Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Rise and Shine

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Rise and Shine

by Anna Quindlen

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 288 pages

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Q: In dreaming up this novel, what came to you first: the sisters, the setting, or Megan's on-air slip? And how did your storyline evolve from there?

Anna Quindlen: I always begin a novel with a theme. Black and Blue, for instance, began with the theme of identity, Blessings with the theme of redemption. Rise and Shine grew out of constant thoughts about the disconnect in modern American life between appearance and reality. The more I thought about that disconnect, about how we've all come to believe that what looks good is good, the more I thought I should write about someone famous. That's where the dissonance is greatest, it seems to me, and the public interest weirdest. And then I thought that the story would be best told by someone on the outside looking in. (Yes, I have read Gatsby. Many many times.)

Q: Do you share any qualities and/or characteristics with Meghan? Bridget?

AQ: I am like both Meghan and Bridget. For years I had the sort of laser focus that Meghan had, and I have some of her rather cynical attitudes about the affluent around her. But, like Bridget, I have always been interested in trying to do something about the situation of the poor and disenfranchised in New York and the rest of America, in my case through the columns I've written.

Q: Your portrait of New York is loving, yet you see the city–and its residents–for what they are. What do you love about the city? What do you hate? Can you ever imagine leaving New York, or is it home to you?

AQ: I made New York City a major character in this book because I thought it would make my task as a novelist easier. I've covered New York for more than 35 years as a reporter and columnist, and I know from long experience that it's a story teller's dream. It's so polyglot, so vivid, so sharply drawn, that writing about it is as easy as finding a cab outside the Carlyle (or finding crack on certain corners in certain parts of the Bronx). But like any great character, part of its greatness, part of its power, is in its manifest flaws

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This article is from the May 10, 2007 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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