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novel excerpt (39)

Reading with Edan Lepucki at Brookline Booksmith

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Joanna Rakoff reads from My Salinger Year and Edan Lepucki reads from California at Brookline Booksmith. Listen in as these two writers read from their work and answer questions about driving through LA during a blackout that seems to presage apocalypse, about the experience of working in J. D. Salinger's agency, and about the shift from novel to memoir, third-person to first. [...] more

excerpt from Gone

Monday, July 14, 2014

A husband's disappearance while taking the babysitter home precipitates the crisis in this excerpt from Cathi Hanauer's novel Gone. Eve Adams embarks on a first day of her new normal, fending off inquiries from children surly and clueless, and navigating the too-zen-to-be-mean streets of her artsy Massachusetts town. [...] more

excerpt from The Fifty-First State

Monday, April 28, 2014

A handful of sentences form the opening chapter of Lisa Borders' novel The Fifty-First State , setting her characters on an inexorable course towards tragedy and connection, and sending her readers into a world of lush detail and intensely-felt emotion. Hallie and Josh Corson share a father but little else—until a grisly highway accident at the novel's outset leaves them both without parents. Forced to come together on the family's struggling tomato farm, Josh and Hallie grow in ways they never expected, and discover that even in death’s wake, lives can change for the better. [...] more

excerpt from The Other Room

Monday, February 24, 2014

A pink mitten and a balky boiler are some of the poignant details of this scene from Kim Triedman's novel The Other Room. The loss of a child registers through the eerie combination of the normal and the uncanny, adding up to mounting pressure on the husband and wife who have survived. [...] more

Reading at Brookline Booksmith

Monday, February 17, 2014

Booker-Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle reads from his latest novel The Guts in this recording of an event at Brookline Booksmith on February 6, 2014. Jimmy Rabitte, the protagonist of Doyle's first novel The Commitments , is now middle-aged and facing the difficult task of telling his wife he has cancer. Doyle's trademark spare and witty dialogue anchors the scene. Following the reading, Doyle discusses topics ranging from how he writes dialogue, the Irish recession, and footballer Wayne Rooney, all in his inimitably wry style. [...] more

MATTHEW SALESSES Excerpt from The Last Repatriate

Monday, July 29, 2013

Matthew Salesses' novella The Last Repatriate tells the story of Theodore Dickerson, a prisoner who eventually returns to his home in Virginia in the midst of the McCarthy Era. He is welcomed back as a hero, though he has not returned unscathed. The lasting effects of the POW camp and troubles with his ex-fiancée complicate his new marriage as he struggles to readjust to the Virginia he holds dear. The letter from Teddy's fiancée is read by Joanne Barker. [...] more

excerpt from Cubop City Blues

Monday, June 24, 2013

With rich language and striking images, the narrator of Pablo Medina's novel Cubop City Blues introduces himself, from the moment of his birth. His mother's infidelity, his aunts' various devotions, his father's cuckolding, and the rhythms and voices of this creative and created version of New York City--all of them come powerfully to life in this vivid excerpt. [...] more

ANN LEARY excerpt from The Good House

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hildy, the narrator of Ann Leary's The Good House, is a descendant of a Salem witch, making her living selling real estate in the fictional Wendover of Massachusetts' Gold Coast. In this excerpt from Leary's novel, Hildy demonstrates her power to judge character, background, and aspiration simply by looking at the landscaping of a seaside mansion. Moving within but also slightly outside the culture of wealth and ambition, Hildy assesses the tensions and anxieties of her surroundings with acerbic wit. [...] more

LADETTE RANDOLPH Excerpt from Haven's Wake

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ladette Randolph's novel Haven's Wake tells the story of a family reunited on the family farm after the death of their patriarch. Set in a Mennonite community in eastern Nebraska, the novel illuminates themes of faith and loyalty, belief and imagination, family and allegiance. In this excerpt, a son discovers the strange clay figures his father was building beside the lake where met his death. [...] more

HENRIETTE LAZARIDIS The Clover House, Chapter One

Monday, March 25, 2013

Henriette Lazaridis Power's novel The Clover House follows a Greek-American woman who discovers the secrets to a wartime family tragedy when she returns to Greece to sift through an inheritance. In the novel's first chapter, Callie Brown determines to make the trip to Greece, motivated by her mother's attempts to keep her away, and by her own unease about her recent engagement. For more about the book, visit www. henriettepower. com . [...] more

JESSICA KEENER--Excerpt from Night Swim

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Set in affluent Boston surburbia in 1970, Night Swim follows the Kunitz family as tragedy breaks through the country-club lifestyle masking an array of simmering, emotional troubles. [...] more

ILIE RUBY Excerpt from The Salt God's Daughter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ilie Ruby's novel The Salt God's Daughter tells the story of Ruthie and Naida, a mother and daughter bound by loss, by violence, and by family mysteries. In this excerpt, Ruthie describes a storm that sends her, her mother, and her sister into a desperate escape, even as internal storms continue to pursue this small and vulnerable family. [...] more


Monday, August 6, 2012

If you missed the July 19 Transgressions event with The Drum , the Boston Book Festival , and WBUR , don't worry! We've got local writers Chris Abouzeid, Chris Castellani, Holly LeCraw, Ethan Gilsdorf, and Drum founding editor Henriette Lazaridis Power recorded from the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge, MA. Hear them read their short essays and stories about transgression, introduced and hosted by WBUR's Adam Ragusea. Law-breaking, rule-bending, convention-busting, paradigm-shifting. It's all here. [...] more

ROSIE SULTAN Excerpt from Helen Keller in Love

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rosie Sultan reads from her novel Helen Keller in Love (Viking 2012), specifically, the episode in which Keller first meets Peter Fagan, the man she was to fall in love with. The excerpt offers a vivid sense of Keller's world, in which messages are communicated by signs in her palm, and sounds are felt through vibration. [...] more

ANITA DIAMANT Excerpt from Day After Night

Monday, June 11, 2012

Anita Diamant's novel Day After Night tells the story of four women among the two hundred prisoners of the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. Diamant reads the Prologue and "Waiting" from Part One, focusing in on Tedi, a young Dutch woman prisoner trying to make sense of life in Barracks C. When a train brings new arrivals to the camp, Tedi must resist the urge to remember her home and her lost life, lest the memories overwhelm her. [...] more

ANNE COLWELL excerpt from Holy Day

Monday, February 6, 2012

This excerpt from Anne Colwell's novel Holy Day finds Maxine waking hungover in 1969 to confront her three young children and the challenges that arise from the issues surrounding their birth. Religion, marriage, the ability to be a good mother--these obligations press against Maxine as she remembers the post-McCarthy-era days before her marriage, when even conformity could offer a sense of new beginning. Her decision to convert to Catholicism sets up the complicated balance of independence and loss that both she and her husband now face. [...] more

E.R. CATALANO Trying Lessons

Monday, January 23, 2012

In E. R. Catalano's "Trying Lesson," a young girl's search for Titian in the hair-color aisle is the starting point for more than a superficial transformation. Looking for a sense of home and belonging, the narrator of this excerpt from Catalano's novel-in-progress Becoming the Girl Detective seeks identity through her admiration of Nancy Drew. Perhaps if she can model herself after the girl detective, the narrator can solve the mysteries surrounding her own family. [...] more

LESLIE PIETRZYK Lady of the House

Monday, December 19, 2011

Leslie Pietrzyk's novel excerpt Lady of the House brings a crisis into the already unsettled life of sisters Nettie and Lucy in the Chicago of 1900. At the turn of a new century, with their father recently dead and Lucy newly married, both women face decisions about how to respond to the pressures of motherhood and marriage. Their situation sharpens when a maid introduces a crisis of her own into the sisters' household. [...] more

KIMBERLY ELKINS Laura Bridgman, The First Famous Blind Deaf-Mute

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kimberly Elkins' "Laura Bridgman" offers a fascinating fictionalized account of an actual historical moment. As she meets the young girl who is being groomed to take her place as a celebrity, Bridgman muses on the vagaries of fame and reputation. Elkins' piece raises interesting questions about the rivalry among the senses (or their loss), and the strange power that can be wielded by disability. [...] more

LEAH HAGER COHEN The Grief of Others

Monday, October 31, 2011

The New York Times Book Review called Leah Hager Cohen "one of our foremost chroniclers of the mundane complexities, nuanced tragedies and unexpected tendernesses of human connection. " Her reading of the prologue from The Grief of Others clearly demonstrates why she deserves the label. In this brief opening scene, Cohen describes with microscopic and eloquent detail the features of a newborn and the love his mother feels for him. Cohen raises moving questions about the fragility of life and about the limits of our [...] more

MICHAEL KULA excerpt from The Good Doctor

Monday, October 24, 2011

Michael Kula's novel The Good Doctor opens at the 1917 Wisconsin State Fair where a young veterinarian learns that tragedy has come into his life. With precise and powerful detail, Kula evokes the physicality of the world of David Roberts--both the strength of the body and its vulnerability that becomes all too apparent as the novel begins. [...] more

ASKOLD MELNYCZUK excerpt from Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fifteen years old and educated beyond his years, beset by the chaos of his family and a possibly pregnant girlfriend, Jonathan Levy Wainscoting IV narrates Askold Melnyczuk's novel-in-progress Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature . Woven through with literary, philosophical, and cultural references, Jonathan's narrative muses on his parents' and his friends' complicated lives on the eve of his forced summer's-long departure from his Cambridge home. Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature first appeared in the June 2011 issue of The Drum , and represents 02139 [...] more

JULIETTE FAY excerpt from Deep Down True

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Juliette Fay's novel Deep Down True follows Dana Stellgarten as she finds her feet after a divorce. In this excerpt, Dana encounters an unusual--and unusually-colored--addition to her usual array of daily parenting challenges. [...] more

KEITH TEMPLE It's Behind You

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keith Temple's It's Behind You is a story about fame, megalomania and murder. After years in the limelight as a popular soap star, Carina Hemsley is appearing as the Good Fairy in the Christmas pantomime show of a third-rate northern theater, terrorising the cast and crew as she drinks and smokes herself to death. Audiences are down and the outlook for the holiday show isn’t good, until Carina starts receiving death threats in the post. [...] more

REBECCA PAWEL Death of a Nationalist

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rebecca Pawel's Death of a Nationalist follows Carlos Tejada Alonso y Lean, a Sergeant in the Guardia Civil in Spain in 1939. The bitter civil war between the Nationalists and the Republicans has interrupted Tejada's legal studies in Salamanca. Second son of a conservative Southern family of landowners, he is an enthusiast for the Catholic Franquista cause, a dedicated, and now triumphant, Nationalist. Just as the Republicans have surrendered, and the Guardia Civil has begun to impose order in the ruins of Madrid, Tejada finds the body of his best [...] more

LYDIA MILLET Oh Pure And Radiant Heart first chapter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lydia Millet's novel Oh Pure and Radiant Heart plucks the three scientists who were integral to the invention of the atom bomb: Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi as they watch history's first mushroom cloud rise over the desert on July 16th, 1945, and places them down in modern-day Santa Fe. One by one, the scientists are spotted by a shy librarian who becomes convinced of their authenticity. Entranced, bewildered, and overwhelmed by their significance as historical markers on the one hand, and their peculiar personalities on the other, she, [...] more


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In Dustin Long's novel Icelander , the daughter of a local legend of the investigative arts searches for her dog while avoiding her biological impulse to solve the mystery of her best friend's recent murder. Icelander hums with Norse legend, an alternate reality and a cast of supporting characters including a "rogue library-scientist," a pair of philosophical investigators, and a many-faced villain. Built on mazes of time, language, and narrator, this literary fireworks display shows you what might happen if Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple had been penned by Nabokov then run [...] more

ILIE RUBY The Language of Trees

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ilie Ruby's novel The Language of Trees is set in upstate New York and greatly informed by the Seneca Indians, whose lore imbues the book with spirituality. In 1988, the Ellis children set out on a stormy night in a canoe borrowed from the Songos next door to escape their brutish father. Luke, the youngest, drowns, and his older sisters are never the same: Melanie turns to drugs while Maya suffers bouts of catatonia. Years later, Grant Songo returns to his family's lake cabin after separating from his wife. [...] more

LYNNE TILLMAN No Lease on Life

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The East Village streets of Lynne Tillman's No Lease on Life are overrun with crooked cops, drug addicts, pimps and prostitutes. Garbage piles up along the sidewalks amid the blaring soundtrack of car stereos. Confrontations are supercharged by the summer heat wave. This merciless noise has left Elizabeth Hall an insomniac. Junkies roam her building and overturn trashcans, but the mean-spirited landlord refuses to help clean or repair the decrepit conditions. Live-in boyfriend Roy is good-natured but too avoidant to soothe the sores of city life. Though [...] more

ANDREW KAUFMAN All My Friends Are Superheroes

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Through a partnership with Iambik Audiobooks , we bring you the first chapter of Andrew Kaufman's novel All My Friends Are Superheroes , published by Coach House Books. Gordon Mackenzie reads the chapter aloud. All Tom's friends really are superheroes. There's the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized (by ex-boyfriend Hypno, of course) to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. So she's [...] more

LYNNE GRIFFIN Sea Escape (a central chapter)

Monday, November 29, 2010

At the November 15 Four Stories event, Lynne Griffin reads a central chapter from Sea Escape , her novel about the ties between a mother and her daughter, inspired by a collection of family letters. To hear Lynne read the first two chapters of the novel for The Drum, click here and here . [...] more


Monday, November 22, 2010

Michelle Hoover reads from her novel The Quickening at the November 15 Four Stories event, choosing a scene that dramatizes the themes of loss and perseverance at the novel's core. [...] more

SHARON BIALLY Veronica's Nap

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sharon Bially's novel Veronica's Nap opens with the high winds of summer in the south of France, twin toddlers, and the pressures of painter's block. Hear the first chapter here, and read the rest at Veronica's Nap . [...] more


Monday, September 13, 2010

In an excerpt from her novel BURN, South Carolina-based Alexis Stratton writes about a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of a fire and her mother's curious take on fate. [...] more

LYNNE GRIFFIN Sea Escape, Chapter Two

Monday, June 7, 2010

In the second chapter of her novel Sea Escape , Lynne Griffin writes from the point of view of Laura’s mother, Helen. It is 1951 and Helen has just watched her boyfriend, Joe, depart for Samson Air Force Base. During his absence, she finds a new independence through work, despite her father’s wishes. [...] more


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lynne Griffin reads from the first chapter of her novel Sea Escape. After working a 12 hour nursing shift, Laura takes her two young children to visit her mother on her 77th birthday. But while she prepares to bake a cake for the occasion, Laura receives a phone call that could alter the course of her life, of her mother’s life, and of their rocky relationship. [...] more

RANDY SUSAN MEYERS The Murderer's Daughters

Monday, May 10, 2010

A grandmother’s funeral is the setting for this excerpt from Randy Susan Meyers’ novel The Murderer’s Daughters. Sisters Lulu and Merry are approached by their father, released for the event from prison where he serves time for killing their mother. Lulu narrates the scene, mingling adolescent bitterness with sensitivity to her sister’s needs and her relatives’ scorn. [...] more

MAMEVE MEDWED How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life

Saturday, May 1, 2010

https://www. drumlitmag. com/index. php? page=bio&display=161 The Café Pamplona in Harvard Square is the setting for a showdown between Abby and her ex-boyfriend Clive. In this excerpt from Mameve Medwed’s novel How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life, Clive is intent on making amends for various wrongs in his life—and Abby must endure his copious amending. a bout the author [...] more

JENNA BLUM The Stormchasers

Saturday, May 1, 2010

https://www. drumlitmag. com/index. php? page=bio&display=162 In Jenna Blum’s excerpt from her second novel Stormchasers, Karena searches through storm-ravaged terrain for the twin brother she hasn’t seen in twenty years. She knows Charles will risk his life to seek the storm, drawn by its danger and its energy. about the author [...] more

theme: comedy

theme: crisis

theme: relationships

theme: family

genre: essay

novel excerpt

short fiction


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