With great pleasure we present the cover of our forthcoming book, Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them (Bloomsbury), and with ecstatic joy we announce that the book’s introduction will be written by Cheryl Strayed.
It’s been a pretty blah year for the books I’m reading so far. I realized last year that I don’t read enough women so I’m trying to alternate. For every male writer I follow that book up with a female writer, because in years past I haven’t done that—in fact in 2012 I only read three books by women—and last year I read eleven out of forty-six. So a little better, but I could do better. This year so far I’m not really sticking to that: four male-written books and two books by women.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gabraith J.K. Rowling: Reminded me quite a bit of Crooked Little Vein, but instead of it having creative sentence turns it’s about the death of a model and a four hundred page detective novel that labors along like its protagonist. Pretty sure that a reason to read a J.K. Rowling book just because it’s Rowling is not really a good reason anymore.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I’ve read this book, it’s calledSomething Wicked This Way Comes, and that’s why it was an okay read. It sent me back to being twelve again. While the setting has shifted and this book is about a competition between magicians and how this develops the circus, I felt nothing for the characters when I finished it. They seemed like props, avatars for plot. This feeling is something that really terrifies me, mostly because I’m worried that most of my characters are also nothing more than plot entrance points and it creates okay books, but not books that I feel any reader would feel the compulsion to finish.
The System of Comics by Thierry Groensteen: Really interesting, because the French comics critic uses Barthes’ semiotics to dissect comics. I’ve been looking for exactly this for a while now, and it makes perfect sense to use the study of symbols to break down comics. A fascinating, if not required, read if you’re someone like me who is attempting to talk about comics at the higher-ed level. The only problem I had, as Bart Beaty talks about in his introduction, is that I’m not familiar with any of the comics Groensteen talks about.
I’m not going to speak for every writer when I say this, but I’m pretty sure we’re all obsessive about age. So when I read stories like this, or about Simon Rich or every other writer who is younger than me, I look back and think about a time where I thought I would be a part of this Young Hip Lit Star crowd and, obviously, I’m not. Thinking this way is exactly why it won’t work out that way, and it does no good, so you should tell yourself to shut the front door immediately when thoughts like this bubble up from the acidic belly that fuels ego.
It’s still a thought every freshman in college entertains. Fourteen years later, I look at stories like this and think, Oh, that’s nice. Good for that guy. You know the kinds of things old people say who are in no rush. I’m psyched to try the book, but I’m even more psyched to keep up this great momentum and hopefully this time next year I’ll be looking back happy with something I produced. (A book contract would be cool too.)
"By becoming the most famous woman author—not writer, an important distinction—of his generation, Truman Capote sought to limit or cock block other women writers in their quest to be popular, admired, celebrated. He did not want to share the female stage. At the same time, he thought of himself as the model of potential for women who wrote, and an image of what they might become if they continued to write: popular, admired, celebrated."
I wish I could make any sort of sense out of that first ninety or so pages, but I think it’s beyond me. I would call it creative typing. The rest though? I found to be good. Especially with Flannery O’Connor and Capote.
AT:This story, about a German lawyer setting up a utopian community in the American south, then being driven out, sounds so interesting. Is it made more interesting because it’s not talked about?
JJS:It is an amazing story apart from what I may bring to it or not bring to it. The material is incredible, and it’s kept me fascinated for 15 years. This man, he really represented the height of the enlightenment at the time. He had studied at Leipzig, one of the best universities in Europe at the time, if not the best. He was a linguist, a lawyer, trained philosophically. But he came to the Carolinas, which is really—it’s a backwater now, it was something else then, a really dangerous place to go. He wanted to establish a city, really. We call it a utopia now, because we think of it that way. He thought of it as a new political entity that he created, and called it “Paradise.” It was multiracial, and there was equality between the sexes there, there was total sexual freedom, there was no private property, this whole socialistic view centuries ahead of it’s time philosophically. Here he is, in 1735: Jefferson hasn’t been born yet, Rousseau hasn’t published anything yet. You’re not supposed to be doing this kind of thing, but he did, and he was hunted for many years by the English and finally captured and died in prison. He had a book on him when he died that of become this kind of lost manuscript of American history, this enlightenment manifesto a full generation before the Declaration of Independence. But it was a declaration of independence. He was a fascinating guy.
The first book I finished in 2014 was George Saunders’ Tenth of December. I really liked that every story was basically inside the head of the main character to give off first person perspective. It’s truly third person omniscient engaged at a sentence level, but it seems to care more about the sentences than story. Half of these stories didn’t so much care about what it was about, but was specifically male-centric. They were Dad stories as meaghano said in her post on the book, but they helped me focus exactly on how my characters sound.
I’m writing a series of interconnected short stories that are about three characters growing up together, but the stories are at various points in their lives, and the narration comes from the perspective of their younger siblings. I’m thinking that I’m just falling into a familiar trap by doing first person perspective, because it is a default. It’s what feels most natural to me rather than the best way to tell the story. So I’m kinda waffling on whether I should change that.
Doing things from the first person is a skewed view, an unreliable narrator, and I’ve always been interested in figuring out how younger siblings look up to their older brothers and sisters—they almost always learn something from the mistakes of their elders and, well, these three elder siblings have made a lot of mistakes.
Tim’s been through a lot through the submission process and we couldn’t be happier that he’s finally broken through the wall with Habit. Here’s the description:
A great detective mystery: realistic, well-written, and with such dramatic tension that I was up all night racing to reach the conclusion.” Chris Child
“Detective Brendan Healy solves a complex case, facing his own demons, in a brilliant police procedural with a dark conspiracy in the background.” Sarah Victor
“Complex, beautifully drawn characters, twists and turns, great atmosphere, a real page turner.” Beth Boyd
A brilliant mystery that you won’t be able to put down A young woman, Rebecca Heilshorn, lies stabbed to death in her bed in a remote, upstate New York farmhouse. Rookie detective Brendan Healy is called in to investigate. All hell breaks loose when her brother bursts onto the scene. Rebecca turns out to have many secrets and connections to a sordid network mixing power, wealth, and sex.
Detective Brendan Healy, trying to put a tragic past behind him, pursues a dangerous investigation that will risk both his life and his sanity.
Habit is a compelling mystery which will appeal to all fans of crime fiction. T.J. Brearton amps up the tension at every step, until the shocking and gripping conclusion.
It’s $3.99 as an eBook. If you like crime fiction you won’t be able to hit the next page button quicker. Seriously, go out and get it and support Adirondack writers.