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Posts Tagged ‘TS Eliot’

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We are very excited to present this week’s “3 Questions” with the writer George Howe Colt, bestselling author of The Big House, which was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (and that we LOVED), Brothers, November of the Soul, and his latest book The Game: Harvard, Yale and America in 1968. He lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife, the writer Anne Fadiman.

Mr. Colt will appear at 7 pm on Friday, December 14 at the Norwich Bookstore to discuss The Game: Harvard, Yale and America in 1968. The book offers an analysis of the USA during 1968 as seen through the young men who lived it and were changed by it. These men include a Vietnam Vet, two anti-war activists, an NFL prospect who quit in order to devote his time to black altruism, a postal worker’s son, a wealthy WASP, and the actor Tommy Lee Jones. Mr. Colt’s latest book received a starred review from Kirkus – “A richly detailed, engaging story… First-rate reporting and writing that will appeal to gridiron fans and general readers as well.” We think it would make a great holiday gift for the nonfiction readers in your life, and the Bookstore can ask Mr. Colt to personalize it for you if attend or contact them in advance.

This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended as space is limited. Please call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save a seat. Please note this event is on a FRIDAY, not the usual Wednesday night for events at the Norwich Bookstore.

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And now, his answers to our three questions. (Our favorite fun fact – Mr. Colt is married to Anne Fadiman. Our favorite part of his answers — his use of baseball lingo to describe the stack of books by his bedside.)
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1. What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Of the many books that got me hooked on reading when I was a child, this was my favorite, because it so quickly and completely transported me from the suburbs of Boston to the garrets of London.

Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot. After reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I wondered, “How did he know me?” The book that made me decide I wanted not only to read, but also to write.

Is There No Place on Earth for Me? by Susan Sheehan. The book that showed me what nonfiction was capable of.

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

My wife, Anne Fadiman, with whom I am lucky enough to have a cup of coffee—or two—every day. She’s always interesting, always surprising, and makes a mean cold brew. If I had to invite a guest, I’d invite Jack Kerouac, an early literary hero of mine—but only if I could invite the pre-1957 version, before On the Road and all the craziness.

All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery Cover ImageIn the Darkroom Cover ImageScenes of Clerical Life Cover Image

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

I just tidied up my bedside table, reducing some fifty or sixty books to a more-manageable-but-still-tottering skyline of 24. At the plate, on deck, and in the hole, respectively: All on Fire, Henry Mayer’s biography of William Lloyd Garrison; In the Darkroom, Susan Faludi’s memoir of her father; and Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot.

NOTE: As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, The Book Jam has 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.
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As we write this, snow blankets our Vermont homes. Yes, after finishing the least snowy winter we can remember, April brings significant accumulation. The words of TS Eliot’s  The Wasteland spring to mind –

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

You would think leading with TS Eliot would begat reviews of poetry. But instead, we turn our thoughts to reviews of “comfort books”, a concept inspired by recent frustration in one of our homes. A newly turned teen in one of our two families (unnamed to “sort of” preserve his anonymity), has been re-watching his favorite super hero movies during months of Friday family movie nights. He refuses to consider other options. His stubbornness frustrated the Lisa who is his mom, until she remembered she did the same thing when she re-read and re-read books (there was no Netflix then) as she moved from childhood to teenagehood (not sure that is a word, but it should be). Sometimes the uncertainties of life are enough, and you just need reliable, high-quality entertainment.

Since the Book Jam’s other Lisa re-read as a pre-teen/teen as well, we honor the comfort emerging from the familiar with reviews of our current “comfort books/authors”. For us, familiarity emerges as you meet someone (author or character) over and over again on the pages of a book. As a result, many of these books are part of a series because series most easily help you get acquainted with characters over time. But whether our picks form a series or just a collective of books by a favorite author, when life proves too hectic, or when we need a palate cleanser after one too many WWII books, we turn to these authors and their characters for the comfort their familiar styles of prose and their dependability for creating a well-told tale create. We hope you will enjoy these as well. Happy April.

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Bruno, Chief of Police Cover ImageBruno, Chief of Police Mystery Series by Martin Walker (assorted years) – This is comfort reading at its very best. For fans who wish to return time after time to the French countryside and spend time with down-to-earth Inspector Bruno Courreges, it is good to know that there are now eight mysteries in this wonderful series. Set in the Perigord region, readers not only get to learn about black market truffles and E.U. hygiene inspectors threatening the production of local cheeses — they also have the chance to experience this amateur gourmet whipping up an omelet, going to the local cafe for an aperitif, or venturing out on a wild boar hunt. Bruno is an immensely likeable character – “tres cool”- and brought deftly to the page by Martin Walker, a foreign affairs journalist who now lives in the Perigord region himself. Don’t forget to check out recipes from the new “Bruno’s Cookbook” (!) or to listen to Walker and his wife interviewed about it on the Diane Rehm Show here. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

The Waters of Eternal Youth Cover ImageCommissario Guido Brunetti Detective Series by Donna Leon (assorted years) – We love Commissario Brunetti and his family. Brunetti loves his intelligent and strong-willed English professor wife, their son, and their daughter; we love him for loving them. We also love the fact these books bring you to Venice, where you can almost taste the food the characters prepare and enjoy, where the wine flows freely at each meal, and where walks to work take the characters past piazzas and canals and Italians of every possible personality. Read one when you need to travel for awhile and can’t afford a plane ticket, or when you need a reminder that not all police, politicians, or famous personalities are corrupt. As the co-owner of the Norwich Bookstore writes in her review of the latest in this series, Ms. Leon writes with an “eye toward intelligent and thought provoking insights on the human condition”.  This series also comes with a cookbook of Italian favorites. Enjoy! ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

Orbiting Jupiter Cover ImageAny children’s book by Gary D. Schmidt (assorted years) – I honestly love every book for kids by Gary Schmidt that I have consumed to date, beginning with Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, now my least favorite of his novels. My love affair continued with Wednesday Wars, which uses Shakespeare to create a connection between a troubled student and a teacher, and then intensified with OK for Now, a tale dealing with the aftermath of war and how art, good friends, and second chances can helpThese last two titles are on my favorite children’s books list (both are loved by my oldest son as well). In his novels, Mr. Schmidt compassionately tackles tough topics, including Vietnam War, foster care, death, and abuse, but also honors readers by not preaching. Most recently, Mr. Schmidt impressed me with the incredible Orbiting Jupiterwhich due to content, I recommend reading WITH your pre-teen or pre-reading before gifting so you can know what questions may arise. In it, Mr. Schmidt creates a superb tale around a family built from foster care, in which the foster child has recently fathered a child at the tender age of 13. I know that sounds horrid, but in this tale somehow it is not. Please read this book and Mr. Schmidt’s other novels.  I turn to them whenever I need a great children’s book. ~ Lisa Christie

The Bat Cover ImageDetective Harry Hole Novels by Jo Nesbo (assorted years) – For those of you looking for grim and brooding heroes in your detective novels, Harry Hole is for you. Oslo detective Harry Hole battles personal and professional demons throughout these books, and as such is more flawed than either Chief Bruno or Commissario Brunetti. But, his universe is also populated with support, including a complex assistant detective who happens to be a practicing Muslim with a mysterious past, and a loyal, but challenging secretary. Or as The New York Times Book Review stated, “fiendishly complex and terrifically entertaining”. As a bonus, you travel to Norway every time you pick up one of the books in this series. ~ Lisa Christie

To Kill a Mockingbird Cover ImageTo Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) – This was read, re-read, and beloved as a teen, young adult and adult. We needed to know there were grownups who could be counted on to do the right thing, and be kind to kids as well. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

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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 “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. Today’s post features Sue Halpern.

Ms, Halpern is the author of five previous books. Her writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Time, The New Yorker, Parade, Rolling Stone, and Glamour, among others. She has been a Rhodes Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow and is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. She lives with her husband, the writer Bill McKibben, and her dog, Pransky, in Ripton, Vermont.

Her latest book began as a way for a woman and her pet labradoodle, Pransky, to find something to fill their time with her husband on the road and her daughter out of the house. Halpern and her certified therapy dog began going to a Vermont nursing home once a week to visit with the residents. This endeavor quickly became a meaningful journey into understanding the lives of those whose end is near.  Written with warmth, humor, and compassion, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home, combines a series of anecdotes with Halpern’s own analysis, revealing depths of human nature she hadn’t expected in the face of infirmity, dementia, and death.

Ms. Halpern will be reading from A Dog Walks Into A Nursing Home on June 26 at the Norwich Bookstore.  This event is free and open to the public.  While reservations are not required, these events do fill.  Be sure to reserve your seat early by calling 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com.

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

 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960). This was the first book I ever read by myself, and once I had mastered it, it opened up the whole world of books and reading to me. We had a milkbox in front of our house, and I’d keep it in there so I could climb the big tree in our front yard and take it up there with me. I loved the zaniness, of course, but I think that Dr. Seuss imprinted the idea that language is flexible and fluid, that rhythm matters, that you could create an entire universe in your head and bring it to life on the page.

Roget’s Thesaurus. I found this book in the fourth grade and was amazed at how many words there were for the same thing, and that words existed in families and were connected in ways that were not always obvious, and that the precise word could make all the difference in the world. Instead of blue, for instance, beryl, blue-green, cerulean, indigo, navy, royal, sapphire, teal, turquoise and ultramarine, to name a few. This discovery led me to write my first short story that same year, about a guy named Roger Thesorus, who was on his way to an etymology conference. It was a really good story!

The Four Quartets by TS Eliot (1968). Whenever I have trouble writing, I open a book of poetry. Eliot is my go-to guy, followed by William Carlos Williams, Auden, and Wallace Stevens. Poetry is clarifying. Every word counts. Poets practice metaphor and simile and concision in an almost athletic way. I’ve benefited in both my non-fiction and fiction from reading poetry that is both spare in words and expansive in image and meaning, and I’ve endeavored to bring that discipline to works of prose. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded, but that’s the goal. 

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

 Can it be tea? I’m caffeine-free. If so, I’d like to have high tea in Bloomsbury with Virginia Woolf. I’d want to ask her about that room of one’s own, and gossip about the members her literary circle (e.g., T.S. Eliot!), and talk about lyricism and intention in fiction and if the sound of words is as important as the meaning of words, and of course I’d like to talk about our dogs.

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 3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Far From The Tree:Parents Children and their search for identity by Andrew Solomon (2012); How To Get Rich In Rising Asia by Moshin Hamid (2013); Where’d you Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012); The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm; This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (2012).

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