Saturday, April 6, 2013

Katia Lief

Born in France to American parents, Katia Lief moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in Massachusetts and New York. She teaches fiction writing as a part-time faculty member at the New School in Manhattan and lives in Brooklyn.

Lief's Karin Schaeffer novels include You Are Next, Next Time You See Me, Vanishing Girls, and the recently released The Money Kill.

A few weeks ago I asked her what she was reading.  Her reply:
As soon as I read a review of Far From the Tree, a nonfiction book by Andrew Solomon with the subtitle Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, I knew that I had to read it. As the mother of two wonderful teenagers, one of whom has decided that he just may be too dynamically creative to bother with college despite the fact that both his grandfathers and his mother were or are college professors, grappling with accepting your children for who they are as individuals has been much on my mind lately.

Solomon brilliantly examines the lives of families raising a child who is somehow different either from his or her parents or society at large. What is it like for hearing parents to raise a deaf child, and what is it like for a hearing child to be raised by deaf parents? What if your child grows up to become a criminal when you are the most solid of citizens? What if you find yourself with the challenge of raising a prodigy? Solomon expertly interweaves personal stories with factual analysis. I felt like a wiser mother and better person after reading this fascinating book.

Immediately upon finishing Far from the Tree, I picked up The Crazy School, a can't-put-down mystery novel by Cornelia Read. I had always been a little afraid to read The Crazy School knowing that it's based on the now-defunct and indeed crazy boarding school where I endured eighth through tenth grades before decamping early to college as a means of escape. But when I met Read and we talked, I knew I had to stiffen my spine and read the book. Her depiction of a tyrannical principal who plays head games on adolescents in turmoil is dead-on. Cornelia Read is a tremendously witty writer who brings this story to vivid life in this truly compelling mystery. My favorite part (spoiler alert!) is the inventive way in which she dispatches with the school principal at the end.

And then...last but not least, having just the other day finished reading Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot, I have to weigh in to say that he has once again written the novel every novelist wishes he or she had written. In pure literary alchemy, in which character is story is plot is character, Eugenides has reinvented the nineteenth century marriage plot for the modern reader.
Visit Katia Lief's website.

Writers Read: Katia Lief (November 2010).

The Page 69 Test: Next Time You See Me.

My Book, The Movie: Next Time You See Me.

The Page 69 Test: Vanishing Girls.

Writers Read: Katia Lief (July 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue