Both books are about how falling in love for the first time, particularly if you’ve never seen a love story you can relate to, can be as terrifying and confusing as it is joyful.
A great pie is a product of both skill and wisdom; as, I believe, is a great life. You make a long string of intuitive decisions and hope they alchemize into something beautiful. That’s why each good pie that comes out of the oven felt like a win to me; it feels like a small reassurance that you’re good at life. Plus, delicious.
Janet Potter, “Zen and the Art of Pie Making”
I am consistently drawn in, and consistently disappointed, by bio-novels about women made unhappy by famous men. I read The Paris Wife, about Hadley Hemingway. I read Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress. I read the diaries of Sofya Tolstoy. And now I’ve read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. I put each of them aside a heavy sigh when I’ve finished. I’m not disappointed in the books, but in the lives of the women. The point of these books is to tell their side of the story, but in reality, and definitely in Zelda’s case, they didn’t get their own side of the story.
"Paradoxically, this is the reason to write and read about Zelda [Fitzgerald], because she deserved a life much more interesting than the one that she got. Interesting to her, that is, a life she could have given her energy and talents to, not just a life made interesting by famous friends and European capitals.” - Janet Potter
There is a certain type of book, well-represented in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, that is about Men Handling Things. I can’t define the precise requirements of this genre, but I know that I’ve read this type of book many times over, by anyone from Fitzgerald and Hemingway to the Richards Yates and Ford. And let me be clear, I’ve just named four of my favorite authors. I’m not going to rant against Men Handling Things novels. I mean to say that there are a lot of them.
"I can’t say whether I was enjoying the book itself or just the true American, grand tradition of it all. Surely I’m reading a great book, I thought, a rich man with a diamond watch is staring at the ocean while his son looks on and doubts it all!"
Men Handling Things: On Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men by Janet Potter
The 2012 Janet Potter Awards for Literary Achievement
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson
Most Descriptions of Characters’ Butts
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Some people say there are too many literary awards. I say there are not enough.