Literary First Love – Camille Noe Pagán

Camille Noe Pagán

Post by  Camille Noe Pagán | @cnoepagan

**Update: Because so many of our readers were away for Memorial Day we’ve decided to extend the giveaway for Camille’s book through Tuesday night. See below for details. And good luck!

My college years were dominated by old male writers: dead men, or men on their way to the grave, with the occasional young superstar (Michael Chabon, David Foster Wallace) thrown in for good measure. Certainly the Virginia Woolfs and Alice Munros and Sylvia Plaths made their way in to the mix, but I don’t remember reading many younger female authors. I came away from the experience with an English degree and the subtle feeling that my lifelong dream—to be a novelist—would not be happening anytime soon.

Then I read Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.

It was the summer after I graduated and I was living in a crappy sublet in New York City and interning at a magazine while I waited to attend Radcliffe Publishing Institute, a six-week boot camp of sorts, after which I would return to New York, hopefully with a job lined up. I’d picked up White Teeth at St. Marks Bookshop, and from the minute I cracked open the pages I knew I was looking at something special. The writing was good. Really good. But what really wowed me was that Smith—a prodigy if ever there was one—was in her twenties at the time the book was published.

This is an embarrassing admission, but it was not until I read that novel that I thought that maybe, just maybe, I did not have to wait until I was old and gray to try my hand at long fiction. It wasn’t that I aspired to reach Smith’s literary heights.  But I did want to write—right away. Early attempts were laughable and rarely more than twenty pages. But one evening, shortly after my daughter was born, I started writing what would become my first novel. I was thirty when I finished the first draft, and thirty-two when it was published, with plenty of non-gray hairs left on my head.

After White Teeth, there were many other books that inspired me and informed my career. Barbara Kingsolver, whose Prodigal Summer—my favorite novel—opened my eyes to the power of multiple points of view. Lorrie Moore, whose many short story collections showed me that humor could give a story the sizzle it needed to embed itself in a reader’s mind. Emily Giffin, whose breakout novel, Something Borrowed, I purchased in an airport on a whim; by the time I arrived at my destination, I’d devoured it and decided that if I could make a reader turn the pages half as fast as I had been turning hers, I’d be doing something right.

Those books, written by women, watered the seed that Smith planted: Take a chance. Don’t wait. Write the book that’s in your heart.

Camille’s debut novel, THE ART OF FORGETTING, releases in paperback tomorrow. In celebration,  Camille is giving away three signed copies. To be entered in the drawing leave a comment below telling us about a book you fell in love with as an adult. Winners will be chosen at the end of the day.

Forgive and forget. But not necessarily in that order.

Marissa Rogers never wanted to be an alpha; beta suited her just fine. Taking charge without taking credit had always paid off: vaulting her to senior editor at a glossy magazine; keeping the peace with her critical, weight-obsessed mother; and enjoying the benefits of being best friends with gorgeous, charismatic, absolutely alpha Julia Ferrar.

And then Julia gets hit by a cab. She survives with minor obvious injuries, but brain damage steals her memory and alters her personality, possibly forever. Suddenly, Marissa is thrown into the role of alpha friend. As Julia struggles to regain her memory- dredging up issues Marissa would rather forget, including the fact that Julia asked her to abandon the love of her life ten years ago- Marissa’s own equilibrium is shaken.

With the help of a dozen girls, she reluctantly agrees to coach in an after-school running program. There, Marissa uncovers her inner confidence and finds the courage to reexamine her past and take control of her future.

The Art of Forgetting  is a story about the power of friendship, the memories and myths that hold us back, and the delicate balance between forgiving and forgetting.

Camille Noe Pagán is a magazine journalist whose work has appeared in Glamour, O: The Oprah Magazine, PARADE and dozens of other publications and websites. Her first novel,  The Art of Forgetting, is released in paperback by Plume/Penguin on May 29th. Library Journal calls Forgetting “a page-turner” for “readers who enjoy intelligent novels about women’s fiction”; The Chicago Tribune says, “Pagán writes with both a subtle sense of humor and great wisdom about the power of friendship and the importance of forgiveness in her quietly compelling literary debut.”  She lives in Ann Arbor with her family.  

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16 Responses to Literary First Love – Camille Noe Pagán

  1. Megan C. May 28, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love “The Thirteenth Tale” by Setterfield, a wonderful book for book lovers!

  2. janet h. May 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I really enjoy anything by Rosamunde Pilcher – her descriptions of Scotland take me there in my mind….

    I really never thought about it, but Camille is right, all the authors I studied in school were male… That was many years ago, I would hope that has changed!!

  3. Shannon Morris May 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    A book I feel in love with as an adult is The Shadow of the Wind”

  4. Gramma Sandy May 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is my new favorite. Within the first few chapters I loved the book and could hardly put it down. Although I had borrowed the book, I had to have my own copy. I’ve even purchased one as a gift for someone special.I’d love a chance to make this book my new favorite.

  5. Robin Crockett May 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I loved Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers. That started my love for Christian fiction!

  6. Lauren May 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This is so hard… so many choices! Probably the best book I’ve read as an adult would be one I fell in love with as a teenager- Gone with the Wind.

  7. Laura Kay May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I fell in love with The Violets of March by Sarah Jio. Not only have I loved both her books, but it really opened my eyes to historical fiction. I’ve now found a number of books that are historical and yet feel contemporary.

  8. Sharon Gulley May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I am currently reading Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin and can’t put it down. It’s my fav right now…

  9. Connie May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I am always looking for a book to read that will keep me interested and not flipping the pages looking for the interesting parts. I was really surprised when I picked up books from the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Absolutely read every page. It was a great surprise for books I bought on clearance for a dollar. I will definitely be checking out some of the books posted in previous comments.

  10. Ellen R. May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    One of my favs is When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin.

  11. Ariel May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sandy, The Language of Flowers was our January selection for She Reads. Such a great book! I read it in two giant gulps.

  12. Jan May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love the writings of Eugenia Price. I love her trilogy set in early Georgia history. Right now I’m reading Robert Whitlow, great Christian fiction.

    Thank you all!

  13. Ariel May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Robin, I’ve read several of Francine Rivers books but somehow managed to miss this one. I know a number of people who love it.

  14. Ariel May 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Laura, we had the great privilege of introducing Sarah and The Violets of March to our readers as last September’s book club pick. She’s such a wonderful person and fantastic writer. She has another novel coming out this September as well.

  15. Anna Lee Gresham May 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I read Gone with the Wind as an adult and LOVED it. I couldn’t put it down for days. More recently I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It was funny and heartbreaking, and the writing was simply amazing.

  16. Sandy C May 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sue monk Kidd is a great southern writer. I especially like “the secret life of bees”

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