I write books nominally for young people, including the upcoming September Girls, which is out now. Booklist, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly all gave it starred reviews, and some other people said some nice things about it too. You can learn more about the book here.
If you want to get in touch you can use the ask thingy to your left or e-mail me at bennett DOT! madison AT! gmail DOT! com. If you want me to come to your area or talk to your book club or whatever, check out my Togather page and we'll figure it out.
That's my blog down there!
In case you hadn’t noticed already from my incessant and shameless Tweeting/Tumbling/Facebooking about it, MY BOOK IS FINALLY OFFICIALLY OUT TODAY and I’m pretty happy about it. You can even buy it and everything.
And I just found out it got its third starred review, this time from Booklist, where the reviewer wrote:
[Madison’s] command of language, both informal and beautiful, lifts the work from a basic boy-meets-fantastical creature tale to something both familiar and tragically moving. This isn’t just a supernatural beach read; it’s a rare and lovely novel, deserving of attention from discriminating readers.
It also got a positive— if somewhat more measured— review from my grandmother, who wrote the following in an e-mail to my mom:
In case you miss it, you left yout pink (coral) sweater at my house. I will save it for you. Incidentally, I was on Amazon and I found Bennett’s book—I read the sample they had posted, and so far, I disagree with his bloggers. I find it very interesting and extremely well written. I confess I think the overuse of “wicked word” language a little much, but I’m willing to admit that is the way a lot of teenagers talk these days. (But not in front of me, I hope.) Anyway, I want to say that what I have read so far I find compelling and I want to see how it ends. So I’ll buy a copy and proudly have my grandson autograph it for me.
Your ever lovin’ Mom
P.S. I don’t have Bennett’s E-Mail, but you can forward this to him if you wish.
SEE? Even my grandma is buying it so you should too!
Pouring myself a glass of whiskey and toasting to the fact that the book I thought I would never finish writing is now officially out.
I’ve known Emily Gould since we were twelve. In those days, she bore a striking resemblance to the movie version of Hermione Granger. We were only loosely friends at first— she disinvited me from her 7th grade YELLOW SUBMARINE viewing party because her mom said she could only have so many people and Emily had just developed a new crush, meaning that a boy (me) had to be cut from the list. I was only mildly annoyed; I felt that at least she had a good reason.
The summer after that, even though we were only warmish acquaintances, Emily surprised me by calling me on the phone just to chat. I’m pretty sure the reason for this is that she was going down the list of names in the school directory, calling everyone, and I was the first person who picked up. Most people were out of town. We had a long and probably very bitchy conversation and after that we were actual friends.
It was the year Kurt Cobain died, so she wore lots of baby-doll dresses. I was always trying to affect a grunge look, which usually ended up coming off less Evan Dando and more Gay Pigpen.
As a hobby, Emily was making a comprehensive list of all the pop songs in the world that had the word love in the title. This was before the internet, you understand; you couldn’t just Google it. I don’t think she ever made it to the end of the list, but she did get pretty far.
In high school, Emily started a proto-blog called The Notebook. By this point the internet had finally come along but there were definitely no such things as blogs. The Notebook was an actual notebook. The way it worked was that Emily would write down her thoughts and pass it around during class and everyone else would add their comments. Eventually this got us all in big trouble, but in an uncharacteristic act of largesse, the school administration at least let her keep the book. She still has it and it’s always shocking to look at it and see how smart and funny and articulate she was even then, not to mention what idiots the rest of us all were in comparison.
It’s sad that we never took gym together, because gym is where high school really happened. But Emily was very committed to her Artistic Movement class and there was no way I was giving up Trampoline, so that was that. We had most of our other classes together anyway.
She was always trying to find me a boyfriend. When she masterminded a blind date between me and her Hebrew School classmate Dan Fishback, she had to tag along with us to White Flint Mall (which no longer exists) because we didn’t have cars and Dan and I didn’t want to try to explain to our parents where we were going. Emily was our cover.
Later she arranged a match between me and a friend of a friend from swim team. This time we went on a date by ourselves. We took the Metro to see BEAUTIFUL THING at a movie theater in Dupont Circle that no longer exists and then went to Burger King because we were teenage boys and thought Burger King was a great restaurant. Needless to say, this wasn’t much of a love connection. Emily has never had a great feel for the vagaries of homosexual chemistry, but I will always be grateful that she tried.
The first time I got drunk, it was with Emily. Her parents were out of town and she served a beverage she called Long Island Iced Tea. Really it was just vodka and Country Time tea mix. I know it sounds toxic, but I think we were basically just pretending to be drunk.
When Emily found herself embroiled in all sorts of romantic drama a few months before the prom, we resolved to go together. I would have preferred to bring a dude, but the White House travel staffer I was semi-seeing at the time would not have been an appropriate choice. I helped Emily pick out her prom dress at the Betsey Johnson store in Georgetown, which no longer exists. She wrote an article about it for the school newspaper.
On the way to the dance, we got in a huge fight over the issue of where to park. (We had foolishly judged ourselves too cool to take a limousine with the rest of our friends, and so we were in my dad’s Honda Civic.) On top of that controversy, Emily’s love life was still very complicated and she had other boys to think about.
So she ditched me for the last dance in favor of one of her various boyfriends or ex-boyfriends; I can’t remember who exactly. I stood in the corner alone feeling sad. Luckily, another friend was in the bathroom holding a puking girl’s hair and her date— this really hot swimmer named David— was alone too. He asked me to dance. I said no because I was too flustered by the whole situation, which I still regret. Instead, we ended up just standing there watching everyone else and feeling a sense of strange fraternity. It was nice. Emily and I made up later that night.
Emily went to college in Ohio and I went to school in the suburbs of New York, but after a couple years she got bored of the country and transferred to the New School. She shared a tiny apartment in the East Village on the Hell’s Angels block with a performance artist who had also been a middle school classmate and a girl who played pool and loved iceberg lettuce. The apartment was very glamorous and always filled with smoke. Emily and her roommates had a hobby making miniature food out of Sculpey; they briefly got the notion to turn this into a business but all the boutiques to which they tried to sell their wares already had all the doll food they needed.
One night I smoked this really crazy weed and thought I might have to check myself into a mental institution. My roommate at the time, the artist Lee Relvas, cradled me in her arms on a mattress on the floor and fed me pretzels and water until I fell asleep. The next day I was still feeling pretty out of my mind so I took the Metro-North to Emily’s place in the city. She made me lasagna and I finally felt better. That apartment no longer exists; the building was torn down and replaced by a fancy condo.
After college (and a brief stint living with my parents), I moved in with Emily in Greenpoint. I got dumped by my boyfriend of several years and was trying to write my first book and pretty much became a monster. Emily was working her first 9 to 5 job and wasn’t at her best either. The highlight of this period is that I taught Emily how to blog. But there wasn’t much for her to learn— The Notebook had been good preparation— and she quickly surpassed me in this department.
There were some other nice moments in the year or so when we were living together, many of which Emily covered in her collection of essays, AND THE HEART SAYS WHATEVER. But overall the whole thing was sort of a disaster and it was extremely kind of her to leave the most damning stories of my bad behavior and our huge fights out of the book.
I moved out and we didn’t really speak to each other for a long time, but it didn’t last. Years later, when I broke up with yet another boyfriend and had no apartment, no money and no prospects, Emily let me crash with her in her new place for weeks at a time. I was miserable, but the apartment was sunny, plus I got to hang out with Raffles, her cat who had also once been mine.
That summer her family took me along to the beach with them. Emily’s parents gave me relationship advice. Her father seemed concerned when I confessed that I’d gotten into a phase of listening to Astral Weeks on repeat while I sobbed every night. I was having a hard time finishing the novel I was working on, which would become SEPTEMBER GIRLS, but I got huge chunks of it done on that vacation, sitting on the balcony next to Emily as she wrote her own book. The next year I went on another vacation with the Goulds and wrote some more. Eventually I was done.
Emily’s first novel, FRIENDSHIP, will be published next year by FSG. She also co-owns the feminist e-bookstore EMILY BOOKS. (You should become a subscriber.) September Girls comes out next week. Emily and I will be talking about it at McNally Jackson on Tuesday, May 28th. I’m hoping she’ll read a little from Friendship too, even though it won’t be out for awhile.
I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do this with someone I’ve known and loved for so long and that we’ve both (sort of) accomplished what we set out to. I left a lot of things out of this.
I probably should have put this part at the top, considering it was originally the point:
Tuesday, May 28th, 7pm
McNally Jackson 52 Prince Street, NYC
I really hope you come.
FREE THING ALERT: The brilliant ModHero— whose Dazzler and Nightcrawler prints hang proudly on my wall— was kind enough to design this gorgeous, *limited edition* poster to celebrate the upcoming release of September Girls. If you’re among the first twenty people to pre-order the book and e-mail your details to email@example.com I’ll send you your very own poster, signed by me. HOW COULD YOU PASS UP THIS AMAZING OFFER?
(Note: I think you need to be older than 13 for this to be legal, but you really shouldn’t be reading the book if you’re younger than that anyway.)
Places to pre-order:
“Madison maintains the same hazy, syrupy languidness that distinguished The Blonde of the Joke, giving summer days at the shore the same sort of mythological heft the fluorescent American mall possessed in his previous book. A surprising story of a kid finding love and himself, when he wasn’t looking for either.”
September Girls, by Bennett Madison. (Harper Teen, May 21). As WORD’s Molly Templeton says, “I have an eye out for Bennett Madison’s September Girls for the simple reason that I can’t resist a book that shares a name with a Big Star song.” The premise will get you, too: There’s a secret at the beach town where Sam is spending the summer, and it has to do with the beautiful bonde girls there who mysteriously never swim (hint? hint). This is the perfect book to start up your summer beach reading—just look at that cover.
Molly + Bennett + SEEEEECRETTTSSSSSSS = Perfect summer reading. I can’t wait!
So happy to be featured on this list along with a bunch of other books I can’t wait to read, like Aaron Hartzler’s RAPTURE PRACTICE and Jennifer E. Smith’s THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE. (Both of which— unlike SEPTEMBER GIRLS— are already out, so no need to wait at all, actually.)