The Galleyist's Totally Incomplete, Highly Subjective, and Not Necessarily Constrained to Books that Came Out this Year Holiday Buying Guide for 2013
Even if you're a huge baseball fan, you've probably never heard of the Clinton Lumberkings, the single-A level farm team for the Seattle Mariners. But for a small group of players, the team is a crucible of triumph and defeat, either the gateway to big-league money and the better life that it would entail, or the end of the road for their would-be athletic careers. First-time author Lucas Mann spent an entire season with the Lumberkings and their fans, which he documented with keen sensitivity in CLASS A: BASEBALL IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE, one of my favorite books of the year. Click 'read more' for the interview, and maybe later check out my longer review of the book at The Daily Beast.
Jami Attenberg's The Middlesteins, now available in paperback, is the tragicomic story of a jewish family outside of Chicago as it is begins to fall apart, due largely, but not exclusively, to the ever-increasing physical size of Edie, the food-obsessed matriarch. The only thing as impressive as Atternberg's prose is the expansiveness of her empathy. We spoke about food, addiction, and more. Click 'read more' for the interview.
Calling Dr. Laura, debut graphic memoir by Nicole J. Georges, bounces back and forth between the female narrator’s own misadventures in love, and those of her mother’s years before, seen from the eyes of the narrator in her childhood. As she finds herself more and more adrift in her life, she revisits her episodes of dysfunction in hopes of finding some kind of root cause. As the two women slowly unveil their secrets to each other, a devastating conclusion begins to loom, the biggest secret of all. Click "read more" for my interview with Nicole.
Oppen Porter, twenty-eight, six and a half feet tall, is not a man of the world. But, having heard that such a distinction might be desirable and lacking much else to do after his the death of his father, he decides that he may as well endeavor to become one. Oppen was born with the terrible flaws of being kind, trusting, and open-hearted, and so his quest consists mostly in doing as other people (con-men, evangelists, fortune tellers, his Aunt Liz) instruct him, and he bounces from ethos to ethos while attempting to learn how a person should be. In his new novel Panorama City, Antoine Wilson has created a modern Odyssey of an unclaimed spirit, a story of 'becoming' in a world with so many different things to become, and so many of them sad. We spoke about surfing, crafting characters, and David Foster Wallace. Click 'read more' for the interview.
Paula Bomer's Nine Months is a novel about pregnancy, but it is more Ridley Scott than Dr. Spock. In the book, an unplanned third pregnancy provokes a young Brooklyn mother into fleeing her family on an unhinged cross-country road trip, with the bun still in the oven. Along the way, she battles her own sexual desires, her stalled artistic aspirations, and the sheer physical realities that a person has to contend with while carrying another person inside of them. The book feels almost dangerous in its iconoclasm, and Bomer writes about the myriad trials of pregnancy with an honesty that made me want to call to my mom and make sure that she never fantasized too much about murdering me. We spoke about sex, feminism, and parenthood. Click 'read more' for the interview.
Gavin McInnes, co-founder of the counter-cultural paper of record Vice Magazine, is often credited (or blamed) for the creation of the hipster, largely thanks to his long-running "Dos and Don'ts" fashion critique column, but that's hardly the most interesting thing about him. His new memoir, entitled "How To Piss In Public" (after this successful viral video) is a collection of his craziest stories, from his beginnings as a Canadian punk fighting Nazi Skinheads, to his drug-feuled days as a media mogul with money to burn in New York City. The book is rude, lurid, and awesome, and also recounts maybe the only own known instance of someone transmitting an STD to themselves (don't ask). Click 'read more' for the interview.
In Where'd You Go, Bernadette, second novel from Maria Semple (former screenwriter for "Arrested Development,") Bernadette Fox is an agoraphobic and Macarthur Award-winning architectural genius who escapes from LA to Seattle in order to raise her daughter, Bee, alongside her tech-guru husband. As her unwillingness to deal with the external world drives her to rely more and more on her outsourced personal assistant in India, and the other mothers of the crunchy private school begin to plot against her, Bernadette disappears, forcing Bee to track her down using the emails, chat logs, medical records, and FBI transcripts that make the novel epistolary. The book is a legitimately hilarious satire, but also something of a marvel of structure and vision. Maria and I talked about structure, form, comedy, and God. Click 'read more' for the interview.
Rick Bass occupies a unique position in American letters. A true writer's writer, his lyrical and philosophical fiction has been awarded O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. But he's also a geologist, and an environmental activist; in addition to writing extensively on environmental issues, he also helps safeguard both the flora and fauna of his home in the Yaak Valley Forest of Montana. In his latest book, "The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert," Bass details a trip he took into one of the world's most unchanged and unforgiving landscapes, in order to bear witness to an incredible species on the brink of extinction.
Interview after the jump.
This summer in 1972, George McGovern, the so-called candidate of "Amnesty, abortion, and acid," tapped the young, senatorial shoulder of Thomas Eagleton to be his running mate. Over the course of the next eighteen days, a pair of anonymous phone calls alleging that Eaglteon had undergone treatment for depression and exhaustion would force McGovern to publicly withdraw his selection. In Joshua Glasser's debut, "The Eighteen-Day Running Mate," he recounts every angle of the episode in vivid detail. Wonks of all stripes will be interested by the various political wranglings that went on behind the scenes, but at the book's core are two very human stories about that rare breed of politician that still appears to be a good person even after all the facts are known, and their attempts to do what is right, both for themselves and for their country.
Mr Glasser, a researcher for Bloomberg Television, and I spoke about the incident, and how it continues to reverberate in the present day. Interview after the Jump.