This week: May short-story read-along, a new Q&A feature, our thoughts on “unlikeable characters,” and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.
I’ve announced the May Short Story Read-along, To Do by Jennifer Egan. We’d love your participation. Head on over, read the story, and then see if you can write a story in “list” format. The best way to share your story is to post it on your own blog, tumblr, or in a Google Doc, and put the link in the comments of the read-along post. If your story is very short, you can post it in the comments, but be aware that much of the formatting will be lost.
We’ve made it easy for you to ask us all of your burning questions. We loved doing the live podcast Q&As at recent Booktopia events, so we’d love to make it a more regular feature. If you have a question for either or both of us, we’ll try to answer it on the podcast. Ask about our jobs, the podcast, request a book recommendation, or ask us about anything you like. If we can answer, we will. Depending on the volume of questions, we’ll either do a Q&A episode or integrate the answers into regular episodes. Thanks to Book Fight for giving us the idea (I’m a huge fan of their “Writers Ask” episodes).
To ask your question, just click on the BOTNS Q&A form: http://bit.ly/BOTNSQA
Looking for Friends (in all the wrong places):
Claire Messud was recently interviewed by Publishers Weekly about her novel, The Woman Upstairs. In the article, the interviewer asked Messud, “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” Messud’s answer is terrific, and started a conversation on blog posts and social media about “unlikeable characters.” Michael and I share our thoughts about these complicated characters. Some of the other books that we mention during this conversation: The Corrections, Gone Girl, Finn, Lolita (audio read by Jeremy Irons), Tampa, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving We’d love to hear your thoughts, too.
Two Books One book we can’t wait for you to read
Michael talks about Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, a novel about a man who saves the daughter of his neighbor from abduction by Chechen authorities. Beuatifully written and emotionally compelling, it spans the whole of 2 Chechen civil wars. Michael has coined a new term for this type of book: “clutch-worthy” — the kind of book that after you finish, you clutch the book to your chest.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to postpone my segment 3 recommendation because I do feel strongly that this book is important and you should think about reading it. Anthony Marra is touring (he’ll be in Corte Madeiera and Santa Cruz in June), and many bookstores have signed copies. Check with your local bookstore. It is also the May pick for Powell’s Indiespensible — I know many of you are members, but even if you’re not, as of now it appears to still be available to order.