#FridayReads: REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates

Richard Yates’ REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is one of my top ten favorite novels, and it’s not just because Mr. Yates used to drink (copiously) down the street from me in Boston, at a bar called The Crossroads (where I also used to drink–copiously–in grad school).

Revolutionary Road

Some of you may have seen the excellent movie version (starring with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) of a mid-20th-century marriage in screaming dissolution and thought, Who are these people, and what the hell makes them act that way toward each other? But that’s part of Yates’s genius, because so many of us squirm in uneasy recognition and think: Oh. That’s me.

#FridayReads: STATION ELEVEN, by Emily St. John Mandel

I’m a big geek when it comes to dystopian fiction. One of my top three favorite books of all time is Stephen King’s THE STAND, which I read when I was a teenager (and re-read every couple of years), and it inspired a lifelong appetite for any book about the fall of Life As We Know It and attempts to rebuild in the aftermath. Why? Partly prurient voyeurism (how DO we almost all die?). Partly because I’m fascinated with survival, and dystopian fiction gives me the chance to put myself in the characters’ shoes like a virtual reality game and think, How would I do?

How Long Should It Take To Write A Novel?

How long should it take to write a novel?

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Dear Jenna: After another listen to “The Author at Work“, I have a question for you. You said you spent three years on Those Who Save Us. Could you break that down for me (i.e. how much time on 1st draft, revision, pollinating, etc)? I have been worrying that I am taking forever w/ my novel (15 mos in so far), but perhaps I am not doing so badly after all. ~ Mr. M

Top 14 Books of 2014

Dearest ones! It’s that time of year again–to FREAK THE F OUT BECAUSE YOU STILL NEED PRESENTS FOR PEOPLE ON YOUR EVER-LOVIN’ LIST! Never fear, stressed Santas. You may have heard that #BooksMakeGreatGifts, and since you no doubt do not have time to sit down and read a bunch of them right this very second, I will recommend some for you, with Cliff Notes. Also luckily, 2014 was a terrific year for reading! So many astonishingly good books by debut and esteemed authors. Put these in your sack, and if you have time, enjoy before giving (just make sure not to eat chocolate while reading. Those fingerprints will give you away every time).

#FridayReads: THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA by Mary Miller

Dear Readers:

You know a novel has to be good when it can overcome my traditional aversion to teenaged narrators–Holden Caulfield, Katniss Everdeen, Gabriela from Iris Gomez’s TRY TO REMEMBER, and Karen Thompson Walker’s Julia from THE AGE OF MIRACLES excepted. To that company I’m adding Jess, the heroine of debut novel & Indiebound pick THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA, who tells this story of a Rapture-bound road trip with her family that starts in a Waffle House en route from Alabama to California (where the world will naturally end).
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#FridayReads: THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD by David Laskin

In solidarity with our buried friends in Buffalo this past week, for my #FridayReads I dug out this book from the middle of my TBR stack: THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD by David Laskin.

The Children's Blizzard by David LaskinI should have hated this book. Because I hate snow. Or, to be more specific, l hate being OUT in snow. I hate driving in snow. I very much dislike walking the dog in snow. I do not enjoy being cold, wet, having my eyelashes stuck together, or discomfort, and as long as I am observing the snow from the wrong side of the window, I do. Not. Like It.

#FridayReads! Top-Notch Historical Fiction: THE SEA CAPTAIN’S WIFE by Beth Powning

I just read the best historical novel, y’all. It’s about a sea captain’s wife, Azuba Galloway, in 1860s Nova Scotia who yearns to accompany her husband on his ship, the Traveller–and the amazing and unfathomable events that befall her and her little daughter, Carrie, when she does. (If you read my last post, you now know that I’m not writing about seafaring–or am I? Maybe I’m using reverse psychology…HAHAHAHAHA.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.59.37 AMWhat makes this such good historical fiction–what do I look for in historical fiction?

#FridayReads: I’d Tell You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You.

Dear Readers,

I’d love to tell you what I’m reading this week, but then I’d have to kill you. Because it’s for research for my next novel, and if I disclose it, you might figure out what I’m working on. As somebody who like to stay very much behind the curtain until the Big Reveal, I can’t have that, can I?

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Okay, I lied a little bit. If you’ve been in a book club I’ve visited recently or an event I’ve spoken at, you know I’ve taken your temperature in terms of whether you like my current idea. I do like to get a sense of how readers will respond by whether there’s an “Oooh” or “Ahhhh” factor, whether people are nodding when I disclose or whether they’re actively falling asleep.

#FridayReads: 10 More Books That Have Stayed With Me

 

 

Here are ten more books that I have loved reading, that have stayed with me and that inform my writing and thought process every day!

The House of Sand & Fog by Andre Dubus III
Affliction by Russell Banks
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
A Map Of The World by Jane Hamilton
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

What books have stayed with you? What books do you think about every day, and why?