Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Natalie Standiford

Natalie Standiford is the author of the Dating Game series as well as the young adult novels, How to Say Goodbye in Robot, which "has all the makings of a cult hit" (Kirkus Reviews), and Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters, due out in September.

Last month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished Daniel Ehrenhaft's YA novel Friend Is Not a Verb, about a Brooklyn boy named Hen whose older sister has suddenly returned from a mysterious disappearance that no one will explain to him. It's charming and funny with an undercurrent of loneliness, a combination of moods I happen to love. Hen's heart is repeatedly broken by everyone around him--the girlfriend who dumps him and kicks him out of her band, his sister who pretends nothing's wrong, his parents who neglect him in favor of his possibly criminal sister, his best friend Emma--until he finally learns how to take charge of his own life. It's hip and witty and full of things I feel personally connected to, like crazy families, New York City, and playing bass in a band (which I happen to do with Dan himself, in a band called Tiger Beat--though I would have loved with book even if I didn't know him!).

I've just started reading Elif Batuman's book of essays, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. I picked it up because I'm one of those People: I started taking Russian classes in ninth grade, majored in it in college and studied at Leningrad State University my junior year. And it's true, people who study Russian are a peculiar breed. I was never quite sure what drew me to it but Batuman is helping me figure it out: Russian writers understand that the human condition is fraught with absurdity and a deep, melancholy strangeness, which is compelling to the kind of American who gets impatient with the superficiality of our own culture. I grew up in Baltimore, a city that's very comfortable with the absurd, so perhaps that stoked my fascination. The book is really fun to read and hilarious.
Visit Natalie Standiford's website.

--Marshal Zeringue