LISA GRUNWALD IMAGINES A NOVEL CHILDHOOD—AND NAILS THE SIXTIES
ON M Y
Born to Run
insight into athletic
I’m keeping up with
THE IRRESISTIBLE HENRY HOUSE features an orphan born in 1946 and
raised as a “practice baby” by college coeds. Henry grows up loved
by many mothers but unable to love just one woman. This conflict spurs him to
take a “journey of self-discovery” to New York, California, and swingin’ London.
Q: I understand the book is based on an actual child-rearing project.
A: Right. I stumbled on a website about Cornell University’s home economics
program, which ran from 1919 to the late ’60s. The home page had a picture
of this beguiling baby—I clicked on it, and up came all this history of “practice
babies.” The child-rearing methods were considered the latest and most
scientific. “Gee,” I wondered, “whatever happened to those kids?”
Q: As a mother of two yourself, what did you think of the idea?
A: I was fascinated—and appalled. These babies were essentially footballs!
I can’t imagine using a real infant as a teaching tool, especially knowing what
it feels like to have those little arms around your neck.
Q: You were born in 1959. How did you re-create the years of Henry’s youth?
A: I read books, magazines, newspapers, and ads from the period. I even interviewed one of Walt Disney’s original animators. The research was so much fun,
it almost overtook me.
Q: As you enter your 50s, are your themes likely to change?
A: There’s something to be said for passing the 50-year mark and feeling
you’ve got finally some perspective. As I get older I’d like to think I can write
with more confidence—and, I hope, with more insight. But I stress the
“I hope” part, because who knows? —Diane Brown
The Swimming Pool
BY HOLLY LECRAW. Jed un-
wisely falls for Marcella—
the elderbabe who was his
dead father’s mistress—in
this ominous beach novel
about betrayal, secrets,
and consequences. Every sentence drips
with delicious deeper meaning. When Jed
shouts, “There’s something you don’t
know!” at Marcella’s ex-husband above
the roaring Cape Cod surf, we realize he’s
describing his own plight.
Everything Hurts BY BILL
SCHEF T. Estranged from
his brother, divorced from
his wife, and laid off from
his sportswriting job, Phil
Camp has hit rock bottom
in this ribald novel. To ex-
orcise his failed past, Phil writes a bogus
self-help book by a nonexistent self-
actualization guru. It’s an instant hit! As
he approaches 50, Phil learns that even
cynics can aspire to something nobler.
Welcome to Utopia:
Notes From a Small
Town BY KAREN VALBY.
Utopia, Texas, was so set
in its ways that adding a
refrigerator to the general
store sparked an uproar.
Seeking life lessons there, Valby finds
every act of neighborly grace offset by
one of prideful ignorance or racism. When
real lives clutter up the picture, “there’s
no such thing as an ideal community.”
Recipes for Renewal
Finding Martha’s Place BY MARTHA
HAWKINS. The author overcame teen
pregnancies, rape, depression, suicide
attempts, electroshock, and foreclosure. Then she found her guidepost in
Isaiah 61 and opened
a soul food eatery
Alabama. Her roughhewn tale of conquering adversity
ends with redemption—and recipes
for pound cake and
Perfect Pecan Pie. ;