Thursday, January 27, 2011

52 Weeks of Twitter Authors: Week 2

Like most people, I have irrational fears. And one of those fears is sharks - I am terrified of sharks. I think they are amazing creatures, but I do not go in the ocean. Or in lakes or rivers. Or swimming pools. (Don't roll your eyes - I saw Jaws 3-D!) Because, with my luck, the one time I go swimming, I will be eaten by a shark. Which makes for a great story, but I am awfully attached to my mortal coil. (I have so many more books I want to read!) Large bodies of water kinda freak me out, anyway. There's, like, stuff in them. This creeps me out. It will surprise no one when I say I also do not go on boats. Because if they stop floating, where do you end up? That's right - in the water. With the sharks and the other creepy stuff, like jellyfish. And Squidward.

However, a few of the books I have read recently involve boats and water. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, told of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who spent 40+ days adrift in a life raft after his plane crashed in the Pacific during WWII. I also read The Curse of the Narrows by Laura MacDonald, which is an amazing account of the day in 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when a munitions ship crashed into another vessel, and the resulting explosion leveled the entire town, and caused a tsunami so large, it lifted people and objects up and set them down miles away from the blast site. They are both incredible stories.

And that brings me to the second book I read for my 2011 goal: Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye. I first heard about Peter's book on Unbridled Books Twitter feed, and then a few weeks later, at our Emily Mandel / Dan Chaon event at RiverRunBookstore, our rep gave me a galley, along with a rave recommendation of it.

Safe from the Sea is the story of Olaf Torr and his estranged son, Noah. When Noah was young, Olaf was in a boat wreck that altered his life, and changed his behavior, making his home situation tense and difficult. Now, 35 years later, Olaf believes he is dying, and he wants Noah to come visit him at his cabin in Minnesota. Noah's first instinct is to say no, so he is surprised when he agrees. The book alternates between the events that caused the chasm between them as Noah was growing up, and the time they have left to spend together, trying to reconcile.

The wreck, told in flashbacks, is terrifying, and Peter has done a wonderful job making it an entirely believable novel. The character of Olaf poked at my heart a bit, as he reminded me of my laconic grandfather I adored so much. Looking forward to more great things from Peter!

To learn more about Peter Geye, visit here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

52 Weeks of Twitter Authors: Week 1

Last month started off great - I was nearing the end of a great year of reading, and I actually came up with my goal for the new year before 12:59pm on December 31st. I decided for 2011 that I will read one book a week by an author I interact with on Twitter. Having already read wonderful books by several authors on Twitter, I was so excited about this goal, I decided I couldn't wait until January and wanted to start right away.

Hahaha - silly bookslinger!

In return for my enthusiasm for starting a project before the last minute, the universe made me its bitch: I got bronchitis, the heat in my apartment was broken for a week, I took a nasty fall, and my dad had a stroke. December definitely thought that negative attention was better than no attention at all. So, I took my godsmacks and retreated under my blankets to hide until the new year. Once I was ensconced in 2011, I felt safe enough to attempt my goal again. My first pick: Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.

So, here's my PSA for the day: if you're thinking of throwing a party, and are worried you won't be able to keep your guests entertained, invite Luis. We hosted him this summer at RiverRun Bookstore, and he was marvelous! There can hardly be a more charming storyteller out there. He's a natural at telling tales, and funny, funny, funny. He and his lovely wife Cindy were kind enough to come to see @readandbreathe and I when we traveled to Brooklyn this past fall, and Luis was a rock star at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Into the Beautiful North is the story of a Nayeli, a teenage girl who convinces her friends to illegally cross the border into the States to help her find her dad, and also seek out 'warriors' to help run the drug dealers out of their Mexican village. Luis's writing is a warm breeze - even in the face of sad situations, the story radiates hope and joy. The teenagers are so delightful, and their adventures are, for the most part, very funny. I particularly enjoyed the road trip Nayeli and her friend Tacho take to look for her dad in Kankakee, Illinois. The descriptions of the scenery and the tourist attractions along the way reminded me of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, a classic. I also really liked their 'bodyguard', Atómiko. This book is great fun. Viva la Luis!

To learn more about Luis Alberto Urrea, visit here.