Friday, January 09, 2009

Random Thoughts and Notes

I am the kind of person who carries a book with her wherever she goes – to pick up my kids from school, to a doctor’s appointment, and especially to the post office. That way if I have a few spare minutes I can read instead of sitting around bored.

My friends are always telling me they are amazed at how many books I read. In 2008, I read about 35 books, and that did not include books for research. But I have never thought of myself as a particularly prolific reader, and this interview with blogger Sarah Weinman reminds me why. She read 462 books in 2008. That is no typo. 462 books! Find out how.

Meredith Maran is one of the Bay Area’s most accomplished and interesting authors. She published her first poem at 15, her first book at 18, and has published numerous articles and books since then. She describes her work as an exploration of the difference between how things are in America and how they should be.

I remember being amazed at Maran’s 1995 memoir What It’s Like to Live Now, in which describes her life in Oakland with her female lover, two sons, ex-husband, and the art of navigating a racially and economically diverse neighborhood. Maran also wrote Class Dismissed, a book about a year at Berkeley High which has become a most read for people who send their children there. Dirty explored the teenage drug epidemic.

Maran has just sold another book, one that explores the years in which many daughters tapped into their repressed memories and accused their fathers of incest. It’s an outgrowth of an article she wrote for Playboy Magazine. Here is the blurb from Publisher’s Marketplace. Note the book was acquired by Alan Rinzler of Berkeley:

"Meredith Maran's TRUE OR FALSE: A Story of Mass Hysteria and Mass Redemption, an investigation of memory and the ongoing incest wars, to Alan Rinzler at Jossey-Bass, by Linda Loewenthal at the David Black Literary Agency (world)."

There are some days when I wish I lived in New York. Here’s one of them. I would love to take this class:

Pulitzer Prize-winner Debby Applegate will teach the art of turning historical research and the raw experience of lived life into written, publishable narrative in a master class at Marymount Manhattan College.

Applegate received the Pulitzer for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher. She teaches at Yale University, where she received a Ph.D. in American Studies.

"This is very much an old-fashioned craft course, where we focus on concrete techniques and skills that help the biographer or memoirist tame and then structure their material," Applegate told TBC. "Unlike many writing classes, I don't approach writing as a form of authorial self-expression."

"Instead," Applegate continued, "the class will focus on how to create a suspenseful, compelling experience for a reader, one that makes him or her want to keep reading, to keep turning the page."

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