Ten (More) Books to Read This Summer

So, I was lucky enough to get asked to be on Greater Boston’s Summer Books programs with Julie Wu and Jabari Asim (whose recommendations were incredible) hosted by the book-loving Jared Bowen. You can see it here:

The problem though, was picking one book per the categories they put forth. I wandered my bookshelves (scattered among 6 rooms) trying to stay faithful to the rules they made (bring the book with you—and I lend books out all too easily) and those I made (a book that has stayed with me for more than a year, thus guaranteeing that it truly passed the barrier and entered the bookish bloodstream, but that I’d read (or re-read) within the past few years, and last, not be so old that folk couldn’t get it easily. Plus, the authors had to be alive—don’t even ask why

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How Jobs Taught Me What To Write

wordificator (2) Our writer’s code, written into our secret writer club rules, remind us that day jobs stand between us and a published novel. I understand. For years I thought if only and when and someday. And yes, working one, two, three jobs at a time took a big bite out of what would certainly have been my fast track to a Pulitzer. But slogging through, learning at, loving, and hating a number of jobs, that’s what formed and hold up my novels.

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James Patterson’s Grants to Independent Bookstores: Why They Matter

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Last Friday, Henriette Lazaridis Power and I spoke about writing, lying, rowing, Greece, shoplifting, being a chicken, infidelity, domestic violence, adoption and cookies in front of what seemed to be over 150 ardent readers. (I won’t say which topics where Henriette’s and which were mine. Sealed lips.) We were lucky enough to be chosen for the Friends of the Wolfeboro New Hampshire Library Annual Author Luncheon.

Many things were lucky for us: it was a truly warm, smart and engaged crowd. (They laughed at our jokes!) We got well cared for, well fed. The setting (Bald Peak Colony Club) was exquisite. The women in charge were on top of every detail. And, of course, hovering on the top of any author’s wish list: our books were sold. In a steady stream.

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I Am A Coward

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If a coward dies a thousand deaths, and a brave one dies but one, then I have died at least a million times.

I live my life cowering (at least in the corners of my mind.) Okay, I may appear bold to some—haven’t I always stood up for my children, for other people’s children? Don’t I stand up to street toughs? Didn’t I work with criminals for many years?

Certainly.

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Give Mom Some Schadenfreude for Mother’s Day!

A year ago ago, at an event at the incredibly wonderful Reading Public Library (in Reading Massachusetts) one of the librarians bought my book, The Comfort of Liesfor her mother. For Mother’s Day. Using a large amount of not-usually-available-to-me control, I didn’t say any of the following:

“Nothing says Mother’s Day like cheating, anger, and hating-being-a-mother for Mother’s Day!”
In fact, that’s true. Who the heck wants to get Little Women on Mother’s Day? Not me. Does anyone want  to psychically compete with Marmee?

No. I. Don’t.
I want to be feted with a pile of books that say:

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Can You Define ‘Women’s Fiction’?

 

How good does a female athlete have to be before we just call her an athlete? —Author Unknown

When did women’s fiction come to be? In 1956, the New York Times reviewed Peyton Place. It was called lurid, an expose, and earthy.” Grace Metalious is compared with Sherwood Anderson, Edmund Wilson, John O’Hara and Sinclair Lewis. I have no doubt that today (in our more feminist times?) she would be classified as a writer of ‘women’s fiction’ I’ve hit the caste system of novels before, from commercial versus literary fiction, to racial reading divides, to micro-indignities. Even name-calling. I thought perhaps I’d give it a rest this year, but alas my (woman’s? human?) hackles have once again been raised. A dear friend, whose soon-to-release book (okay, you pulled it out of me, it’s Robin Black and the book is Life Drawing) deserves everything from the NYT bestseller list to a National Book Award, has received excellent early reviews. (Life Drawing “might be the nearest thing to a perfect novel that I have ever read.”—The Bookseller, UK.)

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How Reading Formed Me, Saved Me & Opened My Eyes

 

“I go along with Albert Camus, who famously said, ‘The responsibility of the writer is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,’ ” Matthiessen said. “And that’s always been kind of my informal motto.”

Listening to the soundtrack of my life this weekend (Yes. NPR. I am that person.) I caught the above quote from Peter Mattheissen, who died on Saturday, on a replay of his 1989 Fresh Air interview. He was fascinating for many reasons—for instance, when he founded  The Paris Review (with George Plimpton) it was tied in with his stint at the CIA, using the magazine as a cover for his spying activities. Then, he moved dramatically to the left politically.

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New Novel ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE Available For Pre-Order

 

Randy Susan Meyers next novel Accidents of Marriage, coming from Atria Books 9/2/2104.

Accidents of Marriage explores the damaging effects of a spouse’s emotional abuse. Maddy is a working mother trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out during his periodic rages. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids, keeping a fragile peace until one rainy day when Maddy and Ben are in the car together. Ben’s temper gets the best of him and Maddy is left fighting for her life.

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Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole

(This post first ran in 2011)

In the continuous stream of NPR that is my life, I just learned that Jerri Nielson died of breast cancer. Dr. Nielson wrote a book I’ve read more than once, and that has now become the final solidification of my vow not to lend out well-loved books.

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Heart-Break Men, Liar Song Men, I Didn’t Mean to Lie about Being Married Men: Songs from THE COMFORT OF LIES

The more relationships I have in my rear view, the more I organize my exes according to the sad-song scale: heartbreak song men . . . liar-song men . . . I-didn’t-mean- to-hurt you-but-oops-I-guess-not-telling-you-I-was-married-was-a-mistake men. 

In The Comfort of Lies, pile-ups in the intersections of infidelity, adoption, marriage, parenthood and careers create perfect storms for desolate love music.  I gathered a playlist eponymous of the particular sadness or strength of each character, and, of course, each rang in a past love nightmare of my own–thus creating a personal blues loop, allowing me to fall down the rabbit hole of melancholia, making me ever more grateful that I ultimately smartened up and married a non-sad song man.

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