Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Help and The Wolf Gift

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read The Help Deluxe Edition
by Kathryn Stockett. For some reason, maybe due to it's overwhelming popularity, I was resisting reading this book. Then all my co-workers started raving about it, and not all of them read very many books. I started to get a bit curious about the movie and decided I needed to read the book before seeing the film. I have to admit, I loved this book. I really believe it's going to go down as one of the classics of our time and will probably end up being required reading in schools. If you've been resisting the allure of this book, stop being so bull-headed and dive in!

On the other hand, you may wish to avoid Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift. I've been a fan of Rice for a long time but over the years she seems to have lost her edge. I was hoping that her return to the realm of the supernatural would revive her a bit but this felt like more of a rut than anything. The beginning half of the story felt almost the same as Interview with the Vampire, except with wolves. Then she just had to go there, pseudo-bestiality. Vampires can be sexy but, I'm sorry, this was just kinda gross. I spent the last half of the book just waiting for it to be over. Fortunately, it's a fast read. One thing to hold out hope for, she did introduce several very unique characters and dangled the possibility of a few interesting stories to come. Hopefully this was just the awkward set-up novel that writers sometimes use as a lead-in to better novels.

Next up, I'll be reading an advanced copy of Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers. It looks quite good and I can't wait to check it out!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maria Duenas and some poetry by Todd Boss

I finally finished The Time In Between: A Novel by Maria Duenas. It's no fault of the novel that it took me so long to read it, the story was very interesting. I used to have much more down time at work to read and since I've switched schedules, I find I'm too busy to read as much as I'd like. But, I digress. I really enjoyed this story. It starts out with the main character being not much more that a simple errand girl in a sewing shop in Madrid. Through the course of the story, she grows through many adventures set against the backdrops of the Spanish Civil War and World War II. This young lady is I truly interesting heroine and I loved going along on the ride of her life.

I also recently read a collection of poetry, Pitch: Poems by Todd Boss. I saw a write up for this book in last week's Sunday paper and became curious, now here we are! Boss is a Minnesota poet, and as such, I found it quite easy to relate to his work. His poetry has an excellent rhythm to it, as the musical title implies, and is very accessible and not ostentatious. "That crick in your neck is the heck you've got from being somebody you're not" (Luckenback). The words he uses to describe music could just as applicably describe his own work, "everything man makes is an aspirant song sawn across / along a deeper grain within" (Instrument). Boss is doing a reading in MN next month and I'm looking forward to going.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty." - John Steinbeck

If you write a work of fiction with the intent that it should be believed to be fact, you are committing literary adultery. When a writer publishes a book, it is offered up as a solemn vow to any reader willing to accept it; be it a novel, a memoir, or a collection of poetry. "This is my work. I present it to you as it is. Please accept it, however humble it may be." There should be little wonder, if an author is found to be false, that readers are repulsed when they find out they have been deceived. If you feel the need to publish a novel under the false pretenses of a memoir, not only does it show a lack of respect for your readers but it shows a lack of self-confidence in your ability to write a decent novel. I will never buy a book by an author who has stooped to such a gimmick.