Random House Readers Circle
Right Curve
Sidebar topper
Divider
Divider
Divider
Divider

Posts Tagged ‘anna quindlen’

Giveaway Opportunity: GOLDEN STATE by Michelle Richmond

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Richmond_Golden State “A breathtaking read and one I’ll not soon forget.”—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife

Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Anna Quindlen, Golden State is a powerful, mesmerizing new novel that explores the intricacies of marriage, family, and the profound moments that shape our lives.

Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister’s side—no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with tension and strife. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and the painful parts of her past—her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.

Infused with emotional depth and poignancy, Golden State takes readers on a journey over the course of a single, unforgettable day—through an extraordinary landscape of love, loss, and hope.

“This is the kind of book you want to read slowly, but instead you read it in a mad rush to find out where this incredibly talented writer is taking you.”—Ann Packer, author of Swim Back to Me

Enter below for your chance to win!

Reader’s Guide: A Q&A with Anna Quindlen, author of STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Quindlen_Still Life with Bread CrumbsAnna Quindlen is beloved by all readers and book clubs alike! From her “Last Word” column in Newsweek to her irresistible New York Times bestselling books such as Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and One True Thing (to name a few!), Quindlen has truly captured the minds of of her readers.

We are so happy to share this Q&A between Anna Quindlen and Kate Medina, her editor, with you in anticipation of her upcoming novel, Still Life with Bread Crumbs.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs is your seventh novel. You write both bestselling fiction and nonfiction. How are the processes different for you, if they are? How do you decide which one to write next?

I always mean to sound purposeful when we talk about things like that, but it’s all pretty unexamined and intuitive. My last nonfiction book, the memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, came to life with an off handed comment I’d made to my daughter and a piece of data I stumbled across when writing my last Newsweek column. I’d been very satisfied writing novels, and I had no intention of moving back into nonfiction. Right now I’m juggling a novel in its nascent stages and a nonfiction book, as you know, and the most obvious difference is that on the first, I eventually plunged right into the writing, and on the second I’m still doing the reporting. Sometimes the reporting is an excuse not to write; other times it is such an aid to composition because, unlike the material in the novels, it is in your notes or on tape, doesn’t have to be excavated from the sometimes hard rock of imagination.

People love to know where the inspiration for a novel comes from. Would you say something about Still Life with Bread Crumbs in this regard?

It’s not one thing. It’s never one thing. I’ve thought a lot about the nature of art, and why women’s art, particularly if it arises from domestic life, is minimized, or denigrated—why, for instance, we pay less attention to the work of Alice McDermott, a genius miniaturist whose novels reflect the quiet everyday, then we do to the more sprawling, outward-facing work of Philip Roth. Some of my thinking on that is embodied in Rebecca’s photography and public reaction to it. I’m 61 years old, and I’ve thought a lot about aging, and the stages of a woman’s life, and that’s in there, too. From a purely mechanical point of view, I try to do some essential thing in each novel that I haven’t done before. In this book it was twofold: I’ve never written a love story, and I haven’t written a book with a happy ending, and this material lent itself to both. Anna-Quindlen-Author-Photo

We’ve been working together for 25 years, on a wide range of your books—fiction, nonfiction, memoir. We are both often asked about the editorial process between writer and editor. Might you comment briefly about that process? What is the heart of it for you?

Oh, Kate, you broke me in. I cringe when I remember the first draft of Object Lessons. You said the writing was lovely, and the characters memorable, but not much happened in the course of the book. And I replied, “That’s how real life is.” You said, so sweetly, “And that’s why we call this a novel.”

The heart of the editing process is a fresh pair of sensitive and informed eyes. By the time I’m done a draft, I have no clue. Is it the best thing I’ve ever done? Is it a complete disaster? Depends on which day you ask me. But more than that, I am so close to the material that I not only can’t get out of the weeds, I can’t figure out where they are. That’s where you come in. You read and read again and then send me your long memo, which always begins “I love this book!” Then come the buts—about murky character development, fallow areas, missed opportunities. I’m not going to go into detail and thus illuminate my own dopiness, but sometimes you ask a question about something I’ve done, or failed to do, and I want to smack myself in the head, it’s so obvious.

Of course, a critical part of this process is the trust between us. You speak fluent Quindlen and you don’t try to edit me into someone else. And once our dialogue begins, I become more confident about my own work in that I know where you are right about changes, cuts, amendments, and where I disagree and will leave well enough alone.

Join the conversation with Anna on Facebook!

Happy Mother’s Day from Random House Reader’s Circle!

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 12.04.15 PM Happy Mother’s Day from our reading circle to yours! Whether you are looking for a good book to read around this holiday OR if you are a little late buying a gift for that special someone and you need a few suggestions then we have some great picks for you!

Tapestry of Fortunes by New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg follows four women from different walks of life who end up living in a house together. These women take a road trip together for various reasons having to do with choices they made in the past, and choices they were needing to make now. In doing so, they realize that leaving home brings revelations, reunions, and unexpected turns that affirm the inner truths of women’s lives. Read an excerpt.

The Language of Flowers, a debut novel by book club favorite Vanessa Diffenbaugh, follows Victoria Jones who feels unable to get too close to anyone after a childhood spent in foster care. Her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings based on the Victorian language of flowers. Read an excerpt.

Marcus Samuelsson tells his amazing global story in his memoir Yes, Chef. Born in Ethiopia and adopted by Swedish parents, Marcus Samuelsson grows up to become a world-renowned chef. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations. Yes, Chef chronicles Samuelsson’s journey, from his grandmother’s kitchen to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. Read an excerpt.

In her irresistible memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Quindlen talks about everything from marriage to motherhood, parenting, and our bodies. Read an excerpt.

Also, one lucky winner will receive ALL FOUR BOOKS! Enter below.

Reader’s Guide: A Conversation between Anna Quindlen and Meryl Streep

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Quindlen_Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Happy on sale day to Anna Quindlen. Her candid memoir LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE is now available in paperback. Be sure to pick up a copy for exclusive Random House Reader’s Circle material including the full conversation between Anna Quindlen and Meryl Streep and discussion questions for you and your book club.

Join the conversation with Anna on Facebook!

A Conversation Between Meryl Streep and Anna Quindlen

Meryl Streep and Anna Quindlen have been friends for many years. In 1998 Meryl was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Kate Gulden in the film adaptation of Anna’s novel One True Thing. In 2011 Meryl was honored by the Kennedy Center and Anna wrote the program tribute. They sat down for a lunch of pasta and salad at Anna’s home in New York City. The following is an edited version of their conversation on November 27, 2012.

Meryl Streep: What do you say to people who say, “Anna’s vision of aging is too relentlessly upbeat”? This is related to my conversation with my older friends the other day, who are really much older than we are. How do you respond to the ones who go, “Well, it’s too rosy; Anna puts a happy spin on everything.” The reason I’m asking you this question is that I think, even in the direst circumstances, you have a choice of how to look at it. In the book, you do circle certain very profound and cavernous subjects—dying—but you don’t go deep into the spelunking of it.

Anna Quindlen: I think I made an attempt to speak to some of those deeper issues in the last two chapters of the book. But I consciously decided to look at life not from the perspective of the end of it but from the near-to-the-end of it. From the beginning of the book I’m clear: “I’m sixty, and sixty is somewhere different than it used to be.” I mean, fifty years ago, sixty was more or less the end. And now, it’s the beginning of a different stage of life. You know from your experience with your own parents—eighty-five, ninety, it ain’t necessarily pretty. But that’s not exactly what I wanted to tackle. I totally accept when people say I have a very optimistic take on things. I always have had; I probably always will have. And I do think I have a very different attitude about getting older, based on being the daughter of a woman who never got to get old. I think there’s something profound that watching someone you love die young does to you, and if you have half a brain, one of the things it does to you is to say—

MS: Grab life.

AQ: Yes. Wake up, even in the darkest days, saying, “Boy, is this better than the alternative.” There’s this wonderful quote from Carolyn Heilbrun in the book where she says something like, “Since we did not wish to die, surely we must have wished to grow old.” And sometimes our antipathy toward aging seems to me to deny the alternative.

MS: When I read what you write, I keep thinking, Oh, here’s somebody who’s writing what I think. And she’s doing the work for me. It’s sort of, I think, why people undervalue in some ways what women write. Because they speak not just for themselves, but they speak for the rest of us who can’t say these things. You’re speaking something true. And that made me think about the point in the book when Quin says: “Well, Mom, your subject was motherhood.” And that propels somebody to think in a different way, too. It just does. Having children is an optimistic act.

AQ: Absolutely. But I also think that for us as women—women growing older—having children can affect how we
see ourselves. Especially having female children. I may be outing you here, but I mention in the book that I have a very well-known friend who says that the way to make herself invisible is to walk down the street with her daughters, who are young and beautiful—and you and I both know who that is.

MS: My friend Jane called me: “Anna wrote about you!”

AQ: So having those daughters, who are young while we’re getting older, takes us in one of two directions. Sometimes it takes you toward resentment: “I am not that anymore.” Sort of a grasping resentment that leads some women to dress much younger than they should.

MS: Forgive me, but I always thought—and you wrote this, so we agree—but I think that’s the problem of girls who grew up and their card was “pretty.” So when “pretty” goes away, that’s the central tragedy, and that is the thing that rankles with their own daughters. When the pretty goes away just as it’s emerging in the daughters.

AQ: That’s true, that’s true. But I think if you process life as you’ve been living it, which is really a hat trick if you manage to do it, one of the things you see with your girls is that they’re going through the stuff that you went through in your twenties that you never want to go through again. All that stuff that you can see clearly now, so that you think, Oh my God, I can’t believe I wasted a nanosecond of my precious life thinking, Does my hair look okay? and, Is my stomach flat enough? And of course when they’re twenty-three or twenty-four, their hair looks great and their stomachs are flat enough! But I do think having kids gives you a kind of perspective on aging that’s different from that of my friends who don’t have kids.

MS: I do, too. And that’s maybe the group you’re not speaking to. Do you know what I mean? That’s hard. People look to you. They look to you, as sort of an emblematic figure of our generation, to speak for all of us. But you only know what you know.

AQ: You can’t be all things to all people.

MS: But do you feel the burden of that? Do you feel that clamoring? Because it exists from people that—what’s the word? See, I’m not a writer—but even the women for whom you’re not speaking, who have not shared your experiences, want you to speak for them. Because, just because. You’re one of the few who is willing to stand up. You’re willing to stand up and say stuff about living, and what it costs, and what you pay down, and what you don’t ever get back. You know, all that stuff. You’re willing to talk about it. And that’s just a really brave thing. It is.

A conversation between Anna Quindlen and Diane Keaton

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Keaton_Then AgainAnna Quindlen: The first thing I have to ask you about is the structure of the book, because it’s so much more like the way we think about things, as opposed to the linear way in which books like this are usually constructed. I kept wondering whether you pictured it that way from the beginning or if that’s what developed as you were writing.

Diane Keaton: It kind of goes back to the idea of collage. I had mountains of correspondence, my mother’s endless journals, my father’s few letters, scrapbooks, photo albums, and my own half-baked journals. I didn’t really have an approach. I just randomly started reading one of Mother’s journals. After I finished it, I found one of my own I had written the same year. So I read that too. Then I started editing Mom down, then me, and after that I began to write in response to both of us. I began to compare and contrast our lives. It helped. The book became a kind of editorial process
I felt comfortable with. Of course, the result was a mess, but I sent it to my editor, David Ebershoff, anyway. He would encourage me and always say, “Diane, remember, writing is rewriting.” I took his advice. Rewriting was like memorizing a script; I just kept going over it, and over it and over it again. It was like the old Repetition Game I learned when I was studying acting with Sandy Meisner—you keep repeating until something new comes. Part of the Repetition Game requires spontaneous response to your partner’s behavior. It was easy to respond to my mother. She was the most important person in my life.

AQ: Were you astonished when you realized how much writing your mother had done on her own without any thought of publication or pay?

DK: I think about it all the time. I think, “What would it be like if I had read the journals before she was gone, before I started to write Then Again?” I miss her. Now that I know so much more about her intimate experiences and longings, it breaks my heart. (more…)

LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE by Anna Quindlen

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Quindlen_Lots of CandlesDiscussion Questions for LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE

1. In the opening lines of the book, Anna Quindlen says about the arc of her life: “First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her.” Looking back over your own life, do you identify with Quindlen’s experience? Do you think you’ve “invented” yourself as you’ve grown older, or become who you always were? And how would you differentiate between the two?

2. Anna Quindlen loves everything about books—from the musty smell of old bookstores, to the excuse reading provides to be alone. Books, she writes, “make us feel as though we’re connected, as though the thoughts and feelings we believe are singular and sometimes nutty are shared by others, that we are all more alike than different.” What do you most love about books? Be specific: Is it the entertainment, the escape, the sense of connection? Something else entirely?

3. Anna writes hilariously about the small white lies—the cost of a kitchen renovation, for example—that can keep a marriage healthy. Do you agree? If so, fess up: Which of your innocent fibs do you think has spared your relationship the most grief?

4. Anna tells her children that “the single most important decision they will make…[is] who they will marry.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

5. Anna calls girlfriends “the joists that hold up the house of our existence,” and believes that they become more and more important to us as we grow older. Have you found this to be true? If so, why do you think that’s the case? What do you think close girlfriends offer that a spouse cannot? (more…)

Anna Quindlen in New York City, 4/14/11

Monday, April 11th, 2011

EveryLastOneSiriusXM’s Book Radio is giving YOU the chance to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Author Confidential featuring Anna Quindlen on Thursday April 14 at NOON ET at the SiriusXM studios in New York City!  Author Confidential is an exclusive SiriusXM Book Radio interview series featuring intimate conversations with iconic authors in front of a live studio audience. SiriusXM Book Radio host Pia Lindström will interview Quindlen about her new novel Every Last One.

Odds of winning depend upon the speed of the responses and the number of responses received. If you think you will be in the New York City area on April 14, 2011, enter by NOON ET April 13, 2011 for your chance to win a pair of tickets.

HOW TO ENTER:

» Send an email to: rsvp@siriusxm.com;

» Include “Anna Quindlen” in the subject line of your message or it will not be considered;

» Include your full name, valid email and cell phone number.

PLEASE MAKE NOTE:

SIRIUS|XM Radio will not be providing transportation to/from the event. You must be at least 18 years old, and confident that you can be in the New York City area on April 14, 2011.  If you are selected to attend, you will receive a confirmation email with the details of the event and further instructions. Only people who have received this second email (and have been confirmed by SIRIUS|XM Radio) will be put on the guest list and will be able to attend.

Anna Quindlen on motherhood and her latest novel, Every Last One

Monday, March 21st, 2011

EveryLastOneRandom House Reader’s Circle: Every Last One is arguably your darkest novel since Black and Blue in 1998. What made you want to write about tragedy striking an ordinary family? Or was it a theme that first intrigued you?

Anna Quindlen: For a long time I’ve been thinking about illusions of security and control, especially in terms of motherhood. We think that if we do the right things, provide the right kind of care and oversight, we can keep our children safe from any perils. I suspect that’s at the heart of the epidemic of so-called helicopter parenting we see today. But it’s completely illusory. Sure, you can teach your teenager to drive carefully, but what difference does that make when a drunk driver roars through a stop sign? That sense of randomness, of the contrast between the care that parenthood requires and the dangers lurking in the world, sometimes right under our noses, is what I chose to explore here. I also wanted to illuminate the ways in which small events in our lives can combine to create unexpected results. I tried to make that clear through a combination of the details that make up the bedrock of a happy family life, and the occasional suggestion that the bedrock had cracks within it. It required a kind of subtlety and control that I haven’t needed quite so much in my other novels.

RHRC: What is it like to write about the devastating events like those encountered by the characters in Every Last One? Was your day to day experience of writing this novel different from your last novel, Rise and Shine? What was the biggest challenge for you, in writing Every Last One?

AQ: I think everyone assumes I was in a funk during the creation of this novel, but it just wasn’t so. The explanation for that lies, I think, in the quindlennarrator, Mary Beth Latham. My experience as a novelist–this is my sixth–is that once you’ve nailed your protagonist, those around her come to life. And at some level she becomes your reason for being. I resonated with Mary Beth right away, felt that I knew her, which of course was critical since the book is written in the first person and is really her story. Most of the challenges were about how to make her real. It’s hard to write a novel about motherhood without creating either a plaster saint or a punching bag. I’m sick and tired of both those ways of looking at the very difficult, joyful and complicated task on which I’ve personally been laboring for the last quarter-century. Mary Beth is an ordinary woman, involved and distracted and smart and unaware, all of those things that simultaneously make up human behavior. That’s what I was after. And it’s what made me able to live in the world of this book, because I was living on her shoulder.

RHRC: Motherhood is a central theme of many of your books. Why do you think the subject has held your interest, over the years?

AQ: I once wrote that reading makes us feel less alone. It’s why I love it so. But writing, if we touch a chord in others, can make both the writer and readers feel less alone, feel connected to others like themselves. My life experience, and thus my work, is often a reflection of being female in America. And while we’ve expanded expectations and opportunities enormously over my lifetime, there is still a kind of unique loneliness to childrearing for women. We so often do it in isolation. Add to that the fact that in our competitive, perfectionist culture, in which the price women are required to pay for freedom still seems to be martyrdom, almost everyone lies about motherhood. Part of that lying is loyalty–I can’t let on that my kid is the only one on the playground who can’t read or play the piano–and part of it is self-protection, since we’ve made hyper motherhood a measure of female success. The preferred answer to the question “How are you?” is always “Fine”, and the answer to the question “How are the kids?” is supposed to be “Great!” That’s true even if the accurate answers would be “terrible” and “a mess.” I think that produces its own kind of desperation, especially for women, who yearn to be emotionally open. Thank God for good girlfriends. That’s a theme in this book as well.

RHRC: Every Last One raises many questions about parenting–when to micromanage, when to punish, and when to let go. In your opinion, is Mary Beth a good mother?

AQ: I think Mary Beth is a wonderful mother, sensitive, attentive and loving. But the whole point of this book is that sometimes that’s not enough. There are a million moving parts to raising kids, and you can’t always anticipate them all, especially when the outside world, other people, play such a huge role in their lives as they grow older. With independence there is one kind of pitfall; with overprotection, there is another. And sometimes you do everything right and something bad just happens. It’s as simple, and as scary, as that.

Of course, when things go wrong, it’s still the mother who gets blamed. Where was she? What was she thinking? I wanted to look at that phenomenon in this novel, too. I’ve been distressed at how many people immediately concluded that Mary Beth was at fault in the events of the book. But I wasn’t surprised. Despite the increased role of fathers in our society, there’s still a sense that motherhood is the big fail if anything goes wrong. Yet it’s independence that is the ultimate success for your kids. If your goal is to build strong people from the ground up, the only way to do that is to give them enough rope to sometimes make their own mistakes. That’s a big theme in the novel, balancing oversight and independence

I do think this sort of oversight is more frequently the purview of women. I used to say that my editorial direction on “Life in the 30s” was to write about what my friends and I were discussing on the phone. And then I would add, “If my husband had to write a column based on his phone calls…” I never got to finish that sentence. Every woman in the audience would bust up. It was assumed that women were in the business of emotional deconstruction, and men weren’t. Sometimes it means that we’re more engaged in certain aspects of our children’s lives. Sometimes it means, as Glen says of Mary Beth in Every Last One, that we’re way over-involved.

**

Every Last One is available in paperback wherever books are sold. Check out our full interview with Anna in the back of the paperback.

Win a copy of Anna Quindlen’s EVERY LAST ONE

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

EveryLastOneNEW IN PAPERBACK

“In a tale that rings strikingly true, [Anna] Quindlen captures both the beauty and the breathtaking fragility of family life.”—People

Mary Beth Latham has built her life around her family, around caring for her three teenage children and preserving the rituals of their daily life. When one of her sons becomes depressed, Mary Beth focuses on him, only to be blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterward is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible lines of hope and healing that connect one human being to another. Ultimately, as rendered in Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing prose, Every Last One is a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear the most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel.


Shoe
Bertelsmann Media Worldwide