Monday, August 31, 2009

It Appears I've Become Sidetracked

I’d been meaning to write full blog posts for every book I read this past month, but between registering for classes, buying supplies, joining groups and writing critiques I fell behind somewhat. Here is the rundown of the last five books I read.

#18 of 2009: On Writing by Stephen King

Famous, famous book. Half biography and half a loose writing how-to, I found this very engaging but of little use to someone wanting to learn the craft. Like Bird by Bird and Forest for the Trees, it was more a piece of nonfiction on the lives and expectations of writers (with one writer in particular) than a book on the mechanics of plot, pacing or characterization. I liked it that way, though, as I’m fond of seeing things in the viewpoint of other writers.


#19 of 2009: Thirsty by M.T. Anderson

A YA vampire story with no glitter? A teenaged male protagonist? Seriously, you jest. Thirst is an delightfully unconventional book, set in a version of our world where vampires are known to the general public and are reviled as monsters. When Christopher begins mysteriously changing, he needs to find out the hows and whys fast, before his friends and family catch on and it’s too late.


#20 of 2009: Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

There is something about Bradbury’s sentence structure that always throws me off, messes with my reading pace and sends me rereading lines and scratching my head. Despite the extra effort needed to read him, it’s always worth it. Zen is a collection of previously-published essays, some of which I had already read before (one in a genre writing book edited by J.N. Williamson, the other in the updated edition of Fahrenheit 451). The essays were written during different periods of Bradbury’s life and chronicle his growth as a writer. Again, a book that’s more bio than how-to, but if you absolutely require instructive writing with your memoirs, check out the chapter where he talks about his single-word list-making. It’s excellent advice.


#21 of 2009: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

I’ve been on a writing book bender, and Writing Down the Bones had been on my TBR pile for much too long. One of the most often-suggested writing books, Writing is yet another mix of bio and craft, this time with a spiritual slant. Goldberg is a Jewish convert to Buddhism, though she treats all religions with equal heft and importance. Focus on yourself and the potential in you, Goldberg says over and over, and you will have words and stories and poems flowing out of you so fast you can barely catch them all. Recommended for the inspiring tone and Goldberg’s hippie recollective passages. Very interesting.


#22 of 2009: Prodigal by Melanie Tem

Once upon a time the writer of this blog was an impressionable young girl. This time period happened to be the early Nineties, when Dell was publishing bizarre horror novels with their Abyss imprint. Blog author grew up, nearly drowned under a wave of nostalgia and bought a handful of Abyss books at used shops and off Amazon. Prodigal is the first one to be reread after a dozen plus years. Tem is an excellent author but Prodigal feels like a first effort. Not surprising, because it was Tem’s first novel. A bit rough around the edges, it still packs a punch. Enjoyed.


Coming up now on the second half of Don DeLillo’s White Noise. I just started the Dylarama section this morning. A review will be up as soon as the book is finished, but with the semester starting and my own projects taking up more of my time (a rough draft to rewrite, another book going online) the pace will be understandably slower.

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