Monday, June 17, 2019

Laura Tucker

Laura Tucker is a writer and former literary agent who has coauthored books on a wide range of topics, including health, fitness, parenting, and self-help. Her credits include Still Room for Hope by Alisa Kaplan, Standing Tall by C. Vivian Stringer, Shalom in the Home by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and Training for Life by Debbie Rocker. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Tucker's debut novel is All the Greys on Greene Street.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Tucker's reply:
I went on a bookseller tour last month, which meant I talked to a lot of children’s booksellers, and the middle-grade that many of them recommended was The Line Tender by Kate Allen. They were right. I devoured it—a beautiful, tough, funny, tender book about love and terrible loss.

Another middle-grade I loved recently is The Parker Inheritance, a tribute to another one of my favorites, The Westing Game. Varian Johnson skillfully sets his story against the backdrop of some very difficult American history. At one point (and I’m paraphrasing), an older character says to two modern-day kids: You can read all you want about segregation, but that doesn’t convey at all the lived, everyday experience of what it was like to be black in the South in the nineteen-fifties. And then we drop back in time—and Johnson uses these amazing historical characters he’s developed to show us. I thought it was masterfully done, not to mention that he’s also written a great mystery and a very moving middle-grade about friendships and family secrets.

Right now, I’m (re)reading The Hot Rock, by Donald Westlake. I think my next middle-grade is going to have a confidence game/caper aspect to it, and you can’t do better than Donald Westlake. I courted my husband with crime fiction—James Crumley, Chester Himes, James Ellroy—but especially Westlake, with the result that we have two entire bookshelves devoted to him: every Parker, every Dortmunder, every standalone, not to mention obscure sex novels he wrote under different names, even a quickie biography he wrote of Elizabeth Taylor.

It’s very relaxing to be in the hands of someone this expert. I love the joy you can feel Westlake taking in the language he uses, his sense of humor (even in the books that aren’t funny), and the way he makes even the most minor character count.

Next up: Heroines, by Kate Zambreno, about the wives and mistresses of modernism, which was recommended to me in a mic drop of a book talk by a bookseller in Chicago. Also Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, a total immersion in a wildly imaginative world, complete with gorgeous language. I can’t wait.
Visit Laura Tucker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue