Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Rob Delaney

From the transcript of actor and comedian Rob Delaney's onstage interview with Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker Festival:

You’ve had two major health catastrophes in your life, one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom—you were severely injured in the car crash, when you were twenty-five, and then what you’ve been through with Henry [note: Delaney's two-and-a-half-year-old son died of a brain tumor in January of 2018]. I know that health care is central to how you think about things, and I wonder if you can talk about the difference between the experiences with U.S. health care and U.K. health care.

The short version is it’s better to get sick in the U.K. than here. I’m a pretty vocal advocate for Medicare for All in the U.S. and for support of the N.H.S. in the U.K. I had private health insurance that I paid for back in 2002 when I had my accident—this was pre-A.C.A., or Obamacare—so, when I started to generate fairly sizable hospital bills, my insurance company just dropped me, which they could do back then. So I was paying for surgeries with credit cards. People in this room have done that—maybe they’re doing it right now.

So I knew something needed to change here. I knew my dad and my stepdad get care from the V.A., and I knew if you were very poor or over sixty-five there was something for you. I just thought, it’s really weird that some people get health care from the government and some people don’t. And then I went to the N.H.S. in the U.K., and I remember walking into our local general practitioner to sign up my family and being, like, [breathing heavily] “So what do you need? Do you need a retinal scan? What fluids from me do you need?” And they were, like, “What’s your address?” And I was, like, “O.K., now what else?” That’s it. Now we can go to the doctor. It’s not free—your tax dollars pay for it—but, if you get sick in the U.K., you don’t immediately begin to stress out. What’s the story with my deductible? Was my private prescription plan sold three weeks ago without my knowledge to another company, so I got dropped because I didn’t answer an e-mail? The stress that you have when you get sick in the U.K. is so much less than over here because the financial element isn’t a part of it. You’re still sad or angry because your knee fell apart or something’s wrong with your butthole, but you don’t have the ancillary stress of what’s going to happen to my wallet.

We had the worst possible outcome in the U.K. Our son died. He would have died here; there’s nothing you can do for this type of tumor in a kid that young. What we didn’t have to do was spend hours, days, weeks, months on the phone with billing offices or insurance companies making sure this M.R.I. would be covered. And that was time that we got to spend with our son, the little boy that I just described, rather than with some actuary on the phone in Indiana.

So, yeah, I want to abolish private health insurance in the United States. I want to smash it and destroy it. We have to do it, because the amount of money we spend on health care for people in Medicaid and Medicare and Tricare—we’re doing that, and then we’re paying private health-care companies, C.E.O.s who are making hundreds of millions of dollars, and spending money on advertising. “Your choice! Get the plan that’s right for you”—what the fuck is that? The plan is go to the hospital and it’s covered. There’s your choice. Yeah, I’m a zealot on that one, and I won’t stop until...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 21, 2019

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of such national bestsellers as The Falls, Blonde, and We Were the Mulvaneys.

From her CrimeReads interview with Thomas Pluck:

TP: Your latest thriller is Pursuit, which chilled me to the bone. It’s like a Grimm’s fairy tale updated for our time, on the danger of disallowing our loved ones to have secrets… Can you tell us briefly about the genesis of this story?

JCO: I had been haunted for years by the same “vision” that haunts the young woman protagonist—I think it was an emblem to me of the absolutely worst, most horrific & appalling thing that could happen to anyone. Which is why I eventually created an entire short novel about it, and made that novel (unexpectedly, I hope) a tender story honoring marital love. (I know—it sounds virtually impossible in our #MeToo era of terrible men and their enablers to seriously/positively depict marriage—yet all around us are marriages of people who truly love each other.)

I have usually focused on conflicts within the family & marriage—(of course: art is about conflict, unavoidably)—& had wanted to write about a genuinely idealistic young husband in love with a mysteriously wounded/ elusive young wife. So, there are dramatically contrasting marriages in Pursuit—the marriage of Abby & Willem & the marriage of Nicola & Lew Hayman (himself a victim of...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay's newest novel is The Printed Letter Bookshop.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Books. Love. Friendship. Second chances. All can be found at the Printed Letter Bookshop in the small, charming town of Winsome.

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.

When Madeline’s professional life falls apart, and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. Has she been too quick to dismiss her aunt’s beloved shop? And even if she has, the women’s best combined efforts may be too little, too late....[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Steph Cha

Steph Cha's new novel is Your House Will Pay.

From her CrimeReads Q&A with Lisa Levy:

What’s interesting is that if somebody asked me, “Oh, is Steph’s new book a crime novel?” I would say, “Well, it’s a novel with a crime in it, but it’s really about two different families.”

Yeah. And I think that’s how I conceived it. I think of it as a social crime novel.

You’re in a long tradition of people who have been critiquing culture through crime fiction.

I think because I come from a crime background, it’s easier to see it as a crime novel. I think if it were a debut, I feel like it would be pushed as a literary novel, you know? Because it’s somewhere in the middle. I think it does what a literary novel does, and I think it does what a crime novel does, too. At least the ones that I gravitate towards. It’s not a mystery, but I definitely didn’t want to minimize the crime element of it because it’s all about the aftermath of these two crimes. And that very much interested me. The people who are left behind, and how they deal with the fallout.

As I was writing this, it occurred to me that that Sean and Grace, who are the main characters in this book, in other types of crime novels Sean and Grace would be the side characters that the police officer talks to for a part of the chapter to ask what’s going on? What was your relationship to the victim or the suspect? And they’d be kind of color, and then you move on. So, it’s interesting to kind of flip it so that you’re spending all your time with these characters while the police detective and the journalist are these two white dude characters in the background coming in and out.

What’s interesting is it doesn’t unfold as an investigation. That’s one of the definitions of a crime novel is that something happens, and then somebody spends a whole lot of time figuring out how and why that thing happened. It’s dealing with themes that are much deeper than that. When I wrote down what I thought the themes were for this novel, I had things like judgment: what is judgment and who gets to judge? What is guilt? What’s atonement? What’s grace? I think grace is a big theme in the book, as well as a really important character. Because I felt like I saw the situation through her eyes the most clearly.

Those are definitely a lot of themes I was working with. I think I was interested in particular in the way that people who are...[read on]
Visit Steph Cha's website and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Steph Cha and Duke.

My Book, The Movie: Follow Her Home.

The Page 69 Test: Follow Her Home.

Writers Read: Steph Cha (April 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 18, 2019

Elizabeth Earley

Elizabeth Earley's new novel is Like Wings, Your Hands.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Like Wings, Your Hands, and for your characters Kalina and Marko?

A: I've always been fascinated with the body, both its genius design and its inherent limitations.

The limitations that attend the human condition, as I see it, are crippling, even for the healthiest of bodies. Our senses mislead us. There’s the visible spectrum.

The average seeing human eyes are sensitive to a very narrow band of frequencies within the enormous range of frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. But there are also other types of limitations to our vision — photoreceptivity, angular resolution, field of view.

There’s hearing range. The average hearing human ear can detect a limited range of sound frequency. We measure that in units we call Hertz, which is something some guy once came up with. Then there’s hearing threshold limitations, which refers to the pressure of sound and is measured in decibels.

Then there are the closely related senses of taste and smell, arguably the weakest of the human senses. Physicists have been challenged to objectively gauge the intensity of flavor and odor perception, and with that lack of an absolute unit of measurement, thresholds are difficult to determine.

The sense of touch is the most complex and different parts of the human body have different levels of sensitivity to everything from contact to temperature to itchiness to pressure. We know it has something to do with what we call “sensory neurons.” Nevertheless, its mechanisms are poorly understood.

Even the way we organize our environment with names and categories and units of measurement is conducted from within our limitations. The point is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel is a novelist who has written over 180 books, including the newly released Child's Play.

From her Q&A with Tara Sonin for the B&N Reads blog:

Child’s Play, your newest novel, introduces the reader to Kate, a successful woman who has lots of ideas about how her life and the lives of her three adult children should be. Her steadfast devotion to certain ideals—high quality education, marrying well, etc. reminded me about a section in the Glamour piece where you discussed the differences in how you experienced your early working life and how your children have experienced theirs. Was the inspiration for this book drawn from your own observations as a mother?

My observations in Child’s Play come from my experience as a mother (of many children. I have 9), and from what I’ve seen around me among young people and parents. We want the best for our kids, but our plans for them aren’t always what they want or what is suited to their life. It takes strength and courage to find the right path in life, and it takes patience, understanding and great love to let your children follow the path that seems right to them. And sometimes the two are very different!!

I loved how Kate really thinks she knows her children but they are all keeping things from her, to varying degrees. As she described her relationships with them, I felt only encroaching dread because I knew that the more clearly she defined them, the more wrong she would wind up being. Without betraying their privacy of course, what are some of the things about your own children that have surprised you as they’ve grown up?

Motherhood and mothering is always surprising!! Life is surprising!! My children have...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Susan Rice

Ambassador Susan E. Rice is currently Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the School of International Service at American University, a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She serves on the boards of Netflix and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and previously served on several nonprofit boards, including the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Rice earned her master’s degree and doctorate in international relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Rice's new book is Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For.

From the transcript of her interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: Before we get to Syria and Ukraine, I got to ask you about the moment -- you write about in your book when President Obama calls you and asks you to be his ambassador to the United Nations. A storied position. A cabinet position. And you respond by saying, well, thanks very much but I was hoping you would ask me to be National Security adviser.

I think that the technical term for that is chutzpah.

RICE: Yes. That's the play.

ZAKARIA: Why did you do that and what was his reaction which you don't recount?

RICE: Well, actually his reaction was quite cool. He said, you know, I really would consider that down the road, but in the moment I wanted somebody -- because he was dealing with the financial crisis -- that would be perceived as able to step in the job, hit the ground running on day one and he wanted a general for that. And you'll recall he selected General Jim Jones who is a four-star NATO commander. But he said, look, I really want you to go to the U.N. And I think you'll do a great job and let's see what happens after that.

ZAKARIA: You know that --

RICE: But let me explain the chutzpah.

ZAKARIA: The chutzpah -- it does give you a reputation.

RICE: Well, you know what, Fareed, I think lots of guys would have done the same. And I say that in the book. And one of the things I admire most about President Obama is that he didn't expect differently from women than men. I think, you know, for me, it took little guts to say that.

It was honestly how I felt. I was perfectly ready to accept that it was his choice to make. But what I say in the book is women have to advocate for themselves and if they don't, other people won't. And many men, many of my male colleagues have...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

J. Anderson Coats

J. Anderson Coats is the author of The Green Children of Woolpit.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: The Green Children of Woolpit was based on real 12th century chronicles--how did you learn about the story and at what point did you decide it would be the basis of your new book?

A: I’m not sure I can pinpoint a particular moment when I stumbled over this story and had an a-ha moment. I was the kind of nerdy teen who had research interests, and since then I’ve read a lot about the middle ages and medieval culture.

Deciding to create my own fictionalized account was a collaboration between myself and my amazing Atheneum editor. I brought up this story pretty much at random during a conversation about potential projects, and she was intrigued. Editors are wonderful people, and vital to the creative process.

Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that particularly intrigued you?

A: I did a lot more internet research for this book than I ordinarily do. Mostly I’m a brick-and-mortar, page-and-cover kind of researcher, but in this case, I wanted to explore not just the historicity of the story, but the considerable amount of folklore and legend that’s grown up around it...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sara Faring

Born in Los Angeles, Sara Faring is a multi-lingual Argentine-American fascinated by literary puzzles.

After working in investment banking at J.P. Morgan, she worked at Penguin Random House. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in International Studies and from the Wharton School in Business. She currently resides in New York City.

Faring's new novel is The Tenth Girl.

From her Q&A with Melissa Albert for the BN Teen blog:

Please pitch your debut in one sentence.

Buenos Aires native Mavi cons her way into a teaching role at an elite Patagonian finishing school with an astonishingly terrible history, and her future proves to be…even more astonishing and terrible.

What was the spark that became this book?

I took the trip of a lifetime to Paris with all of the women in my family for my grandmother’s 85th birthday. She calls us the matriarcado (matriarchy in Spanish). We spent the whole time stuffing our faces with buttery French pastry (almost as good as Argentine facturas), then collapsing in an apartment and talking/telling stories/laughing hysterically after we discovered a Marilyn Monroe-esque wig in a shop that looked like my (very fabulous and dramatic) grandmother’s hair…and everyone pretended to be her. (You don’t do this at family reunions? Oh).

One of my cousins is a brilliant psychotherapist (fun fact, Argentina is the country with the most psychologists per capita in the world), and some late nights, she would lead our group through hypnotherapy sessions, which frankly had more of a séance feel. We shared stories from the entire length of our family’s verbal history, stories that might have otherwise been forgotten in the years to come. Once I’d heard a few of these family tales, I felt an urgent need to learn everything I could and write a book to...[read on]
Visit Sara Faring's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Tenth Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Poppy Alexander

Poppy Alexander's new novel is 25 Days 'Til Christmas.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for 25 Days 'Til Christmas, and for your characters Kate and Daniel?

A: Now, that’s an interesting one! It all came about in a way which is becoming increasingly common in publishing, from what I can gather: A commissioning editor at the British publisher, Orion, was chatting with my agent about the books she was buying, and she happened to mention that she was failing to find the kind of Christmas-themed novel she was after.

My agent then approached me to ask whether I would be prepared to look at an idea this editor had around a girl selling Christmas trees and a man who was grieving and the two characters being attracted to each other’s loneliness in the lead up to Christmas.

She had some really lovely examples of how Kate had loved Christmas in the old days but now she was a widow bringing up her son Jack on her own, she didn’t feel like doing all those things in the lead up to Christmas.

By the time I had given Daniel a bit more of a back story about losing his disabled sister and decided...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue