Our guest today: Gwendolen Gross Why we love her: Her writing is beautifully lyrical!
Her latest:When She Was Gone
The scoop: What happened to Linsey Hart? When the Cornell-bound teenager disappears into the steamy blue of a late-summer morning, her quiet neighborhood is left to pick apart the threads of their own lives and assumptions.
Linsey’s neighbors are just ordinary people—but even ordinary people can keep terrible secrets hidden close. There’s Linsey’s mother, Abigail, whose door-to-door searching makes her social-outcast status painfully obvious; Mr. Leonard, the quiet, retired piano teacher with insomnia, who saw Linsey leave; Reeva, the queen bee of a clique of mothers, now obsessed with a secret interest; Timmy, Linsey’s lovelorn ex-boyfriend; and George, an eleven-year-old loner who is determined to find out what happened to his missing neighbor.
As the days of Linsey’s absence tick by, dread and hope threaten to tear a community apart. This luminous new novel by the acclaimed author of The Orphan Sister explores coming of age in the shadows of a suburban life, and what is revealed when the light suddenly shines in. . . .
Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win! We'll choose the winners on Sunday, March 17th after 10am PST. Good luck!
Fun Fact: Gwendolen LOVES horses--read her best life moment below to learn more!
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...GWENDOLEN GROSS'S 5 BEST EVERS
BEST SONG: This is a complicated thing, music in general. I grew up listening to loud classical music, NPR, and the Beatles. I sat on the living room rug and mourned the fab four since I was born too late. I studied opera in college and loved it—but also loved a good U2 fest in the ‘sco.
Brandi Carlile’s “That Wasn’t Me” is a whole novel and makes me strong and weepy each playing. I’m a sucker for lyrics, I guess, but also for a hopeful melodic resolution. Folding up childhood and now, I’d say today’s favorite song is already almost an oldie, but so beloved for the lyrics and Jack Johnson’s absurdly sexy voice: “Do You Remember?” The locked bikes in the song, the piano that took up the living room—well, I met my husband in college, when we still rode bikes to class and cooked for 45 at the co-op, so I’m in love with that song every time I hear it the way I’m in love with my husband every time I see him.
BEST BOOK: This question stumps me every time, because books are like friends, and I don’t like to pick out a best. Still, here’s a best book I am considering this second: The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. Meg’s writing is so smart, funny, sly, and specific; I love all her books. But The Wife has the kind of slow-build-to-a-twist that makes me slap my thigh with delight just remembering it. She has a new one coming out soon—The Interestings. I can’t wait.
BEST MOVIE: “Singin’ In The Rain,” despite the odious apostrophe. I sing along, I dance it whenever there’s rain. So much lightness, so much joy in someone running up the walls and across the ceiling. I wanted to be in that movie. I was a short girl with a terrific voice and relatively little glamour, so Debbie Reynolds and her scarf wooed me. Funny faces and Moses Supposes—it never gets old to me.
BEST LIFE MOMENT: Many, many, especially birth of children and marriage proposal, but I’ll write about another one because I just watched the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial and it makes me ridiculously mushy:
When I was fourteen, my dad leased a horse for me for a month ($50, for you horse people out there). We didn’t have a trailer, so I rode George home from the farm to our summer house in Vermont, where I kept him in a cow barn at a neighbor’s house and rode him bareback every day. George was a huge, out of shape quarter horse, and I had to climb atop the hood of the car to get on his back. There was a lot of creative boredom in Vermont—my sisters and I read everything we could from the Greensboro library and concocted our own ginger ale (spicy! Exploding bottles!) and made face paint by grinding up rocks with other rocks. My sister was away the summer of George, and I remember one ride in particular (the visiting the neighbor’s new baby trip where he got stung by a whole swarm of bees does not rank in the best column!) where I went down the dirt road and over Barr Hill on a dirt track where we cross-country skied in winter. There was an old apple orchard where we stopped for a rest, the smell of timothy grass and banks of Shire-worthy moss, hills like green-back bears, and when George jumped over a fallen log, it felt like flying.
BEST ADVICE: Make mistakes. Having studied music—which, like many arts, has a history of perfectionist pedagogy, I know that sometimes the mistakes are the most beautiful interpretations. Sometimes they’re mistakes. Sometimes all the colors muddled together just doesn’t look good and you end up with mud, but sometimes the mistakes are where the joy lives. Also, I love being a beginner, because it gives me permission to screw up, and with permission to screw up, I’ll try jumping log to log and make it over the whole river in one breath. I seem to have lost my metaphor here, but what I mean to say is that fear of mistakes can keep you from ever leaving the ground. This works with kids, too—sometimes they have to do for the joy of doing, not because they’re always striving for best, most perfect, strongest, fastest, winning. Those things are not always the most interesting or enduring.
I hadn’t done much riding since George when my daughter decided she wanted to take lessons. Five years later, we have become crazy horse people, and we own a large pony/small horse who has dumped us in the dust because he’s afraid of a noise, or he doesn’t want to jump that crossrail, just enough times to remind us that it’s a collaborative process, flying across the earth. When I’m afraid of mistakes, he knows the minute I come to collect him in the paddock, and he is nervous, too. Confidence begets confidence, as long as there are no scary blue tarps rustling unexpectedly in the wind…