Friday, May 13, 2011

THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME: AUTHOR INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

 GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME
BY JEAN THOMPSON

ABOUT THE BOOK:
From National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson comes a mesmerizing, decades-spanning saga of one ordinary American family—proud, flawed, hopeful— whose story simultaneously captures the turbulent history of the country at large.

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Jean Thompson has been celebrated by critics as "a writer of extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity" (O, The Oprah Magazine), "an American Alice Munro" (The Wall Street Journal), and "one of our most lucid and insightful writers" (San Francisco Chronicle). Her peers have been no less vocal, from Jennifer Egan ("bracing . . . boldly unconventional") to David Sedaris ("if there are 'Jean Thompson characters,' they're us, and never have we been as articulate and worthy of compassion"). 

Now, in The Year We Left Home, Thompson brings together all of her talents to deliver the career-defining novel her admirers have been waiting for: a sweeping and emotionally powerful story of a single American family during the tumultuous final decades of the twentieth century. It begins in 1973 when the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, gathers for the wedding of their eldest daughter, Anita. Even as they celebrate, the fault lines in the family emerge. The bride wants nothing more than to raise a family in her hometown, while her brother Ryan watches restlessly from the sidelines, planning his escape. He is joined by their cousin Chip, an unpredictable, war-damaged loner who will show Ryan both the appeal and the perils of freedom. Torrie, the Ericksons' youngest daughter, is another rebel intent on escape, but the choices she makes will bring about a tragedy that leaves the entire family changed forever. 

Stretching from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to suburban Chicago to the coast of contemporary Italy—and moving through the Vietnam War's aftermath, the farm crisis, the numerous economic booms and busts—The Year We Left Home follows the Erickson siblings as they confront prosperity and heartbreak, setbacks and triumphs, and seek their place in a country whose only constant seems to be breathtaking change. Ambitious, richly told, and fiercely American, this is a vivid and moving meditation on our continual pursuit of happiness and an incisive exploration of the national character.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jean Thompson is the author of Who Do You Love: Stories, a 1999 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and the novels City Boy and Wide Blue Yonder, a New York Times Notable Book and Chicago Tribune Best Fiction selection. She lives in Urbana, Illinois. Visit her at www.jeanthompsononline.com

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:
1. Welcome, and thank you for agreeing to an interview for BOOKIN‘ WITH BINGO. Is there any personal information you would like to start out with today?
I look so much better than my pictures.

2.  Where did you get the inspiration or idea for this book?
I seldom start out with an idea or a theme, but instead put characters in motion, and see where they take me.  I'd been to a small town wedding much like the one in the first chapter, and for some reason wanted to revisit it, reinvent it, and make it my own.  It was a brief glimpse into a world very different from mine, and it tugged at my curiosity. From there the book just grew, like a knitting project that keeps taking more yarn.

3. How did the title of your book come about?
I struggled with the title; there didn't seem to be anything obvious within the book itself.  Also, the novel covers thirty years time, and a whole gallery of characters, so no one person or incident stood out.  But I did keep circling the idea of home, and the tug of war between going out into the world and staying put - as different characters do at different times in the narrative.

4. Do you see yourself in your characters? Which characters are easiest or more difficult to write?
Part of the work of writing, at least in the sort of realistic fiction I write, is to try and stretch yourself to inhabit characters who aren't one bit like yourself.  So that I am none of these characters, and I am all of them.  When I was first beginning to write, I used more 'real' people as models, but now my characters are largely fueled by imagination. No one need fear finding themselves in my pages.

5. What is the next or current book/project you are working on?
I'm trying to get another novel started, although that means I have a kind of split screen attention span right now - involved in the writing, but also trying to enjoy the launch of the current book.  I keep reminding myself to take an extra fifteen minutes and celebrate my own publication date.

6. What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?
If there's anything people don't know about me, it's probably because I want it that way.

7. Do you own an eReader of any kind and how do you feel about their impact on books, as well as you as an author?
No, I don't have an ereader, though I'm not philosophically opposed to them, and I probably should equip myself with one, because I have way, way too many books in the house, and keep buying more.  I'm not sure e-books have yet supplanted actual books, nor are they likely to.  They do offer another option that appeals to some people. Publishers dreaded the coming of e-books for a long time, and stewed about how to incorporate them, that is, how to profit from them - but they've taken the leap, and landed on their feet, and now we can all get back to the business of reading and writing.

8. What is your advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?
Advice?  Read a lot.  Then write a lot, and seek out other writers to give you advice, aid, and comfort.  Writing is isolated and often frustrating work, and you can go a long, long time without any reinforcement.  Realize that's the nature of the craft.  Learn to take joy in what transpires between you and the page; it's the only part of the process you can control.  Keep at it, keep at it, keep at it.

I want to thank Jean Thompson for taking time from her busy schedule to answer these questions. I hope you all will enjoy her new book 

MY REVIEW/THOUGHTS:
Watch for my review of THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME in just a few days where you will be able to comment and get more entries for the giveaway. (HINT: You want to have many entries so you can win as this book is a WINNER, trust me!)

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO MARGARET AND MY GOOD
FRIENDS AT SIMON & SCHUSTER, I HAVE
3 COPIES OF THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME
TO GIVE AWAY
 
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE DESCRIPTION OF THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME, OR THE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JEAN THOMPSON,  AND WHY YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ON JEAN THOMPSON'S WEBSITE BY SEARCHING HER WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, YOU CAN GIVE THEM ALL AS LONG AS THE COMMENTS ARE SEPARATE TO COUNT FOR THE GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, MAY 27!

79 comments:

debbie said...

I can relate to wanting to get away small towns and family. I can see where it would be easy to make the wrong choices (as in the youngest child). I would like to read the book.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I am a email subscriber.
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debbie said...

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debbie
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I thought her book throw like a girl sounds really good.
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dogwood said...

I think the struggle with "home" is something most people can relate to - wanting to leave, wanting to come home, our memories vs. reality...

Sounds like a great read!

dogwoodlane at suddenlink dot net

dogwood said...

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dogwood said...

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mamabunny13 said...

I thought it was interesting way to put the characters in motion first and let it carry her to where it needs to go.
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mamabunny13 said...

Something I found interesting on her website is her book recommendations
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Carol N Wong said...

Having lived through the Viet Nam years in Indiana with many relatives still on the farm, there lots of differences of opinions in many families. I would like to read this book because of going through the same things that the book is about.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Steve Capell said...

I found her ideas about writing too be very interesting. I agree with her that any writer needs to read a lot of books and write, write, write! One final comment -- I really like the cover design of this book. When I was working one part of the country that I covered was Iowa. I made countless trips up I-29 and then onto I-34 through many small towns and rural property and the home depicted on the cover is so typical of this area. This book really sounds interesting so thanks for the opportunity.

steven(dot)capell(at)gmail(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

Twitter is still down! I listened to the story on her site. It was very amusing about how the wife did so much to please her second husband.


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Carol N Wong said...

Twitter is up

Carolee888 is my Twitter name and I tweeted:


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Carol N Wong said...

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Laura said...

I have seen several good reviews on this. Would love to read it. I am a follower.
Laura
laura.leahj@gmail dot com

traveler said...

This book has definitely captured my interest and sounds intriguing. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mial subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Her writing is interesting and I would read her stories. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

lag123 said...

I liked the authors perspective on ereaders. I just recently got an ipad and have busily been downloading books, but I still love my REAL books.

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petite said...

Interesting topic which sounds fascinating. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

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petite said...

She has great book recommendations on her website. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

lag123 said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/lag32583/status/69145412791046144

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lag123 said...

She also wrote Throw Like a Girl.

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Liz said...

Like the sweep of The Year We Left Home, so different from Thompson's other books on her website. Of those. Wide Blue Yonder looks good.

Margie said...

This sounds like an intriguing story...a family drama that spans several decades, and moves from location to location.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

The author has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. She taught creative writing at the University of Illinois--Champaign/ Urbana, Reed College, Northwestern University, and many others.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

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Karen B said...

"...saga of one ordinary American family—proud, flawed, hopeful" - that hooked me!

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

I like her book recommendations section on her website.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

Email subscriber.

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Karen B said...

GFC follower as Karen B.

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I like you/follow on FB.



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Tore said...

I find it intereting it talks about leaving home and the struggles. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

Pamela Keener said...

This sounds like an interesting book to sink my teeth into. I love these types of stories.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via GFC
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Pam
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I follow your bog via Google Reader.
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Pamela Keener said...

I am an e-mail subscriber to your blog.
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Linda Kish said...

I don't have much first-hand experience with small towns. I think it will be good to read about all of the relationships involved.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am a GFC follower

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Colleen Turner said...

I saw this book on Goodreads and thought it sounded good! I love family sagas that stretch across generations! It makes it so much more interesting to dissect the inner workings of a family to see why they make the decisions they make and how it affects those that come after.
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I love the section on the author's website that gives her recommendations of good reads. I have heard a lot about A Visit From The Goon Squad so I might have to check that out.
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bison61 said...

I like her answer to question 2- she had been to a small town wedding much like the one in the first chapter, and for some reason wanted to revisit it, reinvent it, and make it her own. sounds like a great book

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

mamabunny13 said...

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