Pete Hautman's Blog

November 24, 2017

Everything was delicious. Two turkeys—one heritage and one
conventional—and a platter of duck breasts. My green bean casserole turned out
great, as did my brother’s green beans with garlic and anchovies. (Between the
two of we brought five pounds of green beans.) All the sides were fantastic.
There were four pies, including Mary Logue’s impeccable pumpkin pie, which
disappeared first. Charlie’s broccoli salad made a late appearance, so he’ll be
eating it for the next couple days. There was wine, and an exceptional rye
whiskey from Iowa of all places.






The GBC


This was our first Thanksgiving without Elaine (my mom), so
we talked about her a lot. There was some Roy Moore bashing, but most of us seem
willing to grant Al Franken a pass—albeit with finger-wagging. There was no
praying—I think the last time we prayed was back in 1969, and that didn’t go so
well. Nobody watched football, or so much as turned on a television. Bill and
Sherrie’s son Jake got trapped in Milla’s massage chair and as far as I know
he’s still there, smiling vacantly.






























Today I will be doing something I swore I would never do: visit
a shopping mall on Black Friday. From noon to two I’ll be on display at a table
at the Barnes & Noble in Minnetonka with a pile of books in front of me. 




If
you are in the vicinity please stop by to say hello. If you want a book, I’ll
have plenty, and I’ll sign it and inscribe it to anyone you name, along with a
pretty illustration on the title page. There will be several Young Adult novels
(ages 12 and up) and some Middle Grade novels (ages 9-13). Got any of those on
your Christmas list?








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Published on November 24, 2017 05:16 • 5 views

November 22, 2017

Green Bean Casserole is a Minnesota Thanksgiving staple—as
important as the turkey, the dressing, the mashed potatoes, the yams, and the
pumpkin pie. Okay, maybe not as important as the pie.



A Lime Jello Salad. Yes, it's a thing.





Back in the 60s and 70s, the GBC was often the only
green thing on the table—unless someone brought a lime jello salad.




As usually constructed, GBC is a super easy dish: Two cans
of green beans, one can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, splash of milk. Mix
in a baking dish, top with one can of “French fried onions,” bake.




I never much liked it.




These days we get all fancy-schmancy. Our extended
family-and-friends potluck menu might include venison, goose, delicata squash,
wild rice, and multiple leafy green salads. Cousin Charlie will want me to mention his
broccoli salad here, and there will be at least one dish that I won’t be familiar
with, and cannot identify even after eating some. It will contain cheese. There will be no candied yams with marshmallows, no cranberry sauce from a can, and no lime jello salad.




This year I decided to reintroduce the Green Bean Casserole.
Or some fancy-schmancy version thereof. Naturally, I must make things as
difficult as possible.




For the mushroom soup I will substitute home-made crème
fraiche, cream, fresh thyme from the garden, and an assortment of foraged wild mushrooms.




For the green beans I will use fresh haricots vert—small,
thin green beans that have French pretentions, but in truth, at this time of
year, must be imported from Guatemala.




Instead of canned onions, I will fry some shallots, because shallots
make me feel special.




It is quite possible that my fancy-schmancy GBC will be no tastier than the traditional version, but it doesn’t matter. People
will scoop a small beany glob onto their plates between the mashed potatoes and
the some fancy-schmancy cranberry chutney. Gravy will slop over onto
everything, and we will all be talking with our mouths full, and no one will
notice that I used shallots instead of onions, or that the mushrooms are wild,
or that the Guatemalan beans have a French accent.




And that’s okay. Because we gather on this day to be together,
to remind ourselves that we are not alone, to feed each other, to feed that
which connects us. The whole point of making the food is to prove to ourselves
that we care. Cooking for others is its own reward. The more effort that goes
into it, the greater the love—even if the turkey is dry, even if the gravy is
too salty, even if the fancy-schmancy green bean casserole tastes of gravy and cranberries.






Photo of the finished dish tomorrow. Have a lovely holiday!
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Published on November 22, 2017 09:15

September 19, 2017

If you missed the Slider Eating Contest at Wild Rumpus, too bad! It was a multi-species event. The dog won.





Bodie, the champ, at 8 pounds.



The launch party at The Red Balloon was fun too. Debut author Melanie Heuiser Hill and I shared a book birthday, so although there was only one species present, there were two authors.



You can still pick up signed copies at either store.



On Saturday, September 23 I will be doing events at two different Twin Cities area Barnes & Noble stores.

In Edina, at the Galleria B&N, I'll be on a panel with Bryan Bliss, Carrie Mesrobian, Monica Ropal, and Jacqueline West. I don't know who's in charge of this thing, but they had better bring a whip. 11:00-1:00.

A few hours later I will be at the B&N in Minnetonka with debut author Andrew DeYoung. Andrew is launching his new sci-fi novel, The Exo Project. Can't wait to meet him, and read his book! 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Of course, we will be signing books at both events: my new middle-grade novel Slider will be on hand, as well as my most recent YA book, Eden West.



Click here to read SLIDER reviews.



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Published on September 19, 2017 05:35 • 34 views

September 1, 2017



September
has arrived, along with a boxful of Sliders,
so it’s time to get obnoxious with the self-promotion thing.




The
official launch date of my new middle grade novel is September 12, a date shared with Melanie Heuiser Hill’s fabulous MG
novel, Giant Pumpkin Suite. Melanie
and I are celebrating with a two-author dual-release at The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. 6:30 p.m.




But you
don’t have to wait that long! On September 10th, at 2:00 p.m., I’m having a Slider “pre-launch” (I guess that’s a
thing now) at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, featuring a slider eating
contest. I am reading up on the Heimlich maneuver.




Slider is about eating contests…sort
of. I mean, really it’s about other things, but there are mass quantities of edibles consumed in the course of the story.
In a sense it’s a sports book, if you can buy the concept of eating
competitions as a sport.




The
book has been getting amazing reviews. Here’s one by Briana Shemroske, for Booklist:
















Slider (starred review)

Hautman, Pete (Author)
Sep 2017. 288 p. Candlewick, hardcover, 
$16.99. (9780763690700).


Jack-of-all-genres
Hautman turns to the mouthwatering, madcap world of competitive eating.
Narrator David admires the greats: Joey Chestnut, who can down 70 dogs in 10
minutes; Takeru Kobayashi, a Guinness Record-holding lightweight; and his
personal favorite, Jooky Garofalo—who legendarily lost a Nathan’s Famous
championship by one single half dog. David can’t believe when Jooky’s
unfinished dog appears on auction site BuyBuy.com. And he’s floored when his bid for the “piece of
history” wins. Unfortunately, one mistyped decimal point means BuyBuy just
charged $2,000—not $20—to his mother’s credit card. David may be able to inhale
a single pizza in under five minutes, but to win the Super Pigorino Bowl’s
$5,000 grand prize—and repay his mom—he’ll have to train like never before.
More than a story of stomach-shattering determination, this is also an
unflinching exploration of David’s bond with little brother Mal, who, though
their mother forbids the label, has been diagnosed with autism. With
crystalline prose, delectable detail, rip-roaring humor, and larger-than-life
characters, Hautman gracefully examines what it means to be a friend, a family
member, and, through it all, a kid trying to do the right thing. Readers will
race to devour it, but like Papa Pigorino’s colossal BLD pizzas, this
infectious tale is a thing to be savored. — Briana Shemroske






















































If you can’t make it to the launch or the
pre-launch, do not despair. I’ll be visiting a couple of Barnes & Noble
stores on September 23rd to help celebrate B-Fest, their nationwide
event devoted to young adult literature. Details to come.
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Published on September 01, 2017 03:22 • 9 views

May 21, 2017

This is the third iteration of this Slider trailer. I had to keep changing it to meet the stringent legal standards of Candlewick's "permissions team." It seems that it's not cool to steal images off the web. Who knew?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLZpUSS9mts&t=1s







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Published on May 21, 2017 11:32 • 77 views

May 3, 2017

I am peevish. I have a lot of peeves. If peeves were cats,
my neighbors would be banging on my door to complain about the yowling and the
smells.




Among the most vexing of my peeves is when the middle-grade novels Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time appear on one of those “Greatest YA Novels of
All Time” lists.


Great book, but not "Young Adult."





To put that in perspective, I also get upset when some
writer confuses a shotgun with a rifle, or misattributes a quote, or uses the
phrase “begs the question” incorrectly. Every writer’s error diminishes me,
because I am a writer and I am involved in writerkind. (Sorry about that, Mr.
Donne.)




I just read an article by Sarah Hannah Gómez about the middle-grade vs. YA thing. Nice article, Ms. Gómez! Now you got me all stirred
up, because I’m having a MG vs. YA moment concerning my soon-to-be-published
novel, Slider.




Is Slider YA or
MG?




Easy answer: It is middle-grade, suitable for ages 10-up.




Real answer: Slider
is upper-MG. It is lower-YA. It is both, and it is neither. The prose is
accessible to most nine-year-olds, and a smaller number of eight-year-olds. The
story, the issues, and the humor are geared to ten- to twelve-year-olds.
My protagonist is fourteen, an age of particular interest to fourteen-year olds. And I hope my even older readers will find it to be a fun, easy read
that will not insult their burgeoning intelligence and sophistication.




You may be saying, Middle-grade,
YA, tomAYto, tomAHto…what’s your damage, man?





Well, it’s about making the book available to readers who
will enjoy it most. Most of my work has been for “young adults”—that is, ages
12-16. I want this book to be read by
a younger audience, one that my YA books do not reach. So it matters where it
is shelved in bookstores and libraries.

The transition from MG to YA is not seamless. Between the
two lies a gulf, both literal and figurative. 




In most libraries and bookstores,
middle-grade is shelved in the children’s section along with Dr. Seuss and Goodnight Moon. YA books are given their
own space, often at the far end of the library or bookstore. There is relatively
little traffic between the two spaces.





Such Balkanization is a recent development, and it is by design. Around
the age of twelve, kids start resenting having to eat at the kids’ table with
the five and eight year olds. They want to be acknowledged as teens, aka “young
adults.” They want their own table or, failing that, they want to sit with the
grownups.





This presents a dilemma for precocious ten-year-olds who are
intrigued by more complex, forward-looking books, and for teens who might
prefer to read the easier, less angst-ridden books found in the children’s
section. It is also an unsolved marketing problem for publishers.





A middle-grade novel.


The cover of Slider
says that the book is suitable for ages 10-up, what you might call “upper
middle-grade.” It will be shelved with the children’s chapter books, as are my
previous two MG novels, The Flinkwater Factor
and The Forgetting Machine. That is
good; it’s where it belongs.




Up next: Should "middle-grade" be hyphenated? Experts weigh in.




















































































































































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Published on May 03, 2017 05:19 • 40 views

April 23, 2017

So...I made another unboxing video:










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Published on April 23, 2017 07:35 • 73 views

March 30, 2017

Over the next few months, while waiting for Slider to
be published, I’ll be profiling heroes of the sport, both IRL and fictional.
Today I present a tribute to a character from the book.





Although in this case,
“tribute” might not be the right word.






Virgil “El Gurgitator” Schutlebecker

Weight: 247 lbs

Height: 5’11”

Age: 36



Virgil “El Gurgitator”
Schutlebecker, better known as simply “The Gurge,” is more antihero than hero.
As Jooky Garafalo once said, “Virgil looks like the love-child of Gary Busey’s
and Nick Nolte’s mugshots, and he has a personality to match.




In fact, the Gurge is
arguably the most despised competitive eater on the planet. Known for his
capacious appetite, dirty tricks, and unrelenting trash talk, the Gurge has
been disqualified from more contests than he has won.




Nevertheless, he is a
true talent, the holder of several records (some disputed), and a force to be
reckoned with.




“If the Gurge didn’t
cheat, he’d rule this sport,” says top competitor Jooky Garafalo. “But he just
can’t help himself. Dude was born a jerk.”




For example, the Gurge
won a chicken wing event in Pennsylvania—six pounds of wings in ten minutes.
The results were disputed. The second place finisher claimed that the Gurge had
stuffed several wings down his shirt. Still, the Gurge won by more than two
pounds—no matter how many wings he rat-holed, he had his opponents so dominated
he would have won anyway. Maybe it’s like Jooky says—he just can’t help
himself.




There’s even a word for
getting beaten—fairly or unfairly—by El Gurgitator. They say, “You’ve been Gurged.”







 Next up: Jooky Garafalo
























































































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Published on March 30, 2017 06:45 • 12 views

March 25, 2017

Over the next few months, while waiting for
Slider to be published, I’ll be paying tribute to the heroes of the sport.







Takeru Kobayashi 

Weight: 131 lbs 

(at first Nathan’s appearance)

Height: 5’7”



Age: 39



Without Takeru Kobayashi, you would probably never have heard of Competitive Eating as a
sport.




Sure, the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating
Contest

has been going on since 1916, when an Irish immigrant named Jim Mullen
devoured thirteen hot dogs in twelve minutes.* Since then, the contest has been
held on the Fourth of July at the Nathan’s Famous stand on Coney Island.**
Mullen’s record was broken, then broken again and again, but the nascent sport
was little noticed outside Coney Island and environs until Takeru Kobayashi appeared
on the scene.




In 2000, the record was held by Kazutoya Arai, a 100-pound Japanese
mattress salesman, at 25½ dogs in 12 minutes. (Note that it took eight-four
years for Mullen’s record to be not-quite-doubled.)




But in 2001, Takeru Kobayashi demolished Arai’s record by inhaling an
astonishing 50 hotdogs. Second place that year went to Eric "Badlands" Booker, who managed
“only” 26.

At the time, Kobayashi
weighed in at 131 pounds. He spoke virtually no English, but his speed,
capacity, and unusual technique communicated volumes. Kobayashi’s breakthrough
technique was to separate the hot dogs from the buns, dip the buns in water
while shoving two naked dogs at a time into his mouth, then follow them with
the sodden buns.




Kobayashi easily won the Nathan’s contest for the next five years. In 2007
he set a personal record of 63 hotdogs, but was defeated by the much larger and
equally talented Joey Chestnut, who ate 66.




Kobayashi's reign at Nathan’s ended shortly after when a contract dispute
with Major League Eating (MLE)—the organization that sanctions the Nathan’s
contest and most other eating events in the United States—banned him from MLE sanctioned contests.




Nevertheless, Kobayashi persisted. He performs internationally, and is credited with eight Guinness eating records. 




Takeru Kobayashi singlehandedly changed
competitive eating from publicity event to a bona fide big league
sport.




* Mullen's feat may well be apocryphal.

** There are several gaps in the record up until 1978.














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Published on March 25, 2017 06:21 • 10 views

March 15, 2017















Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas

Weight: 105 lbs

Height: 5’0”

Age: 48



Over the next few months, while waiting for Slider
to be published, I’ll be paying tribute to the heroes of the sport.





There are three basic
requirements for success in the challenging sport of Competitive Eating:
Technique, Dexterity, Speed, and Capacity. You might think that Sonya Thomas,
at 105 pounds and 5’0” tall, would not be competitive at a professional level.
You would be wrong.




Sonya Thomas, who hails
from Alexandria, Virginia, has been a top competitor for going on fifteen
years. She may lack to raw capacity of a Joey Chestnut or a Matt Stonie, but
she makes up for that with her speed, dexterity, and sheer heart. Her talents
were highlighted by her 2012 performance at the Acme Oyster House Contest,
which she won by eating 47 dozen raw oysters in 8 minutes.




Forty-seven dozen oysters
amounts to less than two pounds net weight—well within the capacity of most
oyster lovers. But just try to slurp down 564 of them in 8 minutes. That takes
some fast hands!


































Thomas may lack the
sheer capacity of Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating
Contest

winners Joey Chestnut and
Matt Stonie, but she did capture the record in the women’s division by eating 40
hotdogs in 10 minutes back in 2011. Her capacity is, relatively speaking, prodigious.
Eleven pounds of cheesecake in 9 minutes? Pound for pound, that would be like
Joey Chestnut eating 24 pounds!












Sonya Thomas is currently ranked the #7
competitive eater in the world. 


























Next up:
Takeru Kobayashi
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Published on March 15, 2017 06:32 • 10 views

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