Friday, August 20, 2010

Previews of Coming Attractions, Blessings on PW and how to look at reviews!

I'm thrilled to announce that the great Kevin Canty will be here talking about his marvel of a novel, called Everything (I wish I had thought of that title.) Also coming up is the wonderful journalist and Star Tribune book editor Laurie Hertzel, answering my questions about her memoir, News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist; Emma Donoghue to answer questions about her brilliantly unsettling new novel, Room; and Susan Henderson, who will discuss her debut Up From The Blue, which is already generating so much incredible buzz, that it could start its own hive.

I'm also thrilled to announce that I got the lead review in Publisher's Weekly! I want to buy them chocolates or a loft in Soho! They said: "A touching story of loss and discovery. Leavitt explores the depths of grief and the sticky spots sorrow pushes people into, and ...her near bottomless reserve of compassion for her imperfect characters will endear them to readers."

Pre-publishing activity is such a state of high anxiety, that you can't imagine how grateful and relieved I feel. I'm incredibly lucky to have such an extraordinary publisher like Algonquin and they are already packing my schedule (yay!) and sending me on tour (yay again!) and doing all kinds of innovative out-of-the-box things for me. But there still is the anxiety about reviews. Reviews are so public (imagine how festive it would be to get ravaged in the press and all your friends and relatives see it, and then they have to awkwardly try to make you feel better, and all it does is make you want to hide in a cave for a few years) and so important, that getting this one has made me feel less like hooking a constant IV of Valium into my arm. The interesting thing is that you never know how reviews will go. I know writers who have gotten horrific PW's and Kirkus, who went on to be the darlings of reviewers. For an early novel, I had stars for both Kirkus and PW, and the novel only received three other reviews!

Reading your own reviews can be a dangerous business, too, because honestly, reviews are one person's opinion. I always talk about the one day when I had an extraordinary full-page rave review in The Washington Post and a half hour later, I received a horrific full-page pan in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inquirer loathed everything the Post had adored, so who was right? I tend to study every word of every review, trying to figure out, is the reviewer right? Can I learn from this? Do I need to give it up and go to dental school or should I be practicing my Pulitzer speech?

In the end, I do what I can. I am praying to the review gods and goddesses, keeping my chin tilted up, and doing what it is writers do in times of stress: I write.


a gracious plenty said...

congratulations to you on the pw review. i am happy for you. your blog is my favorite writer's blog.

Robby said...

I have just recently fallen madly in love with your blog. I am 100 pages into my ARC of Pictures Of You and every time I read it I want to throw my hands up in the air and thankk the sky for writers like you.
I hope you come to Boston for the author tour.

Caroline said...

Oh my God, these responses are making me cry. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Robby, I am coming to Boston on tour Feb 1 and hope I get to meet you.

Beth Kephart said...

Caroline, you earned that lead review! And I know exactly what you mean, how unnerving that pre-pub cycle is, how impossible it is to know whose opinion counts, what should be learned, what we should be grateful for, from what we we are condemned to hide in shame. The older I get, the less for hiding I am. If you believe in the book you wrote, that counts for a whole lot of something.

Gina Sorell said...

You deserve this wonderful review!!! It will be the first of many!!

laurie said...

i am *so* looking forward to Emma Donoghue! that was a book i could not put down.

and i saw your lovely review in PW. congratulations!!