The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life (Kindle Single)

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Ask the Writing Teacher: Novelists on First Drafts

Dear Writing Teacher,

I am a published fiction writer who is about to start writing a new novel. You would think, since I’ve already done this before, that I knew what I was doing. But I don’t. I am lost. Where do I start? What do I need to know about my story and my characters before I begin? What should I just figure out as I go? Suddenly, the idea of writing that first draft seems impossible, and I am terrified.

I’d greatly appreciate any guidance you could offer me!

Sincerely,
Facing the Blank Page
Man oh man, I could’ve written this question to myself! I, too, am about to start a new novel, and I’m wondering how in the hell I did it before (two times, in fact), and how in the hell I’ll ever do it again. Take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone in your despair; thousands of writers face their white screens every day, uncertain of how to proceed. I’ve heard from many authors that each novel offers its own unique demands, its own unique joys, and that you must re-learn the process with each go. Let that inspire rather than scare you — would you really want a redundant experience?

In this essay, excerpted from the book Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, Jennifer Egan talks about the process of writing Look At Me:
It was a huge struggle. I’m not quite sure why I suffered to the degree I did while working on that book, but I do know that my work up to that point had been fairly conventional, and I didn’t know if anyone would accept this kind of book from me. It was almost as if I thought I’d be punished for it. I felt afraid as I worked on it. I thought it was terrible, that I was reaching too far.

At the same time, some of the most exciting moments I’ve had as a writer were during the writing of that book, even with all those worries and that feeling of doom. One day I read the first six chapters of the book in one sitting, and I tore out of the house and went running, and I had this sense that I’d never read anything quite like that before, that I’d done something really different. That was such a thrilling feeling — a rarity as I was working on it.
I keep returning to this passage as I begin to think about my own new book. Why should I be afraid to be challenged? If the writing will be painful, then it will be painful. Just as often, it won’t be. I simply must sit down and see.

As for how one goes about writing a first draft, I like to practice the art of acceptance.  In The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life, Ann Patchett describes how she plans much of her novel in her head before she sets a word of it on paper. Her dear friend and reader, Elizabeth McCracken, is a very different kind of novelist. Patchett writes, “I get everything set in my head and then I go, whereas Elizabeth will write her way into her characters’ world, trying out scenes, writing backstories she’ll never use.  We marvel at each other’s process, and for me it’s a constant reminder that there isn’t one way to do this work.” Amen to that! Novel writing can be fun, but it can also be daunting and challenging, more frustrating than untangling the necklaces at the bottom of your jewelry box. The last thing you need is to question your own process.

Still, when I’m writing a first draft, I, like you, long for some direction. Does it make sense to figure out the retrospective voice now, or can I deal with that later? Should I do the research now, or is it a second draft problem? How about chapter length — does that matter now? (Does it matter ever?) There are so many questions zipping across a lonely writer’s head as she sits at her desk working.

I decided to ask some writers I admire what they try to figure out with their first drafts. What, I asked them, do you need to know before you begin? And what do you try to solve as you’re working on that first draft?

Their answers were as brilliant and as varied as I expected:
My opinion is that you want to figure out character and plot in the first draft. I think it’s also a good idea to have the setting nailed down in the first draft, if possible; moving the narrative to another location can entail some pretty tedious rewrites. It’s also a good idea to figure out whether the book’s going to be in the first person or the third person as early on as possible, because changing pages and pages of text from one to the other is an insanely labor-intensive process.

My feeling is that you don’t need to waste your time obsessing over pacing in the first draft, because that’s the kind of thing that can change completely in revisions. In your first round of revisions you’ll inevitably end up cutting a lot of material, and that will change the pace of the book, so I think pacing is something best refined toward the end of the process.
-Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Lola Quartet

I think my answer might be a little bit controversial — I think almost nothing is worth sweating in the first draft. Does a character need to change genders? Do you want to shift the structure? Just do it, and keep moving forward. Finishing a draft of a novel is so hard, and so enormous, that one needs all the momentum possible. If you stop and go back to the beginning every time you want to change something, you will never finish. Just go go go! You will have the time to go back and fix all your mistakes, right your wrongs, etc. Just get to the end of the first draft. The feeling of accomplishment is sweet enough to spur you on to make even the most major changes in revision.
-Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

In the first draft I’m just trying to figure out what the story is or might be. I’m trying to learn the story, and trying to stay open to the possibilities that the original idea might be capable of generating. The only way to learn the story is by writing it, but how do you write it when you have only the vaguest notion of what the story is, and who the characters might be? That’s a problem. The problem, eh? The only way I learn it is by writing it line by line, page by page.
My expectations for first drafts are pretty low. I don’t worry about polishing the language at all, or fine-tuning character or plot. I’m basically just trying to figure out what the story might be.
-Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

There’s a huge gap between what I need to know and what I do know when I begin a novel. If I waited until I knew at least thirty percent of what I should know before diving in, I think I’d be permanently stuck on the springboard. Normally (and I’m talking from the experience of a meager two books here) I know two things: a place and a person. The place is usually vivid. I could go on about it for pages. But the person is a cardboard cut out—two dimensional. Magician. Musician. Drunk. Shopkeeper. What I have to force myself to figure out is a single incident that sets the story in motion. It might be removed later on, but I need to pick one action which might cause this person to move about this place. Since I know so little about my character(s) when I first commit them to paper, I tend to overwrite them, cramming all sorts of overblown background detail into my first draft, which in turn drags down what little plot I initially have. My second draft is all about fixing that balance, pruning the obsessive background information and replacing it with more action in the novel’s present.
-Ivy Pochoda, author of the forthcoming Visitation Street

For me, the first draft is really just a big mud-rolling, dust-kicking, mess-making time in which my only job is to find the story’s heartbeat.  I allow myself to invent characters without warning, drop them if they prove to be uninteresting, change the setting in the middle, experiment with point of view, etc.  I figure that the body will grow up around the heart, that it’s always possible to bring all the various elements up and down, sculpt and polish, as long as I’ve got something that matters to me.  The second draft (and the 3rd through 20th, Lord help me) involves getting out the tool belt and thinking like a carpenter.  But the first draft is all dirt and water and seeds and, hopefully, a little magic.  Of course, this method means that my first draft is almost unreadable.  Maybe someday I’ll invent a way of making a slightly cleaner mess, but until then, I try to enjoy the muck.
–Ramona Ausubel, author of No One is Here is Except All of Us

The thing I try to resist in writing my first drafts is getting too caught up in the sentences. I am capable of revising “The cat sat on the mat,” a dozen times and then coming back to the original. At the same time I think that two of the most crucial decisions we make when writing a novel are about the music and the tone so I am always hoping to discover those as I work on my first draft.
I try in my first drafts to make as many decisions about character as I can stand. It’s tempting to leave things vague but I do think it’s very helpful to know a character’s name, age, class, occupation, manner of speech, and have some sense of physical appearance as early as possible. That said it will often take me much of a first draft to decide that Rosemary is thirty-two, a physiotherapist …. It is hard in revision to, for example, change a character’s name — it becomes part of the music of the prose — but I’ve often had to.

I try in my first draft to decide what kind of species my chapter or section will be, and how time will pass.

And I try in my first draft to make as many decisions about plot as I can. What journey are these characters on? What is their destination? Often I notice in revision that I have several scenes which all do the same thing in terms of characterization and plot and I will end up picking the best, or combining them.

I try to remind myself that the first person for whom I’m writing is myself; some of what I write in the first draft is scaffolding. It helps me to get the story under way but the reader doesn’t need to see it. And I can dismantle it later.
-Margot Livesey, author, most recently, of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

For the first draft I need to know only enough to keep going. No more, no less.
-Antoine Wilson, author of Panorama City
I hope that’s a little helpful, my dear writer.  Now, on with it: get to work.

Sincerely,
The Writing Teacher

Got a question? Send all queries about craft, technique, or the writing life to [email protected].

A Cheat Sheet for All You New Kindle (And Other Ereader) Owners

With each new holiday season the reach of ereaders expands, as a new crop of Kindles, Nooks and iPads are fired up. The first thing to do is download a few books.

Just a few years after ebooks and ereaders first emerged as futuristic curiosity, they are fully mainstream now. Even among the avid, book-worshiping, old-school readers that frequent The Millions, ebooks are very popular. Looking at the statistics that Amazon provides us, just over a third of all the books bought by Millions readers at Amazon after clicking on our links this year were Kindle ebooks. Last year, it was one in four, and now this year one in three books bought by Millions readers were ebooks.

So, for all those readers unwrapping shiny new devices, here are some links to get you going.

For starters, here are the top-12 most popular ebooks purchased by Millions readers in 2012. You’ll notice that these aren’t all that different from the overall Millions favorites. Of course, this list also favors ebook originals, some of which appear in the “Kindle Single” format and are bite-size books available for lower prices. Meanwhile, publishers appear to still be having luck pricing ebooks pricing above the magic $9.99 number that has been a focus for many in the industry.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life by Ann Patchett ($2.51)
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava ($5.13)
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace ($3.99)
Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan ($9.99)
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson ($9.99)
The Bathtub Spy by Tom Rachman ($1.99)
This How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz ($12.99)
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max ($14.99)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn ($12.99)
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon ($9.99)
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt ($9.43)
An Arrangement of Light by Nicole Krauss ($1.99)

Other potentially useful ebook links:

Editors’ Picks
Best of 2012
Top 100 Paid and Free
Kindle Singles

And in this fractured ebook landscape, you’ve also got your NookBooks, Google ebooks, Apple ibooks, and the IndieBound ereader app that lets you buy ebooks from your favorite indie bookstore. Finally, don’t forget Project Gutenberg, the original purveyor of free ebooks (mostly out-of-copyright classics) available for years.

Happy Reading!

The Millions Top Ten: March 2012

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for March.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.
2.

1Q84
6 months

2.
3.

Pulphead
4 months

3.
4.

The Marriage Plot
6 months

4.
6.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
4 months

5.
7.

The Book of Disquiet
4 months

6.
5.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
4 months

7.
8.

The Art of Fielding
6 months

8.
9.

Lightning Rods
6 months

9.


New American Haggadah
1 month

10.
10.

Train Dreams
2 months

Ann Patchett’s Kindle Single The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life has graduated to our Hall of Fame, and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 slides back into the top spot.

Debuting on our list is Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander’s New American Haggadah, just in time for Passover. We reviewed the new take on an ancient religous text last month. Next month should see a lot of movement on our list as we’re likely to see four books graduate to the Hall of Fame, meaning we’ll see four new titles debut.

Near Misses: Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language, The Sense of an Ending, Leaving the Atocha Station, The Great Frustration, and The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: February 2012

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for February.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.
2.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
6 months

2.
1.

1Q84
5 months

3.
4.

Pulphead
3 months

4.
3.

The Marriage Plot
5 months

5.
8.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
3 months

6.
6.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
3 months

7.
9.

The Book of Disquiet
3 months

8.
5.

The Art of Fielding
5 months

9.
10.

Lightning Rods
5 months

10.


Train Dreams
1 month

Ann Patchett’s Kindle Single The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life lands atop our list, unseating Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, and another Kindle Single, Tom Rachman’s short-story ebook The Bathtub Spy, graduates to our Hall of Fame. (Rachman’s book The Imperfectionists is already a Hall of Famer.)

Debuting on our list is Denis Johnson’s novella Train Dreams, which won mentions from Adam Ross, David Bezmozgis, and Dan Kois in 2011’s Year in Reading series.

John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead was a big mover again this month, and Lewis Hyde’s The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World also jumped a few spots.

Near Misses: The Great Frustration, The Sense of an Ending, Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language, 11/22/63, and The Sisters Brothers. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: January 2012

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for January.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

1Q84
4 months

2.
2.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
5 months

3.
3.

The Marriage Plot
4 months

4.
6.

Pulphead
2 months

5.
4.

The Art of Fielding
4 months

6.
8.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
2 months

7.
5.

The Bathtub Spy
6 months

8.
7.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
2 months

9.
10.

The Book of Disquiet
2 months

10.
9.

Lightning Rods
4 months

It was a quieter month for our list, with no new titles breaking in and 1Q84 still enthroned at #1. The big movers on the list were John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead, which received a glowing write-up from our staffer Bill, and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, which Jonathan Safran Foer called a book that changed his life. With an array of hotly anticipated titles coming in February, we’ll see if any newcomers can break in next time around.

Near Misses: Train Dreams, The Sense of an Ending, Leaves of Grass, The Great Frustration, and A Moment in the Sun. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: December 2011

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for December.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

1Q84
3 months

2.
3.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
4 months

3.
2.

The Marriage Plot
3 months

4.
5.

The Art of Fielding
4 months

5.
4.

The Bathtub Spy
5 months

6.


Pulphead
1 month

7.


The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
1 month

8.


The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
1 month

9.
6.

Lightning Rods
4 months

10.


The Book of Disquiet
1 month

While the top of our final list for 2011 included the same familiar names and 1Q84 still enthroned at #1, our year-end coverage helped push four eclictic new titles onto the lower half of our list. John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead was one of the most talked about books of 2011 and our own Bill and Garth offered glowing comments on the book in our Year in Reading. Jonathan Safran Foer touted Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows as a book that changed his life. (Our own Emily Mandel also wrote a fascinating essay inspired by the book over a year ago.) Colum McCann said of Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet, “It was like opening Joyce’s back door and finding another genius there in the garden.” Finally, Hannah Gerson came up with “12 Holiday Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use” but only one of them was a book,
The Gift by Lewis Hyde.
With all these new books showing up on our list, four titles got knocked off: Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, John Sayles’s A Moment in the Sun, and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
Other Near Misses: Train Dreams and The Great Frustration See Also: Last month’s list.

A Cheat Sheet for All You New Kindle (And Other Ereader) Owners

The New York Times highlighted the trend last year and it will no doubt be even bigger this year: when it comes to ebooks, what was once a day of rest from shopping is now a booming day for ebook sales. That’s because when all those Kindles (selling a million a week), Nooks (sales up 85%), iPads, and other tablets get unwrapped, the first thing to do is to fire up and download a few books.

Just a few years after ebooks and ereaders first emerged as futuristic curiosity, they are fully mainstream now. Even among the avid, book-worshiping, old-school readers that frequent The Millions, ebooks are very popular. Looking at the statistics that Amazon provides us, just over a quarter of all the books bought by Millions readers at Amazon after clicking on our links this year were Kindle ebooks. One in four books, incredible.

So, for all those readers unwrapping shiny new devices, here are some links to get you going.

For starters, here are the top-ten most popular ebooks purchased by Millions readers in 2011. You’ll notice that these aren’t all that different from the overall Millions favorites. The big change this year is the emergence of the “Kindle Single” format, which offers long-form journalism and short stories at a bite-sized price point. Three of those lead our list. Interestingly, while those Singles are expanding what’s available at lower price points, publishers are pushing the high end of the price range higher, focusing especially on some of the year’s highest profile books, four of which land on our list despite going for (as of this writing) more than the magic $9.99 number.

The Enemy by Christopher Hitchens ($1.99)
The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett ($2.99)
The Bathtub Spy by Tom Rachman ($1.99)
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman ($9.99)
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan ($9.99)
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami ($14.99)
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides ($12.99)
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson ($12.99)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ($4.69)
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace ($14.99)
The Late American Novel edited by yours truly and Jeff Martin ($8.99)

Other potentially useful ebook links:

Editors’ Picks
Best of 2011
Top 100 Paid and Free
Kindle Singles

And in this fractured ebook landscape, you’ve also got your NookBooks, Google ebooks, Apple ibooks, and the new IndieBound ereader app that lets you buy ebooks from your favorite indie bookstore. Finally, don’t forget Project Gutenberg, the original purveyor of free ebooks (mostly out-of-copyright classics) available for years.

Happy Reading!

The Millions Top Ten: November 2011

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for November.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.
1.

1Q84
2 months

2.
3.

The Marriage Plot
2 months

3.
7.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
3 months

4.
4.

The Bathtub Spy
4 months

5.
5.

The Art of Fielding
3 months

6.
10.

Lightning Rods
3 months

7.
6.

Leaves of Grass
5 months

8.
9.

A Moment in the Sun
6 months

9.


The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
1 month

10.


The Sense of an Ending
1 month

Haruki Murakami returned to our top spot this month with 1Q84 (read our review here), while Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot (read our review here) crept up to the second spot. Meanwhile, Ann Patchett’s Kindle Single The Getaway Car jumped into our third spot and Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods was also making a strong move higher.

Another Kindle Single, Christopher Hitchens’ timely The Enemy, and Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test graduate to our Hall of Fame. Don’t miss Janet’s review of the latter.
Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern appears on our list shortly after winning the National Book Award, while the Booker Prize win propels Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending onto our list.
Near Misses: How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, 11/22/1963, The Sisters Brothers, Salvage the Bones, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: October 2011

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for October.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.


1Q84
1 month

2.
1.

The Enemy
6 months

3.


The Marriage Plot
1 month

4.
4.

The Bathtub Spy
3 months

5.
3.

The Art of Fielding
2 months

6.
5.

Leaves of Grass
4 months

7.
9.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
2 months

8.
6.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry
6 months

9.
7.

A Moment in the Sun
5 months

10.


Lightning Rods
1 month

The literary battle royale of 2011 played out and Haruki Murakami emerged the winner with 1Q84 (read our review here) debuting atop our October list. Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot (read our review here), meanwhile, debuted a bit farther down the list, but still put up an impressive showing. These two weren’t the only novels to make a splash in October, though. As Garth wrote in his review, “in a just world, Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods would be greeted with the same frenzy of publicity that attended Freedom last year, or The Marriage Plot just this month.”

The Murakami debut bumps Christopher Hitchens’The Enemy from the top spot, while Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric, that perhaps unlikely favorite of Millions readers graduates to our Hall of Fame. Don’t miss the review that started it all.
Falling off our list is Geoff Dyer’s Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (our review). This is the second of Dyer’s books (Out of Sheer Rage) to spend time on our list but fail to make our Hall of Fame. Also slipping from our list was Christopher Boucher’s debut novel How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive (our review).Other Near Misses: The Missing of the Somme, The Sisters Brothers, and The Sense of an Ending. See Also: Last month’s list.

The Millions Top Ten: September 2011

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for September.

This
Month
Last
Month

Title
On List

1.
2.

The Enemy
5 months

2.
3.

Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric
6 months

3.


The Art of Fielding
1 month

4.
10.

The Bathtub Spy
2 months

5.
5.

Leaves of Grass
3 months

6.
4.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry
5 months

8.
7.

A Moment in the Sun
4 months

8.
9.

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive
2 months

9.


The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
1 month

10.
9.

Otherwise Known as the Human Condition
4 months

David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King graduates, along with The Hunger Games, to our Hall of Fame this month. Taking the vacated top spot is Christopher Hitchens’ timely The Enemy. With Ann Patchett’s The Getaway Car debuting on the list and joining another Kindle Single, The Bathtub Spy, it’s becoming pretty clear that these bite-sized e-book originals are gaining some serious traction, a trend that the media has been taking note of, of late.
Our other debut, meanwhile, is a plain old novel, certainly one of the big fiction releases of the fall, Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. We first noted the book’s headline-grabbing deal in early 2010, and we highlighted it in our big second-half preview.
The big story next month will be seeing which heavyweight, literary new release will debut higher on our Top Ten, Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot (read the opening lines here) or Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (read the opening lines here).
Near Misses: The Missing of the Somme, The Magician King, Swamplandia!, A Dance with Dragons, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, and The Tiger’s Wife. See Also: Last month’s list.

Surprise Me!

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