Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I've finished 'The Book Thief' and I did enjoy the second half more than the first, possibly because I made myself sit down and keep reading, rather than dipping in. OK, I think it would be considered a literary novel, therefore the term 'page turner' should not really apply. Literary novels have other things in them to enjoy. I've mentioned already what I liked and that continued. Other things I liked included the kinds of books she read (and stole) and the way reading those books led to other things. The ending was sad but understandable and credible. Maybe the fact that the ending didn't greatly upset me (unlike the ending of 'Brokeback Mountain'- the movie, which I saw on Monday) showed my lack of involvement and deep engagement with the characters.
It's hard. I wanted to love the book and I couldn't. I liked it, and would still recommend it, but it's not a 5 star book for me. Sorry, Markus.
And I also don't understand why your editor let you have a group of characters 'ejaculate' their dialogue. Although a friend pointed out to me today that JKR uses that word in one of the Harry Potter books. Errggghh. Worse than expostulate, even.
My writing group has started the year with goal setting, as usual. I told everyone they weren't allowed to include anything that had been on their list for 3 years or more. That caused a slight panic! But we all came up with great lists and feel very inspired by each other (or I do, anyway) and I hope I can achieve most of mine.
I always put in some hard ones as a challenge. My first goal is a short story that has to be in by the end of February.
Teaching looms closer, and I am reading lots of short stories in order to select some for my class to study. Have read dozens of flash/sudden fictions and found some gems. Am about to order Best American Short Stories 2005. It's usually a great collection.
I'm also teaching poetry this year to first-years, and trying to control the urge to give them 1000 Billy Collins poems.
One of my publishers, an independent Australian company, has been bought out by Time Warner. A friend who has a children's book with said small publisher has just had a statement to say her book (only published late last year) has had most of the 5000 copies deep discounted to someone/somewhere and she will probably not earn out her advance because of it. No plans to reprint. My book is due out in June and given the nature of publishing, am aware that anything could happen. Fingers crossed.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Short stories: 'Brokeback Mountain' is wonderful, there's not a word out of place. And I don't think I will ever forget the picture of one shirt tucked inside another (the same shirt which is mentioned almost casually right on the first page!) - a lesson in itself on how to use imagery. I'm slowly making my way through all of Proulx's work.

Best American Short Stories is always worth reading, though in some years it's rather skewed towards the 'New Yorker style' of writing, 2005 less so. You may not be aware of this link, which allows you to access the New Yorker archives:

Have you read George Saunders? Michel Faber? Kelly Link? All do wonderful things with the form. Whom do you particularly recommend?

Zusak: well, you've probably read my last comment. The more I read, the less depth I find. And I still have problems with his language: like a fantastic violin or ballet performance, it should seem effortless (though of course it's not) and completely right. I always smell the sweat coming off his pages. But he's enormously talented - and so young. Let's see where he goes from here.