Monday, February 27, 2012

What's Going On This Week at Boswell (John Donatich), and What's Not Going on This Week (Eleanor Henderson).

Our sympathies to Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints, who was forced to cancel her appearance at Boswell, due to a death in her family. So no event this Wednesday, February 29. We'll reschedule my short book club talk to open for another upcoming event.

On Saturday, March 3, we'll be hosting John Donatich, publisher of Yale University Press, and author of the new novel, The Variations. I fear hosting authors so early in their release cycle, unless the author is local and has enough of a base for a launch event. But how could we say no? Here are some early reads from some of our favorite authors.

"This book deserves quiet and respectful praise. I was very moved by it. Individual sentences are filled with precision and intelligence. I suppose it is, itself, a variation, in terms of its improvisations on an expected theme, the improbabilities recognized and realized, and its humane take on the world. What a surprising, beautiful book."—Ann Beattie, author of The New Yorker Stories

"Though The Variations documents harsh personal upheavals, it is characterized by great poise and dignity. With his talent for finding beauty in the dingiest corners and insights in the most confounding situations, John Donatich has given us a novel with staying power. It's impossible not to be utterly absorbed by this book."—Joanna Scott, author of the Ambassador Book Award winning Liberation

"Toward the end of this moving and highly unusual novel, its hero -- Dominic -- remarks: 'It is God that is primary, individual, irreducible. All the rest variations on a theme." These variations preoccupy the major characters in this deeply poetic and fiercely imagined book. Novels that approach matters of faith are rarely, and rarely good. But John Donatich has written a beautiful and thoughtful meditation on faith and its fate in the modern world, on listening, loving, living. The Variations plays any number of variations on the themes of love and loss in its myriad forms. It's a novel I will pass eagerly among friends."—Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and The Passages of H.M.

"Catholic writers in America have not found much excitement in theology. John Donatich goes a long way towards repairing that lack with this beautiful novel about a contemporary priest who can't help contemplating the failure of his rundown urban church as his own inner failure…The author has a poet's feel for image, which he confers upon his priest with breathtaking effect…There is genuine suspense, a sense of life or death importance, in this thoughtful novel about what Father Dominic will choose to do as well as about the fates of his parishioners."—Jaimy Gordon, author of the National Book Award winning Lord of Misrule

"A novel of priests, pianists, hysterics, dry drunks, urban decay, and above all the irresistible drive to achieve transcendence, even while you know it can’t be done by trying. When these people pray or make music they know they have to master an art form and give up hope of mastering it at the same time. Their dilemmas are old, universal, perfect. Donatich doesn’t believe in the kind of orthodoxy that obliterates doubts and declares a permanent winner to contests inside the soul. He seems to believe in a continuous struggle between what we can and can’t do on our own, a faith of variations that will keep on changing from one day to the next because it’s alive."—Salvatore Scibona, author of The End

Mr. Donatch will be appearing at Boswell on Saturday, March 3, at 2 pm. He'll be talking about his book, as well as the changing world of publishing.

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