In her midforties and settled into the responsibilities and routines of adulthood, Dani Shapiro found herself with more questions than answers. Was this all life was - a hodgepodge of errands, dinner dates, e-mails, meetings, to-do lists? What did it all mean? Having grown up in a deeply religious and traditional family, Shapiro had no personal sense of faith, despite repeated attempts to create a connection to something greater.
Clara Brodeur has spent her entire adult life pulling herself away from her famous mother, the renowned and controversial photographer Ruth Dunne, whose towering reputation rests on the unsettling nude portraits she took of her young daughter from the ages of three to 14. As Clara charts a path connecting her childhood with her adult life, Shapiro's novel weaves together past and present in images as stark and intense as the photographs that tore the Dunnes apart.
What's fascinating about Dani Shapiro's story "Supernova" is "its focus on the minor catastrophe that is Shenkman, a relatively prosperous man whose minor shortcomings feel, to him alone, monumental and impossible to overlook," writes Benjamin Samuel, co-editor of Electric Literature, in his introduction to this issue of Recommended Reading. "Despite rowing every day, obsessively racing against an old rival in a computerized simulation, nobody even knows Shenkman is still competing."
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books began in 1996 with a simple goal: to bring together the people who create books with the people who love to read them. The festival was an immediate success and has become the largest and most prestigious book festival in the country, attracting more than 130,000 book lovers each year.