Exclusive Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

 

 

 

 

 

We’re excited to share this special Q&A with Jeff VanderMeer about his book, Borne, and something exciting he’s doing with Quarterly:

This quarter’s box is curated by Jeff VanderMeer, featuring an exclusive, annotated copy of Borne, already named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Chicago Reader, The Week, and Publishers Weekly. Also find in the box two more books, handpicked by VanderMeer that inspired him as an author, plus awesome bookish goods — perfect for book lovers. (Psst: Act fast, subscribe by April 21st to get this box and use the discount mentioned below.)

NetGalley Author Interview

Pub Date: April 25, 2017
General Fiction (Adult)
Published by MCD/FSG

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Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It all kind of started with bird watching. I kept a bird list in Fiji, where I spent four or five years of my childhood. Kingfisher! (For example.) But I got bored with that, so I started a personal diary in the journal instead (although I never gave up bird watching!). I think I was seven or eight. But I got bored with that, too, so I started writing poems, which since I was so young were titled things like “Oh, how I love the sea!” And I also wrote down little fables, sometimes actually rewriting Aesop’s fables. At that same time, my parents were reading me things like William Blake’s Tyger Tyger Burning Bright and giving me classics new and old. From that moment on, I didn’t really think about it–I just felt like I was a writer and although I was briefly dazzled by the idea of being a marine biologist, it turned out I just loved looking into tidal pools.

In my teens I wrote and published a lot of poems, some short stories, started and edited a literary magazine, ran a community reading series, and wrote two terrible fantasy novels based on my love of Patricia McKillip and others. This all helped me very early, by about sixteen, to have a good lay of the land. I was also lucky enough to be mentored by people like the poet Enid Shomer, the novelists Jane Stuart and Meredith Ann Pierce, and in general to get a good start on a lifelong devotion to writing fiction.

How did the idea for Borne come about?

Just as with Annihilation I had put into the back of my head years earlier, “I want to write in some way about Florida,” I had also put in my head “I want to in some way write about my childhood.” But that wasn’t as easy a proposition because I had a kind of block in that direction, I think because I instinctively knew that I needed more distance and that, you know, even though I lived in Fiji, I wasn’t from there. This actually created a lot of angst early on in how to write fiction because I felt like I’d been everywhere but belonged nowhere.

But then one day I had this sudden inspiration, an image in my mind of the flank of a giant bear and entangled in it something that looked a little bit like a closed-up sea anemone…and a woman named Rachel who found it…and realized it was something more than what it looked like. And I knew that Rachel didn’t belong in the city–that she had come from somewhere else, and that, although, it’s never named in the novel, that place was the South Pacific. And suddenly, I could write about the places I knew as a child, as part of her backstory.

How has it changed since you first began writing it?

I don’t seriously start to put words on the page until I’ve thought about a novel for a long time, so that when I do most of what changes is at the level of scene or paragraph, and sometimes, of course, structure will change as a result, but not always. The story I wanted to tell didn’t change, but as time went on the relationship between Rachel and her boyfriend Wick deepened and grew and the character of the Magician, Wick’s rival, came into focus in interesting ways. But Rachel’s voice always came very naturally to me.

Do you have any specific or strange writing rituals that get you into a groove?

I used to need special pens and pencils and journals. No more! These days, I’m just as happy to scribble an idea or scene fragment on the back of a leaf while I’m hiking. I also don’t really care what time of day I write, although some books feel like night-time narratives and so I might write late at night for something like the novel I’m working on now, Hummingbird Salamander. But the key things that never change is that I write my drafts long-hand and that I get my best ideas while hiking out in the wilderness or while lifting weights in the gym. That probably has to do with having to live in the moment and not be distracted, which gives my subconscious and imagination room to operate.

Do you have a favorite character from Borne?

I know that Borne himself–shape-shifting and spectacularly tentacular!–is a big draw, as is Mord, the giant psychotic bear. But my favorite character is Rachel, the narrator, who just simply keeps keeping on and trying to do her best as she navigates a landscape both physical and ethical that’s complex and difficult. I feel immense sympathy and love for her.

What is your favorite novel of all time?

I wish I could answer this question, but there are too many. So instead I’ll tell you an anecdote about one of my favs, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Recently, as guest speakers at a Sigma Tau Delta conference, my wife Ann and I snuck out long enough to get some shopping in and in a men’s consignment shop, the owner (Hank Bullitt–great name!) found out I was a writer and asked what my favorite book was. For some reason I was thinking of meeting Marty Wilson-Piper of The Church on Bondi Beach, and how he’d had a battered copy of The Master and Margarita, so that’s what I said was my favorite. And Hank Bullitt just about jumps out of his skin and tells us that his late cousin was the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and knew Bulgakov and was the inspiration for a character in the novel and told us a lot of interesting stuff about that time period and his cousin. Talk about an odd coincidence!

Which three authors would you invite to a dinner party?

From any time period? Vladimir Nabokov, Angela Carter, and Amos Tutuola. Now that would be a party!

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Go with your heart. Write what is personal to you and that you’re passionate about. Never worry about trends and be true to yourself. No trend is worth chasing and the landscape changes so frequently anyway that the most important thing is that you are happy with and proud of your writing. When you achieve success, you want it to be on your own terms.

Do you read multiple books at a time or do you focus on just one?

Usually, I focus on just one, but it just depends. If I find two novels different enough or a novel and a nonfiction book, I’ll read more than one. I was just reading Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan and Rooted: The Best New Arboreal Nonfiction at the same time, alongside Wendel Berry’s The Mad Farmer Poems.

What is your favorite thing that you have received in the mail?

Gosh, this is tough. For years, because of a prior novel, I got pounds and pounds of dried squid in the mail. I wouldn’t say that was a favorite, but it was a thing that happened. I’ve also received a stuffed-animal meerkat head glued to a plate in the mail because of another novel, along with lots of fan art over the course of my career. I guess, honestly, the heartfelt letters from readers who appreciated some aspect of my fiction have been the best, especially where it’s clear that something therein made them happy or took away their stress or in another way were of use.

Also, I’m really looking forward to getting a woodcut in the mail soon from the artist Theo Ellsworth–a 2-foot-tall illustration of Mord.

Click here to get Jeff VanderMeer’s Fiction Box, complete with an exclusive, annotated copy of Borne! (Plus! As a NetGalley member, you get an exclusive 10% discount! Just enter the code: NETGALLEY10 at checkout – expires April 21st.)

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Here Are 5 Ways to Celebrate!


Encourage students and teachers to participate in the Dear Poet project

The Academy of American Poets is inviting students in grades five through twelve to be a part of Dear Poet for National Poetry Month. To participate, students watch a series of exclusive videos on the organization’s website, Poets.org, that feature award-winning poets, members of the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors, sharing their poems. They then write a letter responding to one of the poems. Students who mail or email their letter to the Academy of American Poets by April 27, 2017 (Poem in Your Pocket Day) have a chance to receive a reply from the poet and have their letter featured on the site.

Participating Chancellors include Mark DotyMarilyn NelsonLinda GregersonJuan Felipe HerreraBrenda HillmanJane HirshfieldKhaled MattawaAlicia OstrikerAlberto RíosArthur Sze, and Anne Waldman.

Local teachers interested in offering the project as a classroom activity can visit Poets.org to access a free Common Core-aligned Dear Poet lesson plan.

Celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27, 2017

On April 27, Poem in Your Pocket Day, people across North America will select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day. People can also share their poem online using the official hashtag #pocketpoem. The Academy of American Poets provides free resources for celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day, including a downloadable PDF of poems that we curated with the League of Canadian Poets, on Poets.org.

Poem in Your Pocket Day was launched in 2002 by the New York City Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative national and today it is celebrated in schools, communities, and workplaces in all 50 states.

Request a free National Poetry Month poster designed by Maira Kalman

Award-winning artist and illustrator Maira Kalman created this year’s official National Poetry Month poster. The poster is available for free through Poets.org while supplies last.

Each year, in partnership with American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English, the organization distributes over 120,000 free National Poetry Month posters to classrooms, libraries, and bookstores throughout the United States.

Sign up to receive a Poem-a-Day

Join over 140,000 poetry readers receiving a never before published poem to their inbox every weekday, and classic poems on the weekends. To sign up for this free series curated by the Academy of American Poets, visit Poets.org.

Use the official National Poetry Month hashtags and logo

Follow the thousands of National Poetry Month Celebrations taking place throughout the United States by using #npm17, and on April 27 (Poem in Your Pocket Day) the hashtag #pocketpoem. You can also use the new National Poetry Month logo, which can be downloaded from Poets.org, on your poetry event materials.

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Librarian's Choice

Librarians' Choice: top 10

Librarians’ Choice has announced the Top 10 titles for April 2017 that librarians across Australia love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the Librarians’ Choice site.

If you are a librarian in Australia, you can nominate titles for the Librarians’ Choice list via NetGalley!

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Top Ten UK Books for May 2017

Another exceptional Top Ten, featuring another eclectic collection of writers and titles. While it’s always difficult deciding on the Book of the Month – especially with new novels from Colm Toibin, Arndaldur Indridason, and Joel Dicker – we absolutely could not resist Andrew Wilson’s A Talent for Murder, which places Agatha Christie herself at the heart of a plot filled with murder and blackmail.

It is a wonderful read. Please also look out for one of the most powerful books of the year, Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee. It is timely, important and devastatingly written. Oh, and one last thing. If you’re interested in finding out what went on at the London Book Fair last week, be sure to check out our blog here. Enjoy!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

A Talent For Murder
Andrew Wilson
Simon & Schuster
UK Edition

Of all the mysteries Agatha Christie created, the one that remains unsolved is taken from her own life: what happened when she famously disappeared in December 1926?

Biographer Andrew Wilson has skilfully woven what is known about the case into a brilliantly atmospheric, utterly gripping novel of which Dame Agatha herself would have been proud. The delight of A Talent for Murder is in its ever-shifting plot, its exquisitely drawn inter-war setting, and a central character you won’t forget. Perfectly pitched, this is a crime novel to savour.

House of Names
Colm Toibin
Viking
UK Edition
US/CA Edition

The bestselling and award-winning Colm Tóibín returns with a new novel that is sure to be featured heavily in all the major literary prizes of 2017. Taking us back to Greek legend, Tóibín reframes and retells the shocking and murderous events of Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his own daughter in order to win a battle. Three years later, he returns to find his home beset with anger, grievances and thoughts of revenge. This is a bravura performance from one of our finest writers.

I'll Eat When I'm Dead
Barbara Bourland
riverrum
UK Edition
US Edition

Already described as ‘The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho‘ by Louise O’Neill, this fierce, funny and fabulous debut really is one to watch. RAGE Fashion Book is the world’s most dynamic, ambitious magazine. Its influence is unparalleled. Until one of its editors is found, presumed to have starved herself to death. Her friend, Cat Ono, is not convinced however. But to prove it she’ll have to infiltrate a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturiser that will change her forever.

The Ice
Laline Paull
4th Estate
UK Edition

Laline Paull’s The Bees was one of the most talked about and surprising debuts of recent years; and The Ice is just as engaging and compelling as its predecessor. The melting ice of the Midgard glacier expels the frozen corpse of Tom Cawson into the Barents Sea. He was lost in an accident on the glacier three years before and his best friend, explorer-turned-businessman Hugh Harding, was the last to see him alive. As the inquest begins, choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand.

The Baltimore Boys
Joel Dicker
MacLehose Press
UK Edition

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was a phenomenal bestseller, and this part-sequel part-prequel catches up with novelist Marcus Goldman, struggling to write his third novel. Inspiration seems low on the ground until he runs into his first love, Alexandra Neville, now a successful singer. It takes him back to when he and his two cousins were known as The Baltimore Boys. And the burden of the past, its lies, jealousy and betrayal, must now be exposed.

Man Alive
Thomas Page McBee
Canongate
UK Edition

From one of America’s most important and engaging voices comes a powerful, harrowing and thought-provoking memoir that poses the question: what does it mean to be a man. To answer this, Thomas Page McBee confronts his past: his father’s abuse of him, and the violent mugging which almost killed him as an adult. Standing at the brink of the life-changing decision to transition from female to male, McBee seeks to understand these examples of flawed manhood, and reclaim his body on his own terms. 

The Shadow District
Arnaldur Indridason
Harvill Secker
UK Edition

The international bestseller and star of Scandi-crime returns with a major new series that weaves the past and the present. A 90-year-old man is found murdered in his bed, smothered by his own pillows. Konrad, a retired detective, finds press cuttings in the dead man’s room relating to a brutal murder. In wartime Reykjavik, a young woman was found strangled behind the National Theatre, a rough and dangerous area of the city known as ‘the shadow district’. It’s a crime that Konrad remembers. But can he finally find the killer?

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
Eric Lindstrom
HarperCollins Children's Books
UK Edition

Mel Hannigan is mourning the death of her firework of a brother, as well as the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything. Struggling to deal with a condition that not even her closest friends know about, she has locked away her heart to numb the highs and lows. But things can change. And someone new shows her that it can be worth taking a risk, that opening up to life is what can make it glorious. A heart-breaking yet uplifting novel from the acclaimed author of Not If I See You First.

The Serpent Sword
Matthew Harffy
Aria
UK Edition

In the mould of Bernard Cornwell comes a thrilling, blood-soaked historical adventure – the first book in The Bernicia Chronicles. In the wake of his brother’s almost-certain murder, Beobrand seeks revenge on his killer. It’s a quest that will lead him to the war-torn badlands of Northumbria – a place riven with distrust and violence as warlords attempt to take dominion. Can Beobrand avenge his brother’s death? And can he do so without losing his honour?

Gravel Heart
Abdulrazak Gurnah
Bloomsbury
UK Edition

Abdulrazak Gurnah was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize for Paradise, and Gravel Heart could easily go on to replicate that feat. It tells the story of Salim, who’s always believed his father doesn’t want him. Living in Zanzibar, in a house full of secrets, he is a bookish child, a dreamer haunted by night terrors. But when an uncle offers Salim an escape, the lonely teenager travels to London. Nothing can prepare him for the biting cold and seething crowds – or the devastating truths he will face.

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News from NetGalley

London Book Fair Recap, 2017

The sun shone brightly through the glass domes of Olympia last week, as the London Book Fair came to town. The weather was for once fresh and clear, but the general atmosphere seemed more changeable. While some publishers and agents were reporting enthusiastic offers and exciting auctions; others seemed more cautious, perhaps in light of Brexit and other market conditions. Overall it felt slightly less busy around the halls, but the buzz was still palpable.

London Book Fair is conducted in seven sections, each notionally devoted to different aspects of the publishing industry– trade, academic, tech support, remaindered books, etc – and seeing the sheer breadth of what is available is staggering. Whether you’re a new digital start up, an author wandering the halls trying to get publishers to buy his book, an auction being conducted for a hot debut, or a business meeting about meta-data provision, all publishing life seems to be there. It’s no wonder that everyone looks exhausted by Thursday afternoon.

At NetGalley, we love attending LBF – we’re lucky that we interact with so many publishers from so many different territories, and it was great to be able to catch up with so many of them. We also met with some new publishers, who hopefully will be joining us soon. But the Fair is more than just a series of meetings.

We also had some time to attend some of the many, many seminars and lectures that took place over the three days. Particularly of interest was the panel on the visual language of publishing. We learned a lot, especially from literary agent and former Marketing Manager of Foyle’s Bookshop, Julia Kingsford. Her top tips for social media were very instructive – you can read them here – but our favourite was this: always post your images and photos in landscape not portrait. That way everyone can see the full image, and there is less awkward cropping of the image!

As ever though, the best thing about the fair was hearing about all the books that will in around eighteen months (or even sooner) be finding their way on to NetGalley. We were most excited to hear that there’ll be a new Eleanor Catton novel, the first non-fiction book from Jarvis Cocker, and we’re already intrigued about the new Swedish crime sensation In The Mire by Susanne Jansson. We can’t wait for you to read them!

P.S. We look forward to doing it all over again at BookExpo & BookCon in NYC (June 1-4, booth #2015). Hopefully we will see you there!

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NetGalley Author Interview: Kate Moore

Watch our author video interview, “15 minutes with… Kate Moore,” now! Here, we discuss the different genres Moore writes in, her inspiration behind writing about this American scandal and what new project she’s working on. You don’t want to miss this interview brought to you by NetGalley, Meryl Moss Media and BookTrib.com.

The Radium Girls

Request It!

Pub Date: May 2, 2017
History, Nonfiction (Adult)
Published by Sourcebooks Non-Fiction

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The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive ― until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

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Originally published on Bookish.com, our sister company.

There is something incredibly relaxing about sitting down with a book and enjoying a nice cold beer. The only thing better would be actually sitting down for a drink with the author who wrote it, or maybe even your favorite character. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we asked nine writers to share with us their ideal literary drinking buddy. Let us know in the comments which author or character you’d want to cheers with this year!

Pia Z. Ehrhardt, author of Famous Fathers and Other Stories
Drinking Buddy: Rosie Schaap

“I’d like to drink Manhattans—no more and no fewer than two—in Manhattan with Rosie, because she wrote a memoir about drinking by herself in bars, something I can’t make myself do. Because while I sit there, where do I look? At my phone? At the book I brought in as company? Why do I need a prop? I’ve always wanted to tend bar, fix drinks, look in on the drinkers. And I’ve always wanted to be a regular, to belong. Rosie is at ease on both sides of the rail. I’d like to sip my Maker’s Manhattan, rocks, and talk to her about the difference between being lonely and being alone.”

Aubrey Hirsch, author of Why We Never Talk About Sugar
Drinking Buddy: 
Ford Prefect

“Of all the literary characters I’ve come across, the one I’d most like to have a pint with is Ford Prefect from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. He combines charming curiosity about Earth customs with gritty wisdom that comes from traveling the universe on his Electronic Thumb. He’s smart, funny, cares deeply for his friends and, most importantly, he always knows where his towel is. A nice, muscle-relaxing beer is the perfect beverage to share with Ford, since you never know when you might need to hop aboard a Vogon ship to avoid being destroyed in service of a new hyperspace bypass.”

Sherrie Flick, author of Whiskey, Etc. Short (Short) Stories
&
Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door
Drinking Buddy: 
James Baldwin

“We’d meet in a crowded bar, a slouching jazz band playing softly in the corner. He’d say, ‘I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.’ I’ve heard James Baldwin liked to drink whiskey. I like to drink whiskey, too. But that isn’t why he’s the author I’d like to have a drink with right now. He’d say, ‘The truth which frees black people will also free white people, but this is a truth which white people find very difficult to swallow.’”—Sherrie Flick

“I’m always in awe of James Baldwin’s ability to be incisive, compressed, and nuanced—all at once. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what keeps certain people away from political expression, and I think it comes out of the worry that they have to reproduce a kind of received language, and they’re not going to get it right, not going to sound like they wholly believe it. Can you blame them? Baldwin is a great guide for finding a political voice that’s organic and self-attuned, which is important not just for talking to others but for keeping ourselves awake and evolving. Just to sit across the table from that mind! And those famous pictures of him with Nina Simone! You just know that this was a person of mischief, high spirits, and fun. Maybe unpredictable but so alive and smart and worth every minute.” —Paul Lisicky

Claudia Zuluaga, author of Fort Starlight
Drinking Buddy: 
Mary Lennox

“In Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox arrives at Misselthwaite Manor rude and sour, ten years old, never having known cold weather or love or kindness. When she finds both, she blossoms. I want to sit with the adult Mary Lennox in a cozy bar, neither of us pressed for time. I’ll tell her I admire her strength, how, having known nothing but loneliness and despair, she was able to open herself up to growth and possibility and to help heal others. We will drink enough that I will ask her if it’s still part of her, that smoke-colored emptiness of those first ten years, if the pain hides inside of her like an inactive, dangerous virus, the way it does in me.”

Sarah Yaw, author of You Are Free To Go
Drinking Buddy: 
Colette

“A sidewalk table in Colette’s French sun. Time is relative. We drink champagne.

‘What do you need?’ she asks.

‘A psychic told me you helped with my first book.’

She squints old eyes. Won’t confirm or deny anything.

‘I saw myself in My Mother’s House and Sido,’ I say. ‘The home, the gardens. The animals. We had a red Dodge named the Diplodocus.’

‘Diplodocus was the name of our cat,’ she says.

There’s a hundred years between us and one of us is dead, yet we both nod at the coincidence.

‘I became a writer because I saw my life in that book. I always had the weird feeling the psychic was right. You were there. Were you?’

Colette’s distracted by a bird hopping in the branches of a tree. She was a girl who read Zola hidden in tree branches. She was a mime. I think she nods but I can’t be sure.

‘I’m writing another one.’

‘I know,’ she says. Sweat beads on her lip. Is sweat uncomfortable for the dead? She drains the champagne flute, calls the garçon. ‘I miss champagne,’ she says.”

Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of The House on Primrose Pond 
Drinking Buddy: 
Francie Nolan

“My St. Patrick’s Day drink would be with Francie Nolan, the protagonist of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I must have read this novel 20 times in my youth, and Francie became a beloved friend, a kindred spirit. Though the book was set in a time decades before my own, the Brooklyn depicted in its pages—a provincial, sleepy backwater, like a perpetual Sunday afternoon in August—felt so familiar. Yet Francie assumed an ownership of this place that I too had felt—we were two Brooklyn girls walking those somnolent streets, urban sisters under the skin. And she adored her father despite—or perhaps because of—his faults. I too had a charming but feckless father, so this was yet another reason to love her.”

Bill Roorbach, author of The Remedy for Love
Drinking Buddy: 
Lady Brett Ashley

“I would like to have a drink with Lady Brett Ashley, or probably six drinks, four bottles of wine, and an aperitif or two. I fell in love with her reading The Sun Also Rises in one sitting in college, while I sat on the steps of the student union. I still haven’t gotten over her. Yes, I have grown more sophisticated since, and I know that Ernest Hemingway has fallen out of favor for his bluster and misogyny and boozy, insecure caricature of manhood. But I know Lady Brett would like me. And I just want to hear her say ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’ right before we walk off together, and leave Jake on the steps. Poor Jake.”

Ron Currie, author of The One-Eyed Man
Drinking Buddy: 
Andre Dubus

“In late summer 1998, I took a bus from Rhode Island to Maine. I was, at 23, trying to figure out how to be a writer, typing one shitty and derivative short story after another, occasionally writing a line or two with some genuine heat, but mostly just failing. I didn’t believe—because I had no reason to—that I’d ever write anything worthwhile, but I was driven by the books I read to keep trying. I’d been introduced to the short stories of Andre Dubus a couple years earlier, and had the good sense to become obsessed with them—little masterpieces of tempo and tone, his best stories seemed to reach into my chest, rip out my heart, and put it on display, still pumping, right in front of my face. Because I was obsessed with the writing, I’d also become obsessed with the man—I knew he was a hard-drinking ex-Marine, a gruff and unmistakably flawed man who had somehow managed to produce these flawless narratives. Dubus was the kind of writer I wanted to be—the imperfect man who writes perfect stories. Such are the preoccupations and enthusiasms of youth, I guess.

“Anyway, there I was on the bus, despairing of ever being able to write anything worth a shit, and I noticed that we’d just passed into Haverhill, Massachusetts. Haverhill, where Dubus had lived and taught for decades, and where he still lived now, stuck in a wheelchair after losing a leg in an accident when he stopped to help a pair of stranded motorists on the highway at night. Suddenly I had this crazy idea: I could get off at the next stop, hitchhike back to Haverhill, and just show up at Dubus’ door. I shudder to think about it now, but I imagined that Andre would welcome me in, not thinking it at all weird or intrusive for a strange young man to appear unbidden on his front porch, and we would drink whiskey and trade stories and be men. We would become the best of friends in no time, and he would recognize in me some latent genius, and upon such recognition he would offer me the two or three secrets to writing sublime fiction. And then, with regret, I would be on my way once more.

“Alas, the bus didn’t stop again for another 30 or 40 miles, and thank god—otherwise I might have actually followed through and harassed an old man who almost certainly just wanted to be left alone. Instead I went home, kept plugging away at my own stories, eventually wrote some that weren’t too bad. Dubus, though, had pretty much written everything he was going to—six months later, in early 1999, he died of a heart attack. We never met, goes without saying. I’m glad, ultimately, that I didn’t go to Dubus’ house that day. But I do regret that we never had a chance to share a drink in a different context, when I might have been a little less needy, a little less of a greedy sycophant, and I might have been able to just enjoy the company of a big-hearted man who happened to write fantastic stories.”

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Book

Cover Love

We’ve rounded up covers we love, and we hope you will too. We’ve also gathered all of your cover votes from this month, and your most loved cover is…The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond!

Click on each cover to read the full description, request (or wish for) the title, and “Like” the cover if you haven’t already. If you’ve read these titles, don’t forget to share feedback with the publisher and with your friends and followers.

Tell us in the comments below, which covers you’re loving right now, and they could be included in next month’s Cover Love!

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

April 2017

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in April that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads titles:

Miss You: A Novel by Kate Eberlen
(Harper, 9780062460226)

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It’s Women’s History Month, and we could not be more excited about it!

To celebrate, our friends at Bookish put together a collage that highlights some incredible books written by favorite female authors.

Let us know in the comments if you see (or don’t see) any of your own favorites below:

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