Friday, 23 March 2012

Guest Post by Author of Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters: Meredith Zeitlin

Five of My Favorite Books!

The Time-Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. This book is magic. It destroyed me – first, because I simply couldn't believe that the author had gotten it all to work out so perfectly. I would go flipping back to previously read scenes, thinking, “There's no way there isn't a mistake here somewhere..” but there were no mistakes. The humor in this book, the language, the images, the raw emotion, the sex, the visceral pain of loss – it's all there. I cried so hard when I got to the end (and, FYI, I almost never cry, period) that a woman on the subway asked if I needed help. This is probably the most perfect book I've ever read.
(Do not ever mention the movie of this book to me. No, I haven't seen it, and I certainly never will. There's simply no point.)

Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back, by Shel Silverstein. Yes, everyone loves Uncle Shelby. But for me, this is his best book, and one I have loved for a thousand years. Go read it right now, if you haven't. It's about what it means to be human, and what it means to fit into your own skin. It's funny and strange and brilliant.

French Relations, by Fiona Walker. I bought this book at Heathrow Airport when I was 18 and wanted something juicy and fun to read for the flight back to the US. Little did I know I had stumbled on the BEST BOOK EVER. It's just everything about a fabulous chick-litty, beach read only more – fashion! Scandal! Drunken midnight romps! Misunderstandings! Puns! Horses! English people! It's like Bridget Jones if she lived in a Judith Krantz world. Seriously, I know it sounds ridiculous and very unliterary, but everyone I have ever loaned my copy to (on pain of death if it not returned, btw) has agreed. Best. Book. Ever.

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. People who are only familiar with the (in my opinion, totally awful – and I say that as a fully-fledged and knowledgeable theatre geek, btw) musical version of this need to go buy the book AT ONCE. It's totally different. It's a political manifesto, and so complicated, so nuanced, so brutal... every time I read it I discover something I completely missed the last time. I think it's the best of his books (and I've read them all) - but that might be because it's the first one I read and I don't know if anything could compete afterwards.

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells. I love Rebecca Wells' writing. I love the way she makes sentences, the ways she creates characters, and the way she tells a story. Her words are delicious. Her point of view is so specific. I think she has one of the purest voices in fiction – and I love Southern fiction. The Prince of Tides was a favorite novel when I was growing up, and her stories remind of it in all the best ways. (And no, I haven't seen the movie version of this either! You can't make me!)

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles. 
"Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters" (Putnam, March 2012) is her first novel. 
You can learn more about the book here:  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Guest Post by Deborah Hopkinson, Author of Titanic: Voices From the Disaster

Last year, at the beginning of episode one of Downton Abbey, when I watched the words “April 1912” flash on the screen after the opening scene in the telegraph office, I knew exactly what had happened.  For I’d just spent the last two years immersed in that very time period, researching my new nonfiction book, Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.
            This year, of course, marks the centennial of the Titanic sinking, and thanks to Downton Abbey many more of us are revisiting Edwardian times and, of course, those beautiful clothes (at least the ones the upper class women wear; though Anna has some walking outfits I wouldn’t mind having!)      
But during the writing of Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, which draws heavily on the personal accounts of survivors, I didn’t need a costume to put me in back in time.  The heartbreaking stories and terrified words of those on the Titanic were enough to make the tragedy as vivid as a recent news report.
 “The first touch of our lifeboat on that black sea came to me as a last goodbye to life,” said a governess named Elizabeth Shutes, who, like many others, was at first reluctant to leave the ship to be lowered 70 feet to the ocean on that cold, clear night of April 15. “…and so we put off – a tiny boat on a great sea – rowed away from what had been a safe home for five days.”
Jack Thayer, only 17 at the time, was traveling with his parents. Separated from them in the ship’s final moments, he contemplated his own death. “I thought of all the good times I had had, and of the all the future pleasures I would never enjoy; of my father and mother; of my sisters and brother. I looked at myself as though from some far-off place…”  His story is made all the more poignant to know that years later he committed suicide after the death of his own son in World War II.
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster was written primarily for young readers, but, at 300 pages, it can, I hope, also appeal to adult readers wishing to revisit one of the defining events of the early 20th century, and a tragedy that still fascinates us today.  The book includes a wealth of resources, such as historical photographs, bios of passengers and crews, a timeline, and excerpts from survivor letters written aboard the Carpathia which carried the 712 survivors (out of 2,208 on board) to New York.
“I escaped in my nightdress and coat and petticoats; everything has gone,” wrote second class passenger Edwina Trout to friends. “I dare say you all have lots of sympathy for me, but believe me, I am one of the lucky ones.”
I feel lucky to have had the privilege of writing this book and getting to know some extraordinarily brave individuals.  And I look forward to sharing it with readers. 
As it happens, I have a book signing coming up to which some nearby elementary school classes have been invited; I hear the kids have been encouraged to dress in period clothing. That’s all the excuse I need: I may not be able to pull off a hat like Maggie Smith, but at least I’m getting myself a pair of lace-up boots. 
To read more about Deborah Hopkinson’s books visit:      

Friday, 2 March 2012

Follow Friday #11

Q: What book would you love to see made into a movie or television show and do you have actors/actresses in mind to play the main characters?

Paper Towns by John Green into a TV Show because they are way awesome-r than movies.

Adam Brody as Quentin "Q" Jacobsen.
I reeeeeeealy miss Seth Cohen and Brody needs to get back in my TV Screen.

For Margo Roth Spiegelman, I honestly couldn't think of any actress. 

Maybe a cross between Kristen Stewart and Zooey Deschanel i.e Strange and sullen meets Manic Dream Pixie Girl.

Donald Glover as Marcus "Radar" Lincoln. GEEEEEEEKTASTIC!

And the effervescent Dianna Agron as Lacey Pemberton.
Because I hate what Glee is doing to Quinn Fabray and Lady Di deserves much much more. 

Book Moments: What has been your favorite moment (scene) in a book that you've read so far in 2012? Please be kind & not include spoilers.

"He looked into the water, then he looked at back at her, and simply shook his head as he raised a hand to cover his mouth. By this gesture he assumed full responsibility, but at that moment, she hated him for the inadequacy of the response. He glanced toward the basin and sighed. For a moment he thought she was about to step backward onto the vase, and he raised his hand and pointed, though he said nothing. Instead he began to unbutton his shirt. Immediately she knew what he was about. Intolerable. He had come to the house and removed his shoes and socks—well, she would show him then. She kicked off her sandals, unbuttoned her blouse and removed it, unfastened her skirt and stepped out of it and went to the basin wall. He stood with hands on his hips and stared as she climbed into the water in her underwear. Denying his help, any possibility of making amends, was his punishment. The unexpectedly freezing water that caused her to gasp was his punishment. She held her breath, and sank, leaving her hair fanned out across the surface. Drowning herself would be his punishment. When she emerged a few seconds later with a piece of pottery in each hand, he knew better than to offer to help her out of the water. The frail white nymph, from whom water cascaded far more successfully than it did from the beefy Triton, carefully placed the pieces by the vase."
- Atonement By Ian McEwan ( THE FOUNTAIN SCENE!! @@*LE GASP* *LA SIGH* *INSERT HEARTS*@#@)


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