Tag Archives: In the Red

Happy birthday, Irina!

In the Red publishes today!

The Millions took note, and I got advance notice of a good review forthcoming in Booklist: “Shapiro (13 rue Thérèse, 2011) has written a deeply dark yet strangely uplifting second novel, about a woman beginning to find herself, discovering her own power and the tools to make use of it.”

lips

Meanwhile I have an excerpt of the book up at Nerve.com if you’d like to get a foretaste.  I didn’t know Irina was so into red lipstick (they took their cue from the saucy book cover I’m sure), but I like.  Classic and shamelessly sexy.

Lots of stuff in the hopper!  I have a story out in the new Zyzzyva and a column about fairy tales coming out on HuffPo on Friday and other stuff I hope gels…  The journey begins.

Strap in for September 16th…

Here is an advance copy of In the Red, just chillin’ out, existing:

ITRbook

Sexy blurb from the front:

In The Red is an absolutely dazzling book, a nuanced and haunting meditation on morality, love, crime, and belonging. In a word, this book is brilliant.”

Emily St. John Mandel

Sexy blurb from the back:

In the Red has all the elements that make for a down-the-rabbit-hole story: it’s exotic, dangerous, deviant, delicious.  But this is also essential reading about sex and identity–how trauma informs first loves and relationships open old wounds.  Shapiro understands the balance sheet of power between men and women better than any other writer out there.  In the Red deserves a place beside Colette and Anaïs Nin on every woman’s bookshelf.”

Koren Zailckas

Plus it already has a lovely thoughtful review on Goodreads!  Sweet.

Do not buy it from Amazon.  Amazon bad.  The cover image in the sidebar leads to the pre-order page from Barnes & Noble, which will feature the book on its New Arrivals table starting September 16.

telling the dream

How did we blow past Thanksgiving already?  Is the speeding of time a feature of getting older?  Am I going to be on my death bed soon wondering how the hell that happened?  The answer is, of course.  Sometimes I’m still in a state of dull shock when I realize it’s no longer 1998.  Then I look in the mirror at the little furrow between my eyebrows that used to only be there when I woke up in the mornings and my head explodes.

That furrow is a permanent resident on my face now, and will do nothing but deepen.  I named that furrow George W. Bush.  I have not yet decided which of my body’s signs of aging I will call Dick Cheney.  I may be saving that one for something chronic, painful, and insidious, like an ulcer.

But, let’s talk about something brighter than my inexorable decay.  Guess what?  13 rue Thérèse was nominated for an award!  The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, to be exact.  Pretty sweet, no?  It’s always lovely to be surprised by a bit recognition from the outside world as I toil in my writerly cave.  It gets pretty hermity in here.  (I just looked up the correct adjectival form of “hermit” and it’s “heremitic,” but I much prefer “hermity.”)

Speaking of the writerly cave, I did a revision of In the Red over the past couple of months.  I am going to give it another once-over, then send it along to my agent.  It’s always weird to have another human being read something that’s been simmering sealed away in my head for years.  It’s a real passage, and it always comes with a big dose of trepidation.  I was once asked by an interviewer about what my greatest fear is when I turn in a manuscript.  I said that turning in a manuscript is like trying to tell someone about an intense dream you had: it may just turn out to be incoherent hash and leave you looking like an idiot.  Scary, no, when you spend a couple of years and 80000 words telling the dream?

Outside

You know that scene in Shawshank Redemption when the dude breaks out of jail and explodes out of the mire into his freedom on a stormy night?  Or was that Raising Arizona!?  Anyway, I dug a tunnel for years and now I’m outside.  I have a full draft of In the Red.  270 pages, about 70,000 words.  Now I get to give it a redraft and send it to my agent.  Eek!  It’ll be weird to have another human being read it.  But–that’s part of the point of writing the bloody things, no?

It’s sitting on my desk all printed out.  It’s quite a manly pile of paper.  See?

Image

The last thing that’s typed on my computer screen in this photo is, “It’s sitting on my desk all printed out.  It’s quite a manly pile of paper.  See?”  Do you feel like you’re with me in the moment, or what?  The photo is all moody and dark because it is currently midnight.  The shadowy pot on the left side of the photo contains my desk orchid.  Unfortunately, the African violet that was once there is no more.  It turns out even elderly cats have a taste for certain types of plant flesh.

A moment of silence for our departed friend, Saintpaulia ionantha.

Since my furry little murderers haven’t touched the living room orchids, I decided to play it safe and get another orchid for my desk.  Wanna see?

Image

Pretty sexy, no?  It’s a yellowed parchment color with closely packed, bright red dots all over it.  It was looming over me as I finished the book.  It will surely continue to loom over me as I finish the book again and again, until one day it is printed and I can stop finishing it.

hermitting

I have been remiss in updating this blog, and generally hermitting.  It’s been for good reason!  The baby is crowning.  If I haul a lot of ass, I will have a full draft of In the Red by the end of of July.  If I haul less ass, by the end of summer.  Pretty sweet, no?

Meanwhile, some neato news while I hermit:

13 rue Thérèse is finally coming out in France in August, from Michel Lafon.  Here is the link to pre-order from Fnac, which is like the French Barnes & Noble.  Squee!  Just thinking of a French edition of my book being in their big-ass store in the Forum des Halles right near where I grew up makes me all tingly!  Here is the cover, all tiny because I suck at technology:

I am wee.

• Also, whilst googling myself to see whether anyone on the internet has posted that I like to bathe in the blood of Christian babies, I found this lovely review of my story “Commuting” in Zyzzyva, on Ruelle Electrique, an online literary salon.  It’s their “unabashed favorite from the issue!”  “A rich story” teeming with “grit and beauty!”  How does randomly finding something like this make a writer feel?  Why, it fills said writer with hearts and butterflies!

is all I’m sayin’

Maybe some Xanax, but mostly just the Lego.

Here is the panel I was on a few weeks ago at the LA Times Book Festival.  Can you spot me?  It was a great session, moderated by Thomas Curwen of the LA Times, with authors Lisa See and Karl Marlantes, both of whom were lovely to talk to and sell a buttload more books than I do.  Can I be them when I grow up?

It’s been a while since I’ve written an entry that justifies the title of this blog.  Never fear, there is plenty of sophomore novel angst happening here!  Ever since I finished my Romanian collective unconscious document I have been genuinely scared to address the actual narrative of In the Red.  Is it because it collapsed so spectacularly last time?  Partly.  But I think it’s mostly because once I get started it’s going to tell me a bunch of shit I don’t want to hear.  The consciousness of this book is so heavy.  It has an existential obsession with human morality in the face of the void.  So I’ll just be going around my business when the book will spontaneously say something like: “We all collaborate with our miseries.  The only true gesture of negation is to cease existing.”  And then I respond, “What?  Are you telling me to eat a gun?  Can you shut up while I play Angry Birds here for a minute?  Jesus.”

I swear, it’s like I have Albert Camus living inside my braincase.

Also it really, really wants to talk to me about Capitalism and while it’s fun to channel that problem into goofy rants about toothpaste, this book does not want to be a goofy rant about toothpaste.  It intends to be Serious.  It also wants to talk about exile, history, repression, abuse of power, and all sorts of fluffy shit like that.  Please send help.  I want to write a book about puppies and rainbows.

(Don’t worry, potential readers, there will still be hot sex.  I mean, this is me we’re talking about here.)

Okay, let’s talk about Lego instead.

Before I went away for the book festival, I admired this Lego set at Target:

I totally wanted it, but could not quite justify plunking down forty five bucks to buy this for myself since I am, allegedly, an adult.  I mean, that’s what my driver’s license says.  (It lies.)  Fortunately, I have the world’s awesomest husband ever, so this set was waiting for me on my desk when I got home from the festival.  I love him so much.  There was a feature to this set that he, like me, simply could not resist.  Take a closer look at the cargo the truck is hauling:

Yes, it is hauling tiny Lego sets for Lego people, among them sets of itself.  Could you die?  Okay, probably if you are not a huge dork, this does not make butterflies flutter in your stomach.  But, I am not not a huge dork, so this makes me unreasonably happy.

Anyway I just put the set together last night, after a particularly grinding bout of unproductive sophomore novel angst.  It was such a fucking fabulous experience.  Everything clicks into place so satisfyingly, and it all looks exactly how you expect it to, and it gives you a sense of achievement.  Why can’t life be more like that?  I need more Lego.  And maybe some Xanax, but mostly just the Lego.

Allegory Explosion

You guys!  There is.  A lot of stuff.  Going on.

I was on live radio Monday of last week.  It was a bit intimidating but pretty fun.  The best part was when I flustered the hell out of my husband, who came with me because it was President’s Day so he had off work.  The host, Denny Smithson, asked me something about who I was writing the book to and I said my husband.  Denny observed that he was in the studio with me, and I pointed the mike at him and said, “wanna say hi?”  My poor baby just about died. Turned a high shade of crimson and shook his head no.  Who knew he was this shy?

Then I had a couple of readings, one on home turf at Davis and a luncheon thingy in Pleasanton.  Both were thoroughly awesome and made me miss teaching terribly.  (When I mentioned how much I missed teaching, a friend who is currently eyeball-deep in a pile of grading asked me what the hell is wrong with you? It’s true, I don’t miss the grading part.  I just miss goofing around with a bunch of curious young sparks chatting about books and how irredeemably fucked up human nature is.)  I have another reading tomorrow night!  It’s at 7 at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland.  Come say hi if you’re around.

I’ve also been busy collating the collective unconscious for In the Red.  It’s just been me blasting my neurons with Romanian history and folk tales.  So, in the past week, I have pumped a few rounds into Nicolae Ceaucescu’s chest as he sang L’Internationale and I whacked a wood nymph who dared give a prince “a flower from her girdle” (wink wink nudge nudge) and I galloped across a snowy wasteland with an exiled Phanariot voivode and I had Dracula drink blood from one of his impaled victims in what was basically the Holy Grail and it’s all been very busy in my braincase lately.  It’s just been Allegory Explosion around here.  Last night I had this incredibly vivid dream about a dark pond filled with alligators over which fluttered a big cluster of panicked parakeets.  I remember so well the flapping sounds of their tiny wings and all the pretty jewel tones of their varied plumage.  The ridges of hard, wet, gleaming scales on the long sinewy backs of the alligators.  How fast they were when they lunged out of the water for the parakeets and snap–one swift bite and a bird was gone.  The birds being swallowed one by one out of the air before even having a chance to squeak–I woke up totally traumatized.  Poor little birdies!

Then I got up and wrote about trees haunted by the restless spirits of murdered babies.  Really.

Also, somebody reached my blog today by googling “what does a cheez doodle look like.”  Here, let me help you out: