The Next Best Book Club discussion

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Author/Reader Discussions > SHOUT HER LOVELY NAME 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 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to give away 10 copies of Natalie Serber's novel SHOUT HER LOVELY NAME this month!


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

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

Ends November 9th


message 2: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Winners announced. we had 10 to give, and 10 commented. That there's some easy maths!

http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c...


message 3: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Yay! I like those odds again! :)


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber So happy winners will have SHOUT in hand soon. I'm really looking forward the to the conversation. Meanwhile, wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.


message 5: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Hey there Natalie! Thanks for popping in :)


message 6: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Just found mine on my door step today-can't wait to get started!


message 7: by Karly (new)

Karly (KarlyRose) | 34 comments Haven't received my copy yet, hoping it comes soon!


message 8: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Uh oh Karly. Reaching out the publisher to see what happened there. Thanks for letting me know.


message 9: by Natalie (last edited Dec 02, 2012 05:39PM) (new)

Natalie Serber Please let me know if I can help out as well.


message 10: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Tomorrow, we officially welcome Natalie to the group.

Today, see her collection of "smart and nuanced" short stories named as one of NYT's Notables for 2012!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/boo...


message 11: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda Lomazow | 65 comments I absolutel loved this book from the first story about anorexia to ruby and nora.my first question is about Shout her lovely name it was heartbreakingly realistic on the topic of anorexia. And how families cope.was this story based on something in real life?second are you working on a new book I am now a huge fan.


message 12: by Karly (new)

Karly (KarlyRose) | 34 comments Got my copy yesterday! I'll be starting it and jumping into the discussion soon. Thanks for looking into that.


message 13: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
A very warm TNBBC welcome to Natalie Serber!

Today kicks off our Author/Reader Discussion with Natalie and her short story collection SHOUT HER LOVELY NAME!

Where are all the readers at? What are your takes on the stories so far?

My first question for Natalie comes on the heels of Rhonda's.

Natalie, how much these stories were taken from real life?


message 14: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Almost done reading- I'm on the last story. I have enjoyed this read very much. I found myself intensly disliking Ruby. She is just so selfish. I think sometimes characters that are NOT likeable are more facinating than ones that are easy to like.


message 15: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments In the first story, what do you think of the mother personalizing her daughter's treatment of her and her condition? Do you think this is only a natural reaction to a very difficult situation?


message 16: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments What do you think about the inclusion of pictures and recipes in the first story. Do you think it visually reinforces the story? Do you think it gives a more life like quality to the story?


message 17: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Hello! I love the questions that you all are posing about the collection, and of course I have some thoughts about them, but before I way in, I'm particularly interested in your ideas. What do you all think about the collage aspects of the first story. I very deliberately choose the images. Can't wait to hear more. And, I also want to thank everyone for your smart attention to my book. How lucky am I?


message 18: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Of course some of the events in the stories come from life experience and then I imagine beyond and further. Some of the experiences come from my life and some from those of close friends. It's funny, we all love to snoop, and I love to imagine what parts of a book come from an author's life, but really, all that matters is the life of the characters on the page, no?


message 19: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I am wondering what order you wrote the stories in...was it the same order as they appear in the book? The stories about Ruby and Nora are in cronological order but how did you decide where to place the other stories?


message 20: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Chelsea, thanks for the great question.
The very first story I wrote for the collection was, "This Is So Not Me." In fact it was the first story I ever had published. The next story was "Ruby Jewel," which went through so many different versions. At one time it was called "Spinning Nickels" and it won the John Steinbeck Award, but I still wasn't happy with it. As the other stories spooled out, I came around to the version I liked best, the one that is is in the collection. The final story I wrote for the collection was, "Rate My Life." My editor felt we needed one more Ruby and Nora story to round out the arc.


message 21: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments I liked the collage aspect of the first story. At first it was a little jarring but as I continued reading I grew to like it. It added a touch of reality to the story. The mother researching her daughter's condition online, the definition and symptoms provided.

Actually the last time I was at my mother-in-laws house I was looking over her recipes and one of them said Corey's 8 year-old birthday cake. The story reminded me that all families have recipes and traditions. It must be especially difficult for a parent to look back at a child's life before their eating disorder. Questions of why the eating disorder started and feelings of guilt must gnaw on a parent. I liked how the story dealt with these issues.


message 22: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Thanks, Rosanna. You are so right about family history and tradition around food. I chose to include the recipes and images because I wanted to make "Shout Her Lovely Name" larger than a story about one family. I wanted it to be a story about the pressures we put on all our girls. It didn't start out that way, as if I had an axe to grind, but ultimately the collage aspect seemed what the mother would be aware of...how impossible it is for her to find respite from what is going on with her family.


message 23: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I found the story This is so Not Me to be very touching. I am a nursing mother right now and cannot imagine nursing someone else's baby but in a situation like that it must have seemed natural. I take care of other people's children for a living and being a mom, I can always feel that despirate need to soothe when a baby is crying, even if it's not my own. The last line really stuck with me- "his soft brown eyes glaze over like he's been waiting for this his whole life." It was such a heart breaking moment. I read somewhere that to a baby, milk IS love. It was just so sad to sense the relief for the baby to feel that, if only for a moment...and to not know if he was going to get more love like that in his life.


message 24: by Olivia (new)

Olivia (olivia_boler) | 26 comments I'm just starting this and want to thank Lori for arranging the read. I was delighted to open the package and find that my good friend Siobhan Fallon has a blurb on the back. Already, a promising beginning and I hadn't even cracked the cover! :)
I'll post again soon once I get a chance to really dive into the book. Thanks, again!


message 25: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Chelsea, thanks so much for your response to "This Is So Not Me." I am touched that you were moved by the story. I wrote it long after my children were weaned, but it was (and is) an emotional moment of connection in that odd, disconnected place, an airplane. I choose to believe that baby was on his way to good people and he helped Shelby to realize what she is capable of in the way of giving.


message 26: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments I have a general question for the group. I'm not a parent and I was wondering how you think being a parent changes your perspective when reading this book. Do you think it makes a difference or not? So far I've really enjoyed the stories and feel that I have a glimmer of insight into the challenges a mother might face in raising a kid. What are your thoughts?


message 27: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber I like your question, Rosanna. And, I'm going to refrain from a full answer (though here I am! ha!) I'll just say that being a daughter informed the stories as much as being a mother.


message 28: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments I like that question too. It's hard for me to remember what it was like to be an adult but not a mother (I had my firat at 21). I think reading some parts, the mother in me kept thinking "how could she?!" about some of the things Ruby did...but then a few other times I sympathized with Ruby. Sometimes she just needed some time to herself with another adult- being a busy mom of three, I know how despirate that need can be. And in the first and last story, I really put myself in the mother's shoes. My little girl is 5 and the sweetest litle thing and it worries me that she could turn into a angry out of control teen someday. Would I have these same feelings if I wasn't a mother? idk...maybe. I think mothering is something within us that is part of us as women even before we actually have children. I think being a mother hightened those emotions for me though.


message 29: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments Chelsea, I really like your comment, "I think mothering is something within us that is a part of us as women even before we actually have children." It's an interesting and touching idea.


message 30: by Rosanna (new)

Rosanna (RosannaBell) | 125 comments Natalie, it seems that you had enough content to make a novel about Ruby and Nora. What made you decide to write a collection of short stories, instead of a novel? Do you prefer the short story format?


message 31: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber I was afraid to write a novel! It seemed easier to write the stories because then I could have giant gaps of time between each one. Now that I am writing a novel, I understand that it is both easier and harder. With a novel, there are a lot of balls in the air, just a lot to keep track of, and yet, there is a sense of ease as well. By that I mean everything isn't as taught, you get to sprawl a wee bit.


message 32: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Wilkins | 38 comments Natalie, I first want to thank you for participating in this discussion. I've only read the first 3 stories so far, but am really enjoying the book. To answer some questions already posed:
Collage - I had to think about what that meant, because for me, the photos and recipes were an integral part of the story. And I loved the Hansel and Gretal sections.
Reading as a parent - like Chelsea, the mother in me related (in fear) to Lovely's mom. I agree we all have a mothering aspect to us, even before we have kids, but I have to admit that if I didn't have a daughter of my own, I wouldn't have had patience with Lovely's mother - I would have wondered why she put up with the abuse. But as a mother, I understand it.


message 33: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Wilkins | 38 comments Now a question for Natalie (again, I've only read the first 3 stories so far): Were you deliberatly vague about the time period/date/year these stories take place? There are some old-fashioned things, like Ruby calling her purse a "pocketbook," and a nurse not batting an eye when her pregnant patient asks for a cigarette. Yet Lovely's mom does a lot of internet searches, which places that story within a certain time period...


message 34: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber The Ruby/Nora stories are set in the 60s - 80s, while the other stories are set in more recent times. Thanks for asking.


message 35: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Jensen (Jennifer_Jensen) | 7 comments I'm late to the party - couldn't find the "You won a copy" email so just received it and I'm so excited! We have a long drive tomorrow so I'll read it then and pop into the discussion tomorrow night. Hurray!


message 36: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 28 comments Thank you Natalie for this wonderful book! I really loved how the collection took us through stories of various characters, while still returning to Nora and Ruby. Not knowing what the next story would hold provided an amazing amount of subtle suspense. When I got to the end of each story, I was so excited to see if the next would open my eyes further to the recurring characters, or introduce me to new ones.

What made you decide to write so many stories about Ruby & Nora - why these characters instead of the others?


message 37: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber I'm so glad you like my book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Why Ruby and Nora...well they got under my skin. I felt absorbed by Ruby's desires to do the right thing and how she always gets in her own way. I also think a lot about what that will mean, that pattern, in Nora's adult life. Cassie and her family stay with me as well. Who knows, maybe all of them will turn up in future stories.


message 38: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Natalie, What was the publishing and editing process like for you?


message 39: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Thanks for the question, Lori. The editing and publishing of SHOUT was a wild and exciting ride. I love my editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and my agent is terrific and supportive. I wrote an essay about the experience and you can find it at link below if you want to read more. In summation, I feel very lucky and incredibly grateful.
http://www.hungermtn.org/take-it-pers...


message 40: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 112 comments Curious....When talking about the book club incident in the last story, no title or author was mentioned but did you have a certain book in mind?


message 41: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 28 comments I second that question, Chelsea!


message 42: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda Lomazow | 65 comments Very curious about bookclub book also.what books are you reading now&what books or authors do you reccomend?


message 43: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Jensen (Jennifer_Jensen) | 7 comments I'm three stories in, and I'm loving it! Natalie, you portray an incredible depth of character that keeps me thinking about these women for a long time. I'll save comments about Ruby & Nora for later, but Lovely's story - wow. Such raw emotion. I have three grown kids, one of whom rebelled in a different way, and I really connect with the Mom wanting to do anything to help and her guilt over what she might have done wrong to make Lovely become anorexic. Very powerful - thank you! And yes, I think the collage aspect made it stronger. It added more realism as well as breaking it into pieces, sort of like how a panicky mother would feel. Not disjointed, but almost. I hope I meet up with Lovely in a later story!


message 44: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Hi Rhonda, Thanks for the question regarding the book club choice. I'm going to have to take the 5th on that one. However, I'll happily share with you what I'm reading. Tessa Hadley has a new story collection I'm excited to read. I also want to read Katherine Boo's book, BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS Right now I'm reading Mary Karr's memoir, LIT, as well as THE COLLECTED POEMS OF JACK GILBERT.
As for authors I love--Amy Bloom, George Saunders, Junot Diaz, Jean Thompson, Charles Baxter, to name a few.


message 45: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Jennifer, I'm so glad you're enjoying the book and that the characters connect with your own life experience. What more could a writer want?


message 46: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda Lomazow | 65 comments I love Tress Hadley and loved Katherine boos book.thanks for the author suggestions.


message 47: by Karly (new)

Karly (KarlyRose) | 34 comments Hi Natalie, I am really enjoying your book. My question is where do you find your inspiration for the details of mother-daughter and adolescent life? Trends they follow, music they like, habits they have - do you pull from any specific source? Is it more a collection of personal memories? or did you do a lot of research in forming these details?


message 48: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9618 comments Mod
Since the holidays are fast approaching, I wanted to ask:

Natalie, what were some of your favorite books to give and get as gifts?


message 49: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Hi Karly,
You know, it is both. I cull some of the ideas from what I remember liking as a kid, or at least being exposed to as a kid, and then I also do some web-browsing. I like having something I can do when the writing isn't going well. Doing a little web research feels like I'm still getting work done.


message 50: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Serber Lori, I have a long list of books I want and books that I'm giving this year.
THE COLLECTED POEMS OF JACK GILBERT, for my best friend
HELP, THANKS, WOW (Anne Lamott) for my Aunt
MARRIED LOVE (Tessa Hadley) for me!
MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF (La Force & Mount) umm, me again
KURT VONNEGUT'S LETTERS, and me once more!
WATERLIFE (Rambharos Jha) a beautiful picture book for my daughter
HOW TO BE A WOMAN (Catilin Moran) for my daughter
NEW YORKER BOOK OF DOGS for my mother

I'm certain there are more, but that's the list of the top of my head.


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