We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Subject: Where'd you go, Bernadette

From: Terri Rens
Sent: Saturday, 17 August 2013, 08:00 AM
To: Reader of this Post
Subject: Where'd you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Dear Reader,

I had seen the cover of Where'd you go, Bernadette in many magazines since last year. I saw the title many times on the wall of The Good Book Appreciation Society. I was quite curious, and rather intrigued by this book so I ordered it. I ordered it without knowing what the story is about, because whilst I had seen writing about it everywhere (as one does about so many books) I did not take the time to read the thoughts of others about this book, as I just knew that I had to have and read this book.

I'll be honest with you, I didn't even read the book jacket. I just had that gut feeling that I would love this book, and I did. I firmly believe that it is a very good thing to go into the reading of a book with no idea of what the book is about, so you can allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised.

I ordered Where'd you go, Bernadette about a month ago, it arrived roughly 2 weeks later - I do love ordering books from the Exclusive Books website. With it being a long weekend last weekend, I decided that it was time for me to read this book that called out to me for so long. I took my copy of Where'd you go, Bernadette and went off to have lunch at Dulcè. I was there for more than 3 hours - absorbed in the pages of this wonderful book. I am quite certain that my waiter must have thought at one point that I was out of my mind because I was laughing so hard at this book. What can I say, this book is funny. Funny is a bit of an understatement, but let's just go for funny for the sake of not being overly dramatic. I finally left Dulcè having read almost half of Where'd you go, Bernadette and feeling quite wonderful having laughed so heartily.

It was not all moonshine and roses though, there is a darker aspect to this book too. You don't realize that there is a darker side until you are quite a way into the book. I suppose I should give you some idea on what this book is about, I took this from Goodreads:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner, to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. 

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle - and people in general - has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. 

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence - creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an  absurd world. 

What I really enjoyed about Where'd you go, Bernadette was that it is an epistolary novel. I shan't say too much more as I do not want to give anything away, but it is certainly the epistolary form that makes this such a brilliantly told story. In case you were unsure, an epistolary novel is a novel that is written in the form of diary entries, letters or a compendium of documents. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

I loved getting that AHA moment when it all comes together - it reminded me so much of Atonement by Ian McEwan and that quote that I love from Domino - 'What we see may not be the truth' - this certainly is the case in this wonderful epistolary novel. If there is anything that I got from this lovely book, it is that everything we see everyday is out of context. We see things and we make them make sense for ourselves, connecting the dots so that in our minds we have a rational explanation - despite our "rational explanations" being rather far from the truth of the situation. We judge rather harshly until we learn the truth and then have to face the sea of emotions or even the consequences that arise due to our wrongly connected dots.

I do hope you'll pick up a copy of Where'd you go, Bernadette.

Your Writer

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Steve Boykey Sidley Press Release from Pan MacMillan

It's a wonderful time for South African writers. First The Shining Girls got critical international acclaim and has been optioned by Leonardo di Caprio, and now we have wonderful news regarding Steve Sidley!

On 12 August 2013, Pan Macmillan South Africa announced that Steven Boykey Sidley, award winning author of Entanglement and Stepping Out, has been signed to the prestigious French publishing house Belfond, which will be translating both books into French for sale in francophone countries. Belfond is the publisher of French translations of Lionel Shriver, Douglas Kennedy, Woody Allen, Kafka and other notable authors.

The deal was initiated and facilitated by Pan Macmillan South Africa's publisher, Andrea Natrass, through the French literary agency, Agence Michelle Lapautre.

Steven Boykey Sidley has divided his adult life between the United States of America and South Africa. He has meandered through careers as an animator, chief technology officer for a Fortune 500 company, jazz musician, software developer, video game designer, private equity investor and high technology entrepreneur. After releasing his debut novel, Entanglement in 2012, Sidley wrote his second novel, Stepping Out, which was released in February 2013. Sidley's third novel, Imperfect Solo, will be published by Picador South Africa early in 2014.

The arrival of Steven Boykey Sidley on the South African literary scene has been incredibly exciting with a Sunday Times fiction shortlist and the UJ Debut Award for Entanglement. It was only a matter of time before international publishers started to take notice, and Pan Macmillan is absolutely delighted that a publisher of the stature of Belfond has brought the French rights to both Entanglement and Sidley's second novel Stepping Out. "
Terry Morris, Managing Director of Pan Macmillan South Africa.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Warehouse Sale...

I have wanted to go to the Exclusive Books Warehouse sale ever since they started having them. It was never really a practical desire – but then dreams are hardly ever practical, are they. As fate would have it my life changed in 2013, with me relocating to the Western Cape; this of course had very little bearing on my desire to go to a Warehouse Sale, because they were usually just in Johannesburg. Again fate intervened, so lo and behold – 2013 became a year with a Warehouse 

Sale in the Western Cape too! It was destiny. It was serendipity. I had to go. And go I did.
I am very fortunate to work with some bookish folk; even more fortunate is that I share my office with Lara who understood the awesomeness of a warehouse sale where books were going for R50 a kilogram. R50/kg folks! That is like the bargain of the century. In this day and age where you don’t get any of the books that you really want for less than R120 a pop books at R50/kg is an absolute steal and you are a complete fool if you have the opportunity to go but don’t. But I digress.

Lara and I decided that we would feed our book loving souls by going to the Warehouse Sale. Neither of us knew where exactly this warehouse was, so we resorted to trusty old Google Maps for directions – we printed out 3 different sets in case things started to look familiar along the way. What an adventure we had with those 3 sets of directions. Do note folks, Google Maps doesn’t always give the simplest route – we went in a rather round-about way – heading through Athlone and past some rather nefarious areas – when really it would have been easier had we just gone to the airport and found our way from there. We did not lament this though, as it just makes for a more interesting story.

Finally we found Koets Street after taking the wrong turn at a round-about. Our spirits soared as we saw that we were at the right place as there were signs about the ridiculous bargain of books at R50/kg. When we stepped into the warehouse we were like kids in a candy store. An entire warehouse filled with tables full of books for us to go through and find some hidden gems. It was Nirvana! How wonderful it was to be surrounded by so many other bookish folk with the same intentions. How bad it was for anyone on a tight budget, but how wonderful it was to have thousands, yes THOUSANDS of books to choose from! It was a dream come true!!!

I could go on and on and on about the experience, but I would rather show you what I got, and urge you to go and check out the Warehouse Sale if you can because it is like Christmas for all bookworms.

And now, for the goodies that I got:

Audio Books:
-          Skulduggery Pleasant-Death Bringer – Derek Landy
-          As you Do – Richard Hammond
-          Drama –John Lithgow (so what if I am not an actor – you cannot help but love John Lithgow!)
-          The Infinities – John Banville
-          The Prince of Mist – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (narrated by the lovely Dan Stevens who we all know best as cousin Matthew on Downton Abbey)

Rocking books:
The British Invasion – Barry Mills
Rock – an illustrated history of artists and sounds
The Monster Book of Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll
Not very many people know that I am doing a course on the History of Rock through Coursera, so finding these books was just fate!

The Classics:

  • The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  • The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (after reading ‘Of Mice and Men’ I’ve been meaning to get a copy of this one)
  • Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  • The Doll – Daphne du Maurier (absolutely adored Rebecca so have to get more du Maurier books)
  • The Madness of Nero – Tacitus
  • The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  • Farewell Summer – Ray Bradbury
  • On Living and Dying Well – Cicero
  • Five Children and It – E. Nesbit

Penguin English Library:

  • The Confidence Man – and Billy Budd, Sailor – Herman Melville
  • Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollope
  • The Way of the Flesh – Samuel Butler
  • Daisy Miller and the Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  • The Warden – Anthony Trollope
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge – Thomas Hardy
  • The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  •  The Murder on Rue Morgue and Other Tales – Edgar Allan Poe
  • Fromley Parsonage – Anthony Trollope
  • The Old Curiosity Shop – Charles Dickens
I really got a lot of Trollope books, have read about him on Allie’s blog and on Delaise’s blog – so when I saw these beauties on the sale table I had to have them.


  • The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
  • Bowie – Marc Spitz ( this just had to be fate because I dreamt about Ziggy Stardust the other week)
  • 30 Nights in Amsterdam – Etienne van Heerden
  • Oh Dear Silvia – Dawn French (the other half of the genius behind Absolutely Fabulous – I obviously HAD to have this one!)

  • Hallelujah the Welcome Table – Maya Angelou
  • Diabolical – Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Vanished Years – Rupert Everett
  • Ragnarok – A.S. Byatt
  • Pegasus – Robyn McKinley
  • Wake – Amanda Hocking
  • Fifty Sheds of Grey
  • Hidden – P.C. and Kristin Cast
  • Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein
  • Beatrice and Vergil – Yann Martel
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Bubbles – Rahla Xenopoulos
  • The Science of Kissing – Sheril Kirshenbaum
  • James May’s Man Lab – James May
  •  Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now – Maya Angelou
  •      Between a Heart and a Rock Place – Pat Benetar
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
  • The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  • How to Keep a Boy as a Pet – Diana Messidoro
  • The Vintage Teacup Club – Vanessa Greene
  • Blue Monday – Nicci French

These should keep me enthralled for a long time to come. I've already finished two of the books that I got at the Warehouse Sale. I am now putting myself on a book buying ban, because I truly have a book buying problem.

Did you manage to go to the Warehouse Sale? If you did what did you get? If you haven’t yet, are you planning on going?