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Author/Reader Discussions > HOW TO GET INTO THE TWIN PALMS author/reader discussion

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Awww yeah guys! That's right!

We're hooking up with Two Dollar Radio to give away 10 copies of Karolina Waclawiak's novel How to Get into the Twin Palms this month!


Karolina will be joining us here at TNBBC next month to discuss the book!

The book is available to US residents, and requires a comment on the blog to get your name added thrown into the hat!! ----> http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c...


message 2: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Winners were announced! This giveaway was a pc of cake! 10 copies to give, 10 people who requested copies!

Congrats to the winners: http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c...


message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna (DonnaSafford) Lori wrote: "Winners were announced! This giveaway was a pc of cake! 10 copies to give, 10 people who requested copies!

Congrats to the winners: http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c......"


LOL - I'm glad to be one of the 10. =)


message 4: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Yay :D Can't wait to get my copy!


message 5: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Just got mine yesturday. I was so excited to start it that I read the first 20 pages before I finished Cloud Atlas (I'm a bit behind lol). It was good so far-I like the style and the pages look really awesome.


message 6: by Donna (new)

Donna (DonnaSafford) I got mine too. =)


message 7: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments I received my copy as well and I already finished it. I look forward to the discussion!


message 8: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I finished mine yesturday too-very fast read. Couldn't put it down!


message 9: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Wow, way to go guys! Glad to hear you liked it.


message 10: by Jen (new)

Jen (NekoKitty) | 110 comments I got mine a few days ago. I'm going to start it tonight. This looks like a great book, thanks! :)


message 11: by Karly (new)

Karly (KarlyRose) | 34 comments Currently enthralled in the scholarly Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat, but Twin Palms is on my nightstand ready to roll in a few days!


message 12: by Jen (new)

Jen (NekoKitty) | 110 comments Finished!! I am looking forward to the discussion. :)


message 13: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments I know the discussion doesn't officially start for a few more days, but I wanted to start off asking a generic question. What do you think the repercussions are for a child of immigrants to be raised in a country other than their native/ancestral home?


message 14: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Here's an article on Karolina's decision to write HOW TO GET INTO THE TWIN PALMS http://nypress.com/the-protagonist-so...

Consider it "pre-discussion-reading" :)


message 15: by Karly (new)

Karly (KarlyRose) | 34 comments Just finished it today! Looking forward to chatting with Ms. Waclawiak


message 16: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (Rosstwinmom) | 22 comments I'm so excited to read this! I'm a Texan living in Poland, so this stuff is really close to my heart right now.


message 17: by Paula (new)

Paula | 107 comments I'm about 100 pages in and look forward to the discussion.


message 18: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Karolina's coming! Karolina's coming!

I'll be at work tomorrow when she joins us so I wanted to jump in now and introduce her!

TNBBC welcomes Karolina to the group! We are thrilled to have you with us and hope that our questions and discussion keep you engaged and smiling...

I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the writing process behind the book. What was writing the book like for you?


message 19: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (Rosstwinmom) | 22 comments And I want to know where Karolina is from in Poland. I'm living in Gdynia currently.


message 20: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Hi Lori and hello everyone! I'm thrilled to be a part of TNBBC.

I'll jump right in.

Stephanie, I was born in Lodz!

Writing the book was really interesting and sometimes very difficult. I wanted to write a book about the "1.5 Generation" as Gary Shteyngart calls it - the children who immigrated to America at a young age and feel a sense of detachment to both their home country and their adopted country (America). It was something I had wanted to capture for a long time, but I wasn't quite sure how to do it. Being one of these 1.5'ers, I wanted to write about my feelings, but I also wasn't interested in writing a memoir so I had to work hard to distance myself from whatever character I was creating, while being close enough to make Anya's experiences and worldview seem authentic.

It was a tough balance, for sure. I also didn't want to write a straight "coming to America" immigrant narrative. I wanted to play with the idea of identity, where it comes from, how much of your ethnic identity you retain when you go live in another place. I also wanted to talk about community and aloneness. It was a lot to try and capture in one book!

I wrote it over a year and a half and I didn't really have a plan, per se. I let myself be continually surprised by the character and I just kept trying to complicate matters for her.

Lori wrote: "Karolina's coming! Karolina's coming!

I'll be at work tomorrow when she joins us so I wanted to jump in now and introduce her!

TNBBC welcomes Karolina to the group! We are thrilled to have you w..."



message 21: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments I think one thing to think about is in leaving your country, you also leave your entire extended family behind. And what happens when you are cut off from that extended family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - because of turmoil in your home country. Naturally, there is a desire to find a community in your adopted community. But what if there is no similar ethnic community to be found? Does that add to the feeling of being cut off...

Rosanna wrote: "I know the discussion doesn't officially start for a few more days, but I wanted to start off asking a generic question. What do you think the repercussions are for a child of immigrants to be rais..."


message 22: by Donna (new)

Donna (DonnaSafford) Lori wrote: "Here's an article on Karolina's decision to write HOW TO GET INTO THE TWIN PALMS http://nypress.com/the-protagonist-so...

Consider it "pre-discussion-reading" :)"


Thanks for posting this article. It gives us a glimpse into how a story hangs on to its author.


message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna (DonnaSafford) Karolina,

Welcome to the group! We are so glad you are with us and that you shared your book with us. =)


message 24: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Thanks so much, Donna!
I'm excited to discuss it with you all.

Donna wrote: "Karolina,

Welcome to the group! We are so glad you are with us and that you shared your book with us. =)"



message 25: by Karly (new)

Karly (KarlyRose) | 34 comments Thanks for being here to chat about your book. I personally found it a page turner and finished in less than two days! The character Anya is very easy to listen to - her narrative is very real. As a reader, I found it easy to get inside her head, as confusing a place as that can be.

Why did you portray Anya as such an isolated character? She lives alone and rarely converses with anyone outside of the church bingo group (she interacts more with her neighbor as the book goes on). Even Lev doesn't really ever become 'familiar' or a real 'friend'.

Since she comes from a culture where family and community are such a vital part of a person's life, I was curious about this juxtaposition.


message 26: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Karly,
Thank you!
Great question.
I wanted to write about alienation and isolation in a city with many, many people. It's true, culture and community are important to Anya, but what happens when you have neither? I was struck by the lack of any meaningful Polish community in Los Angeles when I lived there, but there was a massive Russian community. Although they have similar cultural touchstones, I have found that there is a largely acrimonious relationship between Polish and Russians.

I also wanted to write about depression. Anya is so empty-feeling in so many ways because she doesn't feel any connection to anyone. She tries to make connections but she can't find any meaningful ones, only really, with Mary.

She's living in a self-imposed isolation because she's forgotten how to interact with people.

Books about alienation really interest me and so I wanted to write about it too, in my own way. I feel at times that Anya's aloneness is crippling to her.

Karly wrote: "Thanks for being here to chat about your book. I personally found it a page turner and finished in less than two days! The character Anya is very easy to listen to - her narrative is very real. ..."


message 27: by Sara (new)

Sara Habein (sara_habein) | 54 comments Hi Karolina!

I am glad (if that's the right word) to read your answer regarding Anya's depression because that's how I saw it too, especially when factoring in the semi-mysterious trauma that stained her mattress.

And in regards to the article that Lori posted -- I didn't find Anya unlikeable. Bad behavior doesn't equal a bad person, after all, because we all commit bad behavior. Were you surprised that "unlikeable" was some people's reaction?


message 28: by Nicolle (new)

Nicolle (CultureJaunt) | 8 comments Hi Karolina,

Thank you so much for joining us!

Reading your book, I feel as if I'm reading Anya's diary entries instead of chapter by chapter. Was this one of the ways to portray her as an isolated character?


message 29: by Paula (new)

Paula | 107 comments Hi Karolina!

I'm interested in knowing how long it took you to write the book?

I'm also curious how the book cover came to be chosen. To me, the cover almost seems like a diary cover, on that one doodles, draws, whatnot on the diary and within the pages images that are important to them.

I'm about halfway thru the book and am wondering what the tattoo on Lev's wrist means? Do I need to read more to find out? I know Anya thinks it means he was in trouble with the law or prison/ jail, if I recall correctly.


message 30: by Lori, Super Mod (last edited Nov 15, 2012 03:16PM) (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Wow guys, great questions coming in today! What a warm way to welcome Karolina to the group!

I personally thought Anya was the most amazingly passive-aggressive protagonist I've ever read. She had just strong feelings about things but totally just went with the flow.

I loved how the smell of Lev made her retch yet she just couldn't stop inviting him in.

I also loved how she was willing to do WHATEVER she needed to in order to get what she wanted...


message 31: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments I was really surprised to find people saying they found Anya unlikeable or that they couldn't comprehend her actions.
I felt protective of her after spending so many years writing her and so I was a bit baffled. She had so many good qualities, but she was just confused! Unmoored, really. But I didn't think that necessarily made her uncomfortable to be around. I think in your mid-20's you do things that even you yourself might not like, but that doesn't mean that at the core there is some goodness to you. And honestly, I felt that that is what should make her relatable.

This question of likeability seems to come up a lot. Especially with female protagonists. Do you guys find that? I think people tend to cut unlikeable male characters slack, but women need to be a little bit "nicer". Do you guys feel that way?

I always say, I sincerely doubt Cormac McCarthy has had to answer to this likeability question with his male characters!


Sara wrote: "Hi Karolina!

I am glad (if that's the right word) to read your answer regarding Anya's depression because that's how I saw it too, especially when factoring in the semi-mysterious trauma that stai..."



message 32: by Heather (new)

Heather (HLindskold) Thank you for chatting with us, Karolina--it's an honor.

I really enjoyed the book and didn't find Anya unlikeable at all. I felt really bad for her, actually. Being young and lonely (heck, being any age and lonely) can result in people doing some pretty stupid things. I certainly did some pretty dumb things growing up (although I never started a forest/brush fire). I do think it's true that readers tend to cut men more slack in the likeability department--I've even caught myself doing it before. As women, maybe we feel embarrassed by women in books doing not-so-smart things, and making bad decisions? Maybe because we relate to women more, and we don't want them to make the same mistakes we made. I don't know. Maybe men are cut more slack because they're expected to do dumb stuff? (Not that I agree with any of that--I'm just making suggestions/guesses).

What struck me the most in this book, aside from Anya's isolation and loneliness, were the smells--food smells, the smoke smell from the fires, Lev's personal smell, etc. Those descriptions were so good that I could actually smell what Anya was smelling (mentally, I guess). I was very impressed with how well the different smells in Anya's world were written.


message 33: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Honestly, it was more for aesthetic reasons. I tried to have chapter numbers but the chapters are so short there ended up being something like 67 chapter headings.
I love the idea of diary entries though. I can totally see that.


Nicolle wrote: "Hi Karolina,

Thank you so much for joining us!

Reading your book, I feel as if I'm reading Anya's diary entries instead of chapter by chapter. Was this one of the ways to portray her as an isolat..."



message 34: by Sara (new)

Sara Habein (sara_habein) | 54 comments I would also agree that it's unfair that female characters often have a higher "likability" standard. Like they're supposed to be more compliant and on their best behavior. (cue rolling of the eyes)

Also agreeing with how distinctive the smells are in the book. I really liked that too -- and I can understand Anya's back and forth about Lev. On one hand, he represents a way into the club, so she find the smell intoxicating. And then when she can't believe what she's doing, it's revolting.

Were those smell details something that came fairly naturally to you, or something you made a conscious effort to include?


message 35: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Hi Paula,
It took me about a year and a half of writing. Then, maybe another few months of revising before I started showing potential agents and publishers. So almost to years.

My publisher actually suggested the cover. Two Dollar Radio found the artist, Ricardo Cavolo, who lives in Spain. He is inspired by Russian culture and puts his own spin on it so we thought it was a great match up.

The tattoos on Lev's fingers are actually Russian prison tattoos. In Russia, there is a whole other world depicted in the tattoos on gangsters, prisoners, and the underworld. That has always fascinated me and so I wanted to find a way to include it in the book.

Paula wrote: "Hi Karolina!

I'm interested in knowing how long it took you to write the book?

I'm also curious how the book cover came to be chosen. To me, the cover almost seems like a diary cover, on that o..."



message 36: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Hi Heather,
First, thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I think you may be on to something. It's possible people may have a hard time seeing women doing things in an unapologetic manner. For instance, you can be bad, but you must seek redemption at some point. It might not sit well to see a woman just making mistakes and continuing on or ... behaving in a way that might be looked down upon and being ok with that in some way. It was interesting for me to have to think about when writing Anya because I saw some fellow writers who had bad ass male characters not faced with the same hurdle. There was no apology necessary for the bad behavior.

As for the smells in the book -
The sense of smell is the most underused sense in books, am I right?

I think when you're writing about food, it's hard not to think about the way they smell. I was thinking back to my favorite Polish dishes and the first thing that came to mind was their potent smells. It was difficult to try and convey but I think at some point I just started closing my eyes and daydreaming and then put it all on the page.

I actually had to cut back on some of the smells I originally had because it felt like it was becoming too overwhelming on the page.

Heather wrote: "Thank you for chatting with us, Karolina--it's an honor.

I really enjoyed the book and didn't find Anya unlikeable at all. I felt really bad for her, actually. Being young and lonely (heck, being..."



message 37: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Hi Lori!

Oh yeah, Anya is very passive. She's looking for a way out of her life but she wants someone to pull her out of it. In this case, Lev.

SO! Try selling a book with an unlikeable PASSIVE narrator! Haha.

What a struggle! That's something that interests me so much. What people think is "sellable" vs. what is compelling to the reader. It's a supremely risky proposition.

Lori wrote: "Wow guys, great questions coming in today! What a warm way to welcome Karolina to the group!

I personally thought Anya was the most amazingly passive-aggressive protagonist I've ever read. She had..."



message 38: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I didn't find her to be unlikeable at all. Some of the stuff she did seemed a little bizarre- but that's what made being in her head so facinating. It felt like we as the reader and felt her every emotion-from loneliness to boredom- and these emotions made her behavior seem justified even if it were a bit strange.
I loved all the sensory experiences and imagery in this book. I think you are a very talented writer. I mean how many authors can write in great detail about pulling hair out of a shower drain, and have the reader be so captivated by it?! Simple acts like these somehow revealed layers of deep emotion.
Having several tattoos myself, i also find the tattoos very intersting. in Russia, are criminals the only people who get tattoos? The tattoos that Lev had, were they something he got voluntarily when he got in trouble with the law or something he was forced to receive because of his crimes?


message 39: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Hi Chelsea,
Thank you so much! There was a lot of tattooing going on in the gulags and the tattoos show the hierarchy of criminals.

Alix Lambert made a fascinating documentary about Russian Prison Tattoos - It can be found on
Youtube.

I think that Lev got the tattoos voluntarily to show his rank within the criminal community.

Chelsea wrote: "I didn't find her to be unlikeable at all. Some of the stuff she did seemed a little bizarre- but that's what made being in her head so facinating. It felt like we as the reader and felt her every ..."


message 40: by Sara (new)

Sara Habein (sara_habein) | 54 comments This is not really a comment on the content of the book, but I really liked the rough edge to the pages too. So.. I guess *high-five* to the designers at Two Dollar Radio.


message 41: by Nicolle (new)

Nicolle (CultureJaunt) | 8 comments Sara wrote: "This is not really a comment on the content of the book, but I really liked the rough edge to the pages too. So.. I guess *high-five* to the designers at Two Dollar Radio."

Me too! I love when books are like that.


message 42: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Karolina, I saw you were representing TDR at the National Book Awards the other night. What's it been like for you, since the book came out.. with all the bookish parties award ceremonies?

(I need to live vicariously through you for moment!)


message 43: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments Lori, it's been amazing! Mostly, I'm so excited about people asking me to read at great events. I'm floored and so thankful for all of it. The people that I've been able to meet... and who have read my book. It's kind of amazing when you think about it. When you put something out in the world and it takes on a life of its own. The NBA was awesome - I ate a lot of mini-foods - pigs in a blanket, tiny grilled cheese, eclairs. A highlight.
To be honest though, I don't go out THAT MUCH. With a full-time job, working for a magazine, and trying to write, it's really hard to find time to do anything!

Lori wrote: "Karolina, I saw you were representing TDR at the National Book Awards the other night. What's it been like for you, since the book came out.. with all the bookish parties award ceremonies?

(I need..."



message 44: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments I have a question! If a reader has never been to Los Angeles, do you think it's a difficult book to relate to because the locations are so specific? Does the city specificity detract from the reading experience if you don't know Los Angeles? Or does location matter?


message 45: by Jen (new)

Jen (NekoKitty) | 110 comments Hi Karolina,

First of all, I have to say that I enjoyed this book quite a bit. My degree is in Asian languages, and as part of my degree I was able to take culture classes that touched on the lives of child immigrants... so though I've never lived this situation, I was able to relate. (Oh, and I also LOVE the rough edges to the book. Books that have rough edges always rock.)

To answer your question above, I've never been to LA. While I think I would have been able to relate more to the location if I would have more knowledge of the location, it didn't take away from your book at all. I do think that picking a large city is better in this case... but the fact that it was LA didn't affect my enjoyment just because I've never been there.

I plan to comb through this thread today so that I can read everything and be more involved. :)

Have a great morning!


message 46: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Karolina,

While I've never been to LA, I do frequent NYC, so the big city feel is very familiar to me - even though it's not the same city.

I definitely don't think it detracts from the story at all.


message 47: by Karolina (new)

Karolina | 31 comments I think it's interesting/difficult to try to write a big city in a new way - especially cities like New York and Los Angeles that have been written about so often and so well. They've become mythical cities in some ways.

Jenni wrote: "Hi Karolina,

First of all, I have to say that I enjoyed this book quite a bit. My degree is in Asian languages, and as part of my degree I was able to take culture classes that touched on the liv..."



message 48: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments I really liked Mary’s character. She is suffering from an altogether different loneliness then Anya, a loneliness stemming from loss and old age. What did you guys think of Mary and her relationship to Anya?


message 49: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments Hi Karolina,

I’m so glad to be a part of this discussion and a recipient of How to Get into the Twin Palms!! I’m fascinated by world cuisine and feel that through food we can gain insight into other cultures. I liked your inclusion of food in this book, as well as Anya’s description of smells. I was wondering if you mind sharing a Polish recipe with us?


message 50: by Sara (new)

Sara Habein (sara_habein) | 54 comments I've only been to LA once, but to me, it had a similar feel to more "classic" LA stories, all that darkness and loneliness, but not through a Hollywood-bent, other than the sign, of course.


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