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First Looks: Birds of a Lesser Paradise and The Edge of Maybe

Hello, FWR friends. I’m delighted to announce a new blog series: “First Looks.” This series, which I’ll be writing each month, will introduce you to soon-to-be released novels and short-story collections that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. Consider it a public “to be read” announcement of sorts, a way for me to point out a new title (or two) every month and explain what about it has caught my eye. For the most part, we’ll be concentrating on books that fall within FWR’s chief interest: fiction by emerging authors.

We’ll publish “First Looks” posts here on the FWR blog around the 15th of each month—starting today! The column is still taking shape, and I’d love to hear your comments: what you’d like to see, where you think I should look for books to feature (I’ll be consulting a variety of sources, including but not limited to publishers’ catalogs, NetGalley, The Quivering Pen’s “Front Porch Books” posts, and Library Journal’s “Prepub Alert”), and your recommendations of forthcoming titles that you think your fellow FWR readers might want to know about. Please drop me a line anytime: erika(at)fictionwritersreview(dot)com. Thanks in advance.

Now, to start us off, allow me to present two March titles on my readerly radar.

First: Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise (Scribner). I discovered this one through the Twitter feed of Bergman’s literary agent, the excellent Julie Barer. When I was searching for an agent to represent my own collection, Julie was utterly generous and totally astute in all of our conversations and correspondence; our exchanges made me trust her judgment so completely that although we didn’t end up working together, I have remained keenly interested in the writers and writing that she champions ever since.

Which brings us to Bergman’s debut collection. I’ve already taken a peek at it through NetGalley. Maybe it’s just me and my steep techno-learning curve, but it wasn’t always clear to me, on this e-galley, where one story ended and another began. Doesn’t matter—I can find out for sure next month. And these stories are so fresh and different, especially for someone like me, who has probably done more than her share of reading (and writing) set in the urban and suburban Northeast, that even if/when one story seemed to run into another, I just kept going. In these stories, setting reigns supreme—often a distinctly Carolina setting—and animal characters are at least as crucial as human ones.

Next, I’m eagerly anticipating my pre-ordered copy of Ericka Lutz’s debut novel, The Edge of Maybe (Last Light Studio), which should arrive early next month. I’ve known about this book for quite awhile, mainly because it is being published by the same collaborative micropress that released my own collection, Quiet Americans, last year.

Ericka’s byline was familiar to me, primarily through her columns for Literary Mama, before our publisher brought her and her novel on board. The initial description I read for The Edge of Maybe nearly made me dizzy: “Dodge landmines buried so long ago in Ericka Lutz’s satirical and bountiful THE EDGE OF MAYBE, a novel of possibility that encompasses both the sheer bigness and smallness—food, yoga, drinking, cooking, sex, self-cutting, parenting, motel-life, and finally going for broke—of middle class life at the edge of the 21st Century.” I suspect that I’m in for quite a ride when my copy arrives!

Until next month…

Further Reading:

  • Read Bergman’s short story “Birds of a Lesser Paradise” at Narrative (note: free registration required)
  • A book trailer for The Edge of Maybe. (Caution: one moment of profanity included. Wear headphones if you’re at work and/or small children are around.)

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