Upcoming at the LBC

Next quarter is my first one up with a nominee at the Litblog Co-op. I nominated Valerie Trueblood’s first novel, Seven Loves. It’s the story of a woman’s life through seven people whom she’s loved: a moving conceit and a novel that more than lives up to it. It’s a terrific book.

It’s going to be a really interesting January over at the LBC. Seven Loves is up against a really weird novel by Stephen Graham Jones, Demon Theory. The book is written as a really fleshed-out screenplay for a horror movie. It’s exactly not the book for me: a little gimmicky, a little sexist, a little silly and, I must say, I’m enjoying it. The third book is the new novel by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (The Wizard of the Crow, the Kenyan novelist whose A Grain of Wheat is a postcolonial classic: a tough, intense book that I’ve taught a couple times.

I was so intimidated in my quest for a book to nominate. I got really focused on finding a book that the other bloggers would like, forgetting that I needed to find one that I liked. I also spent a lot of time thinking about how many, many new books other bloggers must see all the time. I don’t work in a great bookstore; I don’t have an MFA and lots of friends from grad school days; I don’t get all that many free books. How could I possibly find a book that would really deserve touting?

I thought about what I wanted and missed from the past couple quarters since I started participating. I decided that I wanted to find either an African book or a book by a woman. I couldn’t find the African novel I wanted: some great-sounding books were just a little bit too old; lots and lots of first novels by African women sounded formulaic; Chimamanda Adichie’s book came out to so much acclaim that nominating it would harldy fulfill the mission of the LBC; Tsitsi Dangarembga’s second book came out so quietly, I didn’t notice it.

I turned to women writers. I wanted the woman’s book to have an unobtrusively feminist perspective and a female protagonist. Maybe that sounds heretical to the aesthetes among you. I insist on great writing and I felt that I’d read a lot of great writing from nominees. But I wanted to read great writing from a woman that sounded womanly to me. Edie Meidav and Sheila Heti (I almost called her Sheila Ticknor) ventriloquize a male voice and write about men; Gina Frangello’s S&M book was too sexual for me. So, I worried and struggled and, when the babies slept, I went back onto amazon.com and typed in book after book that I liked to see if the recommendations would yield a surprise.

Then, out of the blue, I got a sweet email from someone who, from reading my blog, thought, that, perhaps, I would like her novel. Might she send me a copy?

Well, as you know, I love free books. I said yes.

And the rest is history. I read Seven Loves. I loved it. I nominated it. And, on January 15, the discussion will begin. What a round it should be: the firework-y men’s book I’ve come to expect, the African novel I sought and did not find, and Trueblood’s beautiful, moving, strong story. Stay tuned….