Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Books

Novelist Seth Greenland reading works by Hazzard, Abbey and more

Seth Greenland

Novelist Greenland returns to his roots by setting his new book, The Hazards of Good Fortune, in New York City and neighboring Westchester. The protagonist is Jay Gladstone, an heir to a massive real estate fortune, owner of an NBA team and an exemplary citizen who finds himself in an unfortunate position when remarks he made in anger leap into the viral universe via a smartphone video. Other books by Greenland include I Regret Everything, Bones, Shining City and The Angry Buddhist. Greenland is also a playwright and screenwriter whose play Jungle Rot received the Kennedy Center/American Express Fund for New American Plays Award and the American Theater Critics Association Award.

What’s on your nightstand?

Since everything is grist for the mill, I always read for a combination of work and pleasure. Whatever is on my nightstand reflects both modes of reading.

I just this morning finished The Great Fire, a novel by Shirley Hazzard that was extraordinarily good. Any lover of great literary fiction will respond to this book, which reads as if it were composed in another era, something I mean in a good way.

I’ve been working on a first-person nonfiction project so have been reading a lot of memoirs lately, the two most recent ones being Autumn Rhythm by the music writer Richard Meltzer and Desert Solitaire by the great anarcho-naturalist Edward Abbey. Aging hipsters will find the Meltzer engaging and, as for Abbey’s classic, lovers of nature and haters of its ravaging will not be disappointed.

Along those memoirish lines, I just read Outline and Transit, the first two novels in Rachel Cusk’s trilogy. They’re autobiographical fiction, so despite their being fiction I find them helpful with my current project. The Cusk books are for readers with slightly more adventurous tastes, as she’s doing something that is quite original. If you want plot, stay away.

And finally, on the purely nonfiction front, I recently finished Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright. He doesn’t try to prove the title literally but, rather, uses Buddhist insights to parse human psychology and behavior. I’m not a Buddhist, but as a novelist, I found it pretty illuminating.

Piper Castillo, Times staff writer

Comments
Novels ‘The Floating World’ and ‘Summer Cannibals’ focus on families in crisis

Novels ‘The Floating World’ and ‘Summer Cannibals’ focus on families in crisis

Debut novels by C. Morgan Babst and Melanie Hobson differ in settings — post-Katrina New Orleans versus a mansion on a Canadian cliff — but both offer insight into complex family dynamics.
Published: 10/19/18
‘Panorama’ author Steve Kistulentz takes a deep dive into reading about Russia

‘Panorama’ author Steve Kistulentz takes a deep dive into reading about Russia

After publishing his first novel this year, the director of the St. Leo University creative writing program is researching his next book with fiction and nonfiction about post-Cold War Russia.
Published: 10/19/18
David Small’s ‘Home After Dark’ a powerful graphic novel about adolescence

David Small’s ‘Home After Dark’ a powerful graphic novel about adolescence

Although it’s set in the 1960s, the book’s story of a young teen’s struggle with bullying and homelessness is as urgent as ever.
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/17/18
Jeff Klinkenberg is reading Lauren Groff, Tara Westover and Gary Shteyngart

Jeff Klinkenberg is reading Lauren Groff, Tara Westover and Gary Shteyngart

Former Times Real Florida columnist Jeff Klinkenberg is enjoying fiction and memoir by women writers and looking forward to meeting novelist Gary Shteyngart at the Times Festival of Reading.
Published: 10/12/18
Review: G. Neri’s ‘Grand Theft Horse’ a thrilling true tale of a woman on a mission

Review: G. Neri’s ‘Grand Theft Horse’ a thrilling true tale of a woman on a mission

The real-life main character of "Grand Theft Horse," a new graphic biography for middle-grade readers, gave up almost everything to rescue a racehorse she trained.
Updated one month ago
Gernhard biographer Bill DeYoung finds little new in Petty bio

Gernhard biographer Bill DeYoung finds little new in Petty bio

Bill DeYoungDeYoung is the author of Phil Gernhard, Record Man, a biography of a record producer with ties to St. Petersburg whose hits included Stay and Snoopy vs. the Red Baron. When we caught up with him recently, DeYoung explained his interest ca...
Updated one month ago
Review: Grief turns into danger in Lisa Unger’s thriller ‘Under My Skin’

Review: Grief turns into danger in Lisa Unger’s thriller ‘Under My Skin’

Grief is sometimes akin to madness. The loss of a loved one can knock our world off its rails for a while, until we find a new way to live. But for Poppy Lang, a young widow still struggling a year after the unsolved murder of her husband, sanity see...
Updated one month ago