Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “Joe,” by Larry Brown

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Larry Brown

 

The mysterious alchemy that brings books into my life has always fascinated me. I seldom fail to finish books because it’s always so evident that the book in my hands is there for a timely reason, as though there is a god of reading that has placed it there. Often titles appear off the lips of a network of fellow bibliophiles and so recently when friends Monica Wood and Robert Vitesse, voracious readers both, mentioned the astonishing impact of the fiction of Larry Brown on the same day, I immediately went to my shelves and pulled out a copy of Joe and began reading. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “The Fog of Forgetting,” by Genevieve Morgan

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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I’ve never been an ardent reader of the genre called ‘young adult’ fiction, probably because such books didn’t seem to exist when I was a young reader… or if they did, I was unaware of them. Recently we have seen an explosion of books categorized as Y.A., including many that transcend the limitations of the category of  ‘young adult’: these are simply gorgeously written stories whose main characters happen to be kids.  Continue reading →

The Remedy for Love Pretend Dinner Party and Group Interview

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence / Table For Two: Interviews

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It’s such a pleasure to talk about a new book with friends and acquaintances that I thought I’d host a dinner party to do just that, invite a bunch of writers, readers, booksellers, radio hosts, filmmakers, and musicians, among others, to a bash in celebration of The Remedy For Love.  We’ll meet somewhere nice, since it’s all going to be pretend anyway.  I’m thinking Kauai, the garden isle of Hawaii, and will foot the pretend bill for all that pretend travel to a pretend luau, complete with fire dancing and hula lessons, all under a flapping tent, ocean breezes, tropical warmth, a fine contrast to the weather in the new novel, which is cold, cold, cold, a blizzard of epic proportions.  I’ve given my guests just a little to go on—a quick description of the novel (a small town lawyer tries to help a homeless woman and ends up stuck in a cabin with her during the storm of the century…) , and the quotes above from Peter Heller and David Abrams (two terrific novelists I had the good fortune to meet on the Life Among Giants tour).  Because, I don’t want to give away too much!  And now, everyone’s assembled, huge round table, cheerful (and well-tipped) servers dropping fabulous food, bowls of rum punch, bottles of wine.  Everyone has a gift copy of The Remedy for Love, still gaily wrapped (do not open until October 14, 2014, which is publication day!).  The dancing has yet to begin.  Amid the laughter, someone speaks up, gets us started. Continue reading →

Serial Sunday: Crash Barry’s “Tough Island” (Final Episode and Afterword!)

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence / Serial Sunday

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Shaking hands with Cap’n Donald

 

Occasionally, I wonder how my life would have been different if I had stayed on the island and bought a crumbling fishhouse and wharf that was for sale for a mere five grand. Could’ve fixed it up and turned it into the coolest pad. Problem was, the shack was right next door to Donald’s wharf and he’d be the worst neighbor. He didn’t wave at me once after I stopped working for him. If I was walking down the road, he’d drive by and look the other way. Mary-Margaret didn’t wave either. And when I bumped into her at the post office, she’d silently glare at me with an icy gray stare. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Lounge: “Fridays at Enricos,” by Don Carpenter

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Don Carpenter

Good novels about the writing life are rare, at least to my recollection: Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon comes to mind, Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth perhaps? Maybe fiction writers find the idea of writing about being a writer to run the risk of  redundancy or worse, irrelevant navel-gazing, doubling their misery in the process.. For judging from the fiction writers that I know (and I know many), the act of creating fiction can be a sort of unique, self-imposed misery and its practitioners often seem to do it it because they are compelled and have no choice. Continue reading →

Kirkus Loves our Bill

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Things have been kind of quiet this summer at Bill and Dave’s but that is about to change. For one thing, there is a certain novel that is about to take the world by storm (if you know what I’m saying).  Publication day is October 14. Publisher is, once again, Algonquin Books.

Here’s what Kirkus Reviews has to say about The Remedy for Love, in the very first pre-publication review to appear:

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KIRKUS REVIEWS

The Remedy For Love

by Bill Roorbach

A closely observed meditation on isolation and loneliness “in a world in which no social problem was addressed till it was a disaster.”
Eric is a middle-aged “small-town lawyer with no cases,” struggling with separation and lost love, when he lays eyes on a young woman in the supermarket line who’s just such a disaster. Danielle is a hot mess brimming with suspicion and hostility, to say nothing of being hobbled by a bad sprain and no immediate prospects. When Eric helps her with her groceries—and then, episode by episode, with bits of her torn-up life—young Danielle responds mostly with cagey bitterness, dismissing the train wreck that is her existence with tossed-off observations like “[p]eople are complicated.” Yes, they are, and Danielle—if that is her real name, for, as she tells him, it’s “Danielle, for now”—is more complicated than most. Set against the backdrop of a howling Maine blizzard (“Storm of the Century, that’s what I heard,” says Eric. “Of course that’s what they always say”), Roorbach’s story never takes an expected or easily anticipated turn. Eric makes a project of Danielle, a project that brings some glimmer of meaning into his life. Danielle, in turn, resents being made into said project. She’s an exceedingly strange bird, but strange is better than nothing—maybe, for Danielle is harboring enough secrets to keep an NSA agent busy for years. “I’m sure I lied,” she tells Eric, simply, in one typical exchange. And so she has, though she has her reasons, which we learn as Roorbach’s superbly grown-up love story unfolds.
Lyrical, reserved and sometimes unsettling—and those are the happier moments. Another expertly delivered portrait of the world from Roorbach (Life Among Giants, 2012, etc.), that poet of hopeless tangles. Continue reading →

Lungren’s Lounge: “The Last Magazine,” by Michael Hastings

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Michael Hastings

Michael Hastings was the personification of a modern day journalistic Zelig. Beginning his career as an unpaid intern at Newsweek magazine, he began covering the invasion of Iraq when his fiancee, working for an NGO, was killed in an ambush that received international attention and resulted in his first book, I Lost My Love in Baghdad. He later wrote a piece for Rolling Stone magazine that described the barely-concealed disdain that high-ranking military officials felt towards the politicians in charge of the war effort. The resultant political and media shitstorm ended with the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Hastings’ award winning book, The Operators. He next turned his attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the secretive surveillance of the movement by Homeland Security, and then penned  a profile of Bowe Bergdahl, long before Bergdahl became the subject of international fascination after his release from Taliban captors in a prisoner exchange. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour,” by Joshua Ferris

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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In a quirky, maddening and compellingly captivating body of work, Joshua Ferris portrays the existential angst of modern life. His tone is a sometimes frantic high-wire dance reminiscent of a synergistic mix of the Coen brothers and Dostoyevsky. Yet always, despite the sometimes implausible details of his narratives, Ferris is urging us to consider our plight: what is the meaning of existence in a world that seems bereft of meaning? Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Lounge: “Driving Mr. Albert,” by Michael Paterniti

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Mike Paterniti

 

Working in a bookstore affords me the enviable opportunity to read things hot off the press, sometimes even earlier, with galleys and advanced reader’s copies. But occasionally the deluge can become overwhelming and then it’s time to go back to the dusty stack in the corner and grab that long-neglected classic, the one you’d always meant to read… Recently I did just that with Michael Paterniti’s classic from 2000, Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America With Einstein’s Brain. Continue reading →

“Big Bend” is Back and Better than Ever!

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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The University of Georgia Press recently re-issued my book of stories, Big Bend, in a new paperback edition,  and, for the first time, as an e-book.  So bug your local bookstore, and load up your e-reader! Continue reading →