A Fabulous Lunch with Lander Marks

June 30, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books | 5 Comments
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While I was in Las Vegas earlier this month I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Lander Marks for lunch at the Venetian.  Even if my trip to Sin City hadn’t been for work, this would have been the highlight of my time there.  Not only is she the first author I’ve met, she is the first person I’ve met solely because of The Literate Housewife Review.  It’s as if our meeting gave full life to the blog that I’ve grown to love and cherish since early January 2007.

I consider myself to be an outgoing person, but sometimes when you’re meeting someone for the first time there is this build up inside and it can feel somewhat overwhelming.  As excited as I was, I was also a bit nervous.  The Venetian is a huge place, so by phone we agreed to meet at The Grill at Valentino.  She used a copy of Artist’s Proof for me to recognize her and my butterflies were gone the second we started to speak.  Lander Marks is as gracious and warm in person as she was during our interview.

We had the most wonderful lunch.  I had a ravioli with blue cheese dish that was the best meal I ate while in Vegas.  I even got the opportunity to meet the restaurant’s chef, Luciano.  He is a friend she met while creating a Las Vegas cookbook.  It was marvelous to say the least.

While we ate, we got to know each other a little better.  We talked about writing, reading, motherhood, politics and blogging.  She is starting a new blog called books4oprah2read.  She has big plans for this blog, such as including a place for reading groups and a place specifically for Jewish authors and readers.  I’m really excited to see where this blog takes her.

There is something deeply affirming about talking with someone who believes in you and what you do.  I left our lunch on cloud 9, as you can tell from the picture our waiter took before we returned back to the real world (if you can call anything in Vegas the real world).  Lander Marks is holding a copy of her book while I’m beaming in pink:

Picture of Lander Marks and Literate Housewife in Las Vegas

Oh Lord, it feels good to be a reader!

Vegas Update

June 10, 2008 at 7:48 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 4 Comments
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Famous Las Vegas sign

I am writing this post from the most gorgeous hotel room I’ve ever seen.  I’m staying at the Palazzo, which is the newest and tallest hotel and casino on the Strip.  I’m on the 41st floor, and from my suite I have the most spectacular view of Las Vegas and the mountains in the distance.  When I walked into my room Sunday night and saw the view, it made me forget about the extremely long day and the cramped flight out.  It is simply that amazing.

Palazzo Las Vegas

I finished reading Down to a Sunless Sea before I left.  I started the review, but I wasn’t terribly inspired.  I’ll try to post that tonight.  On the plane I started Songs of the Missing and I finished that before I went to sleep Sunday night/Monday morning (my body time).  I really enjoyed it and it was a good companion in my  attempt to acclimate to Las Vegas time.  Missing is the current First Look Book Club selection.  After I’m done participating there, I’ll post my review here.

Yesterday was a jet lag day.  I attended a  full day tutorial at the conference I’m attending and once Aleve took care of my headache, I was bored and exhausted.  I’m sorry that I didn’t post anything or read anyone else’s blog like I intended.  After a good night sleep last night, I am experiencing major withdrawals!

Today is going to be an exciting day.  I am meeting Lander Marks, the author of Artist’s Proof, for lunch!  I’ve never met an author before, and I’m really looking forward to it.  My only regret is that I don’t have a camera with me.  I’d really like to have a picture to post.  I’ll have to see if they have a disposable one for sale.  I remember seeing a CVS not too far from here.  I can do 1 hour processing and have the pictures put on a CD.  Hopefully that will work out.

I look forward to catching up with everyone later today!

May Book Give Away

May 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Books, Free | Leave a comment
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It’s May and spring is finally here. I’m in the mood to do some spring cleaning and I thought I might provide my readers with the gift of a new book.

This year I’ve received several Advance Reader’s Copies of books and I’ve reviewed them here at Literate Housewife. Five of them are part of this book give away:

Artist’s Proof

The Forgery of Venus

Gardens of Water

The House at Riverton

The Venetian Mask

I’m also giving away my two used trade paperback copies I own…:

Bel Canto

The Cider House Rules

And two hardcover copies…:

Jonathon’s Story

The Lady and the Unicorn

What do you need to do to get one of the free books?  If you live in the US or Canada, simply leave a comment to my review of the book(s) you are interested in and let me know why you would like to read it.   For each book, I’ll draw a winner at random from all of the comments posted on Tuesday, May 20th.   I’ll let the winner know by email.  If I get the addresses, I’ll have all of the books in the mail that Thursday or Friday.

This is a win/win situation.  My bookshelves will be just that much tidier and you might find yourself with a free book.

Good luck!!!

An Interview with Lander Marks

April 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, entertainment, LIfe, Religion, Writing | 5 Comments
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On April 20, I had the opportunity to speak with Lander Marks about her new novel, Artist’s Proof. This is her first novel and will be released within the next week. I had a great time talking with her about the novel, but I was most intrigued by a mystery that has very recently discovered in her own life that relates back to her book. I hope that you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did:

Cover of Artist\'s Proof

Literate Housewife: Thank you very much for the opportunity to read your book and speak with you about it. I enjoyed reading it and appreciate the opportunity. So, how excited are you to have your first novel published this month?

Lander Marks: I’m very excited about it, Jennifer. It’s been a long time coming writing a fictional book as opposed to some of the other things I’ve done. Eight years is a long time to finally have a baby arrive.

LH: Oh my gosh! That’s a long gestation period.

LM: But in between there were a few other books so I’m okay with it. The timing was what it needed to be. Obviously the book needed to come out at this time and so that’s what makes it work.

LH: Tell me a little about what inspired you to write Artist’s Proof.

LM: Artist’s Proof started as a mental whim you might say. The questions that came to mind occurred while I was on a cruise ship experiencing an art auction. The thoughts seemed to come randomly, which is the way things always seem to happen when you’re writing. From the variety of questions that caused me to pause in the moments of this art auction came a series of different events. Each little thread led me on a different path and prepared or led me to write this book.

LH: So, you knew something about art and the art world before you wrote your novel.

LM: Yes, I do have a degree in art and I am an avid collector of 20th and 21st century contemporary art. My interest in the arts, in the experiences of the artists, and in the messages that they create were very close to my heart. Questions came about involving how artwork is sold in this country, how it’s auctioned, and who buys it. These became for me part of the intrigue of writing this mystery.

LH: So what are some examples of things you have in your collection?

LM: I currently have a variety of pieces. I have an Agam, an Agamagraph, and a three dimensional Patrick Hughes piece. A lot of my art has to do with illusion and duplicity. In other words, when you’re looking at the piece, other images appear. As you move around the piece and look at it from different angles, other things show up. In some cases the messages from the artists are thought-provoking and in other cases they are just beautiful. They open up your mind to how things can expand and change.

LH: You mentioned that it took you eight years to write Artist’s Proof. Was there any one aspect of writing the novel that took you by surprise?

LM: The story started to take on elements of art restitution. This led to my travels to Europe to investigate the artwork that was stolen during WWII, where it ended up, and what its value is today. That was a place I didn’t expect to be when I started the book. It brought me to individuals who are very well known internationally and who are experienced in this process of art restitution. It’s led me to some world renowned art collectors and I’ve learned what they are doing in the contemporary art scene. That was not what I envisioned when I started to write this light-hearted, mad cap kind of murder mystery.

LH: This novel is told in large part by your two main female characters: DJ Singer and Shannon Phillips. At what point in your writing process did you decide to tell the story from both angles?

LM: Right at the beginning. I just felt that there was something that needed to be told and there were two very strong women who needed to tell it their way. I didn’t anticipate how much work was involved with bouncing the story back and forth every other chapter and keeping it straight in my own head. I didn’t write one character and then the other. I wrote the book in the sequence in which the reader reads it. So, it’s a little bit different. Because this was my first book, everyone said to me, “writing in first person is not a good idea,” or “bouncing your characters back and forth is very complex.” Many people thought it was a crazy thing for an amateur author to do, but I did it.

LH: What did you find most rewarding about having those two female characters?

LM: I was rewarded with the appreciation of the two different personalities – each fulfilling her own quest to not be a victim. To have a place and an understanding the bigger picture. At first I thought the theme of the story was really about the victims at all different levels. But in the end, Shannon finds a place for herself that she’s comfortable with or has made resolution. DJ comes to grips with something that she didn’t anticipate, but appreciates where it’s going. This leads her to make her own choices. So, my idea that this story is really about victims turns into something about tolerance, appreciation, gratitude, and an overall look at the bigger picture.

LH: Yesterday I was meeting with some women and I overheard someone say that there are no coincidences. She was talking about faith and how when there seems to be coincidence, it never really is. That made me think back on your novel. I really enjoyed the friendship that DJ and Kate shared, but the confidence and connections that came through DJ’s unexpected relationship with Ron were really essential to her at that time. What specifically do you think about her romantic relationship with Ron brought out the best in her?

LM: I think the feeling that Ron was not using her in the sense of a typical male-female relationship. Young people hook up today and it tends to be random. I think when it came down to push versus shove they balanced each other well. This gave DJ a reassurance that she didn’t have before. In her experiences working in a male dominated industry, she both walked and talked like a man or she didn’t succeed. Being able to pull back a little bit and be herself without fear was something that Ron brought to the table. I don’t think that she was prepared for that relationship to blossom the way that it did.

LH: DJ becomes and avid collector of Sol Fleming. Was there an actual artist who inspired him?

LM: I’m going to drop this bomb on you, Jennifer. This is all new information that will be released in the next week or so. I inherited a piece of artwork from a favorite uncle of mine about 12 years ago. This little tempera and gouache painting has been on the wall in my house that whole time. I didn’t think much about it. It’s an interesting piece that looks a little bit like a Picasso. Very abstract. It’s just part of my collection. You go by and look at them just like an old friend and take a peek. Recently, I had to do an appraisal for insurance purposes. I took down each piece to look at it, to really address it, and to start to do some homework in preparation of the appraisal. This piece is done be Bela Kadar, and I realized that I knew very little about it. I started by going to Google to investigate. As it turns out, Bela Kadar may have been spiritually motivating this book well beyond the eight years it took me to write it. This piece is one of very few outside of Hungary. Bela was a Jewish-Hungarian artist and was a protégé of Mark Chagall. He and his work was labeled as “DEGENERATE” by the Nazis.

Lander Marks\' Kadar

I found out through my aunt that this piece was purchased through an auction in the late 50s or early 60s. It is not dated by the hand of the artist. Yet as I did my research I came to find out that his work, not necessarily this piece that we know of, was, along with André Breton, Max Ernst, Van Gogh, and Chagall in the very famous art show “entartete Kunst,” which means degenerate art in German. This was an art show that the Nazis put on as a propaganda to display what they believed to be degenerate art. Many of these pieces were ultimately burned in the square in Berlin after the show.

Nazi Art Show Poster

There were many famous artists who were considered bad because the Germans were only interested in iconic artwork and Dutch work from the 15th and 16th century. Contemporary pieces, they felt, were anti-German and were not part of what they saw as an ideal German belief system. Plus, many of these artists were Jewish. They were not white Germans, let’s say.

So, the story of this piece appearing on my wall 12 years ago and me really not paying any attention to it in the dynamics of this book really took me for a loop. I determined that for the first time in over 50 years the piece will be shown publicly with the book launch in Las Vegas and then perhaps travel with me. It’s just an amazing, amazing part of the book that I had no idea existed until literally two or three weeks ago.

LH: That is really crazy.

LM: Yes. The other part of the story that I didn’t expect is that I got very involved in appreciating the artists, musicians, and writers who were picked out by the Nazis. What was to be destroyed, to be killed, who escaped, how they got to Israel, Spain, the United States, what became of them, and how their contributions changed the art world internationally. It’s taken me on a path to speak to high school and college students and to be involved in the Holocaust education program. It’s not just the Holocaust education anymore. It’s genocide education. As part of the story I opened myself up to speak to these students and school systems about what the Holocaust teaches us about our responsibilities. I talk about it from the aspect of the arts and it has a little bit different of an impact as you relate it to people the Millenials know by name: Marilyn Manson, or Nine Inch Nails etc.. I don’t speak much about Hitler, although he has an interesting story in the story. I talk about democracy, freedom, and freedom of speech.

LH: It sounds like your uncle gave you a much greater gift than just a piece of art.

LM: Oh. That’s a mouthful right there.

LH: I have one more question about Sol Fleming. In the novel there are some anonymous web entries that are attributed to him and they are very cryptic. Without giving away the story, how did that portion of the novel develop?

LM: I think that all of us look for some spirituality or faith. This is either in the traditional faith in which we are raised or we look for it in poetry or messages. Some of us will say we get a message or a shudder. Going back to your coincidences, sometimes we get premonitions. I think today in society we pay more attention to subtle signals. In this scenario, going back in time the Bible was the constitution of many people’s spirituality. I chose to write his dialog through the use of Biblical phrases or references that were considered typical of that era. Putting them through the Internet exposes them on a whole different level.

LH: That was interesting to me. I read a lot of historical fiction, so to have Norah Jones and similar references jump out at me made it interesting and fun. I am on the Internet all the time and we’re in the Internet Age. I really appreciated having that in your novel.

LM: I think that bringing the history into contemporary context makes it easier and more fun to read, although there’s a subtle message there. That’s one of the things that is important about this story. When it ends it really doesn’t end, because the reader wants more. The back matter that references some of the themes is there for them. They don’t feel like they just got left at the end of the story without any place to go while waiting for the next DJ and Ron escapade.

LH: That actually brings me to my last question. At the end of the book, the mystery that surrounded the Monte Carlo House and Sol Fleming was resolved, but questions about DJ and Ron, their future, and the future of art stolen during WWII still linger. I know the answer already from the context of our interview, but I’ll ask anyway. Will we be seeing more of this couple and that topic in the future?

LM: You’ll definitely be seeing more of DJ and Ron. I don’t know if you’ll be seeing them specifically dealing with this artwork issue. DJ and Ron will continue as a couple in some way, shape, or form. As you can appreciate based upon the way the story ended, they are both very strong advocates and I think that DJ’s personality will continue to get her into trouble. Her nose will be in the wrong place at the right time and carry her on to the next mystery.

LH: Thank you so much for the interview.

#65 ~ Artist’s Proof

April 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Beach, Books, entertainment, LIfe, Reading | 1 Comment
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Cover to Artist\'s Proof

Artist’s Proof: A Twisted Tale of Fakes, Frauds, and Murder by Lander Marks

(click here to read Literate Housewife’s exclusive interview)

Has a hobby or a passion ever gotten you into a world of trouble? That is definitely what happens in Artist’s proof, a fast-paced novel that takes you with DJ Singer through the world of modern art auctions from Mexico to Italy in a search for the truth behind one man’s history and his art. Along the way, DJ makes what might be an even more dangerous leap into love – allowing herself to trust and depend on a man. If what you do never puts you in any jeopardy, reading this book might just make you want to get up and find yourself some intrigue.

Artist’s Proof is a novel about two women who have fought their way to the top to find wholly different results. Shannon Phillips is an art auctioneer for Monte Carlo House, an organization that offers art auctions on land as well as by cruise ship. Although the art world is man’s world, she feels that she’s conquered it when she is put in charge of The Monarchy, Monte Carlo House’s newest and most luxurious cruise ship. To her, DJ Singer is an easy mark. DJ singer is a quick witted Jewish car dealer from Las Vegas. Like Shannon, she fought her way through the auto sales to become one of the leading dealers of exotic sport cars. Her success in business has provided her with the means to build an art collection. What seems like an innocent purchase of works in Sol Fleming’s Bible series catapults them both into the dangerous world of international art forgery.

This is most definitely a modern story. From Norah Jones to luxury cruise ships, you feel like this story could be happening today. While this provides a familiar backdrop (okay, maybe not quite the cruise ships for me, but a girl can dream can’t she?), it also adds a layer of complexity. One of the most intriguing clues in the mystery of Sol Fleming are the series of diary entries leaked on the Internet and attributed to him. The impact these cryptic messages might have on the value of his work is what trigger DJ and Ron to dig deeper. It also addresses questions about the Internet and its authenticity. With traditional print media, it is safe to assume a bias. Still, you can usually identify the source of that bias if you want to know. In addition to being global, the Internet provides an atmosphere of anonymity that isn’t available to other forms of media. You can be anyone you want whenever you want.

Although DJ Singer is the heroine of this novel, both she and Shannon share the narration of the book by chapter. These transitions surprised me at first because the promotional literature mentions only DJ. In this context, however, alternating the voice of every other chapter helped to flesh out DJ more fully than what would have been the case otherwise. Despite being somewhat confused by a couple of transitions toward the beginning, I found that the “dueling narrator” approach was well suited for this novel overall. It is a whirlwind rush though Mexico, the United States, and Italy for the sake of art and love, so the extra levels of detail that would be required to tell this story in third person or entirely from DJ’s perspective would have bogged it down.

I do not have much of a background in the art world or in art history. You don’t have to in order to enjoy this novel. Unlike The Forgery of Venus, there’s no condescending tone. It never takes itself too seriously, although at its heart lies a sad social artifact from World War II. Artist’s Proof would make a fun read and would be great for a vacation. You’ll enjoy traveling with DJ and Ron in Italy. Today my husband and I might be herding preschoolers (a noble adventurer in and of itself that is not for the weak of heart), but tomorrow who knows what kind of crazy, sexy, risky spots we might get ourselves into – even if only in our own imaginations? Isn’t that what reading is all about?

To buy this novel, click here.

On the Horizon

April 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Books, entertainment, Family, Historical Fiction, LibraryThing, LIfe, Reading | 2 Comments
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I have some fun things to look forward to in Literate Housewife-Land:

  1. I received an Advanced Readers Copy of Artist’s Proof by Lander Marks in the mail on Monday. After I finish reading it, I will be interviewing the author. I’m really excited to get to do that again.
  2. I am on the look out for two other ARCs: The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker (snagged through LibraryThing) and Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncampagni (through HarperCollins). Since I snagged The Venetian Mask last month and it has yet to arrive, I’m starting to have my doubts about receiving it. That’s a little disappointing, but I’ll survive. Besides, it will be nice change to read two novels that are not historical fiction. I love historical fiction as you know, but a girl needs a little variety every now and then. 🙂
  3. My parents and my Uncle Ryan are coming down for a visit this weekend. I love to watch my kids interact with my parents. It should be a nice, relaxing weekend.
  4. I have registered http://www.literatehousewife.com! I am busy dreaming about how I want the site to look and work. As I’m no artist, I am looking for someone to help me with the colors, graphics, and logo I’ll need to complete the website and I’ve finally found a good lead. I’m hoping to have the site up and running this summer. I’m going to incorporate my blog and my Tudor Fan Site, which I’ll be building on that as well as well as adding a forum. When all that happens, be on the lookout for changes here, too.
  5. I am going to Vegas in June!!!!! As part of my new position at work, I’ve been invited to attend a conference being held at The Venetian. Sometimes I really feel like my life is swimming in connections. Artist’s Proof takes place in Las Vegas and, assuming that my LibraryThing snag will arrive in time, I might be reading The Venetian Mask by the pool at the Venetian!

Before all of that, I’ll be quickly finishing up Devil Water by Anya Seton and posting my review. It’s been a much more interesting read than the last book.

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