Today's guest: Susanna Daniel Why we love her: We've recently discovered this immensely talented author. Can't wait for her next book!
Her latest: Sea Creatures
The scoop: In Sea Creatures, a riveting domestic drama by Susanna Daniel, a mother must make the unthinkable choice between her husband and her son.
When Georgia Qullian returns to her hometown of Miami, her toddler and husband in tow, she is hoping for a fresh start. They have left Illinois trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake, fallout from her husband’s severe sleep disorder. For months, their three-year-old son has refused to speak a word.
On a whim, Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a reclusive artist and is surprised at how her life changes dramatically. But soon the family’s challenges return, more complicated than before. Late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, Georgia must face the fact that her decisions have put her only child in grave danger.
Sea Creatures is a mesmerizing exploration of the high stakes of marriage and parenthood.
Our thoughts: Loved this thought provoking novel. A must-read!
Fun fact: She's the co-founder of the Madison Writer's Studio.
Giveaway: TWO copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 12 pm PST on Sunday, September 1st.
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...SUSANNA DANIEL'S 5 BEST EVERS
When I was fifteen years old, I worked part-time in an independent bookstore in South Miami (back then, these were just called bookstores), and read behind the desk between customers. I will never forget the experience of reading MATING, by Norman Rush, which was that year’s National Book Award winner. In the book, an anxious and self-involved postgraduate student crosses the desert in pursuit of the megalomaniacal founder of an all-female utopian society. The plot was absurdly ambitious, but the writing was electric, and I think that was the first time I really understood the concept of narrative drive -- that a strong voice can carry an entire book.
The Royal Tenenbaums -- funny, sweet, poignant, and doesn’t let its quirk overwhelm its humanity. When Ben Stiller’s character says to Danny Glover’s character, “You know, I’m a widower, too,” and Danny Glover says, with tremendous restraint, “I know it, son,” it’s all I can do not to lose it entirely.
Lately I’ve fallen down The National’s rabbit hole, which means I’ve been familiarizing myself with every album relentlessly and repeatedly, almost to the exclusion of all other music in my extensive repertoire. Predictably, I’m big on lyrics, and The National’s songs are poems. ‘Slipped’ has lodged itself in my head in particular: “I don’t want you to grieve but I want you to sympathize.” Honest, simple, gut-wrenching.
BEST LIFE MOMENT
I’m supposed to say the moment my husband asked me to marry him, or when my first son was born, or my second, or some last moment of connection before my mother died -- but everything I so cherish (books, life partner, home, children) balances on a moment in 1999 when a woman named Connie Brothers called me at work in New York and offered me a place in the MFA program at the Writers’ Workshop in Iowa City, a region of the country where I’d never considered living (and now I’m a Midwesterner to this day). I can’t imagine where I would be now if I’d been dumb enough to decline.
This was early-motherhood advice that my editor (mother of two teenagers) gave not to me but to my agent, when my agent was pregnant with her first, and it so perfectly summed up something I believe strongly. She said: When the baby comes, you’re going to want to take care of all of it -- the diapers and the rocking and the feeding and the packing of the bag, all of it -- but you must sit on your hands. Let your partner do it, too. Even if you have more experience and know for a fact that he’s doing it wrong, let him do it and shut up about it unless he asks specifically for your advice or assistance. He’s perfectly capable, and if you take over every time, you’re going to find down the road that you’re doing it all by yourself (and maybe even complaining that he’s not helping). Sit on your hands, and let him develop his own ways of doing things. You’ll be glad in the long run.