Monday, May 16, 2011

Kate Feiffer

Kate Feiffer is the author of several children’s books, including Double Pink, illustrated by Bruce Ingman; President Pennybaker and My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life, both illustrated by Diane Goode; The Problem with Puddles, illustrated by Tricia Tusa; and Henry the Dog with No Tail, illustrated by her dad, Jules Feiffer.

Her new book, also a collaboration with her father, is My Side of the Car.

Recently I asked Feiffer what she was reading. Her reply:
On a recent trip to Vermont, I bought The Lady Matador’s Hotel by Cristina Garcia because I loved the cover. The story certainly looked like something I would enjoy, but honestly I would have bought the book for the cover alone. I kept it on my bookshelf, facing out so I could enjoy the cover for a few weeks, before I decided to read it. It only stayed off the shelf for a day or two. The book is a beautifully written page-turner. It is powerful and lush, full of pain, sorrow, politics and passion. Garcia has woven together six seemingly discrete stories focused on fascinating characters whose lives intersect at a luxury hotel during a week celebrating the battle of the Lady Matadors. Writing about it makes me want to read it again. Off the shelf it comes.

I tend to go back and forth between reading novels for adults with books that are “supposed to be” for children. I highlight supposed to be because I often find the books geared toward young adults and tweens as engaging as most of the adult literature I read, which makes me wonder why they are supposed to be for children and not all of us. I recently got an advance copy of a first novel by John Corey Whaley titled Where Things Come Back, which I loved. It is a coming of age novel that somehow manages to avoid the clichĂ©s. It’s got wacky neighbors, sociopaths, first loves, and a teenage, oh dear, I don’t know if I’d be giving it away by mentioning it, so I won’t.

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction books, but after catching a documentary about Dolly Madison recently, I picked up Carl Sferrazza’s First Ladies. It’s a lengthy book and I’m reading it in bits and spurts. The women who have held this quasi-public role have certainly been a colorful bunch. I’m also reading Alexandra Styron’s memoir of her father, Reading My Father. I grew up with Al Styron and my lasting image of her is as a child whose legs and arms seemed to be perennially covered with bug bites. This much talked about memoir is provoking heated conversations, at least on Martha’s Vineyard where I live and the Styron’s have been coming for decades, for good reasons – there’s a lot of territory, emotional and literary, that Al, in my opinion, quite skillfully covers.

Okay, one last book, and that’s a picture book by the title of Me, Frida, written by Amy Novesky and, oh so lushly, illustrated by David Diaz. It is the story of Frida Kahlo’s move with her husband, Diego Rivera to San Francisco. Rivera, already a famous muralist is the toast of the town. Khalo, not yet discovered as a painter, feels like his little wife until she finds her own voice. Actually, this book and Alexandra Styron’s book both deal with some similar themes.
Watch the video trailer for My Side of the Car.

Visit Kate Feiffer's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue