MediaMonday for August 13, 2012: Epitaph of the Book, a discussion on how digital media is rewriting the way we read. Source media from two essays published in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review:
Most of us live in safe homes, in communities with efficient emergency services and reliable law enforcement. Opening a newspaper or flicking on news channels reminds us that we live in a violent world where where children are maimed by war, kidnapped by parents or others with nefarious motives, pushed around and beaten by bullies, and used as chattel in the skin trades. Reading about violence to children isn’t easy. Some people simply will not read books that feature children in perilous situations. Why are they such hard sells for authors? Why are the ones that succeed so compelling? Why do some people avoid reading them? We’ll ask these questions and more on Wednesday in #litchat during our discussion topic: Children in Danger.
Joining us as guest host on Friday, August 17, is novelist Lesley Kagen, author of four novels which feature the affects of harm, either physical or psychological, done to children. Kagen’s protagonists are girls who see the wrong things, hear too much, or happen to be in the wrong place at the worst time. They grapple with responsibilities far too consequential for their age and face danger in places where children should not be required to go. With compelling and believable characters, Kagen avoids the pitfall of polarization which is so easy in thriller genres. Her skill with plausible plots takes her novels from sensationalist exploitation of children into sensitive portrayals of life in rural communities where bad things happen to good people.
Good Graces, Kagen’s latest novel, was released in paperback last May. Good Graces is a sequel to her New York Times bestselling debut novel, Whistling in the Dark. Readers of Whistling in the Dark sat on the edge of their seats as precocious sisters Sally and Troo O’Malley survived the nightmarish summer of their father’s death and escaped the clutches of a murderer and child molester in their close-knit Milwaukee community. Good Graces picks up a year later as Sally struggles with the promise she made to her dying father to watch over her wild sister Troo. When an orphan in the community mysteriously disappears, Sally amps up her defenses, certain that Troo is in danger. Readers ride the tide of emotions once again, as Sally struggles with responsibilities and choices compounded by grief, fear and self-doubt.
A native of Milwaukee, Kagen’s four novels to date include, Whistling in the Dark, Land of A Hundred Wonders, Tomorrow River, and Good Graces. Kagen has worked as on-air talent in the radio, television and record industries, including acting parts in several movies of the week and Laverne and Shirley. She was the voice of “Lesley,” the hip spokesperson for the popular Southern California record store, Licorice Pizza. She and her husband moved their young children back to Milwaukee in 1990, where they opened and continue to operate a sushi bar. Kagen is at work on a fifth novel, soon to be released.
Follow Lesley Kagen on Twitter: @LesleyKagen.