FIRST PAGE, FIRST LINE of Marilynne Robinson’s new novel Lila, LONGLISTED for the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction. #NBAwards #literature #books #booktastic #bookstagram #reading #mustread #readdeep @fsgbooks
Okay, so I’m going to try to write a book that fully explores the life of a special needs girl, two of them in fact. And I’m going to do in in alternating voices—in first person.
How do I get in the heads of people that I am not? Whose mental abilities are different that mine?
First, I have a background. I taught special needs (the upper end) in my classes when I taught high school.
Some would be able to read and some never would, but they were in my reading classes nevertheless.
I saw first hand what they could and couldn’t do. What their frustrations were and were not. How tired they became when we did the same things over and again. How they needed variety just as much if not more as the higher-functioning students did.
I learned that one thing the special needs student understood is that he or she is special needs. Knew exactly what that needs was. As Biddy puts it, what her “dys” is—her dysfunction.
These students may have a hard time learning, but they have had years to learn that they are different and that is frustrating.
I learned that not all special need students are patient, naive and kind. Some have lower boiling points than others. Some resent the attitudes that the “normal” people in society have toward them. I learned that they have coping skills that give them insight that can amaze. Or sometimes have tunnel vision and anger issues that come from their disabilities.
I did research, of course, but it kind of told me the same things that I saw in anecdotal form. I learned at what point in the I.Q. the idea of grammar and tense seems to form. I learned at what point in the I.Q. reading can happen. I learned that dysgraphia is the least diagnosed form of the spectrum. But possibly not the least prevalent.
I learned a lot of facts in my research, but I learned more from the students. I learned that inability to read or write or do more than simple math is not really the issue with most of the students.
It’s that people make assumptions about them that are not true. These students can become and will become and are now functioning members of society.
What they want most is to be appreciated for who they are.
I can write that. It’s not so different than anybody else.
(via Cynsations: Guest Post: Gail Giles, author of Girls Like Us, on Writing Across Mental Abilities)
Girls Like Us, Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
Announcing the amazing 2014 5 Under 35 Honorees, now in baseball card form thanks to Buzzfeed Books and Jarry Lee.
Collect them all!
Last night in Milwaukee: a collaborative reading/performance at Boswell Books. Shakespearean actors performed the scene from Lear that opens the book; I picked up at the line where the actor dies and read for a while, they dramatized the book’s interview sections—the shock and joy of hearing your text brought to life—we closed with a chapter where I read and they said lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve never done a more thrilling event. These weeks of strange new things.
"What does it feel like?" the sales rep asked when he picked me up at the Milwaukee airport the other day, asking about the National Book Award longlist. I don’t know. It’s wonderful. It doesn’t always seem quite real. It makes me very happy and also I’m aware at all times they could just as easily have picked an entirely different set of ten books for the fiction long list. This stuff’s crazily subjective.
Above: the art museum, not far from my hotel. I walked there yesterday with a few hours to kill between a radio interview and the Boswell event. It was closed when I visited, but beautiful to look through it at the lake on the other side.
Congrats to Fanny Howe, author of “Robeson Street,” who is a National Book Award finalist, for her book, “Second Childhood!” Check out the article in the New York Times, here: bit.ly/nationalbook
This is an incredible honor and we will be waiting with baited breath for when they reveal the five finalists on October 15th. Good luck, Fanny!
(Image credit to The New York Times)
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr
Buy Book | Kindle
The Leonard Lopate Show: The Hidden Drama in the Life of One of the Country’s Best Playwrights, Tennessee Williams
On Point: The Real Story Of Playwright Tennessee Williams
Longlisted for the National Book Award. The definitive biography of America’s greatest playwright from the celebrated drama critic of The New Yorker.
John Lahr has produced a theater biography like no other. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh gives intimate access to the mind of one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, whose plays reshaped the American theater and the nation’s sense of itself. This astute, deeply researched biography sheds a light on Tennessee Williams’s warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, even the shenanigans surrounding his estate.
With vivid cameos of the formative influences in Williams’s life—his fierce, belittling father Cornelius; his puritanical, domineering mother Edwina; his demented sister Rose, who was lobotomized at the age of thirty-three; his beloved grandfather, the Reverend Walter Dakin—Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is as much a biography of the man who created A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as it is a trenchant exploration of Williams’s plays and the tortured process of bringing them to stage and screen.
The portrait of Williams himself is unforgettable: a virgin until he was twenty-six, he had serial homosexual affairs thereafter as well as long-time, bruising relationships with Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Merlo. With compassion and verve, Lahr explores how Williams’s relationships informed his work and how the resulting success brought turmoil to his personal life.
Lahr captures not just Williams’s tempestuous public persona but also his backstage life, where his agent Audrey Wood and the director Elia Kazan play major roles, and Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Bette Davis, Maureen Stapleton, Diana Barrymore, and Tallulah Bankhead have scintillating walk-on parts. This is a biography of the highest order: a book about the major American playwright of his time written by the major American drama critic of his time.
FIRST PAGE, FIRST LINE of Thunderstruck & Other Stories from Elizabeth McCracken, LONGLISTED for the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction. #NBAwards #literature #shortstories #books #booktastic #bookstagram #readdeep @randomhouse @penguinrandomhouse @elizmccracken
HE WAS GATHERING dirty laundry when the bombs started falling.
It was early on the morning of December 7, 1941, at the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Mess Attendant Dorie Miller had just gone on duty aboard the battleship USS West Virginia. A six-foot-three, 225-pound Texan, Miller was the ship’s heavyweight boxing champ. But his everyday duties were somewhat less challenging. As one of the ship’s African American mess attendants, he cooked and cleaned for the white sailors.
(The story of one the first American heroes of World War Two continues here.)
Steve Sheinkin tells the history of Dorie Miller’s bravery and many other African-American servicemen in The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Photo credit: Bettmann/Corbis/AP images
Nearly everyone’s life is involved with service, I think, don’t you? I began work life as a clothing salesperson and now I am a priest, both lives of service, both jobs not so much pursued these days. They have placed me in the world and grounded me and I am grateful for that.
(via Spencer Reece & Christopher Richards | Work in Progress)
Spencer Reece’s second poetry collection, The Road to Emmaus, is Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry
Carl Hiaasen’s latest tale of Florida’s ex-governor turned swamp resident vigilante is Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Lit.
Meet Carl in person! Full schedule of The Skink— No Surrender book tour here.
Nominated for a National Book Award, John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax.
Read the excerpt here
May 16, 1979
Under a sliver of moon, on an island off the coast of China, a twenty-six-year-old army captain slipped away from his post and headed for the water’s edge. He moved as calmly as possible, over the pine scrub to a ledge overlooking the shore. If his plan were discovered, he would be disgraced and executed. (via Age of Ambition | Discourse in Progress)
Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
In 5 days Buzzfeed will announce this year’s 5 Under 35 honorees!
Honorees are promising young writers selected by past Winners and Finalists of the National Book Awards. The writers who chose this year’s honorees are: Andrea Barrett, Amy Bloom, Andre Dubus III, Aleksandar Hemon, and Karen Tei Yamashita.
The Honorees will be celebrated at an event on 11/17 that marks the beginning of National Book Awards week. The ceremony will be hosted by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (Mo’ Meta Blues) with Ben Greenman (The Slippage) as MC and DJ at Brooklyn’s powerHouse Arena, thanks to generous support from Amazon.com.