Seattle novelist Erica Bauermeister’s third novel, The Lost Art of Mixing, was just released, reuniting Seattle readers with the group of Seattle friends we first met in The School of Essential Ingredients. A review in Publishers Weekly said: “Bauermeister’s prose is strong, particularly when it comes to food, and her novel brings to life the adage ‘be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.’” We asked Erica to tell us what she’s been reading lately.
I’m part of an author group called the Seattle7Writers. We started off as a drinking club, coffee or wine depending on the time of day, sharing horror- or hope-filled publishing stories. Over time we became a working group, promoting literacy, libraries, independent bookstores and a general love of reading local. Taking the reading local part to heart, I’ve been spending time with books written within a 100 mile radius of my home – which is, trust me, as satisfying as eating that gorgeous heirloom tomato you bought at the farmer’s market in August.
Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel. I took this one on an airplane ride and barely noticed the big man with the territorial elbows sitting next to me. Frankel writes books sparkling with dialogue and based on intriguing premises. Goodbye for Now asks the question – what if you could email with the dead? Not them exactly, but an almost-live recreation culled from their past electronic correspondence. Frankel manages to deftly examine both the fun and far weightier issues involved in our mad dash for technology. It had me thinking for days afterward.
Guernica by Dave Boling. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction. I particularly don’t read a lot of historical fiction set in the Basque region of Spain involving a horrific wartime bombing incident. In this case, reading local pushed me far beyond my usual boundaries, and I was glad it happened. What a gorgeous book. What beautifully drawn characters. Its humanity is huge, and its particulars vivid.
Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge. This book actually doesn’t come out until April 2013, but keep an eye out for it (you can place a hold on it now). LWM got its inspiration from a real life story of a man from Oregon who said goodbye to his fiancé and left on a trip one day – and then simply disappeared, only to be found weeks later with no memory of his life. In LWM, Shortridge has created a fascinating central female character from Seattle, Lucie Walker, who “wakes up” standing in the water of San Francisco Bay. We follow her and her fiancé in alternating viewpoints, as Lucie tries to remember herself, while realizing she is no longer the person she was. It raises the issues – who are we, and what are our brains capable of?
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Probably every Seattleite has read this book by now, but I have to include it. What a hilarious, snarky, big-hearted book. It manages to skewer all things Seattle – our politically correct private schools, our five-way intersections, our blackberry bushes – while unraveling a mystery through a collection of emails and letters and notices written by a wide variety of characters (and “characters” here is a particularly apt word). The fact that Seattleites find it funny goes a long way to proving we have a good sense of humor.
Thank you, Erica! Readers — you can find all of Erica’s books in our catalog (including Let’s Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers Ages 2-14) and read more about her on her website. And writers — Erica will give a short lecture on the craft of writing at the Ballard Branch’s It’s About Time Writing Series on March 14.