Ann’s Blog

Notes from Ann: Salinger

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Have I mentioned my friend Jim Fox lately? Surely I have. Jim Fox is, among many other things, my reading soul-mate. If Jim likes a book, I like it. If Jim doesn’t like a book, I don’t like it. I’m not sure he loves everything I love but I know I love everything he loves. So when Jim told me that his most profound reading experience of 2016 had been rereading Franny and Zooey (first published in 1961), I was on it. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Blast It Like Radio

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When I read Mary Laura Philpott’s piece in Publisher’s Weekly today — “Think Before You Link,” about the way we use links when we talk about books on the internet — I started singing an old Donna Summer tune to myself: “Someone found a letter you wrote me / on the radio / and they told the world just how you felt…” It’s the song I always sing when I read something that perfectly expresses my feelings (plus it’s just a great song, and any day you sing a little Donna Summer is going to be a better day). “I was so surprised and shocked / and I wondered, too / If by chance you heard it for yourself…” Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann (and Geraldine): History Lesson

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(photo: Vineyard Gazette)

Not too long ago I was out walking Sparky when one of my neighbors stopped me on the street and asked me what she should read on vacation. I’m good at this game. I asked her what she liked. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Context

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There are a lot of different ways to read Jesmyn Ward’s new novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, and one of them is as a stand-alone achievement: a beautifully written story of a family’s struggle through poverty, prison, and drugs, bound together by the tremendous protection of the love they feel for one another. If you read the book this way you’ll probably have a great experience with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: The Backlist

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Imagine you have a new baby who’s getting all the attention from everyone who walks in the door, while meanwhile your perfectly well-behaved older children don’t get the time of day. Imagine how lovely it would be for someone to say, “I think this new baby of yours is so terrific that I’m inclined to invite your 7-year-old to the park.” Wouldn’t that be nice? Or conversely, imagine someone saying, “I love your 7-year-old so much that I’m going to babysit your new baby, because based on past experience, I know your children to be delightful.” I bet both scenarios would rock a parent’s heart with joy. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: LESS is More

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Excuse me for interrupting, but I found the book I’ve been looking for, and it seems quite possible it’s the book you’re looking for too. It’s called Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I read it because the glowing front page review in the New York Times Book Review promised I would laugh out loud. The review also said it was well-written and big-hearted, but it was the promise of a good laugh that made me get in my car and drive straight to Parnassus. I need a laugh right about now. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »