Fall Recap - Best of the Year feat: Glynnis MacNicol!

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As many of us prepare to spend significant family time together in the coming weeks, it feels like a particularly good moment to explore nontraditional narratives and remember (or to remind fellow family members) that taking a different path shouldn’t be met with assumptions and unwanted advice. Whether you’re single, married, or divorced, Glynnis MacNicol’s memoir of her own adventures navigating these choices will move you deeply, make you think and ignite an important conversation. NO ONE TELLS YOU THIS was published by Simon & Schuster this summer, is getting shout outs left and right, so we’ve gathered a few here for your reading pleasure.

Esquire named NO ONE TELLS YOU THIS one of the 40 Best Nonfiction titles of 2018, citing it as creating “a new version of the feminine standard.” Her memoir is one of CBC’s selections for best Canadian Nonfiction, and a Financial Times Best Book of 2018.

And in this fascinating Atlantic piece on the film Mary Queen of Scots, “Hollywood Still Doesn’t Know What to Make of Childless Women,” Megan Garber writes about a few surprisingly skeptical responses to Glynnis’ work, emphasizing the necessity of her book. She quotes MacNicol, who says: “We don’t understand how to talk about women’s lives as fulfilling unless we incorporate babies or weddings. [There are] no stories about women over the age of 40, really, where they aren’t primarily accessories in their own lives or support systems.”

So if you’ve got a favorite single lady on your list, or just a bad-ass woman looking for a good read, this book is for them.

Fall Recap - Sarah Sentilles wins the 2018 PEN Award for Creative Nonfiction!

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On November 2nd, Sarah Sentilles was awarded the 2018 PEN America Award for Creative Nonfiction for her brilliant book DRAW YOUR WEAPONS. This year’s Litfest Gala was held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles to honor “those who embody PEN America’s mission to celebrate, champion, and defend freedom of expression.” And on that note, we’d like to share an excerpt from Sarah’s exceptionally moving acceptance remarks:

“The world is on fire, and the flames of racism and sexism and fascism and environmental destruction and war are signaling us: it’s time to make more art. And by “art” I mean paintings and I mean poems and I mean gardens and songs and sculptures.

When I say out loud that making art is the most urgent thing we can do right now, people say, “You can’t be serious.” But I am serious. Art gives me hope, and this hope is not naïve. It’s not romantic or small or abstract. It’s concrete: glue and paint, scissors and tape, words and drawings, book pages and ink and gouache and oil and canvas and sentence after sentence after sentence. It’s the certain knowledge that it’s possible to make something new.

My training as a theologian and an activist and a feminist has taught me it’s possible to imagine a world other than the version peddled to you by people in power. And my training as an artist has taught me it’s possible to make that world. For I can see it; it’s just and it’s beautiful and it’s life-giving for the most vulnerable and precarious among us, for those who have been shut out and shut up and not believed, for the un-grieved and the untended, for the trees and the beasts and the winged ones and the rivers and the mountains, for the missing and the terrified and the suffering.

The world is made, and it can be unmade and remade. We are all artists here and the muscles of our visionary minds are growing stronger and stronger. With every word, every piece of clay, every brushstroke, every stitch, we create that imagined world – and we choose to live there now.

Can you feel it spinning into being? Can you hear its song? Will you answer its call?”

Fall Recap - The novel worth a ten-year wait

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This October, Leif Enger gave us the best fall gift of all - his first novel in ten years! VIRGIL WANDER is a sweeping, heartfelt tale set in the upper Midwest, with a vibrant cast of characters that will capture your heart as soon as you turn the first page. Tana French picked Leif’s novel as one of her most anticipated books of 2018 in Vulture, saying: “[Enger’s] writing leaped out at me—it’s so easy and so vivid and so powerful all at once, and his characters are instantly real.”

But, as usual, don’t just take our word (or Tana French’s) for it! VIRGIL WANDER was the #1 Indie Next Pick for October, a Library Reads Pick, a Barnes & Noble Pick of the Month, a Library Journal Best Book of 2018 and an Amazon Best Book of the Year. It has also been longlisted for the 2019 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Enger’s first novel in 10 years marks him as a foremost stylist. His prose is rhapsodic, kaleidoscopic and — I’ll say it — enviable. Even more enviable is the rare feat of writing a comedic literary novel that is also a page-turner...Enger deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Richard Russo and Thomas McGuane. VIRGIL WANDER is a lush crowd-pleaser about meaning and second chances and magic. And in these Trumpian times, isn’t that just the kind of book and protagonist we’re all searching for?
— New York Times Book Review

Indeed it is, we agree! Read the full NYT review here, then run and buy a copy for the dreamers left on your holiday gift list.

Fall Recap - Laurie Frankel Takes the World by Storm

Here at The Friedrich Agency we’ve had a busy fall! Over the next three weeks, we’ll be posting a recap series with some of the season’s highlights. If you don’t have a book in mind for everyone on your holiday gift list after we’re done with you – well, we can’t say we didn’t try! So stay tuned and check back here for more info in the coming weeks!

In January of 2017, Laurie Frankel’s masterful novel THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS was published by Flatiron Books. A novel about a family whose youngest boy of five wants to be a girl when he grows up, Laurie’s book was a 2017 Best-of-the-Year favorite across platforms, but sometimes it still take a little longer for the rest of the world to catch up…

And who better to help us spread the word than our book champion herself, Reese Witherspoon! This October, Reese selected THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS as her official book club selection, introducing the power of Poppy to a whole new set of readers.

To add to her accolades, Laurie became an NYT bestseller, a winner of the 2018 Washington State Book Award, and she’s long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award.

As you can see, you don’t have to take OUR word for it that this book is worth reading! Just take Reese’s, the NYT’s, various literary committees’…. you get the point.

We’ll leave you with this powerful image made by the brilliant team at Flatiron, which encapsulates just how important Laurie Frankel’s novel is in our uncertain times.

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Remembering Sue Grafton

It’s August, 2018 and, aside from what feels like truly endless rain, it’s also Sue Grafton’s paperback publication month for her last novel, Y IS FOR YESTERDAY.  In honor of that, I thought I’d share the words I wrote in honor of Sue’s memorial service at The New York Public Library, back in April.  It’s certainly not perfect but it was written directly from the heart. We all miss her so dearly.

 

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"Hi. My name is Molly Friedrich and I was Sue’s literary agent for thirty-five years, since B Is For Burglar first made its way across my desk.

I didn’t actually meet Sue until a couple of letters deeper into the alphabet. She didn’t come to New York very often and I’ve never been much of a traveling agent, leaping onto planes for any of those key moments in a writer’s life. 

There probably isn’t anyone in this room who didn’t adore Sue Grafton or, at the very least, admire her. In a writing world painfully thick with competition, I don’t think Sue had a single literary foe. As Sue and I rode that ferocious wave from truly modest success to so-called mega-success, I don’t think Sue ever once reproached or berated or scolded me for any decision I ever made on her behalf. 

Can you try for a moment, to even imagine that? And, as they say of the architect, if you want to see her monument, look around you—at her husband, at her children, at her many readers, at all her publishing family…

Two things always happen when people learn that I represent Sue Grafton. The population of agents and writers longs to learn just how Sue became “Sue Grafton.” And I know the answer, of course I do! But agents don’t need to reveal all the secrets in their arsenal, so I’m not telling you.

The second thing that happens when the rest of the reading world learns that I am Sue’s agent is actually slightly maddening. The fan suddenly feels morally obligated to offer an opinion on nearly every single letter. It often goes something like this, “Well, I just loved S!  I mean, that is my all-time favorite-- well, my other favorite is N, you know, for noose? But T? What’s going on, is Sue okay?” I usually smile politely, having learned long ago that it’s not becoming or helpful to yell at people who don’t love every book I send out into the world.  I point out diplomatically that, like best friends, you cannot have more than one favorite, that what matters is that they keep going with the alphabet, that their loyalty will nearly always be well rewarded.

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Back in those single-engine days—the days of Selectric typewriters and carbon paper—we both worked really hard, building and nurturing an audience for Kinsey. I’ve sifted through my ancient files and discovered many enraged letters written by me and sent to various people at Holt, Sue’s first publisher. There is a certain, consistent sameness to these letters: if you scream politely, eloquently, you will eventually be heard! By the time “G” is for Gumshoe marched onto the New York Times Bestseller list, I’d learned a good deal about Sue Grafton:

Here was a woman with no use for sentimentality, a writer for whom ethics, principles and integrity were not the hypocrisy of our politicians but simply matters of hard fact. No clutter. No glibness. No complacency. And hard work. Even as late into the alphabet as “W”, the work stayed hard—Sue never phoned it in. Never. In fact, I found a note from Sue in which she cheerfully announced that she had amassed 605 pages of single-spaced notes for W and was finally moving in a straight line…

There came a time, probably around “P” is for Peril, when my deeply middle class, Judeo-Christian bones kicked in and I decided I was making too much money from Sue’s success.  I don’t want to be falsely modest here but I began nursing febrile, dark, 4:00 am thoughts that Sue might hire a lawyer and just be done with me.  So I called her up and began ranting and raving,

“There’s nothing for me to DO for you!” I complained. “You’re never any trouble! Don’t you have any anthology deals going awry? Or some permissions snafu that needs my attention?”

Sue just laughed that effervescent, tingly laugh of hers and said, “No, Ma’am.” I finally said, in utter exasperation, “Well, can’t you at least send me your ironing?”  She laughed again, and said, “Oh, honey. Just enjoy it. Call it back pay.”

And so, I did. But I want to return here to the subject of ironing. 

When I heard from Steve last Spring, that Sue’s operation had yielded only bad news, I was suddenly desperate to see her, to get on a plane and visit her. It was finally arranged that Lucy and I might visit between chemo sessions, the last week of July.  Ever the vainglorious Leo, I declared, “Oh, that’s perfect! July 31st is my 65th birthday!”  Sue’s response to this was distinctly Southern: if there’s a birthday, then of course, there must be a cake! I protested, but Sue remained firm.

Lucy and I spent a deeply charmed evening with Sue and Steve, begging for a detailed house tour. Two features fired Sue’s enthusiasm. One was a fake dresser. It looked exactly like a traditional, three-drawer wooden dresser but cut discreetly into its side was a kitty cat door, housing a food and drink station and a litter box. No noise, no noxious smells, no spraying litter all over the floor. Sue had designed it herself and was rightly proud of its elegant functionality. 

The second feature Sue adored in the house was an old fashioned iron, actually called a “mangle”. It was a large ironing steam press, with multiple fabric settings and Sue loved showing it off, like a vast, domestic fantasy.

 So now you know why Sue never sent me her ironing: she was having way too much fun doing it herself. 

When I visited Sue late last July, she seemed shockingly thin, needing to nap but otherwise fully present.  I had assumed my birthday cake would be made by Liz Gastiger, their long-term chef and friend. But no, Sue had made my cake herself: a perfect lemon genoise with buttercream frosting.  As I tucked into my second piece, I exclaimed, “Sue this cake is a LONG way from Duncan Hines, whose recipe is it?” 

“Rose Levy Berenbaum,” she told me. 

I nearly choked, “But Berenbaum is impossible, she’s so exacting, she’s an absolute tyrant of precision!” 

I don’t know. There’s something so deeply moving about this beloved writer, not an ounce over ninety pounds, baking me a sublime birthday cake.  The next morning, before I drove to the airport, I had a third slice for breakfast.

Respectfully submitted, indeed." 

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Welcome to the world, FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE!

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At long last, the buzzed-about debut from Ingrid Rojas Contreras, FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE, is here! Based on her own experience as a child, the novel is set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia, following  a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. Her brilliant novel is staggering (it made a New York Times reviewer "wince in recognition") and has been praised as "one of the most dazzling and devastating novels" with "images that blister and burn, phrases that adorn and astonish." (San Francisco Chronicle

We guarantee that as soon as you finish, you'll want more, so check out Q&As with Ingrid on Goodreads and Shondaland