Sunday, April 29, 2012
How lucky am I? The gods and goddesses at Algonquin Books set up a Bookclub with webcasts pairing uber-famous writers with we lesser mortals, and I was blessed enough to be paired with Anne Lamott. The webcast is here!
Annie was wonderful, warm, funny, and offered me half a peanut butter sandwich in the limo ride to Rakestraw Books. I had just the best time, and next time, I'm going to wear a jacket in a color so I don't look as if I am bleeding into myself.
Deborah Copaken Kogan's bio reads like a novel in itself. A photojournalist, she wrote the bestselling Shutterbabe, followed by Between Here and April, Hell is Other Parents and now the New York Times bestseller, The Red Book. Her essays have appeared in Elle, The New York Times, Paris Match, O, and more, she's shot photo assignments, produced and shot a documentary in Pakistan, performed live on stage with The Moth, adapted Hell is Other Parents for the stage, and even wrote screenplays and a TV pilot.
The Red Book is part The Big Chill, part The Group, and really, wholly original. About a group of Harvard friends who reunite at their 20th reunion, it explores what really happens when reality catches up with your dreams. It's a terrific, literary novel, and I'm absolutely honored to have Deborah here. Thank you so much, Deborah.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Submission rejection submission acceptance edit reedit launch promo. (Or: submission rejection submission rejection submission give up and move on.)
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I first met Clea Simon on this writing site we both frequented. I really liked the funny, smart way she was presenting her ideas, but more than that, I was thrilled that she was the author of Fatherless Women, a book I loved. We became friends online first, and then began to manage to see each other once a year. I read more of her books and loved all of them. We go to each other's readings, we do a daily email check in, we boost each other up and cajole and nag and talk about everything from writing to money to morale--honestly, I depend on Clea and I don't know what I'd do without her.
I'm thrilled she has two absolutely terrific, smart new mysteries out, with another coming out next year--and I'm even more thrilled she's here on my blog. Big hugs and thanks, Clea!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Hey Boston authors, want to learn to speak in front of your adoring crowds? Author and teacher Carolyn Roy-Bornstein can show you how
Kissed: 1928by Ellis Avery
After the affair ended badly, I had my hair freshly marcelled, packed up my valise with everything I’d made, put on a new coat over the zipper dress I’d designed, and walked to rue Cambon. Carved into the limestone above the front door of no. 31, I saw the face of a beautiful young woman: was she smiling at me, or laughing?At the far end of the townhouse lobby, I spotted the mirrored staircase that spiraled up to the couture floor. At the near end, behind a long, shining desk, I found a human copy of the laughing stone maiden I’d just encountered, a blue-eyed girl already polished to so high a gloss, it would have been redundant for my painter to paint her. “May I please speak with Mademoiselle Chanel?” I asked in my best French.“What is this regarding?” she asked, derision tugging at her penciled brows.I swallowed. “I wanted to show her my work.” She looked at my suitcase as if it might contain a bomb. “I mean, the dresses I made,” I explained. Understanding registered in her eyes, and with it, contempt. The mirrored staircase at the far end of the lobby winked mockingly. My confidence unraveling, I flailed. “Do you need an apprentice?”The receptionist laughed outright. “Mademoiselle is not hiring at this time,” she said.My throat closed up. My little valise banged against my legs in defeat, but I was so angry that I looked up to face her. “I can understand if you’re not hiring,” I said, the French words welling up like an underground stream. “But why laugh at me?”The receptionist gave an indignant little cough-snort. “Because you have no idea how many girls just walk in looking for work. This is a couture house, not a factory. The arpettes here are students at the best technical college in Paris.”“Oh,” I said, deflated.She gave another little cough. “Désolée,” she chirped, in no way desolate at the prospect of ejecting me from Chanel. I turned away, smarting, but I stopped myself. Her cruelty was nothing, mere professionalism, compared to what I’d recently endured. I set down the valise and took out my notebook. “What is the name of that college?” I asked, stainless-steel pencil poised. “And the address?”I could hear the condescension in her voice as she politely enunciated a name that had Filles des Bonnes Familles stamped all over it, but I refused to let myself slink away.And then Fate kissed me on the forehead. A woman with a wide red mobile mouth and a hat as small and perfectly-formed as a quail’s egg floated in through the front door on a wave of perfume, followed by a harried flunky with an armload of packages. “Des messages?” the woman asked the receptionist.In the five seconds the blue-eyed mannequin spent stacking up slips of paper by the telephone, the woman in the cloche noted the tab of the zipper at my neckline with a brief widening of the eyes, then sized up the situation immediately with a glance at my notebook and my earnest little valise. She did not meet my eye: it was obvious that the company kept a receptionist to save the higher-ups the time and trouble of keeping out people like me. But as the girl handed over her slips of paper, the woman surprised me. “Yours?” she asked, looking again at my dress.“Yes,” I managed to say. “It’s my design.”“Eh bien,” she grunted, in a manner that balanced mockery with grudging interest, and took a second look over my shoulder at the name of the school I had written in my notebook. “You should know that the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture is starting a school this fall as well,” she said, and with a blink of a smile, she sailed down the hall, shrugging off her coat and passing it to her assistant with the parcels.I stared at the receptionist, stunned. Her blue eyes narrowed at me with newfound envy. “Was that—?” I whispered.“You mean you don’t know?”
Monday, April 2, 2012
Dawn Skorczewski talks about Anne Sexton's therapy tapes, psychotherapy yesterday and today, and so much more
I have always loved Anne Sexton. She suffered from mental illness, but her therapist , Dr. Martin Orne, encouraged her to take up poetry--and a career was born. Her poetry blazes on the page. She hides nothing, she confesses everything. How could you not be fascinated by her?
When An Accident of Hope: The Therapy Tapes of Anne Sexton bumped through my mail slot, I practically devoured the book. To say that Dawn Skorczewski has done something remarkable is putting it mildly, and I couldn't wait to speak with her.
Dawn, by the way is an Associate Professor of English and the Directory of University writing at my old alma mater, Brandeis. She was the 2009 recipient of the CORST Essay prize in Psychoanalysis and Culture from the American Psychoanalytic Association and the 2007 recipient of the Gondor Award for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Education. Thank you so, so much, Dawn.
What first drew you to Anne Sexton?
I was first interested in Anne Sexton because I was certain, from reading her poems, that she was an incest survivor. My mother's own history dovetailed with hers, and so my first journey to Sexton was to find my own history and to connect with my mother's story (which she remained silent about). I found Diane Middlebrook's assessment of this issue in the biography unconvincing. Later, having discovered the value of psychotherapy, I began to listen to her therapy tapes. Then I learned that there was much more to this poet than I'd even imagined.
Sexton was treated by a very particular type of psychotherapy. Do you think that if she had been treated today, with more modern forms of psychotherapy and medication available, that the outcome for her might have been different?
Yes, I do think that Sexton might have had a very different story had she been in treatment today. We need only look at Linda Sexton's recent memoir to see how bipolar disorder and suicidality are being treated today. Linda writes a moving story of attempting to repeat her mother's suicidal example only to find herself alive, and, most surprisingly, choosing life, with the help of an excellent therapist who values the relationship more than the symptom.
How do you think, given this book, that Sexton might be reappraised?
Sexton's poetry looks very different when seen from the vantage point of her therapy. The multiple voices in her poems resonate with awareness of the ways in which person, culture, neurosis and the creative imagination exist in dialogue with each other.
What were some of the difficulties and surprise for you in writing this book?
Oh so hard to listen to hours of Sexton struggling with her depression, her much too conventional husband and in laws, her narcissistic parents, and her ongoing need to feel special to everyone. Add to this her often tone-deaf psychiatrist and it is a long long journey from therapy tape to book. Finally, consider the boundary-violating Frederick Duhl, the psychoanalyst who treated Sexton after Orne. The tapes on which she speculates about his problems withhat she calls "limits" are so sad and so smart. Heartbreaking.
What's obsessing you now?
What question didn't I ask that I should have?