One of my writer friends likes to call me and tell me about fancy dinners he’s having with fancy literary people. I am always jealous for two reasons: the names I know make my head spin, and the fact that there are names I don’t know means that he knows more than me. Here’s to catching up with him and long fall evenings under blankets with hot cocoa:
1. Many of the literary folk in my small orbit are speaking in sonnets about Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, a National Book Award finalist about growing up on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation. I’m really looking forward to this.
2. I love Sam Sifton so much that if he wrote a book about camping, I might buy it, just for his description of a s’more. But Sam Sifton on Thanksgiving? Pass the pumpkin pie. Sifton was the New York Times food critic, and is now the national editor, and offers gorgeous sentences even on Twitter. His small, smart book tells the best way to make and serve and enjoy the November American feast. (And is a brilliant hostess gift, if you need one.)
3. Michael Cunningham and Julia Glass and the Empire State Building appear on the cover of These Things Happen, which I bought on a day when big things were happening for me in New York. I love everything about it and I haven’t opened it yet. Richard Kramer wrote for “thirtysomething” and “My So-Called Life,” and to me, little else matters. I’m all in.
4. The Heart Broke In is also worthy of devotion — a compelling, can’t-put-it-down read, I’m told. Those are the best kind.
5. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is about a bookstore in San Francisco where the occupants prefer paper and ink to technology and think Google might be evil. Also they talk about fonts. Jaimee porn.
6. Lastly, and quite possibly my favorite, just for the first line from the book description:
“A woman embarks on a dazzling new phase in her life after inheriting a sprawling mansion and its vast collection of taxidermy.”
Lydia Millet’s highly praised Magnificence is going to be the book I wish I’d written, I can tell. I grew up in a house filled with taxidermy. My father has a state record, and has placed in the top three in the world for shooting an elk with a bow. Once, when writing a story about taxidermy, I came upon my dad’s famous elk (head) in a source’s garage. That was a really weird day.
Millet is a Pulitzer finalist and a new Guggenheim fellow. I bet she hates all those paper antlers for sale in the mall.
P.S. Friday is a retail extravaganza in Phoenix/Scottsdale: Union opens at The Biltmore, Restoration Hardware opens its new concept at the Scottsdale Quarter, and The French Bee moves to 32nd St. and Camelback near Molina. Tonight I’m hitting the opening soirees for all three — tune in later for my after-hours report.
If you go to Restoration Hardware for the 9 a.m. Friday ribbon cutting — and you’re all invited — chairman Gary Friedman will be there. Yes, the man from the catalogs. Who is as nice-looking as the furniture in the catalog. You could see if he’d tell you where he got that leather jacket.