Posts From Author: seating arrangements

Curtain Call: In Case of Emergency

A state of emergency is declared. You fly tonight. What do you take with you? Clothes? Thermos? Hatchet? Naaah: books, of course. Fortunately you know of a safehouse nearby. A safehouse by the name of SpeakEasy. That’s right, comrades, there’s a Seriously Entertaining way out of this crisis. Between our six guests next week, we have everything you need to survive In Case of Emergency. Don’t have your ticket yet? Fear not, there’s still a few left here. Your checklist: 1. Amor Towles. Author of the marvellous Manhattan merry-go-round Rules of Civility, which we reviewed a few weeks back, and its ebook follow-up Eve in Hollywood. Here’s Towles talking about the great American photographer Walker Evans and the genesis of his debut novel: 2. Evie Wyld‘s new book, All the Birds, Singing, was just published in the US. When it came out in the UK last year, the Guardian said that it “should enhance her reputation as one of our most gifted novelists”. We took a look at her debut, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, earlier this week. In this clip, Wyld reads the opening to All the Birds, Singing: 3. J.D. McClatchy‘s new collection Plundered Hearts just came out to ecstatic reviews — the […]
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Maggie Shipstead’s “Seating Arrangements”

A wedding was always an aphrodisiac, full of temporary pairings driven by vicarious hope. Love was in the air, weak and snappy as static electricity. – Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf, 2012) Maggie Shipstead‘s debut novel, Seating Arrangements (Knopf, 2012), is a witty social comedy with an exploding whale at its heart. Set largely over the course of two days preceding a wedding on New England island Waskeke, it assumes the perspectives of a series of characters, mostly control-freak father-of-the-bride Winn Van Meter and jilted younger daughter Livia, as it reveals the emotions that coalesce around the lives of the uptight well-to-do as they come together and fall apart. It’s funny and sharp and unpleasant and relentlessly well observed. Winn is a vigorous fifty-nine, a man for whom “each day was a platform for accomplishment”. Heavily governed by social mores — he thinks somewhat reproachfully of his daughter Daphne as “a pregnant bride, no point in pretending otherwise” — he spends most of the book obsessing over his prospective entry into a posh golf club called the Pequod. (Appropriately, perhaps, his quarry is somewhat elusive.) He’s a patriarch of the old school, imagining and favouring male offspring: “His son would join the […]
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