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As I admitted in my Brooklyn Book Festival post, at some point in the last few years, I got snobby about Tom Perrotta. In my head, his work became a little too easy, too commercial, for my taste. This, even though I’ve really liked the books of his that I’ve read as I read them. I don’t really know what my problem was–the movies that have been made, his general success, misplaced snark–I don’t know. Luckily, I saw him read a snip from his newest novel, The Leftovers, heard him speak, got over myself and got the novel.

The Leftovers is the story of the aftermath of a nonreligious (or, as some factions see it, a religious) rapture. Rapture, I mean, capital R. Read the rest of this entry »

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For two years in a row, I saw Sam Lipsyte read the same passage from his novel The Ask at the Brooklyn Book Festival. I forgave him for reading it twice only because it was an ideal snippet to read in a short time frame: funny, sad, smart. It made me want to read more. And so, when I finally received the book in the mail from my brother for my birthday, I was excited to get the long form, to find out how that snippet I knew so well fit in to the rest of the book.

I have to say that I was, sadly, a bit disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »

One day during college, I ran into two friends who’d just emerged from the campus bookstore, giddy over the new copies of Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex they had clutched to their chests. Their enthusiasm was impressive, but pales in comparison to the fiasco my friend and I participated in a few weeks ago in advance of Mr. Eugenides reading at the Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene. My friend showed up at the bookstore the day before the reading and purchased three copies of the book. Each copy came with a little tag that read “group 1.” At the reading the next night, those brandishing books purchased at Greenlight, with the group 1 tag, would have the privilege of being first in line to have their books signed. Hardcore already, right? Well–the reading was at 7:30pm and was standing-room only. My friend showed up at 6pm, I did at 6:20. We positioned ourselves near the podium and kept getting scootched up until finally, when Mr. Eugenides took the mic, my face was about 12 inches from his. We were uncomfortably close to the man, and had been standing for hours, and were feeling awkward. Where does one look when in such close proximity to the reader? He was also wearing an almost identical version of the outfit he is wearing in the much-discussed yet still inexplicable Times Square billboard promoting his novel:

Oh boy, that didn’t help matters. But, we were indeed at the front of the line to get our books signed. And what did we do? We got them signed and bolted. No meaningful conversation. No “I’m a writer and you’ve inspired me!” No “You can make it out to…” It was a crazy amount of build-up for basically zero pay-off.

Until, of course, I read the book. Read the rest of this entry »