Ann’s Blog

Notes from Ann: The Main Events

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I’ve started writing a new novel, which I will say, based on common sense and no experience, is nothing at all like being pregnant. However, writing does make my tastes change. Ask anyone at the store, especially Cat who runs the First Editions Club and is the person I’m most likely to be talking to about books (she reads everything. She seems to magically inhale books in her sleep), I’m a lot less likely to like a novel when I’m writing one myself. I have very little patience with books that are slow, or have plots that seem purposefully convoluted or aggressively artful. I feel like I’m trying so hard to be clear in my own writing, shouldn’t others have to be clear as well? I pick things up, I put things down. I don’t exactly trust my own judgment these days. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Maile

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I met Maile Meloy around the time Miley Cyrus was going into the first grade, a point I make only because their first names are pronounced the same way and now you’ll always remember. I knew Maile before she’d published her first book, before she’d had her first story in The New Yorker, and the thing that has always struck me is how good she is at anything she puts her mind to. She was on the U.S. Women’s Kayak Polo team and traveled to other countries with a small boat. She can ride a horse, install door hardware, speak Spanish, fly on a trapeze, solve IT problems, edit a manuscript (I have greatly benefited from her talent in this category), and teach a kid to read. She’s the person everyone wants to sit next to at a dinner party. She’s also a magnificent friend. She could have done anything she wanted to do with her life, and the fact that she decided to be a writer is our good fortune. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Flood

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There have been some water issues at our house. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: A Day at the Races

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(All photos in this post: John Midgley / National Book Critics Circle)

The National Book Critics Circle Awards is a two-night event. The first night each of the finalists reads for three minutes. Some years it doesn’t work so well — someone decides to read for 20 minutes and everyone else gets grumpy — but this year was magic. Every reader was both wonderful and on time. I can’t remember when I’ve felt luckier to be anywhere. New York was freezing and snow banked, and some of the authors got snowed out, but many of the people who missed the first night made it to the awards ceremony the second night. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Turning the Tables

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(On location at Parnassus for A Word on Words. This new episode premieres Sunday, February 19, at 10:26 a.m. on Nashville Public Television.)

Mary Laura Philpott, the author of Penguins with People Problems, is often interviewing people, and whether she’s doing it on A Word on Wordsthe television series that discusses books, or right here on Musing, Parnassus’s online literary magazine (which, by the way, she created), she’s awfully good at it. So good at it, in fact, that she won an Emmy a couple of weeks ago. When one of your employees wins an Emmy, it’s best to call them into the office to have a little discussion, see what’s going on. For the record, Mary Laura strenuously objected to this interview. That’s because she always likes to be in control. But I still own half this bookstore, so I have some authority. I told her to just sit down and answer questions. – Ann Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Thought for the Day

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Bel Canto at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (photo: Todd Rosenberg)

I’ve got a card on my desk from my friend Charles Strobel’s ordination as a priest in 1970. It’s the size of a holy card but it’s plain — no prayer, no saint — just a quote by Robert F. Kennedy. I used to pick it up once or twice a year and read it, but recently I’ve been reading it every day. It goes like this, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lots of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: A Knockout Year for Books

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The New York Times Book Review asked me (and many, many other people) to recommend our favorite books of 2016 in 300 words or less. At first I planned to just recommend Jane Hamilton’s The Excellent Lombards and Patrick Ryan’s The Dream Life of Astronauts, because those are the two books I loved this year that I think got short shrift. The popular books, I figured, would get plenty of attention from other people. But in the end I couldn’t contain myself. There were some fantastic popular books this year, and I wanted to cram in as many titles as I could. Read the rest of this entry »