Archive for August, 2009
OK, so techn-i-cally, a week down the line, The Magicians is still a New York Times bestseller. As I understand it, we came in at #16, but with an asterisk, so close enough to #15 that they’re calling it a tie and sticking us on the main list. That’s not how it looks on the website (where we’re just #16, no asterisk), but I’ve seen a PDF of the page that’s going to be in the paper, and that’s how it is on there. So that’s my story. I’m sticking to it.
Hmmmmm … what else. There’s an interview with me in the Onion AV Club. I was a bit what journalists call “loose” in that one. More obscenities than usual. But I don’t think I said anything I didn’t mean. It got me name-checked by Choire Sicha, so all is right with the world. There’s also an interview that ran in the New Yorker’s book blog, where I discuss my literary cock-blocking by Jonathan Safran Foer. Real Grossman completists can check out the supplemental post featuring a picture of my writing desk.
Now that I’m back from the tour, I have a second to post the big news, which is no longer as newsy as it was when it actually happened: The Magicians will make its first appearance next week on the New York Times bestseller list. At number 9! This is a big, big breakthrough for me. Thank you to everyone who bought the book. The list is already up here. There’s even an asterisk next to it to say that I almost made it to number 8, but James Patterson pipped me at the post.
The Magicians also turns up on some other lesser (but still very cool) bestseller lists: Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post (we’re number 6!), and the Wall Street Journal.
One more thing: the New Yorker ran a really nice short review in Briefly Noted. It’s here. In our house when I was growing up the New Yorker was always the magazine of record, so that nod means a lot to me. It almost makes up for their having rejected me for a fact-checking job 13 years ago.
Ugh, I had hoped to update this news page more regularly. Soon the flurry of reviews will be over, and it’ll be too late, and I’ll wish I had. I’m in Denver right now, flying to Chicago in a couple of hours. Which is great, because (probably not coincidentally) we just got two great notices in the Chicago papers. The Tribune said that The Magicians “blooms with grace and wit and imaginative brio,” which is one of my favorite things anybody has said about it, and nicely put, too. (Scroll past the Julie & Julia lede, it gets there.) The Sun-Times proclaims me to be at the height of my powers, which I’ve always wanted somebody to say about me. (Though it begs the question, is it all downhill from here?)
What else? I can see into the future — since I’m at the height of my powers — so I know that Details will call The Magicians “enthralling and mature” in its September issue, thus making it sound like a sexy cougar. Grrrowl! The Examiner says things about The Magicians that I wouldn’t even dare think myself, let alone say. And USA Today stuck a classic poison-pen headline over a review that wasn’t that bad. No link for them.
Also I want to say something about the blog reaction to The Magicians. It has been amazing. Really, really amazing. I am not a famous author, so the amount of attention — good and bad, but mostly good — being paid to the book is … I can’t describe it. It makes me so happy. See for example Worlds in a Grain of Sand, Mabfan’s Musings, The Book Studio, Strange Ink, and so on. I haven’t been linking to blogs much, partly because the volume of coverage has been large and hard to sift through, and partly because — I’m being honest here — I have a really hard time reading coverage of The Magicians, and so I mostly stick to reading stuff that has been pre-approved for me as non-painful by other people, and nobody is filtering my blogs coverage for me. I will read it, all of it. But not till I’m done with my tour and can have a proper nervous breakdown.
There’s a profile of me in the L.A. Times this weekend. I won’t — would never — lie to you: this is very exciting for me. To have a major print publication do a proper profile of me, that has been a regular feature in my fantasy life for, oh, the past three decades or so. Now it’s here. And it’s great, a really great piece of thinking and writing (as well it should be, since it’s by Ed Park, who is both smarter than, and a better writer than, me). There’s even some rather personal stuff in there, about the end of my marriage, which I’ve never talked about before, and that at the time I thought might be too much. But now I’m glad I talked about it.
They sent a photographer to my house to do the picture. We did a long photoshoot, much of which had me sitting in a toy boat that belongs to my daughter. I got really into the toy boat. I feel I really worked the boat. But in the end they ran one of me sitting on an ottoman instead.
This being the actual week of publication, we are approaching maximum news saturation: an interview in the Village Voice, a really beautiful review in Salon, and a piece in the Boston Globe. I’m America’s media sweetheart! Plus there was an interview — with a picture of me staring meaningfully at nothing in the Tennis House at Prospect Park — in AM New York.
Also, for one of the most probing, rigorous investigations of The Magicians that it is ever likely to undergo, take a look at John Granger’s take at HogwartsProfessor.com.
I was at Worldcon this past weekend, so blame the news blackout on fandom. Today is the actual official on-sale date of The Magicians, so it can now be bought in stores. If that weren’t exciting enough (exciting for me, anyway), NPR will be running a piece on The Magicians tonight as part of “All Things Considered.”
A very nice review of The Magicians is running in this week’s Entertainment Weekly. My last book got a B from EW, and this one gets an A-, so the trend is upward. Granted, I work for Time magazine, which is owned by the same company that owns EW. But I choose to believe that there is no corruption involved in this review.
We had a book party for The Magicians last night. If you’re curious you can read about it in this very nice piece in The Observer. I feel like a socialite!
I have to put up a link to this essay in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine by Elizabeth Hand, which I would recommend reading even if it contained no Magicians-related content whatsoever. It’s about my book (which emerges praised but not unscathed), Ursula Le Guin’s Cheek by Jowl, and Laura Miller’s The Magician’s Book, but it also manages to be a brilliant summary of the state of the fantasy genre and its increasingly crowded creative space:
It is this singular, once-in-a-lifetime, take-your-breath-away grace note that seems absent from much contemporary fantasy. Not because it’s badly written — there may be more well-written fantasy around today than ever, perhaps due to the proliferation not just of university writing programs but of independent science fiction and fantasy writing programs such as Clarion and Odyssey — but because the self-referential, recursive nature of so much contemporary fantasy literature has made it increasingly difficult for a writer to deliver that grace note, without it sounding like it’s been already been winded on someone else’s ivory horn. Our marvels have grown commonplace. Fairy fruit’s available at Costco now, and Whole Foods.”
Strike that, I would recommend reading this essay, even if it contained no fantasy-related content whatsoever, just as an example of the critic’s art.
The Seattle Times posted a lovely review by their movie critic, who has the gloriously Hibernian name of Moira Macdonald:
Grossman skillfully moves us through four years of school and a postgraduate adventure, never letting the pace slacken. And he understands something quite moving about the uncertainties of young adulthood (the problem with growing up, notes Quentin, is that “once you’re grown up, people who aren’t grown up aren’t fun any more”) and about the isolation inherent in being different. When the students leave school, they return to a Manhattan seemingly without a place for them, carrying a bagful of skills that conjure up everything but happiness.”
Well, it’s not the most quotable review ever. But it’s good, I promise.
August 1, 2009
All right, now that major U.S. reviews are coming in, I’m going to start sticking them up here. Today there was a beautiful one in the Washington Post (by Keith Donohue, no mean novelist himself) that just nailed everything I’m proud of about The Magicians. It’s here:
“The Magicians” is a great fairy tale, written for grown-ups but appealing to our most basic desires for stories to bring about some re-enchantment with the world, where monsters lurk but where a young man with a little magic may prevail.”
This is the first review in a “major” U.S. paper, whatever that means. And it’s good. Relief.