Thursday, November 27, 2014

Authors In the News: Bookselling Authors, Picoult, MacArthur Fellow McHugh

Publishers Lunch

The American Booksellers Association says that over 400 independent bookstores will host authors who have volunteered to work alongside booksellers as part of the Indies First initiative this Saturday -- which is the American Express-promoted Small Business Saturday. The ABA reports that more than 1,200 authors have enrolled in the various year-round initiatives that are part of the larger Indies First banner. They have a state-by-state listing of scheduled author appearances and other in-store promotions here.

Jodi Picoult visits the UK and gives the Telegraph a candid interview she probably wouldn't give to an American newspaper, which in turn gets pitched to a local audience (the headline quote is "It's really hard to love America sometimes"), but the internet doesn't know the difference. Among her comments: "I write women's fiction...And women's fiction doesn’t mean that's your audience. Unfortunately, it means you have lady parts" and "Please don't get me started on Nicholas Sparks," she says, rolling her eyes. "I haven't had enough caffeine yet."

Picoult decries the marketing of women's fiction in relation to comparable titles by men: "If a woman had written One Day [by David Nicholls], it would have been airport fiction. Look at The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. If I had written that, it would have had a pink, fluffy cover on it. If Jenny Eugenides had written it, it would have had a pink fluffy cover on it. What is it about? It’s about a woman choosing between two men. What is The Corrections about, by Jonathan Franzen? It’s about a family, right? And I'm attacking gun control and teen suicide and end-of-life care and the Holocaust, and I’m writing women's fiction? I mean, I can't tell you. When people call The Storyteller chick-lit, I actually break up laughing. Because that is the worst, most depressing chick-lit ever."

Picoult also believes Americans should see more of the world, and said half-jokingly: "You know how they have mandatory military service in Israel? I think there ought to be mandatory travel in America. I've really thought about this a lot."

Poet Heather McHugh has found an altruistic, moving way to spend her MacArthur "genius" grant money, which she was awarded five years ago. As KPLU reports, McHugh set up a nonprofit called Caregifted, awarding week-long vacations to people who have spent a decade or more taking care of a family member full-time. "I can see how hard some lives are and how much they deserve tribute," McHugh told the Seattle radio station. "They do it for their families, they do it out of love, but what they do benefits everybody and nobody's thinking about it. Nobody's waving thank you at them." Getaways awarded by McHugh to caregivers include Victoria, B.C.; Maine; and Napa Valley. "They ask for the simplest things on vacation. They want to go for a walk when they want to. They want to read a book."

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