Happy Post-Thanksgiving from Word Savvy I actually have a bad habit of hating holidays, but do you know what I generally don't hate? The days AFTER t

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Happy Post-Thanksgiving from Word Savvy

I actually have a bad habit of hating holidays, but do you know what I generally don't hate? The days AFTER the holidays. The expectations for politeness and excellence have passed, and all I have to do is lie in bed, watch the Gilmore Girls revival, type some words on my fiction writing project, and think about this newsletter. Yay.

I'm on an audiobook tear, so I'm rounding those up in Earbud Confidential. I have some links for you, as well. What could possibly go wrong?


Now Playing

Stephanie Danler's buzzy debut, Sweetbitter, which chronicles the initiation of Tess, a young NYC transplant, to the big-city restaurant scene. Everyone raved about this novel, and I'm happy to find that I too like it. I've even been taking Teddy on extra walks to keep it playing. But, Tess keeps making unforced errors that kind of bug me. You know when there's a generally likable main character who keeps making all the wrong choices? Nancy Botwin from Weeds is a classic example, I think. You feel empathy for her for awhile, and then you're like, "Come on!" I'm getting to that Come On! place, but more embarrassing and preventable things keep happening to Tess. I think I'm still going to like the book, though. I'll keep you posted.

Just Finished

Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. This is another debut that got a lot of attention this year. I've been intentionally reading debuts lately because I'm trying to write my own first novel, and why not read the efforts of the real live people who've actually done it? Johnson's book has precocious, unusual child at the center. He's the progeny of a reclusive author (a lá J.D. Salinger or Harper Lee) who disappeared from public after dropping a smash hit on the literary world in her early twenties. Our protagonist, then, is Alice, a fresh-faced Pollyanna tasked with assisting the author in publishing her second novel, thirty years after the first. I described this as "far-fetched, but endearing" on my reading spreadsheet. I think that pretty much covers it.

Up Next

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Yep, another 2016 debut, this one by a 26 year-old Ghanaian-American writer. Unlike Sweetbitter and Frank, this novel seems huge in scope - 200 years and two continents - and heavy in emotional impact. As Isabel Wilkerson writes in the New York Times, "The unhealed ruptures of slavery, persistent as memory and rubbed raw in such an instant, course through “Homegoing,” the hypnotic debut novel by Yaa Gyasi, a stirringly gifted young writer, that contemplates the consequences of human trafficking on both sides of the Atlantic." The title keeps popping up, and I really want to experience it.


I had a full-length review of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead on Literary Quicksand last month. Short version: An unforgettable novel that you should read, not listen to.

I also have a review of The Boys in the Boat coming next week. I'll tweet about that when it's live.

Links 1

On the Blog

People seemed to enjoy my post On Hating Fun this month. I can't help it that I hate fun. Maybe you do, too?

In the News

Like everyone else, I've been obsessed with post-election analysis and coverage. Brain Pickings had Toni Morrison's directive to artists in times of turmoil. "We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal."

For Your To-Do List

Feeling helpless in Trump's America? You're not. Make some calls to pressure lawmakers to do the right things. I like this spreadsheet, and I've used it.


That's It!

Who could even hate that? It was pretty painless!

Reading anything lately? Drop me a line with a review.
Writing anything lately? How's it going?
Want to read all about my fiction writing project, on overdrive in the month of November? Click here.

Don't you just want to live a literary life? Because I totally do. Know someone else who might want to read my newsletter? You can forward it to them, for sure. Want your own?