Bedtime Stories: Sept. 2016

  • September 28, 2016

What do book lovers have queued up on their nightstands and ready to read before lights-out? We asked a couple of them, and here’s what they said.

Ann Garvin:

Recently someone asked me what I thought was the best thing about being an author. I wish I could answer in a way that makes me sound erudite and awesome. But, at the risk of sounding hopelessly uncool, I’d have to say it’s meeting other authors, reading their books, and then texting them questions and comments as I make my way through their novels. 

I’m sure they find it annoying, but then they shouldn’t have given me their phone numbers or friended me on Facebook if they didn’t want me to pepper them with questions or observations. 

I recently met Cristina Alger on Twitter. After chatting a bit, I bought both of her books. I plan on asking her questions about writing from a male POV in This Was Not the Plan and how she knew so much about the finance world to write The Darlings. She lives in NYC, and I live in Wisconsin. We are worlds apart, but in a little bit, our worlds are going to come together and I’m going to have some questions. 

I finally got my hands on Kate Moretti’s The Vanishing Year. Coincidentally, I met Kate on Twitter, too, and in her profile, it says she writes about crap marriages and murder. Not autobiographical. So, her book sits on my bedside begging me to shut off “Scandal” and read it. I’m going on vacation soon and I’m not going to touch it before then. Then, I’m going to DM her all kinds of questions about murder, mayhem, and why her mind goes to such dark places because she seems so very nice.

Many years ago, I met Patricia V. Davis at a conference. She is gorgeous and kind and recently sent me her new book, Cooking for Ghosts, which comes out October 7th. I already know I’m going to love it. It is about food, ghosts, friends, and long-ago losses that never quite go away. I can't wait to ask her about ghosts: Does she know any? And when is she going to have me over for dinner? I already know she can cook.

Amy Impellizzeri is a new friend and no, I didn’t meet her on Twitter. I met her through Kate Moretti (whom I met on Twitter). Shut up. Amy is one of those amazing people who do it all. She is a lawyer, a mother, a writer, and can get enormous amounts of things done while living a full, rich life. Secrets of Worry Dolls comes out Dec. 1st, but I have it on my Kindle right this minute. After I finish this blog, I’m going upstairs to get started reading it. I told her to have her phone ready because I want to know why plane crashes figure so heavily in her life and her writing. I also want to know if she is a when she flies, particularly. 

Social media has made authors accessible people, and everyone can enjoy a well-thought-out question answered by the person who wrote the book. I know I love it when a reader asks me a question. It takes writing from lonely to social, and that seems fitting for storytellers who thrive on the lives of others. 

Ann Garvin is a professor at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and author of the novels I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around, The Dog Year, and On Maggie’s Watch.

Garinè B. Isassi:

As an author who tends to write with my tongue mostly in my cheek, I am always looking for satirical novels. They are, unfortunately, not that easy to find. Most new humorous writing comes in the form of comic nonfiction, and that is a little annoying to me. Christopher Buckley only publishes every few years (They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?; Little Green Men; Boomsday); Billie Letts passed away in 2014 (Where the Heart Is); we haven’t seen fiction from Carrie Fisher in a while (Surrender the Pink; Delusions of Grandma), and the likes of Mark Twain are long gone.

This often puts me in the uncomfortable position of turning from my feel-good fiction to books that might be good for me. In the end, I am better for it. It’s a little like reluctantly agreeing to eat steamed broccoli and then finding it slathered in an amazing cheddar sauce.

My “to read” stack is usually based on the most recent lineup of the Gaithersburg Book Festival — where I serve as the committees chair of adult workshops — and then sprinkled with book-club reads and local authors. The biggest issue with the books on my nightstand right now is that there are too many of them.

Most recently, I finished My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein). A bit earnestly, Ferrante presents a post-WWII friendship saga of two girls from a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Naples. It’s the first in a series. Of course, the next book in the series, The Story of a New Name, is now on my nightstand for future reading.

This summer, on the local fiction front, I read two great multicultural books with diverse sets of characters (yes, these books are out there!):

  1. When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi. This beautifully poignant and timely story follows an Afghani widow and her three children as they flee the Taliban’s hold over their homeland and try to migrate to England.
  2. Provenance by Donna Drew Sawyer examines issues of identity and family through the eyes of a black man passing as white in the high-art world of the mid-20th century.

Still unread in my teetering local stack are Washing the Dead by Michelle Brafman, The Bowl with Gold Seams by Ellen Prentiss Campbell, and Things You Won’t Say by Sarah Pekkanen.

Some nonfiction that I keep picking up and putting down includes Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello, and Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton.

Garinè B. Isassi is the author of Start with the Backbeat: A Musical Novel.

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