Friday, November 4, 2011

November's Book of the Month: Luminous Airplanes

Here's our pitch to get you to read our latest "Book of the Month" pick, Paul La Farge's Luminous Airplanes:

Paul La Farge's latest novel is, essentially, a chronicle of failure: it's about airplanes that never make it off the ground; a religious sect who awaited an uplifting rapture that never came; and what turned out to be the false promise of the dot com boom, when it seemed the sky was the limit for the possibilities of emerging technologies. Although a book of failures may not promise the most inspirational reading, La Farge manages, through his winsome narrator, to humorously and deftly weave together these (and other) strands to create a picture of the turn of the 21st century--set right here in San Francisco--that feels as true and fantastic as the world itself. Be sure to also explore the immersive online text that accompanies this splendid novel.

As usual, we guarantee your reading satisfaction.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lock the doors, unplug that TV, it's NaNoWriMo!

Today is the day, noble scribes. . . it begins!

Now in it's 13th year, The National Novel Writing Month is a tough as nails challenge, a grueling marathon, and if you complete it, a success worthy of writing books about. Oh, wait, that's the whole idea, isn't it?

Indeed. In a nutshell, NaNoWriMo is a month-long kick in the pants, encouraging budding novelists to commit themselves to beginning (from scratch), and finishing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Feh. . . you kids got it easy this year; if I remember right, wasn't last year's goal 60,000 words? But, I may still be living in a fantasy. . . Still, for those of you who are better with letters than you are with numbers, let me break this year's goal down for you: to reach 50k words in the month of November, you'll need to pump out 1,666 words a day, every day. I couldn't do it, but last year some 37,500 folks did - just look at how this movement has exploded:

Annual participant/winner totals

: 21 participants and six winners

2000: 140 participants and 29 winners

2001: 5000 participants and more than 700 winners

2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners

2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners

2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners

2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners

2006: 79,813 participants and 12,948 winners

2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners

2008: 119,301participants and 21,683 winners

2009: 167,150 participants and 32,178 winners

2010: 200,500 participants and 37, 500 winners

So good luck to all of you who accept this grand challenge - I'm in! Just remember, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. In other words, Just Write It!

the tuesday interview: Andrew Sean Greer

thanks to our friend Erica at royalquietdeluxe!

I still find it surprising when writers I admire say yes to my interview requests. Andrew Sean Greer is one of those writers. He's our writer, a Bay Area writer, and he's always struck me as someone you'd like to have around, someone who, as he says, is "game for a mysterious adventure."

RQD: What are you working on? What interests you about these characters?

Andrew Sean Greer: I'm finishing the third draft of a novel called "Many Worlds" that is a literary novel set in multiple universes. As for these characters, I finally get to have some people with a sense of humor!

RQD: What art or artists have an effect on your work?

ASG: Poetry and painting has the greatest effect on me; poetry because they are doing the hard work down in the mines, and what they bring up always inspires my own work, and painting because there is something about the intensity of the painted flat surface that mesmerizes and moves me outside all reason. I find portraits to be fascinating. But for intensity, something like Cy Twombly or Serra's recent show of drawings at the Met really do it for me. Big overpowering movement. Cleverness does nothing for me; emotion is all I'm interested in with art. That probably goes for fiction as well.

RQD: What book, story or poem do you return to over and over?

ASG: Now I don't return to things because I love them; I return to them because they help my writing. These are related but not the same. And I'd say Proust and Grace Paley and Wallace Stevens. They always knock my socks off and get me going.

RQD: What are you reading now?

ASG: I'm reading Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium

RQD: What did you read as a kid? What is its impact on your work now?

ASG: I read antique children's fiction--you know, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and Tom Sawyer, and the Boxcar Children and all that--that gradually turned into fantasy and science fiction and then turned into philosophical fiction by high school like Camus. Strangely enough, I still find those old books satisfying in ways that sci fi and even Camus are not, anymore. I think it's the quality of the writing and characterization. And the sense of people game for a mysterious adventure!

Drawing: Richard Serra "Late September" 2001

Sunday, October 30, 2011

a lazy blogger's links

I have nothing original to say today, but these are a few of my favorite things of late online:
  • Chip Kidd discussing his process on designing Murakami's 1Q84 cover.
  • this weekly list of diversions for kids called "Because the Sunday New York Times Doesn't Have Comics."
  • a NYT piece answering this: "When an e-reader is loaded with thousands of books, does it gain any weight?" In short? Yes. Barely.
  • Our peers in DC at Politics and Prose have a swell FB page that gleans advice on good living from famous authors.
  • Finally, on our own FB page, there's quite a lively discussion of literary Halloween costumes (though thankfully no Virginia Woolf suggestions. Yet).
Now go read a good book (like the one I'm enjoying now, Peter Orner's new novel Love and Shame and Love).