What to read when: You haven't read these books
Happy Friday Reads!
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Hello writer friends! I’m popping in real quick because it’s #FridayReads, and I want to talk literature. This week, I’ve started my first Elizabeth Strout. (I know! I have no idea why I haven’t read Strout before—I’m starting with “My Name is Lucy Barton.”) I don't know about you, but I love to read books that are totally different than my own writing style. The New York Times once either praised (or accused? depends on your vantage point) my style of being “as oxygenated as ad copy,” which feels apt. Whereas a lot of the writers I love to read (Samantha Hunt, Mary Gaitskill, and probably Elizabeth Strout now) are mesmerizing and spare.
So Lucy Barton’s what I’m reading now, but there are two other books I’m excited about this month:
The first is the new novel, “Flight” from another one of my favorites, Lynn Steger Strong. If you haven’t read “Want” yet…please run and do that. It’s a novel that reads like a memoir, and it’s also a novel that sung straight into the deepest caverns of my secret heart. It was one of the books that most inspired me when I started working on my memoir.
The second is “Foster” by Claire Keegan—an international bestseller that’s just been released in the United States by Grove Atlantic. It’s edited (in the US) by my friend Katie Raissian who has impeccable taste, and it’s getting rave reviews literally everywhere. I’m so excited for this one.
I keep a wishlist of books that I’m excited to delve into: here it is, for Santa Claus.
I’m honored to be speaking at the National Arts Club in NYC on December 1st on a favorite topic of mine: the surprising benefits of fear. This event is free and open to the public! I rarely come into NYC these days, and it would be fun to see you. You can register here.
Leigh Stein is running another seminar on how the hell to use TikTok, along with a mini TikTok MFA. I audited her first class on this subject and found it both helpful and inspiring. It made me feel like my backlist titles might get to come out of their early graves if the right TikTokers can find them. Read all about Leigh’s line-up of great classes, here. (And by the by, if you’re uncomfortable with the sticker price, Leigh gives a lot of handouts with Rolodex-type information that would cost you triple that if it came from a publicist, so I do think the ROI is solid.)
Run don’t walk to this online class that kicks off Sunday, for which you can still register. “The Poetics of Intimacy: Meeting the ‘Other’ in Poetry” with Natasha Oladokun sounds like the mental vacation I need now. “Together, we will engage with poems that ask us difficult questions about the nature of love, power, and intimacy among us as human beings, especially as affected by race and gender expression.” Throw caution to the wind and sign up!
And finally, I’m pulling up the drawbridge on the private consultations I advertise on my website from now until probably spring of 2023. I’ve got a book I’m working on that needs me like an infant. I’ll be honoring anyone who is already booked with me, obviously, and I’ll keep doing open calls for live critiques here on my Substack (so watch this space for those!). But if you were hoping to approach me soon about doing a query consult, I regret that I won’t be available for that.
To end on a happy note: yesterday my mother called me at 9pm, which is super late for her, so I thought something was wrong. But she had beautiful news for me. She’d been invited to a dinner party by a friend to the house of someone she didn’t know, under the guise of meeting new people. And it turned out it was a surprise book club, and they were discussing “The Year of the Horses.” All the women loved the book, and really liked the way that I portrayed some complicated relationships in it, including the one that my mother and I have. It made my mom feel so good to be celebrated, and I believe a great portion of the evening was devoted to deciding who should play her in the movie version, and which actresses could properly ride a Harley Davidson like my mother used to. (My money is on Ashley Judd. Hollywood, call me!) Isn’t that so cool?
Otherwise, what do you have planned this weekend? It’s the birthday weekend of a dear writer friend of mine, and so, after a good stretch of not hanging with my word nerds friends IRL, we are having a long awaited reunion, plus a friend of mine just got a Korean party van that has a karaoke machine inside it, so I foresee a lot of fun. I hope you have some R&R and some reading planned. I’ll see you next week!
Thanks for being here,