Monday, June 28, 2004

In the midst of reading Truth and Beauty, I'm also reading Lucca by the celebrated Danish novelist Jens Christian Grondahl. I just tried to find information about Grondahl, but there's almost nothing biographical in English that's available online. Lucca is literary fiction (heavy on the literary;i.e. long, detailed descriptions of absolutely everything), but although it's slow-going in places, it's powerful. I'm hooked on the story and am so involved with the plights of Lucca and Richard, that it's hard to be distracted away from it. Lucca is in a mess; she's been blinded in a car accident and her husband has taken off for parts unknown. Richard, Lucca's doctor, is unhappily divorced with a beloved child he sees rarely. In the long evenings at the hospital, they share their stories.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Just spent a half hour on a leisurely blog-browse. Most of my favorite bloggers manage to post regularly, putting me to shame!

The links below are working now. I supplied a link to the NPR interview over the weekend, but it didn't work. I'm afraid you'll need to google it. It's worth the trouble.

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, the story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy author of Autobiography of a Face, is a marvel. The writing is so assured, so flawless, making it one of the best memoirs I have read, rivalling Alice Sebold's Lucky. When I heard Patchett interviewed on NPR's The Connection (a superb, insightful interview, by the way), I was mildly interested but thought I probably wouldn't go looking for the book. Two weeks later when I was browsing at the library, the book appeared, and I snatched it up. I'm so glad I did. I'm a hundred pages in, and so far it's a testament to the writer's credo to never give up on oneself or one's writing. I especially loved the description of their Iowa Workshop experiences, at least some of my curiosity about that has been allayed.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

So long a time without a post. I'm reminded how frustrated I am when my favorite blogs are infrequently updated. I will try to do better. That's all I can say.

Big happenings around here. Ken has left the Globe and is already vigorously pursuing his new venture, which is not really so new, since he's been doing it as a sideline for years. He's expanding his PC problem solving business in the hopes that it will provide a livelihood. I'm glad because he's happy to be turning his hand to something that really interests him.

In the world of literary doings, I've been so consumed by work that I've been a full-fledged dropout. I headed down to the library on Friday to forage for some material to chew on. Although not new, I'm enjoying Frankie's Place: A Love Story by journalist Jim Sterba, which was published last year. It's a memoir and travel narrative, set on Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island in Maine. As far as writing about Maine goes, I think it's among the best. He's a superb writer and I'm entranced by his description of the story of one summer he and his wife the author Frankie FitzGerald spent there.

I've also been reading The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by American Paula Huntley. I finished The Wife by Meg Wolitzer, and was almost angry at the ending. When I'm disappointed by a book in any way, a bad ending will sometimes make me angry at myself. Why did I persist in reading this book to the end? I have commented on my dissatisfaction with this novel in a previous entry, so I won't reiterate my complaints here. I will say, though, that making the wife the author of her husbands' bestselling books was over the top. I disliked her anyway for being bitter and for refusing to make a life for herself;in the end, her passivity in continuing to write his books made her no more than a nothing character.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Early June in New York City is heavenly. My day of fun was a joy, and my business day was fruitful, so I'm happy. I've been back to the grind since Friday, with only a few hours off today for a cookout spent indoors, all lights aglow, with the closest of friends.

Had a super time talking about books and the book trade with Hilary Thayer Hamann, author of Anthropology of an American Girl, and Christine Vecoli, who is currently working with Hilary on a new book for Vernacular Press. It was fun seeing their spacious, open office space and witnessing the creative team in process; I was given a birds' eye glimpse of the book, which is in production now.

Categories on the Beauty of Physics by Stephen Markacs introduces young people to physics. Instead of a bone-dry, technical manual, Categories presents the principles of physics which are accompanied by appropriate selections from literature that challenge the mind and extend the concept being introduced. (How's that for a run-on sentence! I'll try to fix it tomorrow.) Each principle is also illustrated or, to be more accurate, illuminated by artist John Morse's vivid, brilliantly colorful collage art.

Having a front row seat to the creative process in action inspired me. Bookmaking is a definite trip. And talk about trips! Hilary placed into my hands a copy of Anthropology of an American Girl. On the way home on the train, I clasped it and couldn't let go. I kept stroking the book cover and the remarkably smooth cover art, a pure tactile pleasure. Definitely a book for those who appreciate fine book art. Beneath the book cover, the book is bound in the highest quality linen, a deep shade of olive green, with silver inlaid lettering. The end papers are covered with a blue and green text, and are short one-liners from the book. The pages are made of a paper that is a delight to touch. I realize I'm waxing on here, but it's so rare to read a book that's a physically sensual experience!

I've had to work my head off since getting home from New York, or I would have much more to say about the novel. I have had not a moment to read! This is dire, people.

But I will give you a glimpse of the opening of the novel.

"That night we are at a party. I cannot look at the people, all the people are like stand-up pigs, like pigs in suits. The eyes are dead and round in faces that are not real faces, but compilations of parts--teeth and noses and millions of hairs blown and combed and lips that liberate opinions through tangles of smoke, sideways disclosures about mentions in Variety and the luminescence of diamonds. I stay by my seat. I know it is mine because there is a card with my name. The card is the color of spoiled cream or curdled cream, and the ink is a sort of ochre." Hilary Thayer Hamann, Anthropology of an American Girl.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I'm off to New York tomorrow morning on a very, very early train. All so I can have the entire day to enjoy. I'm heading to the Cloisters first and then afterwards, who knows? On Thursday, I have business to attend to, and then a visit to the folks at Vernacular Press in Soho. I'm hoping to purchase a copy of Vernacular's Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann, a 2003 title that's received rave reviews.

And this time, I am going to find my way to Coliseum Books. At least I hope I can squeeze it in!