Paris, He Said, a new novel set mostly in contemporary Paris, is now out from Bloomsbury USA. Brief first chapter can be read here. Oprah.com, Best Books of Spring review, here. Really lovely review by fellow fiction writer Phiip Graham on The Millions site is here.
One of the characters in Paris, He Said is Susan Kraut, a painter who lives in Evanston, IL and has taught for many years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Besides being a kind, lovely person and a patient subject for me as I was writing Paris, He Said, she is a brilliant artist. Here are two recent paintings from a recent benefit show of hers at the Brown Avenue residences for people with disabilities (the show also features photos by her sister, Joan Hyman).
Advance praise for Paris, He Said:
“If Henry James were still with us, he’d not only approve of Paris, He Said, he could have written it himself, though without his serpentine syntax. It’s a delicious treat, studded with wise and beautifully observed detail, that places side by side those perpetually fascinating antagonists, the eager, casual American and the meticulous, pleasure-driven French. Christine Sneed knows everyone’s intimate secrets and her book is lively, amusing, and, ultimately, kind to pretty much all of them.” - Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After
"Art, desire, romance, and Paris itself, are brought so beautifully together in Christine Sneed's new novel. She writes with contagious affection for her characters, and in the delightful and delighted hours I spent inside Paris, He Said, I had that rare feeling we can get from a novel--I was happy to be alive." - Scott Spencer, author of Endless Love
"A wry, sexy, clever little gem of a novel, Christine Sneed's latest lights up the streets of Paris with elegance and wit." - Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins
"A novel about art and artifice that is heartfelt, a novel about love and deception that is clear-eyed, witty and wise. Sneed entertains and tantalizes, in the most Parisian manner." - Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us
The always-interesting, razor-sharp, and witty Michael Lewis mentions that Little Known Facts is sitting near the top of his teetering to-read pile, with Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in the NYT By the Book feature. And a Q & A about my writing process, done with the fine folks at Pleiades literary journal is here.
New York Times Book Review - Curtis Sittenfeld reviews Little Known Facts - front cover, 2/24/13 issue; read online here.
Recent publication: an essay on short stories v. novels in Printers Row Journal.
I highly recommend Maggie Shipstead's two wonderful novels, Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements, as well as a very smart, funny, and moving book of essays by Julia Sweeney, If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother.
This past year I've also been more or less obsessed with Scott Spencer's brilliant, beautifully written novels, e.g. Willing, Men in Black (no relation to the films), Endless Love (skip the big-screen adapations), Waking the Dead, A Ship Made of Paper, Man in the Woods, The Rich Man's Table. An appreciation I wrote about his work, published on May 16, 2014 in the Chicago Tribune, is here.
My SF Chronicle review of Kim Addonizio's sexy, moving, sometimes very funny new short story collection, The Palace of Illusions, is here.
Also, Little Known Facts was included in the New York Times Book Review's Paperback Row section on 4/6/14.
Newcity magazine recently published their annual LIT 50 list - "Who Really Books in Chicago." Along with Stuart Dybek, Chris Ware, Gillian Flynn, Veronica Roth, Scott Turow, Aleksandar Hemon, they ranked me in their top 10 - see the complete list here.
Some other books to keep an eye out for: the marvelous Floyd Skloot's memoir Revertigo (University of Wisconsin Press), Peggy Shinner's thought-provoking, beautifully written essay collection, You Feel So Mortal (University of Chicago Press), Cris Mazza's stylistically daring and provocative Something Wrong with Her (Jaded Ibis Press), and Paulette Livers' excellent debut novel, Cementville (Counterpoint Press) out now.
An appreciation of Mavis Gallant, published in the Chicago Tribune, that I wrote shortly after her death in February.
Little Known Facts - Editor's Choice - Chicago Tribune, 2/24 & New York Times, 3/3
Named one of Booklist's Top Ten Debut novels of 2013
An interview about my writing space and other writing-related topics pubilshed by Newcity on 1/9/14.
Kirkus Reviews published an article about Little Known Facts in the spring of 2013, which can be read here. They also included it on their end-of-year best books for avid readers list, along with novels by Allan Gurganus, Lauren Grodstein, Teddy Wayne, and several other writers whose new novels the Kirkus editors enjoyed.
The Carl Sandburg Awards, a festive annual banquet organized and hosted by the Chicago Public Library Foundation, took place on October 23 at the University of Illinois-Chicago's Forum. The 2013 honorees were writer and humanitarian Isabel Allende and writer/President Obama's erstwhile travel companion and Vanity Fair profiler Michael Lewis. The CPL Foundation gave me the 21st Century Award, which is given annually to a writer with ties to Chicago, in appreciation of recent literary achievement. Link to photos from the event here.
Little Known Facts - U.S. publication day was February 12, 2013 (the paperback version of Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry was released on this date too.) Little Known Facts was also published in the UK in January 2013 under the new Bloomsbury Circus imprint. Read the starred Booklist review here. You can also read the Kirkus Reviews notice here.
Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry received the Grace Paley Prize in 2009, Ploughshares' Zacharis Award for a first book, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
The 2012 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories Anthology is available as both an e-book and in hard copy. A story of mine published by the New England Review in Winter 2010-11, "The First Wife," is among the 20 stories selected for inclusion. Stories by Yiyun Li, Alice Munro, John Berger, Salvatore Scibona, Miroslav Penkov, Lauren Groff, and 13 others are also included.
Very fun Book Notes feature on Largehearted Boy here.
Other People podcast with Brad Listi here.
A Time Out Chicago feature by Laura Pearson here.
A Q & A with MSN.com's book critic Mary Pols here.
A second Q & A with Newcity's book critic Naomi Huffman can be read here.
A third Q & A with Aspen Matis for Tin House can be read here.
Now for a tangent: I reviewed Matthew Specktor's accomplished second novel, American Dream Machine, for the NYTBR's summer reading issue, June 2 print edition, online May 31. You can find the review here.
Little Known Facts focuses on a family in Los Angeles. The father, Renn Ivins, is a film star whose fame and success overshadow the lives of his two grown children, a son and a daughter, in ways that make it difficult for them to achieve personal and professional successes of their own. More information is available in this blog post. And a fun podcast that the producers of All Write Already, Willy Nast and Karen Shimmin, put together recently - some of their writing resolutions for the new year start it off, followed by me reading an excerpt ofLittle Known Facts before our discussion about the book and related topics.
I keep an author page on Facebook. Please consider taking a look and hitting the "like" button.
The Chicago Writers Association chose my story collection, Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry, as the Book of the Year in the traditionally published fiction category. Below are two photos, the second with Randy Richardson, director of the Chicago Writers Association, from the awards ceremony, which took place on January 14, 2012, at the Book Cellar, an independent bookstore in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune's Bill Hageman's January 2012 "Remarkable Woman" column, which is published in the Sunday magazine each week. It was an honor to be among the other women who have been profiled here since this column debuted in 2010. The full article is here.
Storyville, an excellent app for iPads and iPhones, which The New Yorker recently chose as a Digital Pick of the Week, has published my story "Quality of Life" as its selection of the week - December 27, 2011. Consider subscribing ($4.99/six months, 48 stories/year) through the iTunes/iPhone app store - a new story each week from writers such as Jennifer Egan, Charles Baxter, Anthony Doerr, Yiyun Li, Flannery O'Connor, Barry Hannah, Mavis Gallant, Joe Meno, Belle Boggs, Patrick Somerville...
An interview about Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry, conducted by the funny and lovely Aspen Matis for NYC's 12th Street Online.
Ploughshares literary journal awarded Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry the 2011 John C. Zacharis Award, an annual prize for a first book by a Ploughshares contributor. The prize alternates between poetry and fiction each year. Akshay Ahuja, one of the MFA fiction students at Emerson College, where Ploughshares is based, interviewed me over the summer, after I learned that my book had won the award. The transcript of the interview can be read here.
For Ex-Libris, DePaul University's English department newsletter, graduate student Maria Hlohowskyj recently wrote an article about Portraits of... You can access the article here.
"The Couplehood Jubiliee" is in the summer 2013 issue of New England Review - a woman reluctant to marry, but tired of spending so much of her earnings on friends' weddings, strikes back.
"Flattering Light" is in the spring 2012 issue of The Southern Review. A jealous son, a famous father, a confused young woman...
"Relations" was published in the winter 2012 issue of The Southern Review. This story concerns a successful Hollywood actor and the effects of his fame on his two ex-wives and his two grown children, especially his son.
"Ladylike," a story about two actresses, one young, the other middle-aged, both successful, is in the current issue of Barrelhouse, issue #10.
"Interview with the Second Wife," available in full-text format at the New England Review site, Vol. 30, #4. This story was also one of the 100 distinguished short stories named in The Best American Short Stories 2011.
Read an interview with Christine regarding the Chicago Cubs and her contribution to an anthology of Cubs-related prose, artwork and poetry: Cubbie Blues.
(An enormous thanks to Randy Richardson for his invaluable help establishing and maintaining this site).