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Posts Tagged ‘Brandeis University’

This “3 Questions” features Michelle Hoover, author of Bottomland. Ms. Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a MacDowell Fellow and a winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award. Her debut, The Quickening, was a 2010 Massachusetts Book Award “Must Read.” She is a native of Iowa and lives in Boston.
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Ms. Hoover will visit the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on March 30th to discuss her latest book, Bottomland, a novel based loosely on an unearthed family secret. The book follows the Hess family as they settles on Iowa farmland hoping to escape anti-German sentiment after WWI. As the country marches towards WWII, lives are changed when two of the daughters disappear.  The book has been critically acclaimed by many including Kirkus Reviews.

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The event with Ms. Hoover is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

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1.What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse taught me that both the shape of the sentence and its ideas matter, that these things are not in opposition but feed on each other. Kent Haruf’s novels, in particular Plainsong, gave me the courage to be plain spoken in my fiction, which I believe is my instinct in the first place. Toni Morrison’s Beloved proved that point of view and structure could always be fluid, and that the author has complete freedom in these choices, as long as the author carries the reader well enough along on that ride.url-1.jpgurl.jpg

2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

I’m currently fascinated with Kate Atkinson. I would love to talk with her about her career, moving from her beloved, rather zany, experimental books to more genre type crime novels, and now her two historical novels, Life After Life and God of Ruins, both of which I consider two of my favorites. I would love to talk to Emily St. John Mandel too. Her novel Station Eleven was perfection. I’d like to talk to writers who I think are essentially normal people that have done great, unusual work. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to talk at all.

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3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

I generally keep a pile of about ten or so, and the ones that catch me immediately are the ones I finish. I finished Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones a few weeks ago. A remarkable experience. And then there’s Charlie Quimby’s Monument Road, which I should have read years ago. Then there’s Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, Jesse Ball’s A Cure for Suicide, and Susan Barker’s The Incarnations—all from last year’s top book lists. I have a copy of Julianna Baggott’s Harriot Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders, as well as two books by former students of mine: E.B. Moore’s Stones in the Road and Emily RossHalf in Love with Death. I know these last three well, but they’re still in that pile, keeping it warm.

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

We are thrilled to welcome Scottish-born writer Margot Livesey to the Book Jam. She is the best selling author of six books, including Eva Moves the FurnitureThe House on Fortune Street and her newest, a “retelling” of Jane Eyre,  The Flight of Gemma Hardy (2012) which is set between Scotland and Iceland in the 1960’s.  Ms. Livesey is also the current Fiction Editor at Ploughshares, a renowned literary journal, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly. She has taught writing at many institutions such as Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, WIlliams College, Tufts University, and The Iowa Writer’s Workshop. For more information about her reading on Wednesday, March 14th or to reserve a seat, please contact The Norwich Bookstore at (802) 649-1114. This promises to be a very special event.

1) What three books have shaped you into the author you are today, and why?

The terrible novel I wrote while travelling round Europe and North Africa at the age of twenty-one, because it made me realise that I’d entirely failed to be influenced by all the wonderful novels I’d read.  Jane Eyre because it is such a wonderful example of a passionate first person narrator and it made me think about how to create a heroine rather than a woman character.  It’s also a fabulous example of the importance of setting in a novel.

2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

George Eliot.  In its scope, ambition and accomplishment Middlemarch is one of the great novels.  I don’t think Eliot would be a particularly easy person to have coffee with – I can imagine awkward silences and then rather long rants – but I do think she’d have something interesting to say about almost everything.

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Alan Shapiro’s wonderful debut novel Broadway Baby, Eleanor Henderson’s Ten Thousand Saints – another debut novel that recreates the 80s with amazing vividness, and Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal which is set in an all girls school and is so beautifully and intelligently written.

From Lisa Christie: While we often do not have the chance to read the latest work by an author before their visits to the Norwich Bookstore, I was able to read Ms. Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy in time for this “Three Questions” post.  Set in Scotland and then Iceland in the 1960s, this book provides an homage to Jane Eyre, while still remaining its own novel.  As a huge fan of both Scotland and Iceland, I truly enjoyed the sense of place she created — I could feel the wind of the moors and the sea and … Basically, this novel is a just a fun read – think of it as a beach read for March, and I think fans of Jane Eyre will be especially intrigued, or maybe annoyed or… So please join the two Lisas of The Book Jam in Norwich on Wednesday, March 14th at 7 pm for Ms. Livesey’s reading and discussion at the Norwich Bookstore.  But, call 802-649-1114 soon to reserve your seat because, as always, seating is limited.

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