Eliot Lamb has had countless nights like this before. He’s out with his mates, pint in hand, shots at the ready. They’re at the King’s Arms and will soon be making their familiar descent: pub, bar, club. But this time it’s different. When the night ends and tomorrow begins, he’ll graduate from Oxford and head reluctantly into adulthood. As he stares into the foam of his first beer, he knows it won’t be easy. Compared to early Martin Amis and Zadie Smith, Ben Masters is a fresh new voice in literary fiction, and his sparkling debut Noughties will blow you away.
“I’ve been deeply touched by letters, emails, and other messages from people who have read fathermothergod,” says author Lucia Greenhouse. “Some of these letters read like condolence notes – beautifully crafted and heartfelt, some from people who knew my family growing up, and others from total strangers. Many letters have come from those with their own complicated stories of growing up in a controlling religion – or sometimes a rigid family dynamic – that they needed to flee. The most moving messages have come from others raised in Christian Science. These have been both reassuring (we are not alone) and agonizing to read.”
“One day I woke up and the reality dawned on me that, good God, I’m living with a rooster; how did this happen to me?” writes Brian McGrory, author of Buddy. “I knew how it happened. I fell for a woman unlike anyone I had ever met. She lived in the suburbs, while I had spent my adult life in the city. She had two daughters. The older of those daughters incubated eggs at an elementary school science fair, and from one of those eggs came a little chick they called Buddy. The chick grew up watching television in their laps and sleeping in a little cage in the living room . . . . When Pam and I bought a house and we all moved in together, the rooster came with the whole package deal.”
The Forgiven is based loosely on a true story and is set in the fossil-mining desert towns of the Moroccan Sahara, at the far edges of civilization. It’s a remote and dangerous place that author Lawrence Osborne came to know as a wandering journalist and hardened traveler. He lived for some time in the Atlas Mountains and from there voyaged to the eerie mountain of Azemmour and the open quarries of Mirzan, where years later he has set this remarkable novel. Yet this is not at all an adventure story or a piece of exotica; it’s a study in character and the clash of cultures – subtle, gripping, and elegant.
“I used to be irritated whenever I heard people telling urban legends,” writes Shani Boianjiu, author of The People of Forever Are Not Afraid. “Perhaps it’s because I am gullible, and tended to believe some of them. Perhaps it’s because I love knowing as much as possible about stories, and want to understand exactly how and why every detail of the story came to be. I find that urban legends are often illogical—people’s actions and motivations don’t make sense. Why did the girl who almost got eaten by the pet snake let it sleep in her bed? Why, oh why, didn’t the babysitter who got tons of scary calls telling her to ‘check the children’ just, you know, check the children as soon as she got the first creepy call?”
Join Read It Forward here on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. ET for a LIVE VIDEO CHAT with novelists Sarah McCoy and Vincent Lam. Vincent and Sarah will answer your questions about writing fiction, specifically the kind of historical fiction that breaks down genre boundaries. RSVP now and see you soon!
“Sir Michael Redgrave’s wife, Rachel Kempson, was a great beauty as well as an accomplished Shakespearean actress from her twenties,” says Donald Spoto, bestselling author of The Redgraves. “She was much admired by colleagues like John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier, who directed her onstage; her film roles were few but memorable. She subordinated her career to her role as mother to her three children – Vanessa, Corin and Lynn – and never attempted to upstage them when they, too, rose through the ranks to international stardom. My friendship with Rachel was singularly valuable because she confided so deeply and richly the details of her marriage and her family life – details never before entrusted to any writer. She was a great support to me when I was preparing my life of Olivier, and she encouraged every project I undertook.”
When Henry Louis Gates Jr. recommends a book, we listen. Here’s what the Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University has to say about Tom Reiss’ new book: “The Black Count is a dazzling achievement, a feat of ingenious scholarly research that shows a novelist’s flair both for sketching character and recreating the smells and tastes, and colors and textures, of 18th century slavery and colonialism in Haiti, and aristocratic life in the metropole back in Paris. It’s also the fullest biographical study of the complexity and fluidity of race relations in the colonial period that I’ve ever read. I learned something new virtually on every page. No one who reads this magnificent biography will be able to read The Count of Monte Cristo or any history of slavery in the New World in the same way again.”