Sure, you could credit the huge pre-order sales of Edan Lepucki’s California to the “Colbert bump” that helped launch it from first-novel obscurity onto the New York Times bestseller list, but don’t dismiss all the attention as empty hype. This book is worth every bit of the buzz. Now that it’s out, we’re seeing customers at the new releases table recommending it to each other — “Have you read THIS yet?” — and those word-of-mouth sales aren’t likely to stop anytime soon.
California is dark literary fiction with cross-genre appeal. This end-of-the-world tale sticks with you but doesn’t give you nightmares quite like, say, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road did, in part because Lepucki keeps her focus on the relationship at the center of the story: the marriage of 20-somethings Cal and Frida. The pair have fled the crumbled remains of Los Angeles to live in the wilderness after the world as we know it has begun to die due to a combination of not-unimaginable disasters — catastrophic weather, earthquakes, an oil crisis, disease pandemics, and economic collapse. Lepucki zooms in on the couple’s tender moments and their petty arguments, proving that nothing — not even a slowly impending apocalypse — precludes the time-honored tradition of marital bickering.
We couldn’t be more thrilled that Lepucki is headed to Nashville next week. What we didn’t realize when we booked her trip, however, was this:
and introduce her to our great little part of…
So, anyone who’s from Nashville, loves Nashville, or is the owner of a Nashville-based restaurant or other business Lepucki should know about, this is the chance to help plan her itinerary!
Here, we’ll get things rolling:
Begin your day with a hike around beautiful Radnor Lake, which will make you feel like you’re in the wilderness even though you’re right in the middle of town. Unlike Cal and Frida’s forest, this one has parking, a bathroom, marked trails, and no pirates hunting you. (Recommended by Sissy)
Reward yourself for that hike with a trip to The Loveless Cafe for breakfast. The biscuits are to die for, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Tip to avoid a lengthy wait: Call when you’re on your way (615.646.9700), and ask to be placed on the call-ahead list. (Recommended by Niki)
Take in some local sights. Start with a visit to Nashville’s full-scale replica of The Parthenon, and don’t miss the enormous, breathtaking Athena statue — recreated in exquisite detail by local artist Alan LeQuire. (Recommended by Ann)
Tour the historic Ryman Auditorium, which started out as the Union Gospel Tabernacle when it first opened in 1892, then went on to become the home of the Grand Ole Opry, before turning into what it is today — “the mother church” of all live music venues. (Recommended by Karen)
If you need a spot to sit and work while friendly people keep you fueled with delicious food and/or coffee and/or cocktails, snag a comfy little seating nook at Pinewood Social. Bonus: If you need a break, you can take to the lanes in the bowling alley behind the bar. (Recommended by Mary Laura)
Ready for barbecue now? A big squabble broke out when we asked the staff which place in town is best. Stephanie likes Edley’s and some folks prefer Whitt’s, but Andy gets to give the official recommendation, because he’s the manager. He insists you go to Martin’s BBQ Joint (located conveniently near Parnassus). “If you like wings,” Andy says, “the ones with the white Alabama sauce are really good.”
Then, of course, on Tuesday the 29th, it’ll be time to head to Parnassus at 6:30 for the discussion and signing of California.
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We could name about 100 more of our favorite places, but why don’t we turn it over to our readers? Leave a comment below (short, sweet, and on topic, please) with suggestions for what an author should do on her first trip here!
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 7/2014