Appreciating Russell Hoban with his Daughter Phoebe and other Writers

Turtle DiaryLast Monday night Kyle and I went to McNally Jackson Books in lower Manhattan to celebrate New York Review of Books Classics‘ reissue of Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary. I wrote about Hoban and the book soon after he died in December 2011, and mentioned then that the novel–my favorite among his many great books–was slated for reissue. The new edition has an introduction by novelist Ed Park, who was joined at the bookstore in discussion by novelist John Wray, translator and editor Damion Searls; and Phoebe Hoban, journalist, biographer of painters Basquiat and Alice Neel, and daughter of the novelist. Each panelist read from Hoban’s work–Park and Wray offering selections from Turtle Diary; Searls from Hoban’s children’s book classic, Bread and Jam for Frances; and Phoebe from an essay collection of her father that I believe was titled True North, and from eulogies read at his memorial in 2012. She made an interesting point about the many transitions her father experienced in his life and career. With his first wife Lillian, Phoebe’s mother, he moved his whole family from New York City to London; he evolved from writing children’s books exclusively to writing adult novels and kids’ books; and he evolved from being one of a cadre of Jewish-American novelists in a generation that included Malamud, Bellow, and Roth, to living amid a wholly new literary milieu in London.

Below are pictures from the discussion at McNally Jackson. If you enjoy Hoban’s work, I suggest you read my memorial post from January 2012.

Panelists at the Russell Hoban discussion, July 8, 2013: Damion Searls, Ed Park, Phoebe Hoban, John Wray.

Panelists at the Russell Hoban discussion, July 8, 2013: Damion Searls, Ed Park, Phoebe Hoban, John Wray.

A moment of mirth as Damion Searls read from "Bread and Jam for Frances."

A moment of mirth as Damion Searls reads from “Bread and Jam for Frances.”

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] That holds true for me, whether in fiction, where it’s seen in exceptional novels such as Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary, or in nonfiction, which often means diary books, like the epic A Diary of the Century, which I […]

  2. […] Turtle Diary has now been reissued. See my new post about it, published July 12, 2013. — When longtime novelist and children’s book author Russell […]

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