Feeling the Love
“You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.” – Cheryl Strayed
Anyone who reads this blog knows my first book (hopefully, not the last) is ready to be birthed in June. Bless my close friends and family who haven’t abandoned me yet over my shameless self-promotion. In the fall, when no one wants to read a book titled Invincible Summers, I’ll slow the social media publicity train down to a slow crawl. Promise (I think?!?).
Until then, I must—really, really must—share some crazy good news. Two cupids have shot literary love arrows my way. Seriously. I’m pinching myself. If this blog had audio you’d hear squeals of joy.
The first cupid is Laura Kasischke, author of nine novels including, The Life Before Her Eyes, White Bird in a Blizzard, Suspicious River, and the short story collection, If a Stranger Approaches You. Nine books of poetry, most recently, The Infinitesimals and Space, in Chains, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2012.
Laura wrote this about Invincible Summers: “Invincible Summers is a gorgeous meditation on history and family, innocence and experience. Robin Gaines has created an unforgettable character in Claudia, but by following her through eleven years of her life, she shows us how each one of us is many characters throughout a single lifetime. Her voice and sensibility changes, and we change with her, as the years pass and events alter her time and place and self. At the end of this novel, we’ve lived alongside of Claudia, and the world’s many mysteries, and those of the human heart, have been laid bare. This is the kind of reading experience for which literature was invented.”
My other cupid, writer extraordinaire, John Mauk, the author of two story collections, Field Notes for the Earthbound and The Rest of Us, and who also teaches writing at Miami University in Ohio, wrote this about my book:
“Invincible Summers explores the agony of family. The story begins with the death of Claudia Goodwin’s father, and then plunges into the murkier emotional trouble that follows for years. Through the 1960s and 70s, the world around Claudia moves on. But her loss walks along with her. Gaines deftly manages that loss and the way it floats through time—not shrinking but morphing, not fading but fusing to all of Claudia’s experiences. As the chapters progress through two tumultuous decades, they show how parents fumble their own children, how siblings abandon one another, and how people become itinerant and self-destructive. This is no simplistic tale of self-discovery, nor is it a dirge. It is, in Claudia’s own words, a restless search for nowhere fueled by moments of whimsy, humor, and hope. I am glad to have read Gaines’s fine debut novel and look forward to her next.”
Run to your nearest bookstore or library and pick up their books. You’ll thank me for it!
I’m still swimming in all of this positivity but expecting to wake and find it was all a dream—a misreading, a colossal mixup, fueled by wishing it so. Before the literary love came my way I agonized for months about the authors never getting back to me. Or worse, hating the book and hoping I’d lose their contact info. The evil reviewer in my head: Invincible Summers is a simmering pile of crap.
Say it ain’t so. I know it’s not all hugs and kisses from the readers or critics or Aunt Betty who doesn’t agree with the book’s mention of drug use or premarital sex even if it’s a fictionalized account. In four months I fling my baby into the world. Let the judgments begin. I’m ready for arrows of love or the prickly ones that leave wounds. Such is life. I’m lucky to walk the walk. I’ll stop worrying. I’ll stop bitching. On to the next book!