Smith Henderson Reads from Fourth of July Creek

Smith Henderson Reading

Join us for a reading and conversation between Smith Henderson, PEN Emerging Writer and highly acclaimed debut author of Fourth of July Creek, and Nathan Rostron, Director of Marketing at Restless Books.

Tuesday, June 3, 7:00pm, Barnes & Noble, 150 East 86th Street, New York, NY 10028

A muscular, hugely ambitious literary debut set against the vivid backdrop of the Montana wilderness, Fourth of July Creek is the story of Pete Snow, a troubled social worker barely on the right side of the law, who tries to keep a dangerously paranoid survivalist from jeopardizing his family, even as Pete’s own family disintegrates.

“This book left me awestruck; a stunning debut which reads like the work of a writer at the height of his power… Fourth of July Creek is a masterful achievement and Smith Henderson is certain to end up a household name.” —Philipp Meyer, author of The Son

Fourth of July Creek knocked me flat. This gorgeous, full-bodied novel seems to contain all of America at what was, in retrospect, a pivotal moment in its history…. Smith Henderson has delivered nothing less than a masterpiece of a novel.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Fourth of July Creek cannot possibly be Smith Henderson’s first book. Its scope is audacious, its range virtuosic, its gaze steady and true. A riveting story written in a seductive and relentlessly authentic rural American vernacular, this is the kind of novel I wish I’d written.” —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn

SMITH HENDERSON is the recipient of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writer Award in fiction, and was the Phillip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University the same year. His short story, “Number Stations,” won a Pushcart Prize and a finalist honors for the University of Texas Keene Prize, where he was a Michener Center for Writing Fellow. He currently works at the Wieden + Kennedy advertising agency, where he contributed to the Emmy-nominated “Halftime In America” Super Bowl Commercial. Born and raised in Montana, he now lives in Portland, Oregon.

TV and Movie Character Memoirs We’d Love to Read

What if Walter White Wrote a Memoir?

What if Walter White Wrote a Memoir?

Don’t you wish you could know the full story behind your favorite film and TV characters? What was Walter White’s real endgame? How did “Twin Peaks” special agent Dale Cooper keep his cool? Why did Kenny from “South Park” have such trouble staying alive? For at least one of our favorite on-screen heroes, our curiosity has finally been satisfied with the release of “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy’s memoir, “Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings.” Inspired by Burgundy’s illuminating tell-all, we’ve put together memoir ideas for our favorite TV and film characters–plus the real-life book each should use for inspiration.

“The Heisenberg Principle: My Life in the Empire Business,” by Walter White

Model: “The Prince,” by Niccolò Machiavelli

Discovered posthumously under the floorboards of a remote New Hampshire cabin, chemistry genius and drug kingpin Walter White’s manifesto reveals the workings of a brilliant but monomaniacal mind. Handwritten in what looks to be great haste, White meticulously lays out his philosophy of family and empire–a mix of Walt Whitman, Machiavelli and Vito Corleone (turns out he loved “The Godfather” even more than “Leaves of Grass”): Master the universe, but keep it in the family at all costs.

“I Loved Lucy,” by Ethel Mertz

Model: “Here’s the Story,” by “Brady Bunch” star Maureen McCormick

Can you blame her? Suffocated by a husband as stingy with affection as he was with money and by a society that didn’t accept her, Ethel retreated into the gentle embrace of vaudeville–and of her favorite tenant, Lucy Ricardo. As she reveals in her startling memoir, “I Loved Lucy,” Ethel and Lucy carried on an illicit, steamy affair beneath the noses of unsuspecting Fred and Ricky.

 Check out the full list on Bookish.

Book Endorsement: “The Patrick Melrose Novels,” by Edward St. Aubyn

The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. AubynWhat is it about British rich people that’s so fascinating to us? Not just “I’ve got platinum rims on my Bentley” rich, but “My family has had more money than God since God was young” rich. We’re talking capital-A Aristocracy. There is no “proper” aristocracy in America. The wealthiest Americans are self-made tech tycoons or business geniuses who work for their money–which, if you’re a true aristocrat, embodies the very depths of bad taste. Lifestyle-wise, it’s “Cribs” vs. “Downton Abbey”; when it comes to hobbies, it’s bankrolling the Tea Party and nannying New Yorkers vs. fox hunting and holidays in the south of France. The Aristocrats have class, in ways we admire, despise and obsess over.

The aristocratic family at the center of Edward St. Aubyn’s brilliant, scathing, hilarious, emotionally annihilating and–scariest of all, autobiographical–series, “The Patrick Melrose Novels,” are deliciously horrible: The patriarch, David Melrose, is addicted to the romance of his fading promise–a gifted pianist and doctor who refuses to record his compositions or practice medicine because that would display “vulgar ambition.” David is a snob even about snobbery: “To break even the smallest rules by which others convinced themselves that they were behaving correctly gave him great pleasure. His disdain for vulgarity included the vulgarity of wanting to avoid the appearance of being vulgar.”

David’s cruelty toward his family–rendered with deadly precision by St. Aubyn–drives his wife, Eleanor, to self-medicate into oblivion with drink and pills, and his son, Patrick, to a fall into a decade-long heroin addiction. These descents are hard to watch and impossible to look away from. Take this exquisite depiction of a hangover:

“She felt defiantly sick in a way she dared not challenge with food and had already aggravated with a cigarette. She had brushed her teeth after vomiting but the bilious taste was still in her mouth. She had brushed her teeth before vomiting as well, never able to utterly crush the optimistic streak in her nature…. She imagined vodka poured over ice and all the cubes that had been frosted turning clear and collapsing in the glass and the ice cracking, like a spine in the hands of a confident osteopath. All the sticky, awkward cubes of ice floating together, tinkling, their frost thrown off to the side of the glass, and the vodka cold and unctuous in her mouth.”

You can feel the sweet relief of the cold vodka and the crack of the ice, but it’s already couched in the inevitable misery of the aftermath. As for Patrick, here’s David’s theory of education:

“Childhood was a romantic myth which he was too clear-sighted to encourage. Children were weak and ignorant miniature adults who should be given every incentive to correct their weakness and their ignorance. Like King Chaka, the great Zulu warrior, who made his troops stamp thorn bushes into the ground in order to harden their feet… he was determined to harden the calluses of disappointment and develop the skill of detachment in his son. After all, what else did he have to offer him?”

I can’t say that the experience of reading “The Patrick Melrose Novels” is…. Read the rest on Bookish

National Book Award for Fiction 2013: My Longlist Predictions

Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

It’s always fun to take bets on upcoming prizes, and this year the National Book Awards have given us a treat: a longlist! Herewith, my predictions for that list. Nathan Rostron’s National Book Award for Fiction longlist predictions: Tenth of … Continue reading

Macbeth and Walter White

My talk with Texas public radio program Good Books Radio about Fictional Characters Who ‘Break Bad’:

With the final season of “Breaking Bad” ramping up, we’re eager to see just how far down the road to perdition Walter White will go. Walt’s turn to the dark side has plenty of literary precedence–from Macbeth to Jack Torrance in “The Shining” and “Gone Girl” Amy Dunne.