Author Archive

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Goldfinch

by Julie Goldberg

French antique furniture gold leaf gild

A time-honored axiom among screenwriters and novelists is “Chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him.” Get your character in a lot of trouble. Complicate and multiply his problems. Don’t grant him an easy way down.

In The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s hefty, Dickensian bildungsroman, the Tartt Corollary to the Trees and Rocks Axiom might be “Chase your character up a tree, throw rocks at him, then vaporize the ground beneath the entire forest.” It makes for painful, but compelling reading.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Reading: A Hologram for the King

by Julie Goldberg
I select my vacation books before embarking the way other people pack their outfits: What activities will I be doing, and for how much of the time? What mood will I be in, and what books will suit it? How do I hope to feel while I’m away? And do I have enough room in my suitcase?

But this year’s vacation book, Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King, practically fell into my hands at the Brown University Bookstore in Providence, Rhode Island. We’d stopped in Providence on our way up to Cape Cod so that my husband and brother-in-law could show their dad, my kids, and me their favorite college haunts, and the Brown bookstore naturally made the cut.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Popping the Hood

by Julie Goldberg
I began reading when I was four years old and haven’t stopped since.

Immersive reading was my drug through an unhappy childhood and adolescence, with all the desperate need and avoidance of unpleasant reality that addiction entails. Books damaged my eyes rather than my liver, but they gave far more than they took. I lived more in books than in my hometown. I mainlined stories and characters and other lands, other realities.

There are worse ways to shut out the world.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Following

by Julie Goldberg

Tweets
RJ Hayden @RJHayden
I can tell you read my tweets, even though you don’t follow me. #justsayingupster
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2 May
RJ Hayden @RJHayden
In the gazebo where I used to kiss you breathless, I’ve left something for you.
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3 May
Scott @ScottyBoy79
What? Dude u never kissed me breathless!
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3 May
RJ Hayden @RJHayden
Only in your wettest dreams, Scott. Wasn’t talking to you
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3 May

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review: The Circus of Dreams

by Julie Goldberg

A book review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

At the entrance to the Night Circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, stands a curious clock. By night,

The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played…

By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unfriended

by Julie Goldberg
“People don’t do this, you know,” Henry complained. I paid for his Big Mac, fries, and milkshake, and coffee for me.

“How would you prefer to do it? Tell me. I’ll do it your way.”

We sat at a table near the window.

“What is this bullshit, Rob? We’ve been on this trip together since, what, fourth grade? This is a joke, right?”

“I’m breaking up with you, Henry.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: Cromwell’s Long Game

by Julie Goldberg

A book review of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel


What sane person would want to write historical fiction?

Consider the challenges. You have to create a realistic, immersive sense of the past that requires you to know the period down to its hemlines, chariot wheels, and cooking technology, but you have to hide most of your research so that your story isn’t buried under historical details. It’s not a textbook. You have to know your intellectual history as well, so that your characters don’t think thoughts that people couldn’t have before Copernicus, or Darwin, or Betty Friedan, but you also have to make these strange people with their archaic paradigms relatable to your modern readers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Last of It

by Julie Goldberg
It was a ridiculous way to die, and for that alone, he would never forgive her. In the future, when people asked about his wife’s death in lugubrious, respectful tones, he would have to say, “She was trying to buy Girl Scout cookies at a table set up too close to the railroad tracks and was hit by a train.” Fucking Wendy. She probably loved the idea of being the nice lady who would stop rush-hour traffic to make some cute little Girl Scout’s day. Heartwarming, right? Now those girls were traumatized witnesses to her horrific death by commuter train, some of them injured by shrapnel from the Civic, while her own baby screamed for the breasts that lay in the ground, cold and empty.
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Monday, January 2, 2012

I Don’t Have Time to Believe in Writer’s Block

by Julie Goldberg
Last night, I finished writing a draft of a chapter that had tormented me for weeks. It’s one of only a handful of chapters I have left to write (in what I like to call the Adequate American Novel, which I’ve been writing on and off for almost 20 years) for which I had no rough drafts, or even scribbled notes. I needed certain things to happen in the plot, in the development of one character, and in the relationship between the two main characters, so I sent them on a hike to a waterfall. They fought me every step of the way, up the trail and back down again. By the end, though, sorry to have put me through so much trouble, they presented me with three peace offerings: a baptism, a sandwich, and a lie, all of which I can certainly use.

I complained about this recalcitrant chapter to my friends and my husband, and if they weren’t bored and annoyed, then they are much nobler people than I am. My Facebook writing group (consisting of several Nosy Authors and a few others) offered great suggestions, including having the characters jump on a trampoline while I moved on to work on other chapters.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Can’t Believe You’re Throwing Out Books!

by Julie Goldberg
I am a librarian but no longer a bibliophile.

Throwing out thousands of books in three libraries over the past nine years has cured me of bibliophilia, though nothing on this side of mortality can ever release me from my thralldom to stories, to the written word, to the English language in all its bastardized brilliance.

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