Happy publication day, The Retreat

Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s The Retreat gets its Canadian release today (with HarperCollins). American release (with Mulholland/Hachette) is the 22nd.

I’m going to be honest with you, it’s a great book. Yes, I’m married to her, but I was genuinely wrapped up in the tale. It’s odd to look across the breakfast table now and think, “Gee, that mind came up with some seriously terrifying things. Should I be worried?” But seriously, it’s a good read. I mean, getting inside the mind of someone who lives as physically as a dancer is already no easy feat — but doing so while subjecting her to the level of stress and terror in this book is amazing.

Maeve Martin has given up so much in her life and just wanted to take two weeks at a remote mountain arts retreat to kickstart her career after an abusive marriage and a difficult birth that left her unable to dance. At first, she is able to put the world aside and get back to her passion, but then a freak storm causes and avalanche that traps her in the resort with a handful of other artists. The wildlife outside, including a grizzly, is off-kilter as well, and the sense of being hunted out there is thick with dread. That’s until it starts to become apparent that people inside are being hunted as well. Maeve is a fascinating character: full of doubt, regret, strength, and ambition.

Go buy it from your local bookstore, or order direct from HarperCollins from the link above.

Cat Person scandal grips literary world by throat, shakes it like felted mouse

Ok, so this came up while I was away and Ms. Ninja tried to explain it to me, but I didn’t really get it. Then I found this article in BookForum that sent me to this article in Slate in which a woman claims that the viral New Yorker piece “Cat Person” is her life story: stolen. Except, you know, all the important bits that make the story what it is and caused it to go viral. So…. Um? Anyway, remember when Michael Winter used to get in shit for including very-thinly-veiled versions of people he knew in his stories? Remember every other fiction writer out there doing basically the same? I’m not sure what the problem is here. The ideas have to come from somewhere. And fictionalizing the otherwise boring events of the average set of events are standard practice. You’d think a writer would know that. Sure, it must feel weird, especially when so much attention goes to something you feel you were a part of but didn’t actually get credit for having d….. Oh….wait. Right. I see. Here’s a great context piece on the whole thing.

Nowicki was traumatized by the experience of seeing herself reflected so specifically in fiction in this way, and who can blame her. The experience of reading “Cat Person” was eerie enough for many women as it was. She, as many did, wondered how Roupenian had managed to access her interior world so vividly. Add to that the jarring realization that a passing glance at her real life had inspired its set pieces, and a certain kind of existential crisis seems inevitable.

However, as Nowicki goes on to explain what really happened with “Charles,” including a significant three-year relationship and a protracted break-up, it quickly becomes clear the story was not really based on them at all.

Even Nowicki acknowledges this at the outset:

“Some of the most pivotal scenes—the sexual encounter and the hostile text messages—were unfamiliar to me.”

But in “Cat Person,” the sexual encounter and the hostile text messages are the story. Nowicki—understandably—can’t get past the specter of “Charles” and his exploits with a younger woman from her home town, working at the movie theater where she worked. To her, these details are the most interesting part, and for good reason. But that is not the case for the general reader. To everyone else, they are not only not especially unique or noteworthy, they are wholly immaterial.

I’m-back-baby-Monday news: what did I miss?

Dude takes a week off and you guys go and have a scandal while I’m offline.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi launch of The Retreat includes virtual cocktails and prizes

Just popping in from a mini-vacation to note that Ms. Ninja, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, has a new book, The Retreat, launching in Canada (HarperCollins) and the US (Hachette Mulholland) on July 21 and she’s having a virtual launch — but even better, if you register for the launch by July 11th, you are entered into a prize draw for a free book and a build-your-own-cocktail kit so you can drink along at home. The cocktail is a bespoke drink made for the launch by Terre — a fancy restaurant here in town with hipster bartenders who used to be kids who hung out in our basement with our kids. Anyway, who doesn’t want free stuff? Sign up. Come help launch the book that’s already getting stellar reviews.