Category Archives: blog

#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! 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: 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?

Friday Reads: BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY by Jay McInerney

When you read BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY in college, it seemed to you both deeply personal and the pinnacle of sophistication. You got the novel, first of all, because you’d grown up in New Jersey and spent weekends in New York, initially with your parents getting your braces tightened and going to Broadway plays, then with friends going to clubs like Nell’s and MK. In 1988, you wore petticoats that required you turning sideways to get through doors and smoked Capris because you thought they looked like joints. Your hair on either side of your head was bigger than your face itself, fanned out and crispy with hairspray, and you had a handcuff belt and a collection of asymmetrical earrings.

What the F-ing F Already! Why Writers Use The F-Bomb

Good morning!

Today I received an email from a reader asking why the F-ing F I use the F-Bomb in my novels.

As Tony Soprano would say, “Jesus Christ, what the F already.” No, really. There is a reason I use the F-Bomb, and it’s not just that I’m originally from New Jersey.

Jersey girl

There should be a reason for everything you include in your writing, from theme to punctuation.  Here’s mine:

“Dear Reader,