Dear Tumblr friends,
Today I am pleased to introduce you to your newest Tumblr friend: my agent, Seth Fishman.
Are you a writer? Are you an aspiring writer? Are you an agent? Are you a reader? Are you an aspiring reader? Are you a human? If so, you should follow Seth. (Don’t follow Seth if you are a robot, however. And I know a lot of you are.)
Just look at this dapper man, with a dapper beer in his hand:
How could you say no?
Seth is not only a talented agent, but a talented writer. In fact, his first novel, a YA thriller called The Well’s End, is due out soon. Here’s the description:
Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish’s small town of Fenton, Colorado is known for three things: being home to the world’s tallest sycamore tree, the national chicken-thigh-eating contest and one of the ritziest boarding schools in the country, Westbrook Academy. But when emergency sirens start blaring and Westbrook is put on lockdown, quarantined and surrounded by soldiers who shoot first and ask questions later, Mia realizes she’s only just beginning to discover what makes Fenton special.
And the answer is behind the wall of the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics, of which her father is the Director. Mia’s dad has always been secretive about his work, allowing only that he’s working for the government. But unless Mia’s willing to let the whole town succumb to a strange illness that ages people years in a matter of hours, the end result death, she’s got to break quarantine, escape the school grounds and outsmart armed soldiers to uncover the truth.
By the way, Seth wants tips about about how to use Tumblr. So don’t just follow him—tip him. Right in his ask box.
Friends! Tonight I’ll be in NYC at Bill Cheng’s Brooklyn reading: http://greenlightbookstore.com/event/bill-cheng-alex-gilvarry
And tomorrow (5/15) at 8 p.m. I’ll be reading, along with Michael Heald and Nic Esposito, at the Standard Tap in Philadelphia. Come for the beer, stay for the….beer.
having completed a substantial piece of non-writing-related work, I am buying four new books and I intend to read them all greedily in quick succession and it feels like the best, most luxurious indulgence I have ever granted myself.
I’m happy to announce that Heftis one of the winners of Philadelphia’s Athenaeum Literary Award. I’ll be giving a brief talk and book signing tomorrow night as part of the award presentation, which is free and open to the public.
Information here: “There is still time to sign up for the Athenaeum Literary Award presentation on Wednesday, May 8, at 5:30 PM. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. RSVP to Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688 or email@example.com.”
(By the way….the Athenaeum itself is a pretty great place, and you should visit if you haven’t been! My first job out of college was in the Publications department of the Morgan Library & Museum; therefore, special-collections-libraries/museums are near and dear to my heart.)
in my life have included
The Philly Burger Brawl (yesterday). Please note that it has been approximately twelve years since I have had any part of a hamburger, having first given up all meat at 18, then slowly reintroduced seafood and poultry. Hamburgers….are a different level of meat. But yes, I bravely had a bite of every one that M tried, and my conclusion is that I liked the toppings better than the beef. It wasn’t the violins-and-shafts-of-sunlight reunion that I have heard other former vegetarians speak of. So…probably no more hamburgers in my near future.
My personal favorite, above….Percy Street BBQ. It included an egg yolk and prosciutto.
And a close second…Barbuzzo. That cocktail was delicious.
Here’s an even more exciting thing that happened (and, upon saying that, I realize the extent of my agedness):
I went away for the weekend two weekends ago and when I returned M had ORGANIZED OUR BASEMENT COMPLETELY WITH THE HELP OF A LADY WHO ORGANIZES STUFF. It was a surprise. It was the best surprise ever. Now, a year and a half after moving into the house, the basement wasn’t totally out of control…but it was heading in that direction, thanks to a small leak during Sandy (during which we shoved every single box into a haphazard heap) and then the concreting of a basement crawl space (before which we moved said heap across the basement into a different heap).
Just look at this masterpiece.
(Oh hi, guitar that I now have no reason not to access/play.)
Every box is labeled with its contents. EVERY BOX IS LABELED WITH ITS CONTENTS.
Way to go, M. (Pictured here on our way to watch the Derby at a divey place on Saturday, just wearing his Derby hat for kicks.)
Several gold stars for him.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing my friend Jessica Soffer for The Tottenville Review. Jess’s debut novel, Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots, was published last week and is just beautiful. You should really, really read it.
In the meantime, here are a few select excerpts of our conversation, the complete version of which can be found here.
In your novel you write about food with a sense of nostalgia and warmth and fondness. It seems like the antidote to suffering. Do you have your own fond, familial memories of food? If so, what are they?
I come from a long line of people who believe in the curative powers of food. My father was born in Baghdad, Iraq in the 1920s and his mother was a healer. She believed in eating for one’s well-being, to strengthen and fortify and enrich the body by eating particular things. Iraqi Jews of that time also believed in eating by color: yellow fruits and vegetables for happiness, rose petals for love, shunning black and unlucky foods, such as the skin of eggplants. When my father came to the United States, he was forced to abandon his family, his Jewish faith, his national pride, and so food and the flavors of his childhood were the way he reestablished a home in New York, by replicating his mother’s recipes.
I love this answer. I also see so much of that in you: your first question, every time I walk into your apartment, is, “What can I get you? Tea?” (I’ll overlook the part about how you then ask me if I want hemp milk in it, the thought of which chills me to my bones.) I think food, offerings of food and drink, are such a beautiful part of friendship. I think I have told you about how weirdly sentimental I get when people split fruit with me—like, “here, want half of this orange?”—because it’s such a primitive gesture and triggers some uncanny ancestral memory in my cerebrum, and it also speaks to the fundamental good of human beings. We humans have been splitting fruit with each other for millennia. I know some animals do it too, but we split fruit with people outside our family, or herd. This is not a question yet. I guess my question is, do you feel that way too? Do you offer food as a gesture of something?
I have three things to say to that. First, asking about the tea has to do with you. How I want you to stay a while, forever, always. And tea is a good start. I keep ice cream in the freezer because I know how you prefer it not only to hemp milk, but to world peace, puppies and winning the lottery. Second, asking that question has to do with my childhood. My mother is not much of a cook but she is a professional at making people feel at home: sitting them down on the couch with a good book, tucking their feet into a wool blanket when she’s only just been introduced. My father was a more traditional in his home-making. The Iraqi Jews believed in being generous hosts: dried fruit and nuts for days when any Tom, Dick or Harry dropped in. Third, asking that question has to do with always wanting everyone to feel comfortable in my presence. If you get my name wrong, I will not correct you. I don’t want you to feel weird. It’s not a question of allowing myself to be walked all over—which I won’t allow—but with something that you and I talk about often: empathy. How some writers have it in spades (I’m not assigning judgment to that at the moment): they rely on it, are burdened and motivated by it, and it’s what allows them/compels them to write about people who are not themselves. That is the case with you and me, which means that we can imagine standing at the door awkwardly, not being offered tea. So we ask: tea, ice cream, a soft place to land?
Yesterday was bad. Today is better. All friends and family in Boston are safe.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was better at prose than poetry, but I thought this poem was appropriate:
SICUT PATRIBUS, SIC DEUS NOBIS*
…The sea returning day by day
Restores the world-wide mart;
So let each dweller on the Bay
Fold Boston in his heart,
Till these echoes be choked with snows,
Or over the town blue ocean flows…
And each shall care for other,
And each to each shall bend,
To the poor a noble brother,
To the good an equal friend.
are Pleasantville days: the cherry trees have finally burst into Technicolor. What a good scene in an underrated movie.
(image courtesy of)