On the city as a force in the character's lives:
There’s very much a powerful dual force between the person and the place.... I am a very big fan of fiction writers who have explored place or a specific place or places, or have gone deep with their interrogation of themselves in place....
This book is the most personal yet, because it allows me to consider issues of erasure. Erasure of personal memory or erasure of people, erasure of moments of one’s life, and mirrored in the erasure of the streetscape. Sometimes I’ve written about that erasure of the streetscape almost directly through writing on preservation matters. But in this case, it’s a much more interesting way to consider it. In this book particularly, I think of the city as a text that can be read, that can be drawn on, that can be muted, blacked out, erased, written over, reconsidered, torn out, all these great metaphors....
The way that we imprint ourselves onto the place, and the way that place is alive in our lives— it’s an atmosphere. It’s a moment. It’s a construct. It’s a physical construction that shapes us— shapes our movements. And, that notion is really, really important. I think in some ways the physical being of Philadelphia has more impact on us because it’s— because of the scale of the city. It’s big enough to matter or be an – aggressive is not the right word – impactful, apparent force on us. Like, “Oh yeah we feel it.”
On the theme of luring someone into self-betrayal
(discussed in the preceding post on this blog):
We have ideals. We have beliefs. We have values. But how easy is it for us to just lose it and act stupid, and angry? And I find myself doing that a lot. It also made me think about a time in my life where I sort of lured someone into self-betrayal ... and I wanted to explore that moment and I did that through the story of Nicholas and his recent past. The story of his failed love with Eva.
There's an excellent interview with Nathaniel Popkin, author of Everything Is Borrowed, on the PhillyLitSpace website. Click on the image above for the full text. Here are some excerpts:
Another interview of Nathaniel Popkin just posted, this one on WYBC/Yale Radio with Brainard Carey. Here Nathaniel shares the historical story that prompted his novel Everything Is Borrowed: an event from the 1890s demonstrating “the way that we can seduce other people into their own self-betrayal.”
He then explains how he paired this incident with a similar one in the modern protagonist’s own life. The concept is a key to the novel's deep psychological explorations. In everyday life, how often do we lure other people to betray their own best selves, or best principles, without realizing that we're doing so? Do we do it in love? (Think about that a moment.) In business? In politics? The novel prompts us to question our own assumptions of innocence.
Nathaniel also relates the book to “the intense crisis we’re in today,” with issues of “foreignness, immigration, otherness.”
This is a cogent and thoughtful interview.
"Architects are supposed to be the builders up, and yet in this novel, the architect Nicholas Moscowitz has hit a creative block. . . . To go forward he needs to tear down."
So says author Nathaniel Popkin in a Philadelphia Weekly interview about his novel Everything Is Borrowed. He's done a number of interviews lately, in print and in audio. Here's a list with links:
You can meet the authors of our two new novels, and pick up signed copies, at the following readings this month:
"In his new novel Everything Is Borrowed, Nathaniel Popkin looks through the eyes of a modern-day architect to explore how a city’s history can echo through the years. Popkin expertly plays with time. His writing is beautifully layered, and the book’s parallel stories tie together in unexpected ways that keep a seemingly simple plot engaging throughout."
So begins the Foreword Reviews piece on Everything Is Borrowed, to be released in nine days. Click on the image to read the full review.
Another advance review of Everything Is Borrowed has just appeared, this one by Jon Sobel at Blogcritics. Sobel shows a fine appreciation for the psychic turmoil of the novel's narrator, architect Nicholas Moscowitz, who gets obsessed with his guilty memories of a college love affair and with the life of a 19th-century counterpart who frequented the same city blocks:
"as the book effectively evokes Nicholas’s obsessive state of mind it also gives us vivid snapshots of the anarchist movement of the late 19th century; a glimpse into the lives of poor Jewish immigrants of the time; and a sensitive rendering of the hyper-reality of the college-age mind. 'The neighborhood, far west of our university, might be a world apart. Living here makes us feel authentic and original, as if we, who are merely transient, are part of something real.'
"That feeling of being 'merely transient' sings through the whole narrative. As Nicholas scans the history of the blocks and buildings associated with his predecessor, he observes the impermanence of even the most solid-seeming structures....
"The title, Everything is Borrowed, takes on a dual meaning: artists build their new creations out of borrowed pieces of others’ past work. But in the end our lives, too – our relationships, our activities, even the places in which we ride it all out – must go back out with the tide of history."
Another rave review of our just-released novel, The Speed of Clouds by Miriam Seidel, this one from Jaclyn M Brown at The Coil:
“… as life continues throwing her curveball after curveball, Mindy [the protagonist] is forced out of her head and into the real world, where, for the first time in a long time, she takes the difficult step of confronting herself to determine what she wishes the future to hold.
“The Speed of Clouds is a compelling read for many reasons. First, the characters themselves are treated as complex individuals. No one falls into tropes or stereotypes, and the diversity present transcends boundaries of class, ability, race, and sexual orientation. … Because the characters are so well-written and come across as fully formed people, The Speed of Clouds is able to address themes of community, acceptance, and openness with the depth these themes deserve.
“Overall, this is a fantastic read with characters who will make you cheer and hurt for them, a plot that delivers, and strong depth of feeling all the way through.”
The novel can be ordered at any bookstore and at many online outlets, including these:
Barnes and Noble
The "Women to Read" column of The Book Smugglers blog has this to say about Miriam Seidel's extraordinary, inventive novel The Speed of Clouds, which launches today:
"The Speed of Clouds is a love letter to fandom and to embracing geeky passions – whether it’s collectibles, science fiction, music, art, architecture, or web design. Seidel balances Mindy’s day-to-day life with excerpts from her fan fiction, and the fan fiction she receives as editor of her new online venture. The two worlds inform and enrich each other, adding depth to the characters through their inner lives.…
"The Speed of Clouds also shines in its characters, especially Mindy who is allowed to be flawed, and in her own words 'bitchy'. She’s a fully-rounded human being, pushing away her friends and family without losing them, experiencing self-doubt, but managing to fight through it, and taking control of her body through her decisions about her health, mobility, and her sexuality. It’s a poignant novel, and as a debut, leaves me eager to see what Seidel does next."
The reviewer is A.C. Wise, who also provides this complimentary note: "Disclosure: I received a pre-release copy and provided a blurb. I adored the book, and wanted to highlight it here."
Another advance review of Miriam Seidel's The Speed of Clouds, which launches this week:
Mindy Vogel is haunted by the future. In frequent daydreams, she toggles between her real, wheelchair-bound life and the adventurous life of her fanfic alter ego, SkyLog officer Kat Wanderer. She's haunted by all that Kat can do which she cannot--belong to an organization of comrades, walk, and fall in love--yet. Because at twenty-four, Mindy's future is very much ahead of her, wheelchair notwithstanding. . . .
For the full review, see Space Station Mir.
In the past week a couple of respected blogs have posted interviews with Miriam Seidel, author of THE SPEED OF CLOUDS, a novel about a group of sci-fi fans who are into fan fiction, Cons, and passionate discussion of cosmological concepts. Here are some key excerpts, with links to the full posts.
From the blog of A.C. Wise, author of The Kissing Booth Girl:
In one way, I see fan fiction taking story-making full circle, from telling stories around the fire, to folktales, to written literature, film, and now electronic mass media, and fan fiction then re-appropriates the mass media to create this proliferating, grass-roots art form that you could see as a new kind of folk art.
And from the Hidden River Arts blog:
In a way, The Speed of Clouds is about the difficulty and inevitability of change. All the supporting stories are about this too. But, thinking about this now, I’m seeing the world of sci-fi fandom as a place where you sort of develop a muscle for dealing with change, because with each new story, you have to learn a whole new world, or at least some new twist that makes everything different. Right now, we’re seeing the ugly results of people terrified of change, and trying to turn the clock back, which ultimately never works. Fans and writers in SFF operate in a different arena, and that gives me some hope.