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Spotlight on: Mr. Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe

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I suppose it’s typical of me that I zoom in on Billy Wilder in one of the most melancholy moments of his life, just when his star is on the wane and he’s trying to find a gracious way of becoming an elder statesman. I think it is more interesting to approach an artist through one of their flawed films, because a masterpiece speaks for itself. Whereas you watch Fedora and you think: ‘How did this film come to be? It is so peculiar, there must be a story there.” ―Jonathan Coe, Interview, The Guardian

 

Mr. Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe

What booksellers are saying about Mr. Wilder and Me

  • Told alongside a young woman’s coming of age as a film worker, this novella is a portrait of late-career Billy Wilder, after he’s made all the films you know and now worries that he’s out of touch – he remains haunted by the Holocaust, while his peers seemingly have moved on and are making movies that explore human pain and suffering instead of trying to alleviate them. It’s a gorgeously written and well-researched book, simultaneously a love letter to film and life’s pleasures and a compassionate warning about the dangers of nostalgia and the moral convictions that come with age.
      ―Akil Guruparan from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Calista is a young Greek girl hired by Billy Wilder as an interpreter while he is filming the movie Fedora in 1977 Europe. This is a coming of age story along with a tribute to Wilder, his movies, and his screenwriter friend Iz Diamond. I loved the book!  ―Beth Carpenter from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina | Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Last night, I was listening to an old episode of This American Life, one in which a reporter goes on the road with the then-92-year-old George Burns. Immediately I thought of Mr. Wilder and Me. As in that radio story, the protagonist in Jonathan Coe’s novel is a young woman who has the rare opportunity to spend long stretches of time with an aging entertainment legend who is, more than likely, in the midst of his last big project. Mr. Wilder and Me invites us to examine notions of creativity, relevance, and fame as well as our irresistible tendency to re-examine our lives, wondering what small shifts might have changed everything.  ―Janet Geddis from Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia | Buy from Avid Bookshop

About Jonathan Coe

Jonathan Coe was born in 1961 in Lickey, a suburb of south-west Birmingham. His first novel, The Accidental Woman was published in 1987. His best-selling novels include What a Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club (2001). He is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including both Costa Novel of the Year and Prix du Livre Européen. He won France’s Prix Médicis for The House of Sleep and Italy’s Premio Flaiano and Premio Bauer-Ca’ Foscari.

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One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank

Stella Levi is a reluctant narrator. But Saturday after Saturday she allows pieces of her story to begin to form the charming, haunting, lively, tragic, tale of life and loss and art and survival that is One Hundred Saturdays. This is absolutely the best book I’ve read all year, and with the added bonus of Maira Kalman’s brilliant illustrations of life on Rhodes, in Auschwitz, and in New York, it may very well be the best book of the decade.

One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, 9781982167226, September 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

A beautiful and strange novel full of magic, friendships, and hard truths. The search for voice & freedom, the drive to be heard, a reconciliation with past trauma and a future filled with hope weave a story I couldn’t let go of.The city of Budapest and the Danube are integral characters as Csilla discovers her worth. Along with a student revolutionary leader and a kind hearted angel of death, Csilla transforms the world around her into one filled with color.

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke, (List Price: $18.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780593381243,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Susan Williams, M Judson Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina

The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R. M. Romero

Lovers of history, poetry, and myth will find themselves in awe of R.M. Romero’s young adult debut. The story of Ilana Lopez, a Jewish Latina from Miami sent to stay with her aunt in Prague, is inspired by the author’s very real time spent restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe, and rings true because of this even through its layers of story magic. The Ghosts of Rose Hill is by turns glittering, dark, enchanting and haunting.

The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R. M. Romero, (List Price: $18.99, Peachtree Teen, 9781682633380, May 2022)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

A Spring 2021 Read This Next! Title

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin
Pantheon, June

Joshua Henkin has issued an invitation to view the timeline of an American marriage. Columbia University professor, Spence Robin, was a young hotshot Shakespearean expert, capable of filling lecture halls with enraptured students. Pru Steiner was one of them. The attraction and love was immediate, the marriage secure and long-lasting. However, while only in his fifties, Spence receives the horrifying diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Their daughter is grown and gone and his son from a previous marriage has always been sporadically estranged; leaving Pru alone as Spence declines and she navigates the changes and loss of a great man. Morningside Heights is poignant, honest, thoughtfully observant, and skillfully wrought.

–Damita Nocton from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC

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