Tuesday, June 23, 2009

books, publishing, and a small house

Not everyone is interested in writing. Or reading, or books, or the things that go along with them. But if you are, if you've ever written and enjoyed it or wondered what it was like to get a book published or how the vast publishing machinery worked, there is an interview that you should read. I love reading good interviews, and this is one of the best-done that I have seen.

Jonathan Galassi is the publisher of Farrar, Straus,& Giroux (FSG). He talks in the interview about being a 'small' house (publishing companies = houses), which they are, relatively speaking. But they've produced some of the top American literature in the last handful of decades and are consistently on the bookshelves alongside Random House, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins. They've won 22 Nobel Prizes for Literature, 22 Pulitzers, and have published books by Marilynne Robinson (Gilead), Pablo Neruda, Seamus Heaney, T.S. Eliot, Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex), Jonathan Franzen, Flannery O'Connor, Roberto Bolano, Elie Wiesel, Shirley Jackson (The Lottery), Philip Roth . . . the list goes on and on. The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is it may be a smaller house, but it's huge in terms of literary impact. Mostly literary fiction, they also publish some nonfiction and a good deal of poetry.

SO - all that to say, it would behoove anyone even sort of interested in the process of writing, or in reading a good interview, to check this out. Galassi strikes an integrous figure; he represents his love of writing and authors well, acknowledging that bookselling is nothing less than a competitive business but that when all is said and done, "It's the intimacy with the author" that makes publishing more than just a day job.


(p.s. - interview is 5 pages long. be warned, or get excited)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Will of God as a Way of Life

"How wonderful it is, then, when faith gives way to sight and we catch glimpses of God’s wonderful plan . . . All will be well. Not because life will turn out that way naturally, as if there were some kind of universal law that ensures it. Life is not good because that is simply the way life is. If anything, life is often hard, mean, and brutal. But in the end life will turn out well because God is good and kind and gracious. He is working mysteriously to redeem us and restore the world to what he intended it to be. All will be well because God is God. "

I subscribe to this publishing-industry e-newsletter, Shelf Awareness. One of my favorite parts is down at the end when they’re interviewing an author and they ask a bunch of questions, like “What book have you faked reading?” (War and Peace is a big one) and “What book have you bought just for the cover?” One of the last questions is “What book are you an evangelist for?”

Well, this is my answer. The Will of God as a Way of Life, by Gerry Sittser. My friend Michele first made us buy it because we both LOVED the title (subtitle: How to Make Every Decision with Peace and Confidence). If you don’t want to run out and buy it after that, well, I don’t think I’ll be able to convince you. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. After my first time reading it through, I stalked the author on his college’s website and sent him a totally effusive e-mail about how his writing had revolutionized my way of thinking about God’s will, and he very kindly wrote me back.

Sittser’s personal story is deeply compelling, filled with the kind of tragic loss that is literally hard to believe. You can read about it in another one of his books, A Grace Disguised, but suffice it to say that his understanding of the will of God is deeply rooted in the life-shaking, earth-shattering events that have served as markers in his life, as well as in the mundane and quiet moments that make up the vast majority of our time. And that’s the beauty of his writing – Sittser ‘gets’ it; he lives out of the center of God’s will and understands that God cares most about who we are becoming, not what we do or where we go or where we work or who we marry, even. It’s a delicious kind of freedom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

can a girl get 125 mercury bud vases?

apparently not. wedding stuff is starting to remind me a lot of spring sing . . . lots of balls up in the air, and no where for all of them to land. not yet, at least.

but this isn't going to be a wedding planning blog. i promise. it is just a quick hello. lately, i have been loving the tv show 'gene simmons family jewels,' and have set it to be perma-TIVOed. my evening routine usually goes something like this:

6:25 - get home from work
6:27 - eat a piece of string cheese, a brownie, and a few pieces of the roast chicken in the fridge for dinner
6:30 - eat another brownie
6:50 - eating that brownie took my 20 minutes, so now i lace up my tennis shoes and go for a run on my preestablished route that really never varies
7:40 - get home after being lapped by a 14 year-old highschool kid running for track
7:45 - pray that no one else is using the television, grab the exercise ball from the back room, and turn on gene simmons.
8:45 - take a shower, after loving my life for the last hour because of the zany hi jinks of this former rock god and his family
9:30 - think about going to sleep, but the gene simmons theme song is playing so loud in my head that i have to stay up at least two more hours
10:00 - look online for mercury bud vases, fail miserably, keep singing

it's not a bad life.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

if you were ever on dawson's creek, chances are that there is not much wrong you could do in my eyes. i love all, equally (shout out to meredith monroe!!). i love it when former creekers thrive, and mourned along with the rest of the world when katie holmes did whatever she did that made her suri cruise sr. there are all kinds of success stories, though. did you know that dc has its own "official" website? i mean, still? and that james van der beek was on 'how i met your mother?' and pacey is doing something else vaguely famous.

anyways, all that is to say that, given the chance, i will root for one of these people any day. and i am so happy about michelle williams. since i feel like i know her, and we should be friends, i just would like to publicly applaud her for this excellent choice of dress. i don't even know what she wore it to or for, but it's totes adorable. so, well done michelle. well done my dawson's creek friends.

(except for busy phillips. i never liked her)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

ranunculus and friends

my friend, master emily, (that sounds like a dominatrix name) did a really awesome thing yesterday and brought me flowers to work. they are pictured here, on my cluttered desk, because they have been such a bright spot in a bumpy couple of weeks.
also, these are not just any flowers; they are ranunculus. she knew that i wanted them at my wedding. she also knew, as i learned from my florist, poppie (yes, that is her real, God-given name), that ranunculus are out of season in North America in October, and that flying flowers up from South American or Thailand for a wedding is a little more Jay-Z and Beyonce than we're going for.
so, thank you, emily. i love them and i'm really glad about our friendship.