Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things Fall Apart: Achebe and Tibensky

When I read Things Fall Apart as a sophomore in college, little did I know that the first African novel I ever read would share most of a title with a book of my own. A book about a white American suburban teenager obsessed with Sylvia Plath, another white suburban teenager.

I mean really.

The title of my book was not my idea. I had the lamest title ever, which means to say nothing useable. When my editor suggested And Then Things Fall Apart (STRONGLY suggested with much excitement and little room for me to say, er no) I brought up Achebe. And that I loved Things Fall Apart, that it is basically African Shakespeare, that it is not a book to toy with or allude to lightly. They smiled (over the phone) and nodded and said brightly "Isn't it just a great title!!!!"

All I could think of was my African Lit professor. He, like Achebe, was Nigerian. He had long fingers with unusually large nails. He brought cola nuts for us to try and took African literature very seriously. He would not be amused.

I also took a Russian Lit class (earth shattering) French Women Writers of Today (badass Irish professor who made use this new thing called "email" to turn in papers) and a whole semester of James Joyce. What if my book were titled The Mister and Margarita? Portrait of the Artist as a Young Teenager? The Giggle of the Medusa?

I read my ass off in college. Any and everything and my brain, when not grunge-rock obsessed and/or caffeinated within an inch of its life, was always ruminating on capital L literature. And loving it.

I just want everyone to know how much I love Achebe's book and how I know that Things Fall Apart, and And Things Fall Apart are only an "and" apart.

AND I ALSO want to say that I love the title and everyone I tell the title to says in a low knowing tone, "ooh, grrreat title!" So there's that. And I'm figuring that most of my book's target audience won't get to Achebe till college so they won't make the connection in the first place. If anything, they will get to MY Things Fall Apart and will think- wait- didn't I already read this? In high school? Keek was Nigerian?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where's Your Spine?

My beloved UPS man, Ray (handsome, charming, sly and strong) keeps dropping off boxes for me. These are big boxes full of: books. My books? It is freaking surreal.

The first batch I got was ARCs which were great because I need to give them away and get people to review it, and read it early and what have you. They arrived with postcard notes for me to sign that say (are you ready for the genius of the marketing department of Simon & Schuster? Perhaps you should sit down...)

Which is as perfect a tagline for this book as is possible using the English language.

And then four days later I get 25 ACTUAL books. The ones that will be available for sale on July 26 at fine booksellers everywhere. Dear reader... They are beautiful. The typos are gone. The dedication page no longer says TK it says: For my parents... cue emotional tearing up and slow blinking/swallowing.

It's the spine that elevates the book from ARC to BOOK. Turquoise and red. With the cover heart in a circle like a saucy tattoo. I mean really.

I took them all and put them on a shelf, all in a row and it has created a wall of magnificence that I can see out of the corner of my eye as a sit at my desk and

bang out my next... er, book.


Thanks evesfangarden for the ARC pic!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's on My Nightstand

I love mermaids. When I was a kid I was obsessed with them, would hold my breath underwater and pretend that the light in the Oak Park YMCA pool was a magical mirror into which I would stare through goggle lenses and comb my imaginary mermaid hair. My mother encouraged me to believe in them and I did with all my heart.

Saturday marks the 29th Annual Mermaid Parade at Coney Island and we are not going. I would love it, of course, but with two kids, heat, and the train ride it all adds up to a miserable experience for all.

However... there was a time when I was into it, when I wore shells on my breasts and a tail on my legs and slapped glitter all over my sweaty skin. Coney Island is one of my favorite places on earth. The tattoos! The freaks! The surf! The sand! The Cyclone! Sexy and retro, naughty and nice what is not to love?

Tara Altebrando has written a novel set in this most evocative and magical of places. Dreamland Social Club sounds great, from what I heard at a reading at Books of Wonder. I can't wait to... dive in! And Tara was smart and lovely and did tons of research on the bizarre and perverse history of Coney
Island so. Fasten your seatbelts!

Nova Ren Suma is a great writer who also happens to be a celebrated fellow-alum of Columbia's MFA program. Last month we went for a charming lunch at a secret grotto of a restaurant in the Village and chit chatted about said MFA program and writing and yoga and etc. It was awesome.

Her INSANELY STARRED REVIEWED latest, Imaginary Girls is not about mermaids. It is about sisters and the power of love over death and swimming and all those things give it a supernatural, intense, emotional pull over me that is mermaid-esque.

AND THAT COVER. Unbelievably beautiful- just like the writing inside.

These two books and Swamplandia! and Jon Savage's Teenage are all arm wrestling with a year's worth of New Yorkers on my nightstand... The summer is young! What's on your nightstand?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Book Cover

How I love thee.
Let me count the ways:

  1. There are no people on it.
  2. There is a blue typewriter on it.
  3. There is COURIER font on it of which I am enamored.
  4. It is about the book. And since the book is about a million things I didn't know how they would ever find an image that would say it all.
  5. I am an ego maniac and I'm delighted that my name is all big and bold and a little obnoxious on the cover.
  6. I ALREADY sign everything with xxx's and oo's so it is so easy to represent my book just by signing emails xxoo- Arlaina
  7. And NOW I can sign the INSIDE XXOO - Arlaina!
Jessica Handelman, Associate Art Director at Simon Pulse is the GENIUS behind this cover.

I never really thanked her and here I am, thanking her now.


Friday, June 3, 2011


And I am up to my eyeballs in--er-- the book. I am just putting this out there as a save the date type gesture that the lovely and kind folks at Books of Wonder are hosting a launch party for AND THEN THINGS FALL APART on July 26th from 6-8. There will be beer! Books! Cupcakes! Typewriters! A Sylvia Plath impersonator! And the author herself reading in an entertaining fashion!

Please do come. It's a Tuesday night. July 26th. What the hell else do you really have to do? The launch party will be so fun you will weep tears of delight re-telling the events of that fabled Tuesday to your children and grandchildren.

I can't wait to celebrate with you!