The 3 Hot Debuts Authors You *Need* to Read RN
If you’ve heard the phrase “beginner’s luck” before, you know it’s not just for poker; there’s something to be said for maturity, but sometimes an artist’s first work is a wonder to behold. After all, they’ve spent their whole lives until publishing preparing for it. That being said, none of the debut authors in this week’s book club are complete neophytes: one has a long list of renowned short fiction, one’s a richly awarded journalist and one’s a historian helping us discover buried literary treasure. So read on for a collection of stories, a compelling coming-of-age tale and an argument for casting the spotlight on some nearly forgotten women. You’ll have some beginner’s luck yourself if you pick up one of these three new books.
1. We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories by Clare Beams ($12): Columbia MFA grad Beams has published her short stories in many places, such as Willow Springs, Best American Nonrequired Reading and One Story; a finalist for Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, she’s just published her first complete collection of stories, and what a powerhouse it is. Beams’ stories promise to deal with the extraordinary and transformative, at once whimsical and human. Detailed, inventive and emotionally rich, the stories find the strange in the ordinary (and vice versa) and range from the historical to the modern.
In her varied tales, a young woman in London becomes fascinated with her sister’s husband during the Great Plague; an elementary school teacher comes apart at the seams before her terrified class: “We would wonder, ever after, what caused it: the force of the bottled-up, forbidden words we were calling forth or the hammering blows of the humiliation we were delivering.“ Another woman returns to the family vacation spot with her grandmother to prove her worth after a breakup and finds her irrevocably changed by the experience. An architect is altered by an all-encompassing, difficult project; a class of women is altered by their boarding school’s standards of beauty.
Beams has been lauded by authors such as Chang-Rae Lee and Joyce Carol Oates, who likens her style to a wickedly feminist collaboration between Alice Munro and Shirley Jackson. Other hallowed names invoked include Margaret Atwood and Stephen King, but Beams is no copycat; with this debut collection, she proves she has a style all her own.
2. Teethmarks on My Tongue by Eileen Battersby ($13): Eileen Battersby, the literary correspondent for the Irish Times, was Ireland’s National Critic of the Year in 2012, and has been National Arts Journalist of the Year an impressive four times. She’s released two books of criticism and non-fiction, and now her debut novel is poised to take on the world. Other critics are particularly impressed with her singular narrator, Helen Stockton Defoe, who comes of age with deadpan perception and a darkly comic viewpoint.
In Teethmarks on My Tongue, Helen feels separated from most of life’s connections; her mother is brutally, shockingly murdered on the street by a gunman, and her father distances himself; she sports a distinctive physical feature that emphasizes her internal differences. Helen exploits her otherwise privileged world and lives a rich interior life, studying arts and sciences and observing the people around her. She hopes to connect with her father, but when he rejects everything she stands for, she rejects his world, in turn, escaping to Europe, where the potential dangers she encounters are ameliorated by a renewed ability to feel.
Now Battersby finds herself in the critical spotlight, and it seems the critic has finely honed her own writing abilities. Kirkus calls Teethmarks, “A perceptive, keenly intelligent bildungsroman, well marbled with dark humor, about inhabiting one’s own life, body, and emotions despite upbringing and uncertainty.” As her character comes of age, Battersby comes into her own.
3. Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature by Shelley DeWees ($16): “Wild and extraordinary stories often have completely ordinary beginnings, and this one, the story of how I became obsessed with seven British women, is no different.” In historian DeWees’ debut book, she takes us beyond everyone’s favorite 18th-century female British novelist, Jane Austen, to show us how a group of her contemporaries is equally sharp, witty and worthy of our attention. They may not have dozens of movie adaptations, DeWees argues, but it might make sense (and sensibility) if they did. Pulling together historical, biographical and literary information, she expands the encyclopedia of subversive female writers of the era much farther than A to B (Austen to Brontë).
Britain’s changing landscape in the Victorian era included the burgeoning publishing industry, which encouraged many women to try their luck at writing. The writers DeWees profiles were not just debut novelists, they began entire fields of literature; among them were the progenitors of modern fantasy and detective novels, and all were successful in their own time. However, like many women’s achievements, most of them have been overlooked in modern society. DeWees’ portrayal of Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik and Mary Elizabeth Braddon is unsparing and unsentimental, but seeks to be as entertaining as the novels it describes.
Laurel Anne Nattress, the editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, calls DeWees “the Indiana Jones of literary archeology,” and Lyndsey Faye, (author of another book club selection, Jane Steele), says “It’s a moving and heartfelt tribute to seven forgotten literary foremothers whose works were widely admired and just as widely consigned to moldering oblivion.” You might want to make room on your bookshelf for the works of these seven trailblazers after you’re done reading this hot debut, which questions and expands the notion of canon and memory, reducing the old assumptions to just a lot of pride and prejudice.
What first books are your favorites? Tag us in your next fresh read @BritandCo.
(Featured photo via Getty)
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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