Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Strout’

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 “3 Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore.  Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days 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 and read their books.

Today we feature Ann Hood, the best-selling author of The Knitting Circle, The Red Thread, and Comfort, among other works.  She has been the recipient of a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, a Best American Food Writing Award, a Best American Travel Writing Award, the Paul Bowles Prize for Short Fiction, and two Pushcart Prizes. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

She will appear at the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, December 11th to discuss her new book – Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting.  In this book, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow. For instance, Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn. Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting. Reservations are recommended. Call 802-649-1114 to reserve your seat.


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

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk,  Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler, and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver.

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

F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not only do I admire him as a writer, I think he would be an awful lot of fun.


3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Aimee Bender’s new story collection, The Color Master, a South African  mystery called Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie, and Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys.

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A wondrous collection

Pakistani Podcast – click to listen now or download http://www.box.net/files/0/f/26747034/1/f_523392002.

Pakistan seems to be in the news a lot.  Any coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq always mentions Pakistan. The floods this summer brought the country renewed attention for a different reason – a tragic natural event.  We noticed that, unlike the earthquake in Haiti which stayed in the news for months, no one was talking about the floods after the first few days.

A lighter look at life in Pakistan

So we did what we tend to do, we picked up some books from our local library and bookstore about the things we were wondering about – in this case Pakistan.

Lisa LC read and LOVED In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin.  She describes it as a series of interconnected stories about Pakistanis all tied together by a rural farm and it’s owner K. K. Harouni that just “blew her away”.  Not surprising as this book was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. The format reminded her of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and Interpreter of Maladies by Jumpha Lahiri. The writing was superb and having read the book makes her now pay closer attention to any news from Pakistan. Embarking on each chapter is truly like entering another room of wonders that offers insight into the foreign world of Pakistan. Lisa LC enjoyed thinking about the fact the author may have walked our streets in Norwich while an undergrad at nearby Dartmouth College.

J Lisa C somehow chose two extremely contrasting books. The first a political farce – A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif and the second a nonfiction account of US policy in Central Asia Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes uses the true 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia, the dictator who toppled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as a jumping off point. Hanif then creates a story riddled with real life characters such as the American ambassador to Pakistan, General Zia and even a mysterious OBL; conspiracy theories, Catch 22-like commentary about life in the military, life as a Muslim and life in Pakistan result.  Anyone looking for a more comic look at life in Pakistan should try this book.

Descent into Chaos, on the other hand, is a sobering read.  Well written and researched, the book takes a hard look at what is happening in Central Asia.

And of course talking about these books brought to mind other books from their past.

Lisa Christie recalled and recommends A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.  Lisa Cadow remembered and recommends The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad.

Happy Reading.

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Listen now to David Macaulay Jun 2010 or download at http://www.box.net/shared/mtmsc9sp4v

A favorite read makes for a fascinating discussion

“The way things worked” here last week, Lisa and Lisa conducted an author interview very close to home. We walked down our Vermont town’s main street, just past the local libraryDan & Whit’s general store and our favorite independent bookseller , to climb a set of wooden stairs that landed us in the magical studio (Greek columns included) of local author and illustrator David Macaulay .

Our conversation with Mr. Macaulay took a few more philosophical twists and turns than most jamcasts. We touched on questions such as “when is one truly educated?”, “why do we read?”, “what are “appropriate” topics for children’s literature?”, “how does one find their passion?” and “how do you tell a good story?”.

In between reflecting on these lofty topics (and nibbling on coffee cake Lisa LC brought along – see if you can hear the clinking of knives and forks in the background) we discuss in-depth David’s recent recommended reading including: Richard Hamblyn’s  The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies.   His thoughts about this nonfiction book inspired both Lisa’s to more deeply consider not only clouds but other every day phenomenon, such as snowflakes, raindrops, sand and eventually even death as we learned about another of Macaulay’s favorite books, How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin Nuland. This is the only book he has ever read  in one sitting as it was so fascinating he was unable to put it down.

An Unforgettable Read

We also learned what Mr. Macaulay’s  wife and children, all avid daily readers, are engrossed in and took a moment to appreciate the importance of a good librarian  .  His family’s current reading choices include a young James Bond series by Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz’s series for young adults, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout.  David Macaulay’s own childhood reading remembrances include Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales Grimm’s Fairy Tales and titles that use maps to enrich story and the stimulate the imagination – The Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan.

A "brilliant" book

Based upon David’s recent reading materials, Lisa LC added two recommendations:  Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup and Hot Pink Flying Saucers and Other Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney and International Cloud Appreciation Society members (who knew there was such an organization).

This epidsode of the Bookjam offers an insight into what can inspire the best conversations – hit upon what a person is passionate about and listen – and how much fun it is to speak with someone who is as  gracious as he is interesting.

David Macaulay’s many books include: The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Angelo, Black and White, Mosque, and Cathedral to name only a few.

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