JUVENTUD comes to Miami this week, I talk about shooting guns with WEIRD SISTER, & more

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Dispatch from Ocean Drive where despite being the warmest spot in the continental U.S. today, it’s still chilly. What’s a literary writer doing on Ocean Drive, you may ask? For the next few days, I’m the writer-in-residence at The Betsy Hotel, a program which has been underway since 2012 and which I first heard about, as with so many good things, word-of-mouth via the poet and memoirist Brian Turner. Tonight, I’ll be reading with the supremely talented Jaquira Diaz at Books & Books, Coral Gables, at 6:30 p.m., following the theme, “coming-of-age in literary fiction.” Jaquira has just been named the Kenyon Review Fellow in Prose for 2016-2017, so even more reason to come out and celebrate this much-deserved honor. Then back at the Betsy on Thursday, the hotel is hosting a breakfast salon (fancy! my first) where I’ll be discussing Juventud, the writing life, etc. At both events, books will be available for sale/signing. Visiting Miami feels especially right for this book, whose characters maintain a diverse array of South Florida ties; in many ways, through Juventud, I’m coming to feel more like this part of the state is my home, too–something I’ve never quite felt before.

A few more musings slipped out into the world of late: I spoke with the ladies at WEIRD SISTER about shooting guns in the context of Juventud, and published an essay on anxiety and creativity at Read Her Like an Open Book. But I’m most happy to report that Juventud is continue to earn praise as it finds its way into the world, the latest in this glowing review of JUVENTUD at New City.

For now, the sun is out. I’m off with my notebook for the beach.

 

 

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JUVENTUD: Final Media Roundup of 2015

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As 2015 winds to a close and debut novels are drowned out in the literary-list madness of December, I thought I’d list the most recent accolades for Juventud here lest you think launch season is ending on a whimper and not a bang. Once again, the novel earns the spotlight at The Quivering Pen blog, where David Abrams has included it in his A Year of Reading Best Book Covers, along with works by Laura van den Berg, Lydia Davis, Lauren Groff, Rick Moody, Ann Tyler, Salmon Rushdie, and my favorite by Joe Meno.

In the book critic realm, several more thoughtful and praise-filled reviews have appeared. I am especially appreciative for this review of Juventud by Donna Miele for the Atticus Review. Miele says, “In the details of Mercedes’s family and social life Blakeslee offers an understanding of relationship and setting—or relationship as setting—that allows Juventud to transcend the trappings of both romance and thriller, though the story flirts with both genres. This is a novel that should generate a lot of discussion and response by future authors, to be pored over and remembered.” Book blogger Stefani Cox loved the novel and had much to say about it on her blog, including a shout-out to Curbside Splendor for publishing a diverse array of authors.

Last but not least, if you’re behind on your podcast listening and plan to spend your New Year’s Day pitching clutter instead of nursing a hangover, you may want to check out my story of how I came to Florida, performed at THE SWAMP at this year’s Miami Book Fair, and recorded by John King for The Drunken Odyssey podcast Episode 183 (which also features a terrific interview with Mary Karr). And finally, one of my favorite conversations about Juventud was with Sarah Werner for The Write Now podcast.  Why not listen in as you clean out those old files and chase away the New Year’s Eve fuzz with a shot or two of espresso? I can’t think of a more pleasant way to ring in 2016.

JUVENTUD Research Notes & Book Trailer up at Necessary Fiction

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Wonder what went into building the vivid world of turbulent 1990s Colombia in Juventud? Some of the primary footage I referenced while drafting the book also ended up in the official book trailer, released last month by the good folks at The Rumpus. You can read my notes and view the trailer today over at Necessary FictionJuventud Research Notes & Book Trailer

Pre-pub buzz for JUVENTUD at Library Journal, New City Lit, and Seven Days!

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As the days cool off slightly in central Florida and I prepare to leave on book tour, it’s been heartening to catch some early praise for Juventud. I’ve been so consumed with final edits and arranging author events that I missed a very nice mention of the novel at Library Journal‘s “Books that Buzzed at BookExpo America,” from earlier this summer (you can find the following links on my official website: News and Reviews for JUVENTUD). The novel also received praise from critic Margot Harrison at the Vermont independent paper, Seven Days, from author Christine Sneed in her Fall Preview 2015 roundup for New City Lit, and Train Shots fan and book reviewer, Sarah Morgan, at the Internet Review of Books. Check it out!