Thursday, January 17, 2013

What is Ben Schrank reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Ben Schrank, author of Love Is a Canoe.

His entry begins:
I loved Jim Gavin’s upcoming collection Middle Men. I got the galley at the NCIBA tradeshow in Northern California when I was there promoting my own novel, Love is a Canoe, back in the fall. NCIBA hosted this year’s event at a venue out by the airport in San Francisco. After I signed my galleys at the cocktail party on that Saturday night, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express next door and I ate a chicken quesadilla and drank beer alone at the bar at the Houlihan’s. I won’t lie. I loved meeting all those booksellers at the signing. But that Holiday Inn Express was a little bleak. So when I got back to SFO and boarded the plane to go home, I was particularly open to the kind of west coast male lostness and sadness that Jim Gavin writes about so beautifully in the stories in Middle Men. Gavin’s characters get...[read on]
About Love Is a Canoe, from the publisher:
Peter Herman is something of a folk hero. Marriage Is a Canoe, his legendary, decades-old book on love and relationships, has won the hearts of hope­ful romantics and desperate cynics alike. He and his beloved wife lived a relatively peaceful life in upstate New York. But now it’s 2010, and Peter’s wife has just died. Completely lost, he passes the time with a woman he admires but doesn’t love—and he begins to look back through the pages of his book and question hom­ilies such as:

A good marriage is a canoe—it needs care and isn’t meant to hold too much—no more than two adults and a few kids.

It’s advice he has famously doled out for decades. But what is it worth?

Then Peter receives a call from Stella Petrovic, an ambitious young editor who wants to celebrate the fif­tieth anniversary of Marriage Is a Canoe with a contest for struggling couples. The prize? An afternoon with Peter and a chance to save their relationship.

The contest ensnares its creator in the largely opaque politics of her publishing house while it intro­duces the reader to couples in various states of distress, including a shy thirtysomething Brooklynite and her charismatic and entrepreneurial husband, who may just be a bit too charismatic for the good of their marriage. There’s the middle-aged publisher whose im­posing manner has managed to impose loneliness on her for longer than she cares to admit. And then there is Peter, who must discover what he meant when he wrote Marriage Is a Canoe if he is going to help the contest’s winners and find a way to love again.

In Love Is a Canoe, Ben Schrank delivers a smart, funny, romantic, and hugely satisfying novel about the fragility of marriage and the difficulty of repairing the damage when well-intentioned people forget how to be good to each other.
Learn more about the book and author at Ben Schrank's website.

Writers Read: Ben Schrank.

--Marshal Zeringue