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Posts Tagged ‘Katharine Weber’

The Jewish Book Network Puts Authors on Audition

One of the most common stories I heard throughout BEA came from authors who had survived one of the several evenings sponsored by the Jewish Book Network right before the trade show began. Almost American Idol-style, authors were asked to get up onstage, recite a two-minute speech about why Jewish Book Fairs and JCCs should invite them to their events, and wait for a judgment call to be awarded later. Nervewracking? Certainly. A story idea? Absolutely.

So it’s no wonder the NYTBR’s Rachel Donadio not only got to the idea first but sat in on one of those evenings, which featured a cavalcade of authors from M.J. Rose to Katharine Weber to Howard Jacobson and Charlotte Mendelson, two UK-based authors who’d flown in – on their own dime – to audition. None of these authors would have taken part if not for Carolyn Starman Hessel, director of the Jewish Book Network and in possession of an “uncanny ability” to get people excited about books and authors like Nathan Englander, Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer, whose early careers owed some debt to the Book Fair circuit.

For most authors, Donadio writes, the audition experience is ” somewhere between JDate and a camel auction,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The New Yorker who toured last year to promote PRISONERS his memoir about serving in the Israeli Army and befriending a Palestinian inmate. “Camels are very skittish, and so are writers. We don’t like having our teeth inspected. But if we’re going to sell, we know we have to have our teeth inspected.” His advice? “Do not follow the woman who just published a book on how all her children were murdered in Treblinka. It’s much preferable to follow a woman who has 100 halvah recipes.” Sound advice, to be sure.

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For Katharine Weber, the Book Club Came to Her

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Katharine Weber had been to the corner of Greene and Washington Place many times before. Sometimes it was for direct research for the book that became TRIANGLE, just out in paperback from Picador. Later, after the book was published, she would stop by on her way to events and take a moment to reflect on the tragic events of more than 86 years before. But until Monday morning, she’d never shared the experience with anyone, let alone a group of visiting women from all parts of the United States. So after giving a brief talk on the Triangle Fire and pointing to the cobblestones – still there after so many years – Weber read a short excerpt from the beginning of the novel which describes, in almost visceral detail, the horror from the perspective of a girl who grows up to be the oldest living survivor of the fire.

When she was finished, the turbulent emotions were clearly visible on Weber’s face, and everyone else couldn’t help but be moved by the experience.

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BEA: On the Town

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As always, the convention is only part of the BEA story, with parties filling in the gaps. So as promised, reports mixed with more blurry cameraphone photos follow of some of the parties I attended over the course of the weekend.

After our our party Thursday night, Mary Reagan and I cabbed across town to 60 Thompson Street for William Morrow‘s bash, where I finally met Pittsburgh Post-Gazette book editor Bob Hoover and proceeded to gab for twenty minutes about Canada, theater and the amazing Sidney Crosby (see, you can talk about subjects other than books at BEA. In fact, it’s a necessary tonic.) After that was the Litblog Co-Op party which was even more packed than the previous two as a plethora of literary bloggers celebrated with the likes of Richard Nash, Colson Whitehead, Sara Ivry, Katharine Weber, and (though I didn’t spot him) Morgan Entrekin.

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