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.
“A fair amount of writing about artists is premised on the idea that they are better or worse or more generous or brutish or attuned to the subtle vibrations of the universe than the rest of us. [Janet] Malcolm doesn’t seem to think so, and it’s very refreshing.”
Pamela Erens, “Making Things Is Hard Work: Janet Malcolm’s Forty-One False Starts.”
“It was only when Kushner started writing her book that she made a discovery that is vital to any novelist trying to spin fiction out of historical events: the great danger is emptying your notebook, becoming lulled by your research into forgetting that novels are, first and last, works of the imagination.”
Rachel Kushner Is Well On Her Way to Huge by Bill Morris
“On the day of our wedding, on some now-distant beach, my wife had sworn herself to me with ease and in faith, and I did likewise for her: Together we made the longest promises, vowed them tight, and it was so easy to do this then, to speak the provided words, when we did not know what other harder choices would necessarily follow as we made our first life together in a new city, and then again after we left that country and journeyed to the dirt, this plot stationed so far from the other side of the lake, from the mountains beyond the lake, on whose distant slopes we had once dwelled in the land of our parents, where perhaps there still perches that platform where we stood to speak our vows.
How terrible we must have seemed that day, when together we were made to believe our marriage would then and always be celebrated, by ceremony and by feasting, by the right applause of a hundred kith and kin. And then later how we were terrible again, upon this far lonelier shore, where when we came we came alone.”
Recommended Reading: Guernica’s excerpt from Matt Bell’s upcoming novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
Loving and falling in love have a very good reputation. That may be justified sometimes, but sometimes it is the opposite. I have seen very generous, kind and noble people behave very badly because they are in love.
Rachel Fershleiser works on Tumblr’s strategic outreach team, specializing in publishing, nonprofit, and cultural organizations. Previously she was the Community Manager at Bookish and the Director of Public Programs at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, where she now serves on the Board of Directors. She is also the co-creator of Six-Word Memoirs and co-editor of the New York Times Bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning and three other books. Her writing has appeared in the anthology My Parents Were Awesome and in The Village Voice, New York Press, Print, Los Angeles Times, National Post, Salon.com, Fray Quarterly and several amazing print and online publications you’ve never heard of. She’s also great at making soup.
In our ongoing series looking to help authors do better events, we knew Rachel would be the perfect person to talk to. We chatted with her about the importance of community and collaboration, the best events of all time, and how well PB&Js can pair with PBR. We also got her fantastic advice about exactly how and why authors should use social media. ”When people tell me they don’t want to do social media I’m always sort of confused about, like, well why did you write a book?” Rachel says. “I presume it’s because you have things to say that you want people to hear.”
Year in Reading alum and all around bookternet guru Rachel Fershleiser speaks with Togather about how to throw kickass book events. One tip: it never hurts to serve booze.