Anti-Eat, Pray, Love
"My book is kind of the anti–Eat, Pray, Love. It's Starve, Cry and Have Sex with Possible Sociopaths."
"My book is kind of the anti–Eat, Pray, Love. It's Starve, Cry and Have Sex with Possible Sociopaths."
On Monday night at the Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 82nd St. in New York City, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook (aka Dr. Sujay and the Wall Street Pastor) spoke and signed copies of her new book, Becoming a Woman of Destiny: Turning Life's Trials into Triumphs (Tarcher/Penguin). Recently nominated by President Obama to be Ambassador-at-Large for the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, Dr. Sujay signed for an hour--until the store sold out of her book.
The featured bookstores:
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jon Stewart, author of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446579223/044657922X).
Also on Today tomorrow: Bobbi Brown, author of Beauty Rules: Fabulous Looks, Beauty Essentials, and Life Lessons for Loving Your Teens and Twenties (Chronicle, $24.95, 9780811874687/0811874680). Brown will be on Today on Friday morning, too.
Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Tori Spelling, author of Presenting… Tallulah, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton (Aladdin/S&S, $16.99, 978141994046/1416994041).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Sian Beilock, author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have to (Free Press, $26, 9781416596172/1416596178).
Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story (Random House, $26, 9781400066407/1400066409). As the show put it: "Can Lenny and Eunice find love in a futuristic America in which computer screens instantly and constantly reveal economic status and sexual 'hotness' quotients? These desperate Americans--one Russian-Jewish, the other Korean--find the smallest window of pure affection, while writer Gary Shteyngart stirs up an incredibly energetic and funny prose-field around them. Influences? Think Henry Miller or Philip Roth."
After the airing of just one episode, HBO has committed for a second season of Boardwalk Empire, "the sprawling gangster drama," the New York Times reported. The show is based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson (Plexus).
Fox has given a $1.5 million pilot production commitment to Rescue Me co-creator/executive producer Peter Tolan for The Council of Dads, a half-hour comedy based on Bruce Feiler's memoir The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me, Deadline.com reported.
Hanif Kureishi won the PEN Pinter prize, "which goes to a writer who--in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel speech--casts an 'unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world," the Guardian reported. Kureishi was chosen by Pinter's widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, and a panel of judges. He will be honored October 20, when he will also present the International Writer of Courage prize--for an author who has been persecuted for speaking out about his or her beliefs--to Mexican journalist and human rights activist Lydia Cacho.
Finalists for the 2010 Toronto Book Award, honoring books that are "evocative of Toronto," include:
Diary of Interrupted Days by Dragan Todorovic
The Carnivore by Mark Sinnett
Where We Have to Go by Lauren Kirshner
Valentine's Fall by Cary Fagan
The Prince of Neither Here Nor There by Seàn Cullen (Puffin Canada)
The winner will be announced October 14.
Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece by Earl J. Hess and Pratibha A. Dabholkar (University Press of Kansas, $19.95 trade paper, 9780700617579/0700617574, September 22, 2010)
Excerpts from a book about the iconic, and most fabulous, movie musical of all time. It's a book fans will love and will want to read while watching the movie once more (at least).
Debbie Reynolds was perfect for the part, young, naïve and spunky; however, she was a novice dancer and became aggravated with (but later was thankful for) Gene Kelly's intensity and drive for perfection:
On another frustrating day, Reynolds hid under a piano so no one would see her and began to cry. Soon she heard a voice asking, "Why are you crying?" Without knowing who it was, Reynolds replied, "Because I'll never learn any of it. I can't do it anymore. I feel like I'm going to die, it's so hard." The voice responded reassuringly, "No, you're not going to die. That's what it is to learn how to dance." Reynolds finally looked out and saw Fred Astaire standing there. "You come watch me. You watch how hard I work. I don't cry, but I do get frustrated and upset and I'm going to let you watch."
Donald O'Connor's famous "Make 'Em Laugh" routine was arduous, and resulted in exhaustion, bruises, aches and pains.
[It] was the ultimate mix of old vaudeville tricks put on film. It was such an impressive number that finding a proper ending for it became a problem. O'Connor felt it was leading "to such a crescendo that I thought I'd have to commit suicide as a finale."
Gene Kelly explained his most famous song and dance simply, although the technical filming was complicated.
Kelly recalled that Freed and Edens visited him in his office to ask what he had in mind for "Singin' in the Rain." "Well, I said rather vaguely, it's got to be raining, and I'm going to be singing. I'm going to have a glorious feeling, and I'm going to be happy again. What else?" "Well, that's logical," was the only thing Freed could say in response.
The authors say of this masterpiece, "As long as an American screen culture lives on, so will the beauty, charm, and magic of Singin' in the Rain." Their book is a fine way to add to fans' and first-time viewers' enjoyment. --Selected by Marilyn Dahl
Louise Penny has worked as a journalist, and her debut mystery, Still Life, won the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry and Anthony awards, as well as the Dilys Award from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, and was named one of Kirkus's Top Ten Mysteries of 2006. The next titles in the series, A Fatal Grace (2007) and The Cruelest Month (2008), both won Agatha Awards for Best Novel. Bury Your Dead (Minotaur, October 2010) is her sixth book featuring Chief Inspector Gamache. Penny and her husband live in Sutton, a village in Quebec's Eastern Township.
On your nightstand now:
Like most readers, and writers, I have a huge pile of books on which is balanced each night a plate of cookies. Many of the books are "homework"--things I'm plugging away at because I said I'd read them. Now, I'm the world's slowest reader. Didn't used to be, but as I get older I find I can manage fewer cookies and fewer pages. So to be forced to read a book I'm not enjoying is excruciating. But the books I do enjoy become bliss. Like those magical days of childhood, finding that warm spot in a chilly bed, and reading. Right now the book I'm saving to read, as a present, a prize, a consolation for when the homework is done, is Georges Simenon's Maigret Goes Home. How well he evokes France of another generation.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I gobbled books as a child. All I wanted to do was lie on my bed and read--to the point where, as punishment when I was bad, my mother would send me outside to play. The first book I remember reading was Charlotte's Web--I'll never forget being transported so completely.
Your top five authors:
Josephine Tey, for her crystalline prose--each word, each character precise. Her books are lean and lovely, and how I long to write like her. Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude was the first work of magical realism I read, followed swiftly by another favorite, Isabel Allende. They've both inspired a sense of magical realism in my own settings. A.A. Milne and his creations comforted me as a lonely child, and began a life-long love of poetry. Even now I can recite "Vespers," and "Halfway Down," and long for a friend like Pooh. And finally, Jane Austen. What can I say about her that hasn't been said a million times? Her settings, her characters, her insight. Brilliant.
Book you've faked reading:
All of Jane Austen.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair. For the longest time my favorite Tey was The Daughter of Time. In fact, I suspect most Tey readers feel that was her masterpiece. I held off reading The Franchise Affair mostly because of the dreadful title. Honestly, what were they thinking? Clearly this was in the days before franchises were burgers and tires. Never get away with it now. It's a mystery, but not a murder mystery. Set in a dreary postwar English manor house called Franchise, on the outskirts of a village. A mother and middle-aged spinster daughter move in, and keep to themselves. The villagers, already hermetic and suspicious of strangers, become even more so. Then a schoolgirl suddenly shows up claiming to have been kidnapped by the women and held for several days. The women, of course, deny it. Deny ever seeing her. And yet the little girl can describe the interior of the house perfectly, even the attic where she claims to have been held. Who is telling the truth? It's a tour-de-force by one of the forgotten grande dames of mystery fiction.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen. Actually, I bought it for the title, which may be even worse. I have not yet read it, but am considering telling people I have.
Book that changed your life:
Three books, really. The first was Charlotte's Web, because it cured my phobia of spiders, and I suddenly realized how powerful words were. How marvelous, that words alone could heal. I later learned they can hurt, too. Then there was Anne of Green Gables, my first series. I adored Anne, and lived and died by her adventures. And solemnly proclaimed my best friend my "kindred spirit." She hadn't read the Anne books yet and had no idea why I was looking at her with doe eyes and talking nonsense. But one of the other ways that Anne of Green Gables changed my life was when I discovered they were actually written by a Canadian. And a woman. It seemed impossible. Everything else I'd read had been written by dead, mostly English, men. The third book was Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat, also a Canadian. It changed my life for much the same reason as the Anne books. I remember clearly my astonishment when I found out it was possible to be a writer, Canadian and alive all at the same time. I think at that moment I realized I just might be able to do it too. Just before my first book was published I actually met Mr. Mowat on a train and had a chance to thank him. I went back to my seat and wept.
Favorite line from a book:
Henry David Thoreau's Walden: "I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society." So simple. So beautiful.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Lord of the Rings. What fun! I almost said To Kill a Mockingbird, which is also true, but the beauty of the Rings trilogy is just that... it's three great books, and hours and hours of enjoyment and adventure. What an accomplishment.
Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner (Holiday House, $17.95 Hardcover, 9780823422852, August 2010)
Hilary Wagner's page-turning debut novel explores an animal kingdom deep below Trillium City, ruled by Topsiders, or humans. Far beneath the Topsiders' trees lie the Catacombs, where the rat ruler Killdeer and his High Collector and Commander of the Kill Army, Billycan, strike fear into the hearts of their citizens. They took the Catacombs by coup during the Great Flood, 11 years ago, killing High Minister Trilok and his loyalists, and conscripting the loyalists' orphaned male children into the Kill Army, and their female children into servitude in the Kill Army kitchen and barracks. Killdeer and Billycan also extract a Stipend from their citizens, many of whom are forced to steal in order to feed their families and provide their ruler with his required contribution. Wagner characterizes Killdeer as a once-fit criminal rat who's grown overlarge due to his excesses of food, females and Oshi berry wine. Billycan, on the other hand, as the sole surviving rat from Topsider lab experiments and noticeable for his white fur, possesses a "cadaverous look" no matter how much he consumes. He proudly wears a scar from what he touts as a fatal duel with one of the greatest Trilok Loyalists, Juniper Belancort.
The action begins on "Hallowtide night" when Topsiders are on the move, "roaming the streets for Pennies-or-Pranking." Young orphan rat brothers Victor and Vincent Nightshade flee the Catacombs to take their chances among the humans, and they stumble upon an undercover group of Trilok loyalists--led by none other than... Juniper Belancort, who lost his eye to Billycan but survived. Juniper has slowly been planning a new, safer civilization below the crumbling Catacombs, as well as a rescue for those who wish to leave--including his niece, Clover Belancort. He joins forces with a tribe of earthworms to cleverly tunnel into loyalist family dwellings, deliver them to safety, and fill in the tunnels upon their departure--erasing all traces of their means of escape. The plot thickens when Killdeer selects Clover as his "Chosen One" to rule at his side, and steps up the ceremony date, forcing Juniper to similarly hasten his strategic attack-and-rescue. Billycan begins to suspect there's an organized effort behind the disappearances in the Catacombs and grows impatient with Killdeer's apathetic and gluttonous ways, and the tension builds between them. As in Brian Jacques's Redwall books, these animals engage in a fight between good and evil, and enlist the help of other species (including a Topsider boy and the band of noble earthworms) in their cause. Wagner includes a few love interests, too. One bookend scene (it begins the book and a slightly expanded version ends the book) seems a bit forced, designed purely to pave the way to a sequel. But fans of Redwall will be swept up in the action and hope that there will indeed be more to come.--Jennifer M. Brown