It was quite a summer. All told, The Vacationers spent ten weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Ten weeks! That is crazy and amazing and I peeked through my fingers at it the whole time, so sure that it would vanish if I looked too closely. I feel deeply aware that selling so many books…
I can’t believe I found out about this on Tumblr, Emma, and not via gchat as I did the other two books with Riverhead!
Join author Edan Lepucki in a Hangout On Air to discuss her bestselling debut novel California. She’ll be chatting with four literary superfans and answering your questions. RSVP for a complimentary reminder before the Hangout starts. And be sure to download a free audiobook version of California from the Ford Audiobook Club on Goodreads - Limited time offer. See Terms and Conditions (https://www.goodreads.com/fordaudiobookclubpromotion). About Edan Lepucki: Edan Lepucki’s first novel, California, debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Edan is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and teaches creative writing at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and for Writing Workshops Los Angeles, which she founded.
YOU GUYS! Please come to this Google Hangout on Monday, 9/22, at 2 pm (Eastern standard time). We can discuss all kinds of stuff, including but not limited to my book! Let’s do it! Fun, fun, fun.
Question of the week: What are your top five favorite author blurbs?
This week’s Top 5 Wednesday required a fair amount of research. Normally, I’m not one to pay attention to book blurbs. I tried to choose fairly recent releases, excepting The Fault in Our Stars. Enjoy – and go read these…
I just read this out of curiosity and was so dang pleased to see that Robin Sloan’s blurb for my book was included!
“The festival has grown much, much larger, and our reputation has spread internationally—something boosted by the fact that every year we add more authors who travel overseas to participate. We have authors from Brazil (Paulo Scott), India (Amit Chaudhrui), Cuba (Mylene Fernandez-Pintado), Israel (Assaf Gavron), Haiti (Frankétienne), South Africa (Lauren Buekes), England (Nadeem Aslam, Hamid Ismailov, and Nadifa Mohammed), France (Scholastique Mukasonga), and Mexico (Mario Bellatin), among other countries, participating in this year’s programming. All in all, we have around 300 authors participating in programs on over a dozen stages.”—
Writers With Drinks is a San Francisco-based spoken word variety show, featuring literary fiction, poetry, stand-up comedy, science fiction, erotica, mystery, horror, bloggers, journalism and other genres. The show usually happens on the second Saturday of the month at the Make Out Room on 22nd. Street in the Mission District, and recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. It’s a fundraiser for other magazine.
Tomorrow night I’ll be reading in San Francisco with my girl Cecil Castellucci, along with the amazing Robin Sloan and a bunch of other great writers! Come drink and listen to stories with me!
Dear readers of CALIFORNIA who say Frida and Cal do nothing but have sex:
Frida and Cal have sex three times over the course of the present narrative, which, save for a time-jump at the end, covers about four or five weeks. Having sex three times in that span of time—and, also, thinking about how you had sex in the past, in a world without any other forms of entertainment—isn’t that much sex. Seriously.
I am worried that readers aren’t getting laid enough. Let’s all go masturbate and/or get some action.
Me:Bean's constant "tell me a story" requests are getting annoying. He never stops asking.
Patrick:Just do what I do and retell Indiana Jones, but with dinosaurs.
Me:You know I can't do that. We've got a saga going about Charles the T. Rex, and Pewee, the Compsagnathus who adopts him, and Peewee's life partner, Beetle.
Patrick:Ah, so that's where Peewee, Beetle, and Charles came from?
Me:Yeah, Charles's parents died in a fight with another T. Rex and Peewee took him in. First they had a lot of trouble finding a living space that accommodated their different sizes. Then Peewee fell in love with Beetle, another Compsognathus, and Charles felt isolated and left out. Then Charles befriended Paluma, who used to have a horn-sharpening business that degraded a nearby mountain, causing an avalanche that led to her shame and exile, but then she became a doctor. Then in another story, Charles tries to convince his fellow T. Rexes not to take carcasses from other meat-eating dinos and they laugh him out of their cave for being a traitor to their species.
Patrick:Jesus, these are Pinter-esque.
Me:Hardly. And then Charles is a teenager and he's smoking pot and drinking beer past curfew...
“Human beings like to forget their own bodies, and it takes being ill or turned on, or being threatened by the Supreme Court, to remember them. In fiction, there aren’t enough bodies: breathing, eating, having sex, breaking down. Unlike a lot of other writers, Margaret Atwood reasserts the corporeal in all of her work. In an email today, a poet friend of mine wrote, “Then we walked to the public library, where we both took incredibly satisfying dumps.” Let’s not forget what makes us human, everyone. Atwood never does. When teaching, I ask my students, “What does your character feel, physically?” I want them to describe what a character’s stomach feels like; describe how the air feels on his skin; tell me how dry her mouth is. I want to know what the character’s relationship is to her own messy, revealing, secretive body. Tell me.”—I wrote about a passage from The Handmaid’s Tale for The Atlantic’s By Heart series.
If you’ve ever found yourself checking out one of our book covers from across the room and thinking “I’d like to get myself all up in that creative process”, look no further. We’re seeking an experienced and passionate art director who’ll be responsible for the entire visual aesthetic of the…
“How impossible, though, to turn one’s back on all the horrors in the world; there had to be another way to live.”—
I read California this late summer. I kept putting it down and turning to Chris to say, “Edan is the real damn deal!” By which I meant I was predisposed toward this book because I like Edan and once drank tequila (was it tequila? Gin?) with her and told her friends inappropriate, overly-confessional stories. I like her as a person and a wife and a mother.
And I knew she was a great writer — that much is evident from her Tumblr and essays and novella. But lots of people are good at those things and to me, it’s a nearly impossible leap (from Runyon Canyon’s close-enough-to-being-mountains to the Matterhorn itself) to then become a storming force as a novelist. Do you know how rare that is? How hard?
But Edan is the real thing. She is that force. She is that novelist.
Her book just killed me. Literally, I feel a little concussed by how smart and deeply, darkly interesting it is. When we lived in Silverlake, there was a huge thicket of branches along the sidewalk one street over by the convenience store that sold us expired mini donuts and was henceforth known as Mold Mouth. If you slowed down at just the right moment or fortuitously bent to tie your shoes, you’d notice it wasn’t just brambles, it was an entrance to a little Middle Earthy home. A tangled cave in which a sleeping bag and cooking pot and old tennis shoes lined the dirt and no one was ever home in all the times I passed.
Reading California is like being jerked off the sunny, privileged sidewalk right into the loamy floor of that brambled home. Dark and dirty and foreign and feral in the truest way the heart is. In the truest way marriage is. That survival is.
From the economic infection of a country to a dreamy luddite intellectual utopia at Plank to domestic terrorism and secret civilizations and elitist corporate life rafts, this book is so thick with the unknown and moral ambiguity and intimate lies and perfectly invented history and stratums of conflict and duty and creepy what-ifs that lead to tangents of panicked day dreaming. And I can’t help but think of Edan sifting through her brain picking up these ideas like blood diamonds and stringing them all together and I am awed. Who has all these resources, all these possibilities, just lying about their minds?
What I am trying to say is that I probably would have enjoyed this book regardless, out of affection for its author. What I mean now is that if this book was written by my enemy, I would still demand you buy it and read it and pass it on.
Because this story stitches on, one row to the next, so effortlessly, with such unassuming purity, building to such narrative beauty. Because the characters are each their own tangled, complicated, broken bramble huts. Because it manifests a talent that catches in my throat and chokes me up a little. It is such a profound thing in writing, such an impossible thing in life, I want to build a little shrine to it.
I just cried a little, reading this. Erica writes one of my favorite Tumblrs, and regularly I read her posts and think, God, she is such a beautiful writer. Why can’t I write like THAT? I also had a chance to hang out with her in person, and she is as generous, funny, compassionate, and thoughtful in real life as she is online.
Publishing a book can make a writer vulnerable to all sorts of opinions and feelings. I’d started to feel bad about my book. Like: Hey, it sort of sucks, but maybe I can do better next time.
It’s a swampy-thorny-dark feeling and I hate it.
But seeing that Erica, one very astute human being, liked my novel means more than I could convey here.
More than a dozen writers are auctioning off books, coffee dates, even characters’ names.
Lauren Groff is leading a fundraising campaign for Planned Parenthood, enlisting Emma Straub, Edan Lepucki, Aimee Bender, Jennine Capo Crucet, Laura van den Berg, Roxane Gay, Meg Wolitzer and others to participate in The Choice Auction. Lauren Groff will read 400 pages of your manuscript! Edan Lepucki will name a character after you in her next novel! Roxane Gay will give you three signed books plus BAKED GOODS! Jami Attenberg will go on a coffee date with you! Tons of other incredible prizes for a worthy cause. Go here to check it out.
Ford is doing a promotional campaign on goodreads and they chose CALIFORNIA for their September Audio Book Club! You can go watch a dorky video I made and then join the club FOR A FREE AUDIO DOWNLOAD of my novel! Next week I’ll start answering questions in the club’s discussion thread. What fun. (My grandpa and uncles all worked for Ford in New Jersey (where I was conceived, FYI), so I know they’ll be proud!)
Do you think the outrage about the latest photo hack would have been so strong had Jennifer Lawrence not been one of the victims? Patrick and I have been discussing this. I mean, what if the photos had been of, say, Kim Kardashian, a woman whose commodities are her life and self, rather than of a serious actress? Are some women allowed privacy while others aren’t?
Everyone assumed Kim was behind the leak of her sex tape. Was she? If there had been incontrovertible evidence that she hadn’t leaked it, would everyone still have blamed her, or would she have been deemed a victim? Is a sex tape different from nude photos? Is one culturally acceptable—have we normalized nude shots but not sex tapes? Have we changed since Kardashian’s scandal? Have we come to understand the importance of privacy in the age of NSA spying? Have we expanded the definition of consent and successfully re-framed the debate of sexual assault in the last few years?
I’m about to get a print cartridge and print out my novel manuscript. Time to get to work. But first, a list of things I like about my kid, Dixon Bean Brown. He turned 3 in June and started preschool today.
1. He’s the youngest kid in his class but he’ll hang with the big dogs just fine. He’s one outgoing little Bean! Whenever he sees a kid somewhere he yells, “I want to make friends!” and then runs up to said kid. At this point he sort of just stands there and stares, but he knows he should say, “What’s your name? Mine is Dixon Bean Brown.”
2. Patrick made a joke that Bean was going to take a bath in the toilet not the bath. Bean said, “First, the toilet could be dirty. Second, there could be pee in there. Last, a person could be sitting on it!” I love that he enumerates his arguments!
3. At the video store he paces in circles describing the latest movie he just saw to the person working behind the counter.
4. Before my last three readings he asked if Stephen Colbert was going to be there, and when I said no, he said, “Why not?”
5. At lunch at a restaurant the other day, two women walked in and sat down and Bean looked at me very seriously, brought his voice down to a whisper and said, “Those women think I am a knight! They think I am Despereaux…”
6. He says “will’nt” instead of “won’t” and “past-a-wee” instead of “pastry.”
7. He asks me and Patrick to tell him stories all the time. He is getting very demanding about them. I tried to name the compsagnathus something and he said, “No. Peewee is his name.”
8. Yesterday he said, “Mommy we should pour Daddy a glass of whiskey when he gets home.
9. He sometimes has so much energy running through this little wiry body that he vibrates.
10. When we said goodbye today at school he gave me a kiss and walked over to one of his teachers. He didn’t even look back. Such a brave kid.
“To me, a platform is just a place where writers can give readers more than what’s contained between the covers of a book. That platform could be as static as a website or as interactive as a Twitter account, and some writers choose to use a couple of these building blocks to make a platform. All writers should have something, but there’s more than one way to do it right. Some writers might discover their community on Tumblr (I’m looking at you, Edan), while others find their voice best suited for Facebook. At the end of the day, it’s just a way of talking with your readers and helping some new ones find you, and I hear it can be pretty rewarding.”—
Planned Parenthood North Florida needs our help. They serve tens of thousands of women, men and teens every year in all counties between Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee. The Tallahassee branch also serves people in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and parts of Mississippi. We’re talking…
Silent auction ‘The Choice Auction’ hosted online at 32auctions.
Please participate in and donate to this auction to raise funds for North Florida’s Planned Parenthood clinics! You can win signed books (by me and many other amazing writers!), manuscript critiques, coffee dates, and even get your name in a writer’s next book!