Friday, July 27, 2007

Making a Literary Life Friday: Catch a Little Literary Genius

Guess who's coming to town? Yes, Kristy Kiernan! On Saturday, July 28 at 2:00 pm, she'll be at Cornerstone Books in Salem, Massachusetts (one of my favorite indies, by the way) signing copies of her debut, Catching Genius. If you're one of the two people left who hasn't yet read Deb Kristy's novel that Booklist says is, "A warm, moving novel about the power of familial bonds," then get thyself to a bookstore and buy it. Absolutely a favorite here. And while you're in the Boston area, stop by Grub Street's Tenth Anniversary party and grab yourself something bubbly. If you can't make it, email Grub's creative director Chris Castellani and wish him well. Then buy yourself a present to celebrate, Chris's amazing book, A Kiss from Maddalena. Happy Birthday, Grub!

I have a confession to make. When I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows late, late on Wednesday evening, I slept with the book tucked in my arms the rest of the night, and the next night as well. I can't, I simply can't let those characters go. I feel such an overwhelming sense of validation that a nobody writer can create such works of delight and splendor.

USA Today's cover story this week about J.K. Rowling nearly brought me to tears. It is SUCH a fairy tale. It simply inspires. There's hope for all of us. There is!

After the enigmatic Larramie sent me Therese Fowler's debut novel Souvenir (Ballantine, February 2008), I spent hours ignoring everything needing my attention and devoted that time befriending Meg, Carson, and Savannah. Do you want an actual review or is it enough for me to say that I'm usually in bed no later than 9:00 pm, but Souvenir had me up until 2:30 am? I--couldn't--put--it--down. I don't want to ruin anything, but I reached for my first tissue by page 188 (the UK version advises keeping a box nearby), completely forgot this is a book written by someone I "know," and once I understood the import of the title -- whew! -- let's just say it was a gut punch. I was so misled. Buy this book. I've been missing the characters all week. Therese, you did it, you wrote an amazing novel.

Looking for another great book? I don't usually read mysteries (too impatient), but I LOVED Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan. LOVED it! I want Charlie McNally to be my bff, I want to meet her for coffee and then shadow her as she reports the news. I've bought at least five copies to give out to friends. This has a smart plot with an adorable character I think about when I fall asleep, I wonder what Charlie's up to...Good thing Hank has another in the series, Face Time, coming out in October. Funny thing about both Souvenir and Prime Time, very different books, but both have romantic plots. I don't believe in romance, not at all, but these two writers convinced me it just might exist. *Sigh*

Like Lisa, I have replayed Harry in my mind ever since I finished that book. The review in the Wall Street Journal said it all, that it is clear Rowling knew how the entire series would unfold from the start. Wow. My son, inspired to read by this series despite my best earlier efforts, wondered aloud what he will read now. I smiled. He is a Reader, hundreds of titles under his belt and a book in hand a good amount the time. He read Dave Barry's and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers and its sequel devotedly in the six weeks before that midnight moment of magic. Meanwhile, I finally got going on Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club. Set in Longfellow's Boston, I can smell the smells, feel as though I know the literary lights of the time personally, and am never going to look at flies, ankles or anatomy books the same way again.

If I could only carry one bag to my vacation destination, it would be my bag of books. My favorite part of packing is to overfill my seashell covered canvas bag and tuck it next to me for the drive. No matter how often my husband offers to place it in the "way back," I decline. I need my books with me.

I couldn't agree more with Amy on how Hank Phillipi Ryan captures the voice of her protagonist Charlotte "Charlie" McNally in Prime Time. Beautiful and talented, Charlie struggles with universal insecurities, and you will love her for her humanity.

Next up I read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Haunting and spare, it's amazingly compelling. Clearly written by an experienced craftsman. Which brings me to the debut novel I chose to read in Maine, Ghostwalk, by Rebecca Stott. The plot is intricate and the writing efficient, it is an accomplished first novel.

Finally, I read the magnificent and tender Beloved, by Toni Morrison. The prose is delicate, precise and the characters vivid. I am in awe of this novel's construction and found myself lost in it as a reader. Oh dear, what more is there to say that hasn't already been said about this novel chosen by the New York Times as the best book of the last twenty-five years.

I closed my vacation with a trip to Bridgton Books, where at midnight on Friday my family stood in line with the entire population of this small town to obtain our copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We read a third of it between the time we bought it and our last stop on the ride home. Our last day we made a trip to Books, etc in Portland, ME where each family member made a selection. Without knowing Kristy Kiernan was coming to MA, I chose Catching Genius. I can't wait to read it!

Note: I know it looks like all we did was read and go to bookstores, but truly we talked, laughed, swam, played games, ate lots of good food and slept, too. What a glorious week it was!


Larramie said...

AW-W-W-W, Kristy's coming up there; please, someone give her an enormous HUG from me!

Although TODAY has aired two segments of Meredith Viera's interview with J.K. Rowling on Thursday and Friday, a one-hour DATELINE Special on Sunday at 7:00 P.M. will feature the entire interview.

And, Amy, this is my weekend to escape into Therese's SOUVENIR. According to you and Lisa, I have a lot to look forward to!

Lisa said...

Well you know how obsessive I am, so I'm zeroing in on Souvenir with my comment. I NEED to talk to you Amy!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Larramie, I gave the lovely Kristy hugs enough for everyone. She really is as amazing as I expected, gorgeous too.

Lisa, Yes, let's talk!


Anonymous said...

I would be that 'one' person who hasn't, but I shall make amends shortly.
Best wishes

Kristy Kiernan said...

So late to this lovely thread, but in my defense, I was traveling, a southerner in the scary north ;-) and then, as soon as I got back, I was struck with a horrible throat-eating virus of some kind. A super-anti-biotic is now at work and I am nearly upright again. (Damn yankees giving me some illness, no doubt designed to wipe "y'all" off the face of the earth once and for all.)

Anyway, what a wonderful time I had with Amy! Who braved smokey basement Mexican restaurants and hair-curling heat to hang out with me at Faneuil Hall. She's gorgeous, too, and funny, and long-legged, and really, anyone who indulges and JINS me in my purse fetish must be wonderful, right?

Thanks so much, Amy, I'll be bothering you on every trip up there from now on.

Kristy Kiernan said...

*sigh* That JINS is really supposed to be JOINS. I blame it on my illness.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Wow! I just got here...and read your lovely thoughts about Prime Time. It's very difficult to type when one is jumping up and down, but that, if you can imagine it, is exactly what I'm attempting now.

I still am not used to it. Seeing a book with my name on it. Having other people talk about Charlie McNally, when, for so long, she lived only in my imagination.

During the process that began all this, I would drive home from work, and crane my neck to see if another of those brown envelopes, signifiying rejection from yet another agent, had appeared in my maibox.

One night, finally, in despair, I wailed to my husband: What if--what if Charlie dies? Because no one will ever get to meet her?

Now, Face Time in October. How does this stuff happen?

ANd so cyclical: I'm in the throes, and I do mean throes, of writing Air Time. And I'm thinking--tell me one more time--how do you do this?

Which brings me back to your thoughful and ever so welcome comments. Thank you thank you thank you.

oxxo Hank

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