Click on the link below for The New Voices in Fiction Sampler: Summer Selection compendium that you can download for free onto an e-reader or Windows or Mac computer, courtesy of HarperCollins:
This article is used with the author’s permission.
I was feeling like a loser for a few days. Couldn’t seem to shake the feeling and I couldn’t figure out what was at the root of my distress. It wasn’t a new feeling for me. There are things that haunt a person periodically — feeling like a loser is one of mine. Loser: out of my league, losing my edge, feeling like a failure, these are my personalized definitions.
Whenever loser becomes part of my identity I work hard to hide it — even from my husband. Because if I tell my husband, he tries to cheer me up — that part would be okay — but when I’m feeling bad, then my husband feels bad, too. He worries about me. I figure why have two of us feeling miserable. “This too shall pass.” So instead, I walk hand-in-hand, alone with Suzanne, trying not to let anyone else know.
“I feel like a loser.” It’s definitely not an opening line that leaves a very good impression. Looking back, I can’t think of one single time when it would have been in my best interest to have extended my hand and said, “Hello, I’m Suzanne Beecher, nice to meet you. I feel like a loser today.”
On the other hand, I recently watched a movie and in one of the scenes there was an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, and it got me to thinking that maybe hiding something makes a person feel worse. If you’re not familiar with the AA meeting format, whenever anyone stands up to speak, the first line they deliver is, “Hello, I’m (Joe, Jane, or Julie, whatever their name) and I’m an alcoholic.” I’m not sure why that protocol is followed in the meetings, but it felt inviting. So when I got up this morning and looked in the mirror, the first thing I said to myself was, “Hello, I’m Suzanne Beecher and I feel like a loser.”
Hearing the words, suddenly my “loser” line wasn’t as powerful as when I’d kept it hidden away. Saying the words out loud took the sting out of them, and surprisingly my self-proclamation didn’t set a negative tone for the day. Instead it made my day easier. In fact, by the time I went to bed, the reflection in the mirror felt different and I was so relieved.
“Hello, I’m Suzanne Beecher and I don’t feel like a loser anymore.”
Thanks for reading with me. It’s so good to read with friends.
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This disclaimer will be posted periodically. Pictured: Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other and the World. This memoir by Claire and Mia Fontaine, a follow-up to Come Back, will be released by William Morrow on July 17, 2012.
Here’s a sampling of new and upcoming books that might well wind up on the to-be-read stack.
The Bungalow: A Novel by Sarah Jio (Plume; December 27, 2011)
We loved The Violets of March by Sarah Jio and thought it was one of the best debut novels of 2011. Now Jio returns with a quite different type of story set in Bora Bora during World War II. Wrote reader Laura Bolin on Amazon: “The Bungalow was an old black and white movie straight out of my grandparent’s generation. I was swept away by Jio’s vivid descriptions and I loved every minute of it.”
Tuesday Night Miracles: A Novel by Kris Radish (Bantam Dell; January 3, 2012)
An entertaining story about an almost-retired counselor who tries to help a group of four women – all of whom have serious pending matters with the legal system – manage their anger issues in court-ordered group counseling sessions. The women will have to graduate from the group in order to return to their normal lives. Oh, and they don’t like each other at all – which means that the counselor is going to have to take some drastic (and perhaps even professionally unethical) actions in order to get them to a kinder and gentler place.
Gun Games: A Novel by Faye Kellerman (William Morrow; January 3, 2012)
Faye Kellerman once again showcases Peter Decker of the Los Angeles Police Department and Rina Lazarus, likely the most popular husband and wife team in modern crime fiction. A series of shocking adolescent suicides at an elite L. A. private school is at the heart of this thriller. As if this isn’t enough, there’s also the fact that Decker and Lazarus have brought a very troubled teenager into their home: Gabriel Whitman, the son of a psychopath.
The Confession: A Novel by Charles Todd (Wm. Morrow; January 12, 2012)
An historical crime novel, continuing Charles Todd’s World War I veteran, and yet still highly effective Scotland Yard Inspector, Ian Rutledge. Rutledge struggles with a startling and dangerous case that reaches far back into the past when a false confession by a man who was not who he claimed to be resulted in a brutal murder.
Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir by Doron Weber (Simon & Schuster; February 7, 2012)
Not to be confused with Anne Lamott’s novel Imperfect Birds, this is a moving memoir about a boy born with a defective heart – located on the right side of his chest – who weathers major heart surgeries before being hit with a highly unique, perhaps untreatable disease. Those who years ago read Death Be Not Proud may be drawn to this account.
Spin: A Novel by Catherine McKenzie (Wm. Morrow; February 7, 2012)
Kate’s an ambitious – if self-damaging – reporter who goes undercover. She enters a drug and alcohol rehab clinic to find out what’s happening with the popular and troubled young actress Amber Shepard. “Imagine if Bridget Jones fell into a million little pieces, flew over the cuckoo’s nest, and befriended Lindsay Lohan along the way…”
The Lola Quartet: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel (Unbridled Books; May 15, 2012)
We gave a highly recommended rating to Mandel’s 2010 novel The Singer’s Gun, which was as gutsy as it was unique and engaging. Her third novel examines “questions of identity, the deep pull of family, the difficulties of being the person one wants to be, the un-reliability of memory, and the unforeseen ways a small and innocent action can have disastrous consequences.” It’s bound to be worth the price of admission.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster; 10/24/11)
This is already the best-selling book in the country, based on pre-release orders at Amazon. Isaacson earlier wrote the mega-selling Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and the recent, tragic death of Steve Jobs will only heighten the interest in this almost 700 page biography. This is an authorized bio, as (according to Reuters) Jobs knew that his death was imminent and wanted his kids to know him through this expected-to-be definitive work. Jobs had made clear to his friends and co-workers that nothing in his personal or professional life was off-limits.
Steve Jobs will also be available as an audiobook; unfortunately, an abridged one.
Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (Picador; 09/27/11)
If you’re like me, one of the two dozen or so individuals who did not read this book when it was originally released, you now have a chance to pick it up as a Picador trade paperback for just $16.00. USA Today called Franzen’s novel about a troubled marriage, “Smart, witty and ultimately moving.”
Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Fiction by Elissa Schappell (Simon and Schuster; 09/06/11)
This is a hybrid between a short story collection and a novel, as Schappell has penned eight interlinked tales (“Spanning the late 1970s to the current day…”) about the experiences that turn girls into women. Tom Perrota, author of The Leftovers and Little Children, says of Blueprints for Building Better Girls: “Elizabeth Schappell’s characters live in that zone where toughness and vulnerability overlap. In this remarkable, deeply engaging collection of stories, Schappell introduces us to a wide variety of female characters, from reckless teenagers to rueful middle-aged moms, and asks us to ponder how those girls became these women.”
The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 10/11/11)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides returns with a story about a not-so-calm year in the lives of three college seniors (one female and two males) attending Brown University in the early 1980s. It’s about love lost and found, and the mental preparations that young people must make before entering the stolid world of adults.
The Drop: A Harry Bosch Novel by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company; 11/28/11)
From the author of The Lincoln Lawyer and The Reversal, comes the latest thriller involving LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. A bored Bosch is getting ready for retirement when two huge criminal cases with political and other implications land on his desk. Both cases need to be solved immediately and, as usual, Bosch must break some major investigative rules in order to do so.
“Connelly may be our most versatile crime writer.” Booklist