Wednesday, September 30, 2009

just read and re-reading

I just finished Jonathan Tropper's latest book: This Is Where I Leave You - and it so deserves the great press its been receiving! It manages to take a sad situation (the death of a parent) and turn it into something  far from maudlin and contrived as the family sits the required seven days of shiva - that it will have you laughing out loud one minute and dabbing at your eyes the next.  Go get it.
Right now I'm re-reading a favorite ( something I do a lot)  Lucky Girls by the outstanding writer Nell Freudenberger - a collection of short stories that feature young American woman abroad (Southeast Asia and India) that are simply breathtaking.  Granted, I am a sucker for stories set in these locales or written from this point of view (anything Jhumpa Lahiri!!) - but really, setting is the least of the reasons to get this book.  Her writing is that good.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Wonderful Words....

Elizabeth Benedict author of Almost, and The Beginners Book of Dreams and the recently published: Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives  had this to say about The Summer We Fell Apart:

"The Summer We Fell Apart is a bright big-hearted novel about the complexities and heartaches of the way we live now."

I know I say this a lot - but I am truly honored and wowed by the generosity of my fellow writers!

Bookshelves I Have Loved

For years my mother kept a copy of War and Peace on the shelf in the laundry room sandwiched between the box of Tide and a bottle of Clorox bleach.  The book, covered in faded navy blue linen, was worn, and the title printed in gold gothic lettering, had all but disappeared from handling along the thick cracked spine.
I remember the heft of the book in my hands, the tissue paper texture of the pages of which the once upon a time gilt edges bore the wrinkled watermark stains from a laundry room mishap. I never came upon my mother reading the book, although when I asked her about it she said it was there to remind her of the world outside the laundry room.  I assume now that she meant that she was more than the mother of two small children struggling to make a living.  That somehow, that book reminded her of not who she was, but of who she could be.
In the early 1970’s, when childhood seemed to be more autonomous than it is now, I spent vast chunks of time alone. I was not neglected in any sense of the word, I was simply allowed the freedom of youth and I used that freedom liberally to explore the books my mother kept shelved in a low Danish modern cabinet in a corner of our living room. 
The cabinet had glass doors with a slot for fingers etched into the center panels.  Sliding the doors gave me a secret thrill, as if I were entering a forbidden, adult word.  Of course in many ways I was, because while I had been reading since I was four, it took longer to comprehend the meaning. I returned again and again to those eclectic shelves, for my mother was an equal opportunity reader.  Valley of the Dolls, Great Expectations, and Emma alongside Catcher in the Rye, which was next to Peyton Place, Ethan Frome and The Great Gatsby.  The mysteries noir of John D. Macdonald, near the poetry of Rod McKuen, the classics: To Kill A Mockingbird, Moby Dick and The Grapes of Wrath nestled tightly against Anna Karenina and Lady Chatterley’s Lover and an Oxford American Dictionary that she had purchased at a yard sale that bore a personal inscription, a declaration of love from the giver to the receiver, a love that must have soured enough for it to end up in a pile of forgotten books in a box at the end of a driveway.
There were no priceless first editions, or order to her collection, only her passion for a good story.  It was not unusual to come upon my mother at the end of an evening curled up on the couch beneath a circle of light with a book, her eyes darting quickly over the words, her finger poised ready to turn the page, totally captivated by the story of the moment. If she noticed me in the room she would glance up and pat the space next to her, even if it was past my bedtime.  Before she could change her mind I would grab whatever my fingers landed on from her shelves and settle at the opposite corner of the couch.  I’m certain I never finished one of those books through to the end during those late nights.
Years later, in college, I would eventually get around to really reading some of the classic and not so classic novels of my mother’s generation.  Invariably, there would be a moment of the familiar, a portal to the past as I stumbled across a passage that instantly transported me back in time to that couch, that circle of light and the very first bookshelf I ever loved.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Nervous Breakdown


I have a post up over at a really great site called: The Nervous Breakdown.  It's a collection of writers, voices from all over the globe on any topic you could imagine.  It's definitely worth a bookmark....check it out!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Nice Words....

I've been so fortunate to have Will Allison, author of the amazing: What You Have Left  offer a blurb for my book:

"Sibling love and rivalry take center stage in Robin Antalek's The Summer We Fell Apart, the story of the four Haas children, disconnected and adrift in the world, who somehow find their way back to one another in spite of themselves. Full of the best kind of heartache, it's an unforgettable, big-hearted debut that will make you want to pick up the phone and call your own brother or sister."

And this from Jessica Anya Blau, author of the beautiful novel: The Summer of Naked Swim Parties:


"The Summer We Fell Apart is a thoroughly entertaining and often heartbreaking romp through the chaos and comforts of a large and extraordinary family."

I cannot thank them enough!  Since the pre-pub process has begun, the generosity of the community of writers at large is truly an amazing and wondrous thing.  When an author whose work I admire so, offers praise to me, it leaves me, frankly, without sufficient words to offer in return.  I am honored.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September

  September is a month of beginnings, first steps, new school, new papers, new pencils, new shoes.  Is is a month that begs to be separated from the frivolity of August, of sun baked skin, of dog walks at dusk, of ice cream at midnight just because it's hot and we can.  September is cool mornings that feel like Fall and late afternoons full of sun that remind us ever so gently of August.  The curling brown leaves on the tomato vines, the last few fruit warmed deep orange, thin skin splitting at the touch of a fingertip, the pot of basil so full that even a harvesting doesn't dent the graceful, fragrant green sphere, know that it's September.  September means the calendar begins again, with curfews, early bedtimes and alarm clocks.  With schedules.  September is all business.  September is your chance for a do-over.  Re-invention.  September is the mother of all months.  A re-birth, maternal in its calendar number nine and its need for a hearty woolen sweater. September is a month of moving great distances, physically and metaphorically.  September.