We have no events this week, but we've got a doozy in two weeks, and the book lands tomorrow. It's Chris Cleave and his follow-up to Little Bee, called Gold.
As you may remember, I wrote a piece about putting together an event proposal for this book tour, and luckily enough, we were able to get a spot on the initial launch. Here's the review I wrote up for the new novel.
"Among the volumes of self-help books that champion the champion, there’s little pondering of the costs involved. Cleave’s new novel, set in the world of competitive cycling, confronts the question, what would you sacrifice to win? Kate had tried to balance the world of racing with a family; her husband Jack does too, but as a man, the burdens are rightly unfair, particularly when their Star-Wars-obsessed daughter Sophie is battling childhood leukemia. Zoe, on the other hand, has stayed single and focused. And though Zoe and Kate are friends, the former thinks little of playing mind games to help her odds. I love Chris Cleave’s passion—his mission this time is the treatment of childhood cancer. And I love that he can’t help but love the unlovable—Zoe is Little Bee’s Sarah with her faults squared. But most of all, I love that Cleave can take a jaded reader like myself get caught up in the race and turn me into a puddle of jellied emotion."
The book is at first glance a very different beast from Little Bee, and yet reading it, you see that it is much more connected. As noted in my review, Cleave balances two characters, one extremely sympathetic (Kate) and the other no so much (Zoe). It ponders some basic moral questions. And like Little Bee, which wears its heart on its sleeve when it comes to political refugees and the harsh realitites of immigration detention centers, Gold's subplot about caring for Sophie and her leukemia is undeniably wrenching. Cleave captures everything that caregivers go through in minute detail.
This novel is simply emotionally an emotional rollercoaster. And I am reminded of Jaimy Gordon's Lord of Misrule (remember that National Book Award winner that just really didn't explode--maybe that paperback came out too quickly after all) when I noted that there's nothing like a race, or a series of races, to bring tension to any drama. And the skills of the novelist are in letting the themes of the book play out in the races themselves. And that's just what Cleave does.
Our event is on Monday, July 16, 7 pm, at Boswell.
It is ticketed. The tickets cost $5 plus tax. Buy your ticket here. You can also buy tickets at Boswell. We are not holding tickets--they must be purchased in advance, and are not refundable, because of the reason in the next paragraph. That said, ticketholders will get 20% off the cost of Gold.
The $5 will be donated to The Pablove Foundation, a wonderful group that supports kids with childhood cancer and their caregivers. Coincidentally Stacie noted that their big fundraiser is a series of bike races. I'm still hoping that the group will connect with Cleave in other places. They are clearly soulmates.
In my continuing obsession with Chris Cleave's book jackets, you will notice that Simon has certainly continued a theme with the new jacket for Gold. It's yellow (gold) playing off the black silhouette, and it's the classic optical illusion of the two faces whose negative space becomes a chalice.
And finally, I should note that Cleave will be posting videos again of his tour. I hope to have at least one posted here. But for now, here is his British trailer.
Sunday's Journal Sentinel Books section was back after a short Summerfest hiatus. Chris Foran reviewed John Klima's Bushville Wins: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball. Though he felt that Klima leaned a little too heavy on the David-vs-Goliath thing and felt that the series didn't actually change baseball as Klima suggests, he seemed to enjoy the book a lot. And don't blame Klima for that title--it's most likely the publisher's doing to maximize search engine results. That's probably why the New York Yankees are listed. Who puts the losing team in a title?
Also reprinted is Carolyn Kellogg's review of A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers, originally written for the Los Angeles Times. As Kellogg notes, this is Eggers's first novel of pure invention in a decade. Because Eggers is author is well as publisher, it has something that you almost never see with the major publishers--an ebook free window of six weeks. The novel, the story of a divorced and rather broken consultant hoping to get one last chance to pull off a major deal in Saudi Arabia, is said to be a far more somber work than one finds in McSweeneys or his own memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
From the San Francisco Chronicle, we have Siri Hustvedt's essay collection, Living, Thinking, Looking. Steven Wynn calls the work "often insightful but exasperating." Because the author would neither tour for a book like this, nor would we generally see advance reading copies, I didn't even realize that Hustvedt had an essay collection. I have peruse my Publishers Weekly and Kirkus reviews more carefully.
And the week's feature is also from the Los Angeles Times. Susan Carpenter profiles Jodi Picoult, whose written her first young adult novel, Between the Lines, with her teenage daughter, Samantha van Leer.