Saturday, January 6, 2024

Welcome to Desert Island Books, a weekly series in which I discuss with writers, writers and journalists the eight books that would take you to a desert island and why.

This week, my guest is The American author Daisy Alpert Florin. Daisy attended Dartmouth College and graduated from Columbia University and the Bank Street Graduate School of Education. She received the Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship from Sarah Lawrence College in 2016 and was a fellow of the BookEnds Novel Revision Fellowship in 2019/20, where she worked with founding director Susan Scarf Merrell. Born in New York, Daisy lives in Connecticut with her family.

If you would like to purchase Daisy’s debut, My Last Innocent Year, please consider -an online bookstore platform specially designed for independent bookstores.

Emma Donoghue’s Room

When I first read Room, my daughter was the same age as Jack, Donoghue’s young narrator who has spent his entire life locked in a room, and I couldn’t help but think about what it would mean to spend every moment of my mother’s life trapped in a small room. This is one of those books that I wish I could read again for the first time. Unforgettable.

Can’t we talk about something more pleasant? By Roz Chast

The graphic novel by the New York cartoonist Roz Chast about the life and passed away of her parents is much more than a comic book. Chast explores the history of his parents and his own childhood before diving deeply into the last years of his parents’ lives, years that dragged on and for which no one was prepared. This is the rare book that makes you laugh and cry, often at the same time, and offers a brutally honest look at the many ways people avoid facing the hardest truth about life: that it ends.

The Age of Innocence By Edith Wharton

I couldn’t write a Novel about class, money and forbidden love without thinking about The Age of Innocence, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Novel Of Love and Duty By Edith Wharton, set in Old New York. As the protagonist of my novel My Innocent Senior Year, I wrote a thesis about Wharton once, and it was fun to explore how his subjects might unfold on a college campus in the 1990s. There’s always something new to discover in Wharton’s work, and I think this Novel is pretty perfect. It also has one of all of literature: when Newland Archer unbuttons Ellen’s glove and tenderly peckes the inside of her wrist. Hot.

The anniversary of Joan Wickersham’s paper

I am glad to draw attention to this Novel that I read shortly after graduating from college. Jack and Maisie are newlyweds, about to celebrate their “paper anniversary”, and things are not going well. Jack moved to Maine after his father’s passed away to take over his family’s French fry factory, while Maisie stays in New York. At the time I read it, I had recently left a college friend, and I think I thought it would tell me if we should get back together (we didn’t). Wickersham’s Novel was a great comfort to me at the time, a reminder that being an mature didn’t mean you had all the answers.

Elephant and Pig series by Mo Willems
There are 25 titles in this series, which may be too many to take you to a desert island, but I would say they are worth it. A masterclass in compression, Mo Willems’ brilliant Early Readers series starring Gerald The Elephant and his friend Piggie offers perfect comic characterization, pacing and timing in books designed for early readers. My children loved these books when they were little. They are teenagers now, but we still have each.

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