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I am in the middle of reading Vestal McIntyre's appealing debut novel, Lake Overturn, and I'm predicting that this is going to be one of the big summer novels this year. Set in Eula, Idaho, a small town near Boise, Lake Overturn delves into the lives of dozens of people, portraying each character with sensitivity and nuance. The story revolves around a junior high science fair competition, among many other things. I don't know how it's all going to fit together yet, but McIntyre's writing is so assured that I just know it will. McIntyre will read from Lake Overturn tomorrow (April 30) at The Cabin in Boise (7 p.m.). McIntyre grew up in Nampa, Idaho, and currently lives in London. He previously published a short story collection, 2004's You Are Not the One. William Georgiades wrote a profile of McIntyre for the May issue of The Advocate, in which the author discusses growing up as the youngest in a Southern Baptist family with seven kids. Religion figures prominently in Lake Overturn, but McIntyre never caricatures the believers. I could go on about the book's charms, but I know I should save something for my actual review of the book next week. Lake Overturn reminds me of David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, even though they don't have much in common in terms of subject matter. But they're both big, generous novels and I hope McIntyre's does as well as Wroblewski's did, even though the former doesn't have a glowing Stephen King blurb attached. (It does come with other glowing blurbs, though.) Also in the Roundup: Barbara Kinsolver's new novel and the "gloomy purity" of the University of Montana's MFA program.

Vestal McIntyre Reads In Boise and Kingsolver to Publish New Novel

I am in the middle of reading Vestal McIntyre’s appealing debut novel, Lake Overturn, and I’m predicting that this is going to be one of the big summer novels this year. Set in Eula, Idaho, a small town near Boise, Lake Overturn delves into the lives of dozens of people, portraying each character with sensitivity and nuance. The story revolves around a junior high science fair competition, among many other things. I don’t know how it’s all going to fit together yet, but McIntyre’s writing is so assured that I just know it will.

McIntyre will read from Lake Overturn tomorrow (April 30) at The Cabin in Boise (7 p.m.). McIntyre grew up in Nampa, Idaho, and currently lives in London. He previously published a short story collection, 2004’s You Are Not the One. William Georgiades wrote a profile of McIntyre for the May issue of The Advocate, in which the author discusses growing up as the youngest in a Southern Baptist family with seven kids. Religion figures prominently in Lake Overturn, but McIntyre never caricatures the believers. I could go on about the book’s charms, but I know I should save something for my actual review of the book next week.

Lake Overturn reminds me of David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, even though they don’t have much in common in terms of subject matter. But they’re both big, generous novels and I hope McIntyre’s does as well as Wroblewski’s did, even though the former doesn’t have a glowing Stephen King blurb attached. (It does come with other glowing blurbs, though.)

I don’t know if Barbara Kingsolver is still considered a Western writer since she high-tailed it out of Tucson a few years ago, seeking greener pastures for crop raising. But heck, I like her, so I’m looking forward to her first novel in nine years, Lacuna, which Harper will release in November, according to The Book Case. They write:

“Seven years in the making, The Lacuna is set in Mexico and the U.S. during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. According to Kingsolver’s publisher, the novel ‘tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds—an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity will take readers to the heart of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous events.’ And a bonus for history buffs—The Lacuna includes real-life historical figures like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky—a first for Kingsolver’s fiction.”

Steve Hely’s piece for The Rumpus is just too funny not to share. In “The World’s Foremost Consultant on the Future of Publishing,” he writes that those book-mad times we loved are gone forever:

“The media landscape is getting a lot more crowded, and there’ll be a lot more competition for eyeballs. Remember when every single person on a plane was reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead? When the subway floors were strewn with used copies of Ha Jin’s War Trash, and on Saturday night at bars it seemed like everybody was arguing over which was their favorite Alice Munro story? Well, bad news: in the next few years, some people are going to prefer going on the internet to reading literary fiction.”

I once beat a man down for not agreeing with me that Munro’s “Meneseteung” is her best.* I clicked over to Hely’s bio and learned he has a new novel due out from Grove/Atlantic called How I Became A Famous Novelist. The publisher describes the book thusly: “Narrated by an unlikely literary legend, How I Became a Famous Novelist pinballs from the postcollege slums of Boston to the fear-drenched halls of Manhattan’s publishing houses, from the gloomy purity of Montana’s foremost writing workshop to the hedonistic hotel bars of the Sunset Strip.”

“Gloomy purity.” That pretty much sums up the way I and all the other folks in this region live our lives. That goes double for the horses here.

* Sometimes it’s good to throw a sentence like that in to see if anybody’s reading this.

Have some regional book news or events to share? Please {encode=”jenny@newwest.net” title=”send me an email.”}

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10 comments

  1. “In the future we will consider all things in political terms” –Thomas Mann. Kingsolver’s post-911 comments were hideous. The woman is hideous. Her books are hideous. Back to the kitchen or bean patch, Barbara. Just go away. Your talent is on a par with pond scum.

  2. Bill I have not read Ms. Kingsolver’s 9-11 comments. I have heard many others condemn her comments and I am wondering if you could give me a sense of what she said that so outraged you? In the meantime, I guess I should search for her essays in order to see for myself what all the fuss is about. As for her talent as a writer, I have only read one of her novels and found it, The Poisonwood Bible, to be exceptional.

  3. Vestal is the real deal, and Lake Overturn is a gem.

  4. Bartley, If memory serves, it was a piece in the L.A.Times that scorned and lamented the surge of patriotism that followed 911. She seemed particularly upset by people who displayed the flag on their own property, such as front porches, windows, etc. As for the L.A.Times, there is no use slamming them because, well, it looks like they’re not going to even exist in present form in a few months or a year or two. So, yeah, Barbara Kingsolver and the L.A.Times both really suck. One’s almost dead and the other writes like she is. How’s that for cerebral and profound literary criticism? Actually, don’t blame me for anything noted above. I was corrupted by the New York Review of Books in my youth, though now I think it’s called the New York Obama Review of Books.

  5. Actually, what Barbara Kingsolver wrote was that the American flag didn’t belong only to those who preached hate, war and censorship.

    “Patriotism threatens free speech with death. It is infuriated by thoughtful hesitation, constructive criticism of our leaders and pleas for peace.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1014-01.htm

    Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite author and I can’t wait for her new novel. And before you unleash your vitriol on me, Bill, be forewarned: I won’t respond.

    I had to google “Meneseteung.” I obviously haven’t read enough Alice Munro.

  6. I agree with Patia,about patriotism(the difference between jingoism and true patriotism) and about Kingsolver’s novels,which I also love. Her nonfiction is great too,especially Small Wonders.

  7. What town is Eula supposed to be?

  8. Patia, What vitriol? My, my. Actually, you shouldn’t be wasting your time responding to my bizarre ramblings when you should be looking for job. The wolf’s at the door, Patia, if your blog is any indication, etc. So quit whining and get to it. I think you’re a talented kid,but misguided. Get moving. As for your enthusiasm for Kingsolver, you’re of a generation susceptible to such gibberish. In the end, it’s all a matter of taste, dear, or lack of. Cheers. PS–Attention, vast New West readership: please give Patia some new gig, something useful to do, so she won’t have time to bore and annoy me.

  9. Correction: That’s “a job”.

  10. Hi Sharon,

    Eula is a fictional town–I don’t know that it’s supposed to stand in for any other Idaho town, but it’s very believable. The author grew up in Nampa, Idaho, so maybe it’s based on that, though I’ve never visited Nampa, so I wouldn’t know.