Today on the Avid Reader – Sam’s Hour

We would first like to thank everyone for giving Jerry Spinelli such a warm welcome here at the Wellington Square Bookshop. 

Today on the Avid Reader at 5:00pm (WCHE 1520am), Sam pontificates about current events in the publishing world as well as anything else that comes across his mind.

In a bit of a diversion from his usual author interviews Sam will be a one-man-show today.  He will be discussing bookstores, a dying breed, as well as politics and why you should vote.  Basically anything that pops into his mind.  It should be pretty exciting!

Interview with Justin Torres author of “We The Animals”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Justin Torres,  author of We The Animals.

Three brothers tear their way through childhood – smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn – he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white – and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.

We the Animals [is] the kind of sensitive, carefully wrought autobiographical first novel that may soon be extinct from the mainstream publishing world…An affecting story of love, loss and the irreversible trauma that a single event can bring to a family. ~The New York Times

A novel so honest, poetic, and tough that it makes you reexamine what it means to love and to hurt.~O, The Oprah Magazine

Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Glimmer Train, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.

Listen to Sam’s interview with Justin on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

Interview with Don Lee, author of “The Collective”

In 1988, Eric Cho, an aspiring writer, arrives at Macalester College. On his first day he meets a beautiful fledgling painter, Jessica Tsai, and another would-be novelist, the larger-than-life Joshua Yoon. Brilliant, bawdy, generous, and manipulative, Joshua alters the course of their lives, rallying them together when they face an adolescent act of racism. As adults in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the three friends reunite as the 3AC, the Asian American Artists Collective together negotiating the demands of art, love, commerce, and idealism until another racially tinged controversy hits the headlines, this time with far greater consequences. Long after the 3AC has disbanded, Eric reflects on these events as he tries to make sense of Joshua ‘s recent suicide. With wit, humor, and compassion, The Collective explores the dream of becoming an artist, and questions whether the reality is worth the sacrifice.

“Heartbreaking, sexy, and frequently funny.”
—Stephan Lee, Entertainment Weekly

Don Lee is the author most recently of the novel The Collective. He is also the author of the novel Wrack and Ruin, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prize; the novel Country of Origin, which won an American Book Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and a Mixed Media Watch Image Award for Outstanding Fiction; and the story collection Yellow, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Members Choice Award from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. All of his books have been published by W. W. Norton.

He is a third-generation Korean American. The son of a career State Department officer, he spent the majority of his childhood in Tokyo and Seoul. In Tokyo, he attended ASIJ—the American School in Japan. He received his B.A. in English literature from UCLA and his M.F.A. in creative writing and literature from Emerson College. After graduating, he taught fiction writing workshops at Emerson for four years as an adjunct instructor, then began working full-time at Ploughshares. He was an occasional writer-in-residence in Emerson’s M.F.A. program and a visiting writer at other colleges and universities.

Listen to Sam’s interview with Don on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

Interview with Karen Thompson Walker, author of “The Age of Miracles”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Karen Thompson Walker, author of “The Age of Miracles”.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

“[A] gripping debut … . A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum, the story also feels eerily plausible, as if the problems we’ve been worrying about all along pale in comparison to what might actually bring our end.”
Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful and frightening … Karen Thompson Walker takes a fantastic premise and makes it feel thrillingly real.”
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

Karen Thompson Walker was born and raised in San Diego, California, where The Age of Miracles is set. She studied English and creative writing at UCLA, where she wrote for the UCLA Daily Bruin. After college, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the San Diego area before moving to New York City to attend the Columbia University MFA program.

A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work—sometimes while riding the subway.

She is the recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

If you miss an interview you can always catch it at Wellington Square Books or on the Avid Reader at iTunes.

This Week in the Bookshop – The First Edition Club

Did you know that we have a number of first and limited edition club books?  Once a month the members of the First Editions Book Club receive a signed first edition of a new work of fiction by an emerging author who shows exceptional talent and promise.  June’s signed first edition is Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.

Sam recently interviewed Jess Walter for his weekly radio broadcast, The Avid Reader.  You can listen to the podcast of his interview on iTunes.

Here is what Sam has to say about the book:

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, is literally one of those few books that you can’t put down.  It is April of 1962.  The catastrophic set of “Cleopatra” sets the opening of this novel.  A dying American actress, an extra in the film, arrives in a town so small that it exists primarily as a rumor.  Dee Moray, one of the book’s numerous protagonists, a beautiful blond, enters Porto Vergona and immediately smites young Pasquale Tursi, the  proprietor of the adequately named “Hotel Adequate View”.  A shared moment between the two creates the link that unites them and the book itself, together for a lifetime.  Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”, the book’s magical narrative leads us deeper and deeper into the realization that the moments of our life, combine, or stand alone, to shape our very existence, our personalities and our fates.
 
Suffice it to say that this book enthralled me, and will you.  Listen to my interview with Jess Walter and hear him explain the nuances of his work and the muse that led him to write this, which, along with A Visit From the Goon Squad are my picks as the two best books of the year.

Interview with Chris Cleave author of “Gold”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Chris Cleave, author of Gold.

What would you sacrifice for the people you love?

KATE AND ZOE met at nineteen when they both made the cut for the national training program in track cycling—a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and unwavering commitment. They are built to exploit the barest physical and psychological edge over equally skilled rivals, all of whom are fighting for the last one tenth of a second that separates triumph from despair.

Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.

“Cleave goes for the gold and brings it home in his thrillingly written and emotionally rewarding novel about the world of professional cycling … Cleave expertly cycles through the characters’ tangled past and present, charting their ever-shifting dynamic as ultra-competitive Zoe and Kate are forced to decide whether winning means more to them than friendship … Cleave likewise pulls out all the stops getting inside the hearts and minds of his engagingly complex characters. The race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling breathless … From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement.” – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Chris Cleave is 38. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

His debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction award 2005.

His second novel is titled Little Bee in Canada and the US, where it is a New York Times #1 bestseller. It is titled The Other Hand in the UK, where it is a Sunday Times bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award.

Gold is his third novel.

Chris Cleave has been a barman, a long-distance sailor and teacher of marine navigation, an internet pioneer and a journalist.

Interview with Alice LaPlante author of “Turn of Mind”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Alice LaPlante author ofTurn of Mind.

Is the perfect murder the one you can’t forget or the one you can’t remember?

Dr. Jennifer White, a brilliant former surgeon in the early grips of Alzheimer’s, is suspected of murdering her best friend, Amanda. Amanda’s body was found brutally disfigured — with four of her fingers cut off in a precise, surgical manner. As the police pursue their investigation and Jennifer searches her own mind for fractured clues to Amanda’s death, a portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two uncompromising, unsentimental women, lifelong friends who were at times each other’s most formidable adversaries.

Alice LaPlante is an award-winning fiction writer and university creative

writing instructor. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and teaches creative writing at both Stanford and San Francisco State University. The author of five books (and counting), Alice includes among her publications a writing textbook, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story, published by W.W. Norton in 2009; Playing For Profit: How Digital Entertainment is Making Big Business Out of Child’s Play (Wiley, 2000); and Passion to Profits: Business for Non-Business Majors (The Planning Shop, 2008).
Her novel, Turn of Mind (Grove Atlantic, July 2011) became a New York Times, NPR, and American Independent Booksellers Association bestseller within a month of release. Turn of Mind was also designated a New York Times Editors’ Choice, an NPR, O Magazine, Vogue, and Globe and Mail Summer Reading Pick, and is featured in Barnes and Noble 2011 Discover Great New Writers program. Turn of Mind was also the first work of fiction to win the Welcome Prize.
Alice also has more than 25 years experience as an award-winning journalist, corporate editorial consultant, writing coach, and university-level writing instructor. She has written for Forbes ASAP, BusinessWeek, ComputerWorld, InformationWeek, Discover, and a host of other national publications. Her corporate clients include some of the best-known brands in the technology industry, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Deloitte, and HP.

If you miss an interview you can always catch it at Wellington Square Books or on the Avid Reader at iTunes.