I’m writing this from my sister and brother -in-law’s house in Baltimore. They are great hosts to us every year. My sister in law has a giant library full of all the books I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t. I typically spend entire days perusing.
I prefer the East Coast. Things move faster here and people speak more plainly. I feel a lot less like a bull in a China shop, or evil James T Kirk from “The Enemy Within.” Star Trek reference!
JT, the kids and I have lived in Los Angeles for a long time now. Seven-plus years ago, we packed our Brooklyn stuff into a Ford Tarus and drove West, enrolling the kids in the local public school with only a few days to spare. Laurel Canyon has been a good place to raise kids. My blood pressure is a lot lower. At night I hear coyotes and owls. Work-wise, LA has been good, too. JT is constantly busy. I never announced this, but I developed a television pilot for Good Neighbors and pitched it to the top executives in the industry. Like, the TOP executives. Some great people were attached. Hopefully, you’ll all get the chance to see that work one day.
I’ve been posting a lot about A Better World. It’s getting positive early reader and critical reactions. I know some authors are very good at weaving tidbits or recipes or pictures of food into their posts so they seem less like advertisements and more personal. I am not those authors. My approach to social media is not to trust it. So, with my apologies, expect more of the same.
My favorite movie of the year was “Landscape with Invisible Hand,” adapted from a novel by the brilliant MT Anderson. It’s perfect, but was largely ignored or panned by the critics. It was marketed as a teen romance when it’s in fact a scathing commentary on end-stage Capitalism, its ideas utterly adult.
I didn’t see a ton of movies this year, but of those I did see, I also particularly liked “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” and “Bottoms.” I loved the novel EILEEN and intend to see the movie. “Linoleum” was strange and imperfect but also ambitious and mesmerizing.
This season of “Fargo” is fantastic.
In books, I got into a few classics this year. Favorites there include: THE GROUP by Mary McCarthy, a definitive novel about post-collegiate women in New York before Betty Friedan came along. A good companion to that novel is Rona Jaffe’s THE BEST OF EVERYTHING. These books serve as nice rejoinders to Matt Weiner’s “Mad Men,” in the same way Helen Z. Smith’s NOT SO QUIET conversed with Remarque’s ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT.
Another great read was Graham Greene’s THE QUIET AMERICAN, about the occupation of Vietnam, and all those good intentions.
Next year, I’m looking forward to several books. Kiley Reid’s COME AND GET IT comes out in January. Kelly Link’s first novel, a 600-page whopper called THE BOOK OF LOVE comes out in February. On April 9 (the same day A BETTER WORLD gets released!), eager readers will finally get their hands on the sequel to MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS from Emil Ferris. In July, Paul Tremblay’s HORROR MOVIE comes out. I read and loved it. And also felt queasy about it. Which is exactly how I felt when reading HEAD FULL of GHOSTS, so mission accomplished, Tremblay!
Some of you may have been following the most recent Good Reads controversy. Essentially, a debut YA author invented several fake accounts in order to pan (“review bomb”) competitors. These competitors were mostly writers of color. The debut author’s book is now canceled.
Some points to make: The author got in trouble, but what are the consequences for Good Reads? Good Reads makes money without accountability. We’ve known this for some time. Trolls gotta hate. But do they hate randomly? What I’d like to know is whether and how deeply reviews are skewed according to gender and ethnicity. Eventually, this stuff is going to be run by AI. We’re feeding skewed data to AI. It’s bad. It needs addressing.
And back to A Better World. You should pre-order it!
Two new blurbs!
“A woman in a troubled marriage moves to a perfect town riddled with secrets, and starts to question everything. Part dystopian horror, part domestic thriller, with a core of wry social commentary, A better World is gripping literary fiction at its finest.” –Sarah Pinborough, BEHIND HER EYES
“A Better World is a fearless, frightening, yet strangely reassuring book that takes a pitiless look at the world we’re in the process of building for our children–and then introduces us to a family doing its best to navigate that terrifying world with love, compassion, creativity, and humor. I loved it.” -Kristen Roupenian, author of “Cat Person”
Finally, I’ve been resistant to putting the word horror on my covers because so many people won’t read horror. But I’m starting to come around. I’m right now reading Mona Awad’s BUNNY, which is categorized as horror. Who knew? Anyway, if you’ve got an opinion on that, let me know.
I hope this year’s been good for you.