Monday, October 26, 2009

Books I've Been Reading

First, the animal themed covers--which may be their only similarity.
Mayhem in Mayberry: Misadventues of a P.I. in Southern Appalachia by Brian Lee Knopp
I was curious about this book since it's a self-published book by a PI who lives in my county, and also has an endorsement on its cover by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love. (Although juxtapositions abound in this book.) Further, a friend Lucy Doll, raved about it. I am also a frequenter of Malaprop's and know Linda (manager of Malaprops & the author's wife) from working on the literary festival... and I was curious about her husband who I knew next to nothing about.
What's funny is that at the literary festival this year, he came in with Linda in the morning and then left, just as I was walking in to the Town Center Foyer where the books are set up. I can't exactly remember how I suspected he was her husband; maybe he gave her a good-bye kiss or their ease and familiarity tipped me off, but I wondered. He walked right past me on the way out the door and I turned to a friend, "Is that Linda's husband?"
"I think so," the friend said swiveling to get a better look. "I've always been curious about him."
"Me too," I said, not having read his book yet. But I can't for the life of me remember what he was wearing, what he looked like, or any distinguishing features. I think he had a hat on.
Read the book. You'll see why this is funny.
The book itself is wrenching and hilarious in turn, a wry portrait of where I live, and of one man's decade-long job of detailed observation of it. (Maybe it was closer to two.) I don't want to spoil any of the twists and turns. Suffice it to say, he's got a wicked sense of humor, a deft handle on the craft of writing, patience (the like of which I don't understand), and a great & deep love & devotion for the souls in his life. How he didn't end up a jaded wreck after what he did for a living is a great testament to his fortitude and will.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
I'm still reading this book, because it is a how-to on writing screenplays. No, I'm not writing a screen play, but writing for the stage is very similar, and since I'm a complete novice at such things I'm reading it. I like the way all the steps (plot-lines, B-story, character development) are broken down and I am finding it easy, informative, useful reading. It is complete with "assignments" and clear tasks for moving a project along.
We'll see if I follow them and move the project along!
The Other Wind by Ursala K. LeGuin
OK. I picked this one up because there was a dragon on the front. However, I also wanted to get back to reading some quality fantasy. LeGuin insists you can write fantasy that doesn't have to be of epic battles, great death, great evil for no reason, or even the typical "hero." I agree. That's what I'd like to shoot for myself, so I'm re-reading her. Her books are not tomes, like so many are, and she uses simple, clear language without a lot of consonants or world-invented words. For example, she uses "miles per hour" and has goats that act like goats that orient us easily. She doesn't have to invent a new kind of animal to make readers feel they are someplace new. Thus she doesn't get caught having to "explain" so much to the reader. Note to self. Many notes to self while reading this one. She's amazing.
Finally, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I've just started this one for book club. So far so good. The main character is utterly devoted to reading and losing herself in books. Hmmm. I think I'll be able to relate!


Emily said...

I'm listening to The Thirteenth Tale on my commute - it's pretty good!!

Britt Kaufmann said...

I just finished it this morning (Nov 5) and I loved it!

Her sentences are so nice. The descriptions are so vivid. And somehow, she makes the most absurd characters believable. Or at least made me willing to go along for the ride.

It did put me very much in mind of Jane Eyre.