BOOK STALKER

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BookStalked: Liz Rosenberg

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Liz Rosenberg is an impressively multitalented writer: children’s book author, YA writer, poet, and novelist. A professor at Binghamton University, she’s also taught the likes of Nathan Englander and Josephine Schmidt. Her newest novel, THE LAWS OF GRAVITY, involves two cousins at a life-and-death crossroads: Nicole, who finds out she has cancer, and her cousin Ari, who could potentially save her life with umbilical cord blood he’s been saving for his own children. Liz based the tale on a real-life case she heard about decades ago, in which a man sued his cousin for changing his mind about a bone-marrow transplant. The man died, and Liz wondered what the surviving cousin felt afterwards.

Besides being a terrifically talented writer, Liz is a wonderful human being, and I’m delighted to be able to share some of her most memorable public speaking tales.

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BookStalked: Adelle Waldman

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Adelle Waldman’s hot-off-the-press debut novel, THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF NATHANIEL P., may help answer that age-old dating question: WTF? For anyone who’s been confused by the current dating scene (ahem, me), Adelle illuminates the perspective of the young, modern, sensitive-yet-jerkish male through main character Nate Piven. A literary breakout in Brooklyn, Nate faces of plethora of potential relationships but fails to navigate any of them smoothly. 

Adelle’s book has been named a NYT Editors Choice, a B&N Discover Great New Writers Selection, and an Amazon Best Book of July. Critics have lauded her wry humor and have called the tale “a smart, engaging 21st-century comedy of manners.”  Adelle agreed to chat about her reading experiences thus far, which (unsurprisingly) contain the same level of observation and humor that can be found in her fiction.

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BookStalked: Alina Simone

Alina Simone is an indie musician who also happens to be a writer. Born in the Ukraine, Alina grew up in Massachusetts and launched her music career in Austin by singing in the doorway of an abandoned bar. In 2008, she released the critically-acclaimed album Everyone is Crying Out to Me, an homage to Siberian post-folk singer Yanka Dyagileva. A certain editor at FSG enjoyed her music so much he emailed her, asking if she might be interested in writing a book. Cut to now: Alina has published both a lauded essay collection (YOU MUST GO AND WIN) and a novel (NOTE TO SELF), and is a fixture of the Brooklyn lit and music scene. Alina was kind enough to share some of her weirdest touring tales, which include Danish windmills and German circus trailers.

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BookStalked: Cheryl Strayed

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Cheryl Strayed needs little introduction as a twice-over NYT bestselling author (WILD, TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS) and modern-day feminist guru. She’s known for her radical empathy—her uncanny ability to connect with people through her writing, whether it be memoir, advice columns or fiction. When people ask me for books recs I inevitably mention Cheryl, and I’m unsurprised by how many tell me they’ve already read her and love her. It’s always been a dream of mine to interview Cheryl, and today I’m delighted to offer some of her reading experiences. As you’d expect, they’re both deeply moving and very funny. Read on, after the jump!

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BookStalked: Jessica Soffer

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The Arabic saying “bukra fil mish mish” means “tomorrow, apricots may bloom.” Jessica Soffer’s debut novel Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots focuses on two surprising friends facing uncertain futures. Young Lorca, about to be sent off to boarding school, thinks that if she’s able to make her mother’s favorite Middle Eastern dish, she might be allowed to stay. Victoria, an Iraqi Jewish immigrant and grieving widow in New York, teaches cooking lessons to Lorca. As they uncover secrets from their pasts, they begin to suspect that their connection runs deeper than food. Apricots has been called “a profoundly redemptive story” (O Magazine) and “a work of beauty in words” (New York Journal of Books). Jessica has just started doing readings about town, and she was kind enough to share some of her most memorable event experiences thus far — after the jump!


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BookStalked: Penina Roth of the Franklin Park Reading Series

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The Franklin Park Reading Series is one of the most popular reading series in Brooklyn, and I’m constantly amazed by the big names it draws in (seriously, every time). Curator Penina is my social media guru, but I was also impressed to find out that she single-handedly got the series going — after meeting with various Crown Heights inhabitants to find out what they were interested in (literature and bars, natch). After the jump, Penina shares stories about how she started FPRS,  some of its most memorable moments, and, of course, the awesome events to look for this spring.  


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BookStalked: Julia Fierro of Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop

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I heard about the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop shortly after moving to New York. I thought the concept—workshops run out of the homes of lauded authors like Emma Straub, Karen Thompson Walker and Catherine Chung—sounded like an amazing idea. What I didn’t know then (and only just discovered) is that there’s literally one woman behind the operation: founder Julia Fierro. Julia reads all the applications, fills the classes, hires and trains new teachers, teaches her own classes, and consults with students, along with scheduling, curating and hosting the related reading series. Whew! Somehow, in the midst of this (and raising two totally adorable kids), Julia found time to write a book—Cutting Teeth, forthcoming from St. Martins Press in spring 2014.

Without further ado, I want to get to Julia’s remarkable stories about Sackett Street—why and how she founded it, her most memorable experiences, and some exciting upcoming events.

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BookStalked: Rosie Schaap

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Rosie Schaap has held down some pretty interesting gigs: fortuneteller, full-time Deadhead, preacher, homeless shelter manager, and, most recently, bartender. Her new memoir, Drinking with Men, shares tales from these various periods through the lens of her life-long search for the perfect bar. Besides her current post at South Brooklyn’s SOUTH, Rosie writes the monthly “Drink” column for The New York Times Magazine and also contributes to This American Life. Due to her witty and warm prose style, I felt like I knew Rosie even before reaching out. I was delighted to find her as friendly as I’d hoped. After the jump, Rosie provides stories of meeting fellow barflies on her book tour, hosting a rowdy series, and attending an unforgettable event .

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BookStalked: Julie Buntin of powerHouse Arena

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With its 24-foot ceilings, amphitheater-style seating and gorgeous views of Manhattan, DUMBO’s powerHouse Arena is one of the most visually arresting places you can browse for books. The arena was built in 2006 by publisher powerHouse Books, who envisioned it as a hybrid gallery/events space/bookstore. PowerHouse constantly hosts big-name guests (some authors I’ve seen there recently include A.S. Byatt and Jeffrey Eugenides), and I’m always eagerly scrolling through their just-announced events.

Julie Buntin has been powerHouse’s events coordinator for about five months, but she already has an assortment of tales, ranging from dealing with Sandy’s devastating effects to hanging with NYC’s most brilliant to reining in a punk party that got a bit out of control. More after the jump.

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BookStalker Turns Two! And This Week’s Readings

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It’s been a great year in bookstalking, and I think the best part has been adding BookStalked, a feature in which authors and other big names in the NYC book scene discuss their most memorable literary moments. I wanted to share just a few of my fave moments (though I truly love them all!).

I’m so grateful these amazing people took the time to share such crazy, fascinating and moving tales. If you missed any features, be sure to catch up on them here! Also, here’s another top-ten countdown from last year’s B-Day.

This Week’s Readings after the jump.

Photo via drinknectar.com.

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