Tuesday, June 05, 2012
BEA Book Buzz Panel
And the place was PACKED. If there'd been chandeliers we'd have been hanging from them. I arrived at 3pm to secure prime seats. I had to fend off trespassers, interlopers and other brigands till the FPLM contingent arrived. Fortunately Brooks and Becky understand "come now!" means don't dawdle when they see it on a text message from me.
Here are the books that were buzzed:
BRAIN ON FIRE by Susannah Cahalan.
Editor: Millicent Bennett, FreePress.
Pub date 11/13/12
This is a memoir by a woman who was stricken with a disease that no one could diagnose or find. On paper she was 100% normal. In person she was hallucinating, violent, paranoid and heading for death.
"It reads like a thriller," we were told and I believe it. Turns out the author had a rare autoimmune disease. When she was diagnosed, she was the 217th person to have it.
More than the story of one person though, this is "an exploration of the science behind the disease," a disease that may be what people in the Middle Ages who were thought to be possessed by demons actually had.
And the last sentence left the audience gasping: the author may have contracted this disease when someone sneezed on her in the subway.
The reason there's no picture of this book above: it's at home. I started reading it last night and yes, it's amazing.
THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce.
Editor: Kendra Harpster, Random House.
Pub date: 7/24/12
"A love story in reverse" got my attention. And that it reminded me of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a book I loved wholeheartedly.
A MILLION HEAVENS by John Brandon.
Editor: Eli Horowitz, McSweeneys.
Pub date: 7/10/12
"Events effortlessly tumble forward" has to be one of the greatest descriptions of how a plot moves I've ever heard. The editor describes this as a mashup of Denis Johnson and Elmore Leonard. For that alone I've got to read it.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYON by Vaddey Ratner.
Editor: Trish Todd, Simon and Schuster.
Pub date: 8/7/12
When asked why she had written a novel, not a memoir, the author, who was 5 when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, and 11 when she arrived in the United States as a refugee, said she "wanted to memorialize the people she knew and loved with a work of art."
This is a book about "the power of words to transcend loss."
It was all I could do not to leap out of my seat, race to the stacks of books, seize this and start reading at once. In fact, I did do all those things, waiting only until the close of the presentations.
And I started reading this last night too. (Sleep is for later!) I have a feeling you'll be hearing about me on the topic of this book again.
THE PEOPLE OF FOREVER ARE NOT AFRAID by Shani Boianjiu.
Editor: Alexis Washam, Hogarth.
Pub date: 9/11/12
"The Things They Carried" meets "Mean Girls." Hard to top that comparison isn't it! This is the story, a braided story, of three girls who are conscripted into the Israeli Defense Force and how their lives will never be the same. A "fusion of pop culture and the military." The girls are cleaning their weapons and talking about Lady Gaga. Having trysts in the shed that's used to store extra ammunition.
Alexander Chee said this is "written in bullets, teargas and love." (Since I'm a devoted fan of Alexander Chee this got my attention!)
PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson.
Editor: Lauren Wein, HMH.
Pub date: 9/25/12.
This novel "puts you back in touch with your childhood self without condescending to your adult self."
I wasn't quick enough to grab a copy of this, and I ducked out early to get the other books so I missed most of what Lauren said, sadly. Next year I'm cloning myself so I can be two places at the same time!
I left the Buzz Panel with a restored sense of enthusiasm and energy. It was the highlight of the day!