Posts Tagged ‘Joshua Henkin’

As usual, I used random.org to select one winner from the 35 comments that were left on the post.

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-09-16 11:24:51 UTC

Shonda is the lucky winner of the paperback of Matrimony, personally inscribed by the author, book-group-friendly Joshua Henkin.  Joshua, thanks for your generosity!  Shonda, please send me your mailing address so I can pass it along.

Not a winner?  Go out and buy the book; you’ll enjoy it!

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I’m posting my Week Ahead a day earlier than usual this week – it’s going to be a busy week!  There’s a lot happening here and on other book blogs in conjunction with Book Blogger Appreciation Week … check out this partial listing of what’s going on in my little corner of the world:

Monday 9/15 – I’m starting the week out as a tour host for Kathleen McCleary’ novel House & Home, working with TLC Book Tours.  I’ll have a book review and themed giveaway posted today!

Tuesday 9/16 – A bonus guest post by Kathleen McCleary, which will also serve as an early Spotlight on Bookstores this week.  If you’ve read the novel, you may be curious about the origins of “The Hole in the Wall” bookstore …

Also, I’ll be announcing the winner of Joshua Henkin’s Matrimony today (enter by midnight on Monday 9/15 for your chance to win an inscribed copy of the paperback!)

And, if that’s not enough … today is the day that BBAW intereviews with bloggers will be online.  She Is Too Fond of Books will have a VIP guest that I’m thrilled to interview; now it’s your turn to get to know her better …

Wednesday 9/17 – BBAW award presentations begin today!  Click over to My Friend Amy’s blog for the complete schedule (her blog should be on your “Favorites” or in your Google Reader … read early, read often!).  I can’t wait to watch all the award-winners walk the red carpet … will Joan Rivers be there critiquing what everyone’s wearing?

Thursday 9/18 – I have a few reviews to post this week, look for The Madonnas of Leningrad and Guernica.  Interesting connection between these two novels, each has a story line that involves removing art from museums in order to protect the masterpieces during a war.  Read the Comments below to find out which museum and which war in each case.

Friday 9/19 – I’ll have my weekly Friday Finds post, sharing the books that have come into my life over the week.

And, ahoy, matey!  September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! (I’m not kidding!)  Practice your “yo ho ho”s and “arrr”s while reading one of our favorite children’s books, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and illustrated by the ever-amusing David Shannon.  You can translate any phrase into pirate-speak at the official site of Talk Like a Pirate Day; try it, it’s fun!

OK, time for me to put my feet up and relax for a bit before the week begins 🙂  I’m going to just sit back and crack open a book …  What are you most looking forward to this week?!

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Next week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week … there are guests posts, giveaways, interviews, awards galore, etc.!

What’s in it for the person who reads book blogs (doesn’t have one of his/her own) … PLENTY!  Where would book bloggers be without the loyal readers who contribute so much to our blogs with feedback, comments, questions?!?  This week is to honor YOU as well.

Accordingly, the Literate Housewife has put together an amazing contest just for book blog readers.  All you have to do is submit a short (200 words or less) essay completing the sentence: “I read book blogs because …”  The top ten answers will be submitted to Joshua Henkin, the author of Matrimony.  Readers of my blog know how much Joshua loves readers and book groups (details of my current giveaway are here) … he’ll be selecting the First, Second and Third place entries – the winners will get grab bags of books!!

Read the details of the contest at the Literate Housewife’s post – remember to email your entry to the address she provides, don’t leave it in the Comments section.

Thanks, readers!

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I’m so pleased that Joshua Henkin has offered to co-host a giveaway of his novel MatrimonyI reviewed this mid-August, just before the release of the paperback.  One of the things I  really like about Matrimony is that Henkin shows the significance of the “everyday” parts of a marriage, as well as the “extraordinary.”

Has your book group read Matrimony and is ready to discuss it?  Read what Henkin has to say about books group in this guest post over at Books on the Brain – he loves talking to discussion groups and may be able to schedule a virtual visit – all you need is a speakerphone!  This is a great novel for book groups to talk about; there’s a reading group guide available, to get you started.

Some of us like the nice display a hardcover makes on a bookcase; some of us realize that we can get more “bang for the buck” if we wait for the paperback … now’s your chance!  You can buy this New York Times Notable Book in paperback, or leave a Comment on this post for a chance to win; winner will be drawn randomly, and announced on September 16 (and if you don’t win, you can head to the bookstore then!).  Joshua Henkin will personally inscribe the book in your name and pop it in the mail; as my six-year-old would say: how cool is that?!

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  • Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 26, 2008 )
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • ISBN-10: 030727716X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277169
  • Matrimony is the second novel by author Joshua Henkin, who has also published Swimming Across the Hudson (1997) and several short stories.  I found Matrimony such a pleasant and “cozy” read that I’m planning to look up his other work.

    Let’s start with the synopsis from inside the dust jacket, which I find to be an accurate picture of the novel, without any spoilers:

    From the moment he was born, Julian Wainwright has lived a life of Waspy privilege. The son of a Yale-educated investment banker, he grew up in a huge apartment on Sutton Place, high above the East River, and attended a tony Manhattan private school. Yet, more than anything, he wants to get out-out from under his parents’ influence, off to Graymont College, in western Massachusetts, where he hopes to become a writer.

    When he arrives, in the fall of 1986, Julian meets Carter Heinz, a scholarship student from California with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship. Carter’s mother, desperate to save money for his college education, used to buy him reversible clothing, figuring she was getting two items for the price of one. Now, spending time with Julian, Carter seethes with resentment. He swears he will grow up to be wealthy-wealthier, even, than Julian himself.

    Then, one day, flipping through the college facebook, Julian and Carter see a photo of Mia Mendelsohn. Mia from Montreal, they call her. Beautiful, Jewish, the daughter of a physics professor at McGill, Mia is-Julian and Carter agree-dreamy, urbane, stylish, refined.

    But Julian gets to Mia first, meeting her by chance in the college laundry room. Soon they begin a love affair that-spurred on by family tragedy-will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, over the next ten years. Then Carter reappears, working for an Internet company in California, and he throws everyone’s life into turmoil: Julian’s, Mia’s, his own.

    Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is about love and friendship, about money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It asks what happens to a marriage when it is confronted by betrayal and the specter of mortality. What happens when people marry younger than they’d expected? Can love endure the passing of time?

    In its emotional honesty, its luminous prose, its generosity and wry wit, Matrimony is a beautifully detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone-to do it when you’re young, and to try to do it afresh on the brink of middle age.

    I found Matrimony to be a true “slice of life” with so many of the issues being near-universal experiences:  emergence of ourselves in adulthood and the subsequent changes in our relationships, illness/death of parent, decisions and conflicts around career/education path of significant other, infidelity of friend or colleague, religious differences and how they affect our responses to others, friendships based on mutual convenience versus those that are deep-seated, and finally, the maturity of long-term love.

    We meet Julian on the cusp of adulthood as he enters college at an alternative liberal arts school.  Henkin is very effective in the way he spools out his novel, easing us forward through the next twenty years as he also dips into the past to fill in details using narrative flashback scenes.  Details such as the Peer Contraceptive Counseling squad during freshman orientation and the “well-intentioned gesture [of securing] for him for his sixteenth birthday an inscribed copy of Atlas Shrugged” are believable aspects of Julian’s experience which lend additional authenticity to the writing.

    Consider this look into Mia’s mind, as she and her sister, Olivia, contemplate their mother’s illness; it certainly resonated with me:

    She just wanted them to admit how frightened they were, but it seemed they weren’t able to.  And maybe she wasn’t, either.  Last night, she’d stood silently with Olivia in the kitchen, and then she blurted out, “I love you,” and Olivia blurted it back. A discomfort settled between them, a shame almost.  What freighted words those were, reserved for so few people sometimes it seemed they were never to be used at all.  She recalled being a child, four, five, six when she said those words to her teachers and classmates, when it seemed there wasn’t anybody she didn’t love.  Then a hardening set in, a calcifying of the heart, and you didn’t love anyone any longer, or at least you didn’t say you did, that now she couldn’t remember the last time she’d said those words to anyone besides Julian, when there were other people she loved, her family certainly.

    Henkin is so focused on Julian as the central character that in the three pages of narrative and dialogue dedicated to their first day as Freshman roommates, the roommate remains nameless.  Henkin uses this technique again in the epilogue; a new character is introduced, but several paragraphs pass before the character is named.  This is an extremely effective way of drawing the reader in towards Julian and Mia, and serves as neat “bookends” to the novel.

    I am so pleased by the number of authors who have “official” websites.  Yes, they’re part of the marketing machine, but they really do offer resources that are welcomed by an interested reader.  At Henkin’s website you can read more about the author and his work, and check listings for his author events.  Henkin loves book groups!  In addition to offering a downloadable reading group guide, he is willing to meet with book groups via speaker-phone (perhaps in person, if in the tri-state area), and is running a contest featuring copies of Matrimony and a Junior’s Cheesecake from Brooklyn!  Because of the universality of so many of the themes in this novel, it is a good choice for book discussion groups; the lack of any major controversy/politics might make it especially appealing to book group “virgins”.

    The book cover at the top of this review is from the hardcover edition, published in October 2007.  Here is the paperback cover, being released by Vintage Books on August 26, 2008.

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