In this remarkable book, Anna Quindlen, one of America's favorite novelists and a Pulitzer Prize- winning columnist, once again gives us wisdom, opinions, insights, and reflections about current events and modern life. "Always insightful, rooted in everyday experience and common sense...Quindlen is so good that even when you disagree with what she says, you still love the way she says it," said People magazine about her number one New York Times bestseller Thinking Out Loud, and the same can be said about Loud and Clear.
Bestselling author Quindlen (One True Thing; A Short Guide to a Happy Life; etc.), a veteran reporter and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, couldn't have picked a more apt title for her latest collection of columns from Newsweek and the New York Times. Whether or not readers agree with Quindlen's opinions on everything from youth culture to gun control, these razor-sharp musings will open avenues of debate and discussion long after the book is closed. Quindlen is at the top of her game when she turns her eagle eye on the tiny threads that make up the fiber of domestic life. After all, The world of children and child-rearing is social history writ small but indelible, whether it's the minutia of Barbie dolls and Power Ranger action figures or the phenomenon of books like Harry Potter or The Cat in the Hat. It's a shared experience, not just for the children but for their parents, and a snapshot of where we were then." The only weak link in this memorable book is the scant connective tissue between sections. Quindlen divides the essays by theme-heart, mind, soul, voice and body-and while the individual pieces shine, the overviews of each topic provide thin explanations for why they are grouped this way. Overall, however, this is not a matter of great concern. Quindlen's columns speak for themselves, loud and clear. (On sale Apr. 6) Forecast: Although all of these essays have been previously published, the book should still attract an enormous number of buyers. National TV and radio interviews in New York and Washington, D.C., as well as print ads and a chapter sampler promo, will ensure high visibility. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Loud and Clear by Anna Quindlen
ON THE MORNING OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, I was doing what I do as well as anyone I know: that is, not writing. This is an enduring part of my daily routine, something like the unbirth- day party in Through the Looking-Glass. Unlike some of my colleagues--mainly the ones I don't really care for--I do not fly to my desk each morning with a full heart and a ready hand. I skirt the perimeters of my home office with a sense of dread, eyes averted from an empty computer screen. Instead of creation there is always procrastination: the call to my closest friend to chew over the morning paper and to gossip, which sometimes comes to the same thing; the power walk in Central Park and the interlude at Starbucks--my husband calls it Four-bucks--and the triple venti no-foam latte. Luckily the laundry room is five stories below my office, or I could surely eke out another half hour folding sheets and T-shirts. Several years ago my daughter downloaded a computer game called Snood onto my laptop and for months, before I had used up all the demonstration games, I played over and over in single-minded pursuit of nothing more than a position on a scoreboard that only I ever saw and on which I was known as Big Mama. Eventually I deleted the program. I had developed a terrible Tetris problem a decade earlier that had enabled me to put off writing until well past 10:00 a.m., and I could see which way things were headed.
I am a creature of habit; it is all that allows me to write in the first place, the routine designed to ward off the moment, and then the moment itself, when the first feeble sentence, often merely a prelude to better things, appears as my fingers play word jazz on the keyboard. What follows is usually a manic two or three hours fed by caffeine and the CD of the moment. Sondheim, Tori Amos, Rosemary Clooney, James Taylor, Alanis Morissette. I did not want to learn to type, but the nuns insisted, saying someday I might marry a man who would need his papers typed or be employed by a man who needed the same done to his business letters. My fingers are the only sure-handed things about me when I first sit down to write. After all those years in newsrooms I am a very fast typist indeed, as fast as any executive secretary.
But it was the variation from routine that enables me to remember that morning in particular, remember it before it became the morning of the most important day in the history of the United States during my lifetime. It was my eldest child's eighteenth birthday, and that morning at breakfast his father and I had recalled with clarity and more than a little schmaltz the stiflingly hot morning when he had arrived, limp and gray after a forceps delivery. Twelve days before we had left him at college for the first time, and we were still smarting from the fissure in our family. Before we got into the car and drove away, we reminded him yet again that when he turned eighteen he was obliged by law to go to the post office and register with the Selective Service. Neither of us felt any fear when we told him to do that; it seemed almost quaint, that particular demand at that moment in time from the two of us, the former boy who had lived through the Vietnam draft lottery, the former girlfriend who had stood by breathless waiting for his number to come up, the young couple exhaling in relief after. If I had thought there was any chance my son would be forced to go to war, I would have bought him a ticket to Canada instead of driving him to Connecticut.