A Conversation with Jessica Anya Blau: “California is such a strange place full of so many incredible characters.”

Here’s Bill Wolfe (in his great blog Read Her Like An Open Book) interviewing Jessica Anya Blau, with whom I’ll be reading at KBG Bar in NY this coming Sunday. Can’t wait to get my hands on “The Summer of Naked Swim Parties”!



Jessica Anya Blau is the irrepressible author of three darkly comic novels set in her home state of California: The Summer of Naked Swim Parties (2008), Drinking Closer to Home (2011), and The Wonder Bread Summer (2013). She was educated at UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University and has lived in Toronto and Baltimore, but her sensibility  remains distinctly Californian.

Her latest novel has attracted a lot of attention and received great acclaim for its depiction of a madcap California road trip set against the dark underbelly of the 80s cocaine culture. Influences from Alice in Wonderland abound. NPR selected the novel as a “Thrilling Summer Read,” Oprah.com’s book club picked the book as a “Thrilling Beach Read,” and CNN featured it as a “Best Beach Read.”

But here we mostly discuss Blau’s first novel, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, which I reviewed on Sept. 1.

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Guest blogger Paulette Livers: How Not to Write a Political Novel

So very grateful to Bill Wolfe for the wonderful work he does promoting literary fiction by women writers at ReadHerLikeAnOpenBook.com


Paulette Livers   Cementville

Paulette Livers is the author of Cementville, a 2014 novel about the impact of the Vietnam War on a rural Kentucky community when seven local boys are killed in one battle and a POW returns home to rebuild his life. Her debut novel has received strongly positive reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Elle magazine. Livers is the owner of Mighty Sword, a design and writing studio in Chicago. She blogs at https://paulettelivers.com/journal/.

“Fiction is stone deaf to argument. . . . The bad thing about arguments: they carry the menace of neatness into fiction.”  —Eudora Welty, in her essay “Must the Novelist Crusade?”

The secret about writers that non-writers don’t know is that every time we start a new text, most of us feel as if we’re doing it for the first time. I begin from a place of confusion and move…

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Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

I am thrilled to be sitting on a panel with Cara Hoffman next month at the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago, June 7. Both of our novels deal with the personal costs of war, so we’ll have a lot to talk about with our moderator, Chicago Tribune Journalist Steve Mills.