I don’t read memoir and I hate to run. But Scott Jurek may have convinced me I’m wrong on both points. His story of ultramarathon greatness, as told in Eat and Run, inspired me at every turn. The book is refreshingly well written. I would have cast it aside, dust jacket and all, if it …
When a man talks about wanting to unspool his wife’s brains (his wife who recently vanished), he’s gotta be guilty of murder, right? That’s the seminal question in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Told in duel narratives—Nick, the husband’s, and Amy’s, his missing wife—this story engages from the first page. Flynn deftly guides the reader …
When my husband insisted upon seeing Saw VI, I knew we were in trouble. Saw I was great, the second installment okay, the rest dark vortices of wasted time and money.
Hollywood’s preference for trite, poorly-written sequels over original material has grown to sickening proportions. Why risk producing something unique when millions will line up to see Part II of an already trashy movie? Perhaps this is because audiences (myself included, I’m ashamed to say) continue to reward their cowardice.
Could something equally insidious be happening with books?
Not since The Da Vinci Code have I read a thriller woven so deftly between past and present as The Columbus Affair by Steve Brady.
This novel reimagines the motivation behind Columbus monumental voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. A Jewish converso in a time of renewed inquest against non-Christians, he sets sail hoping to find religious tolerance in East Asia. With him he carries the temple treasures, four sacred objects the Romans ransacked from Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Fast forward to modern day where religious fanatics seek to discover the hidden resting place of Columbus’ treasure in the jungles of Jamaica and a thrilling adventure of historic clues and shifting alliances unfold.
Rules for the writer abound in every craft source. Writers groups, blogs, journals, and books berate newbies with axioms and strictures. Don’t use passive voice. Avoid “as”, “was”, and any world ending in “ly”. Watch out for dangling modifiers and chunky sentence construction.
After spending countless hours trying to vanquish these demons in my own writing (though I do give myself a little leeway in the this blog), I cringe whenever I see them in other’s.
I no longer shop the junior’s section at Macy’s. I’ve forgone Forever 21 in favor of the sale rack at Ann Taylor. I tune into HGTV instead of the CW and prefer a sleek, quiet lounge to a bumping night club.
But I still read young adult (YA) novels.
It doesn’t matter that the heroines are half my age; I love the urgency of the story lines, the untempered emotional lives of the characters, and the easily digestible themes.
My husband has a weakness for bad movies. You know the type—hardcore action flicks without a hint of plot or wit (the kind a monkey could write). My trick to surviving the deluge of cinematic garbage he drags me to? Low expectations.
Unfortunately, I do just the opposite with books, inflating my expectations beyond reason and attainment. Such was the case with March.
I’ve never braved a hurricane, eaten luke-warm peas and Vienna Sausages from the can, nor swallowed down the terror of teenage pregnancy. But in reading Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, I tasted just a hint of these experiences. Days later, the bittersweet flavor still coats my tongue, as it is with the best of novels.
Pat Conroy’s novel South of Broad is cast in beautiful, intelligent prose. It’s the kind of writing that rends aspiring writers like me flush with envy. After reading only a few pages, I felt nostalgia for a city (Charleston, SC) I have never even visited. Transported beyond the page, I experienced the setting with visceral clarity (from the smell of magnolias to the briny ocean air) and connected with it more than any other character in the novel. Perhaps the book would have worked better as a travel guild than a piece of fiction.
It took me a week to get through the first 200 pages of The Marriage Plot. I devoured the last 200 in one day.
Don’t let the title of book fool you. Marriage is only a peripheral topic of this story. Rather, it traces the interwoven lives of the three students as they leave college and tackle the enigma of adulthood.
The book is not a love story, but very much a story about love. It takes a didactic view, presenting a raw yet honest case study of the subject. Some of it I related to—the consuming elation and neediness you feel at the beginning, the hollow I love yous muttered when you don’t know what else to say, the profound comfort and closeness you share when the pretense of love fades.