by Jill Owens, September 27, 2016 9:31 AM
Brit Bennett's The Mothers
has been one of the most anticipated and buzzed about debuts of the fall, for good reason – this story of three young people within a close-knit black church community in California is moving, poignant, subtle, and gorgeously written. Nadia, a beautiful, troubled teenager about to leave on a college scholarship, starts seeing Luke, the pastor's son, after her mother's suicide — and then she gets pregnant. Her decision to have an abortion has a ripple effect on all of their lives, including Aubrey, a devoted church-goer who has her own secrets. The relationships between Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are framed by the voices of The Mothers, the older women who are the bedrock of the church. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly
raves, "[A] brilliant, tumultuous debut novel...
On the Table
by Tracey T., September 26, 2016 4:32 PM
Harvest time! Our summery heat wave is trading off days with the fall rain. Each last ripening tomato is a treasure and we are pondering what to do with the leftover green ones. Over the summer we had some giant zucchinis show up in the employee lunchroom, which is where we share all of our extra goodies. A coworker gave me the most adorable tiny eggplants from her yard. They were almost too cute to eat, but I ate them anyway. I’ve been especially happy with the generosity of my coworkers, as this summer was a transition time for my yard and all I have planted are a few pots of herbs I can’t live without (basil, mint, and rosemary).
Living vicariously through my coworkers' gardens, I’ve heard tell of bush beans, rainbow chard, butter lettuce, gem lettuce, sugar snap peas, French petit pois, zucchini, yellow squash, Mexican sour gherkins, pickling cucumbers, a variety of hot and bell peppers...
Portrait of a Bookseller
by Powell's Books, September 23, 2016 9:29 AM
Describe your job.
I run the middle-grade section and am part of the children's team at Powell's Books on Hawthorne, but all of us here do everything!
Where are you originally from?
I was born in New York, but I was raised on the surface of the sun, which some people call Florida.
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I moved out here for a job at the Oregonian
, where I worked for about two years. But I love books more than newspapers.
Share a memorable experience you've had on the job.
There's a little girl who was having a really tough time deciding what to read next, and I suggested the Fairyland
books by Catherynne M. Valente. She loved them, and now she comes back every once in a while to get ideas. Having a customer get excited...
by Tracy Kidder, September 20, 2016 12:57 PM
Tell us about your new book.
Thirty years ago I wrote a book called The Soul of a New Machine
, about a team of engineers building the hardware of a new computer. A Truck Full of Money
represents for me a return to that sphere. It is a portrait of a figure of the computer age, named Paul English. I began my research on his life and times in 2012, just at the moment of his greatest success. At bottom, I think of this book as the story of a brilliant and troubled man attempting to recover from an enviable problem.
Paul grew up in working-class Boston in the 1970s, a boy who rebelled against authority, but discovered a world that called out to his talents...
by Peter S. Beagle, September 19, 2016 9:14 AM
I never know how long a book or a story is going to take me to write. My first novel, A Fine and Private Place
, took me a year, starting in the summer when I was a music counselor at a children’s camp and ending the following September, when I left for the requisite young-writer-wandering-Europe year. I See by My Outfit
— an account of a 1963 motorscooter voyage from New York City to Palo Alto with my lifelong painter friend Phil Sigunick — took five or six months, and was probably the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. I started The Last Unicorn
in the summer of 1962, and published it in 1968. It only seemed
to take forever — I still think of it as an endless nightmare of revision...
by Patrick Phillips, September 16, 2016 3:26 PM
Books are made of “words, words, words,” as Hamlet says, but they often begin in the opposite of language: silent awe and wonder. My first work of nonfiction, Blood at the Root
, started with just such a moment when, more than a decade ago, I came upon an old newspaper photograph from the Atlanta Constitution
by Colson Whitehead, September 15, 2016 2:12 PM
I listen to a playlist of 2,000-plus songs when I work. A mix of punk, hip-hop, EDM, jazz, whatever. It keeps me company and provides opportunities to sing along and also: dance breaks. These are the new additions I made to the playlist in May of 2015, when I started writing The Underground Railroad
1. "Where Eagles Dare" by the Misfits
Now that I'm middle-aged and out of the loop, I google things like "best hardcore songs" in the hope of finding some gap in my tastes. The Misfits' "Where Eagles Dare" came up. Thirty years ago, my sister had Walk Among Us
on vinyl, but I was resistant to its charms. Older and wiser, I understand the Danzig now. See if you can find the fast version...
by Ann Patchett, September 14, 2016 10:04 AM
When I finished writing my first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars
, I printed out a copy and mailed it to my father. I was 27 at the time, which means my father would have been 60. He had not yet retired from his career in the Los Angeles police department, and I had not yet sold a book. I knew from the short stories I had sent him in graduate school that he was a good reader with a sharp eye for typos and grammatical errors. He would let me know when a scene felt stilted or slow, or when a character was doing things that a real person would never do. After 33 years in law enforcement, many of those years spent as a detective, he was also the best fact-checker/research assistant I would ever have...
by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, September 13, 2016 2:12 PM
Herman Melville hardly mentions the tide until the final — the 135th — chapter of Moby-Dick
. As Captain Ahab at last faces his doom, he tells Starbuck: "Some men die at ebb tide, some at low water, some at the full of the flood." He is issuing a rational refutation of a traditional shore-dweller’s belief that people only die when the tide is going out.
Yet we should not be surprised that this seafaring classic skimps on tidal detail. In Sailing Alone Around the World
, too, Joshua Slocum largely confines his discussion of tides to when he is at anchor or when he comes close to the shore rounding some cape or other. For it is not, as you might think, out at sea where the effect of the tide is most felt. It is along the coast that we think we know so well that the tide is most visible, most affecting — and most terrifying...
by Marisa Silver, September 12, 2016 11:39 AM
Almost as soon as I learned to talk, I learned to harmonize. Like crossing the street or telling time, harmony was, in my family, essential, foundational knowledge. Singing was a big deal. In the living room, in the car, waiting for a flight to board, lying around on my parents’ big bed on an indolent summer afternoon, we sang. My dad would always chime in with his semi-ironic, half-operatic croon, but my mother was a serious student of music and she was not kidding around. She was determined that her daughters would know how to harmonize.
I was bad at it. I could begin a third higher than whoever was carrying the tune — my mother or one of my sisters — but soon my confident interval would waver...