Download, read, and nominate your favorite titles now for the November 2015* LibraryReads list! *Nominations are due September 20! Click here for the full list of 2015 deadlines. A WILD SWAN by Michael Cunningham Classic fairy tales are reimagined for our times by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE HOURS and exquisitely illustrated by Yuko […]
This season Macmillan Library is all about boys and their adventures in growing up. The boys whose DIY robot bests MIT, the boys who attend a terrifyingly real boarding school (in the future), and the boys who use gaming as a means of salvation… We’re getting to know them all. Won’t you join us? SPARE […]
Today we wish a very special #BookBday to VIRTUALLY HUMAN: The Promise—and the Peril—of Digital Immortality by Martine Rothblatt, PhD. VIRTUALLY HUMAN explores what the not-too-distant future will look like when cyberconsciousness—simulation of the human brain via software and computer technology—becomes part of our daily lives and the medical ethics involved. Martine has already started […]
Let's cut to the chase: I loved this book. I had no idea what I was getting into when I cracked the pages of SHINE SHINE SHINE and here I am a month later still processing all of the wonderfully full and flawed characters—some of who are on their way to the moon(!), others of who feel alienated right in the suburbs of their own planet.
Debut author Lydia Netzer was kind enough to answer a few questions about her terrific first novel for us. Read on, readers!
Q: You cover a lot of ground in SHINE SHINE SHINE from Burma to Virginia to Pennsylvania to the Moon (not to mention the past and the future)! Which setting did you have the most fun writing?
I grew up in Detroit, but we spent all our summers in the hills of western Pennsylvania, living in a decrepit old farmhouse on a dirt road. Of course, I loved this old farm, and I still do -- it’s June now and I’m answering these questions from the dining room -- panelled in wormy chestnut and full of weird antiques! The valley where Sunny and Maxon played as children is my valley, their creek is my creek, and the stump that’s shaped like a throne -- that was my mossy old stump throne. It was very satisfying to bring that setting into the book and put into words the way I felt about this place as a child. As an only child, I spent a lot of time dangling from the tire swing by myself, and often imagined a playmate arriving magically out of the woods, just as Maxon did for Sunny.
Q: Many of the characters in SHINE SHINE SHINE struggle to project an air of "normalcy," did you have any challenges writing scenes with such offbeat people?
I have yet to meet a person who is absolutely normal. I think normalcy is a construct. There are some people who do a pretty excellent job at burying their weirdness, but that doesn’t mean the weirdness isn’t there. These skilled social creatures, practiced at fitting in, collectively create a definition of what “normal” looks like and then others strive to match it. Or else they don’t. Some of us are less committed to passing for normal, and we let our weirdness out a bit, peel the lid off the crazy, off the angst and the exuberance. I’m sure people have good reasons for wanting to pass as normal and have others see them as acceptable. In fact, parenthood can really drive you in this direction -- toward stuffing down all your crazy and packing it away, presenting a very peaceful, unremarkable face to the world. No one sets out wanting to be the weirdo mom or the freak dad. It’s a status you have to come to grips with over time, sometimes after all attempts to disappear into normalcy have failed.
So to answer the question, I think there are offbeat people all around, and imagining what strange fancies lurked under the apparently normal skin of apparently average people was a very interesting project.
Q: If a Reader's Advisory librarian wanted to compare SHINE SHINE SHINE to a couple of other books or even movies on their shelves, which would you want them to pick?