
Also, Rocket Girl: The Story of America's First Female Rocket Scientist by George Morgan for Booklist. (I can't believe this story, or that no one knows this story); Soundings by Hali Felt (got this for Christmas - first read about Maria Tharp in They Made Their Mark and have been curious ever since - she's as interesting as I hoped); When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams which is gorgeous both in style and design, really really something and The Little Book of Lettering which will be a "cool read" in a column later this summer and I'm enjoying immensely as it is so very pretty. (The beauty of having your own column is that you get to indulge your inner typography geek.)
And I'm working on an article about Joe Crosson who was the first pilot to land on Mt McKinley in 1932 and I'm tracking the provenance of Ben Eielson's first aircraft in AK so I can ask some folks a few intelligent questions about it before it's hung in the Fairbanks airport and I'm lately very intrigued about the existence of a map in an air force base outside of Anchorage which includes push pins noting the locations of some of the earliest crash sites in the state. It's decades old but still there. I have to see it and I will write about it.
And I'm trying to figure out how to write about a pilot you've never heard of but managed to be at ground zero for several historical moments. He's the Forrest Gump of the flying north. Really. How do you resist as story like that?
I am, at the moment (and yes this has changed in the last couple of days) reading three books for Booklist (one on commercial aviation, one on the history of Antarctica and one travel/memoir on Alaska), one for my June column (another YA mystery from Soho Press) and Soundings, for myself (still sublime). Plus there is the War issue of Tinhouse (which includes a Samantha Hunt short story and thus I had to have it) and several magazines all of which showed up at once and are glossy and thus irresistible.*
So, I'm flitting from one book to another with three Booklist reviews due in April (and two more on deck after those), the mystery column begging for attention (as those books are really like candy at this point - so much fun to read) and stacks of research surrounding me that I dive into every day, mining for the exact facts and figures I know are there and now am ready to insert in the appropriate places.**
And I'm writing about the affect aviation has had on climbing Mt McKinley. Short answer = a lot. (You probably knew that already.) I love this topic though - love combining aviation and climbing history and really love writing about Joe Crosson because I don't think enough people know about him. (He was the first pilot to land on McKinley.)
This has to be the most scattered blog post ever.
The one unexpected surprise I'm dealing with in writing the new book - the Mountain Book - is finding my voice. It's so weird to look for a voice in nonfiction (you would think it would just be MY voice) but I know what I have is not right. The words are stiff, hollow - flat on the page. I keep putting them down so the bones are there, so I know where I'm going, but it's a draft with no soul.
SO BLOODY FRUSTRATING. (End rant.)
Reading and writing will continue. It's the only way to find my voice, I just wish the sucker wasn't hiding so far away these days.
*And the Andrea Barrett continues but slowly, sparingly; I don't want to rush it. Archangel is so wonderful - can't recommend it enough.
** I actually have a phone call to make tomorrow to confirm that a list is kept of notable wrecks in Merrill Pass so search and rescue does not launch every time one of them is sited again. Some are 50 years old.
What I'm reading now:
Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt. Really interesting biography of an unorthodox geologist and underwater cartographer. I'm loving how Felt wrote this book - she had to insert herself into it but explains how and why throughout the text. It's...like no other biography I've read; great stuff.
Chasing Alaska: A Portrait of the Last Frontier Then and Now by CB Bernard. For Booklist, so I can't say but the premise is quite intriguing.
What I just finished:
Deviant by Helen Fitzgerald. One of the titles from the new YA imprint at Soho Press. It's a conventional thriller in some regards - there is a conspiracy, the protagonist must figure things out, murders occur, etc. But the fact that it is conventional is part of what made me enjoy it so much. This is an actual teen mystery where absolutely nothing paranormal happens. It's all about a nefarious plot and there is a chase and sneaking into rooms at night and lying to cover your tracks and, well, pretty much what you expect in a mystery which makes Deviant so bloody refreshing. Most enjoyable - great protagonist! - will be reviewed in my June column.
Last week was mostly about another fatality crash in Alaska. I have things to write about that crash, things to write about flying in AK that are unrelated to crashing and just...things to write. It feels hard this week; so I need to try harder.
1. Prompted by his recent crash, Richard Bach has completed his long intended final part to the bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I read this ages ago but had no idea there was supposed to be more. I imagine a revised/expanded edition of the classic will be appearing next year.
2. Rebecca Stott* writes in Smithsonian about the impact Darwin's home had on his writing (this is truly a lovely piece) and also in the upcoming issue, William Souder salutes the efforts of Minna Hall and Harriet Hemenway to end the feather trade that was decimating bird species. (There is a fabulous picture book about them, She's Wearing a Dead Bird on her Head!, by Kathryn Lasky; highly recommended.)
3. Everything you ever wanted to know about the seedy Tampa Bay scandal that brought down Gen Petraeus. I have to say, Town & Country is really the best place for this sort of "attempt at climbing the rungs of society" type article. Also, if anyone really doubts why the Kelly sisters were popular with older men after reading this then they are purposely being obtuse. (Pretty flirting women are apparently all the married brass wants.) SIGH.
4. Also, the woman who inspired Hemingway's "Snows of Kilimanjaro". (One of my all time favorites, and clearly a more honest portrayal then one might think.)
What I am reviewing right now:
Six Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente for my May column. (HOLY CRAP - this was amazing, flat out majestic from start to finish.) (Also best ending ever.) (Also - I have a very skewed perspective on William Randolph Hearst now.) The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley for my May column. (Steampunk/Alt Hist coolness, lots of mentions of Ada Lovelace - yea! - two great teen protagonists, several fine female characters, quirkiness all around and more than one killer twist. FLAT OUT FUN.) Tiger Babies Strike Back, for Booklist. (And yes - the cover is certainly demanding a comparison to Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, isn't it?) Infestation by Timothy Bradley for my May column. (Holes meets every "B" monster movie from the 1950s ever made. Tween/young teen boys are going to fly through this one in a matter of hours; it's perfectly crazy and full of smart realistic enjoyable characters.)
What I'm reading now:
Archangel by Andrea Barrett. It's....wonderful. The first story includes Glenn Curtiss' history-making flight in the June Bug and that is only one small part of what makes "The Investigators" one of my favorite reads in ages. If you are a Barrett fan you will be overjoyed with this collection and if you aren't then you are really and truly missing something special.
Also: That Mad Game: Growing Up In a Warzone for my April column (on nonfiction); Imperial Dreams by Tim Gallagher (on tracking the Imperial Woodpecker) for Booklist and the urban fantasy Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman which is proving to be a noir detective/horror/fantasy mash-up in the best possible way. Not sure where a review for this will fit yet, but I'll be talking about it somewhere.
What I'm writing:
I recently had a short personal essay on flying in the Brooks Range accepted by Alaska Magazine, more on that when it runs this fall. I'm working on two separate sections of the western/mountain book - one on Russ Merrill finding a path through the Alaska Range and one on Frederick Cook's ill-fated climb up Mt McKinley. I'm going to try and submit one of these as a standalone to a literary magazine - but no jinxing by divulging too much here :). And finally, I'm writing about the Iditarod Air Force for my new job as a contributor to the Alaska Dispatch Bush Pilot blog. I've had several pieces up there already in the last two weeks including a couple on a recent crash in Rainy Pass.
* I received Stott's book, Darwin's Ghosts, for my birthday, but haven't read it yet.
What I'm reading right now:
That Mad Game: Growing Up In A Warzone edited by JL Powers. A collection of essays from conflicts past and present around the world. It's written for teens and will be in my April column. Really interesting stuff - great mix of voices and locations - some are stronger than others but overall it's really a must have for NF collections.
The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest. Finally back to this book! It's another entry in her Clockwork Century series, set in Seattle and focused on three teenage boys and their hunt for something wicked bad in the streets of this near-abandoned, polluted and seriously scary city. Perfect for teens - and yep, I love it.
Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman. This is one of those books that came up in a conversation at ALA Midwinter. I was talking about the new Charles de Lint MG novel, Kate Testerman mentioned he blurbed her husband's recent book, I asked what it was about, she mentioned something about urban fantasy and private detectives and I was gone.
Tiger Babies Strike Back by Kim Wong Keltner. Sort of a tongue-in-cheek revenge against the whole Tiger Mom madness from a year ago with a lot about growing up Chinese American. This one is for Booklist.
Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds by Lyndall Gordon. Got this one for Xmas and although it's kinda slow for me, I'm digging learning about Dickinson. I know so little about her - I remember learning a few of her poems in school but not much beyond that.
What I'm reviewing:
Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies by Nell Beram and Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky. For my April column and really really amazing. I can't recommend this one enough. Her story is compelling, the design is first class, the photos are great - I love it. It's pretty much pitch perfect.
Also, I'm working on the "Cool Read" for my March column...but not 100% sure on which book that will be yet. (I'm leaning towards this one.)
What I'm writing:
I have joined the staff of the Alaska Dispatch, an online news magazine out of Anchorage. I'm writing AK flying stuff for their Bush Pilot blog. I'm working on a post about a 727 that has been donated to the university aviation program and also looking at some accident data from past years to pick up some trends and pulling some literary references to aviation from AK books. It's a nice gig; we'll see how I do over there as I get more used to writing topical stuff again.
And I'm working on a magazine piece for somewhere else - until it's accepted I don't want to say where (and face humiliation!). I'm also trying to rewrite something that was rejected at one place to submit it to another. And finally for the western book I'm deep in the [mis]adventures of Frederick Cook on Mt Mt McKinley more than 100 years ago. Short story is he said he got to the top of the mountain and he didn't. Or most people know he didn't but some still think it's true. This all fits into the flying stuff too, I swear. Really.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen....I am tired. I think it will take me a full week to recover from ALA Midwinter madness. If one must be tired though, this was a killer way to exhaust myself! In lieu of a thoughtful post (and I do have some brewing), here is a rundown of many books I caught a glimpse of that I wanted to share. (Please note though that there were several titles already on my radar - especially from First Second, Chronicle & Abrams, that I don't mention here. More on those in upcoming columns.)
1. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess. I saw this at the Little Brown breakfast and it is stunning; an illustrated MG Appalachian fairy tale that is a perfect match between author and artist. From the copy: In this whimsical, original folktale written and illustrated throughout in vibrant full color by two celebrated masters of modern fantasy, a young girl's journey becomes an enchanting coming-of-age story about magic, friendship, and the courage to shape one's own destiny.
2. Mister Orange translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson, illus by Jenni Desmond. An intriguing sounding MG title set in NYC during WWII about a boy who takes over his older brother's delivery job and meets an eccentric customer called "Mister Orange" who is ultimately revealed as the painter Piet Mondrian. Their meetings and conversations provide the coming-of-age element to the story - all about life, war and the "freedom to create".
3. Weird Sea Creatures by Erich Hoyt. Major cool illustrated title on the animals that live in the depths of the ocean. The photos are amazing; I honestly can not get enough of this kind of thing, it's endlessly fascinating. (Ages 10 & up but really there's no age for this kind of book.)
4. My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks! A collection of stories and advice from more than 100 teens who faced this crisis and the experts who helped them. Not a novel, not a candy-colored vision of illness but the real deal. Should be mandatory reading for everyone who seeks to romanticize disease.
5. Archangel by Andrea Barrett. I'm cheating a bit with this one as the book was not physically available yet, but I chatted with the WW Norton rep all about it and I'm just delighted to see Barrett return to the short story. From the copy: The first motorized bicycles, the first aeroplanes, the first amateur studies of genetics--twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd has his eyes opened to an unfolding world of scientific discovery in "The Investigators." In "The Ether of Space," "The Island," and "The Particles," young women and men passionate about the workings of the natural world experience the shock waves of Einstein's, Darwin's, and Mendel's work. And in "Archangel," Constantine Boyd returns as a soldier on the desolate fringes of Russia in 1919, where even the newly discovered magic of X-ray technology fails to offer the insight that might protect humans from the stupidity of war.
6. Brewster by Mark Slouka. An adult novel that looks to have crossover potential for older teens, the tagline here is about "two teenage boys and their hopes to escape from a dead-end town." It's set in 1968 and holds comparisons to Richard Russo and Andre Dubus III. I'm very interested by how common the theme sounds because it is something so many of us feel as teenagers but so few authors seem to capture well.
7. The Lego Minifigure Character Encyclopedia. My son is eleven; he screamed when I called him from the Exhibition Hall floor to tell him this was due out this spring.
8. Basher History: The U.S. Presidents. This is out now and is as good as the other classic Basher titles. Some of the YALSA teens wandered by when I was in the Kingfisher booth and they went nuts over the Basher books - scooping up posters of the Periodic Table and calling their friends over to see them. My geeky self was delighted and I'll be getting this book, like so many of the others, for my son for sure.
9. September Girls by Bennett Madison. Bennett is a favorite author of mine and I've heard good things about this one - it's one of the few ARCs I sought out over the weekend. This summer beach novel centers around teenage Sam and the mysterious beautiful girls he meets. It's a mermaid story but also about "oblivious parents, sibling rivalry, first loves..." It's called darkly imaginative and painfully honest - this just might be the mermaid tale I've been waiting for.
10. East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris. This jewel of a book (and I hope to review it along with de Lint's title in some kind of column down the line), is as lush and beautiful as it gets. From the copy: From the moment she saw him, she knew the bear had come for her. How many times had she dreamt of the bear.... Now, here he was, as if spelled from her dreams. "I will come with you, Bear," she said. It is the beginning of an extraordinary journey for the girl. First to the bears secret palace in faraway mountains, where she is treated so courteously, but where she experiences the bears unfathomable sadness, and a deep mystery...As the bears secret unravels, another journey unfolds... a long and desperate journey, that takes the girl to the homes of the four Winds and beyond, to the castle east of the sun, west of the moon.
11. Doll Bones by Holly Black. I have no idea how I did not know about this one - no idea at all - but here it is due out from McElderry in May and it involves scary dolls. (GAH!!!!) For MG readers, here's the description: Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they've been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.
But they are in middle school now. Zach's father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she's been having dreams about the Queen and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.
Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen's ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?
12. Fifty Machines That Changed the Course of History by Eric Chaline. Part of a four book series that includes animals, minerals and the upcoming plants (which was stolen from their booth), these are very similar in format to DK or Thames & Hudson titles in the best way. As DK does so well, there is great information, short chapters and heavily illustrated pages but like Thames & Hudson, these have a more scholarly old world feel that makes them great for older teens and adults. Even the pages felt wonderful; really something special.
13. There is a stack of mysteries from Soho Press that is too much for here - I'm going to post a separate survey of them next week. If you love mysteries though, for adults or teens, you need to head over to their website and check them out.
14. And from the notes in my phone: Plague in the Mirror by Deborah Noyes, a time travel paranormal between the present day and 14th century Florence; Bad Girls, Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, etc. by Jane Yolen, a NF collection of short biographies and The Theory of Everything by JJ Johnson, about the longterm impact of grief. I was looking this one over and browsing the Peachtree booth when a librarian came up and positively raved about it. From the copy: Fifteen-year-old Sarah has been acting like a different person ever since she witnessed the gruesome accident that killed her best friend, Jamie. Sarah's grades are plunging, her sarcastic attitude is putting her family on edge, and she can't escape the feeling that life is random and meaningless. Sarah's turning point comes after she meets middle-aged Roy, who owns a Christmas tree farm where Sarah begins to work. Readers will easily relate to Sarah's use of cynicism as a defense mechanism -- her sharp-witted voice sets the tone for a story that's truly tragicomic. Equally entertaining are the hand-drawn graphs and diagrams that appear throughout (texts, stern lectures, tense silence, and breakfast constitute the bulk of a pie chart about Sarah's communication with her mother). The changes within Sarah are real and moving, and the open ending underscores the idea that although death may be certain, life is full of surprises.
15. I could go on and on and on but these are the standouts. More to follow as I go thru the Soho catalog and sort out the books reviewed in two recent issues of Booklist. Also, what I'm reading, what I'm reviewing and what I'm writing about (airplanes and mountains - big surprise).
Thanks to David Abrams and his best of 2012 reading list, I now have added several titles to my own wish list including Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, Misfit by Adam Braver and Dust to Dust by Benjamin Busch. Be sure to check out David's entire post - it's fantastic.
Amanda Palmer will be speaking at TED next month and in typical Amanda fashion blogged about it and asked her readers to weigh in on her speech ideas. The comments really must be read - tons of fascinating stuff there about how a creative person connects with her audience and what the audience values the most and how the internet and social media work for all of that. I'm still thinking about this and how it applies to authors in particular, but direct you to check out Amanda's blog right now.
Relatedly, Amanda's husband Neil Gaiman has a gut wrenching post up about the death of his dog Cabal. Read it at your own risk because the tears will flow.
This look by The Atlantic at scholarly articles written about Sex In The City (and especially the Carrie Bradshaw character) has got to be seen to be believed. Here's a bit:
Dana Heller's American Studies article "Sex and the Series: Paris, New York, and Post-National Romance" analyzes the sixth-season episode "An American Girl in Paris (Part Deux)" and declares it a modern manifestation of early American literature's "Indian captivity narrative" (you know--young, virginal white girl gets kidnapped by bloodthirsty Indians, then is saved by other heroic white people and/or the grace of God). Paris stands in for the "evil" Native Americans, Carrie plays the helpless, innocent captive, and Mr. Big is, uh... God.
Oh, how I laughed! I laughed and laughed and laughed!!
[Post pic of Mark Dion's "Maple Tree Library for Studious Birds". I honestly can not get enough of his work.]
So yesterday we finally got the tree off the wall and upright. Basically, it's so heavy it was bending the plastic tree stand. It's not a huge tree (7 feet) but apparently Colorado Spruce are the Hulk of the Christmas tree world. Who knew?
I'm writing three reviews for Booklist: The Forest House, Still Points North and Gaining Daylight: Life on Two Islands. I'm reading Economix, a killer gn for my January column. Everybody should read this book - it's smart and funny and I can't believe how much I'm learning. Expect to read lots of positive things about it from me.
I've got several reviews to finish this weekend for the graphic novel column: Johnny Hiro, Sumo, Escape to Gold Mountain and Darwin. I don't know how this column ended up being so nonfiction-y but it's made of awesome and I hope all of these books get more widely read.
I recently finished Gail Carriger's Timeless, the final entry in her Parasol Protectorate series. I really loved how this series started but the chemistry seemed off in this final entry - almost like Carriger was tired of Alexia and crew. I especially was disappointed by the diminished heat between Alexia and Conall - it's as if now that they were married and had a child, the relationship lost its romance. It still had some fun moments and I adored the twist for supporting character Biffy, but overall I think things ended with a whimper.
If you like your romance hot* and full of marvelous story, then I highly recommend the Tessa Dare Spindle Cove series - three books (starting with A Night to Surrender) in a somewhat traditional historical setting but full of chemistry and smartness and all sorts of unorthodox characters.
In other news, Jenny D. has received ARCs of her upcoming novel! Yea!!!
And, um, it looks like the second printing of my book is selling out. I'm sure the Air & Space review had something to do with that. Merry Christmas, indeed!
* Not hot in a Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-please-spank-me kind of way** but more than kisses and longing looks.
** Not that I'm judging the spank me crowd but, well. Enough said. Really.
First be sure to check out Molly Danger over at Kickstarter - this sounds like a project totally worth supporting and spreading the word on.
Edith Wharton by Annie Liebovitz! (I love Vogue for doing this.) (via Bookshelves of Doom)
Outstanding interview with teen blogger Tavi Gevinson at BUST. This is a really interesting piece as aside from the pop culture status Gevinson has attained she is just a fascinating person. I'm happy to see it in BUST but I wish it was in Seventeen or Teen Vogue although I imagine Gevinson's fans will find her wherever she is. It's the girls who don't know about her already that I'd like to reach though; it would have been life altering for me to have known of someone like this when I was 15.
This Vanity Fair piece on Microsoft losing its mojo is fascinating and really needs to be read even by folks not interested in business. It's about how a group of people can lose track of what matters not just in a corporate setting but personally. Really amazing.
Over at OUTSIDE this month, there is a column on gear made in America that is both heartening and smart - nice to see the tide turning and for solid economic reasons. Also, the current issue of BRICK has a searing piece by Jaspreet Singh on the November 1984 government sanctioned genocide against Sikhs in India. You can read Part I of it here and Part 2 here.
I am writing about the discovery of a mountain pass in 1927 and thinking a lot about men and mountains. I wish I knew what George Mallory was thinking when he climbed Everest but I suspect it was much more prosaic then most people imagine. Tonight I write a review for Booklist and work on the piece about house building books but through it all I will be thinking about Mallory and everyone else who went into the cold looking to get closer to the sun.
1. So yesterday was pretty darn huge from a writerly perspective. Nancy Pearl selected MAP as a Summer Read for NPR. This was a total bucket list moment and I can't begin to say what it means.
2. I plan to beam about this moment for a while. Like months. In case you were wondering.
3. I am happy to be reading positive reviews on the upcoming HBO movie about Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. If you are a Gellhorn fan (and you should be), you must check out this essay at The Millions on the letters Gellhorn exchanged with the author's grandmother. Great stuff on writing and motherhood and being a mid-century woman with dreams.
4. Neil Gaiman writes about the very romantic origin of one of Amanda Palmer's songs on her upcoming album. He also writes about a very expensive book that is part of her Kickstarter project. Those two really do things first class all the way. (I'm supporting the project by the way - but on the much lower CD level scale.)
5. I'm still freaking out about being on the NPR website.
6. SPACE X has successfully launched!!!
7. If you like zombie stories I highly recommend When Will You Rise by Mira Grant, upcoming from Sub Press. This novella freaked me out in a cold, calculating, completely believable, Stephen-King's-The-Stand kind of way. I don't really like zombie stories but I can't forget what Davis has done here. Check it out.
8. Outside magazine has an impressive piece of journalism up online about the recent deaths on Everest. This picture pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Look at that line up. Remove the snow it might as well be Disney. Crazy.
[Post pic by Ralf Dujmovits from Outside.]
1. A devastating and important account of a definitely innocent man executed in Texas. This is the reason why I struggle with the death penalty - because our justice system just is not good enough to handle it. (I cheered when Ted Bundy was put to death in Florida and I will never doubt that he deserved it but we make too many mistakes to justify those moments.) From The Atlantic:
Reading through the manuscript last weekend, jarred by what I was seeing, I began to jot down a list of things that went terribly wrong in the DeLuna case -- issues of fact, of evidence, of testimony, of motives, of incompetence, of indifference, of fraud, of morality, of integrity, of constitutionality -- that should have been raised and answered long before DeLuna was convicted, much less executed, back in the 1980s. I stopped when I got to 10.
2. Vogue looks at the HBO series on obesity in America:
No matter how expansive the scope, the documentary tugs hardest when showing interviews with those who suffer from obesity, who list their vitals with a crestfallen countenance that never gets easier to watch. "Food can be my best friend," explains a nearly 300-pound 28-year-old named Vivia, as her eyes well. "It can be my boyfriend, at the moment; a trip to the beach."
3. For the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring's publication, David Brinkley writes in Audubon about JFK and Rachel Carson:
When Silent Spring was at last published in book form on September 27, 1962, the chemical industry went ballistic. Kennedy instantly became Public Enemy No. 1 for propping up Silent Spring as worthy of serious attention. The National Agricultural Chemicals Association rushed its propaganda booklet "Fact and Fancy" into print. The nub of the counterattack was that Mr. Fancy (a.k.a. Kennedy) was an East Coast elite who yachted frivolously around Cape Cod, his treasured national seashore, while allowing DDT manufacturers to be unjustly vilified. The association warned that factory shutdowns would mean thousands of lost jobs. When Kennedy awarded Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey--a Food and Drug Administration scientist--a public service gold medal for discovering that thalidomide (a sedative frequently prescribed to pregnant women) caused deformities in babies, the pharmaceutical industry likewise felt blindsided. "It is all of a piece," Carson told The New York Post, "thalidomide and pesticides--they represent our willingness to rush ahead and use something new without knowing what the results are going to be."
We need another Rachel Carson about climate change, and we need her now.
4. I bought the new issue of Vanity Fair because Marilyn Monroe is on the cover. The story inside portrays her as so smart and yet so frustrated by what she can not control that it made me wince. The pictures are amazing - as they always are of Marilyn. She should have lived; she really deserved so much more than she got. Wasn't she just amazing? Wow.
1. Found this short piece in Nat Geo Traveler about a Newfoundlander turning to her island's history and culture to save the economy and was immediately impressed. Here's a bit:
I'm very concerned for Fogo and many other places suffering a flattening of culture, the loss of a sense of self. It happens when you're ripped away from home, from the natural world, and from your ancestors: people from Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, working out west as economic refugees in Alberta. As this happens, a little bit of us dies. I hope to help us remain shorefast on our rock. A shorefast is a tether that joins a cod trap to the shore and a metaphor for communities realizing the importance of holding on to physical place and tradition.
They are saving their small piece of the world which is, I think, one of the best things you can do for places you love and for yourself as well.
2. Amanda Palmer is exposing the music world to a new creative paradigm. Lots to think about here but it should be stressed that she has put years into building a trusting relationship with her fans - this kind of support doesn't show up overnight. (I am a fan and supporter.) I can't help but wonder about small presses and the "Amanda Palmer" example though. Could crowd sourcing be a way to bring more literature (overlooked by major pubs) to the masses? What a wonderful thought.
3. Are you reading The Contextual Life blog? I adore it and if you're thinking about some interesting new titles in pb then check out the latest entry. This is the first I've heard of Nom de Plum by Carmela Cluraru a book I now must read.
4. Kij Johnson finally (FINALLY) has a story collection coming out. It's from the fabulous Small Beer Press (of course!) and I'm thrilled to pieces to have an advanced copy. If you haven't read her short stories then you are really missing something. At the Mouth of the River of Bees includes all kinds of wonderful and I can't recommend Kij's stories enough. Just check out this cover - does it jump off the shelf or what?! More on this as I review it.....somewhere. I'll keep ya posted on that.
1. Slightly Foxed has released Dodie Smith's memoir Look Back With Love. Written when she was 78 years old, it is a reflection of her early childhood with her mother's family in early 20th century England. I am delighted to know that her upbringing included "...seaside trips, motorcar outings, fairgrounds, circuses, jokes, charades and musical soirees." This is exactly as I would wish the author of I Capture the Castle (and 101 Dalmatians) to have grown up.
2. I was remiss in failing to mention that the January issue of Bookslut went up with my column on realistic fiction which included Sara Zarr and Holly Cupala and Cecil Castellucci and James Proimos and Laurel Snyder and 2 more cracking YA mysteries from Norah McClintock. (Since it is practically the very end of January you likely already know all about the January issue of Bookslut but I wanted to make sure you knew!!)
3. I also missed posting about the new issue of Eclectica Magazine which included a round-up of biographies for kids. Have you seen "The Great Idea" series of picture book bios? Wonderful wonderful stuff - especially the latest on the girl who invented the standing paper bag. (And she had to go to court to prove that even though she was a woman the invention was hers because someone tried to steal it from her!)
I also reviewed ZAZEN in Eclectica which is where I got to write a line that made me very happy: If you are looking for a mash-up between the Portland grunge scene, Red Dawn and the live-for-the-moment attitude of the Weimar Republic (as portrayed in Cabaret), then I have the book for you.
Totally true, promise.
4. As for my book news, Omnivoracious had a review up of MAP last week that was pretty great and made my day.
Also I have an event in Bellingham, WA this Friday night at Village Books. If you are in western Washington and want to see a slide show full of icy cold airplanes, then it's where you need to be. (That picture they have of me is cropped in a way that looks very weird, don't you think?)
5. And what else? Well I'm working on essays about things that didn't make it into the book and that is proving to be more interesting than I thought. Everyone (meaning publisher/editor/agent types) wanted me to write essays and continue to hopefully make the book buzz build in its current steady slowburn kinda way but honestly I didn't want to do it at first. I said I would but mostly I wasn't planning to. I was just so bloody tired of this subject and even more than that I thought I didn't have anything left to say about it so writing more seemed like it would be faking. And then I talked to one of my good friends who is a pilot in the book and hardly ever reads books (he's a magazine kind of guy) and he read mine (for obvious reasons) and he had questions and thoughts and ideas and was....well....excited about it. And we got to talking about the stuff I was toying with for essays and he had some stories for me that fit in with those and, well, there you go. Just finished one very short one and sent it off and now I'm working on number 2 and there are 3 more in the wings.
And I realized I have another Alaskan flying book in me. It fits with the western book idea I was already working on but the perfect Alaska flying angle took me by surprise. Never would have thought it but
1. I am delighted by the news from Gwenda Bond of the sale of her YA novel, Blackthorn to Angry Robot (as part of a two book deal). Here is the summary:
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.
Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America's oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.
More on the new YA imprint from Angry Robot at io9.
2. I have just started Delia Sherman's Freedom Maze for my April column and have to tell you, as soon as I read the line about how "horses sweat but women glow", Ms Sherman had me heart and soul. That is such a classic southern saying - one that was used with no small amount of snark when I was growing up - (Lord do you sweat sitting on the vinyl seats of a car with no air conditions - LORD DO YOU SWEAT!). I feel like I'm already halfway home with this one. Looking forward to reading and reviewing it.
3. I have now read both of Elizabeth Hand's upcoming titles, the adult mystery Available Dark and the teen urban fantasy Radiant Days. I was already staggered by her previous publishing duet - the YA title Illyria and the mystery Generation Loss but now....well now I am in a place of abject joy. Radiant Days will be in my April column an I'll be writing about both books here soon (still getting my thoughts in order), but if you are a writer interested at all in your craft then you should read the work of Elizabeth Hand. Her use of language is stunning but it's how she manages to switch so easily from the brittle brutality of Available Dark to the lush romance of creativity unbound in Radiant Days that so impressed me. In a perfect world, this would be the author with the seven figure contract and massive amounts of press coverage. For now you'll just have to take my word for it (along with all the early reviews including a star from Booklist for Available Dark) and make a point of seeking out these titles. (Dark is the sequel to Generation Loss - it stands alone okay but is better if you read them in order.)
4. Yesterday I received an email from an 82 year old gentleman who checked my book out of the library in Baltimore and wanted me to know that he enjoyed it very much. How awesome is that?
5. Finally, I'm working on an essay about Nome and the early flights there, the town's position in the Alaska myth pantheon and how we used to fly convicts into the farthest north prison in the US (not a surprise that this is in Alaska, is it?). Also, Balto wasn't supposed to be the final lead dog on the serum run; his musher refused to stop when he was supposed to. Basically, Togo, who led the far more difficult portion of the race, was robbed. (My essay is not about Togo but I can't write about Nome without mentioning him.)
1. The new issue of Bookslut went up this week with my column on bios and historical fiction and historical poetry. All of it is fabulous and I bet you haven't heard of most of these books. You should. Go. LOOK.
2. I also have a standalone review of Osa and Martin by Kelly Enright. As I write in the review, I've been a fan of Osa Johnson's ever since I happened into her autobiography while scanning the shelves of a particularly dusty used bookstore many years ago. Enright fills in many of the blanks and this is a most excellent book about a fascinating couple who happened to film South Pacific cannibals and African safaris in the early 20th century. (If that doesn't get you curious, note that Martin Johnson first traveled around the world with Jack London. How cool is that?!)
3. And see Martyn Pedler's column "Self publish or Perish".
4. Look - a new literary festival and it's in western Washington! It will be interesting to see how things develop. For folks who don't know, this is a location waaaaay out in the Cascade Range. Gorgeous area and very Pacific Northwesterny. (I know that's not a word but you get my point.)
5. Matt Ruff talks about writing The Mirage, a book I'll be including in my April column. (it crosses over just fine to teens.) I don't think there is any author other than Ruff who could have pulled off this title - an alt history book where the twin towers in Baghdad were attacked by American Christian fundamentalists on November 9, 2001. The twist - the amazing twist - is that some people are convinced that things are not as they are supposed to be, that actually America was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists on September 11th and the world they are living in is really a mirage.
So.Good. SOOOO good.
Here's a bit from Matt on the book:
There was the central conceit of the mirage. Apart from being a neat twist that you could build off of [it was a reminder that] your place in history, at the top of the pyramid of power, is not assured. If the world is turned over once, it could turn over again, and you should maybe build your ethics on the idea that you'll be on the bottom some day or you'll be in need of mercy...If you took Americans and you put them in a position where they believe they should be at the top, and instead, had been humiliated and put at the bottom, the rage that would evolve from that is probably not that different than the rage that comes out of the Middle East. They've been on the receiving end for a long time. Certainly guys like [Ayman al-]Zawahiri are oppressed, they're mad. The Mirage was part of the way at getting at some of that mindless violence.
6. Excellent piece at NPR on the discovery of a recording of a lost speech by Malcolm X at Brown University and the grad student who found it. What's interesting here is that the speech is basically absent from all official records at the school, but some luck and additional digging found something amazing. (This is basically every history nerd's dream by the way.)
7. Huzzah - Route 66 is coming back to life!
8. And double huzzah - the Writers' Houses Kickstarter project is funded! Feel free to continue donating however - I'm sure Allison will put your cash to good use (and there are illustrated post
1. Radium-Age re-releases! The author list includes Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and H. Rider Haggard. These look fantastic.
2. Same Difference is a bit of a meandering "Reality Bites" sort of coming-of-age for college kids with appropriate sexual innuendo and panic over life descending upon you with a sudden and scary speed. I love the cover in a big way - the fish are from the opening pages which are set in a Korean restaurant with an aquarium. If it was faced out on a shelf it would certainly stand out.
3. Speak is reissuing Sara Ryan's stunning and life-changing Empress of the World. The new volume includes an introduction by David Levithan and three short graphic novels about the characters. I have the comics and they are great - fans of Battle and Katrina and crew will be delighted. If you somehow missed this one the first time out, be sure to grab it now. (I'm linking to amazon because it is the only site that shows the new cover with the Levithan intro. I'm kinda worried about other sites - Powells & Indiebound- as they show the old cover. All of them have the old page count. I'm hoping this is just the book as it is now since the ISBN has not changed. But just make sure!!)
4. Author Vanessa Veselka gave an interview to the magazine at Reed College. Her closing thoughts are quite amazing: I really believe it is better to try to do something really big and leap into failure, than to constantly stay on the side of irony," she says. "Failure expresses our desires in such an open, vulnerable way.
The piece has a nice overview of her book, ZAZEN, which I also found very affecting.
5. I dearly hope Barbara Follett ran away, reinvented herself and lived a long and creative and wonderful life. Her story is the stuff of novels and I found the new website about her (created by her nephew) to be outstanding. If you need inspiration, go read about this fascinating author who simply vanished one day in 1939. (Link via Sharyn November who never disappoints.)
6. I am....trying to get my act together. Seems like I type something like that here all the time, don't I? Sigh.
[Post title is the definition of "Radium-Age" - OF COURSE!]
1. Jeff Bezos says he has found the Saturn V rocket engines from Apollo 11 - wicked cool doesn't even begin to describe this one.
2. Titanoboa!!!! (I've already preordered the Smithsonian DVD for my son.)
3. The Juneau Empire has a [short] excerpt of MAP up online. I'll be in Juneau on Monday so it's nice to see them spreading the word already. (Two radio interviews while I'm there - kinda nervous about those....)
4. The AK tour is the reason why I've been largely absent this week. I'm still messing around with the my slide show and a zillion other little things. I will be getting in a few posts while I'm traveling and tweeting photos. Be sure to follow me if you want to see some shots of mountains and moose and everything else I see.
5. My pal Gwenda Bond has revealed the cover for her upcoming YA title, Blackwood. I love it so much I had to include it here - can't wait to read this one (or Strange Chemistry's other fall titles).
1. The celebration of Diane Wynne Jones continues - be sure to check the tumblr for updated links to all posts as they go live. If you missed it, the post at Finding Wonderland on Friday was amazing. Here's a bit:
At a time when books were not only a source of joy but an escape from feeling uncertain and new at school, from feeling angry and frustrated by the ongoing aftereffects of my parents' divorce a few years prior, I was more than happy to believe, to plunge headfirst into the adventures of Christopher Chant and Sophie and Howl and everyone else.
2. Kate Milford, author of the wonderful The Boneshaker, has a Kickstarter project for a novella sequel. (She has a companion novel, The Broken Lands, due out this fall from Clarion and the novella will serve as a bridge of sorts.) I'm a big fan of Kate's and think The Kairos Mechanism sounds pretty darn fantastic. Do go fund it if you interested in more rural fantasy with shades of steapunk, mystery and adventure tossed in. (Kate will be here for an interview in the SBBT in June where we will talk about the novella and The Broken Lands.)
3. And speaking of Kickstarter, have you heard about the Wollstonecraft comic? Mary Shelly and Ada Lovelace as girl detectives. If that doesn't bring a smile to your face then, well, then you are not my friend! ha! It's already crazy funded but go read about it and help Airship Ambassador do even more.
4. And it's Day #2 of the Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Ballou High School. Please help spread the word and if you can, buy a book for this school. Their funds are low, demand is high and the book fair is pretty darn vital. Making it a sellout would be a wonderful thing.
5. Now I'll finish writing my review of Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls. WOW - what a book!!! (For the May column!)
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1. In the midst of all that Story Siren plagiarism drama, this article on the impact of diminishing newspapers on writers over at The Millions is all the more timely. The proving grounds for writers are becoming fewer and fewer; we are becoming a nation of hobbyists who call ourselves writers.
2. Amanda Palmer took no prisoners on Kickstarter yesterday. (I happily supported this project to get a CD; love her music.) And don't forget Kate Milford's Kairos Mechanism novella, now 65% funded and still needing some backers. (I contributed to that one last week!)
3. Speaking of Kickstarter I might be putting together a project involving indy publishing, some great Alaska history lots of folks might not know about and, well, something that no one else is doing and a good friend and I think maybe we will. I'll keep you posted on how it develops.
4. I haven't mentioned it in a while but the Summer Blog Blast Tour will be happening in early June. More info to follow as we get closer but expect the usual suspects with a ton of interviews with many cool authors.
5. I am reading about ten books right now which is crazy, even for me. But the summer columns are eluding me and I've been picking things up and putting them down with ceaseless abandon. I think I'm going nonfiction for June - not a summer escapes column but more of a "get the heck outside" column. July will be adventurous reads and August....well August still eludes me. But I'm working on it.
6. I'm also outlining my next book and for those of you who were wondering it will be set in AK again, it will be nonfiction about flying again, and it will be quite different from MAP. The first fifty pages to my agent by early Sept and a ton of research to do this summer.
7. Also writing something totally different that is fiction and about missing family history and missing explorers and missing memoires and a wee bit girl detectivish. Nothing more on that as it is so different it would only startle everyone. Plus it's like a deer in the woods right now; I'm afraid if I talk about it much the story will disappear.
8. It won't be a teen book though.
9. AND MY OFFICE IS STILL A MESS. I'm so annoyed about this.
10. Three reviews going off to Booklist by the end of the week (New Orleans, dog behavior and philosophy), two reviews for future columns to write. This is manageable.
11. And finally, the Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Ballou SR High School in Washington DC ends tonight, at midnight PST. All ordering info is here. Please join in and help us make a difference!