Archive for October, 2010

After reading an excerpt of Imperfect Endings in O magazine I had no intention of reading Zoe Fitzgerald Carter’s memoir. Don’t get me wrong, the piece was beautifully written, moving even, but the subject matter turned me off. It portrays her mother’s difficult decision to end her life. Too grim, I thought.

Then I heard F-C speak at Litquake and I was slightly more interested. She looked really cool in a funky tunic and leggings tucked into boots and she presented well. Afterwards I spoke to her briefly about an article she posted on her blog. She was responsive, warm and funny, but I still didn’t buy her book.

This past Saturday I took my music-crazed son to one of the last music stores in Palo Alto, which also happens to be a book store. Sitting on the shelf in front of me and on sale for nine bucks was F-C’s book. Not only that, they would take an additional 20% off if I bought it that day. For $6.75 it was meant to be.

I’m halfway through Imperfect Endings and I’m blown away by F-C’s style (my barometer is reading to the end rather than making dinner for the family). She is honest about her emotions, captures sibling exchanges beautifully (I’m not sure I’d ever dare write about my own sisters so candidly) and she is funny. She portrays her mother as self-centered and vulnerable, yet she seeks her approval and loves her enormously. How many of us feel this way about our own parents? There is tension in the book because her Mom keeps changing the date on which she plans to end her life, but we know it is a foregone conclusion.

The only thing that niggled a bit was that F-C used pseudonyms for her sisters, yet in a later post on her blog she provides the real name of one them. I guess if I were super-curious I could find out who her sisters are, but I’m not. Still, it felt unnecessary.

Check it out. It is worth the read, especially if you are facing a similar situation in your own family. I may even go and hear her speak again at Studio 333 on November 11th. It will make a good excuse to go to Sausalito!

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Six female memoirists spoke at the Litquake Literary Festival session entitled Life, Death, Love, Lies…and Cupcakes: Litquake’s All-Memoir Women’s Night last Friday, October 8th. There were two stand-outs for me, although I truly enjoyed each talk. Zoe Fitzgerald Carter read from Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Tale of Life and Death which she describes as an uplifting story of a woman determined to die on her own terms and the family who has to learn to let her go. The passage she chose to read describes a meeting between her Mom who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Zoe, her sister and a man from the Hemlock Society, a right-to-die organization. I was skeptical about the ‘uplifting’ part of the description of this book, but Zoe is charming and presents a combination of humor and empathy that makes this book an important source for any family going through a similar ordeal. I can’t wait to start reading.

Laura Fraser, most recently author of The New York Times bestseller An Italian Affair chose to address the furor over Jonathan Franzen’s new book, Freedom and specifically comments by authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult about it. Weiner and Picoult complain that men who write about family affairs are touted as brilliant, while women who write about similar topics are often overlooked. Fraser weighed in on this literary debate with a post called  Franzen Book Controversy: Chick Lit v. Dude Lit – The Daily Beast and then read it to the audience at Litquake with one important word change; wherever you see Dude next to Lit, substitute a word that rhymes with Chick. This one word made all the difference in her live presentation. My takeaway is that rather than gripe about not getting enough attention, Fraser chose to put male authors in a box similar to the Chick Lit box to demonstrate just how silly (and possibly damaging) labels can be.

Next year I will travel to more Litquake Festival events. Well done to the co-founders and co-directors, Jane Ganahl and Jack Boulware.

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Are you a person who loves routine? Do you like to know what to expect the following day when you go to bed at night? If you answered, yes then how are you coping with social media? How do you keep up with the bleeps and tweets that dart around your office everyday while you’re trying to get down to the business of writing? Yes, I know I could shut down my email, stop logging into Facebook and turn off my phone, but I might miss something!!

Do you have a stack of books on your bedside table waiting for you to read them? I do AND I have a backlog of recommendations from brilliant people like Nancy Pearl and The Book Bench : The New Yorker and Huff Post’s new page on books Books News and Opinion on The Huffington Post and many more, but if I keep going on this track I’ll never get back to my work.

What happened to the good ‘ole days, like when I was eight years old and I got up every morning, twisted my hair into two braids, ate a bowl of Raisin Bran and read Beverly Cleary for twenty minutes before school. How do I go back? Of course, I understand I’m an adult who’s lived several decades and that this is impossible, but I’d love to know if there is a way to get on top of all this information? My mind is cataloguing like crazy, organizing my bookmark bar into categories — literary agent blogs, publishing blogs, writer’s blogs — you get the idea.

Maybe Jonathan Franzen has the right idea. On NPR he said he shuts himself in a room with no phone, no internet, blinds drawn and puts on large earphones. Maybe I’ll indulge myself one day. Will you?

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We’ve created a website for our new publishing venture Fresh Pond Press publishers for the 21st century

Any and all feedback welcome!

Yes, my writing has taken a back seat to this new business, but I’m still eeking out a few pages. I had been thinking about a chapter featuring my friendship with my friend Cheryl and it is finally coming together. I’d like to say that my closest friend in Australia was raised in the Outback and rides kangaroos, but no I did the predictable thing and befriended a fellow American. I couldn’t help it. She is fun, wise and a great hiking companion. We also had a great time confiding in each other about the Australians. After all, a girl needs an outlet for her naughtier observations.

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