Welcome to another edition of Mailbox Monday, hosted this month by Sandra and Laura at Library of Clean Reads. Be sure to visit their blog today to get links to participants’ mailboxes and to leave your own link.
I found some wonderful books in the mail this week – now I just need more time in the day to actually read them all!
Many thanks to Michelle Moran who made sure that I got a signed, first edition hardcover of her newest novel Madame Tussaud (due for release February 15th). I have read every novel Moran has written and enjoyed them all…so I am greatly anticipating reading this book! Madame Tussaud was a famous wax artist, but apart from that, most people are ignorant of who she really was…now, she is about to come to life through the talent of Michelle Moran. Spanning five years, from the start of the French Revolution to the Reign of Terror, the book follows the life of an astonishing woman whose “talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.” Author Allison Weir calls Madame Tussaud “a first-class novel, brilliantly written” and says “The scope of the author’s research is staggering…”
And guess what? YOU can also get a signed copy of this book along with a pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings because I am sharing the love for Valentine’s Day by hosting a giveaway which opened YESTERDAY. Visit THIS POST for more information.
Michelle Moran was a public high school teacher before turning to writing full-time. She lives in California with her husband and has penned three previous historical novels: Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra’s Daughter. Learn more about Moran and her impressive body of work by visiting the author’s website.
How many of you were completely captivated by the Little House on the Prairie series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder? Author Wendy McClure remembers the series well, and it has become the basis for her memoir The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (due for release through Riverhead Books in April 2011). McClure retraced the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family, searching for the Big Woods in Wisconsin and wading through Plum Creek, and immersed herself in all things Little House as a tribute to the well-loved series. What came out of that journey is this memoir, a story not only about McClure’s adventure, but about what happens when we “reconnect with our childhood touchstones – and find that our old love has only deepened.”
Wendy McClure holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Chicago where she is a senior editor at Albert Whitman & Company. She is also the author of a previous memoir I’m Not New To Me (2005) and is a columnist of BUST magazine. She also contributes to The New York Times Magazine. Learn more about McClure and her work by visiting the author’s website.
The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke takes a look at grief and sorrow, “the fleeting moments of joy that make up a life, and the way memory can lead us out of the jagged darkness of loss.” After her mother’s death, O’Rourke began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner. It was from these notes, that her memoir was born. Author Joyce Carol Oates writes about The Long Goodbye: “[…] yes, it is sad, it is in fact heartrending, but it is many things more: courageous, inspiring, wonderfully intelligent and informed, and an intimate portrait of an American family as well.” The Long Goodbye will be released in April 2011 through Riverhead Books.
Meghan O’Rourke grew up in Brooklyn, where she still resides. She is the author of an award-winning book of poems (Halflife), and her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Best American Poetry, and other well-known publications. She also works as a culture critic for Slate.
Planting Dandelions by Kyran Pittman is also a memoir which celebrates the joys and trials of a new generation of parents (due for release by Riverhead Books in May 2011). Pittman links eighteen chronological essays which look at the first twelve years of “becoming a family” as she raises three kids in the heartland. Her prose is described as candid and hilarious. Author Neal Pollack writes: “Kyran Pittman’s searingly honest confessionals, and her expert wit, should serve as model and inspiration for all the former ‘bad girls’ who’ve crossed over into motherhood.”
Kyran Pittman grew up in Newfoundland (the daughter of a poet, and the middle of three sisters), but now lives in Arkansas with her husband and three children. She is a contributing writer for Good Housekeeping. Read more about Pittman (and get a sample of her writing), by visiting the author’s blog.
Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister will be released in June 2011 through G.P. Putnam’s Sons. I was really excited to read about this novel because I really enjoyed Bauermeister’s first book The School of Essential Ingredients (read my review). In her sophomore effort Bauermeister introduces six women who gather to celebrate their friend Kate’s recovery from cancer. During the festive dinner party, Kate strikes a bargain with them…to celebrate her new lease on life they will agree to do one thing that they have always sworn they would never do – and Kate gets to choose their adventures. Described as “a celebration of life,” and “deeply satisfying,” this is a novel I am truly looking forward to reading.
Erica Bauermeister was born in Pasadena, California. She later moved to Seattle, got married, and earned a PhD. at the University of Washington. She went on to teach writing and literature and started her family. Her first novel (The School of Essential Ingredients) became a bestselling book and an Indie Next Pick, and has been published in 19 countries. To learn more about Bauermeister and her work, visit the author’s website.
Aurora, one of the terrific publicists over at Picador, sent me a trade paperback of The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk (due for release March 1st). The novel is about Thomas Bradshaw, a man who has quit his job to be a stay at home dad for his eight year old daughter Alexa. In contrast, Thomas’s wife Tonie is an intense, intellectual woman who is seduced by the high powered world of her career. The Bradshaw Variations takes place over a year where Cusk examines the trials, sacrifices and demands on this English family.
Rachel Cusk was born in Canada and spent much of her childhood in Los Angeles before finishing her education at a convent school in England. Cusk is an award-winning author of two memoirs and seven novels. She was awarded the 1993 Whitbread Prize for her debut novel, Saving Agnes; her novel, Arlington Park, was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction; and in 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in Brighton, England.
Meike of Peirene Press sent me their latest translated work. Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki is translated from the German by Anthea Bell. Due to be released this week (February 18th), the book “is a witty, clever story about marriage – the misunderstandings, wrong expectations and different male/female perceptions of it.” When 60-year-old Hinrich finds his wife of 30 years dead of a stroke, he tries to come to terms with her sudden death. As he goes through her papers he realizes that his marriage wasn’t all what it seemed.
I have read and loved every book Peirene published in 2010, and I am eager to read this latest.
Matthias Politycki has published more than 20 novels and poetry collections. He is considered one of the most successful literary German authors. His books have sold more than 200,000 copies and been translated into several languages. Next World Novella was first published in 2009.
I also want to share a book I purchased this past week – I couldn’t resist this one:
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is getting some interesting early buzz. Recently released through Alfred A. Knopf, this debut novel takes place in the Florida Everglades and centers around a young heroine by the name of Ava Bigtree and her family who make up an alligator-wrestling dynasty called Swamplandia! Filled with quirky characters and completely original, Russell’s novel is being lauded as “brilliant,” “dazzling,” and “lavishly imagined.” Author Emma Donaghue writes: “Vividly worded, exuberant in characterization,this novel is a wild ride: Russell has style in spades.”
Russell’s break-out short story, “Ava Wrestles The Alligator” was recently made available on Scribd if you want to get a good idea of her writing.
Karen Russell is a native of Miami and has been honored on The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and received the 2009 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation. She is currently a writer-in-residence at Bard College.