Gays Reading

2024 Anticipated Books feat. Jenny Jackson

January 16, 2024 Brett Benner, Jason Blitman, Jenny Jackson Season 2 Episode 33
2024 Anticipated Books feat. Jenny Jackson
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
2024 Anticipated Books feat. Jenny Jackson
Jan 16, 2024 Season 2 Episode 33
Brett Benner, Jason Blitman, Jenny Jackson

In the first episode of the new year, Jason and Brett discuss books they’re excited to check out in 2024. They’re joined by editor and author Jenny Jackson (who initially put The Rachel Incident on their radar—one of Jason’s Most Memorable 2023 Books!) Jenny talks about titles, some of which she served as editor, that she’s looking forward to this year.

You’ll also find an Easter egg for an upcoming (unannounced) episode.

Check out Jason's earlier interview with Jenny HERE

Jenny Jackson is a vice president and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. A graduate of Williams College and the Columbia Publishing Course, she lives in Brooklyn Heights with her family. Her debut novel Pineapple Street, a Good Morning America Book Club pick, was released in March 2023. 

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

In the first episode of the new year, Jason and Brett discuss books they’re excited to check out in 2024. They’re joined by editor and author Jenny Jackson (who initially put The Rachel Incident on their radar—one of Jason’s Most Memorable 2023 Books!) Jenny talks about titles, some of which she served as editor, that she’s looking forward to this year.

You’ll also find an Easter egg for an upcoming (unannounced) episode.

Check out Jason's earlier interview with Jenny HERE

Jenny Jackson is a vice president and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. A graduate of Williams College and the Columbia Publishing Course, she lives in Brooklyn Heights with her family. Her debut novel Pineapple Street, a Good Morning America Book Club pick, was released in March 2023. 

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

Hi Brett!

Brett Benner:

Hi, Jason. It's been a,

Jason Blitman:

this, it's been so long.

Brett Benner:

I know it really has been a while and it's also been weird. This is the weird thing. Okay, full disclosure, like you're in New York right now, but I don't know why, but it feels almost weird that you're in New York versus where it being, I guess in California, because. It feels like you're really away. And so suddenly I'm like, and yet we're not ever together.

Jason Blitman:

we're never in the same spot, but I like, do feel particularly far away.

Brett Benner:

That's exactly it. Cause I have, I've had people, I've had people say to me who listened to the podcast in season one, oh, you guys have known each other for a long time. Or, you guys recorded together and I'm like, no, we're in completely different spots. And we didn't have that much of a relationship prior to starting this. It was like a leap. So that's crazy, but I do feel the separation. And so that's that's a little bit strange. I don't know why. It's a psychological thing,

Jason Blitman:

I will say it, because we text almost every day and I think because of the time difference, it's been less frequent while I'm here. So that's probably part of it, because I'm feeling it too, so it's very funny.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. It's weird to see you. Welcome back.

Jason Blitman:

good to see you too. Happy New Year. Happy New Year to our listeners. And today we're gonna talk about books that we're excited about coming out in 2024. And then we also have a super special guest on to talk about favorite books that she's looking forward to in 2024.

Brett Benner:

First of all, let's also say, we've already recorded a number of episodes, so we have so many great people lined up for you guys this year, so we're so very excited, and the caliber of stuff that's coming out this year is so fantastic, the stuff that we've read so far, stuff that we're reading, stuff that we're getting, it's gonna be an amazing publishing year.

Jason Blitman:

So here is our episode where we talk about what we're excited, a couple, just a couple, a teeny tiny taste of what's coming out in 2024.

Brett Benner:

Exactly, and we have no idea what the others picked. Wouldn't it be crazy if we have crossover?

Jason Blitman:

I highly doubt it because there are a time but I'm Jason

Brett Benner:

And I'm Brett,

Jason Blitman:

and welcome back 2024,

Brett Benner:

season two

Jason Blitman:

season two, the first episode of season two of Gays Reading.

Brett Benner:

Nah.

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, so I am out of town as you mentioned and I went through security at a building here in new york the other day And I set off the alarm, and they were like, Do you have an iPad? No. Do you have a computer? No. I was like, I have no technology with me whatsoever. I go to the little desk with the security man, and he goes through my whole bag, and he's Oh, sir, you have a microphone in the bottom of your bag. And I was like, oh my And I was like, oh, I said, you never know when you need your microphone.

Brett Benner:

I love that you didn't know that you had that, like that wasn't even in your mind.

Jason Blitman:

I forgot. I forgot. I like, it's, tucked into the bottom of my backpack. I thought that was very silly. But I'm happy to be here to talk about some books for 2024. Do you want to, why don't you dive in first?

Brett Benner:

Okay. Going to go by, because I just happened to look up the publishing dates of these. So I'm going to go by publishing date.

Jason Blitman:

Ooh,

Brett Benner:

All right. So this first book comes out March 19th and it is a a retelling of sorts by Percival Everett. And what that is James, which is the story of Huckleberry Finn, but told. From the perspective of Jim, the slave first of all, Evan Everett, I think is so amazing. The pre publication buzz on this thing is incredible. I'm just going to read you the first paragraph of the description. It says when the enslaved Jim overhears that he's about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, separated from his wife and daughter forever. He decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father, recently returned to town. As all readers of American literature know, thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River towards the elusive and too often unreliable promise of the free states and beyond. So I am so excited for this thing. I can't

Jason Blitman:

too.

Brett Benner:

Oh my God. Yeah. Just

Jason Blitman:

regardless, I'm excited and can't wait to shout out the book. I'll also go in, in date order. My first book is Mother Doll by Katya Apakina. And I have to say, first, it What drew me in was the cover. The cover is astonishing. And prize winning author Katya Apokina's Mother Doll is a sharp and visceral nesting doll of a novel about four generations of mothers and daughters and the inherited trauma cast by Russian history. I won't read more, but it's, it just sounds so great. And Lauren Groff blurbed it and she said, profoundly moving story. Strange, wild, offbeat, and hilarious. I absolutely loved it. And so like who, a gorgeous cover, a blurb from Lauren Groff, an interesting premise, like who could ask for anything more? And that comes out on March 12th.

Brett Benner:

Awesome. And it is a gorgeous cover. All right. My next one comes out May 7th. This is called the Ministry of Time. It is a time travel romance. A spy thriller, a workplace comedy, an ingenious exploration of the nature of power and the potential for love to change it all. Welcome to the Ministry of Time, the exhilarating debut novel from Kaleen Bradley. Really excited and it's a really cool looking cover. I have no idea, like it just sounds like a mashup.

Jason Blitman:

I, this was gonna be on my list, but I'm trying to, I was trying to manifest and not necessarily put people on my list that I thought we might get. And so I was like, I'm just, I've decided we're gonna get her for the podcast So I didn't put her on my list. But no, I'm, I am so excited to read it. Another book with a gorgeous cover.

Brett Benner:

I know.

Jason Blitman:

And the cool thing about this is the author. is also an editor in London and started, and the story behind how the book came to be is so fascinating that we'll talk about at a later date. My second book comes out on May 14th, and that is OYE by Melissa Magallon and it is a coming of age dramedy, a telenovela worthy drama, a moving family saga, all in a phone call you won't want to hang up on. It's structured in the series of one sided phone calls from the main character to her older sister. I want to be very clear that I've not read any of these books yet. I like, truly am just excited about them. And they're sitting on my shelf and I'm just salivating to read them. And this just sounds so good. And so this is OI coming out May 14th.

Brett Benner:

I'm just going to preface my last choice by saying again manifesting that we'd get this author on the podcast.

Jason Blitman:

I love that we did the opposite. You're manifesting that we get them all, and I was like, I don't want to jinx anything. I'm not going to pick them. So great, what's, tell

Brett Benner:

so I picked this one, which of course his first book was my, one of my favorite books of the year. It came out. The author is Chris Whitaker. The book is all the colors of the dark,

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, I'm so excited!

Brett Benner:

June 25th. 1975 is a time of change in America. The Vietnam War is ending. Muhammad Ali is fighting Joe Frazier. And in the small town of Monteclair, Missouri, girls are disappearing. When the daughter of a wealthy family is targeted, the most unlikely hero emerges, Patch, a local boy with one eye who saves the girl and in doing so leaves heartache in his wake. A missing person mystery, a serial killer thriller, a love story, a unique twist on each. Chris Whitaker has written a novel about what lurks in the shadows of obsession and the blinding light of hope.

Jason Blitman:

I'm so excited for that. We begin at the end with some of my favorite books a couple years ago, and no one was really talking about it. Or not enough people were talking about it. So my last book is called Perfume and Pain by Anna Dorn. And on the cover it says, Her bad behavior dot dot dot just got worse. The TV starlet who's dying to work with her, the nosy neighbor who can't get enough, the flirtatious fan who becomes obsessed. These are the women in author Astrid Dahl's life. Will Astrid find success in her career? Will she ever find true love? Or will she only know perfume and pain? I It just I was explaining to a publicist how much I love fun books that also spin literary, so you can read a fun book that also, that you like, don't feel like that you feel like has some heft to it, and whatever. And she was like, Oh, you have to read Perfume in Pain. And then the more I've read about it, the more excited I got. And this comes out on, on May 21st.

Brett Benner:

And I want Miley Cyrus to do the song.

Jason Blitman:

And what's so funny is I was looking at Melissa. Malka Yoan's Instagram just to learn about her. And I had literally, I had already picked my books. I was just doing some prep for this conversation. And she posted the Chicago Review of Books did 10 books to read when you want to feel better about your dysfunctional family. And literally, the top of the article has three book covers, and the three book covers are Mother Doll, Oi, and Perfume in Pain, and I was like, oh, this is fate. These are clearly I had no idea why I picked these books. I could have chosen literally a hundred others. I'm so excited by so many. But for, somehow I landed on these. Then I found Melissa's Instagram and I was like, oh my god, it's a sign. These are the right three books for me to have chosen. So I guess, also, if you want to feel better about your dysfunctional family, you could pick any of the books that I just mentioned.

Brett Benner:

There you go.

Jason Blitman:

And now I am so excited that we have the incredible Jenny Jackson on to talk about books that she's looking forward to this year. She talks about two that are not hers. hers as editor, but there are a couple books that she does shout out that she did edit. Here's a little about Jenny. Jenny Jackson is a vice president and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf, a graduate of Williams College and the Columbia Publishing Course. She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her family. And of course, for those of you who don't know or have been living under a rock for the last year she is the author Her very first novel was Pineapple Street, which like, hit like gangbusters this year. It's so fun and if you haven't read it, make sure to check it out. And as Brett mentions in the episode, the audiobook is also very good. And you'll hear me talk a little bit about why Jenny was the person we needed to talk to in this episode with her. So please welcome the one and only Jenny Jackson.

Brett Benner:

Good morning.

Jenny Jackson:

How are you?

Brett Benner:

Good. How are you?

Jenny Jackson:

good. Jason, it was so fun seeing you in the office.

Jason Blitman:

I know, Brett, I got to say hi in in IRL yesterday. I guess I can't say in IRL, just IRL. It is such a pleasure to have you here for a hundred reasons for our listeners Jenny and I had the pleasure of talking about a year ago for her book pineapple Street and In our conversation, I know it was January because I had just posted my favorite books of the previous year. And on that list were things like Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Marrying the Ketchups, and City of Tranquility, and early morning riser, and all of these books that I just like really loved and spoke to me. And as I was doing my prep for my conversation with Jenny Jackson, I discovered that she edited all of them. And I realized I was like, Oh, I guess we have very similar tastes. And then And in talking about that, Jenny also said heads up, there's a great book coming out that needs to be on your radar. It's called The Racial Incident. And sure enough, The Racial Incident was one of my favorite books of last year. And so I thought there's no better way to kick off 2024 than to hear once again from Jenny Jackson, what books need to be on our radar, because clearly she's clairvoyant with what our tastes are going to be.

Jenny Jackson:

That makes me so happy

Brett Benner:

and Caroline was our first guest too.

Jason Blitman:

She

Jenny Jackson:

she's a great guest. She gives good shit,

Brett Benner:

she gives good chat. She gives great chat. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Is like when people talk about books that they love, sometimes the genres are very specific, but you, Jenny, I think your taste is so vast. Not only do you edit such terrific books, you wrote such a terrific book, and you are so wonderful. For anyone who follows you on social media knows that you are such a champion for books that aren't yours. And so again, like another, all the more reason for you to kick off our 2024. So thank you for also being a champion of books, even when they don't have your stamp on them.

Jenny Jackson:

Thank you. I think that there is this like very strange personality trait that I suspect you both relate to also where I have this thing. So say I've gone on an amazing hike and I get to the top of the mountain and I just see this view that's like blowing my mind. Instead of being like, wow, take it all in. I'm like, Oh my God, I have to bring people up here and show this to them. And so that is a huge part of why. I love being a book editor is when I discover a new voice when I discover a new book, I'm like, Oh my God, everybody has to read this. It's just this like deep seated desire like nothing is finished until it has been shared with people, and so When I'm reading a new manuscript and I'm actually doing this right now and I'm not even going to say what it is because I haven't even told the agent how much I'm enjoying it and I still have 50 pages left to go, but I started reading this submission last night and it's in from an agent I haven't worked with before and so I'm like, I don't know who else they've sent it to. I don't know which publishers are going after this. I'm almost upset about how much I like it because I'm like, I have to work on this. I have to share it with the world. If somebody else gets it first, I'm going to be like, really mad about it, but I will still shout it from the rooftops, but it's like this pathological need when you read something amazing, be a part of it. And whether that is editing it, publishing it, becoming the writer's friend, talking about it on a podcast, giving it a blurb, whatever, you know that feeling, right? When you love something so much, it's you have to grab it and help push it.

Jason Blitman:

yeah. We'll finish reading something, and, publicists are so busy, but I'm like, I have to write to them and tell them how much I love the book, and they're like, no, these are the emails we love, so please always send these, or, I'll DM an author and be like, I just finished, it's so fantastic, I can't wait for the world to read it

Brett Benner:

Where you always a reader?

Jenny Jackson:

Always that kid who on a Saturday my parents would bring me to the bookstore and I would go upstairs to my section. Pull down eight books and would have already read like three of them before we made it to checkout. You still have to buy them because I have to have them to reread them. So yes, but it's interesting, my brother is like a big fantasy sci fi reader. My dad only reads books that, you know, like Balzac and Proust. And he's if the author isn't dead, he doesn't care. And then my mom and I are actually, like reading Twin Flames. And so we read a lot of the same stuff together. It's like kind of baked in. That's a very lucky thing for

Jason Blitman:

So

Brett Benner:

Were you always someone who were you reading ahead of what? It would have been expected for someone your age. But did you find that where you, someone who just read, you were reading it in advance of, probably beyond Laura Ingalls Wilder and all the things that were back then.

Jenny Jackson:

I've always been an omnivore and so I'm like there is no such thing as trash reading like I will eat string cheese and I will eat, break like it's all good. I remember this moment where you know the scholastic book fair. Justin, I'm not even gonna say his last name because like I'd be so embarrassed if you ever heard this, but this guy, Justin, who was like one of the cutest boys in our class, he and I bought a book at the same time. And I don't remember what it was, but it was definitely like, mostly about Teenagers and dating and popularity and all the things that I was like, super interested in as like a middle schooler and or maybe we were fifth grade. I don't know, but so we both, we bought it together and we're like, oh, okay, let's read it. And I came in the next day and I was like, okay, I've read like half of it. And here's what I think. And he's okay I just started it and then I came in the next day. Let's talk about all of it. And he's yeah, I'm page seven. And I was like, Oh, this is not going to be a thing for us.

Brett Benner:

This book club is officially ended.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, that's so funny.

Brett Benner:

But very sweet.

Jason Blitman:

So also, Jenny talks a lot about her reading and what it's like being an editor and Pineapple Street in my conversation with her that I will stick in the show notes of this episode so people can listen to that and then also go buy Pineapple Street because it's so good.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jenny Jackson:

Thank you.

Brett Benner:

By the way, I have to shout out too, because I listened and Maren Ireland, did I have to know, did you pick, did you get to choose her? Oh yeah,

Jenny Jackson:

I did, but I have to be honest and say that I don't listen to a ton of audio books. And so when they told me, they suggested Marin Ireland for it. I was like, yeah, cool. And didn't understand what a huge deal she is. And then. There was this one of the weird things is I work at 1745 Broadway, which is where the audio books are recorded. And so I was at my desk one day and the audio producer called me up and said, Hey, are you in the office today? Cause we have Marin in studio. If you want to pop down and have a listen. I was like, oh, sure. So take the elevator down to the fourth floor. And I go in and it's a dark room. I don't know why they do it in the dark, but they do. And Marin is like in the sound booth in the back. And then there's the director and the producer. And they just wave me in, give me a set of headphones. And I sit down and she is doing a scene with Malcolm and with the kids. And she's doing the voices. And all of a sudden, these people who had been in my head. Were not only real, but they were fully fleshed out with these voices and this amazing actress doing it. And I just started weeping because it was like, I think every writer has a moment where things get real. And for me, that was the moment that it got real. And like the way that she does, there's one voice in particular, if anybody listens to the audio book. The character Georgiana has like a work friend, Meg, and Meg is like such a nerd and she like shows Meg how to put on makeup and Meg is I'm not going to put chemicals all over my face. And literally the way that Marin does the voice is the funniest thing on the planet. So

Brett Benner:

No she's brilliant. And I will seek out books that she reads because, I think she's an incredible actors anyway. I've always loved her, but good God she's top notch. So when I started it, I was like, Oh my God. And just, it's brilliant. It's a brilliant read. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

she comes up a lot on this podcast,

Jenny Jackson:

Oh, she does. She's changed the way that I do my readings at book readings because I just now try and copy the way that she did the character's voices because like she's a genius. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

So something people don't have the pleasure of experiencing, unfortunately, I have my own opinions about it, are your editor notes at the beginning of arcs of galleys. And it's so fun. I think you called yourself an omnivore earlier. You so often talk about devouring a book. I devoured this in a weekend. I gobbled this up in a weekend and over one night and I'm like, oh, she like really eats these books.

Jenny Jackson:

I'm like, it's she is yes, that's weird. Totally.

Jason Blitman:

I eat string cheese and brie. I think I'm gonna, I'm stealing that forever. Sorry. Okay, what are some of these books that you have been devouring, that you're excited to devour, that we need to have on our radar?

Jenny Jackson:

Okay, so one book that I I actually, I think it's one of the first books I've ever been asked to give a blurb for and fully edited when I got to read it and it was an author I hadn't read before, but there's this novel called The Wedding People, and the author is Alison Esbach, and it's coming out in July from Holt. It, is one of those books that I fell in love with because the premise is so shockingly different than the actual read. So the premise for this book is this woman, Phoebe, who is heartbroken and arrives at a fancy hotel wearing a green ball gown. And you quickly realize that Phoebe has come here without a suitcase. She's flown across the country because she's going to kill herself. And. Then what unravels is the funniest book I have read in forever, because it turns out it was a mistake that Phoebe was able to book this room at the hotel. In fact, the whole hotel is supposed to be reserved for this wedding, and the bride happens to be an extremely intense person. And when the bride realizes that Phoebe is at her wedding and shouldn't be, and then realizes that Phoebe is going to kill herself and totally ruin the vibes of her wedding, He goes off and it becomes this like hilarious play between these two characters who are both unhinged and damaged in really different ways. But also the gravity of Phoebe's situation is almost washed over in just the sheer bridezilla ness of this other character. And it's one of these books I love because with Meg Mason's Sorrow and Bliss, how it is like, So dark about mental illness and then just the funniest thing you've ever read. This is the same. It's two characters who are struggling with damage and grief, but also are just like trash talking and just deeply funny. I can't say enough how surprised I was to read this book. And my hope is that when that, the thing you can't control as an editor is how. One person in a bookstore or at a reading group will recommend a book to a friend. So with a book like this, you run the risk that someone's gonna be like, Oh my god, it's this book about this woman who's gonna kill herself. And then the other reader will be like, Hard pass. And so it's I hope that everybody who talks about this book is like, This is the funniest book about an unhinged woman in a green dress whose life is on the skids and it's hilarious.

Brett Benner:

Oh my

Jason Blitman:

Amazing. And frankly, I'm sure that people seeing your name on a blurb will only encourage folks to read it more. So that's exciting.

Jenny Jackson:

Fingers crossed. I'm, it's such a great read. I think the word of mouth is going to be phenomenal on this, but it's called the wedding people and it's just, it's so fun. So that's coming in July.

Brett Benner:

July. Okay.

Jenny Jackson:

And then there's another July book that I want to talk about, which is J. Courtney Sullivan's the cliffs. And I know we just pressed a galley into Jason's hands for this 1, but Courtney Sullivan is like. Everyone's favorite writer. She like, she erupted on the scene with commencement and then Maine was her just biggest book to date. Her last book, Friends and Strangers was a Jenna book club pick. But this new one, The Cliffs is a little different for her because. It's Courtney's take on a ghost story, and I keep describing it as a ghost story for people who don't believe in ghosts I am very much of that camp, I am not a past lives person, I am not like, you hear a creak, I'm like, it's the wind, buildings are old. This is a book that Fully makes you believe in ghosts. And so it's all set at this Victorian home on the cliffs in Maine. And the main character is this woman, Jane, who is like a Harvard archivist and her life has blown up and she's come home to Maine and she meets the new owner of this house and Genevieve, the new owner, hires her. To research the history of the home and you later realize it's because Genevieve has done something super messed up and has come to believe that her house is haunted and Courtney rolls back the history of this house and you learn about this female artist in the 70s and you learn about this shaker woman who was the A maid who fell in love with the woman who owned the home. You learn about the Wabanaki bride who lived there on the land before the the first ship full of Europeans arrived. And so it's this book that's about ghosts and about past lives, but it's really about something we've all been thinking and talking about lately, which is like, How do you ever own a piece of land, especially here in America, where this land has been inhabited by people for centuries, and so it's incredibly smart and almost scholarly when talking about a ghost story.

Brett Benner:

That's crazy. It sounds a little, it sounds like Northwood. A little bit.

Jenny Jackson:

There is major overlap. Yes, people who like Northwoods will definitely get a lot out of

Jason Blitman:

Brett and I are in different camps for Northwoods,

Brett Benner:

i, yeah, I loved it.

Jenny Jackson:

interesting. So one of the things that Courtney did in working on this is in a previous life. She was a New York Times researcher. She worked for Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins. At the New York Times. And so she went super hard on research and she ended up spending all of this time in Maine at this museum called the Abe Museum. That's like a museum of the Abenaki and Wabanaki tribes. And one of the things that she really thought a lot about is as a white woman. What is my role in telling a story about a Wabanaki woman who lived on this land. So she spent a lot of time thinking, Am I allowed to tell a story in the first person? Am I allowed to tell a story in the third person? And she ended up working really closely with this woman Donna Loring, who is a tribal elder and has done a ton of work in Maine for the Wabanaki tribes and found a way to tell this story. That is so incredibly evocative, but also appropriate and respectful we've already stolen a lot of land from these tribes. And so how do you tell a story that is acknowledging them, but not stealing their stories?

Jason Blitman:

Wow, that's

Brett Benner:

amazing. Really cool.

Jason Blitman:

looking forward to it.

Jenny Jackson:

Yeah the next one I wanted to talk about is a vibe shift. This is like a, an, except it's maybe not a total vibe shift for me, because I think as you might have started to sense, I Yeah. Love an unhinged female narrator. So this one is called the princess of Las Vegas. It's Chris Bejelian's new book. And you might know Chris from reading or watching the flight attendant. This new one comes out in March, and I would say of Chris's books, this one is closest to the flight attendant. In the flight attendant, Cassie Bowden was like this absolutely nuts flight attendant with a major drinking problem and a drug problem and a sex problem and a reliability problem. And so Chris has taking on some of those similar character, I'm not going to say flaws issues with his main character. So the woman Chrissy, who is at the heart of the princess of Las Vegas is an actress. She's a performer who spends every single night imitating princess Diana. So she has a one woman show off the strip in this like rundown casino hotel. where she, has a feathered hairstyle and wears a gown and sings candle in the wind. But Chrissy's kind of weird because she lives at the casino. She has a cabana and she spends all day basically like drinking in the cabana. She's gotten to the point where she's actually taken on a British accent, even though she's not British and she keeps her hair in that style. So there's this psychological slippage where she makes thinks that she's princess Di, but maybe not. And she gets caught up in, in this sort of mob scandal. So it's very juicy, but it's also you're rooting for this one who is maybe not well.

Brett Benner:

Elizabeth Debicki is already optioning it.

Jenny Jackson:

I would love that. have to tell you it has been optioned for film. I don't think I'm allowed to say who yet, but it's if did you watch Hacks at

Jason Blitman:

Oh,

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Jenny Jackson:

There's major Hacks vibes here because it's about that bizarre Las Vegas Vegas. Vegas. Vegas. It's life that is like not real and it's glittery and rich and also just like a house of cards.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jason Blitman:

I think saying Major Hacks 5s is a cool comparison. I haven't read it, but you saying that, I'm like, ooh, can't wait to read it.

Jenny Jackson:

Yes. It's right. It's like the Jean smart character who like live at the casino and is doing the little back alleyways between the stage and

Jason Blitman:

Oh yeah.

Brett Benner:

right.

Jenny Jackson:

that, like secret Las Vegas stuff.

Brett Benner:

That Fantastic.

Jenny Jackson:

All right speaking of glittery things,

Jason Blitman:

Huh.

Jenny Jackson:

Kevin Kwan has a new

Brett Benner:

So excited. So excited.

Jenny Jackson:

May 21st, I think it's Kevin's best book yet, I'm concerned that I say that every time with Kevin, but he literally does just get better and better. I love this one because he's Sort of turning some gender norms on their heads in a really exciting way. It's about this guy who is the future Earl of Greshamberry, this London dukedom. His mother was a famous Hong Kong supermodel. His father was the Duke of Greshamberry. And you discover very early on that while their family is gone. famous and there are magazines full of their like gorgeous homes and properties, they're actually eyeballs deep in debt. And the mother's like only hope for keeping the dukedom alive is to marry off her son to a wealthy woman. So it's a flip on the traditional marry off your daughter Jane Austen trope. And he also plays so much with What new money really looks like. one of the people that he's set to seduce is like a venture cap. Like guru. And so this woman, they're like, she hands out billions like lollipops to every new tech entrepreneur. And so he's supposed to seduce her, but there's zero chemistry. It's this just incredibly funny look at new money versus English aristocracy. And it starts off in Hawaii and it is like everything we love about Kevin Kwan, including like travel porn and fashion porn and food porn.

Jason Blitman:

Yes. I know. I've segued into fashion porn in my life because my husband and I have quote unquote discovered Project Runway. similar to how I discovered reading late in life. I'm like, have you heard about this show? It's called Project Runway. Don't worry that it's been around for 25 years.

Brett Benner:

That's exactly right. Are you starting at the beginning?

Jason Blitman:

No. We're just like picking here and there, but suddenly I'm like, it's too much, but I'm like, Oh, I like can see it now.

Jenny Jackson:

you're like, oh, I understand why this is a thing. I have to say, I read Kevin's books and I am like taking notes because I've only heard of half of the designers and occasionally he makes fun of me because there's like this extremely preppy brand called J. McLaughlin and they basically make clothes for wasp ladies and literally it is the only time I have corrected the spelling of a designer in Kevin's work and he laughed his ass off at me. He's Jenny, that is the one correction on a fashion designer you've ever given me. I'm like, yeah, I'm embarrassing. That's

Brett Benner:

That's hilarious. You could just, you could also just follow Jordan Roth on Instagram and get the same thing, right? So excited.

Jenny Jackson:

yes.

Brett Benner:

Because he'll hit them all, my god. And I thought that was Lily Pulitzer.

Jenny Jackson:

Yeah, that I would have caught if you missed the Z in that one, I would have gotten it. But that's Maybe all I know that Kevin doesn't know. Then the last one I wanted to talk about is a book that is so incredibly special to me because the author is a friend and it's about someone that I knew and loved also. So I'm, I hope it's on your radar. It's a memoir called grief is for people by Sloane Crosley.

Jason Blitman:

yes,

Jenny Jackson:

Oh, I see Brett reaching for a galley. That is the one. So this is coming out in February and, I've read all of Sloan's books. She's a friend. I'm a huge fan of hers. I think she is the funniest person. This book is different from anything she's done before, she really rose to fame for her hilarious like personal essays, and then she's written two outstanding novels. This book. Is the most personal thing she has ever written. So it's about grief and it's about the loss of her best friend who died by suicide. And Russell was her boss. And so Russell was the director of publicity at vintage and Sloan and I are friends because we grew up together at vintage. I was an editorial assistant. She was a 22 years old together and Russell became best best friends. And Russell was the funniest person on the planet. He was like deeply hilarious and also so deliciously petty. He would do this thing. Sometimes this sounds so mean, but it was so funny where he'd be like, Hey, what are you doing after work today? And I'd be like, Oh, I don't know. And he would say, Jenny, lift up your hands. Look at your left hand. Is there a ring on your finger? Go to the gym. Like he was just like, Wicked wicked, wicked. And Sloan captures his like wonderful, wicked, hilarious. Nature, but she writes about this period of three years in her life where her apartment was broken into a stranger came in through her bedroom window, climbed across her bed and stole her jewelry box. Which had rings from her grandmother's it had, bracelets, things that meant an incredible amount to her, regardless of what they actually cost. And then Russell died and then COVID hit. And so it is about three stages of loss and grief, but it's this genuinely suspenseful. book, because in it, she is simultaneously trying to find out why Russell killed himself while also tracking down the jewelry that was stolen from her. she ends up going to this like crazy back room in the Diamond District. I've been to the Diamond District jewelry shopping and it is actually like an insane place. If you saw Uncut Gems, aka Uncut Gems, you will know that there's A whole nother world of weird behind the scenes in the diamond district and the book takes you there and it's fascinating. When what do you do when you can't prove that something was stolen, but something that belongs to you is there and how sketchy is it to go there by yourself? And do you tell the police where you're going? And if you do, you're probably never going to get it back. It's fascinating and juicy and such an amazing beautiful book.

Jason Blitman:

I have to tell you, it's like very much on my radar. Sloan was actually my first author interview that I ever did. She was fantastic. But I didn't want to read it because I like, don't know that grief is something I want to read about right now, but you talking about it and the way that you're talking about it, I can't wait to. So this then that's why we're having this conversation. Um, so just before we let you go, I will say Also, before I left the Knopf offices yesterday, Jenny shoved into my hands, Burned by Peter Heller, and I am already 40 pages in, and I am like, annoyed that I started reading it as late last night as I did, because it's as though you started walking on a treadmill that you don't have control over, and I'm like, that's what it feels like. I'm like, oh I'm on this treadmill, it's moving slowly right now, but I can't stop moving.

Jenny Jackson:

my god, and 40 pages in, right now you're like, what the heck is happening,

Jason Blitman:

Literally,

Brett Benner:

okay. So why we're doing our pushes. I'm halfway through this.

Jason Blitman:

Wait, so I will also say I told Jenny she's not allowed to talk about Dolly Alderton's good material. Because we're having Dolly on, but it's also a Jenny Jackson book that I'm sure you would have had on your list

Jenny Jackson:

Oh, I would

Jason Blitman:

you were allowed to have it.

Brett Benner:

Oh my God. It's really good. and I'm just marveling. Just the voice. I'm marveling how she captured this voice of him. Yeah.

Jenny Jackson:

a male perspective for the first time. And the theme, I think of almost all the books we've talked about today are books that make you laugh while ripping your guts out through your mouth. And that's basically all of these books. They're like they like wreck you emotionally. And yet. Find the deeply funny parts of life. And that's just I think the most marvelous thing a writer can pull off,

Brett Benner:

absolutely when you said sorrow and bliss earlier that was so resonant because that's exactly what that was I remember reading that and being like, oh my god, so yeah, absolutely These are all such exciting choices like every single one of them. I'm like, hello Come on out

Jenny Jackson:

but let's get them all on your podcast.

Jason Blitman:

I know. It's what a good list. Thank you for your time and for being here and again for championing books and for editing wonderful books and for having taste that is exciting and inspiring.

Jenny Jackson:

for having me. And I'm excited to have a scholastic book club with you because I know you'll also be the ones showing up the next day being like, I finished it. Let's talk.

Jason Blitman:

I have to, I was like, Okay, so Brett, when Jenny handed me Burn, she was like, this might be where our taste doesn't overlap. And immediately I was like, I'm going to prove her wrong.

Jenny Jackson:

It's a challenge. Yes.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, and I was like, cool, let me see. I'm always, I love having my taste tested. I was just telling a different publicist yesterday that. And I was like, I don't know what I am or am not going to like. And I say all the time I don't love. Oysters, but if they're at a table at a restaurant that I haven't been to, I'm happy to try it because that might be the time I like oysters.

Brett Benner:

It's the thing of I talk about this with my sister a lot, cause she's a pretty voracious reader where you'll read something that might be more intense or might be maybe say the Sloan Crosby and then you'll switch and go to something that's, I need a break from that. So I need something completely different. I just need, and then you start to, that's also the way you start to figure out, okay, these are my go tos for this. I need this to fill me up to satisfy this part of me. And then I just need like a Frappuccino right now.

Jason Blitman:

totally. I

Brett Benner:

my string cheese versus my brie.

Jenny Jackson:

It all comes back to food, people.

Brett Benner:

exactly right.

Jason Blitman:

Sea of Tranquility because it like wasn't, I didn't think it was for me. And it was, I was on everyone's lists. I read it in December and I was like, okay, this is one of my favorite books of the year. And then I almost immediately read Station Eleven and I was like, I'm obsessed.

Jenny Jackson:

I have to tell you, yesterday, Emily St. John Mandel sent me the most teasing email of all time, where she sent me a screenshot Of the title page for her next book and said, she's not ready to show it to me yet. I'm like,

Brett Benner:

So why that's very rude. Emily St.

Jenny Jackson:

saw it said V 17 and I'm like, she has done 17 drafts and she's not showing it to me yet. Come on, woman. Don't be such a perfectionist. Hand it over.

Brett Benner:

Exactly. Oh, but that's

Jason Blitman:

You could say if you don't show me version 18, I'm not publishing it.

Jenny Jackson:

That's right. Just lie. 18 when you send it to me.

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, seriously, so funny. Alright, go finish the last 50 pages of that book that you're reading and go devour it and attack it and get it and acquire it. We're so excited for you. We can't wait to hear about it once it comes out. What, I hope you get it and then we'll hear about it

Brett Benner:

Yes. What a treat. This was, it was such a pleasure to meet you.

Jenny Jackson:

Thank you. Same. I appreciate

Jason Blitman:

Jenny.

Brett Benner:

Your taste is impeccable and we can't wait to check out all of those books.

Jason Blitman:

We're so excited to be back, welcome, if you're new to us. Welcome back, if you have been with us from the beginning. Also, just to say authors and books, it means so much when you get pre orders so if these books sound interesting to you, you could check out our bookshop. org page and you could pre order the books and, you know, they'll be delivered the day they're, they're out. Or I think also, It's really good for authors and books when you put a hold on the library, right? There are lots of ways to support. So we're trying to do our part in supporting authors and supporting books. And we are, we still have a Patreon that we're putting some bonus content on. We have merch that you could check out. We are on Instagram. You could find us at Gays reading, and if you wanna shoot us a note you can email us at gays reading@gmail.com.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

I think that's all the things,

Brett Benner:

You You got all the things you covered all the business. Look for all of our upcoming releases. And we're really excited for the authors we have set up for you to listen to.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, and we, you never know when we met, drop a bonus episode. So make sure you're, you subscribe wherever you get your podcasts so that it'll just pop right in and you'll be the first to know when a new episode drops.

Brett Benner:

Yes, exactly. I hope you're having a great 2024 so far. And

Jason Blitman:

new year. Can we still say happy new year? It's been like two weeks, but whatever.

Brett Benner:

this is that Larry David episode where he's I think we're a little past it, but it's fine. Still

Jason Blitman:

We are a little past it, but I hope, listen, people, if you see me on the street in July, feel free to wish me a happy new year. I want my new year to be happy always.

Brett Benner:

seriously. We know all the happy as we can get.

Jason Blitman:

Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.

Brett Benner:

See ya.

Jason Blitman:

Bye.