Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Club Exchange: Amy Brill & Giveaway

I am so glad to welcome author Amy Brill to Book Club Exchange. I haven't had a chance to read her new novel  THE MOVEMENT OF STARS yet (the novel will be available on April 18th), but I seriously can't wait! It's already getting some terrific reviews.

THE MOVEMENT OF STARS is described as, "A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams." It's also being touted as a terrific book club pick.

After reading Ms. Brill's guest post, I have to say that not only am I excited about her novel, but I want her to Skype with my book club. She sounds like a lot of fun and if she's a fan of Electric Company, clam chowder, and wine, then I'm pretty sure I"ll love her!

I’ve been madly in love with books ever since I learned how to read (thanks mostly to 1970s Electric Company segments, truth be told). I’m ever so grateful to my dad, who informed me at the ripe old age of five that I could read that “to myself”—magic! And to my local librarian, who piled me high with picture books and then chapter books and then more complex narratives that swept me away and I had to travel everywhere with two books because what if I finished one on the way and had nothing to read on the way home? Heaven forbid. 

If this sounds like an Oscar speech, well, if it took you 15 years to write and sell your first novel you, too, might go bonkers at every opportunity and thank everyone under the sun. But the biggest thanks of all go to readers who are engaged, interested, and social enough to band together to select my book, read it together, and chat about it in person (preferably with a few bottles of wine and something delicious to go along with it). 

So, in the interest of facilitating your conversation about The Movement of Stars, here are some things I’d probably ask if my book group was reading my book, were I lucky enough to have a book group right now (and maybe I will, when my children are old enough to go to the bathroom alone and/or tie their own shoes). Enjoy! 

1. Why is Hannah so stubborn? Does she really not know she’s falling for this guy? Or is she just too scared to admit it? 
2. Hannah goes through a total mind-body-spirit transformation over the course of the book. The women in her life have a lot to do with it—but so do the men. In what ways do they affect her? Which group has more impact? If these characters were in Top Chef Restaurant Wars (Men v Women) who would win? 
3. Why are the people in her community so threatened by “outsiders”? Why do they enforce “discipline” so stringently? Aren’t Quakers always depicted as really mellow and friendly? 
4. If I visit Nantucket, will there be clams? 
5. Does anyone have a really, really good recipe for clam chowder? (Why yes, I do—see below!) 
6. Could you please pass the wine over here? 
7. Oh, we’re out of white? Is there red? 
8. Did anyone else yell at Hannah through a veil of tears when they got to the end, or was that just me? Did she make the right choice? Was it the only possible choice? 
9. Are we really out of wine? 

Nantucket Clam Chowder (adapted from EJ Harvey, Nantucket Seagrille) 
Makes about a gallon 

About 20-25 fresh Quahog clams, scrubbed clean (or 2 cans of clams + 1 bottle of clam juice—I won’t tell) 4 strips of bacon, diced 
½ cup of butter (I’m just the messenger) 
½ cup of flour 
 ½ cup diced onion 
½ cup diced celery 
1 lb of russet potatoes, ½ inch dice 
1 quart of heavy cream (still just the messenger) 
About a quart of clam juice (the cooking water from the Quohogs, strained and reserved, plus extra store-bought if you need it (or vegetable stock, or water, in a pinch) 
1 bay leaf 
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 
A few drops of Tabasco
A splash of Worcestershire sauce 
A dash of white pepper 
Salt, to taste 

1. Steam the clams in a large pot until they open. Strain the cooking water and set aside. Remove the clam meat from the shells and chop into bite-sized pieces. 

2. Melt the butter in a large pot, and sauté the bacon until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp. 

3. Add the onion and the celery and cook until translucent. 

4. Add flour and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. 

5. Add thyme, bay leaf, reserved clam cooking liquid or bottled clam juice, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to a simmer. 

6. Add potatoes and season with a drop or two of Tabasco, the Worcestershire, white pepper, and taste. Add salt if needed. 

7. Add heavy cream, stir, then add the clams and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. 

8. Serve hot with oyster crackers or crumbled saltines. 

Amy Brill is a writer and producer who has worked for PBS and MTV, and has been awarded fellowships by the Edward F. Albee Foundation, the Millay Colony, and the American Antiquarian Society, among others. This is her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn.

Giveaway alert: To celebrate the new Putnam & Riverhead Book Club Community,the publisher is giving away copies of THE MOVEMENT OF STARS for your entire book club! To enter, just fill out the form here. You will also be included on the mailing list for suggested book club titles and special offers, including sweepstakes, call-ins, reading group guides, and more. The contest to win THE MOVEMENT OF STARS ends 11:59pm EST on 2/15/2013 and winners will be notified by 2/21/13. Best of luck!

A huge thanks to Ms. Brill for participating in Book Club Exchange!

If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.   


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I would love to read this! It combines some of my favorite subjects! And by the way, do you know how to pronounce quahog? It's funny about clams - almost none of the them are said how they look! (here's a post on quahogs, inter alia.... )

bermudaonion said...

I LOVE this post! Those questions tell me that she knows book clubs with the out of context questions!!

Audra said...

This makes me wish I had a book club!

Unknown said...

Hi all! rhapsodyinbooks, if you want to pass for native, you say "KO-hog", rhymes with "FAUX-hog" or "BLOW-hog." Thanks, everyone! I hope you enjoy the book as much as the chowder and the wine and conversation. :) // amy

Beth F said...

Awesome guest post. Anyone who shares a recipe has won me over! LOL.