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Liz Hand
Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - 05:52 am:   

"I read Another Green World with both wonder and awe. Its scope and sweep are breathtaking, its understanding of human nature both mysterious and profound, its heart and empathy exhilarating." -- Richard Russo


Germany, 1929: the last golden summer before the Great Depression. On a mountain called the Höhe Meissner, young people converge from all over Europe for the second Free Youth Summit. A pair of American students, Ingo and Martina, cross the ocean for what they know will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a summer of freedom and self-discovery.

Central Europe, 1944: the last black autumn of the War. Ingo, Martina and the friends they made during that long-ago summer have been swept into Hitler's Götterdammerung -- on both sides of the battle line. Bound by memories, secrets, passions and mysteries yet unresolved, they are propelled toward a reunion stranger than any they could imagine, on the fringes the imploding Third Reich.

Weaving together these story-lines, ANOTHER GREEN WORLD traces out the trajectory of several fatally conjoined lives: the German youth leader turned SS officer; the Roosevelt pom-pom girl with ties to the Zionist underground; the trust-fund Trotskyite from Virginia, embedded with the Red Army; the Jewish kid from New York, sent to live with Polish relatives at the worst possible time; and all the dreamers and lovers and idealists of 1929 who become the desperate, embattled survivors of 1944.

At the center of the narrative is Ingo Miller, who at 35 has become a cynically conservative Republican, but who at 20 was unabashedly Romantic and -- remarkable for his generation -- proudly gay. Ingo's complex personality mirrors the contradictions of his century and, in some ways, of both the German and the American psyche. ANOTHER GREEN WORLD is a drama of extreme contrasts: love and violence, hope and despair, freshness and corruption, bound finally by a thread of fragile green hope.

From the Alfred Knopf catalog, Summer 2006:

With masterful command of history, Richard Grant recreates the
darkest heart of the century, revealing its previously unimagined
aspects with characters whose experiences are constantly surprising,
searing, and ultimately transformative.

Richard Grant was born in Norfolk in 1952, attended the University of
Virginia, and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He lives in Rockport,
Maine, has been a contributing editor of Down East magazine, chaired the
literature panel of the Maine Arts Commission, and won a New England
Journalism Award for his column in the Camden Herald.
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Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - 08:25 pm:   

cool beans... thanks for the info!
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Bill Reynolds/Socrates17
Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - 06:36 pm:   

Thanks!!! Once it hits the racks, I'm there. Just starting Moorcock's Vengeance of Rome. I'm sure they'll be very different.
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Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2006 - 03:46 am:   

No mention of his other books in the copy. Are they positioning him as a "new" writer?

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liz Hand
Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2006 - 02:16 pm:   

I doubt they're positioning him as new, as in undiscovered; probably just trying to introduce him to a new, i.e. more mainstream audience. The book has no supernatural element, so why not.
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Robert Holt
Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2006 - 06:36 pm:   

I'm so glad he hasn't dissappeared! I'm looking forward to reading this.

I know it's personal, but I'm wondering why he was out of the spotlight for so long. He used to have a Web site, that's gone.
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Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2006 - 11:38 pm:   

Not sure about the site, as I never really looked at it much. He was an early adapter and will probably get another site going one of these days.

Otherwise he's been busy writing, helping to raise our kids (he lives in the next town from where I do) etc. Mostly I think he's been immersed in this book -- he spent at least two years writing it, then another two revising it. These days it's unusual for a writer NOT to be blatantly self-promoting, but Richard puts his energy into the work itself. I suspect now that it's done he'll have a more visible profile. I'll tell him he needs to update his website!
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Robert Holt
Posted on Saturday, April 15, 2006 - 04:52 pm:   

Liz: Thank you for the reply.

I also quite enjoy your writing...:-)

I can't wait for this book.
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Theodore Quester
Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2006 - 10:51 am:   

Hi, Liz, I was wondering, is there any way to contact Richard? I was a student of his like 16 years ago in Bethesda, reviewed one of his books for SF Eye and kept in touch for a few years. I met you too briefly in class in Bethesda.
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Elizabeth Hand
Posted on Friday, August 18, 2006 - 04:36 am:   

Here's the starred Booklist review of AGW. The novel was also featured on thye front page l=of last week's Los Angeles Time Book Review.

“In war-torn Eastern Europe, in 1944, Isaac Tadziewski, a quasi-feral yet inexplicably alluring partisan leader known as the Fox, has unearthed a memo from Heinrich Himmler that unequivocally details Hitler’s Final Solution. Martina and Ingo, adolescent compatriots of Isaac, venture to the crumbling eastern front to retrieve the document and thus retain historical proof of the Nazis’ atrocities. Meanwhile, Samuel Butler, and American-born journalist working in the employ of the Red Army, is recruited to track down and destroy the same document. And Hagen, SS officer and man hunter, draws ever closer to the hidden Fox for his own dark, unstated purpose. Sporadic flashbacks to 1929 show the five unlikely companions meeting at a German youth summit and forming a complex array of affections and revulsions that will propel them all toward their inevitable reunion. The parallel visions of Germany squarely complement each other: one, idyllic, a limitless promise colored by uncertain menace; the other a world in disarray, tragic and desperate for liberation. But this is not merely about ideological failings. Writing with a relentless yet eloquent command of history and even a compassionate, sly sense of humor, Grant’s book delves much deeper than your standard war novel and finds, most startlingly, a superbly nuanced love story of both personal and historical consequence.” –Ian Chipman, Booklist, starred review
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Richard Grant
Posted on Friday, August 25, 2006 - 09:59 am:   

I just wanted to thank you all for your interest in my book (and especially Liz for talking it up so loudly;).

This project started out in 1999 with the working title -- not entirely a joke -- TEX AND MOLLY ON THE EASTERN FRONT. It grew in large part from my discovery of the early-20th-century German youth movement, sometimes called the Wandervogel, which was amazingly countercultural and progressive for its time. Actually, it still looks progressive in many ways with a full century of hindsight. I spent over a year putting together some kind of story line, ultimately churning out a detailed treatment of about 20,000 words that I sent to my longtime editor and publisher, Lou Aronica. Who hated it.

"Not the right direction for Richard to take," was more or less how the word came down. Lou made a counter-proposal: ditch the war, the Holocaust, and all that, but keep the hippies in lederhosen. I couldn't see it. So I settled down in 2000 to write the book without a publishing contract, paying the rent with the kind of part-time gigs you can find in small-town Maine: substitute teaching, reporting for the local paper, working with autistic kids, doing occasional magazine pieces.

The book was very hard to write. I took private German lessons for about four years, amassed a small library of German Lit, and went to bed every night reading gloomy Romantic poetry. The first draft was a bloated mess. I spent almost a year without writing at all (though still studying German and reading history). The second draft was actually a complete rewrite -- kind of like Card's reworking of Ender's Game from a story into a novel without repeating a single line except the first one. (I carried over about half of the opening chapter.) There were two smaller revisions after that, and finally a fine-toothed working-over under the guidance of my new editor, Gary Fisketjon at Knopf.

I don't quite know how to feel about this book now. It represents a huge piece of my life so it's hard to consider objectively. I think the process of writing it was transformative, in some way, but it has also left me rather torn about what to do next. I've got a vague idea for another "German" novel, but I've also written a short (and very alternative) novel about Jesus -- doing my bit, as the bumper sticker says, to piss off the religious right -- most of which seems pretty good to me, though the closing sequence needs reworking. Nobody feels this is the right direction for Richard to take, but I'd kind of like to get it published anyway, somehow. Maybe I should investigate the small press scene?

So that's what I'm doing these days -- along with, as Liz notes, raising our kids, and building a little cottage in the woods a few miles up the coast.

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Paul Witcover
Posted on Friday, August 25, 2006 - 11:50 am:   

Hey Richard,

Glad to have the chance to congratulate you on the publication of Another Green World, which I am really looking forward to reading.

What did you think of that review in the LA Times, by the way? I thought it went to great lengths to avoid actually saying anything useful about the novel and suffered greatly from "I-the-reviewer-am-a-greater-authority-than-the-author" syndrome.

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Richard Grant
Posted on Saturday, August 26, 2006 - 07:09 am:   

Hey, thanks, Paul.

Personally I thought the review was great. I mean, even if the guy had spent 1200 words fulminating about how awful the book is, it STILL got splashed over the whole cover of the LA Times Book Review. But beyond that, this reviewer is a mainstream heavy hitter and he treated the book seriously and respectfully. He seemed to hear a lot of the things I was struggling to express, and most of his digressions (like the Hitler/Himmler thing at the beginning) are pretty much on-topic, though this may only be apparent if you already know the book.

The review probably does me a favor in treating the book mainly as a WWII novel, which it's actually not, in large part. From my perspective it's a very personal book about a small number of characters who (like many of us) came of age in an era of hopefulness and idealism, but then in middle adulthood find themselves living in a time of violence, hatred, division and despair.

Or something like that.

Hope to see you in Maine again sometime soon.

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Hayato Kato
Posted on Saturday, August 26, 2006 - 06:01 pm:   

So glad there's another Richard Grant novel! I believe it's more than 5 years since the last one - Kaspian Lost?

Wondered if it was a new writer with the same name since the description at Amazon indicated historical adventure. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading it as I'm not averse to war novels especially when they are not.
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Richard Grant
Posted on Monday, August 28, 2006 - 12:38 pm:   

Here, among ourselves, is a little "soundtrack" for your reading and dining pleasure:

If you've never navigated through, it's a two-step process. Fist you scroll down and hit the button that says "Free." Then you wait for timer to count down, and type in the mystical alphanumeric code that appears.

If you use iTunes, you can import the music (File > Add to Library...) and then the XML playlist (File > Import...) to hear the songs in the intended order, which vaguely mirrors the progression of the novel.

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Arnie Hamilton
Posted on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - 07:26 pm:   

Richard -

It's awfully damn good to have a new book out with your name on it. I thoroughly enjoyed your novels from the Bantam/Spectra days, but I somehow managed to miss "Tex and Molly" as well as the "Kaspian" books. Maybe because they weren't marketed in genre.

But, I've grown up since then and I do occasionally stick my head out from beneath the genre rock I'm normally reading under.

Really looking forward to tackling "Another Green World" as well as reading "Saraband of Lost Time", as I managed to find a copy of that sucker just the other day.

Thanks for the great reads!
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Elizabeth Hand
Posted on Sunday, September 03, 2006 - 05:55 am:   

Great review in Washington Post of AGW --

Richard Grant has enjoyed a 20-year career conjuring up enchanting and often disturbing worlds of make-believe. Though always anchored in the here-and-now, his novels have treated readers to marvels such as a mutating forest ( Rumors of Spring ), alien abduction ( Kaspian Lost ) and a bizarre postmortem world ( Tex and Molly in the Afterlife ). His latest and most ambitious effort, however, needs no supernatural help. Another Green World finds its nightmarish landscape all too real: the dying days of World War II, as the Third Reich collapses and Allied troops pour into Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. In a war novel that bristles with ideas and allusions, Grant uses this grim landscape to explore the power of myth and the "folklore of atrocity."

The novel begins in Washington, D.C., in 1944. Ingo Miller, owner of a beer-and-schnitzel joint, receives word of a secret document bearing witness to the Holocaust. The message purports to come from Isaac Tadziewski, an American-born leader of a Jewish resistance group operating somewhere in Eastern Europe. Isaac and the document must be found, and the document brought back to America. "Send Ingo," the cryptic message reads, "Ingo I'll trust."

A German-American isolationist, Ingo is an unlikely war hero. But he and Isaac have met before, 15 years earlier in Germany. Each went to the mountaintop summit of the "Free Youth Movement," a back-to-nature extravaganza of lederhosen, rucksacks and social optimism. This summit had been a rite-of-passage for Ingo, and perhaps also for Germany. As the narrative oscillates between 1929 and 1944, Grant traces how a fairy-tale world of "skintight leggings and hats with bells on them" has shaded into a nightmare of jackboots, swastikas and SS insignia. The seeds of this nightmare were already sprouting in 1929; the idealism of the summit was splintered by the event that brought Ingo and Isaac together: an attack on Isaac by members of the Hitler Youth and his rescue by Ingo.

Now a near-mythical commando known as Little Fox, Isaac again needs help against the Nazis. The stolid but dependable Ingo answers the call, helping to organize a motley crew of resistance fighters: a rabbi, a butcher, a dentist, a taxi-driver and a guerrilla fighter named Capt. Aristotle. The Magnificent Seven they most definitely are not. As this group hatches its plans in suburban Washington, we have good reason to suspect that what follows will not be a typical guns-blazing adventure story.

And indeed it's not. This is a challenging novel whose take on World War II is closer to the surreal dystopia of Thomas Pynchon than to the patriotic valor of Herman Wouk. Though there's action aplenty, Grant uses the disintegration of Europe to probe human relationships and the roots of collective delusions. For Ingo, a devoted student of German literature nourished on legends of Grail-quests and hidden castles, the brigade is embarking on a kind of knights-in-armor adventure, trekking across the forbidding terrain that inspired classics of German culture such as the Nibelungenlied and Wagner's "Ring Cycle." The book is infused with these Teutonic folk tales and myths that have passed out of the hands of the poets and minstrels and into -- with alarming ease -- those of the Nazi propagandists.

It's fitting that Grant, one of fantasy literature's most eloquent and erudite practitioners, should tackle the role played by mythmaking in politics and war. This happens to be the specialty of one of the novel's more repellent characters, a Nazi named Professor Cheruski. Asked by Heinrich Himmler about the key to understanding a people -- "to knowing how they think, why they choose to act or not to act in a given situation" -- Cheruski answers: "It is their literature, Herr Reichsführer. The stories they tell of themselves. . . . The tales that seem to have sprung from the depths of their folk-soul." Nazism could never have found such a ready purchase had the Germans not become, as one character observes, "drunk on their own mythology."

After a long quest, Ingo ultimately finds himself in Poland, at a utopian village called Arndtheim that he first visited with Isaac in 1929. Only now Arndtheim has a Hitler Youth Hall and, inside it, a scale model of the village that includes "a cluster of red-brick buildings as stately and stern as military barracks." The model even includes a rail line snaking its way past Arndtheim and into the camp. The journey from the "green world" of this peaceable utopia to the nightmare of a concentration camp is, Grant suggests, a frighteningly short one. ·

Ross King is the author, most recently, of "The Judgment of Paris."

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