Friday, August 27, 2010


The Campaign for the American Reader is "an independent initiative to encourage more readers to read more books" run by Marshal Zeringue who is thereby doing no less than making the world a better place for writers, readers, and humans. Also dogs. So a big, enthusiastic, heartfelt thank you to Marshal.

One of Marshal's blogs is The Page 69 Test which posits that page 69 of any book will be somehow representative of the whole and will give you, as you stand in a bookstore or library trying to decide what to read, a good sense of whether or not you'll like the book. Cute, no? No. Mind-blowing. This test worked so well for The Atlas of Love it seems like I made it up. As you see though, I did not. In case some time has passed and it's not on the main page anymore, here's the permalink to The Atlas of Love's Page 69 Test.

I'll also post it below, but you should click through. Marshal Zeringue runs some pretty cool blogs.

The Atlas of Love Page 69 Test

This is seriously amazing (and a little weird)! If you asked me to point to the one section of the book that most fully encapsulates its theme and central question, I’d point you to a passage on page...wait for it...69! Pretty unbelievable. Check it out:

People are always really gushy about nothing being more important than family and about real friends being like family. She’s like a sister to me, we say of close friends, like family’s not about blood or laws anymore but only love. Real family is much less sentimental than that though. Family is who you’re stuck with.

It goes on, on page 70 (and throughout the rest of the book), to clarify the point. Yes, good friends are family. Yes, there are many, many ways to be a family. Yes, those ways often have little to do with blood or legalities. Yes, alternative families are also beautiful and wonderful. But also, just because your family is the non-traditional kind doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses. All families, even the ones who aren’t technically related, are complicated, challenging, and often fraught. That’s the other thing that family means besides love. Love but also complication. Friends you can get rid of when they become annoying. Friends who are family? Well, them you’re stuck with, for better and for worse. That’s what The Atlas of Love is about.

Page 69 also includes this passage:

The card read, “For my baby (and her puppy) -- Sorry we forgot about you in all the excitement. You’re still my favorite baby of all. Love you. Guess who?” My grandmother signed everything, “Guess who?” which made it pretty easy to guess.

and this theme and Janey’s grandma’s “Guess who?” run throughout and come back centrally and movingly towards the end of the book.

So the page 69 test proves very successful for The Atlas of Love! This was fun (and revelatory).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where Else Am I?

Well for starters:

I'm interviewed here this week:
Number One Novels Blog

(You can find it here if it's not this week anymore.)

Enter a comment there for a chance to win a free copy of The Atlas of Love!

I am also hosting a Q&A at Goodreads, a lovely social networking site devoted exclusively to reading, which is the kind of social networking site I can get behind. I'll be answering questions and chatting with readers there until the end of September. So if you have thoughts on the book, on writing, on reading, on modern family, on adoption, on anything related, I'd love to hear 'em: Goodreads Q&A with Laurie Frankel

Another place I am these days is bookstores where I've been signing copies of The Atlas of Love and meeting so many really kind, warm, wonderful people who sell books. One told me today how much she loves the cover and the baby on the cover which warms my heart. Someday, I really need to find out who that baby is!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today's the Day

Pub day! A long time coming.

1) I did not sleep last night.
2) I do feel different today.

My nephews are precocious readers.

My great friend Alicia and my great husband Paul at the great Elliott Bay Book Co.

Alicia at B&N.

Daniel Meta-Cover: Infinite Loop

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest Blogging

Today I was a guest blogger for the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle PI (R.I.P). Thought I'd post it here as well (or you could click through -- they're really cool blogs). They asked me to chat about what's on my nightstand now -- that is, what I just finished reading, what I'm reading now, what I'm reading next -- a pretty cool conceit. Many thanks to Linda Johns at the SPL for the opportunity!

Nightstand Reading

Currently Reading:

by Amy Bloom
Awesome -- beautiful writing, great characters, epic and sprawling and with a surprise (at least to me) section set right in Pioneer Square

Flash Fiction: Very Short Stories
Edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka
If you’ve never sampled flash fiction, I highly recommend it, especially for bus riders with motion sickness, parents of toddlers, cookers of dishes which need attention but also to simmer, and others who require bite-sized, quickly read, easily digested, super short narratives. These stories are mostly two pages tops. In that space though, they manage to tell a whole story, one I often find myself thinking about for far longer than it took me to read it, all the more impressive for being so succinct.

Just Finished:

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
by David Mitchell
I am a huge, huge David Mitchell fan. The reviews of this one all comment on how different it is than his others -- how much more linear and straightforward. I’m not sure I agree. It’s less of an exercise than Cloud Atlas certainly, but it’s still chock full of frames, puzzles and solutions and resolutions, multiple points-of-view, surprise poems, and the endless challenges of human communication. It’s a book about language and its difficulties and barriers and intricacies. Mitchell pulls off this miracle -- his characters are regularly speaking at least four different languages, and he recreates them all, in English of course, and in his own stunning, revelatory, consistently gorgeous prose. The book is slow and long and very detailed; it takes its time. It’s so thoroughly researched you wonder how Mitchell had any energy left to write the thing. Its first chapter is pretty mind-blowing. It’s got pictures! But mostly, as always with Mitchell, the writing is breathtaking, the metaphors are brilliant, the insights are extraordinary. It’s not an easy book, and I have a few complaints about the ending, but it is a great book. It tells the story of this old and totally unfamiliar world so thoroughly that I was depressed and a little stunned to have to leave it when I finished the book.

Next Up:

At my agent’s recommendation, both of Meg Mullins’s novels, The Rug Merchant and Dear Strangers (great title!). My agent is the most well-read person I know (and I know a lot of well-read people), so her recommendation means a lot.

Friday, August 6, 2010


The Atlas of Love received a starred review this week from the Library Journal. It was the only book to get one. It also got some very kind words. Hooray! Check it out here.