‘Today Will be Different’ author Maria Semple comes home to Aspen
If You Go …
Who: Maria Semple
Where: Explore Booksellers
When: Friday, Nov. 25, 4 p.m.
How much: Free
More info: www.explorebooksellers.com
Maria Semple is home for the holidays.
The Aspen native and novelist, whose new bestseller “Today Will Be Different” is set partly in Aspen, will sign books and discuss the book today at Explore Booksellers.
Her brother, the Aspen Daily News columnist Lorenzo Semple, will be her interlocutor for the event — reprising the pair’s well-received sibling act from Winter Words 2014.
The new book takes place over the course of a single Seattle day in the life of Eleanor Flood — with flashes back to her childhood in Aspen. Eleanor flits about town with her son, Timby, in search of her husband for much of the day.
Early in the novel, there’s a 16-page illustrated comic, titled “The Flood Girls,” that sketches out the childhood of Eleanor, her sister and their time in Aspen. They return home later in the book during a crucial turn of events.
Semple lived here from fifth through ninth grade in the 1970s — the book lifts a few details from her time at Aspen Country Day School — and then went to boarding school. Her parents stayed into the 1990s. Her father, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr., who died in 2014, also has a quick cameo in the new book.
The Aspen of “Today Will Be Different” is not the glitzy, People Magazine version of the resort. It’s a local’s-eye view of growing up here in the ’70s and returning later in life as an outsider. There are cameos by the likes of musician Bobby Mason and former mayor Bill Stirling, a summer funeral atop Moment of Truth on Aspen Highlands and a crucial scene on the Aspen Institute campus.
“I hope I did right by Aspen,” Semple told the Aspen Times in September. “It’s very close to my heart and I hope that it serves as a love letter to Aspen in the ’70s and that people feel like it’s worthy of the town and the time.”
The frazzled, funny Eleanor — with her clever barbs and self-lacerating humor — is reminiscent of the title character in Semple’s breakout novel “Where’d You Go Bernadette” and, the author explained, of herself.
“They’re both just versions of me,” Semple said. “I always tap into something that’s true about me and that feels urgent about me and my life in the moment, and I go from there. So there’s a core truth to what I’m writing, and then the craftsperson in me says, ‘OK, that’s the truth. Now I’ve got to make it entertaining for the readers and make it a good, compelling story.’”
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