Friday, September 21, 2007

Holly Shumas, Five Things I Can't Live Without

If someone asked me what five things I couldn't live without I'd have to say friends-family-pets (although these aren't "things") my many lipglosses, books, hot showers and eight hours of sleep a night. Or coffee. Cheese omelets. Internet. People magazine. It's hard to choose only five!
But its an eye-catching title for a book, no?

Five Things I Cant Live Without by Holly Shumas is about Nora, a woman who helps her lovelorn friends with their online dating profiles - by having them write out five things they can't live without. Five things can be very telling. But what about Nora? She can't stop living in her "meta life" which is her way of going over every little detail in her own life. She needs to learn to let go, go with the flow, stop trying to listen to the commentary in her own head that's taking over her life.

Holly Shumas has written a thoughtful and fun novel, one that you will enjoy and pass along to your friends.

What do you want readers to walk away from the novel thinking or feeling?

If they walk away amused and touched and reflective about their own lives, that'd make me pretty proud.

Who are your favorite writers?

Amy Bloom (we therapist/writers have to stick together, and she's just an immense talent), Steve Almond, Carolyn Parkhurst, Kazuo Ishiguro, Megan Daum, Amanda Eyre Ward, Joshua Ferris (he only has one book so far, "Then We Came to the End", but oh, what a book.)

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

I find that a lot of the books I like have protagonists, not heroes; I'm really drawn to flawed characters. But for outright hero worship, I guess it'd have to be Stargirl, from the book of the same name by Jerry Spinelli. The sequel just came out, and I'm afraid to read it; I want to keep Stargirl pure, in some weird way.

What is your motto?

"It was good in theory." You'd be amazed how many things can be explained away with that one simple phrase.

What are you good at? What are you bad at?

I'm good at reading people, bad at any math more complicated than multiplication.

What will we find you doing on a Friday night?

I wish I had a more glamorous answer, but usually it's just decompressing on my own or hanging out with my boyfriend (also decompressing.) I work as a therapist part-time, and it's wonderful, rewarding work but damned if it doesn't make me want to cloister in my pajamas and eat ice cream at week's end. Just a brief, shameless plug: My therapy and writing come together over on my website, where I have an advice column on relationships.

What's the last movie you saw? What do you think of books being made into films?

I saw "Once", which stars Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard. It's a modern day, utterly uncheesy musical. I love it beyond words. As for books being made into films, I'm all for it. Option away!

Can you tell me what your next book is about?

Tentatively titled "It's Not What It Looks Like," it's about a woman who finds out that her seemingly devoted husband has been having an emotional affair for the past year. It deals with the question of whether the lack of sex makes it better or worse, and if their particular marriage can survive the betrayal.

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