Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wife 22 by Melaine Gibson and The Algonquin Hotel's Book Suites

Simon And Schuster are creating a literary hotel legend in New York, which gives bibliophiles like myself yet another reason to want to visit the Big Apple!

From Shelf Awareness:
Simon & Schuster and New York City's legendary Algonquin Hotel have announced a partnership that will  offer guests and New Yorkers an "enhanced visit," beginning with the new
Simon & Schuster suite and a series of author events.

The Algonquin already has themed suites named after prominent Round
Table legends, and guests
who book the Simon & Schuster package will stay in a suite on the
seventh floor with a living room, private bedroom and S&S memorabilia. A
bookcase will house a permanent collection of literary classics and
modern bestsellers. As part of the turndown service, guests will find on
the first night of their stay an ARC from one of S&S's imprints.

"We are constantly looking  for non-traditional  venues that can expand
the range of attendees at author events, as well as partnerships that
can bring further visibility to our  current publishing and company
history," said Liz Perl, senior v-p, marketing, for S&S. "The Algonquin,
with its longstanding and illustrious literary tradition, and its appeal
to author, reader and traveler alike, is the perfect partner to further
that ongoing effort."

A speaker series is also part of the partnership, with the publisher and
the Algonquin planning to host ongoing author readings at the property.
Chuck Klosterman, whose new book is I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with
Villains (Real and Imagined), launches the series July 8.

Gary Budge, general manager of the hotel, said the partnership with
Simon & Schuster "is not only 'on brand' for us, but brings our guests a
wonderful experience to enhance their time spent here."

I spent a summer in Kittery Maine and Portsmouth New Hampshire as a research assistant on a genealogy project. During that too-short summer I fell in love with the area, its people and marvelous cuisine (what is not to love about fresh lobster right off the boat?) So I was delighted to read that another bookstore is opening in Kittery.

RiverRun to Open Second Store, in Kittery, Maine

In September, RiverRun Bookstore <>,
Portsmouth, N.H., will open a small store in nearby Kittery, Maine, that
will carry new and used books. Owner Tom Holbrook wrote in the store's
e-mail: "It will be like RiverRun Portsmouth, except it will be about
the size of your living room."

The Kittery location will be in the Foreside area "right across the
street from AJ's. Our neighbors will include a coffee shop and a juice

Holbrook said Riverrun is opening the store "because we care about our
Maine customers and don't want to lose them. We loooovvve Portsmouth,
but we understand that between bridge repair, parking, and general
hubub, it can be hard to shop here sometimes. As downtown Kittery grows
and becomes and exciting place to visit, we are excited to be a part of

The news marks a nice turnaround for RiverRun, which just two years ago
nearly closed because of high rent and long-term debt
moved early last year and is now owned by a group of 15 community
I have been a fan of Lillian Hellman and Dash Hammett since reading "Little Foxes" ages ago in high school. I also loved Pentimento, by Hellman, and I enjoyed the movie version of these works. Now another book has come out focusing on the relationship between the two, and I plan on grabbing a copy when I visit Powells City of Books in Portland next week (it's like my annual pilgrimage to bibliophile mecca)
Review: Lillian & Dash

Sam Toperoff (Jimmy Dean Prepares; Queen of Desire) brings Lillian
Hellman and Dashiell Hammett back to life in Lillian & Dash. Much has
been written about these two writers, playwrights, political activists,
drunks and lovers, but nothing better than this novel. Toperoff does not
pretend to be an earwitness to every private conversation, bit of pillow
talk or fight; instead, he weaves a great story out of the public
evidence that swirled around both parties.

They met in 1930, when Lilly was 24 and Dash 36, at a party given by
Darryl F. Zanuck at Hollywood's Brown Derby. They were both married, but
went to his place that night and were together, more or less, until
Dash's death in 1961. "Lillian believed him to be the most beautiful man
she had ever seen," Toperoff writes. "Hammett could not get over her
sexual force and presence." They both had other affairs but always got
back together again. Their attraction could not be denied for long.

Dash had been a Pinkerton man for several years, until the company's
union-busting activities turned him off. He was not formally educated,
having left school at 13, but he had a canny knack for reproducing the
seamy side of life and seeing through hypocrisy. His first novel, Red
Harvest, is a classic treatment of corruption and violence in America,
and was followed by even better-known works like The Maltese Falcon and
The Thin Man--both the basis for classic Hollywood pictures. Lillian
took on controversial themes as a playwright--a teacher accused of a
lesbian attachment in The Children's Hour, anti-fascism in Watch on the
Rhine and the family dispute of The Little Foxes--and made a success of
them. She also wrote memoirs and screenplays, making her living with her
pen all of her life. (Dash was not as successful over the years; booze
often got in the way.)

They were both political activists on the left; Lillian testified before
the HUAC, where she famously said, "I cannot and will not cut my
conscience to fit this year's fashions." Dash was imprisoned for five
months for "advocating the overthrow of the United States government."

Toperoff has interwoven the lives of these two larger-than-life people
and brought us an understanding of their wit, humor, intelligence,
talent and care for each other. --Valerie Ryan

I finished Melanie Gideon's "Wife 22" in short order this month, mainly because it was yet another epistolary book, one of many that seem to be flooding the market.
Though I enjoy a good peek into other people's correspondence just as much as the next nosy parker, I still think that authors of stories that are told through letters and emails and text messages are somehow being lazy by not actually creating a normal story with plot, characters and fine prose. After all, it is easy to write first person letters, or shoot off a quick email, or a semi-garbled text to someone, people in 21 century society do that constantly. I suppose the theory is why not just put them together and try to make a cohesive story out of it, so you don't have to do the heavy lifting of fiction? Hrrumph.
Despite my irritation at its mode of expression, I found Wife 22 to be a predictable, but fun read. I don't think it will spoil anything to say that I knew the identity of "researcher 101" after the second was so obvious, that it made me wonder if Alice the wife was really as much of an oblivious dunderhead as she seemed. Her husband William was no better, keeping his secret from her and not opening up to her until he was forced to. Still, her answers to the questions and her ruminations were fascinating, and her sense of humor refreshing. I found her desperate clawing need for security/money to be quite a downer, and the fact that she ignored all her friends wise advice to also be rather stupid of her. But it was a nice 'beach' read for summer, and as such I give it a B-, barely edging out a C+, for the idiotic behavior of the protagonist. I'd recommend this book to women who have enjoyed Bridget Jones Diary.

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