Looking for Some Great Reads from 2010?

Earlier this month, Shelf Awareness published a list of ten of my favorite books from 2010, including some novels by authors I’d had a chance to tell you about on Beatrice before, like Lauren Grodstein and Paul Murray. (And I’m seeing now, as I look those links up, that Grodstein’s A Friend of the Family was actually released in late 2009, but luckily Shelf Awareness was flexible on the whole publication date thing anyway. So it’s all good!) There were also some titles I hadn’t said much about here, like Cory Doctorow’s For the Win or Victoria Dahl’s A Little Bit Wild. But there was also a whole other category of books I left off that list, so I wouldn’t have to keep writing variants of “Full disclosure: So-and-so is a friend of mine” over and over. (It’s sort of a gray area, because some of the authors who did make the list I know well enough to say hi to in a friendly manner, but I did my best to approach the task fairly.)

Here, though, I can just tell you: My friends wrote some fabulous books in 2010, and I’m going to tell you about some of them, but I’m writing this on the fly the night before New Year’s Even, so I’m probably going to miss a bunch, so if you thought for sure you were going to see your book mentioned in this post and it winds up not being here, it’s not intended to be a knock, I promise!

First, it was a productive year for my co-hosts at Lady Jane’s Salon, the monthly romance reading series we run at Madame X in Manhattan: Hope Tarr published The Tutor, Maya Rodale came out with A Groom of One’s Own, and Leanna Renee Hieber released The Darkly Luminous Fight For Persephone Parker. We had some fantastic readers at the Salon, too, like Sarah MacLean, who released both Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord this year; Lauren Willig also had two novels out in 2010, The Betrayal of the Bloody Lily and The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

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31 December 2010 | uncategorized |

Paul Tremblay: “Man The Flying Saucers”

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You’re going to want to read every short story in Paul Tremblay’s collection, In the Mean Time, but here’s the thing: You can’t read them all at once. Heck, you can’t read more than one or two stories like “The Teacher,” or the really unsettling ones like “The Blog at the End of the World” and “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks,” without your subconscious kicking back at you later that evening while you sleep. (Try “The Two-Headed Girl” on for size; it’s disturbing, but not quite as disturbing as some of the others—it even has its darkly funny bits.) I first met Paul when he read at the Center for Fiction in 2009, and I knew he had some awesomely weird stories in him, but I didn’t know then that they were anything like these. And it seems like we readers might not be able to appreciate his voice were it not for one story in one college class, as he explains here…

I hope this doesn’t sound trite, or like some sort of put on, but I’m not overstating when I say that Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” changed my life.

I was 21 years old, a second semester senior, and taking my first college lit class. My excuse is that I was a mathematics major. Well, a double major: math and humanities (long and mostly boring story as to how that happened), but yeah, my humanities consisted of a hodge-podge of philosophy, history, and music courses, plus the one lit class. Of course, some of my best friends were English majors (including my future wife, Lisa), but the proud math undergrad that I was obnoxiously proclaimed that English majors/professors/hangers on just made it all up. The truth was I wasn’t confident in my own critical reading ability and I certainly wasn’t a reader of my own free will.

Oddly enough, math guy was totally mesmerized by Professor McLaughlin. It didn’t hurt that he was cool enough to be a fan of the Dead Boys, Mission of Burma, and Husker Du. He knew how to help connect me to the text through music. And, of course, he had us read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” It’s the story that made me fall in love with reading, and shortly thereafter, writing.

I’ll never forget my first, simple, visceral reaction to the story: I didn’t know there were stories/books out there like this.

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30 December 2010 | selling shorts |

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