Many (many!) years ago, there was blog called Dogs Steal Yarn. The writer, Cari Luna, was a knitter. She was smart and funny, and she liked me, too. We fell in, you know, as you do. I had a permanent room at their Brooklyn brownstone (until they had kids, WHATEVER) and even now, if I showed up on their doorstep on the other side of the nation, bedraggled from the Portland rain, Cari would hug me till she was as damp as I was, then she'd wrap me in handknits from the top of my head to the tip of my toes while she dried my clothes. She'd put tea in my hands, and she'd talk with that incredible voice of hers, and she would listen, and everything would be okay even if nothing was okay.
I learn from her. All the time. She's my best friend. (Who has a best friend at 41? Me! Lucky me!)
Cari is one of the most gorgeous writers I've ever had the luck to read. Me, I'm a good writer (I'm not putting myself down or pumping myself up — this is just true. I'm solidly, pretty reliably good at writing). Cari is one of those Great Writers. In terms of greatness, I admire Andre Dubus (Sr.) and Alice Munro and her.
I read almost every draft of her debut novel, which just came out from the prestigious Tin House Press. Every time I read it, the book touched me more deeply. It's one of the two books in my life that, at times while reading, I HEARD out loud. I heard that incredible last chapter.
The book is about squatters in New York City in the 90s, when the city came to evict people who were both living their lives and making a difference. The book, however, is even bigger than this ambitious plot. Sitting here in the cafe, thinking about Amelia and Gerrit and Steve and Anne, I miss them.
I love this book. Obviously, I love Cari, but I would love this book if I didn't know her and then I'd be all fan-girl when I met her and I would freak out when I found out she was a knitter, and it would be ugly. (She's getting great reviews all over the publishing world, from BUST to Kirkus.)
Cari will send a personally inscribed copy to a randomly drawn commenter on this post. Personally, I think you should just buy it. You'll love it.
And please enjoy this excerpt, and the book trailer at the end.
Back at the house, Gerrit hefts his bike up onto his shoulder,
thumbs his key in the lock, and slips inside. He’s greeted by that good honest
smell of fresh lumber and plaster, and also the more worrisome smell of must
and wood rot. Over the years they’ve rebuilt most of the joists, replaced
crumbling plaster ceilings with drywall, fixed the roof. But there’s still so
much they haven’t had time or money to do, like the rear facade. It’s not
watertight; it needs repointing. Until they can get that done, water will keep
finding its way in, softening the wood around the windows, compromising the
building’s structure. Already the weather is too cold to work with mortar. If
they can hold on until spring, they’ll do it then.
Suzie is on
the folding chair by the front door, dog-eared paperback in hand. “Nothing?”
on the stairs, Ben headed down to relieve Suzie. He has a deck of cards in
hand, and a thermos tucked under his arm. “Hey, man. Want to play?”
headed up to bed.”
emerges from his first-floor apartment, coat on, ready for his shift. He’s
wearing the green scarf Amelia made for him a while back. Amelia said he cried
when she gave it to him.
knitting is like magic. She’ll take a huge old sweater bought for a dollar at
the Salvation Army, unravel it, wash the wool, and knit two smaller sweaters, a
hat, and maybe some mittens from it. Gerrit’s got a drawer full of warm socks
she’s knitted for him from recycled yarn, a scarf, two watch caps, three
sweaters. She has no idea that when you slip on that hat or scarf or sweater
she’s made for you, you feel the work of her hands in it. You feel her love for
you. That was why Marlowe cried. Gerrit gets it. He feels the same way every
time he pulls one of those hand-knit sweaters over his head. The girl thinks
she’s invisible. She has no idea, the impact she has on people. Seven years
he’s been trying to get her to see it. Maybe she never will.
OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK. Leave a comment for a chance to win.