Archive for March, 2009

My Most (Realistic) Year

March 26th, 2009 by admin | 3 Comments | Filed in Reading & Recommendations

So I met with The Mix last weekend (the high school girls’ book group I run at Little Shop of Stories), to discuss My Most Excellent Year. I was expecting a really huge, gushing response; this, after all, was a book requested by another member who absolutely loved it, and two other Little Shoppers could not shut up about it when they read it, either.

This was not the case: two different Mixers felt the book was “boring.” The overall feeling was that the book was too realistic. This made it, they explained, really really good, but because it was so good at being realistic, it became uninteresting. So uninteresting, in fact, that they couldn’t even finish it, and get to the ending which, to me, is pretty darn fantastical.

I had to puzzle over this. Because the thing I love best about fiction is when it manages to be incredibly real. I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy, I admit, because . . . well . . . everything is just made up. (Clarification: I do like some fantasy. But I like it when the magic is grounded in real things.) In general though it’s more interesting to me –more challenging– when writers manage to convey situations, characters, problems, and settings that are so true you feel like you know them yourself. This to me is part of the power of the book: to speak from one stranger to another and convey whole worlds of reality–enough so that an understanding passes between them.

But The Mix isn’t the only book group I lead that has expressed this disinterest in “real life” fiction. (And to be fair to them, The Mix does love a good memoir.) My book group for middle school girls, Page Turners, also prefers the fantastical adventure or mystery. I have lots of theories about why this may be so, but I put the question out to the blogosphere tonight: what is it about fantasy, and what is it about realism, that makes one more preferable to the other?

Thank You, Compulsive Reader!!

March 25th, 2009 by admin | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

Reviews for Pure are starting to roll in, as we’re now only thirteen days from publication. And my oh my, what a lucky thirteen it is–just got this great write-up from the Compulsive Reader! Thank you so much, Ms. Price!!

Congratulations, Matt!

March 12th, 2009 by admin | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

So it took me awhile, but I have finally found a winner for the Can-You-Find-A-Website-That-I-Would-Really-Dig contest! Congratulations to Matt Dean of Charleston, SC, who recommended Sloane Crosley’s site that’s all about her brilliant book, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. (

I want to thank everyone who participated in this contest. Yes, Libba Bray has a most excellent blog. And, yes, keeping track of the Red Sox is highly important. But Matt wins because his entry took both my interest in books and literature into consideration, as well as my deep fascination with crafty things and miniatures. You see, Ms. Crosley creates these crazy dioramas for her wicked-funny essays which appeals to me in all kinds of ways.

Her Diorama Diaries remind me, actually, of a presentation I saw (and was fascinated by) at one of John Hodgman’s Little Gray Book Lectures, years ago. Corinne May Botz was presenting her book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: a photographic study of the miniature crime scene replicas created by Frances Glessner Lee. Ms. Lee’s obsessively exact dioramas were used to help investigators train for real evidence collection. If you are at all interested in dollhouses, or smart women, or crime studies, I encourage you to explore Ms. Lee’s work (and Ms. Botz’s book, as well).

Dollhouses and good writing? Thanks so much, Matt, for pointing out Ms. Crosley’s site, and thanks to all of you for your great comments and tips!